By Jason Miller
Published in the Toronto Star
Biju Pappachan is focused on breaking down the barriers stymieing diversity in Toronto boardrooms and government, and a civic engagement organization is bringing him together with 29 others on a mission to do just that.
“This program is trying to bring those diverse voices to the decision-making and funding tables,” Pappachan said. “It allows me to share my narrative, so that we have an understanding that policy has a direct impact on people.”
Pappachan, executive director of POV 3rd Street, a firm working with youth having a hard time breaking into the media industry, is part of a fresh cohort — including a public servant, a mentor to blind youth and a Syrian refugee — from an eclectic mix of backgrounds in the one-year DiverseCity Fellows program offered by CivicAction Leadership Foundation.
The Malvern resident is among the 30 leaders who earned a spot on this year’s roster. The year of programming will entail networking with experts, mentorship, workshops and a leadership retreat.
CivicAction’s CEO Sevaun Palvetzian says data indicates clearly that the Toronto region’s executive ranks and government leadership fall short of reflecting the diversity found here.
“Our DiverseCity Fellows program is the ultimate silo-breaker because it trains rising leaders on how to bridge the gaps between our communities and bring new players to city building tables,” said Palvetzian.
To get to the bottom of these issues and how these DiverseCity participants hope to use the program as a catalyst to enact change, the Star had conversations with some of those chosen for the program. The responses have been edited for length.