Our Staff

Jeff Schlemmer

Executive Director


Jeff Schlemmer manages our Clinic under the direction of our community Board of Directors. Jeff is a senior barrister, having practiced law for over 35 years. He was a long-time Adjunct Professor at Western University’s Faculty of Law. He has volunteered extensively, including terms as Chair of a public library Board and Vice Chair of a Police Services Board. He is a keen advocate for the rights of vulnerable and disabled residents of York Region. He is an avid Twitter poster @Jeff_Schlemmer_

Sharon Crowe

Director of Legal Services


Sharon is the Director of Legal Services at CLCYR. She began her legal career in environmental law before working as a staff lawyer at Hamilton Community Legal Clinic for over fifteen years. Sharon has experience in several different areas of law, including housing, human rights, employment and social assistance. She has been co-counsel on unlawful eviction-related claims against the police, and is currently involved in litigation challenging the Constitutionality of municipal by-laws prohibiting encampments. Sharon is a frequent speaker at Public Legal Education sessions, and is eager to build partnerships with local agencies supporting our clients.

Ernesto Gaskin

Director of Administration


Ernesto Gaskin is the Director of Administration with functional responsibility for finance, human resources, information technology, building services and administration. 

He has joined CLCYR in 2022 and has previous experience working with other not-for-profit organizations.

Ernesto is a Chartered Professional Accountant.

Ajith Thiyagalingam helps our clients with refugee and immigration law cases. Prior to joining our clinic, Ajith was counsel at the Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada and a caseworker at Parkdale Community Legal Services in the Immigration Division. 

Ajith sits on the Board of Directors of JusticeNet—a national not-for-profit organization seeking to make justice more accessible and equitable; on the Board of Directors of an HIV/AIDS charitable organization; and was previously on the Board of Directors of the South Asian Bar Association of Toronto. He was named York University’s Top 30 Changemakers Under 30 and the recipient of the Canadian Tamil Professionals Association’s Emerging Professional Award.

Ajith received a Juris Doctor from Osgoode Hall Law School and an Honours Bachelor of Arts from York University. He is completing a Master’s in International Law and Diplomacy at the United Nations Institute for Training and Research (UNITAR) & UN University for Peace (UPEACE).

Andrian started with CLCYR as a summer law student, and after graduating from Osgoode Hall Law School, continued on as a Social Assistance lawyer. Andrian also supervises and mentors ProBono and summer law students at the clinic, as a part of the annual student program. Outside of work, Andrian enjoys camping, hiking and learning new languages.

Elsa Ascencio is a lawyer with the Employment Law team at the CLCYR. She was previously with the Mobile Legal and Social Justice Initiative, based out of Hamilton Community Legal Clinic; Niagara Community Legal Clinic; Community Legal Clinic – Brant, Haldimand, Norfolk; and Huron Perth Community Legal Clinic. Her practice focuses on matters related to the Employment Standards Act, Occupational Health and Safety Act; Ontario Human Rights Code and precarious work. When not fighting for justice, she’s likely painting; watching the Witcher, Marvel and Star Wars films; and hanging out with her family and two cats, Penelope and Lily.

Giuseppe, aka “Joe” is a staff lawyer at the CLCYR specializing in Social Assistance Law. Joe began his time at the clinic as a summer student during his studies as Osgoode Hall Law School. Joe subsequently articled with the clinic and joined our team as a full time staff lawyer after his call to the bar. If you get the chance, be sure to ask Joe for his famous cooking recipes!

Ian is a staff lawyer on the immigration team. He articled at CLCYR in 2016/2017 and then joined CLCYR as a staff lawyer on the social assistance team in 2017. He joined the immigration team in 2019 where he now helps clients with immigration law issues.

Kayla joined the clinic system following her graduation from Queen’s University in 2017. She has worked at legal clinics in both Kingston and Owen Sound, prior to joining us here as a Staff Lawyer at CLCYR in 2020. Currently Kayla assists our clients in York Region with social assistance matters, including Ontario Works and the Ontario Disability Support Program.

Michelle is a staff lawyer and Team Lead for Housing Law at CLCYR. She volunteered for the Windsor Law Student Legal Clinic from her first semester in law school, articled with South Etobicoke Legal Community Services, and practiced for 7 years at the Grey Bruce Community Legal Clinic in Owen Sound before joining CLCYR in September 2022. She is a clinic lawyer through and through. She is a mom of two young children and two beloved Great Danes. She is a passionate about justice, equity, diversity and inclusion and a zealous advocate for the tenants of York Region.

Revikka Balachandran is a staff lawyer and team leader of the employment team.  She became a lawyer in 2016.  She joined the Clinic in 2019.  Before joining the Clinic, she worked at a number of private firms also practicing employment law.  She graduated from the University of Ottawa with a Juris Doctor degree and completed her undergraduate studies at the University of Toronto.

She is passionate about employment law and assists our clients primarily with advice and representation on matters including employment standards violations, human rights, employment insurance, and wrongful dismissals.

Sonali Brown has practiced as a lawyer at the Community Legal Clinic of York Region since 2010. Ms. Brown also works part time at the City of Brampton as a screening officer in the Administrative Monetary Penalty program. Prior to that, she worked as a store manager with Bi Way department stores. Ms. Brown has a Juris Doctor from Osgoode Hall Law School, an Honours Bachelor of Arts and a certificate in Alternative Dispute Resolution from York University. Ms. Brown volunteers at the theatre in Brampton, and at her local church.  Ms. Brown is a passionate advocate of marginalized and racialized communities and has been working in the clinic system since 2007.

Angelica Navarrete

Licensed Paralegal


Angelica is a Licensed Paralegal that began her career with the Clinic in 2015 as a case manager for ODSP disability cases.  She moved on to become a case worker in August of 2021 where she advocates for clients in Social Assistance matters.  She has 21 years of experience working in the public sector and has obtained certifications in health & safety, alternative dispute resolution and WSIB, most recently graduating from the immigration consultant program at Humber College.   Working at the Clinic has allowed he to work in what she enjoys doing as her passion has always been advocacy, human rights and access to justice.

Bill Kukulewich

Licensed Paralegal


Bill has been a licensed paralegal at the Clinic since 2008. He helps vulnerable tenants
through our Eviction Prevention Program. Prior to that he was a paramedic.

Chia Chuang

Licensed Paralegal


Chia-Ching Chuang (Aka Chia) is a licensed paralegal working in the Housing Department of the clinic. Chia has been a licensed paralegal since 2018 after graduating from Seneca College with Honours in the Accelerated Paralegal Program. Chia joined the clinic in 2019.

Claudio Tapia

Licensed Paralegal


Claudio is originally from Chile, South America. He obtained a Law Degree in Caracas, Venezuela in 1994 (UCAB). He speaks English, Spanish and Portuguese. He has been providing legal services in Ontario since the year 2000 in the areas of Worker’s Compensation (WSIB) and Canada Pension Plan Disability Appeals. In 2008, Claudio became member of the Law Society of Ontario as a Licensed Paralegal. He is also a Notary Public and Commissioner for Oaths. At the CLCYR, Claudio is member of the Employment Law team. He enjoys outdoor activities like hiking, tennis, table tennis, and soccer.

Greg Ovoyan

Licensed Paralegal


Greg practices rental housing law for our clients. He has been a licensed paralegal since 2013 after he graduated with Honours from the Humber College Paralegal Education diploma program. Since joining the Legal Clinic Greg has been a part of the Eviction Prevention Program serving vulnerable tenants of York Region.

Jennifer Rogers

Licensed Paralegal


Jennifer graduated from the Humber Paralegal Degree Program in 2019, and had the hopes of working within the clinic system in her career. She had previously completed an Undergraduate Degree at Trent University, specializing in film media and video. Her passion for helping people caused the shift to pursue law. She has been at the clinic for almost a year, and handles the initial intake process with clients for ODSP appeal matters and provides clients with summary advice.

Nickey Kuzmanova

Licensed Paralegal


Nickey Kuzmanova is a licensed paralegal providing legal advice and representation to clients with social assistance matters. She has been a part of the legal clinic system for nearly five years, and first joined CLCYR in 2020 as a paralegal student and then began working at our legal clinic as a paralegal when she became licensed in 2021.

Prior to obtaining her paralegal license, Nickey received her Honours Bachelor of Arts and Science degree from the University of Toronto. Nickey is very passionate about social justice, and currently sits on the committee for Take Back the Night and holds a satellite at Belinda’s Place.

Mercedes Morro

Social Worker


Mercedes helps our clients with mental health challenges particularly in the context of residential living. Together with our paralegals Bill Kukulewich and Greg Ovoyan, Mercedes is part of our Eviction Prevention Program (Housing) Team – assisting clients who are facing challenges at the Landlord and Tenant Board. She joined our clinic in 2013.  

Mercedes is a registered social worker with a Master of Social Work degree from McMaster University.  She also has an Honours Bachelor of Social Work degree from Lakehead University, a Social Service Worker diploma from Seneca College, and a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology degree from De La Salle University in the Philippines. Mercedes also speaks Filipino and Spanish.

Anita Lam

Administrative Staff


Anita Lam is long-time administrative staff at the Clinic.

Craig McKinnon

Administrative Staff



Craig has been the Office Manager with the Clinic since 2005. Prior to joining the Clinic, he implemented and managed a quality control system for 8 years. He enjoys playing sports, reading and cooking.

Esmin Tonnellier

Administrative Staff


Esmin Tonnellier is currently an Administrative Assistant.  She has been with the Community Legal Clinic of York Region for over ten years.  She works also as an Intake worker and receptionist. She enjoys working in the field, having worked at other legal clinics prior. She received an Ontario Volunteer Award for volunteer service. Esmin hails from Jamaica and is the Jerk chicken and rice ‘n peas supplier at CLCYR potlucks!

Silvana Fejzolli

Administrative Staff


Silvana is administrative staff at the CLCYR. Prior to joining our team in 2015 Silvana worked as Assistant Manager at Flemington Community Legal Services and also worked temporarily as Assistant Manager and as a Case Manager at CLCYR.  Silvana holds a Law Degree from her home country, equivalent to a Canadian Law Degree, and has completed the Global Professional Master of Lowes (“GPLLM”) at the University of Toronto.  Silvana has a keen interest in Social Justice and loves being able to serve her passion in the Legal Clinic.