Meet the WIIS-Canada Team

Meet the WIIS-Canada Team

ChantelHeadshot copy

Chantel Cole

Executive Director

Chantel Cole previously served as the founding executive director of WIIS-Toronto since 2017. She completed a Masters of Arts in Political Studies at Queen’s University and was awarded the G. G. Baron van der Feltz prize for her thesis which focuses on the experiences of women who have had sexual relations with United Nations peacekeepers deployed in Haiti. She graduated with High Distinction from the University of Toronto where she received a Bachelors of Arts specialist honours degree in International Development and Political Science. Chantel has extensive experience working in the non-profit and community development sector, most notably as a Program Assistant for an Indigenous community development organization in Guatemala called Maya-Mam Association for Research and Development (AMMID). During her time with AMMID, Chantel assisted in the development of programming that centered on women and political participation. While in Guatemala, Chantel conducted extensive research and engaged with community members, academics, health professionals, and NGO personnel, producing an undergraduate thesis that examined women’s access to reproductive health services. Chantel was awarded the 2017 Best Thesis Award by the Centre for Critical Development Studies at the University of Toronto Scarborough for her work. In addition to Guatemala, Chantel also has field experience in Haiti, the Dominican Republic, Ecuador, Peru, and in her hometown of Toronto where she worked as the International Youth Coordinator for OneChild, an organization dedicated to combatting the commercial sexual exploitation of children globally.

Chantel will begin her doctoral studies with the Department of Political Science at the University of Toronto in September 2020. Her research interests lie at the intersection of international relations, comparative politics, and development studies. In particular, she is interested in understanding the causes and dynamics of organized criminal violence in Latin America and the Caribbean. She hopes to coalesce her research training and expertise in politics, development, gender, violence, and conflict to work in academia, a research institute, government or in an international organization to develop tangible solutions towards the goal of combating organized violence in Latin America and the Caribbean.

Chantel can be contacted at executivedirector@


Dr. Aisha Ahmad


Aisha Ahmad is an Assistant Professor of Political Science at the University of Toronto, the Director of the Islam and Global Affairs Initiative and a Senior Researcher of the Global Justice Lab at the Munk School of Global Affairs, and the CEO of Women in International Security-Toronto. She is currently a Senior Fellow at Massey College and a Fellow at Trinity College, and was formerly an International Security Fellow at the Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs at the Harvard Kennedy School. She is the author of Jihad & Co.: Black Markets and Islamist Power(Oxford University Press, 2017), which awarded both the distinguished 2017 Mershon Center Furniss Award for the best new book in international and national security, and the 2018 Best Book in Comparative Politics Prize by the Canadian Political Science Association. Her article, “The Security Bazaar,” published in the flagship journal International Security,won the 2017 Best Security Article Award from the International Studies Association.She has conducted fieldwork in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Somalia, Mali, Iraq, and Lebanon, and has advised both government and international organizations on global security policies. Her research uncovers the economic drivers of conflict in war zones across the modern Muslim world.

Dr. Ahmad is also the 2018 winner of the Northrop Frye Award of Excellence for outstanding contributions to co-curricular learning and pedagogical innovation; this prize is awarded to one faculty member per year, across all three campuses, all disciplines, and academic ranks at the University of Toronto. She also won the 2018 University of Toronto, Scarborough Campus (UTSC) Assistant Professor Award for outstanding contributions to undergraduate teaching at the Scarborough campus. In 2017, she was named one of Toronto’s “most inspiring women” of 2017 in Post City Magazine. In 2018, she was named the 2018 “Muslim Woman of the Year” at the Muslim Awards of Excellence MAX gala, which celebrates outstanding achievements by a Muslim Canadian in their field. Dr. Ahmad is also the CEO of the Women in International Security Toronto chapter, which she co-founded with Dr. Leah Sarson. She is especially committed to expanding the national reach and influence of WIIS-Canada, as well as welcoming and mentoring women from underrepresented communities in the field of security.


Dr. Gaëlle Rivard Piché

Vice Chair of the Board

Gaëlle Rivard Piché is a strategic analyst for Defence Research and Development Canada. She works closely with the Canadian Armed Forces, providing direct decision-making support through evidence-based research on a wide range of topics. She is currently a fellow at the Norman Paterson School of International Affairs (Carleton University), where she completed her Ph.D. in International Affairs in 2017. She is also a guest lecturer at the Canadian Forces College and works as a consultant for the Royal Canadian Mounted Police on security sector reform and peace operations. In 2014-2015, Dr. Rivard Piché was a Fulbright research fellow in the International Security Program at the Harvard’s Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs. As a Ph.D. candidate, she conducted extensive field research in Haiti and El Salvador between 2012 and 2015, looking at the consequences of security sector reform on public order and violence. To that end, she also did an internship at the United Nations’ Department of Peace Keeping Operations in New York in 2013.

Dr. Rivard Piché is a founding member of WIIS-Canada. As a student, she benefited immensely from the network, the annual workshop, and the safe environment it provides. She now hopes to contribute to the organisation’s next development stages as a member of the board and a mentor. As a woman who works and conducts research in challenging, male-dominated environments, she considers it is crucial for professional and personal growth to support and exchange with other women in the field.


Ani Mamikon


Ani Mamikon is a litigation lawyer at the Department of Justice in Toronto. She practices in the areas of extradition, international and national security law. She holds a BA Hons and MA in Political Science, specializing in international relations and security studies. Ms. Mamikon has clerked at the Federal Court of Canada, practiced as a criminal defence lawyer and has held various positions in the federal government.


Dr. Leah Sarson

Director of Operations, on maternity leave sept 2019-2020

Leah Sarson is an assistant professor of International Relations at Dalhousie University, where her work explores Indigenous global politics in the extractive resource sector. Her broader research interests focus on Canadian foreign policy, International Relations, gender, and the Arctic. Prior to joining Dalhousie, she was a Fulbright researcher and SSHRC post-doctoral fellow at Dartmouth College in Hanover, New Hampshire, where she remains a fellow at the Dickey Center for International Understanding and a visiting Arctic fellow at the Institute of Arctic Studies. She completed her PhD in Political Studies in December 2016 at Queen’s University in Kingston, Ontario, where she is also a fellow at the Centre for International and Defence Policy. Dr. Sarson holds additional positions at Dalhousie’s Centre for the Study of Security and Development, the Bill Graham Centre for Contemporary International History at the University of Toronto and the Canadian International Council. She has also held professional positions at the Asia Pacific Foundation of Canada and Global Affairs Canada, among others.

Dr. Sarson has been an active member of WIIS-Canada since 2014 and is president of the Toronto chapter of WIIS-Canada, which she co-founded with Dr. Aisha Ahmad. Her publications include a 2017 article in Études internationalesthat draws on her experiences organizing the 2015 WIIS-Canada annual workshop, a co-authored chapter in a forthcoming book celebrating ten years of WIIS-Canada, and several other publications exploring Canadian foreign policy. She is particularly committed to building the community of WIIS-Canada scholars, students, and practitioners and expanding the WIIS-Canada mentorship program.


Dr. Nadège Compaoré

Interim Director of Operations

Dr. W. R. Nadège Compaoré is a Provost Postdoctoral Fellow in the Department of Political Science at the University of Toronto, where she is also affiliated with the Munk School of Global Affair’s Environmental Governance Lab. She received her PhD in Political Studies from Queen’s University, where her research was informed by extensive, comparative fieldwork in the oil sectors of Gabon, Ghana, and South Africa, and was funded by SSHRC, the Centre for International Governance Innovation, and the Canadian International Development Agency. Her work lies at the intersection of International Relations, African Politics, Natural Resource Politics, Global Environmental Politics (including Environmental Security), as well as Gender & Race in Global Politics. She is co-editor of New Approaches to the Governance of Natural Resources: Insights from Africa (Palgrave, 2015), and her work has also been published in peer-reviewed journals such as International Studies ReviewEtudes InternationalesMillennium: Journal of International Studies, and Contemporary Politics. Dr. Compaoré is a Fellow at the Centre for International Defence and Policy, and a board member of the Canadian Association of African Studies, where she is an elected Member-at-Large.

Dr Compaoré participated in her very first WIIS event when she was completing her Master’s degree in May 2010. She was in search of a community that would provide a stimulating platform not only for rigorous academic exchange, but for mentorship and career development especially geared towards young female scholars International Security. Almost a decade later, she is grateful and proud of the community that she has built through WIIS throughout her doctoral and now my postdoctoral work, and is keen to give back to this fantastic network. She is particularly interested in initiatives that will further diversify the WIIS representation, and believes in the organization’s vision and capacity to advance the leadership skills of women of all backgrounds, who are working on diverse aspects of International Security.


Dr. Yolande Bouka

Member of the Board

Yolande Bouka is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Political Studies at Queen’s University. Her research and teaching focus on African politics, security, and gender. She holds a Ph.D. in International Relations from American University.  She is also Co-Director of Studies of the Rift Valley Institute Great Lakes Region’s annual course. Prior to joining Queen’s University, she was a Visiting Assistant Professor at the Elliott School of International Affairs at the George Washington University, and a Post-Doctoral Fellow at the University of Denver.  She’s conducted fieldwork in conflict-affected countries, including Burundi, Rwanda, Kenya, and Namibia. She has received several grants for her research, including from the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada, the Fulbright Scholar Program and the American Association of University Women.

In addition to her academic work, Dr. Bouka has extensive experience with development and security research agencies.  She has worked with and offered support to USAID, the United States Africa Command, the UK Department for International Development, the United Nations, the African Union, the Center for Strategic and International Studies and the United States Institute of Peace. Between 2014 and 2016 she was a researcher at the Institute for Security Studies (ISS) in the Conflict Prevention and Risk Analysis Division in Nairobi, Kenya, where she led research on peace and security Africa’s Great Lakes Region. She currently serves on the Research Advisory Council the RESOLVE Network, a global consortium of researchers, research organizations, policymakers and practitioners committed to empirically driven, locally-defined research on the drivers of violent extremism and sources of community resilience.

Dr. Bouka is keen to contribute to the expansion of WIIS-Canada’s reach and impact. She is particularly committed to the promotion of inclusive security through mentorship, education, and the consolidation of interdisciplinary connections.


Bibi Imre-Millei

Assistant to the Executive Director

Bibi Imre-Millei is a Masters student at Queen's University in Political Studies where she is researching the intersection of war, emerging technology, and gender. Bibi also works at the Centre for International and Defence Policy (CIDP) where she is part of the team running the CIDP's blog: Contact Report. Her involvement with with WIIS began in 2017, when she was first the Funding and Sponsorship Coordinator, and later the Vice President for the Queen's Chapter of WIIS-Canada. In her spare time, she likes to read sci-fi and answer emails.

As the Assistant to the Executive Director, Bibi will work in collaboration with the Executive Director to ensure that the overall management and operations of WIIS-Canada provides high value to its members.

Pam Simpson

Pam Simpson

Strategic Communication Advisor

Pam Simpson is a recent Master's graduate from Queen's University where she specialized in International Relations. Her research interests lie in democratization studies of East Africa, and transnational money laundering and terrorist financing. She is the co-author of the article titled “Tracking Transnational Terrorist Resourcing Nodes and Networks” which will appear in the Florida State University Law Review, and is hoping to pursue anti-money laundering and terrorist financing in the future, as she will be contributing to a book on the subject over the coming year.

Pam is the Strategic Communication Advisor for WIIS-Canada and is responsible for our communication campaigns and social media platforms.