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 […]
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
Tomorrow’s leaders must act collectively. CivicAction brings us together so that we can build upon each other’s strengths. The result is magic: now we have the critical mass needed to make a positive difference.
Jessie Ma2013 - 2014 CivicAction DiverseCity Fellow; IESO Distinguished Research Fellow, Centre for Urban Energy, Ryerson University
I learned from David Pecaut that leadership is, above all else, about demonstrating the qualities of being truly human and selfless.
Marie MolinerFormer Regional Executive Director, Canadian Heritage - Ontario Region, Government of Ontario
Civic leadership inspires everyone to take part and have pride in their communities, which inevitably leads to better impact.
I strongly believe we must build the infrastructure – social programs, green space, transit – that we’ll need to support future inclusion, growth and sustainability. The leaders who bring these programs to life are critical to helping shape and drive this important agenda.
Cam FowlerCivicAction Board of Directors, Group Head, Canadian Personal and Commercial Banking, BMO Financial Group
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.
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 […]
Dr. Joseph Wong has contributed greatly to civic life across our region and has had great impact as a social activist in the Chinese Community. In all his work, Joseph has proven how successful community building is when we tap into the diversity and multiculturalism across our region. As Chair of the Board he used his […]
Emily Mills is the founder of How She Hustles – a dynamic network of diverse women that continues to grow by word of mouth, social media and sold-out events. As a trained communications professional, Emily works relentlessly to ensure the stories of racialized communities and diverse women are always at the forefront. She is a […]
Duaa Mohamed a former CivicAction staff member is a strong social and youth advocate who aspires to help empower youth by creating opportunities and breaking barriers. She currently works with the Youth Livelihood’s Team at the MasterCard Foundation as a Program Analyst. Throughout her career, she has worked to empower disadvantaged youth with several local non-for-profit […]
Brandon Hay is the founder of the Black Daddies Club, where since 2007 he has reached and engaged over 6,500 Black fathers and children. He founded the support group because he realised that there was a real lack of parenting resources for him and other fathers in his community. Today, the group works to support Black […]
Arjun Lombardi-Singh is a dynamic public relations and communications specialist with experience in both the non-profit and private sectors. Right now, Arjun is at RBC working as a Manager, Corporate Communications, Personal and Commercial Banking. As someone who both works and lives in the heart of Toronto, he is always on the lookout for the […]
This month, we pass the ELN member spotlight to Carley Smith Debenedictis—a jack-of-all-trades communicator. After six years with the MS Society of Canada, Carly found the endzone with Canadian Football League, helping it celebrate the 100th Grey Cup, before delivering for Canada Post as spokesperson and media liaison. Now, she’s at the City of Mississauga […]
There’s something big going on in Mississauga – so let’s shine the ELN spotlight on a member who calls this city home! Alex Lach is a long standing ELN member and currently Director of Outreach at Many Feathers Co-Op. A passionate city builder, Alex has led outreach and relationship building projects for a number of business […]
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, Manager of Youth Development at the City of Toronto, and former Manager of the Youth Challenge Fund […]
This month, the ELN spotlight lands on Matt McNama – 2016 Events and Programming Lead on the ELN Executive Committee. Matt is a marketing and communications professional with a passion for problem-solving and tackling big issues. Matt is an avid cyclist, marathon runner, and yoga enthusiast who volunteers his time and energy to organizations like Pride Toronto, as […]
In the lead up to July 1st, we’re profiling five Greater Toronto and Hamilton Area city builders, past and present, who have not only made significant positive impact in our communities, but have challenged us to be better civic-minded, inclusive, and collaborative individuals. Join us today as we take a quick look at Idil Burale, […]
In the lead up to July 1st, we’re profiling five Greater Toronto and Hamilton Area city builders, past and present, who have not only made significant positive impact in our communities, but have challenged us to be better civic-minded, inclusive, and collaborative individuals. Join us today as we take a quick look at Sylvia Maracle, […]
In the lead up to July 1st, we’re profiling five Greater Toronto and Hamilton Area city builders, past and present, who have not only made significant positive impact in our communities, but have challenged us to be better civic-minded, inclusive, and collaborative individuals. Today we take a brief look at David Pecaut, the original founder […]