IJM North America's leadership is working with the US and Canada government, corporate and individual partners to end slavery and violence around the world for good.
Regional President, IJM North America
Melissa Russell serves as IJM's Regional President of North America, leading the strategy and teams responsible for IJM's constituent, government and corporate partnerships in the United States and Canada. She joined IJM in 2008 and has since served in increasingly senior leadership capacities.
Prior to her current role, Melissa served as Chief Advancement Officer where she led IJM’s Global Brand and Communications teams, global revenue and institutional engagement. She launched IJM’s first transnational corporate supply chain partnership and the global Freedom Sunday campaign. Under her leadership, IJM scaled significant growth through government grants, the IJM Freedom Partner program, and a thriving volunteer movement. Her teams launched offices in Singapore, Hong Kong and South Korea, and ignited worldwide engagement through films featured at Tribeca Film Festival and other premier venues.
Melissa received her B.A. in Journalism and her Master of Arts in Advertising from the University of Texas at Austin. She lives in the DC area with her husband and two sons.
Anu George Canjanathoppil
Chief Executive Officer, IJM Canada*
Anu has 9 years of leadership experience with International Justice Mission (IJM). In Delhi, India she served as the Director of Operations and the Director of National Interventions, and in Chennai, India she served as the Director of Legal.
During her time with IJM, Anu worked extensively to impact the justice system by collaborating with state and local governments in India.
Anu oversaw the training of more than 17,000 police, government officials, and NGOs on the rescue and rehabilitation of individuals trapped in slavery and bringing criminals to justice. As a result of Anu’s leadership, 8,500 individuals have been rescued from forced labour slavery.
Anu holds a Master’s degree in Business Administration from Edith Cowan University, Australia and a Master’s degree in Organizational Leadership from Eastern University. She successfully completed her B.A., B.L. from Dr. Ambedkar Government Law College in Chennai and acquired a special diploma in Intellectual Property Law at the Indian Law Institute in Pune.
Anu has used her creative communications skills to bring social issues to the public’s attention by writing and producing radio dramas and street theatre with social messages. Her dedication to the empowerment of the underprivileged, her vision for social change, and knowledge about international issues, have all led to Anu being awarded several honours, one of which was being recognized as a Sauvé Scholar by the Canadian Government. She represented India as a Youth Ambassador to Dhaka in 2003 through the National Cadet Corps, with the status of a Diplomat as a Cultural and Military attaché. She has represented the State of Tamil Nadu and been conferred the Prime minister’s Gold Medal at the Prime Minister’s Rally in the 53rd Republic Day Celebrations in New Delhi. Anu was also one of the four representatives at the UNESCO International conference for students held at Bangalore.
Anu and her husband, Sachin, live in London, Ontario with their twin daughters Tamara and Ila.