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Our Leadership Team

At Saskatoon Open Door Society our leadership team manages daily operations, programs and services. We have an incredible team of professionals with diverse experience, knowledge, and skills to set the standard for Saskatoon Open Door Society best practices and provide exceptional services.

Ali Abukar

Ali Abukar Chief Executive Officer

Ali Abukar (He, Him) joined the Saskatoon Open Door Society in November 2013 as a frontline staff member. Shortly afterwards, in early 2014, he was promoted to team leader in programming for newcomer school-aged children and youth. After just under two years as team leader, Ali was entrusted to lead SODS and stepped up to become its Chief Executive Officer in November 2015. 

Ali is a community leader and refugee advocate. His personal experience as a former refugee, along with his education and work experience, serve him well in the various roles he plays in the community. Ali is a lifelong learner, with a Master's of Social Work, two postgraduate degrees in Migration and Refugee Studies and in Psychosocial Interventions for Forced Migrants and Refugees, as well as an undergraduate degree in Business Administration. In addition, he has completed courses of leadership training and obtained professional certificates both here in Canada and overseas.

Ali fosters relationships between newcomers to Saskatoon and employers, community partners and members of the Indigenous community. He is passionate about social justice and addressing inequity through engagement in courageous conversations, collective action and support for social justice movements. He is engaged in community building for a global community where everyone matters, particularly the marginalized and vulnerable in our communities. Ali sits on various local and national advisory committees and working groups that support the work of immigrant service agencies, provide advocacy for refugees and immigrants, and promote diversity, equity and inclusion.

Anahit Falihi

Anahit Falihi Director, Settlement and Community Services (SCS)

Coming from a diverse cultural background, Anahit Falihi joined the Saskatoon Open Door Society (SODS) in November 2006. Prior to joining SODS, she was involved in art and design activities from costume and set design to art direction for feature films and television series. She co-founded and coordinated the first non-profit filmmaking organization in Saskatoon, and also worked as a researcher, visual artist and educator with various communities, colleges and universities.

Joining SODS opened up a new area of passion and growth in Anahit’s career, enabling her to direct her creativity towards diversity and community learning and development. She has held multiple leading roles at SODS within various units and has played a key part in initiating, developing, and expanding many programs. She is committed to ensuring that newcomers receive the support they need to thrive in their new community and constantly seeks innovative ways to enhance the services SODS provides.

Anahit, inspired by her role at SODS, completed a second Master’s degree in Educational Foundations and then a PhD in Educational Leadership, both at the University of Saskatchewan. In her PhD studies, she explored the challenges faced by community leaders providing culturally responsive child and family support services within a learning community, with a focus on community capacity building and development strategies. In her current position as the Director of Settlement and Integration programs, she combines her academic and research background with her direct experience of migration and integration.

Alongside her work, Anahit maintains an interest in music, visual art, poetry, archaeology and philosophy, and volunteers on various boards and committees to support initiatives related to social justice, diversity, and equity.

Ashraf Mirmontahai

Ashraf Mirmontahai Director, Employment Services Unit (ESU)

Ashraf Mirmontahai graduated from the University of Saskatchewan in 1996 with a Master’s Degree in Educational Administration. She has completed various training programs and earned certificates, including Program Planning and Evaluation, Coaching for Development and Performance, Program Evaluation, Managing Employees in a Unionized Environment,  and certification by the International Coach Federation (ICF) and the Global Alliance for Professional Leadership Development (GAPLD).

Ashraf has worked for the University of Saskatchewan and the Government of Saskatchewan. She has held the positions of Executive Director of International Women of Saskatoon and Acting Executive Director of the Saskatoon Open Door Society, where she is currently the Director of its Employment Services Unit. While with the Government of Saskatchewan, she received the Premier’s Award for Excellence in Public Service.

People who have worked with Ashraf in the past describe her as having an influential presence, being a strategic thinker who can see the big picture and develop long-term strategic planning, and as a compassionate and professional individual with extensive experience and a genuine desire to work with others and see them succeed. She brings compassion and empathy to her work with clients and colleagues alike and has a deep understanding of the many challenges clients experience in their career planning and job search journeys.

Ashfaque Ahmed

Ashfaque Ahmed Director, Settlement and Family Support Services (SFS)

For the past seven years, Ashfaque Ahmed has been working with the Saskatoon Open Door Society as the Director of its Settlement and Family Support Unit. In this role, he has expanded the unit's portfolio, improved program delivery by scaling up the core programs with increased human and financial resources to meet a growing demand, and introduced new projects in the course of expansion. He has provided leadership for three major waves of refugees and displaced populations in the last five years, notably from Syria, Afghanistan and Ukraine. He has taken initiatives to manage core partnerships and build new partnerships for program delivery and to expand the unit with new resources. He is continuously engaged in the organization’s strategic planning, goal setting, implementation strategy, dialogue and negotiations, to make SODS a trusted resource for services.

Ashfaque brings 23 years' experience in the settlement, international development and education sectors. Prior to working with the Saskatoon Open Door Society, he held front-line and senior management positions with settlement sector agencies in Canada, international NGOs and government departments overseas. In the course of his career, he has managed projects and programs with a total value of over $60 million in settlement, education and international development sectors.

Ashfaque has earned a Master's degree in Educational Administration from the University of Saskatchewan with a thesis stream, a Master's degree of Social Anthropology from overseas, also with a thesis stream, and a post-graduate diploma in Community Based Development grounded in core principles of Community Based Project Management.

He has received a list of professional certificates from Canadian and international institutions for continued learning and professional development. They covered executive leadership; project management (PMP Essentials); finance and accountability for non-financial executives and managers; supervision and leadership; understanding the world of the non-profit sector; and opportunity for growth.

He has participated in and made presentations at a number of Canadian and international conferences. Some of the key areas of interest to be engaged with via conferences are the Settlement Sector through Metropolis Conferences and the Education Sector through the Comparative and International Education Society.

Ashfaque has volunteered to serve in governance and contributed to Saskatchewan by joining various boards. Currently he sits on the Board of Directors of the SaskTel Centre. In the past he has served as a board member with the Saskatchewan Council for International Cooperation (SCIC) and contributed his time to a community board.

For his work and leisure, Ashfaque has travelled in Canada from coast to coast, in the US, South Asia, Europe and the Middle East. He finds that travelling makes learning faster and connects people with different cultures. He has raised his family in Saskatoon and calls this city home.

Henri de La Garde

Henri de La Garde Director, Language Training Unit (LTU)

Henri completed a BA Honours degree in Political Science and Public Administration at the University of Saskatchewan, with a double major in Languages and Linguistics. During University, along with working as a Teaching Assistant, he started a journey in English as a Second Language Teaching, working with International Students at the undergraduate and postgraduate level. Henri then worked in language program administration overseas for 10 years before starting with Saskatoon Open Door Society in 2011.

While running programs for Saskatoon Open Door Society, Henri’s program innovations and passion for advocacy on behalf of language training clients and programs gave him the opportunity to advise the federal government on language program policy as part of an expert consultative body, the Newcomer Language Advisory Body. Additional opportunities to inform national program policy arose as he was chosen to represent language on the National Settlement and Integration Council, and later as the sole language expert on the Settlement and Integration Program Policy Committee.

He has been active on the provincial scene with the Saskatchewan Association of Immigrant Serving Agencies for several terms as board member, President, and Past President, as well as being part of important collaborative efforts in the community on behalf of language training clients.

Language being the key to unlocking participation in Canadian society, Henri hopes to see SODS continue to provide high quality, targeted language services to clients. He is proud of the organization’s reputation of serving some of the most vulnerable clients.

Henri comes from a culturally diverse background, and has an immediate family that was not born in Canada. He is also proud to have served on various boards for community organizations, most recently SaskAbilities

Leanne May

Leanne May Director, Childcare Services

Leanne May (She, Her) began working at the Saskatoon Open Door Society in September 2016 when its Daycare service split off from its Language Training Unit to become Childcare Services. As Director of the new unit, Leanne oversees two licensed childcare centres that serve SODS clients and community members, as well as the Home Instruction for Preschool Youngsters (HIPPY) Program. 

Leanne is passionate about working with programs that serve families with young children and has gained work experience in a variety of early learning settings, including:

  • Preschool
  • A teen parent centre, in a high school
  • Licensed childcare centres, as an Early Childhood Educator and member of management
  • Private Licensed Childcare, as a home provider
  • Early Learning and Child Care, Ministry of Education's Early Years Branch, as a Program Consultant

Leanne’s years of experience in the childcare sector support her capacity to sit on the Boards of Directors and Advisory Committees of other organizations. She is currently a member of the executive teams for the Saskatchewan Early Childhood Association (SECA) and the Saskatchewan Federation of Early Learning, and she sits on advisory committees for the Saskatoon Family Resource Centre, Early Years, and the Saskatoon Women’s Business Hub. She continually volunteers on working groups in the childcare field, given the many changes resulting from the Federal Early Learning and Childcare agreements.

Leanne believes that a good relationship is the basis for all learning. Children learn through their relationships with their educators, and a safe environment is necessary to encourage learning. She is hopeful that the changes today will make for a better tomorrow. Her efforts are for a better future for ECEs and quality learning environments that are accessible and affordable for all families with young children in Saskatchewan.

Olalekan Adeseye

Olalekan Adeseye Director, Finance

Olalekan Adeseye is a finance professional with a wealth of experience spanning several years in the banking and not-for-profit sectors.

In the course of his career, Olalekan has amassed a wealth of experience in various areas of finance, including Financial Reporting, Financial Planning and Analysis, Financial Management, Budgeting, Risk Management, Accounting and Internal Controls, and Client Relationship Management. His exceptional skills in these areas have contributed significantly to the success of the organizations he has worked with.

Olalekan holds a Master’s degree in Financial Management from the Edinburgh Business School, which has equipped him with the necessary skills and knowledge to excel in his field. He is also a member of CPA Canada and the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants (ACCA), United Kingdom, which underscores his commitment to professionalism and continuous learning.

Stephanie Shyluk

Stephanie Shyluk Manager, Provincial Settlement Services

Stephanie Shyluk, born and raised on the Prairies in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, Canada, is a graduate of the University of Saskatchewan with a BA Honours in International Development and of Mount Royal University with a certificate in Non-Profit Management. During her degree studies, she interacted with organizations in Saskatoon focused on poverty reduction and community engagement. It was this focus that encouraged her to find a local application for her academic training and led to a career in settlement and community development. 

Stephanie continues to remain engaged in the community and she is committed to intercultural communication, volunteerism, and leadership. In her spare time, she enjoys gardening, reading, and going on adventures with her partner and their dog.

Sultan Ali Sadat

Sultan Ali Sadat Director, Human Resources

Sultan Ali Sadat came to Canada as a refugee from Afghanistan in December 2000. In 1998, during the first Taliban regime, he left Afghanistan for Pakistan, where taught English and Mathematics to Afghan students and supervised a group of teachers. In April 2003, he joined the Saskatoon Open Door Society’s Board of Directors and then served on the board for three years. In February 2006, he resigned from the board and joined SODS’ finance team. From 2006 to 2010, he worked as acting finance supervisor, then bookkeeper/accountant and for a brief period as a Resettlement Assistance Program counsellor and facilitator, and in January 2010 he joined the Cultural Bridging team. In July 2015, he was recruited to the SODS management team, and he is currently the Director of Human Resources and Operations.

Sultan has earned a three-year degree in Economics, an Accounting Technician diploma, a degree in Commerce specializing in Human Resources, a certificate in Intercultural Development Inventory (IDI), another certificate from Leadership Saskatoon, and an MBA from the University of Cape Breton, Nova Scotia. 

Over the years he has served on six boards, including those of the Remai Modern art gallery, TCU Place, and Habitat for Humanity Saskatoon, as well as the Saskatoon Open Door Society. He also served two terms as Chair of the SODS Bargaining Unit before joining its management team.

In his previous position at SODS, Sultan enjoyed working as Cultural Bridging Facilitator for over four years, sharing his knowledge of diversity, cultural communication and cross-cultural awareness with other organizations and businesses across Saskatchewan.

Throughout his career, Sultan has been committed to fostering a culture of diversity, equity, and inclusion. He has implemented training programs to raise awareness of unconscious bias and has worked closely with the staff and the management team to get input and develop recruitment strategies that ensure a diverse pool of candidates. He has also spearheaded initiatives to promote employee engagement, such as in-house cultural training, wellness programs, and employee recognition programs.