CIC Toronto Branch Leadership Biographies
Jo-Ann has led successful strategic change initiatives for 15 years for some of Canada’s largest corporations, as well as provincial ministries and agencies. Jo-Ann is former Chair of the Board, and elected trustee for the Toronto Catholic District School Board (2010 – 2018). In addition to her volunteer role at The CIC, she is currently on the Board of Directors of Young People’s Theatre and Space Place Planetarium Canada. Jo-Ann studied at St Michael’s College, University of Toronto; the School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London, and the London School of Economics, University of London.
Aaron is an associate lawyer at Aird & Berlis LLP practicing primarily in corporate finance and corporate-corporate finance and corporate-commercial law. In the past Aaron has been a volunteer report writer for the Canadian Senate’s All-Party Parliamentary Group for the Prevention of Genocide and Other Crimes.
Aaron holds a Master of Laws in European and International Business Law from Université Lyon III Jean Moulin, a Juris Doctor degree from Queen’s University and a Bachelor of Political Science from the University of British Columbia. Aaron has also studied international business law at the Bader International Study Centre at Herstmonceux Castle in the UK and international relations theory at the Institut d’études politiques de Paris in France.
Vice President & Technology Chair
Ilyes Saidani is currently a broker with Solar Brokers Canada in addition to completing his Honours BA at the University of Toronto (Victoria College) in Ethics, Society, and Law. As a renewable energy broker Ilyes has contributed to the fight against climate change by assisting in the completion of numerous investments in solar energy.
At the University of Toronto, Ilyes has been an Associate Editor at The Strand Paper, the co-founder of several student-based political organizations such as Awakened Youth Against Apathy (AYAA), and a finalist at select annual Law & Business case competitions. Ilyes holds high interest in global affairs, currently holding a Deputy-Ambassador position on the board of the Young Professionals in Foreign Policy Toronto Branch. On a volunteer basis, Ilyes continues to work with The Semiotones, a beloved band based out of Victoria College that plays for SickKids charity fundraising.
Andrew Defor is a Diplomatic Strategist and Senior Researcher in Foreign Policy and Global Health. He also acts as Permanent Representative and Head of Mission at YPFP Toronto. Since 2008, he has acquired extensive foreign policy, international affairs, global health and diplomatic professional experience through his work at the United Nations World Health Organization (WHO), the United Nations Education Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) and many other Canadian international NGO’s like the Christian Children’s Fund of Canada. He currently serves as Programming Chair of the Canadian International Council’s Toronto Branch.
His academic background spans the fields of Pharmacology, Global Health, Public Policy, Foreign Policy and Diplomacy. He recently became a candidate of the Doctor of Philosophy Degree in Global Health.
Henry Lotin is a recently retired Foreign Service Officer of the Department of Global Affairs Canada (now DFATD), who also served the Federal Departments of Industry Canada and Indian Affairs and Northern Development over a 30+ years Public Service Career. Assignments have spanned Trade Promotion, Trade and Economics Policy (including G7 Summitry), Innovation and Commercialization (secondments with Industry Canada), Reconstruction and Human Rights. Foreign assignments included UN New York, New Delhi and the Canadian Delegation to the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) Vienna. Henry obtained a Bachelor and Masters Degree from the University of Toronto.(BA Administration Coop.MA Public Administration and Economics). Mid-career he also received a Masters Certificate in European Institutions from the College of Europe in Bruges, Belgium. Henry has been active with both the Atlantic Council of Canada and Canadian International Council since being an Undergraduate. He has also been active with the Couchiching Institute of Public Affairs.
Renee van Kessel
Renee van Kessel is a corporate/commercial lawyer in private practice in Toronto with Cohen LLP, a charter member of the International Network of Boutique Law Firms. Prior to beginning her own practice, Renee spent over 10 years as in-house counsel to some of Canada’s best known organizations, including the LCBO, the AIR MILES® Program, and OWL Magazine and Television. Renee received her Bachelor of Laws from Osgoode Hall Law School at York University, her B.A.(Honours) in Political Studies at Queen’s University in Kingston, and recently her Masters in National Security and Defence Policy at the Canadian Forces College.
Renee has a long-standing interest in international affairs and conflict resolution, sitting on the board of the CIC Toronto for the past 10 years, advising Proyecto Accesso (a democratization organization for Latin America), participating in the organization and facilitation of the Worldview Conflict Resolution Conference for students in 2005, providing Canadian counsel to the Centre for Peace Through Culture, and in 1993, was a founding member of the Canadian Chapter of the Canadian German Lawyers’ Association.
Fraser Mann is a founding partner of Mann Symons LLP, and was previously a partner at several prominent Canadian law firms. He practices primarily in the areas of technology, procurement, e-health and intellectual property law. He acts for various clients in the public sector, including government ministries and agencies, crown corporations, municipalities, hospitals, colleges and other institutions. He also represents various suppliers and users of technology products and services in the private sector. He represents clients at all stages of the procurement cycle, with a particular focus on large outsourcing agreements, IT service agreements (including cloud-based agreements), software licenses and software development agreements.
Fraser is Past President of the Canadian Information Technology Law Association (IT.Can). He has served as Chair of the International Law Section of the Canadian Bar Association, Co-Chair of the Technology Law Committee of the International Bar Association and director of York Technology Association. He is the author of Computer Technology and the Law in Canada, co-author of Internet Law, and co-editor of Electronic Commerce: A Practitioner’s Guide and of Mann’s Technology Law News.
Fraser has been recognized as a leading lawyer in technology law by various national and international publications, including Chambers Global Guide (where he has been ranked in Tier 1 of Technology lawyers in Canada), LEXPERT, the International Who’s Who of Internet and e-Commerce Lawyers and Best Lawyers in Canada.