Meet the WIIS-Canada Team
Dr. Cassandra Steer
Interim Executive Director
Cassandra Steer is an independent space security consultant, whose research focuses on the law applicable to military activities in outer space. Currently, Cassandra Steer is the member representing Canada on the Space Law Committee of the International Law Association; and is an Associate Expert contributing to the Woomera Manual on the International Law of Military Space Operations. From 2015-2017 Cassandra was Executive Director of WIIS-Canada, and she is excited to return to the Board of Directors after stepping down to take maternity leave. In 2017 she co-organised the 10thAnnual WIIS-Canada Workshop together with Caroline Leprince, and throughout her career she has striven to give a prominent place to women’s voices. Now responsible for communications and outreach, she brings experience from her previous professional engagements as Acting Executive Director of the Center for Ethics and the Rule of Law at the University of Pennsylvania, Executive Director of the Centre of Air and Space Law at McGill, and Junior Professor at the University of Amsterdam in the Netherlands. Previously Cassandra interned at the International Criminal Court under Judge Navi Pillay, and was a Fulbright Fellow in 2011 at Cornell Law School. She has degrees in Philosophy (UNSW), Dutch Law and International Law (University of Amsterdam), and a PhD in International Criminal Law, which led to the publication of her book Translating Guilt: Identifying Leadership Liability for Mass Atrocity Crimes (Springer, 2017).
Cassandra can be contacted at email@example.com.
Dr. Aisha Ahmad
Aisha Ahmad is an Assistant Professor of Political Science at the University of Toronto, the Director of the Islam and Global Affairs Initiative and a Senior Researcher of the Global Justice Lab at the Munk School of Global Affairs, and the CEO of Women in International Security-Toronto. She is currently a Senior Fellow at Massey College and a Fellow at Trinity College, and was formerly an International Security Fellow at the Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs at the Harvard Kennedy School. She is the author of Jihad & Co.: Black Markets and Islamist Power(Oxford University Press, 2017), which awarded both the distinguished 2017 Mershon Center Furniss Award for the best new book in international and national security, and the 2018 Best Book in Comparative Politics Prize by the Canadian Political Science Association. Her article, “The Security Bazaar,” published in the flagship journal International Security,won the 2017 Best Security Article Award from the International Studies Association.She has conducted fieldwork in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Somalia, Mali, Iraq, and Lebanon, and has advised both government and international organizations on global security policies. Her research uncovers the economic drivers of conflict in war zones across the modern Muslim world.
Dr. Ahmad is also the 2018 winner of the Northrop Frye Award of Excellence for outstanding contributions to co-curricular learning and pedagogical innovation; this prize is awarded to one faculty member per year, across all three campuses, all disciplines, and academic ranks at the University of Toronto. She also won the 2018 University of Toronto, Scarborough Campus (UTSC) Assistant Professor Award for outstanding contributions to undergraduate teaching at the Scarborough campus. In 2017, she was named one of Toronto’s “most inspiring women” of 2017 in Post City Magazine. In 2018, she was named the 2018 “Muslim Woman of the Year” at the Muslim Awards of Excellence MAX gala, which celebrates outstanding achievements by a Muslim Canadian in their field. Dr. Ahmad is also the CEO of the Women in International Security Toronto chapter, which she co-founded with Dr. Leah Sarson. She is especially committed to expanding the national reach and influence of WIIS-Canada, as well as welcoming and mentoring women from underrepresented communities in the field of security.
Dr. Gaëlle Rivard Piché
Vice Chair of the Board
Gaëlle Rivard Piché is a strategic analyst for Defence Research and Development Canada. She works closely with the Canadian Armed Forces, providing direct decision-making support through evidence-based research on a wide range of topics. She is currently a fellow at the Norman Paterson School of International Affairs (Carleton University), where she completed her Ph.D. in International Affairs in 2017. She is also a guest lecturer at the Canadian Forces College and works as a consultant for the Royal Canadian Mounted Police on security sector reform and peace operations. In 2014-2015, Dr. Rivard Piché was a Fulbright research fellow in the International Security Program at the Harvard’s Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs. As a Ph.D. candidate, she conducted extensive field research in Haiti and El Salvador between 2012 and 2015, looking at the consequences of security sector reform on public order and violence. To that end, she also did an internship at the United Nations’ Department of Peace Keeping Operations in New York in 2013.
Dr. Rivard Piché is a founding member of WIIS-Canada. As a student, she benefited immensely from the network, the annual workshop, and the safe environment it provides. She now hopes to contribute to the organisation’s next development stages as a member of the board and a mentor. As a woman who works and conducts research in challenging, male-dominated environments, she considers it is crucial for professional and personal growth to support and exchange with other women in the field.
Ani Mamikon is a litigation lawyer at the Department of Justice in Toronto. She practices in the areas of extradition, international and national security law. She holds a BA Hons and MA in Political Science, specializing in international relations and security studies. Ms. Mamikon has clerked at the Federal Court of Canada, practiced as a criminal defence lawyer and has held various positions in the federal government.
Dr. Leah Sarson
Director of Operations
Leah Sarson is an assistant professor of International Relations at Dalhousie University, where her work explores Indigenous global politics in the extractive resource sector. Her broader research interests focus on Canadian foreign policy, International Relations, gender, and the Arctic. Prior to joining Dalhousie, she was a Fulbright researcher and SSHRC post-doctoral fellow at Dartmouth College in Hanover, New Hampshire, where she remains a fellow at the Dickey Center for International Understanding and a visiting Arctic fellow at the Institute of Arctic Studies. She completed her PhD in Political Studies in December 2016 at Queen’s University in Kingston, Ontario, where she is also a fellow at the Centre for International and Defence Policy. Dr. Sarson holds additional positions at Dalhousie’s Centre for the Study of Security and Development, the Bill Graham Centre for Contemporary International History at the University of Toronto and the Canadian International Council. She has also held professional positions at the Asia Pacific Foundation of Canada and Global Affairs Canada, among others.
Dr. Sarson has been an active member of WIIS-Canada since 2014 and is president of the Toronto chapter of WIIS-Canada, which she co-founded with Dr. Aisha Ahmad. Her publications include a 2017 article in Études internationalesthat draws on her experiences organizing the 2015 WIIS-Canada annual workshop, a co-authored chapter in a forthcoming book celebrating ten years of WIIS-Canada, and several other publications exploring Canadian foreign policy. She is particularly committed to building the community of WIIS-Canada scholars, students, and practitioners and expanding the WIIS-Canada mentorship program.
Assistant to the Executive Director
Bibi Imre-Millei is a Masters student at Queen's University in Political Studies where she is researching the intersection of war, emerging technology, and gender. Bibi also works at the Centre for International and Defence Policy (CIDP) where she is part of the team running the CIDP's blog: Contact Report. Her involvement with with WIIS began in 2017, when she was first the Funding and Sponsorship Coordinator, and later the Vice President for the Queen's Chapter of WIIS-Canada. In her spare time, she likes to read sci-fi and answer emails.
As the Assistant to the Executive Director, Bibi will work in collaboration with the Executive Director to ensure that the overall management and operations of WIIS-Canada provides high value to its members.
Strategic Communication Advisor
Pam Simpson is a recent Master's graduate from Queen's University where she specialized in International Relations. Her research interests lie in democratization studies of East Africa, and transnational money laundering and terrorist financing. She is the co-author of the article titled “Tracking Transnational Terrorist Resourcing Nodes and Networks” which will appear in the Florida State University Law Review, and is hoping to pursue anti-money laundering and terrorist financing in the future, as she will be contributing to a book on the subject over the coming year.
Pam is the Strategic Communication Advisor for WIIS-Canada and is responsible for our communication campaigns and social media platforms.