2018-20 ELN Communications Lead Alyssa Lai is a permanent resident in Canada. While she can’t vote in Canadian elections, she enjoys being a fly on the wall as she observes and follows election and current affairs news. Alyssa is fascinated by the discourse around various social, economic, and political issues and shares her thoughts regularly […]
Everyone has a story to tell...
Stories help us to connect, to inspire, to understand. On this page, we share the stories of people in our network who have taught us, entertained us, been a champion for diverse civic leadership, and who have galvanized us to think differently. Be prepared to be inspired.
Why leadership matters
For over 10 years, we’ve brought together senior executives and rising leaders from all sectors to tackle big challenges in the Greater Toronto and Hamilton Region, let them tell you why leadership really matters, and what we can do when we open doors and minds for the young, emerging and under-represented leaders in our communities.
In an era of more complexity and fewer resources, civic leadership and collaboration across all sectors of civil society is critical to ensuring a better future. The DiverseCity Fellows Program brings together leaders from various fields and gives them the tools and support they need to find common purpose, work collaboratively and make real, positive change.
Tanzeel Merchant2012 CivicAction DiverseCity Fellow; Director of the Emergency Health Services Services Branch, Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care
After being in the DiverseCity Fellows program, my network has increased exponentially. I’ve had the opportunity to meet many brilliant and committed individuals from across various sectors.
Orlando Bowen2012 DiverseCity Fellow; Executive Director, One Voice One Team
For years, CivicAction has helped convene, train and develop community leaders looking to shape and strengthen the region in which we live. By providing an environment in which our leaders can thrive today, we are also investing in the positive potential for our towns and cities tomorrow.
Allan O'DetteChief Investment Officer, Ontario Investment Office
Being a DiverseCity Fellow has been a tremendous privilege. I have experienced first-hand how the combination of diverse perspectives and a shared vision produces a creative tension that leads to innovative and better solutions.
Jenn Miller2011 CivicAction DiverseCity Fellow; Director, Social Investment, Atkinson Foundation
Civic leadership is as necessary to community development as the air we breathe. True leaders are self-examining, constantly learning, never asking others to do what they have not attempted and encouraging of those who try and fail.
Pat CapponiC.M., O.Ont, Mental Health Advocate, Author, & Co-Lead, From Surviving to Advising, CAMH, Voices from the Street
Spotlight on our Members
The Emerging Leaders Network (ELN) brings together diverse, energetic and motivated city-builders from across our region, each with a unique story to tell about where they came from, what they’re passionate about, and where they want to go next. Check back often – new profiles are added regularly.
How does your workplace make #MindsMatter? With Mental Illness Awareness Week, World Mental Health Day and Healthy Workplace Month all taking place in October, there’s never bene a better time to ask. That’s why all month long CivicAction’s MindsMatter initiative will be sharing stories from organizations and companies of all sizes are taking to foster […]
ELN executive committee member Meryam Al-waadh is passionate about improving healthcare systems through the implementation of digital solutions. She’s a leader who believes in the power of volunteering, currently both with the ELN Executive Committee and with GEM (Girls E-Mentorship), a charitable organization that offers a mentorship program for high school girls. In her spare […]
Changing the world one show at a time A profile on 2011 DiverseCity Fellow Ravi Jain. If all of the world is a stage, then why not use a stage to change the world? Ravi Jain, 2011 DiverseCity Fellow and Artistic and General Director of Why Not Theatre, aims to do exactly that—harness the power […]
As June, also known as National Indigenous History Month, comes to an end, we recognize that our reconciliation journey needs to continue all year round. Building a truly equitable region starts with understanding the history of the region and the peoples who have called this land home for thousands of years and working towards an […]
Building the future of workers A profile on 2011 DiverseCity Fellow Alumna Jenn Miller. The future of work can bring up sometimes scary images of robots replacing humans everywhere we turn. Concerned with how these changes will impact our cities and communities, organizations across the region are trying to come to terms with how to […]
ELN Executive Committee member Marchael Cunanan spends his days working as an Accountant at Pivotal, a tech software company. Passionate about building up the next generation of leaders, Marchael has worked on youth engagement and civic involvement with Peel Children and Youth Initiative, Western University Student Success, and the ELN. When he’s not looking at […]
Coding Inclusion A profile on 2015-2016 DiverseCity Fellow Alumnus Ritesh Kotak. For Ritesh Kotak, the DiverseCity Fellows program changed the course of his career. When he joined the Fellows program in 2015, Ritesh was a Research and Innovation Strategist at the Toronto Police Service, working on the incorporation of technologies and cyber security in the […]
Cheryll Case is the founding principal of CP Planning, a ground breaking urban planning firm that digs deep into addressing the urban conditions that affect access to housing, work, and play. She specializes in designing for inclusive conversations that build relationships between various industries within the non-profit, private, and public sectors. To facilitate conversation, she […]
Countering Hate A profile on 2018 DiverseCity Fellow Alumna Naseem Mithoowani. Naseem Mithoowani has never been one to sit on the sidelines and be a spectator to hate. Yet changing attitudes is not easy—something Naseem, an immigration and refugee lawyer and 2018 DiverseCity Fellow, learned first-hand. In 2006, Naseem and a group of fellow law […]
2019 DiverseCity Fellow Mike Brooks provides expert advice to decision makers on supporting positive development for children and youth across Ontario as a Senior Policy Analyst with the Ontario Ministry of Children, Community and Social Services. Mike helped catalyze efforts to move the needle on education and employment outcomes for youth through the Collective Impact […]
2019 DiverseCity Fellow Janelle Hinds combined her experience in technology with her passion for youth civic engagement to create Helping Hands—a platform that helps youth volunteer and get civically engaged while building career skills. As someone with a passion for helping young people become more civically engaged, Janelle uses Twitter as platform of choice to […]
They’re bold. They’re driven. They’re talented. And they’re relentless. This Black History Month, meet 9 inspiring leaders from the ELN network who are driving real change in their communities and in our region as a whole. Brandon Hay Brandon Hay is the founder of the Black Daddies Club, where since 2007 he has engaged over […]
ELN Communications Lead Sean Mackay is a digital marketing and communications professional working in Toronto’s real estate industry. Sean works as Managing Director at Livabl, an online publication covering stories that help home-buyers better understand real estate market trends. In his spare time, Sean is a mentor with the Toronto Region Immigrant Employment Council (TRIEC), […]
ELN executive committee member. Event management guru. Proud Hamiltonian. Sarah Wardrope is one of The Hammer’s best. When she’s not strategizing and executing key corporate and digital communication projects at Hamilton Health Sciences, Sarah is finding ways to bring together her fellow rising leaders; most recently, she served as co-chair of HIVEX, an annual conference […]
Fresh on the heels of October as Islamic Heritage Month, our ELN spotlight for November features Shazlin Rahman, a prominent advocate in the Muslim community. As a communications professional, Shazlin approaches all of her work from an equity-based, inclusive lens. Currently she works as the Stakeholder Engagement Specialist at Inspirit Foundation, is lending a hand […]
Meet Jesse Darling, one of our fearless ELN co-chairs. As Manager of Policy Innovation Platform at the Brookfield Institute for Innovation + Entrepreneurship, she works to designs initiatives that bring human insights into policy development and service design. When not at work, you can also spot Jesse volunteering, picking up a stack of holds from the […]
Meet Dilya Niezova, a passionate city builder who works to strengthen the connections between our region and its residents. In her day to day, Dilya supports Torontonians on social assistance as a City of Toronto employee and is concerned with the ways that poverty and inequality impact people’s lives. In her spare time, you might catch […]
Meet Alyssa Lai. Alyssa was born in Malaysia but now calls Hamilton her second home. Since arriving to Canada in 2008, she’s worked and volunteered for more than 10 nonprofits and continues to sit on numerous boards. A former DiverseCity Fellow and current ELN communications lead, Alyssa wields her public relations background as a tool to […]
Meet Benjamin Bongolan. Originally from Mississauga, Benjamin now works in Toronto at The 519, where he strives to support communities and impact issues like equity, racism, homophobia, and the challenges of the immigration process. Benjamin wants to build a city where everyone has equal access to supports and feels proud of who they are. To learn more […]
Justin Wiebe is Métis and was born in the Métis Homeland and Treaty 6 Territory in Saskatoon, lived on Musqueam, Squamish, and Tsleil Waututh Territory in Vancouver. He is most interested in resolving the inequality that continues to plague our region, and thinks there’s much more work to be done to strengthen relationships across differences […]
Pat Capponi is CivicAction’s 2018 Lifetime Achievement Award for civic leadership recipient. A tireless mental health advocate, Pat was recognized for her work at MetroNext on March 23, 2018 at Union Station. For more leadership spotlights, click here. — Imagine being discharged from a mental health facility and attempting to get back on your feet, […]
Karen Restoule is CivicAction’s 2018 Emerging Leader Award recipient. A leading convener and rising Indigenous champion, Karen was recognized for her work at MetroNext on March 23, 2018 at Union Station. For more leadership spotlights, click here. — When Karen Restoule speaks of her late father Robert, it’s clear how much he meant to her. […]
They’re fierce, talented, and driving real change. For International Women’s Day 2018 we’re featuring 8 amazing women from the Greater Toronto and Hamilton Area who #PressForProgress in all they do. Today, take some time to read the stories of the women below, and join @CivicActionGTHA on Twitter in using #PressForProgress today to share what issues […]