The Centre for Race and Culture’s highly educated, experienced, and innovative team has decades of expertise helping organizations see the intrinsic value of living and working in a diverse environment.
We work closely with clients to gain insights into cultural issues and find practical solutions for workplaces, teams, and individuals.
Our non-profit, non-partisan status means we’re committed to neutrality while building understanding across all cultures and sectors.
Our staff and facilitators are a diverse and highly competent group from various sectors, including applied social science, education, international development, youth intervention, business, the arts, and health care. Our current staff members are:
Merna Rachid, BA
Merna is a recent graduate of the University of Alberta with a degree in French Language & Literature with specialization in Romance Languages and Translation Studies. She has been actively working in the Edmonton non-profit sector for over five years, as well as several human rights organizations in the Middle East and internationally. Her work emphasizes post-colonial education, international human rights, and the societal effects of orientalism. Merna joined the CFRAC team as the Communications and Administrative Assistant and is now our Executive Assistant. She is passionate about educating communities on CFRAC’s mission and creating spaces to raise awareness and open discussions about systemic racism and oppression.
Litzy Baeza, BA, MA
Litzy has a Master’s in Latin American Studies and a BA in Psychology. She has worked in the field of international education for the past 15 years managing a variety of projects overseas, primarily in Latin America. She started her work in the intercultural field in 2001, when working with students from Asia and Latin America and helping them adjust to Canadian society. She then moved on to independent consulting, facilitating intercultural communication seminars and workshops for a variety of clients from Edmonton. Litzy has also lived and worked abroad in Cuba, Chile, and Mexico.
Litzy specializes in intercultural competency, cross-cultural intelligence, and diversity and inclusion training. She also teaches an online course on Cross Cultural Intelligence at NAIT. She has received training from the Summer Institute of Intercultural Communication in Portland, Oregon and completed a Certificate in Intercultural & Diversity studies through the University of British Columbia. Besides her native English, Litzy is fluent in Spanish. Litzy was a board member for the Centre for Race and Culture in Edmonton from January 2017 to January 2019 and is currently one of our Facilitators.
Noelle Jaipaul, BA, MSc, MA
Noelle (she/her/hers) is a second-generation Canadian settler, born in Edmonton / amiskwaciwâskahikan. She has a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science, a Bachelor of Science in Nursing, and a Master of Arts in Public and International Affairs. She has lived and worked abroad in Kenya, Vietnam, and Tanzania. Noelle’s professional experience includes working in health programming and policy—primarily working with vulnerable populations—as well as in foreign affairs, immigration, and international development. Noelle worked with the City of Edmonton where she led the municipal work on the anti-racism file, helping to establish the first-ever City of Edmonton Anti-racism Advisory Committee. Noelle has extensive experience in developing and facilitating training on diversity and inclusion, intercultural communication, equity, and anti-racism. Noelle is President of the Board of John Humphrey Centre for Peace and Human Rights and is currently completing her PhD in political science at the University of Alberta.
Reuben is the Coordinator for our Nehiyaw Language Instruction program. Reuben has been working with Aboriginal youth and adults within Edmonton for 16 years. He has been a Cultural coordinator and Cree instructor for Edmonton Public Schools, Mother Earth Children’s Charter School, as well as the Edmonton Young Offender Center.
Reuben grew up in the residential school era, and when the Blue Quills School was taken over by the Aboriginal community, there was a resurgence of language and cultural teachings. Reuben credits the late Mrs. Rosanna Houle for reviving the Nehiyaw (Cree) Cahkipeyihkanah and teaching it to all the students who had been liberated from residential school. The Nehiyaw Cahkipeyihkanah, or as some refer to it ’the Star Chart,’ is a tool Reuben uses for teaching the Cree language.
Mansoureh Modarres BA, MA, PhD
Mansoureh has been an educator and a researcher for over a decade and has worked in post-secondary sector and adult education as well as in the public sector and community engagement programs. Her academic work is focused on transnational feminisms, intersectionality, community and narrative studies, and storytelling. She has designed, developed, and facilitated numerous educational programs for diverse audiences, on topics such as diversity and inclusion, writing for academic purposes, and literary studies. She joined our team in January 2020 as a Project Consultant, developing the educational resource “Gender Inclusivity in the Workplace: A Practical Guide.” Mansoureh then took on the role of being the Education and Research Programs Consultant and coordinated our ongoing initiative “Challenging Discrimination through Community Conversations.” Currently, Mansoureh is our Senior Consultant. She is committed to raising awareness about social issues and fostering inclusive practices.
Eugene Chok BBA, CGA
After completing his Bachelor of Business Administration degree at the Texas Tech University, Eugene immigrated to Canada in search of the good life and an opportunity to develop his skills in the field of accountancy. From 1980 to 2000, he worked as an accountant in both industry and government organizations. Along the way, he picked up a professional Accountancy Designation with the Certified General Accountant Association of Alberta. In 2000, he accepted an offer to work as an accountant with The Alberta Lung Association and has continued working in the non-profit sector since. He admires the strong commitment that NGO workers hold toward their cause and plans to finish his career in this sector. In his spare time, he teaches Tai Chi Chuan to seniors at the Chinese Freemason Association in Edmonton.
Elli Dehnavi, BA, MA, PhD
Elli is a university teacher, storyteller, and public educator, who has been actively engaged in the community to raise awareness about interpersonal and systemic discrimination. She has developed adult education resources, coordinated training programs, and managed research and community-based projects. Elli joined CFRAC in 2017 as a Project Consultant and coordinated two main projects: Race and Respect, and Refugee Awareness Alberta. She then served as our Senior Consultant for a year and supervised the work of other researchers and consultants.
Elli has designed and delivered courses and educational workshops on intercultural communication, EDI, Implicit Bias, Creating Inclusive Communities, and gender equity. Now in her new role as the Executive Director, Elli is committed to building equitable relationships in line with CFRAC’s vision and mission.
The Board of Directors is the legal authority for CFRAC.
As a member of the Board, a Board Member acts in a position of trust for the community and is responsible for the effective governance of the organization.
Directors are elected by the membership at the Annual General Meeting. Directors serve for a 2-year term and for a maximum of 3 consecutive terms. The 2021-2022 Board of Directors for the Centre for Race and Culture is:
Samantha is a nurse, researcher, outdoor enthusiast, and an anti-racism advocate. She is passionate about social activism, promoting justice, and building community capacity, and was fascinated by the mobilization of practical, relevant, and resourceful community awareness provided by CFRAC. She holds a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BScN) and has worked as a pediatric nurse.
Currently, Samantha is pursuing a Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) degree with the Faculty of Nursing at the University of Alberta. Samantha’s research work is geared towards addressing the gap between child health knowledge translation practices and health equity. Specifically, Samantha will be addressing racism in the healthcare sector by seeking impactful solutions that integrate anti-racism as a key commitment in the provision of nursing care. Outside of her professional role, Samantha enjoys responsible travelling, hiking, photography, and trying new foods.
An urban enthusiast, adventurer and food junkie, Aemon is an outgoing, and driven young professional who loves working with others as a means of exchanging ideas and knowledge. She graduated with an Honors Bachelor majoring in Criminology and Socio-Legal Studies, and Early Modern History, with experience working with Canada Border Services Agency and Immigration, Refugee and Citizenship Canada under her belt.
A life-long learner, Aemon’s keen interest in politics, social justice and human rights issues has led to her involvement with several not-for-profit organizations in Toronto helping marginalized communities, women’s groups, and vulnerable populations, as well as building awareness of civil liberties. Aemon is excited to bring her experience to CFRAC, to educate and promote anti-racism ideas and build an inclusive and diverse society.
Rickard is an Associate Professor and Chair of the Department of Decision Sciences in the School of Business at MacEwan University. In this role, he oversees the B.Com. Major in Supply Chain Management and has also led the development of a new Minor in Business Intelligence/Data Analytics. He holds a PhD from the University of Alberta, Canada, M.Sc. (Eng.) and B.Sc. from the Royal Institute of Technology (KTH), Sweden, along with studies in Economics conducted at Stockholm University, Sweden.
Apart from an interest in the Built Environment, his research interests revolve around Leadership Development and Consumer Behaviour and the use of statistical modeling to measure those behavioural outcomes and preferences. He taught at universities in Europe and Canada and was a Visiting Research Fellow at Uppsala University, Sweden. He is the current Vice-Chair of the Canadian Initiative for Nordic Studies at the University of Alberta, an organization with a national mandate to advance the multidisciplinary academic and cultural exchanges between Canada and the Nordic countries of Denmark, Sweden, Norway, Finland, and Iceland. He holds the professional designation of Chartered Manager (C.Mgr.) from CIM Chartered Managers Canada©.
Linda is a first-generation immigrant, visual artist, and community organizer. Originally from Turkey, she has lived in various parts of Canada and abroad and has been active in different cultural communities as an advocate for social justice, diversity, inclusion, and intercultural dialogue. She completed her bachelor’s degree in Political Science and Philosophy at Concordia University, Montreal, and a Certificate in Project Management at the University of Alberta.
Linda has 10 years of experience in non-profit and the public sector working with diverse stakeholders on international platforms with a focus on community and international development, humanitarian assistance, capacity building, public engagement, and advocacy. She is a strong advocate for immigrant women having personally experienced challenges of settlement and integration as a newcomer to Canada.
As an artist, Linda is interested in how art and storytelling influence our political, social, and emotional realities, from the impact on a community up to the global level. She held several exhibitions and community events in Montreal, Toronto, and Edmonton, and continues to be involved in Edmonton’s arts community in various artistic and mentoring roles.
Youssra was born and raised in Edmonton, Alberta. She holds a Bachelor of Arts, with a double major in Psychology and Sociology, a Bachelor of Education, as well as a Masters in Theoretical, Cultural, and International Studies from the University of Alberta. Her professional experiences include front line mental health services at Alberta Hospital Edmonton, youth support work with non-profit human service organizations, as well as 10+ years serving learners as an educator with the Edmonton Public School Board.
Currently, Youssra works as an ESL Consultant, supporting educators, and English Language Learners. She is an advocate for diversity in her professional and personal life. Aside from her husband and four children, Youssra’s greatest commitment is supporting students and educators.
Originally from Algeria, Rym completed her bachelor’s degree in Political Science and International Studies at the University of Alberta. She currently holds the position of policy and community advisor at the ACFA, a non-for-profit dedicated to ensuring the social and political development of the vibrant francophone community in Alberta. In this role, some of her responsibilities include providing research, analysis and writing leading to the development of policies, community development and government relations strategies.
Rym is a multilingual professional with experience in policy writing, program management, strategic planning, adult education as well as employability. In addition, Rym is actively engaged in anti-racism work; she has been involved with the CFRAC board as a Treasurer and Secretary since December 2018. She has worked closely with newcomers to ensure their employment integration in the Alberta job market, and she is passionate about building inclusive communities. Outside of work, Rym enjoys travelling, learning new languages and photography.
Vivian is a coffee connoisseur and a vocal mental health advocate in the greater community. Her passion for health and wellness has inspired her to pursue a bachelor’s degree in Biological Sciences and Psychology, and now a Master’s in Public Health.
Over the years, she has worked with non-profit organizations and public institutions in various capacities. At an international level, she has been affiliated and worked with organizations such as UN Women and the World Economic Forum. As a woman of color with a strong interest in policy and health, Vivian has always been actively participating in discussions on the challenges faced by the ethnic communities in Edmonton. She was initially intrigued by the work done by the Centre for Race and Culture in the areas of education and awareness. After having the opportunity to learn more about the organization and interact with their members, Vivian was eager to be a part of the cause.
Currently, she works as the Planning and Engaging Coordinator with Homeward Trust Edmonton, working in collaboration with all levels of government and community agencies to eradicate homelessness in the city. In the long term, she hopes to continue her involvement and career journey in the public sector.