Staff and Volunteers

Reza Ahmadi // Director of Research & Evaluation

Email: rahmadi@johnhoward.on.ca

Reza has extensive experience managing complex and large-scale research and evaluation projects. Reza has a strong understanding of quantitative and qualitative methodologies, performance measurement and effective data collection strategies. He is experienced at collaborating with community stakeholders to design evaluation frameworks that are both evidence-based and tailored to the specific needs of JHS local offices. Reza has managed a number of the Centre’s research and evaluation projects including a SSHRC funded project on reintegration, criminal records, and evaluations of youth gang and housing programs. He excels at translating ideas into action, and is passionate about using visual and digital media to make research and data interesting and interactive. Reza holds a B.A. from York University and an M.A. from the University of Toronto, as well as a Research Analyst Postgraduate certificate from Humber College.


Jacqueline Tasca // Director of Partnerships & Strategic Initiatives

Email: jtasca@johnhoward.on.ca

Jacqueline brings over nine years of strategic leadership experience in the development and coordination of criminal justice policy and legal reform at senior levels in provincial government and the non-profit sector. Serving most recently as a Senior Policy Advisor to the Minister of Community Safety and Correctional Services and the Attorney General, Jacqueline led reforms to Ontario’s bail system, correctional institutions, and criminal law. Jacqueline has a strong understanding of government decision-making and legislative processes and is passionate about building relationships with stakeholders across sectors. Jacqueline previously led successful public education initiatives, presented at conferences and before Legislative committees, and acted as media spokesperson for JHSO. She has also authored a number of reports, submissions and media articles on issues such as police record checks, bail and the criminalization of mental health issues. Jacqueline received her B.A. and M.A. in Criminology from the University of Toronto. During her graduate studies, she focused on public policy and politics around crime and criminal justice in Canada, as well as gender and crime.


Safiyah Husein // Senior Policy Analyst

Email: shusein@johnhoward.on.ca

Safiyah has a BSc in Psychology from York University and a JD from the University of Windsor Faculty of Law. She completed her articles at the Office of the Ontario Ombudsman and was called to the Ontario Bar in June 2018. Prior to law school, Safiyah cut her teeth in policy and advocacy work at York University’s students union, where she engaged with government and university administration on issues involving students and marginalized communities including lobbying for accessible post-secondary education and combatting sexual violence and discrimination on campus. Safiyah has represented clients on criminal law files at Community Legal Aid in Windsor, worked on corrections issues at the Ontario Ombudsman’s office and conducted research on youth bail and the over-representation of Indigenous people in the criminal justice system. She strives to promote and protect the rights of marginalized and vulnerable populations through policy reform to address systemic inequities.


Aileen Simon // Project Coordinator, Education & Strategic Initiatives

Aileen joined the Centre in 2020 and is the project lead for the Centre’s Second Chance Project. Aileen holds a BSocSc in Political Science from the University of Ottawa and a JD from Western University. After having been called to the Ontario Bar in June 2018, Aileen completed a MSc in Policy Studies from the University of Edinburgh. During her graduate studies, she focused on political issues in public policy and comparative public policy. Aileen previously volunteered at the Centre while completing her master’s thesis on correctional health care.


Hannah Cook // Research Analyst

Hannah joined the Centre of Research & Policy in 2020 and is involved in the evaluation of a variety of local office programs and provides support to current research projects. She holds a B.A. in Psychology from Wilfrid Laurier University and a Research Analyst Post-Graduate Certificate from Humber College. During her post-graduate studies, she focused her research on the policies surrounding drug related harm-reduction throughout various jurisdictions. Hannah was previously an intern at the Centre.


Meaghan Costa // Research Analyst

Meaghan joined the Centre of Research & Policy in 2019 and is involved in the evaluation of a variety of local office programs, and provides support to current research projects. She holds a B.A. in Sociology from McMaster University and an M.A. in Criminology & Sociolegal studies from the University of Toronto. During her graduate studies, she focused her research on the policies surrounding the Ontario bail system and assisted in the coordination of a panel discussion involving key stakeholders on bail reform. Meaghan was previously a volunteer at the Centre.


Avery Au // Project Lead, Strategic Initiatives

Avery joined the John Howard Society of Ontario in March 2021 to lead the Fair Chance Hiring initiative. Trained as a lawyer, he’s a project manager and justice advocate who’s experienced at building effective partnerships across sectors and organizations. The Fair Chance Hiring initiative is focused on enabling employers, HR professionals, and related businesses – like background check companies – to advance workplace equity while strengthening their bottom lines. In 2018, Avery founded the Law & Design CoLab – a nonprofit that unites professionals in design and creative strategy with justice advocates to develop impactful media campaigns. The CoLab is currently developing a public-facing campaign to support bail reform in Ontario. Avery has a JD from the University of Toronto Faculty of Law and a BaSC from the University of Waterloo.


Justin McNeil // Research & Evaluation Specialist

Justin joined the Centre in 2021. He has an M.A. and PhD in psychology from the University of Toronto. His research focused on political participation in youth, and how youth balance personal choice against civic obligations. Justin is passionate about research methods. He has an extensive background in quantitative and qualitative designs and analyses. He has also worked in assessment design and has experience in psychometric analyses. Justin has worked on service delivery research, where his role has been focused on research design, statistical analyses, and the dissemination of research results.