Our People

Nafisa Mohamed (She/Her)

Grants and Special Projects Coordinator

Nafisa Mohamed is the Coordinator for Grants and Special Projects at NABC. She oversees the distribution of grants and supports the administrative coordination of various projects and transformative initiatives. Nafisa holds an Honours Bachelor of Arts degree, majoring in International Development Studies and Women’s Studies from the University of Toronto. Throughout her journey, Nafisa has worked to empower disadvantaged youth with several local non-for-profit and international organizations. From actively volunteering in grassroots organizations committed to youth development, to social justice and community building, she has continuously pursued her passions for youth empowerment and activism.  She is strongly grounded in the unity and collective progress of the Black community. She cares about issues of human rights, social justice, and social development with a focus on capacity building, youth development and conflict resolution.


Nafisa is a committed young leader with a strong passion for advocating for the Black community. She has been active and engaged in several initiatives and projects in the last few years in relation to her passion. She is compassionate and motivated in bettering the Black community with comprehensive knowledge in navigating systems affecting youth and marginalized communities. Co-founder of NOOR, a Youth-Led initiative created to educate, empower, and unite the Black Muslim youth across the GTA.

Sarah Mekonen (She/Her)

Communications & Digital Content Coordinator

Sarah Mekonen is the Communications & Digital Content Coordinator at NABC, where she is responsible for maintaining transparent, effective, and meaningful outreach through the support and promotion of organizational initiatives and programs. 

Sarah is a communications professional who graduated from Wilfrid Laurier University with a Bachelor of Communications and has worked with a variety of organizations to promote accessibility and inclusivity through strategic communications. She has provided tactical communications expertise and support through her work at the City of Guelph where she led initiatives such as the Guelph Urban Design Awards where she was able to increase audience engagement and enthusiasm through the implementation of various strategic communications tactics. She also has experience coordinating website design and rebranding.

Sarah is passionate about using communications and storytelling to provide a platform for all voices to be heard. She believes it’s important to be intentional and sensitive through all methods of communication, as it’s essential to acknowledge and appreciate all individuality within the workplace and community at large.

Abubacar Fofana León (He/Him)

Senior Coordinator for Knowledge Mobilization
and Community Engagement

Abubacar Fofana León is PhD (ABD) in History of Africa and the Caribbean, Department of History, York University. He holds a Masters in International Relations (Africa) from the Higher Institute of International Relations, and a Bachelor in Education (History & Philosophy – Africa & the Caribbean) from the University of Pedagogical Sciences, both in Havana, Cuba. He was Visiting Scholar at York University’s Centre for Refugee Studies, Visiting Research Fellow at the Center for African Studies at the University Eduardo Mondlane in Mozambique, and Research Consultant at the Center for Research on Slavery and Indenture (CRSI) at the University of Mauritius. 

Within York University, Abubacar designed, and coordinated the Harriet Tubman Student Summer Program (2010-2018), the African Derived Spiritualities Series (2013-2017), and the Spotlighting and Promoting African Canadian Experiences (SPACE) Initiative with its focus on community engagement (2014-2018); within the Center for Research on Latin America and the Caribbean (CERLAC), he designed and led the “Young Amautas of the Americas,” CERLAC’s Youth Summer Program, (2015-2018); and also designed and coordinated “The Luso-Brazilian Youth Summer Program”, within the Department of Languages, Literature & Linguistics, Faculty of Liberal Arts & Professional Studies (2016-2018). Abubacar was the former Coordinator of the Harriet Tubman Institute for Research on African and its Diasporas, at York University (2018-2019).

In addition to these contributions, as an Afro-Latin American person and reflective of his personal concerns about the special challenges facing Spanish-speaking persons of African descent in a country which accepts English and French as official languages, Abubacar launched in 2010 and led the Afro-Latin American Working Group in Toronto which provides a national and international forum for discussion of the civil, social and cultural barriers faced by members of Afro-Latin American community. Abubacar has a passion for curriculum development, community engagement, heritage education and book discussions, but also enjoys travelling to new and interesting cultural spaces.

Rosemary Erskine (She/Her)

Senior Coordinator for Organizational Development
and Technical Assistance

Rosemary Erskine is a graduate of Schullah School of Business, York University’s Masters Certificate in Organization Development and Change. Rosemary has over 15 years of experience in non-profit organizational development and management and in healthcare settings.  Most recently, she has been developing and working with small and medium-sized non-profit organizations coaching new Executive Directors to experience their full potential in their role, supporting organizations with funding strategies and writing grant proposals, developing strategic plans, and policy creation.  

She is the past Office Manager, New Dawn Moravian Church, Project Coordinator, Peel Newcomer Strategy Group, and Executive Director of the Eritrean Canadian Community Centre. She is a single mother with three grandchildren who live in Germany and Portugal.  

Rosemary is originally from the island of Antigua and is a creative dressmaker who has in the past, sewn ballet costumes for the Ontario School of Ballet.

Minnie Karanja (She/Her)

Director of Government Relations and Public Policy

Minnie Karanja is the Director of Government Relations and Public Policy at NABC where she collaborates with the team and external stakeholders to advance public policy issues pertinent to African-Canadians’ socio-economic-political wellbeing. She also engages in government relations activities to develop strategic partnerships with elected officials and public servants across all levels of government from Federal to Provincial and Municipal. 

She has a Masters in International Relations from Swansea University in the United Kingdom and has extensive experience working in the international development sector in East Africa. She has also worked in the Media sector as a senior writer and marketing executive. She’s currently completing a Certificate Program in Public Policy and Management at Dalhousie University. Outside of the office, she enjoys reading, travelling, and taking long walks in the summer.

Denise Challenger (She/Her)

Director of Network Weaving and Communication

Denise Challenger, Director of Network Weaving and Communication, oversees the implementation of communication systems and digital platforms that assist agencies to identify their interests and challenges, form new connections, and achieve mutually beneficial goals. Ultimately, she ensures the social connectivity of NABC agencies in order to advance systems change work within the Black non-profit sector

Denise’s passion for community engagement and expertise in digital humanities motivates her to find collaborative and creative ways for network members to share resources, mobilize knowledge and communicate effectively in lived and virtual spaces. Before joining NABC, Denise was the coordinator of the Harriet Tubman Institute for Research on Africa and its Diasporas, York University. She designed programs both to teach high school students about the history of Black inventors and to train them in computing technology. She has extensive experience organizing international and local conferences for academics and non-academics alike. For several years, in Scarborough and Durham, she volunteered to facilitate youth discussions related to race and gender equity. 

Being a Caribbean and gender historian, Denise has a deep understanding of the past conditions that have shaped present day lives of diasporic peoples. Her outlook on the world is one of work-life balance: meditation and yoga feature prominently in how she engages with people and life in general.

Yonatan Ghebray (He/Him)

Senior Director of Evaluation, Learning and Quality Improvement

Yonatan Ghebray is NABC’s Senior Director of Evaluation, Learning and Quality Improvement. He works with NABC’s team and strategic partners to build and enhance data and evaluation capacity of Black-led, Black-focused, and Black-serving organizations through innovative learning strategies to advance systems change. Yonatan brings a wealth of experience in community health, community development, community-based research & evaluation, evaluative capacity building and culture of inquiry-based learning. He held various positions in non-profit and funding organizations; designed and taught community development practices, grant writing, and program evaluation courses in college; and provided consulting services in evaluative capacity and culture building.

Through these experiences, he developed a deeper understanding of what it takes to bring about transformational change in organizations and communities. He is a firm believer in self-empowerment as a precondition for meaningful engagement in systems change. He also believes systems change requires engaging in difficult conversations that must first lead to personal transformation. He understands the complexity and messiness of systems change and sees himself as part of the system that must change for the better.

Yonatan received a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology and Masters in Education at York University, and is an alumnus of the Emerging Leaders Program, Management Certificate offered by United Way Toronto, Metcalf Foundation and York University’s Schulich School of Business, and Maytree Foundation’s Leaders for Change. As a passionate soccer player and amateur coach, he brings coaching principles and team spirit to his work.

amanuel melles (He/Him)

Executive Director

amanuel melles (aman) brings more than 28 years of management and senior management experience in various sub-sectors of the non-profit sector: settlement and immigration, community health, social services and community development, and funding & sector capacity. aman was on the Senior Management Team at United Way Toronto and the Director of Programs & Capacity Building where he led the development of the Organizational Capacity Building Unit and was responsible for leading the introduction of several innovative and creative leadership, capacity building, evaluation and granting programs aimed at building various capacities of non-profit agencies and communities in Toronto. Prior to his role at United Way Toronto, aman held various roles at OCASI, Lawrence Heights Community Health Centre and Family Service Toronto.

Over the years, aman has contributed to the vibrancy of the non-profit sector and communities as a Board member, executive officer and civic leader: Distress Centres Toronto, Social Planning Toronto, Ontario Council for International Cooperation , Inclusive Cities Canada’s Toronto Civic Panel, Couchiching Institute on Public Affairs, African Canadian Social Development Council. In 2018, aman was appointed, for a two-year term, by Toronto’s Mayor to sit on the Confronting Anti-Black Racism Unit’s, City of Toronto, Partnership and Accountability Circle. He’s currently the President of InterChange Community-Based Peacebuilding International Institute, sits on the Board of Social Innovation Canada and chairs the Board of Institute of Change Leaders. aman is an alumnus of the Maytree Foundation Leaders for Change and the Maytree-York University Management programs. As a former marine ecologist, aman often brings ecosystem thinking to his work with organizations and communities. aman is the recipient of the Jane Jacobs Prize, the New Pioneers Award, the African Canadian Leadership Award, and the Emancipation Day Underground Freedom Train Ride – Community Service Award

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