Leaders in Action

Are you a city-builder?

Jun 17, 2013 | ,

We are calling for applications for the 2013 DiverseCity Fellows program. Apply now if you want to work with others on a city-building project, connect with a wide range of civic leaders, and strengthen your teamwork and leadership skills.

Want to learn more about CivicAction’s DiverseCity Fellows program and Emerging Leaders Network? Join us for an orientation webinar on Thursday, July 27 from 12:00-1:00PM. Register online.

Fellows bring their own perspectives to the program, and each takes away something different!

Hear from some of the 2012 DiverseCity Fellows about their experience:


Diane Saldanha, Marketing Manager, AstraZeneca, and Co-Chair of the Young Leaders Council of the United Way of Peel

“The Fellows program has provided me with a better understanding of different leadership styles, the importance of collaboration and the value of multiple and diverse perspectives. Visiting different venues in the GTA where work is being done to improve the region, and having the opportunity to discuss issues with civic leaders and grassroots community members was extremely valuable. I’m now better able to evaluate situations, share ideas, and take action.”

Brent Chamberlain C_1

Brent Chamberlain, Executive Director, Pride At Work Canada

“After participating in the DiverseCity Fellows program, I now feel part of the city-building process in the GTHA. It has given me the experience and tools necessary to connect with and influence leaders in areas that I feel passionate about, and being part of a dynamic project team – with leaders from the private, public and non-profit sectors – provided invaluable career experience.”

Seema Jethalal

Seema Jethalal, Managing Director, DANIELS SPECTRUM: A cultural hub in Regent Park

“I appreciated the opportunity to connect to organizations and leaders across sectors who are committed to leveraging the Toronto region’s diversity to create profound change. Working in the arts and the non-profit sectors, I often have my blinders on; building bridges and friendships with a diverse group of people was critical in helping me move towards a collective impact methodology in my everyday life.”

Kellie Sauriol

Kellie Sauriol, Regional Vice President, RBC

“I thoroughly enjoyed the program and gained a much deeper understanding of the complex issues we face as a region, as well as what role I can play to help.”

Orlando Bowen

Orlando Bowen, Executive Director, One Voice One Team

“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. Throughout the program, we were connected with movers and shakers from across the region, each with their unique perspectives and journeys. It has been a powerful ride to date and the most beautiful thought is knowing that “we’ve only just begun.” Thank you Civic Action for your leadership in undertaking such a noble, noteworthy and transformative initiative.”

Who should apply?

This fellowship is for high-performing rising leaders from all backgrounds living in the Greater Toronto and Hamilton area and working in the public, private, and non-profit sectors. Applicants should have at least 5-10 years of demonstrated leadership experience in a professional or volunteer environment.

Apply now to be a 2013 DiverseCity Fellow.

Andre Vashist – mobilizing Scarborough, a labour of love

Nov 26, 2012 |

by Alejandra Bravo

“Civic literacy matters because it allows us to really take hold of our own future, our own problems, our own issues. It allows us to become agents of change as we build our community.”
Andre Vashist, volunteer, Agincourt Community Services Association (Building Blocks partner)

Andre Vashist, a coordinator with Steeles-L’Amoreaux Youth Empowerment (SLYE), has long been working to connect Scarborough residents with many forms of participation and community advocacy. It’s never been hard for him to feel motivated: “I’m from Scarborough. I’ve lived here my entire life. … To be able to work on a larger scale, influencing government on larger local issues is a huge opportunity.”

Founding Butterfly Communities is just one example of the change Andre is working on. This self-funded non-profit supports Scarborough youth and residents, through facilitating neighbourhood consultations, identifying community issues and priorities; and developing and supporting residents as they apply for grants. Allowing for community members to learn from each other, the initiative organizes workshops, meetings and events, drawing on partnerships from different sectors.

Some of Butterfly Communities’ activities:

  • collaborating with Toronto Community Housing to engage youth in East Scarborough to work on projects they themselves lead
  • partnering with Ryerson School of Urban and Regional Planning to conduct strategic plan for East Scarborough neighbourhood

To deliver the How Government Works civic literacy primer as a Building Blocks leader, Andre draws from his community experience and love of Scarborough. He’s provided the training to members of Scarborough Civic Action Network (hosted by ACSA) and at Scarborough Centre for Health Communities.

Andre’s dedication and enthusiasm for his community, and his role in trying to improve Scarborough, neighbourhood by neighbourhood, is inspiring: “I don’t take this opportunity for granted. I’m very aware how important this work is for people in our community. The training residents are getting provides them with something that is a useful tool to help make their lives better. To be part of helping to lift up Scarborough in that way is amazing. I’m doing my duty as a person who grew up in a place that I love.”

Many of these community members are new to the process of influencing government decision making. According to Andre, they’re excited by the possibilities that mobilizing community can bring: “Every individual brings something different to the table. They might be curious about how things work. Or they have specific things that they’re really passionate about and they want to get mobilized and want to be around like minded people. There is a lot of interest and people want to know how to make change a reality.”

Next on Andre’s agenda is convening Scarborough youth to have their voices heard in the 2013 City budget process (PDF).

Related links:

Building Blocks is in part funded by

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