Past Award Recipients


Kayla M. Stephenson

Kayla has spent the majority of her career employed with the Ontario Public Service – Ministry of the Attorney General. In July of 2021, Kayla was appointed by the Toronto City Council to the Administrative Penalty Tribunal as an adjudicator, where she was the youngest Black woman on the roster. More recently, Kayla was appointed by Order-in-Council to the Health Professions Appeals and Review Board as an adjudicator, where she is the youngest and only Black woman on the roster.

Currently, Kayla has a mediation firm where she provides mediation services and refers legal services to licensed lawyers and paralegals of color. Kayla is an active mentor to paralegals, mediators and future adjudicators of color, and also has an active public speaking profile. Kayla is currently attending the University of Guelph-Humber taking Justice Studies, and intends on applying to law school in 2024.


Charlene Theodore

A graduate of the Schulich School of Law at Dalhousie University, Charlene Theodore is a lawyer with a background in public policy and government relations. As Counsel for the Ontario English Catholic Teachers Association, she advises the management and staff on the impact of legislative and regulatory changes in the education sector. Ms. Theodore also advises on issues related to labour, benefits and pensions.

Ms. Theodore is Second Vice President of the Ontario Bar Association (OBA). She is proud to be the 10th woman and 1st black woman to lead the OBA since it’s founding in 1907.

Ms. Theodore is a member and former Treasurer of the Canadian Association of Black Lawyers (CABL) and Director of the Canadian Association for the Practical Study of Law in Education.


Arleen Huggins

Arleen Huggins is the head of Koskie Minsky’s Employment Law Group.  She has expertise in employment law, human rights law, and commercial litigation.

In her capacity as a CABL Board and CABL Executive Committee member, Arleen worked diligently to advocate for equity and diversity in the legal profession and to introduce strategies and initiatives to overcome the barriers and challenges experienced by racialized lawyers. Arleen has been a strong and passionate voice for equity within the legal profession and instrumental in advocating for inclusiveness for racialized lawyers and students within the CBA and OBA.

In addition to her significant lobby and advocacy efforts on behalf of CABL, Arleen was an Ontario Bar Association (“OBA”) elected Council Member for the Toronto Region from 2002 to 2006 and 2010 to 2014; an OBA Board Member for two years; Chair of the OBA Equal Opportunity Committee for two years; and a member of the Canadian Bar Association (“CBA”) Standing Committee on Equity (“SCE”) for five years, two of which as Chair.

Arleen has been a tireless mentor to equity seeking law students across Canada, and has worked with the Black Law Students’ Association of Canada (BLSA), and other racialized law students, to provide assistance and direction in overcoming barriers to a successful legal career.


Yolande Edwards

Yolande Edwards is employed at Duty Counsel Staff Supervision at the Scarborough Courthouse. Professionally, she has dedicated her career to supporting unrepresented persons navigate the complex criminal justice system and supporting young lawyers in doing the same.

Additionally, Ms. Edwards has demonstrated relentless commitment to marginalized youth through her volunteer work, specifically with Ontario Justice Education Network (OJEN).  Ms. Edwards has been an avid OJEN volunteer and a selfless champion, dedicating her time, knowledge, understanding and patience to programming for hard to reach youth and the frontline workers that serve those youth. For over 11 years, she has participated in justice education projects serving youth living in “high risk neighbourhoods”, newcomer youth, parents and frontline worker sessions as guest speaker and/recruiter of duty counsel from Toronto East Court House (Scarborough).

Not only is she a program volunteer, Ms. Edwards has elevated her volunteer commitment by joining our Toronto Community Housing Sub-Committee, to plan, implement and design justice education programs for youth living in Toronto Community Housing. She has held that role since 2009.


Dr. Christopher J. Williams

A Toronto-based activist and scholar, Christopher Williams has been an active advocate of responsible policing. Dr. Williams’ work was influential in the birth of the Toronto Star investigative series “Known to Police,” which won the National Newspaper Award in 2014.  He was also one of the main authors of the CAPP report that evaluated the practices of the police in 31 divisions across Toronto following the introduction of carding.

Dr. Williams holds a BA from York University, an MA from Carleton University, and a PhD from York University. Dr. Williams is also an associate member of the Osgoode Society Against Institutional Injustice (OSAII) and co-ordinator of the Police Access Request Initiative, a program that facilitates access to police data for members of the public. Dr. Williams is also a member of the Toronto Police Accountability Coalition, which is a group dedicated to increasing police transparency and public accountability, and debating police public policy.

Dr. Williams has spoken at a number of universities, high schools and community forums across Toronto, and his work has been published in a number of academic journals, including Race & Class. 


The Honourable Justice Donald McLeod

Raised in Toronto’s Regent Park as an immigrant in Canada, Justice Donald McLeod’s life trajectory is an inspiration and exemplification of perseverance.

Justice McLeod was called to the bar in 1998 and began practicing criminal law at Hinkson, Sachak in Toronto.  He went on to be the founder and managing partner of The McLeod Group, and embarked on an illustrious career in the areas of criminal, human rights and administrative law.  In September 2013, Justice McLeod was appointed to the Ontario Court of Justice.

Justice McLeod has been involved in many programs to support youth. He founded and chairs 100 Strong, an initiative to fund a summer school program for 12- and 13-year-old African Canadian boys, and co-chairs Stand Up, a mentorship program for boys in grades 7-8, many of whom are from at-risk neighbourhoods.  Justice McLeod also hosts Black Robes, a professional development initiative to mentor new lawyers and law students of African-Canadian descent.


The Honourable Michael Tulloch ’89

As the first Black person to be named to the Court, Justice Tulloch has made Canadian history.

Justice Tulloch immigrated to Canada from Jamaica at age 9. Since his graduation from Osgoode in 1989, Justice Tulloch has had a remarkable legal career. Beginning as an Assistant Crown Attorney in 1991, Justice Tulloch moved to private practice in 1995 and was appointed to the Ontario Superior Court of Justice (Region of Central West Ontario) in 2003.

In addition to these accomplishments, Justice Tulloch has maintained a high level of community service. He is a past President of the Canadian Association of Black Lawyers, past Chair of the Advisory Board to the Black Business and Professional Association (BBPA) and he has participated in a number of commissions including the Ontario Government Review on Civilian Oversight on Policing, the Review of the Ontario Legal Aid Plan, and the Criminal Code Review conducted by the Federal Attorney General and the Minister of Justice. Notably, in 2006 Mr. Justice Tulloch was asked by the Dean of Osgoode Hall Law School to chair a Review Panel of the school’s admissions policy. The majority of the panel’s recommendations were accepted and implemented by Osgoode.

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