Called to the Ontario Bar, 1994
LL.B, Queen’s University, 1993B.A., University of Guelph, 1975
Legal Director, Luke’s Place Support and Resource Centre
I provide legal support to all Luke’s Place programs. I also provide ongoing training for the organization’s staff and volunteers and develop resources to support their work. I have developed a series of legal information workshops for women. I provide family law training for frontline workers across Ontario, in particular for Ontario’s Family Court Support Workers. I have also developed and am delivering in-person and online domestic violence awareness training to Legal Aid Ontario staff, clinic staff and per diem lawyers. As of December 2016, I have delivered this training to approximately 1,600 people.
Lawyer, Barbra Schlifer Commemorative Clinic
I am one of the lawyers providing independent legal advice to survivors of sexual assault as part of Ontario’s pilot project funded by the Ministry of the Attorney General.
Member, Ontario’s Violence Against Women Roundtable
This group of 25 provincial experts reviews and provides advice to the provincial government on policy and legislative matters related to violence against women.
Canadian Council of Muslim Women
I provide legal direction and training for a national project aimed at involving Muslim men and boys in activities to end violence against women in their communities. In 2013/14, I was the legal researcher, writer and trainer for a national project examining four areas of violence against women in Canadian Muslim communities. This work included researching and writing each topic, turning the research into community engagement workshops and creating a toolkit to support those workshops and training CCMW members across the country to be community workshop facilitators.
Community Research Associate, Centre for Research and Education on Violence Against Women and Children
I have recently completed research on privacy legislation and its impact on the development of collaborative community risk management strategies in domestic violence cases.
I am a frequent speaker on national radio and television and at provincial and national conferences on the topic of violence against women and the law. I have developed the curriculum for Legal Aid Ontario’s provincial domestic violence training initiative for family law lawyers. I regularly present briefs to legislative committees at the provincial and federal levels.
Consultant and Trainer
I work as a consultant and trainer with a number of women’s equality-seeking organizations on such topics as legal issues faced by survivors of male violence, sexual assault, record keeping, disclosure, duty to report, confidentiality and custody and access law. I provide consultation services to a number of organizations with respect to policy development and have developed and delivered strategic planning to several women’s organizations in Ontario. In 2015/2016, I worked with a consortium of 52 shelters to write their policies and procedures to ensure they were in compliance with the new provincial Shelter Standards implemented by the Ministry of Community and Social Services.
Curriculum Developer and Project Coordinator, Law Commission of Ontario
I was responsible for leading a project to develop violence against women curriculum modules for use in Ontario law schools.
2007 – 2009
Member, Domestic Violence Advisory Council, Ontario
I was one of 13 experts appointed by Order in Council to provide expert advice to the Minister Responsible for Women with respect to improving the quality of services for abused women and their children in Ontario. Our report, Transforming our Communities, is presently under consideration by the government.
Member, Management Committee, Family Law Education for Women Project (FLEW)
FLEW is the largest public legal information project of its kind in Canada. It has produced plain language legal information on 12 areas of family law in 12 languages and multiple formats, with a focus on the needs of marginalized and vulnerable women.
Teaching Faculty and Planning Committee Member, National Judicial Institute (NJI)
I worked with senior Justices and NJI staff in the development and delivery of skills development programs for judges on the topic of domestic violence.
E-learning training, Springtide Resources
I have developed and delivered an on-line family law course for frontline workers, which was offered three times in 2008/2009 by Springtide Resources and York University Department of Continuing Education. Each offering was fully enrolled. I have also developed and delivered a similar on-line course focused on criminal law and violence against women.
May 2007 – April 2008
Director of Advocacy and Public Policy, YWCA Canada
My primary responsibilities included development of a public policy analysis framework, government relations, an advocacy strategy and research on issues relevant to the equality of girls and women to support national, regional and local advocacy by YWCA Canada and its 35 Member Associations across Canada.
October 2006 – May 2007
Transitional Executive Director, NAWL
I worked as NAWL’s part-time Executive Director as the organization moved into dormancy mode due to mandate changes at Status of Women Canada that rendered NAWL ineligible for ongoing funding. My responsibilities included:
- funding and financial management
- oversight of NAWL projects
- staff and Board leadership
October 1998 – May 2006
Legal Director, METRAC and the Ontario Women’s Justice Network (OWJN)
- policy analysis of women’s equality issues
- law reform consultation with all levels of government
- training and education sessions for police, Crown Attorneys and other professionals
- development and delivery of legal information teaching materials for use by abused women and women’s shelter and sexual assault centre workers
- production of legal material for the OWJN website (owjn.org)
- collaborative work with other anti-violence organizations
- extensive media liaison work
- staff and student placement supervision
- funding proposals and budget management
- participation in a wide variety of community- and government- based advisory committees
Project Coordinator, Ontario Coalition of Rape Crisis Centres
I worked on a contract with the OCRCC conducting policy analysis, developing a messaging campaign, increasing the Coalition’s visibility and partnerships and improving the Coalition’s outreach to women in marginalized communities.
Family Law Reform Coordinator, NAWL
I coordinated a national education and lobby campaign focused on family law reform. This work included development of materials, training of activists across the country and development and presentation of an analysis brief to the House of Commons Standing Committee on Justice and Human Rights. The campaign focused on the impact of custody and access laws on women and children leaving violent situations.
September 2001 – December 2002
Transitional Executive Director, Metropolitan Action Committee on Violence Against Women and Children (METRAC), Toronto, Ontario
In 2001, METRAC began transitioning to an organization with an Executive Director structure. I took on the E.D. responsibilities in a transitional capacity while the organization explored this structural change and sought funding for a permanent position. My responsibilities included:
- supervision of all staff and middle management
- financial management
- fundraising and funding proposal writing
- community liaison
- Board liaison and support
- development of a plan to implement strategic planning and equity training, including securing 3-year funding for this work
Fall 2000 – Fall 2001
Sessional Trainer, Ontario Association of Children’s Aid Societies
I was one of 15 trainers teaching a violence against women curriculum to CAS and VAW workers across Ontario.
February 1995 – December 1999
Sole Practitioner, Kingston, Ontario
I had a general practice that focussed on providing legal services to women in or leaving abusive relationships. This was primarily family law, but also included criminal and child protection work.
Prizes, Awards and Scholarships
Ministry of the Attorney General Victim Services Award of Distinction
Recipient 2015 for my exceptional achievements in supporting survivors of male violence, in particular, my work supporting women who had been subjected to domestic violence
YWCA Toronto Woman of Distinction 2006
For Legal Reform. The YWCA noted, in particular, my work on a national level for custody law reform, my leadership role in the No Religious Arbitration Coalition in Ontario, my work providing legal information to isolated and marginalized women and my mentorship of young women law students, “whose moral compasses have been set working under her tutelage.”
“Ms Cross is equally approachable and wise as a colleague as she is sharp and determined on the finer points of legal education and law reform. Generous with her time and knowledge, warm-hearted and blessed with a wickedly dry wit, Ms Cross has many admirers both in legal reform circles and among isolated women experiencing violence whose lives have been literally saved by her interventions.”
Linda Clippingdale Award, 2001
One award made annually by the Canadian Research Institute for the Advancement of Women for “her commitment to feminist change, by her spirit, energy and good judgment.” The Institute commented particularly on my mentoring role for young women.
A.A. Heaps Scholarship
One scholarship awarded nationally by the Canadian Labour Congress for a student in any discipline at the undergraduate or graduate level who “through their work or their involvement in the community has demonstrated maturity and commitment to the social ideals which characterized the life of A.A. Heaps.”
Aird and Berlis Prize
Offered by Aird and Berlis, Barristers and Solicitors, Toronto, for a student completing second-year law school with high academic achievement in more than one course.
Reuben Wells Leonard Prize in Criminal Procedure
Awarded for the top mark in criminal procedure.
Reuben Wells Leonard Prize in Mental Health Law
Awarded for the top mark in mental health law.
P.E. Newbury Prize in Family Law
Awarded for the top mark in family law.
David Sabbath Prize
Awarded for outstanding achievement in health law.
David Warren Rutherford Bursary
Awarded to a third-year student with a record of strong academic performance.