Meet the Team

Sara Asalya

Founder and Executive Director

Sara is a Palestinian immigrant, community organizer, and human rights advocate. She was born and raised in a war torn country and witnessed first-hand the impact of violence, displacement and trauma on the lives of war refugees. This has shaped her understanding of social justice and human rights, instilling within her a passion to help others. Sara received many awards for being a champion for newcomers and immigrants rights, and for her leadership and dedication to advancing their civic and democratic engagement. Most recently, Sara was named one of Canada’s Top 25 Canadian Immigrants. She believes in immigrants’ rights in just and equitable opportunities in the community regardless of their immigration status.

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Suzie - Newcomer Students' Association

Souzan Michael Galway

Manager, Communications & Community Engagement

Souzan has a Bachelor of Arts in Professional Writing from York University. A writer and editor with over 12 years of experience, her byline has appeared in publications such as Elle Canada, Allure, Huffington Post, The Toronto Star and more. As an Iraqi woman in the Canadian journalism industry, who has been shaped by her personal immigration experience, Souzan is passionate about using her voice to amplify the stories of others while exploring the unique and complex challenges that newcomer students face today.

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jaspreet-my NSA

Jaspreet Kaur

Manager, Programs and Events

Jaspreet received her Social Service Worker diploma with High Honours from Sheridan College. As an international student from India, she held multiple roles at her college, including President of Sheridan International Students’ Association, Peer Mentor, Student Leadership and Engagement and International Students’ Ambassador, where she was able to offer various services and support to students. Jaspreet has been recognized with the Newcomer Resilience Award and contributed as a Research Assistant to a project called ‘Domestic Violence in Immigrant Communities: Case Studies’. She believes in diversity, equity and inclusion and works toward making a difference in others’ lives by providing them with appropriate support and services.

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Elona Canellari

Manager, Special Projects & Strategic Communications

Elona is a recent Biomedical Sciences (Hons.) graduate from Ryerson University. She joined the team in 2018 to support newcomer students in Ryerson by challenging the barriers they face transitioning to post-secondary education in Canada. In her current role, she aims to use her skills in data analysis, event planning, and research to raise awareness to the plight of immigrant students.

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Erin Bergeron

Manager, Operations

Erin is an experienced nonprofit professional specializing in Project Management and Communications. She has a Masters in Immigration and Settlement Studies from Ryerson University and a Bachelor of Arts from McGill University. Erin originally joined the Newcomer Students’ Association in 2017 and has enjoyed working with the incredible community. Erin hopes to amplify Newcomer, Immigrant, and Refugee Student voices and create a safe and welcoming space in the Newcomer Students’ Association.

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Alka Kumar

Manager, Research and Policy

Alka (PhD) is an educator and a lifelong learner, having taught English and Literary Studies in India before her move to Canada. The objective of her current work in Migration Research and Practice has been to apply her research insights to work with racialized newcomers and organizations, to help create practical inclusion-based labour market solutions. With her own lived experience of migration, Alka strongly believes in the role of experiential learning and storytelling to support individuals to build their capacities, so they feel enabled to work towards their self-improvement goals, moving towards workplace success in a timely manner. Through all her work, Alka situates herself as a ‘pracademic,’ (or a researcher-practitioner) given she has equal interest and experience in interdisciplinary research and practice; and through her work her objective is to work towards bridging these two often separate worlds.

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Sihwa Kim

Research Associate

Sihwa is currently an analyst at Blueprint, a non-profit social enterprise that specializes in monitoring and evidence generation. She has held previous research roles with Medow Consulting, the Brookfield Institute for Innovation + Entrepreneurship and City of Toronto Employment and Social Services, where she focused on the innovation economy and ensuring its benefits are inclusive of vulnerable groups, including immigrants, low-income individuals, women, racialized groups, and self-employed workers. She recently completed a graduate program in Sociology with a specialization in program and policy evaluation at the University of Western Ontario and holds a BA in Sociology, and Criminology and Socio-legal Studies from the University of Toronto.