Executive Director: Anita Desai

Year Started at SLSC: 2009

Anita joined St. Leonard’s Society of Canada in 2009, conducting research on integrated and cooperative approaches for successful community integration of people exiting prison with mental health problems and illness. As SLSC’s Research and Policy Advisor, she developed research initiatives on second-stage housing for former prisoners through work on the Homes for the ‘Hard to House’ project. Recent research projects include: developing a national strategy for life-sentenced people in Canada, examining trajectories towards homelessness for youth in conflict with the law; and, utilizing peer mentoring approaches to address problematic substance use within Canadian prisons.

Other research topics include: promising practices to avoid the criminalization of people with mental health problems and illness and social enterprise. Examples of policy initiatives at SLSC include topics such as youth justice, pardons, electronic monitoring, capital punishment, victims’ rights, human rights of prisoners, mandatory minimum sentences, aging and elderly prisoners, and research ethics.

In 2017, Anita became Executive Director of SLSC. She continues to oversee research and policy work, in addition to supporting SLSC’s member agencies and advancing collaborative relationships and communication among individuals and organizations dedicated to social justice. She is passionate about issues related to the intersection of homelessness and criminal justice. Anita holds a B.A. in Criminology and an M.A. in Sociology from the University of Windsor and wrote her thesis on homelessness in mid-sized cities.

Anita is currently on maternity leave from SLSC, with an anticipated return in September 2021. Please contact SLSC’s Coordinator, Danielle, for any inquiries (



Director of Operations: David Whiteley

Year Started at SLSC: 1999

David started at St. Leonard’s on the strength of his writing, editing and communicating skills.  Though without a background in corrections, working for SLSC for over two decades has taught David to appreciate the contributions of NGOs, and the importance of research and evidence-based practices to community corrections.

David leads a double life as a theatre artist, holding a MA in dramatic arts and serving as Co-Artistic Director of Ottawa’s Plosive Productions.  He is pleased and thankful that SLSC has given him the opportunity to balance contributing to community corrections while pursuing a career in the theatre.


Coordinator: Danielle Kouri

Year Started at SLSC: 2017

Danielle joined St. Leonard’s Society of Canada in May 2017, first starting as a volunteer, continuing as an University of Ottawa field placement student, and then she officially joined as SLSC staff in January 2018. Danielle has completed her Honours Bachelor of Social Science with Major in Criminology and Minor in Psychology. She has been accepted to begin a Masters in Justice Studies at Royal Roads University in January 2022.

Since joining SLSC, Danielle has assisted with Life(r)’s Work: An Historical Analysis and Evaluation of a Program for Life Sentenced People in Canada (2017), Beyond Custody: Positive Pathways to Housing for Youth in Conflict with the Law (2018), Life(r)’s Work: Developing a Modernized Strategy for Life-Sentenced People in Canada (2019), and Life(r)’s Work: Supporting a Modernized Strategy for Life-Sentenced People in Canada (2020).  She has also supported consultations with community and government stakeholders, the work of SLSC committees, the review of SLSC policies, and day-to-day office administration.

She is passionate about issues related to social justice and community corrections and integration, particularly in relation to homelessness and people with life sentences. In her spare time, she volunteers with the Millhaven Lifers’ Liaison Group where, alongside the group members, she meets with men serving life sentences in Millhaven Institution on a monthly basis.


Volunteers and Students

SLSC greatly benefits from partnerships with both Carleton University and University of Ottawa through their Student Placement programs. Many students take on the challenges of administrative duties, research, and policy work each semester and help with keeping SLSC on top of our day-to-day operations. SLSC is extremely thankful to the students and volunteers who really make a difference to our organization throughout the year!


The SLSC Team (left to right): Danielle Kouri, David Whiteley, Anita Desai