In honour of this past weekend’s International Youth Day, this month we are shining a spotlight on a phenomenal woman doing inspiring work to ensure youth thrive in our communities.
Introducing Stefany Hanson – a current CivicAction Diversity Fellow and Manager of the Youth Challenge Fund and Youth Initiatives at United Way Toronto and York Region. In addition to her day job, Stefany is also a community champion with a passion for supporting and building up youth across our region and she sits as Board Chair of PEACH (Promoting Education and Community Health) – a youth based organization in the Jane & Finch community!
To learn more about Stefany, her work, and who her dream dinner date would be, read on.
I was born in …
TORONTO (one of the greatest cities in the world), Ontario, Canada
I currently live in …
North York – North York is home to a diverse community of folks. There are amazing communities of youth with great dreams and hopes who live there. Artistic, civically involved and ambitious youth reside here. One of the things I really enjoy about North York is that Jane-Finch is located in this community. West side tings.
Diverse leadership is important because…
Diverse leadership is important because we require everyone’s input and contribution in terms of making our region an amazing place to be. Diverse leadership is not only achieved or realized through racial diversity in decision-making but through a plethora of different intersecting identities and experiences. The richness of how we govern & develop this region is dependent on the multiplicity of perspectives that can be brought to the forefront in unique and interesting ways.
Civic engagement is important because ….
Civic engagement is important because it creates an international effort to change or mitigate something that requires change. Civic engagement can be more than showing up to vote, it is about being part of the change you want to see in your community. Civic engagement is a tool for great social change and action. It is about being implicated, for a justifiable cause.
The issues in our region that keep me up at night are…
- Youth unemployment remains a significant issue, as many of our most disadvantaged youth are not getting access to opportunities they deserve or desire
- The lack of distribution of wealth or income inequality
- Rising costs for the basic essentials and the people who struggle (hard) to make ends meet
My greatest city-building accomplishment to date is …
To date (and hopefully there are more city-building moments to come), my greatest city-building moment was supporting youth at-promise from Jane-Finch to be part of initiatives that gave them a voice, way back in 2005. The youth provided a voice to issues and challenges that concerned them in the community – issues surrounding youth and police relations, violence, education and opportunities. They talked to politicians, bureaucrats, senior management of local community organizations and the broader community about how things could be improved, for greater life chances in the community.
One thing I do to ensure I continue to grow and develop as a leader is…
Listen. There is absolutely nothing better than listening to the rich stories and perspectives of others. Listening helps to create a space were people are heard and respected for what they know to be true. I am convinced that listening is about being present and finding new perspective.
One characteristic every leader should possess (and why) is …
Empathy! I think empathy is an important leadership quality to have. It forces you to think about living in other people’s shoes or at least try to.
If you want to get more engaged in your city or community you should ….
Find something that you are passionate about! After, you find something you are passionate about join or create something. If you can join something or create something, then at least tweet about it #MyTwoCents
To me, an inclusive city/region/GTHA looks like…
- A place where people do not have to make a choice between rent and bills
- A place where youth have opportunities to grow, thrive and live with integrity
- A place where economic and social disadvantages are a thing of the past
- A place where everyone as access to decisions that impact their lives
One of my favourite places in the GTHA to visit/go is ….
I have some many favourite places in this fantastic region. One of the top one is Kensington Market. Everything you want is in the market – good food, a good party, potentially good friends and $20 piercings. Who could ask for anything more?
A hobby/talent of mine that people may not know about …
One of my talents is creating spaces for intergenerational dialogue between the youth and the elders. Sometimes it is amazing to see what generations of folks have in common.
If I could have dinner with anyone, living or deceased, I would choose ….
Honestly, it would have to be Oprah. Not gonna lie. Like her, I want to change the world by giving out one car at a time. Any you get a car! More specifically, I want to meet her to better understand what it means to be a change maker, despite of the odds being stacked against you. I find her story to be one of great triumph over significant adversity.