MEET THE BOARD OF DIRECTORS: 2023 - 2025
The following individuals hold board positions at OPIRG York. Their term is from 2023 – 2025. There are currently two vacant spots. If you are interested in joining the board, please send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Sajeth Paskaran (he/him)
Sajeth Paskaran (he/him) is an alumni of York University who graduated with a degree in Criminology and Political Science. During his time in undergrad, Sajeth partook in several student-led campaigns like YU Divest & Fight the Fees, and was elected as President of McLaughlin College Council. During his tenure, he collaborated with other groups and advocated for better student conditions on and off campus. Since graduating, he has various work experience, working first hand in public safety while bringing forward progressive insights when it comes to safety and security. He completed an internship abroad with the United Nations Office on Drugs & Crime, and is looking to bring back his experience to serve the necessary advocacy work needed on campus and beyond.
Harriet South graduated from York University with a Bachelor of Arts (Hons) degree in English literature and Classical languages. She served as a Stong College Council member, a student rep on the Faculty of Arts Council, and the president of the Classical Studies Students Association. Harriet was also the first librarian appointed to the Judith Rosner-Siegel Memorial Library, Vanier College.
Harriet returns to York following a multi-faceted career with non-profits. She has advocated for workplace health and safety, awareness of mental health issues, and reducing barriers to learning. Harriet’s current focus is on decolonizing the academy.
[Photo credit: Genny Jon, YUL]
Negus Taylor (he/they)
Negus returns to the OPIRG board member from several years ago! He is graduating from Psychology in April 2023 and starting a second degree within the summer. He hopes to pursue the new data science degree York is offering. Previously on campus, Negus helped to run York’s Undergraduate Philosophy Club for many years.
Ateeq Shahid (he/him)
Ateeq is passionate about giving back to the community, sports and working with diverse people to make a change!
PAST BOARD MEMBERS
Ruby Loñoza-Barbonetti (she/her)
Ruby is currently pursuing a Master of Social Work at York University. She also serves as the student co-chair at the Canadian Association for Social Workers and is a member of the Community Safety Committee at the Willowdale Welcome Centre Shelter. She also collaborates with various grassroots groups striving to advance migrant women’s rights, advocating for labour rights, and empowering individuals with disabilities. During her undergraduate years at York, she worked at the York Federation of Students’ Wellness Centre for three years. Ruby is driven by her commitment to intersectional social justice and a desire to empower students and community members through community activism.
Randa Toma (she/her)
Randa Toma is a recent graduate of York University and has been regularly involved with campus advocacy associations including the Chaldean Canadian Student Association, Active Minds, and Able York. As a Chaldean Canadian woman, she stands in solidarity with all students of marginalized identities and backgrounds. She is especially passionate about devising ways to make our cities, communities, and social institutions more accessible for individuals who experience physical and social barriers.
Lauren Champagne (they/them)
Lauren is a 3rd year Math for Education student here at York, hoping to teach high school math and science when they graduate. They are most involved in food and housing justice, decolonization work, fat liberation, and 2SLGBTQ+ rights. Lauren ran a school lunch program as a high school student where they were responsible for finances, communication between groups of volunteers, and running volunteer meetings. They also have experience as a summer camp director where they was responsible for finances, administrative tasks, and running staff meetings.
Maria Amuchastegui (she/her)
Maria a PhD student in Science and Technology Studies (STS). She has extensive experience serving on the boards of nonprofits. She is a former board member of Amnesty International Canada (English-speaking) where she helped to lead Amnesty’s work on business and human rights. She is the former president of the board of the Centre for Spanish-Speaking Peoples, a United Way social services agency. She was the treasurer, and one of the original members, of Justice for Migrant Workers (J4MW). She was also involved in the Latin American Coalition against Racism (LACAR), an activist group that was formed to combat police racism against Latin American immigrants. Most recently, She was the PhD representative on the STS Grad Program Executive Committee.
Thais is an English and Computer Science double major at York University and also works as a Special Project Assistant for the Student Counselling, Health and Well-being (SCHW) department at the university. Thais is curious and passionate about the multiple facets involved in improving and maintaining good mental health on an individual and societal scale, and has the long term goal of becoming a psychiatrist.
Kaitlyn Cernanec (she/her)
Kaitlyn is a passionate and ambitious change-maker, fuelled by human-centred thinking and restorative justice. OPIRG is her gateway to pursue initiatives alongside other York students regarding inequities in the local community and beyond.
Kaitlyn’s educational background includes two years of Social Work (HBSW) and now, an honours degree in Anthropology, a unique combination of experience highlighting a consideration of all human conditions and perspectives.
Yaroslava Avila Montenegro (she/her)
Yaroslava Avila Montenegro, MA OCELT, is a Mapuche organizational specialist, with a background in Non-Profit governance and Labour organizing. Born and raised in Tkaronto—Huron-Wendat, Haudenosaunee and Mississauga of the New Credit territory—she is the daughter of Mapuche refugees from Wallmapu (aka Chile), organizing on topics of indigenous rights, economic and social justice. Her previous work includes working with Greenpeace Canada, the Ontario Public Interest Research Group (OPIRG), and representing Teaching Assistants as an elected official in various locales of the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE).
Currently, Yaroslava is the Director of Operations at Indigenous Climate Action and also a Doctoral researcher in the Department of Politics at York University, focusing on state securitization and criminalization of social and Indigenous liberation movements in Turtle Island and Abya Yala.