By Lincoln Alexander School of Law/Toronto Metropolitan University
We are delighted to welcome Anita Balakrishna as our new Assistant Dean, Student Programming and Equity at the Lincoln Alexander School of Law.
With more than 20 years of professional legal, education, and community development experience in the areas of access to justice, human rights, accessibility and equity, Anita is well-positioned to provide strategic leadership and oversight for Lincoln Alexander Law’s co-curriculum development, experiential learning, recruitment, admissions, financial assistance, career services, and most importantly, student health and well-being.
Anita joins us from the University of Toronto’s Temerty Faculty of Medicine where she most recently served as the Director of Strategy and Operations and Senior Equity Advisor. In this capacity, Anita led the creation of innovative programming such as the Diversity Mentorship Program for medical students, and oversaw the development of the Faculty’s inaugural Office of Inclusion and Diversity dedicated to promoting EDI in over 25 departments and units. She also worked collaboratively with senior leaders to help establish partnerships with several hospitals across the GTA in order to promote EDI and programming to help eliminate discrimination and harassment across the health care system.
Anita has worked extensively as an equity educator and trainer, conflict resolution advisor, diversity strategist, and as a director of equity, diversity and inclusion. And while Anita’s EDI and anti-oppression work spans her entire career, this portfolio was expanded at the University of Toronto and York University where she helped to remove barriers and expand opportunities for students, staff, and faculty members from historically marginalized groups, and worked to strengthen and sustain a community of inclusion and belonging. She has also spent time teaching as a Professor within Seneca College and Centennial College’s paralegal programs, and has a longstanding track record of providing meaningful mentorship and support for students.
After being called to the bar in 2004, Anita began her career as a staff lawyer with the South Asian Legal Clinic of Ontario (SALCO). During her time at SALCO, Anita’s main areas of practice included immigration and refugee law, human rights, and income security. Anita also practiced law with the Rexdale Community Legal Clinic and the Human Rights Legal Support Centre, where she provided legal advice and representation for community members and collaborated with stakeholders to conduct community development initiatives, law reform campaigns, and legal education programs.
In addition to her professional life, Anita has been actively involved in the community for many years, including serving on the Board of Directors for the Alliance for South Asian AIDS Prevention, the AIDS Committee of York Region, and most recently Right2Yoga, an organization offering yoga classes to people experiencing homelessness and other forms of social exclusion and discrimination in Toronto. She has also served on the Law Society of Ontario’s Equity Advisory Group, on the Toronto Community Housing Corporation’s External Advisory Committee on Housing Equity, and has provided pro bono legal services for youth in need with the Teen Legal Helpline. Anita’s ongoing commitment to social justice has been greatly enhanced by her training and experience as a yoga teacher/therapist and in exploring ways to incorporate wellness into personal healing and organizational transformation.
Anita holds a BA from the University of Windsor, an LLB from Osgoode Hall Law School, and an MEd from the University of Toronto.
Anita will assume her new role at the law school on March 6, 2023.