From Toronto to Montreal and back again, 2011 DiverseCity Fellow Vani Jain‘s leadership journey had many twists and turns. In her recent return to Toronto, Vani is taking on the role of founding Executive Director at The Daymark Foundation where she will be seeking positive community impact in the areas of mental health and food security. In this “Fellows in Focus” profile, read about how Vani’s life […]
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.
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
I’m involved in CivicAction because it’s an organization that relentlessly focuses on getting stuff done on the most pressing issues of our region. I see my efforts translate into results through the CivicAction approach that combines a power of convening with a disposition for action. When I raise my hand to be involved in a CivicAction initiative, I feel confident that we will not only have a transformational outcome for the region, but also that I will personally learn and develop through the process.
Richard Wiltshire2011 CivicAction DiverseCity Fellow and 2015-2016 ELN Co-Chair; Regional Sales Manager, Sales Solutions, LinkedIn Canada
Leaders engage people and build inclusive solutions. They foster innovative ideas and open doors to possibility. To be a civic leader is to be on the cutting edge of transformational change that creates a better future.
Susan McIsaacFormer President and CEO, United Way of Toronto
Business leaders across all industries and sectors need to be forward-thinking and embrace our civic role and responsibilities as change leaders. We need to be innovative, proactive and agile, and we need to prepare and develop the next generation of leaders to have the courage to do the same.
Kim MasonSenior Vice President, Personal and Commercial Banking - Operations, RBC
We must have all hands on deck to pursue real collaboration, build broader and deeper confidence, and mobilize all of the resources we need to build a great city. Tomorrow’s leaders will need not just the ability, but also the desire to collaborate.
His Worship John ToryMayor, City of Toronto
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.
You may be thinking: highlights and 2020 in the same sentence?! Despite a challenging year in so many ways for all of us, the ELN has done our best to make the most impact we could. And boy, was there impact! We launched new programming, hosted thirteen events, and brought hundreds of rising leaders to […]
by Nicole Danesi, Communications Lead with the ELN Executive Committee and Associate Manager of Donor Marketing with CanadaHelps Following the retail rush of Black Friday and Cyber Monday, GivingTuesday is a day celebrating generosity and giving in all forms. On December 1st, 2020, millions of Canadians and people around the world will come together (while […]
From founding member of the ELN, to the new CEO of CivicAction! We’re so excited to be welcoming Leslie Woo, a respected leader with over 25 years of experience building sustainable communities and shaping urban growth, to the team. Learn more about Leslie and her city-building journey. My name is… Leslie Woo I speak (other […]
Reflections on allyship and anti-racism conversations Kendra Kerr is a member of the DiverseCity Fellows 2020 cohort and Manager, Partnerships and Projects at MLSE Foundation. The world is changing. The activism we are seeing today through massive social media campaigns (#blackouttuesday), or countless brands releasing statements calling for racial justice, or even the significant demonstrations […]
Honouring the diversity of First Nations, Inuit, and Métis peoples and cultures also means acknowledging the challenges these communities face and the role rising-leaders must play in supporting them. Celebrating National Indigenous History Month marks our ongoing commitment to supporting education and active allyship within the ELN. As we work to overcome systemic racism, while […]
Meet Anna-Kay Russel. Originally born in Kingston, Jamaica and now calling Toronto home, Anna-Kay is a passionate policy professional involved in both Leading Change Canada and the Canadian Coalition for Good Governance. But her biggest city building accomplishment is co-founding the first-ever Toronto Black Policy Conference, an event that brought together 300 Black policy professionals […]
Leading an All-Hands-on-Deck Effort (and How DiverseCity Fellows Played a Part!) A profile on 2018 DiverseCity Fellow Alumna Brad Bradford. TIME IN THE DIVERSECITY FELLOWS PROGRAM How would you describe your Fellows experience? What were the biggest take-aways for you both during and post program? For me, the DiverseCity Fellows program was one of the most […]
COVID-19 has brought on unprecedented challenges worldwide and emerging leaders across the GTHA are rising to the challenge. From stepping outside of their comfort zones through job redeployment to the front-lines, to leading innovative strategies within their organizations in response to our “new normal”, we’re celebrating the many ways emerging leaders across the GTHA are […]
As a network of rising leaders actively plugged into civic issues, we know it can be difficult to practice social distancing (especially for those extroverts among us). At a time when we’re being called to step up and stay home, organizations and individuals are coming forward with innovative initiatives and resources to help us manage […]
Debora Jesus is a 2020-21 ELN Communications Lead and the Marketing and Communications Coordinator at Ryerson University’s Legal Innovation Zone. Learn more about Debora here. On January 23rd, the Economic Club of Canada launched an event series on the future of work and the new economy. The forum opened with Future Skills: A Conversation with […]
Meet Debora Jesus. Debora is one of the 2020-21 ELN Communications Leads and the Marketing and Communications Coordinator at Ryerson University’s Legal Innovation Zone. Debora was born in Sao Paulo, Brazil and moved to Canada in 2015, where she completed a Master of Arts in Communication and New Media at McMaster University. Prior to her […]
Connecting with Community A profile on 2013-14 DiverseCity Fellow Ruby Latif. It’s rare to find someone who harnesses the power of connecting with community as masterfully as Ruby Latif—the driving force behind meaningful community relations for some of Ontario’s most high profile political campaigns. Ruby started engaging with her community from a young age. While […]
CivicAction is thrilled to welcome Rebecca to the team as our new Program Manager for the Emerging Leaders Network. Warm, engaging, and with an awesome toolkit of skills, Rebecca most recently worked with Apathy is Boring where she coordinated the Toronto RISE project and led groups of youth in becoming more civically and democratically engaged. […]
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 […]
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 […]