CivicAction Announces 2020 DiverseCity Fellows as Toronto Region Leadership Unites for COVID-19 Response

TORONTO (May 13, 2020) – Over the past few months Canada’s leaders have stepped up to address the COVID-19 pandemic. But as we move through recovery and build back a better region, there’s a unique opportunity to increase diversity in our leadership ranks and plug new voices into decision making tables.

That’s why today the CivicAction Leadership Foundation is excited to usher in a new wave of game-changing civic leadership with the announcement of its 2020 DiverseCity Fellows.

“Recovering from our current reality will require leaders from all sectors, generations and communities to work together,” said Tamara Balan, Interim CEO of CivicAction. “The DiverseCity Fellows program helps rising leaders develop new skills and capabilities to build bridges across sectors, and mobilize collective action—exactly what our region needs now.”

This new group of 30 Fellows hail from a wide range of backgrounds and experiences including the founder of a social enterprise that creates opportunities for bottle collectors; the executive director of one of the region’s oldest violence against women emergency shelters; and the leader of the financial intelligence unit at one of Canada’s “Big Six” banks.

“Representative leadership is not only needed as a condition for accountability and social justice, it’s also where the magic happens,” said Mohini Datta-Ray, Executive Director of North York Women’s Shelter and a 2020 DiverseCity Fellow. “Given the inequities that are exacerbating the pandemic, this year feels like there is particular urgency. I’m so thankful, especially in this context, to learn, grow and co-create creative recovery responses with this diverse and brilliant group of people.”

CivicAction’s DiverseCity Fellows program is an award-winning leadership experience for diverse rising leaders in the greater Toronto region who are looking to supercharge their leadership skills, explore urban issues, and discover how to make positive change in their communities. The program opens doors and accelerates individual leadership journeys through skills development, mentorship, and access to an expanded network. Since 2009, over 250 people have completed this free, year-long program.

In response to COVID-19, the Fellows program is being delivered through virtual sessions and more online engagement that focus on providing the tools and supports needed to tackle the issues being exacerbated in our region by the pandemic.

“Leadership has never been more critical to our future, to building inclusive prosperity,” said Zabeen Hirji, Chair of CivicAction. “This program is a learning accelerator to build a cadre of diverse next generation leaders, as well as trust across all sectors, a key ingredient for solving big problems.”

The experiences and stories of the 2020 DiverseCity Fellows are as unique and varied as the greater Toronto region itself. Meet the 30 rising leaders who are changing the leadership game in our region.

2020 DiverseCity Fellows

Amy Buitenhuis, Resilience Lead, City of Toronto

Arianne Robinson, Journalist and Founder, Signal Toronto

Camilo Garay, Manager, Visions of Science Network for Learning

Carly Ellis, Project Manager, Master Plan Project Management Office, Trillium Health Partners

Chioma Ifeanyi-Okoro, Speaker and Consultant,; Founder, My African Corner

Colin Druhan, Executive Director, Pride at Work Canada

Courtney Ayukawa, Manager, Inclusive Employment, United Way Greater Toronto

Craig Ruttan, Policy Director, Energy, Environment & Land Use, Toronto Region Board of Trade

Dale McDermott, Chief Operating Officer, CGLCC – Canada’s LGBT+ Chamber of Commerce

Fallon Butler, Director of Development, Miles Nadal JCC; Founder, GoodSort

Farrah Marfatia, Manager of Policy and Programs, Muslim Association of Canada

Farzana Rajwani, Interim Campaign Director, Michael Garron Hospital Foundation

Ish Aderonmu, Founder, Legalish

Jagdamba Singh, Manager, Corporate Responsibility, Cadillac Fairview

Jaipaul Massey-Singh, Principal, RIPL Strategic

Joseph Mari, Director, Financial Intelligence Unit (FIU) and External Partnerships, Scotiabank

Kendra Kerr, Manager, Partnerships and Projects, MLSE Foundation

Leah Bae, Principal, Cause Digital

Ludmilla von Hoyningen Huene, Consultant, Organizational Effectiveness, Slalom

Marc Hébert, Lead, Indigenous Kidney Health, Ontario Health

Mohini Datta-Ray, Executive Director, North York Women’s Shelter

Natasha Smith, Partner, Miller Thomson LLP

Rachel La Touche, Assistant Professor, Teaching Stream, University of Toronto

Ron Jaikaran, Senior Manager, Ontario Financing Authority

Samya Hasan, Executive Director, Council of Agencies Serving South Asians

Sara Tune, Manager, Colleges Finance, Postsecondary Education Division, Ministry of Colleges and Universities

Sashaina Singh, Knowledge Broker, Office of Community Engagement, McMaster University

Tabitha Curly, Manager of Sales, Six Nations of the Grand River Development Corporation

Hanze (Wilson) Zhang, Research Lead, Future of Canada Centre, Deloitte Canada

Yasmin Rajabi, Projects Officer, Brookfield Institute for Innovation + Entrepreneurship


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May 13, 2020