Written by David Rider
Published in the Toronto Star
Mala Dorai was working late, heading downstairs to find food, when she instead stumbled on an opportunity to improve our region’s mental health.
The India-born neuroscientist saw a CivicAction session, was invited into it and now is one of the city-building agency’s 25 “DiverseCity Fellows” with a year-long opportunity to tackle one of the big challenges facing the Greater Toronto and Hamilton Area.
In its eighth year, the fellowship is a boot camp for emerging leaders trying to improve communities. The program also aims to inject diversity into the ranks of local leaders who remain, on average, more white and male than the communities they serve.
Dorai, a Deloitte health-care consultant who has studied at the University of California, San Diego and Columbia University and interned at the World Health Organization, says her passion is mental health.
Andrew Do, a 2014 University of Toronto public policy graduate, lives in the Jane-Finch neighbourhood but roams the city interviewing immigrant restaurant owners for his blog, 6ixspots.com, when he is not conducting research for innovation and entrepreneurship policy.
Do says that, although he helps organize Civic Tech Toronto events and was research lead for Better Budget Toronto’s 2016 report, he was unconvinced his DiverseCity application could match those further into careers.
Li Koo is a communications professional who helped turn an empty Buddhist temple on Bathurst St. into a centre for culture, arts, media and education.
She wants to spend her year working on a “solid” project that is sustainable, with lasting impact. She has a special interest in affordable housing, which is in critically short supply in the booming GTHA.
“This is our opportunity to come together like a think-tank and put forward solutions and try to enact them,” said Koo, a member of the Metropolitan United Church refugee committee who once ran for school trustee.
With issues of intolerance dominating headlines, says CivicAction’s chief executive Sevaun Palvetzian, DiverseCity Fellows have a chance to become “better allies and authentic champions for inclusivity.”
Read the full article here.