Ariel Tobe has been a part of the FSWC team for over 2 years. Growing up as a grandchild of Holocaust survivors and attending Jewish Day School, Ariel was always aware of the importance of Holocaust education through her Jewish heritage. After experiencing antisemitism while attending Western for Film Studies and George Brown for Culinary Management, it was brought to her attention how much work needs to be done to spread awareness about discrimination and antisemitism. Following the philanthropic footsteps of community leaders like her parents, Fred and Linda Waks, Ariel knew she wanted to pursue a career in the non-profit sector and began her role at FSWC to truly make a positive impact on the issues she feels so strongly about. In Ariel’s time at FSWC, she has focused on various aspects of the organization ranging from fundraising, administrative work, and event planning. She has played a key role in selling out major events such as Spirit of Hope and State of the Union. She has also planned several events for FSWC’S subgroups, her favourite being the Women for Wiesenthal Book Club. She is currently completing a certificate in Event Management at Humber and looks forward to bringing her expertise to future events.
Avital Borisovsky has been part of the FSWC team since 2017, taking on all aspects of communications at the organization. Her role entails communicating the organization’s education and advocacy efforts and marketing to the public, whether it’s through social media, mainstream media or other outlets. A graduate of Toronto’s Ryerson University with a Bachelor of Journalism, Avital started her career in front of the camera and writing articles, but gradually entered the marketing and communications arena, with her passion for human rights bringing her to Friends of Simon Wiesenthal Center. Working closely with FSWC’s Director of Policy, she helps expose antisemitism and other current issues here in Canada and around the world and the actions FSWC is taking to combat antisemitism and all forms of hate.
Cindy Liu joined FSWC as an Accountant in 2019. She brings 15+ years of accounting experience as a full-cycle general accountant in a consulting firm and a cost accountant in a manufacturing corporation, with varying accountabilities spanning from accounts payables, receivables, general ledger, costing, inventory, audit preparation and financial reporting. In her role at FSWC, Cindy processes all payments and donations, performs account reconciliations and is actively involved in process development. She has played a major role in streamlining work processes for efficiency and improving the policies of the organization. She seeks to identify the operational needs of the organization in order to implement the necessary program improvements. On a professional level, Cindy is a logical thinker who enjoys the challenge of identifying and solving problems. She sees herself as a supportive member of the organization and all social advocacy efforts, working quietly behind the scenes to transform day-to-day business activities into meaningful numbers.
Dan Panneton is the Director of Allyship and Community Engagement at FSWC, where he works on policy, advocacy, and allyship. He holds masters degrees in History from Queen's University and Museum Studies from the University of Toronto and brings experience as a historian and anti-hate researcher to the position. Dan is on the Board of Directors at the Toronto Ward Museum, was the recipient of the Ontario Historical Society's 2018 Public Programming Award, and led the creation of the Government of Canada Anti-Racism Action Program funded resource Hatepedia at the Neuberger Holocaust Education Centre. He speaks regularly on issues related to Holocaust memory, online hate, antisemitism, and extremism, and his writing has appeared in outlets like The Atlantic, The Globe and Mail, and The Walrus.
Daniella Lurion has been with FSWC for over 6 years, most recently as Director of the Tour for Humanity. She developed an interest in history at a young age. Her paternal grandparents’ stories during the Second World War heavily influenced her, which followed her through her educational career. As a Humanities major at York University, her primary focus was modern European history and Holocaust Studies, which culminated in a senior independent study looking at Holocaust education from a cross-cultural perspective in Germany, Israel and Canada. This led her to pursue an education degree at Niagara University in the Intermediate-Senior division with teachables in History and Social Science. Immediately following graduation, Daniella began graduate school at New York University where, inspired by memoirs from her grandfather and great-grandmother, her thesis focused on the inter-generational trauma in the parent-child relationship of Holocaust survivors. In her role as part of the FSWC Education department, she oversees the Tour for Humanity program, and spends a lot of her time on the bus crisscrossing the country.
Elena Kingsbury has been an educator with FSWC for the past 4.5 years and has taught thousands of students across Ontario - in classrooms and auditoriums, at our centre, and on the award-winning Tour for Humanity mobile classroom. Elena loves to teach students of all backgrounds and abilities and has helped develop many workshops and FSWC events including Freedom Day, Speaker’s Idol, and our National Policy Conference on Holocaust Education. In January 2020, Elena relocated to our nation’s capital and has opened a new access point to FSWC programming in Ottawa and the surrounding communities of Eastern Ontario, further expanding our social advocacy work. Her love of history and curiosity about the wider world began at a very early age. As a child, the majority of Jewish people she knew were survivors like her maternal grandparents who escaped Prague for Denmark in 1939. This personal connection started Elena on an academic path that would lead her to Montreal and McGill University where she completed her M.A. in History in 2014.
Elise Korne has been with FSWC since 2017, most recently as the Operations Manager. Her affiliation with FSWC started at the age of 15 when her high school toured the Center for the day, and she observed firsthand, the work of the education team and their efforts to fight antisemitism and Holocaust education programs. The programming struck a chord with her, so years later when the opportunity presented itself for Elise to join the team, she knew it was destined to be! From a young age, Elise has shown interest in a wide array of social justice issues which lead her to major in Criminal Justice at Ryerson University. Her research was based on an inter-disciplinary approach to the study of crime and the administration of criminal justice; including understanding systemic forms of victimization and discrimination within the criminal justice system. During her time at FSWC, Elise focuses on providing high-level support to FSWC’s executives, assisting with administrative operations and leading the events team.
Emily joined FSWC’s team in 2022 as the Advocacy Lead, having previously spent the summer as an intern in the advocacy department. Emily’s passion for her work began when she first learned about the Holocaust in elementary school. Having had several close Jewish friends and teachers, Emily was deeply affected by the stories she read and heard from survivors, and the class trip she took to the Neuberger Holocaust Education Centre, in Toronto, when she was just ten years old. Emily continued to study Holocaust history throughout school, leading her to obtain a Master of Arts in History with a specialization in Holocaust and Genocide Studies at Wilfrid Laurier University in 2019. After working for one year at a non-for-profit radio station as a writer/researcher, focusing on the connection between music and human rights, Emily decided to return to university to pursue her second Masters in Understanding and Securing Human Rights at the School of Advanced Study in London, England. Emily works with her colleagues at FSWC to combat hatred and antisemitism in all its forms. Emily is honoured to be able to take the important lessons she learned from her studies of Holocaust history and apply them to the fight against antisemitism that we are engaged in today. Emily is committed to honouring the legacy of Holocaust victims by never forgetting, never being complacent, and by always speaking up against hate.
When Kim Quinn graduated from Trent University with a degree in history, her family joked that she was more determined on changing the world than hanging up her diploma. She began her career as an English teacher, but she had been infused with a love of history and social justice by her dad, and by Lt. Gen Romeo Dallaire; their dedication ran similarly in educating others on horrific Holocaust atrocities, antisemitisim and working hard to ensure such events never happened again. Later, after hearing survivor Max Eisen share his story, she knew she wanted to be part of a community that held that same passion and mission. Education and compassion are the strongest tools we have, and Kim is honoured to be able to bring them forward. Peux ce que veux. Allons-y!”
Originally from Beautiful British Columbia, Marie Louise Real Puevas; a first-generation Filipino Canadian Immigrant, discovered her love of teaching in the Cadet program when she was just 16. A hard-working individual, she integrated her Anthropology and Master of Teaching degree to support the positive and culturally responsive learning environment within the FSWC education department. Louise pursued a meaningful education career that centered around her interests in the performing arts, food, and social media memes. After completing the Master of Teaching program at the University of Toronto, she is excited to be on a journey of learning to integrate her interests and identity to create a bridge between the values and beliefs here at FSWC and connect it with various classroom communities across Canada.
Melissa Mikel is the Director of Education at FSWC. Her professional training is in education. Melissa has been involved with FSWC in a variety of capacities for the past 13 years, creating and implementing programming with the education team for students from elementary school through to university, including Freedom Day, Speaker’s Idol and Equity & Diversity workshops. She has also created programming to teach law enforcement personnel and educators about the Holocaust, genocide, antisemitism and racism. Melissa has participated in training through the Tools for Tolerance® program at the Museum of Tolerance in Los Angeles and the International Summer Academy through Auschwitz-Birkenau State Museum in Poland which has helped to shape FSWC’s Compassion to Action journeys for Canadian leaders to sites of the Holocaust. She wrote Harper Collins’ Educator’s Guide for the Canada Reads 2019 winner, By Chance Alone, a memoir written by Holocaust survivor Max Eisen. Melissa’s first MA in the field of education was from the University of Toronto; her second MA, in Holocaust and Genocide Studies, was completed through Gratz College where she is currently pursuing her PhD.
Michael Levitt has been the President and CEO of Friends of Simon Wiesenthal Center since September 2020. Before then he served as the Member of Parliament for York Centre, first elected in 2015 and re-elected in 2019. A first-generation Canadian, Michael immigrated to Canada from Scotland with his mother at age thirteen. He has a bachelor’s degree in Political Science from McGill University and a master’s degree in Science and Technology Studies from the University of Edinburgh. Before 2015, Michael worked as a partner and vice president of Business Development for the Benjamin Group. He is a founding member of the Canadian Jewish Political Affairs Committee, a multi-partisan organization dedicated to activating the grassroots Jewish community in the political process, and has been an active volunteer with numerous non-profits and charities. Michael has served as a board member of the Koffler Centre for the Arts, Leadership Sinai and other organizations. In Parliament, Michael served as Chair of the House of Commons Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs and International Development, prior to which he served as Chair of the Foreign Affairs Committee’s Subcommittee on International Human Rights. Michael was also elected by his colleagues as Chair of the Canada-Israel Interparliamentary Group, Vice-Chair of the Canada-Philippines Interparliamentary Group, an executive member of the Canada-Italy and Canada-UK Interparliamentary Groups, and was a member of the Raoul Wallenberg Parliamentary Caucus on Human Rights.
Myriam Brenner is the Education Program Coordinator at FSWC, where she supports a team of dedicated educators to engage students and community leaders on Holocaust education, racism, antisemitism, and other forms of hate. Originally from the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Myriam understands uniquely the immigrant story of upheaval and displacement, as well as the struggle to belong. Growing up in South Africa, Myriam became acutely aware of the importance of standing up for human rights during the Apartheid era, as well as the need for education to empower the younger generation. Throughout her business and legal studies in Johannesburg, South Africa, Myriam became involved in educating segregated communities about their basic legal rights. She immigrated to Toronto in 2001, to give her children a better life and has since worked in business environments with a common thread of education from early childhood to adulthood. Her passion for education extended to diving deeper into her family history on the Island of Rhodos, Greece, where her Grandparents lived, and learning about the devastation of this small but vibrant community by the Nazis. This personal connection piqued her curiosity about the Jews of Greece and has encouraged her to ensure that the tragedy of this community is not forgotten. Working with the Education team at FSWC allows Myriam to contribute in some small way to preserving her family’s legacy by supporting Holocaust education, and to ensure that younger generations learn from the past to shape a bright future.
Robert Sarner joined FSWC in 2021 as Senior Writer and Editor, bringing a rich background in journalism and communications in Canada, France and Israel. At FSWC, he writes and edits a wide range of topical content centered on FSWC’s mission toward Holocaust education and combating antisemitism. Previously, Robert was the long-time Director of Communications and Public Affairs at Roots Canada, before working with Canadian Friends of Hebrew University and Canadian Friends of Tel Aviv University in a communications role. He’s written for numerous publications in North America and overseas including the Globe and Mail, National Post, The Forward, and Le Monde. Since 2016, Robert has been The Times of Israel’s main feature writer in Canada. While living in Israel, he was a senior producer and anchor at the country’s only nightly English-language TV newscast; was the Editor of the Jerusalem Post’s weekly magazine and was a Jerusalem-based columnist for the CJN. In France, Robert was the founding Editor of Paris Passion, an English-language city magazine.
Taali Lester Tollman is the daughter of a Holocaust survivor, devoting her career to working in the Jewish community and advocating on behalf of the State of Israel. Taali grew up in Montreal earning a BFA from Concordia University and made the journey west to pursue a master’s degree in Art History at York University. After working at the Israel Government Tourist Office and a short stint in Minneapolis running the Minnesota Jewish Arts Council, Taali began working at UJA Federation of Greater Toronto progressing from the Director of Marketing, to Vice President of Marketing and then to the Senior Vice President of Marketing. Over the span of her career Taali has presented at numerous conferences including the Association of Fundraising Professionals and the Jewish Federations of North America’s Professional Institute. Taali also led various marketing and brand workshops for Toronto community agencies helping to grow the reach and profile of community work, driving greater social impact.
Tamar Zecharia started working at FSWC in the summer of 2021. She is working as the Social Media Lead. Tamar studied at Wilfrid Laurier University where she graduated with Honours in Anthropology and Women and Gender Studies. She then moved to Tel Aviv, Israel, where she worked as a social media content creator and analyst. After her time in Israel, she moved back to Toronto where she worked as a social media manager. Growing up, Tamar went to Jewish day school, where she learned about the importance of antisemitism and Holocaust education. In high school, she went on a trip called the March of the Living to learn and see first-hand some of the places in Poland that were touched by the atrocities of the Holocaust. Tamar has been able to hear and engage with Holocaust survivors, and has had the opportunity to interview a survivor and listen to others' personal stories. Tamar is working at FSWC to grow our online presence, while also creating meaningful connections with others via social media. Through social media, we can create a safe space to educate and spread the word about Holocaust and antisemitism education.
As the Director of Antisemitism Programming and Outreach, Zach Sadowski is responsible for workshops that fulfill the mandates of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) and Environmental, Social, and Governance (ESG) programs at organizations of all sizes. The goal of these workshops is to provide a general understanding of historic and contemporary antisemitism and how these are connected. Prior to joining FSWC, Zach had a diverse professional background featuring a mix of corporate and Jewish non-profit experiences. In the Jewish Communal world, he has worked at Hillel Ontario as the Director of Operations and as the Senior Director of Programs and Planning at Jewish Federations of Canada-UIA. Most recently, Zach was the Director of Business Development and Strategy for one of Canada’s largest and most prominent architecture firms where he was tasked with generating new external business while leading the internal modernization of the 65-year-old firm. Zach’s current work at FSWC focuses on fostering conversations that challenge participants to think about how they can be an ally to their Jewish colleagues, friends, and to the broader community. Zach also supports FSWC’s broader goal of building a more inclusive and respectful society through other workshops and outreach initiatives.