Marissa Kokkoros, Founder and Executive Director
Marissa started her journey in women’s rights doing field work with different organizations around the world. From her travels in Sub-Saharan Africa, India, Nepal, Italy, The Balkans and more, she has studied and researched the social position of women and girls in different places. Marissa has spent time with sex workers in South Asia and Italy, worked with local women leaders in different communities, and taught English to women and children in India, Nepal, Kenya and Italy.
Marissa lived in Italy for a number of years, which is where her mother’s family is from and where her experiences supporting sex trafficking survivors began. Marissa has held lasting and loyal friendships with survivors of human trafficking and wartime sexual violence around the world and believes ‘the sisterhood’ can help heal immense and extreme trauma.
Through her travels and research, she has made strong ties and fostered deep relationships with fellow feminists and women’s rights defenders around the world. After a long time away from home, Marissa returned to Canada in 2013 and founded Aura Freedom International, plunging head-first into projects and programs addressing gender-based violence and sexual exploitation. Her research on different forms of violence against women in Nepal has been recognized by
different human rights organizations. Marissa is also an active community leader in Toronto, lending her experience to different projects around the city addressing violence against women and girls and sexual exploitation, on top of her work with Aura Freedom International.
Bold and energetic, Marissa’s passion is watching the ripple effects of placing knowledge and power into the hands of women and advocating for governments to address the root causes of violence and exploitation. Her ability to move people through her words and writing is helped by her theatrical past, including writing, acting, singing and clowning in countries affected by poverty and HIV/AIDS. Her heart is wide open and her approach to problems is head-on, wasting no time. She is driven, yet remains compassionate in the face of the many atrocities that Aura Freedom works to eradicate. Her dream is to see peace and freedom enjoyed by all women and girls, and it’s her love for her daughter that keeps the beat of her heart.
Olivia Allen (she/her)
Olivia has been a part of the Aura Freedom team since 2019 when she first joined as an intern. Now, she works as the Development Manager. Olivia has a background in Political Science, Women and Gender Studies, and International Development which has cultivated a love of learning and desire to positively impact the world.
Olivia strongly believes in the power education has to uplift entire communities and that through education and understanding, we can achieve gender-equity.
Tashin Rodoshi (she/her)
Community Engagement Coordinator, Project Manager
Tashin Rodoshi has spent over five years working with youth across Canada to reimagine frameworks to advance gender equity. Tashin aims to challenge spaces to adopt a critical intersectional lens to ensure survivors and victims of sexual exploitation receive adequate resources and opportunities towards economic and social development.
As the Community Engagement Coordinator and Project Manager at Aura Freedom, she leverages her advocacy experience to identify strategies to address gender-based violence and human trafficking at a grassroots level.
Orlaith Croke-Martin (she/her)
Research & Policy Analyst, Project Manager
Orlaith grew up in different countries around the world, witnessing and learning about the exploitation of women and girls from a young age. This experience led Orlaith to dedicate her academic career to studying current issues in women’s health, with special attention to how different cultures of sexuality reflect and reinforce gender and sexual inequities which affect its most marginalized communities.
Orlaith is passionate about research that is rooted in lived experiences, that adopts a critical, intersectional and victim-centred approach, and that places the most marginalized community members at its forefront.