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CivicAction aims to close the leadership gap with DiverseCity Fellows program

TORONTO (January 31, 2017) – As issues of intolerance dominate the daily news cycle, there’s a growing need for inclusive, collaborative and civic-minded leaders. CivicAction is growing this leadership pipeline and today announced 25 of the region’s top rising leaders as the next cohort of DiverseCity Fellows who have demonstrated impressive impact in communities across our city-region.

The Greater Toronto and Hamilton Area (GTHA) is one of the most diverse regions in the world, but our leadership across sectors still does not reflect this. Today, men in leadership roles still largely outnumber their female counterparts and while women have made some progress at the leadership level, white women in leadership roles still outnumber racialized women 7:1.

We know that diverse teams lead to better solutions so in order to address the big urban challenges we face today, we need diverse voices at decision making tables and to ensure that the leaders of tomorrow have the right tools in their civic toolkit. CivicAction is working to address these gaps through the DiverseCity Fellows program, a free year-long fellowship that provides rising leaders from all sectors and GTHA communities with opportunities to build a more diverse network and scale their impact within their communities.

“These emerging leaders are already on track to have a big influence on our region, but the DiverseCity Fellows program will accelerate this tenfold,” said Sevaun Palvetzian, CEO, CivicAction. “This program creates space for exceptional people from different backgrounds to be exposed to new city-building perspectives, build meaningful and lasting relationships with diverse peers – and ultimately become better allies and authentic champions for inclusivity.”

Past Fellows have gone on to become senior executives in top performing companies, taken on senior-level government and political roles, mobilized powerful community initiatives, and started their own successful businesses. The legacy of the program is building collaborative and inclusive leaders in all sectors who continue to drive civic impact in their communities.

“This program is a phenomenal investment to further the leadership potential of our diverse region. The program fosters robust leadership development informing and catalyzing impactful change,” said Stefany Hanson, 2017 DiverseCity Fellow and Manager, Youth Challenge Fund and Youth Initiatives, United Way Toronto and York Region.

With collaborative training sessions, an opportunity to incubate city-building projects, and unparalleled access to our region’s influencers and civic spaces, each DiverseCity Fellow will be uniquely poised to contribute to the ongoing growth and success of our region. Past notable Fellows mentors include Robin Cardozo, Chief Operating Officer, SickKids Foundation, Cam Fowler, Group Head, Canadian Personal & Commercial Banking, BMO Financial Group, Helen Burstyn, Chair-Evergreen, and Drex Jancar, Co-Founder of The Remix Project & Director of OVOFEST.

Now in its 8th year, the DiverseCity Fellows program has once again assembled a dynamic group of talent. Diverse perspectives, a desire to drive action and an eagerness to learn are just a few characteristics of the 2017 cohort. Get to know the Fellows and read their bios here.

2017 DiverseCity Fellows

Fayza Abdallaoui, President of the Board, Ontario Movement for Francophone Immigrant Women (MOFIF) & Consultant, Next Level Impact Consulting

Sal Alajek, Engineer – Project Manager, WSP Canada

Selam Araia, Team Leader – Student Parent Support Workers, Pathways to Education – Lawrence Heights, Unison Health and Community Services

Rudayna Bahubeshi, Communications Manager, Inspirit Foundation

Brett Chang, Public Policy Associate, Uber

Maria Chiu, PhD, Scientist at the Institute for Clinical Evaluative Sciences and Assistant Professor at University of Toronto

Andrew Do, Policy Advisor, Brookfield Institute for Innovation + Entrepreneurship

Mala Dorai, Consultant, Deloitte Canada LLP

Nira Elgueta, Community Engagement Coordinator, Working Women Community Centre

Max FineDay, Co-Executive Director, Canadian Roots Exchange

Andy Glynn, Deputy Fire Chief, Oakville Fire Department

Stefany Hanson, Hons. BPA, MPPAL, Manager, Youth Challenge Fund and Youth Initiatives, United Way Toronto & York Region

Kim Howson, Manager Strategic Initiatives, Social Impact, RBC

Sumeeta Kapur, Manager, Strategic Planning & Operations, Infrastructure Ontario

Jihyun Rosel Kim, Associate Lawyer, Goodmans LLP

Li Koo, Communications & Stakeholder Relations Professional

Alyssa Lai, Digital Marketing Coordinator, Hamilton Health Sciences Foundation

Emily Mills, Senior Communications Officer, CBC and Founder, How She Hustles

David Mousavi, Legal Counsel, Professor at Centennial College

Kate Mulligan, Research Specialist, Healthy Public Policy, Toronto Public Health / Assistant Professor, Dalla Lana School of Public Health, University of Toronto

Stephanie Rosinski, Associate, Interaction & Service Design, Bridgeable

Theresa Scandiffio, Director, Adult Learning, TIFF

Kate Whalen, Senior Manager, Academic Sustainability Programs, McMaster University

Justin Wiebe, Capacity Building Specialist, Ontario Trillium Foundation

Selena Zhang, Manager of Programs and Research, Institute on Municipal Finance and Governance


About CivicAction: For over a decade, CivicAction has brought together senior executives and rising leaders from all sectors to tackle some of our region’s toughest challenges. CivicAction sets a non-partisan agenda, builds strategic partnerships, and launches campaigns, programs and organizations that transform our region. To find out more visit or follow us on twitter at @CivicActionGTHA.

About CivicAction’s Leadership Programs: CivicAction offers a suite of high-impact programs designed to help emerging leaders develop their networks, grow their minds, and transform their communities. The Emerging Leaders Network brings together over a thousand emerging civic leaders and harnesses them to create a connected, collaborative region and catalyzes action in the form of high impact, city-building projects. CivicAction’s DiverseCity Fellows is one of North America’s leading urban fellows programs for rising city-builders. Now in its 8th year, with over 180 graduates, this free year-long leadership program enables Fellows to become better leaders and create change in their communities.

For years CivicAction has acted as an incubator for civic leadership and city-building projects. Fellows have applied their leadership skills to high-impact city-building projects such as ALERT, a toolkit to support energy efficiency improvements in old residential high-rises; the Aboriginal Professional Association of Canada, which is dedicated to recognizing indigenous leadership across Canada; and the Pan Am Path, a multi-use path to connect Toronto’s ravines for the 2015 Pan Am/Parapan Am Games.

For more information, please contact:

Sarah Harris

Director, Communications, CivicAction


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