Emily Barsanti-Innes has been an educator with Friends of Simon Wiesenthal Center for 2 years. She attended Queen's University in Kingston, Ontario, where she received an honours baccalaureate in History and Environmental Studies. In 2018, she obtained her Master’s Degree in Public History. Emily worked at the local Stratford Perth Museum as a guide during their Anne Frank exhibition and presented on the topic of the Holocaust at the renowned Stratford Festival Theatre. During her Masters, Emily conducted research in Ottawa’s Little Italy, collecting oral histories from the local residents for preservation. Emily travelled to Germany and Poland with the March of Remembrance and Hope the summer after her thesis submission and less than a month later, she was hired on as a full-time educator with the FSWC Education Department. With the FSWC team, she has taught in schools across the country, travelling as far as Winnipeg on the Tour for Humanity. She is currently enrolled at University of Ottawa in their Education program and working towards becoming Ontario College of Teachers (OCT) Certified.
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 educational 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 public relations 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 hate and make the world a better place.
Jordan Desai is the newest member of the education team at FSWC. Jordan holds her Bachelors and Masters of Arts in History. As the granddaughter of a Holocaust survivor, Jordan always felt that it was her responsibility to preserve her family's past. This led Jordan to travel through Budapest, Germany, and Israel to learn more about the Holocaust, antisemitism, and her Jewish identity. This served to influence her research which focused on Canada's response to antisemitism and the Jewish refugee crisis during the Second World War period. After completing her MA in history, Jordan enrolled at the University of Toronto where she continues to pursue her Master of Education in Curriculum and Pedagogy. In her role at FSWC, Jordan helps shape and teach the organization’s curriculum to tie past atrocities to current events with the hope of influencing people to advocate for a more equitable future. Working at FSWC has always been a dream of Jordan's and each day she is grateful for having the opportunity to make a positive impact.
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. 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.
As FSWC Director of Policy, Jaime Kirzner-Roberts is responsible for the organization’s policy development and advocacy efforts. Jaime’s work focuses on the issues at the core of the FSWC mandate, with a special focus on hate crime; racist, antisemitic and extremist groups; hate propaganda and online hate; and advocacy efforts related to Holocaust and genocide awareness and education. In her advocacy and outreach work, Jaime collaborates closely with lawmakers, law enforcement, and university leaders as well as a range of public institutions in government and civil society. Jaime holds a BA from McGill University and an MA from Princeton University.
Elise Korne has been with FSWC since 2017, most recently as the Office & Events 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. 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 majoring 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.
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.
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, working quietly behind the scenes to transform day-to-day business activities into meaningful numbers.
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.
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 12 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.
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. 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.