community Advocate in Ontario, Canada
For more than 30 years, Karen McCleave served the public as an Assistant Crown Attorney. She appeared in the Ontario and Superior Courts of Justice, primarily in York Region, Dufferin and Simcoe counties.
Karen handled a varied caseload, including domestic assault, sexual and child abuse, complex frauds and murder. She conducted dozens of jury trials, including several lengthy murder cases. She had carriage of many high-profile and sensitive matters, such as those involving victims with intellectual and physical challenges.
Other responsibilities ranged from running a Satellite Court to case managing Superior Court matters. She was the Crown representative on stakeholder committees such as regional child abuse protocols, delay reduction and community partnering.
During her career, Karen was designated to be a Part VI wiretap agent for Ontario and a provincial mentor for sexual violence prosecutions.
She’s been honoured with several awards, including the Doug Lucas Award for excellence in the pursuit of justice through science and two Ontario Excelsior Awards, both for Outstanding Achievement.
Karen was born and first educated in Sault Ste Marie. She received her Bachelor’s degree from the University of Western Ontario. She received her LL.B. from the University of Windsor and was called to the Ontario Bar.
Combining her dedication to educating others with public speaking, she taught Crown colleagues, municipal, provincial and military police, provincial prosecutors, paralegals, and community organizations throughout Ontario. She spoke at numerous conferences.
After departing the Crown’s Office, Karen further served in 2017-2018 as a policy advisor to a Senator in Ottawa.
Her Board involvement included both professional and public agencies. She was on the Editorial Board for the OCAA Newsletter and represented her Region on the Ontario Crown Attorneys Association Board.
Long active in civic and community affairs, she sat for nine years on the board of directors of Blue Hills (now York Hills) Child and Family Centre, a children’s mental health agency. During that time, Karen developed expertise in governance, by-laws and policies concerning not-for-profit agencies. She was appointed in 2020 to the Board of Trustees for the McMichael Canadian Art Collection.
While a long-time member of Beta Sigma Phi, Karen raised funds to support local, Canadian and international charities. She has also volunteered at such programs as Feed the Hungry and the Salvation Army.