About Legal Aid Ontario

Board of Directors

Posted below is a listing of the current members of Legal Aid Ontario's Board of Directors. For more information on any of these members please contact LAO at info@lao.on.ca.

Last updated: July 2019

Board Chair

Photo of Charles Harnick

Charles Harnick

April 2019 - present

Charles Harnick is a mediator, arbitrator and investigator with ADR Chambers. He is also a principal at Counsel Public Affairs, one of Ontario’s pre‑eminent government relations practices, and the Senior Adjudicative Officer of the General Insurance Ombudservice, an independent service that adjudicates disputes between consumers and member insurance companies. Charles is also a guest lecturer at York University’s Osgoode Hall certificate program in negotiation.

Charles served as Attorney General of Ontario from 1995 to 1999 and Minister Responsible for Native Nations Affairs. He is responsible for the creation of Legal Aid Ontario and the Ontario Mandatory Mediation Program. He was an elected member of the Ontario Legislature from 1990 to 1999.

As a mediator, Charles was instrumental in bringing the major legal organizations in Ontario together with paralegal organizations, culminating in legislation that has made the Law Society of Ontario the regulator of paralegal activities.

Charles spent several years as a Chief Federal Land Claims negotiator, including amongst others, the Coldwater land claim. He is a Former Director of Goldstone Resources (GRC), a company that specializes in mining exploration and development. He is a former board member and Vice Chairman of St. John’s Rehabilitation Hospital and a member of the Board of Ornge, Ontario’s emergency air and land ambulance service.

Charles was certified as a specialist in civil litigation in 1991, was appointed a Queen’s Counsel in 1992 and in 2005 he was awarded the Law Society Medal.

Board members

Ann Marie Yantz

Ann Marie Yantz

Currently serving at the pleasure of the Lieutenant Governor

Ann Marie is an experienced paralegal from Kitchener, Ontario, and the first paralegal in Ontario to be appointed to the executive of a law association. She joined the firm Kelly & Co. in September 1997 and received her law clerk diploma from the Institute of Law Clerks in 2000 and became licensed as a paralegal by the Law Society of Upper Canada in 2008. Ann Marie has provided per diem prosecution services for matters concerning the Provincial Offences Act for both Halton Region and the Ministry of the Attorney General. Ann Marie is a board member of the paralegal advisory committee at Conestoga College, a member of the Prosecutors Association of Ontario and an associate member of the Institute of Law Clerks. In 2013, Ann Marie became the first elected paralegal board member of the Waterloo Region Law Association, where she was a trustee and treasurer until 2017.

Carol L. Hartman

Carol L. Hartman

September 2015 - September 2020

Ms. Hartman, a partner in the Sudbury‑based lawfirm Miller Maki LLP, specializes in family law and is a leader in the legal community. She has been Chair of her firm's Compensation Fund Committee, Vice‑Chair of its Government and Public Affairs Committee, and Vice‑Chair of its Law Society Strategic Planning Group. She has also been Chair of the Law Society Finance Committee, Vice President of the County and District Law Presidents' Association and President of the Sudbury and District Law Association. In addition, she has contributed to her community through extensive volunteer work, benefitting the Sudbury Regional Hospital, CKLU radio, the Family Enrichment Centre and the Women's Law Association of Ontario.

Christa Freiler

Christa Freiler

July 2015 - July 2020

Christa Freiler has over 35 years' experience in social policy and research in both the non‑profit and government sectors. She is the former Director of Research and Strategic Initiatives for the Canadian Education Association, former National Coordinator of Inclusive Cities Canada, and former Coordinator of the Laidlaw Foundation's program in social inclusion. While a Program Director with the Toronto Social Planning Council in the 1980s, Ms. Freiler co‑founded the Child Poverty Action Group, a public interest research and advocacy organization that led to the formation of Campaign 2000. She is also the former Senior Policy Coordinator with the Race Relations Directorate of the Ministry of Citizenship and former Policy Assistant to the Minister of Community and Social Services, providing policy advice on issues related to poverty, social assistance reform, long term care, and child care.

Ms. Freiler's community involvement includes Immigrant Services of Guelph. She holds an honours BA in Philosophy from the University of Alberta and a Master of Social Work in Social Policy, Planning and Administration from the University of Toronto.

David Wexler

David Wexler

June 2019 - June 2021

David Wexler is Vice President, Human Resources with The Vector Institute. He is an Associate Senior Consultant at LHH Knightsbridge. Mr. Wexler's community involvement includes serving as a board member for Cancer Care Ontario and Vaughan Community HealthCare Corporation.

Michel Robillard

Michel Robillard

July 2015 - July 2020

After a successful career in the federal public service, Mr. Robillard became Executive Director of the Coalition ontarienne de formation des adultes (COFA) in 2012. COFA is a non‑profit organization working in the field of literacy and basic skills for Francophone adults in Ontario.

Prior to joining COFA, Mr. Robillard was Vice‑President of the Canadian Northern Economic Development Agency, based in Iqaluit, Nunavut. Previously, he was Director General, Organization and Classification Infrastructure and before that, Director General, Strategic Infrastructure, Information Management and Chief Information Officer at the Canada Public Service Agency. Throughout his career, he has held several positions at regional, national and international levels.

For many years, he taught change management and management of public organizations at the École nationale d'administration publique.

Mr. Robillard has a master's degree in public administration, a specialized diploma in international administration and a bachelor's degree in business administration. In 2009, he graduated from the Accelerated Executive Development Program of the federal public service.

He has significant experience in project management and complex transformation initiatives.

Nancy Cooper

Nancy Cooper

February 2009 - February 2020

Nancy Cooper is a lawyer in private practice and a longstanding member of the criminal law and family law panels for Legal Aid Ontario in the Northeast District. Ms. Cooper holds a Bachelor of Arts degree with a major in Sociology, a Bachelor of Laws, and the Diplôme de français juridique, all from the University of Western Ontario. Called to the Bar in 1992, Ms. Cooper now works almost exclusively in criminal law defence, serving the First Nations communities along the James Bay coast. She has held many positions throughout her law career including partner in her own firm, supervisory duty counsel (family law) for Legal Aid Ontario, and sole practitioner. She is currently an associate at Evans, Bragagnolo & Sullivan LLP in Timmins.

Ms. Cooper has a significant history of community involvement as well, having served on several non‑profit boards and justice committees in her local community. In 2012/2013, she assisted in the formulation of several recommendations for the improvement of the fly‑in court system for Northern Ontario while serving on the working group for the Ontario Court of Justice. Presently, she serves on the board of the Jubilee Centre, a residential and day treatment facility in Timmins, and is on the executive committee of the Timmins Chamber of Commerce. She is also a frequent guest speaker and presenter for various social organizations in the City of Timmins.

Peter Owsiany

Peter Owsiany

December 2018 - December 2020

Mr. Owsiany is the president and CEO of AccertaClaim Servicorp Inc. Before joining Accerta he held various positions at TELUS Health and has more than 20 years of global operations and sales experience with Canadian and U.S. based multinational corporations, including postings in Japan, Singapore, U.S. and South Africa.

Mr. Owsiany holds a B.Comm. from Concordia University and an MBA from the University of Phoenix. He has participated in various executive programs including Harvard University (Cybersecurity), Wharton‑SMU Research Center and the Schulich School of Business at York University. He is also involved in serving and supporting various not‑for‑profit organizations across the GTA.

Remy Sirls-Boulbol

Remy Sirls-Boulbol

January 2018 - January 2020

Remy brings with her nearly 20 years of experience working with various social justice organizations focusing on health, education, immigration, and women's issues.

She has worked extensively in both Canada and the U.S.—specifically in Windsor and in Detroit—with a focus on strategic planning to ensure organizations are better equipped to meet client needs.

Currently, she is Manager, Southwest Ontario with VON Canada. Prior to that, she was executive director of development and programming at the Detroit Public Schools Foundation and served as Director of Development and Community Engagement at Welcome Centre Shelter for Women in Windsor.

In addition to serving on LAO's board, she is also a board member of Windsor Women Working with Immigrant Women, and Assisted Living Southwest Ontario.

Sean Robichaud

Sean Robichaud

December 2018 - December 2020

Sean Robichaud is lead counsel to the law firm Robichaud's in Toronto where he practices exclusively in criminal and constitutional litigation. He was called to the bar in 2005 after graduating from Queen's University Faculty of Law. He holds his LL.M from Osgoode Law School and is a Certified Specialist in criminal law by the Law Society of Ontario.

Mr. Robichaud is an active member of the legal community and a member of various organizations including the Canadian Bar Association, The Advocates' Society, the Criminal Lawyers' Association, the Toronto Lawyers Association, and the York Regional Law Association. He is creator and host of the popular legal podcast, Of Counsel. He is also the owner and founder of King Law Chambers in Toronto, an innovative legal office space and provider of business solutions to over 75 lawyers practicing in diverse areas of law. He is father to twin boys and resides with his wife in York Region, Ontario.

LAO President & CEO

Photo of David Field

David Field

2016 - present

Mr. Field brings with him an extensive background in financial and strategic planning. He has worked in various capacities for the Government of Ontario, including work at the Ministry of the Attorney General, the Ministry of Community and Social Services, the Ministry of Children and Youth Services and the Treasury Board Secretariat. Most recently, he was LAO's Vice President of Strategic Planning and Compliance, where he was instrumental in developing LAO's modern management methods to benefit client service and organizations effectiveness.

Additionally, Mr. Field was part of the project team that created LAO in 1998. He played a key role in drafting and negotiating the Memorandum of Understanding between LAO and the Ministry of the Attorney General.

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