ISAC has nine full-time staff and shares reception with our co-located sister clinic, the Advocacy Centre for Tenants Ontario (ACTO).
Please note that we do not provide legal services to individuals. If you require legal advice or assistance, please contact your local community legal clinic. You can find out which legal clinic serves your community by visiting the Legal Aid Ontario website or by calling 1-800-668-8258.
David Bush, Workers’ Rights Organizer (ext. 5180)
David has a M.A. in Labour Studies from McMaster University and is currently working on his PhD at York University, focusing on the history of movements fighting for employment standards reform. Before joining ISAC he worked as an organizer for the Service Employees International Union Local 2 in the Maritimes, where he helped workers in the property service sector fight to form unions and achieve fair contracts. David is also actively involved in campaigns to raise the minimum wage and improve employment standards in Ontario.
Marie Chen, Staff Lawyer (ext. 5152)
Marie joined ISAC as a Staff Lawyer in 2013. She has extensive experience in constitutional and human rights law and has appeared before various tribunals and levels of Court, including the Supreme Court of Canada. She has been involved in advocacy and law reform activities at Canadian and international fora. For almost a decade, Marie worked at the African Canadian Legal Clinic engaging in test case litigation addressing systemic racism. Before joining the ACLC, Marie practiced immigration and refugee law with Jackman and Associates. She has also worked at the Clinic Resource Office (Legal Aid Ontario) and at the Toronto Ombudsman where she was involved in systemic investigations into municipal processes. Marie holds an LLM from the London School of Economics, and likes movies and discovering yummy lunch deals in the PATH.
Jackie Esmonde, Staff Lawyer (ext. 5153)
Jackie was called to the Ontario bar in 2003, following which she practiced public interest law in a range of areas, including civil litigation, criminal law, inquests and inquiries. She joined the Income Security Advocacy Centre in 2011, where she conducts test case and Charter litigation addressing poverty and income security. She teaches in the Osgoode Professional LLM program, and recently completed work as a researcher and writer for the Truth and Reconciliation Commission. Believing that litigation cannot bring about liberation and equality on its own, Jackie is committed to working for social change through grassroots organizing, including as a trustee for the Groundswell Community Justice Trust Fund. In her spare time, she talks, reads, thinks and breathes Blue Jays baseball.
Jennefer Laidley, Research & Policy Analyst (ext. 5155)
Jennefer has been at ISAC since 2007, working in the areas of research and policy analysis, government relations and policy advocacy, community outreach and public education, and communications and media relations. A transplanted West Coaster, she previously worked for elected officials at the federal, provincial, and municipal levels of government. She holds an MES in Urban Planning from York University, with several publications on urban waterfront development. Jennefer serves on the Policy and Research Committee of the ODSP Action Coalition, the steering committees of Ontario Campaign 2000 and the Low-Income Energy Network, the Board of Directors of Canadians for Tax Fairness, and the Editorial Board of the Journal of Law and Social Policy. When she’s not working, she enjoys following politics and hanging out with friends and family.
Mary Marrone, Director of Advocacy & Legal Services (ext. 5144)
Mary joined ISAC as Director of Advocacy & Legal Services in 2007. She was previously Executive Director of Community Legal Education Ontario (CLEO), served as policy counsel in the early years of Legal Aid Ontario, and practiced law in a multi-service community legal clinic, a student legal clinic and in private practice. She has also worked on international access to justice development projects with the Canadian Bar Association in Bangladesh and East Africa. She has served on the Ministry of Community and Social Services’ Social Assistance Review Advisory Council and its Income Security Reform Working Group. When she’s not working, Mary is an Ian Rankin groupie who keeps her local bookstore in business.
Lily Manea, Director of Administration (ext. 5142)
Lily joined ISAC as the Director of Administration in 2016. She previously held roles at Maytree and the Toronto Region Immigrant Employment Council (TRIEC), where she worked on the issue of immigrants accessing the labour market. With a background in non-profit management and communications, for the past decade Lily has also supported the Rainbow Songs Foundation, an organization that provides music classes to children living in Toronto’s shelter system, in both board and volunteer roles.
Lorna Martin, Receptionist and Administrative Assistant (ext. 5179)
Lorna joined ISAC and ACTO as the shared Reception Coordinator in September 2012 after six glorious years in Jamaica. Prior to that she was the Event Manager at AMD (previously known as ATI Technologies) for 15 years facilitating all tradeshows, annual general meetings, and product launches globally. She is an avid Blue Jays fan and a volunteer director at Microskills, a Toronto-based non-profit that provides employment services to women, youth, immigrants, and people from racialized communities.
Leandra Matthie, Law Clerk/Paralegal (ext. 5154)
Leandra hails from the beautiful Nature Island of the Caribbean – Dominica. She is a graduate of the Humber College Court and Tribunal Agent program and, after graduating, began her legal career with ISAC in May 2007. Since joining ISAC, Leandra has gone on to become a Licensed Paralegal and works alongside the legal team providing litigation support in ISAC’s test case and Charter litigation work. As an immigrant to Canada, Leandra feels the need to give back and is working toward becoming a lawyer to continue her work in helping people who are marginalized. Outside of ISAC, Leandra writes a fashion blog and moonlights as a freelance makeup artist and fashion stylist.
Dan Rohde, Staff Lawyer (ext. 5157)
Dan was called to the bar in 2012, and joined the Income Security Advocacy Centre as a Staff Lawyer in 2015. Dan simply cannot take a job that doesn’t allow him to work towards social justice: before joining ISAC, he practiced at a leading labour and employment law firm in Toronto that advocates for working people and clerked at the Ontario Court of Appeal. He graduated from the University of Toronto Faculty of Law, where he was very active in the Immigration and Refugee Law Division of Downtown Legal Services. Dan also has an M.S. in Education, and worked formerly as a public school teacher at P.S. 137 in Brooklyn, NY. When not hanging with his partner and two kids, Dan is either riding his bike, nerding out over science fiction, obsessing over Syracuse Orange basketball or checking out whatever new coffee place just opened up around the corner.
Niiti Simmonds, Staff Lawyer (ext. 5156)
Niiti joined ISAC as a Staff Lawyer in 2017 and conducts test case litigation in the areas of income security, poverty law and workers’ rights. Before joining ISAC, Niiti practiced at a leading employment and litigation firm, specializing in human rights, disability and administrative law matters. She has appeared as counsel before the Ontario Court of Appeal, the Ontario Superior Court of Justice, including the Divisional Court, as well as numerous administrative tribunals. Niiti regularly delivers presentations on topics such as human rights, employment law, and long-term disability insurance. She was called to the Ontario bar in 2010 after completing her articles as a law clerk to justices of the Superior Court of Justice and brings to her practice a strong background in anti-poverty and workers’ rights activism. She is a member of the Movement Defence Committee, an activist legal collective dedicated to supporting activists and social movements through protest defence, legal support and know-your-rights trainings.
liz walker, Provincial Organizer (ext. 5151)
liz is ISAC’s Provincial Organizer and is currently the co-Chair of the Ontario Project for Inter-Clinic Community Organizing (OPICCO). After winning a 42nd-place championship ribbon for figure skating at the age of eight, liz decided it was time to hang-up her community-donated, size 13, skates and instead work behind the scenes with the community that donated those skates. Over the last 20 years, liz has worked with youth facing social and economic exclusion and with organizations and community to reflect and act on processes that exclude or further marginalize people, using the tools of art, anti-racist adult education, and community development. In her current role, she works with legal clinics, organizations and government to organize for systemic change in the elimination of poverty in Ontario.
ISAC tel: (416) 597-5820
Toll Free: 1 (866) 245-4072