TYC Leadership Team 2017-18
Edna Ali, Executive Director
Edna Ali is firm in her pursuit of civic engagement, whether that is through empowering herself or others.
As a participant of the Protégée Program, an initiative addressing the unequal representation of women in municipal government, Edna received mentorship and first-hand experience in municipal politics from a female Councillor.
As a participant of the Civic Works project, Edna enhanced her skills in civic literacy, media literacy and tech literacy with the goal of devising best practices to increase civic engagement among youth from priority neighbourhoods.
Meanwhile, at the Toronto Youth Cabinet, Edna led the Community Safety Working Group where she worked to develop initiatives that propelled youth voices and perspectives concerning policing and violence prevention.
Recently, she has shifted gears to increase her involvement at the local level by working with various initiatives in her community of Etobicoke-York.
En outre, elle est diplômée de Collège universitaire Glendon, recently completing a Bilingual Hons. B.A. in Political Science.
Hamdi Jimale, Director of Internal Affairs
Hamdi is currently in her final year of an undergraduate degree at UOIT. Over the course of her academic career, she has held several leadership positions at her campus, including advocating for human rights and mobilizing students as a Campus Coordinator at Amnesty International UOIT, and working to enhance campus experience as a Student Ambassador.
Off-campus, Hamdi has served as the Parliamentary Debates Competition Chair at MIST Toronto, where she organized and led debate competitions and gained an appreciation for the need to give youth a venue to excel, while supporting them in developing leadership and communication skills. She has also participated in CCMW’s Civic Work’s Project, where she had the opportunity to enhance her civic engagement skills, while developing a better understanding of democratic processes to build a more integrated, socially cohesive society.
As Director of Internal Affairs at Toronto Youth Cabinet, Hamdi supports the internal management of the Cabinet and works in collaboration with the Executive Director in overseeing the TYC's initiatives. Alongside this role, Hamdi represents students as the President of the UOIT Social Sciences and Humanities Student Society, which acts as a governing and advocacy body for students. She is also a Disaster Responder with the Canadian Red Cross, where she provides emergency services and recovery assistance to people affected by disasters across the City of Toronto.
Bri Gardner, Director of Stakeholder Engagement
Bri Gardner (they/them pronouns) is a 16 year old student at Ursula Franklin Academy and community activist.
A longtime resident of Mimico, Bri is a peer leader at the South Etobicoke Youth Assembly based out of LAMP Community Health Centre, an intern in the office of Parkdale-High Park MPP Cheri DiNovo, and served as the Transit Lead on the Toronto Youth Cabinet from 2016 to 2017.
Through their involvement with LAMP and other community organizations, Bri is devoted to activism for LGBTQ+ rights, youth engagement, income equality and mental health.
Lilly Tong, Director of Council Relations
Lilly is a recent graduate of McGill University and works in Digital Consulting at Accenture. Capitalizing on the plethora of community service opportunities offered by the Corporate Citizenship program at her firm, Lilly volunteered for various organizations in Toronto including Ladies Learning Code and TREC Education, where she travelled to different neighbourhoods and connected with youths of diverse socioeconomic backgrounds. As a mentor, she worked closely with youths in Toronto to help them develop their careers and the necessary skillsets they need to succeed in the modern employment landscape. In the process, she realized the importance of youth empowerment and its far-reaching implications in safeguarding the nation’s long-term economic prosperity and overall wellbeing. Since then, she has vowed to become a community builder at the forefront of civic engagement advocating for youth interests.
Formerly a councillor on the McGill University student union representing the Faculty of Engineering and currently a project manager interacting with global stakeholders, Lilly has ample experience in relationship management. As the Director of Council Relations, she seeks to forge an alliance with the City Council to tackle the city's core issues and to engage Toronto's youths to weave their narratives into the policy decisions at City Hall.
Nicole Dionisio, Director of Policy & Advocacy
Nicole Dionisio’s heart lives in Scarborough, where she was born, raised, and recently graduated from the University of Toronto’s Scarborough campus. Through her work in various roles within UTSC and the surrounding community, Nicole discovered her passion for politics as it relates to queer issues, race-based issues, environmentalism, and indigenous issues. She has spent the last four years as a leader in the largest student organization at her school, making policy recommendations from internal governance to academic, social justice, and sustainability initiatives.
As the Director of Policy and Advocacy for the Toronto Youth Cabinet, Nicole is responsible for leading efforts on policy development for the TYC and recommending positions to the membership. She is looking forward to working with the executive team on the many intersecting issues that Toronto youth face and working directly with youth this year.
Jarrod Bai, Director of Public Relations
Jarrod started his political involvement for two things: free pizza, and hours. After growing tired of pizza and having more hours than he knew what to do with he realized that it wasn’t hours or pizza that kept him motivated, it was the idea that he could make an impact on his community. As a young person Jarrod rarely felt that he and his fellow student’s concerns were adequately addressed. So he went on to become volunteer coordinator for a few elections, and then campaign co-chair for another, and finally landed an internship as a special assistant at city hall. Along the way he has helped his peers gain work experience with various MP’s and ministers in an effort to get more youth involved in politics, and to have some company during the long days out canvassing.
As Director of Public Relations, Jarrod aims to engage his community through a social media presence that addresses the concerns and issues of youth in under 140 characters. He hopes to promote the events organized by the TYC in a way that is inclusive and accessible to everyone. And most importantly if you do choose to volunteer at one of these events he will make sure to include pizza and hours.
Vhil Castillejos, Director of Organizational Development
Vhil is a dreamer at heart who wishes to see the world become a better and safer place through community action. As a firm believer in the power of community organizing, he has served as a leader for the Filipino Students’ Association of Toronto (U of T) and as a coordinator for Queer Asian Youth of Asian Community AIDS Services. Here, he realized the importance of helping create safe and welcoming spaces where community members can grow and celebrate their identities. Because of this, he started organizing several projects and workshops exploring growth, identities, and intersectionalities within his communities, as well as co-founded Filipino Youth United for Change. Motivated to create more of these spaces, Vhil is now Toronto Youth Cabinet’s Director of Organizational Development where he supports members’ capacity-building and civic literacy.
As a Health Studies student at the University of Toronto, Vhil is passionate about newcomer and minority health, and is interested in how the intersection of individual identities, along with culture and policy, affects one’s health and lived experience. In order to further understand and address issues surrounding the matter, he plans to pursue a Masters of Public Health in the future.
Naima Raza, School Boards Lead
Naima Raza encourages growth by asking the difficult questions. Currently, she is learning about community development through her studies in Public Policy and Urban Studies at the University of Toronto.
Early on, Naima discovered her passion for supporting youth empowerment within the education system. She was involved in advocacy work as a Student Trustee for the Lambton Kent District School Board (LKDSB) and then as a Studio [Y] Fellow. Since then, Naima has been serving as the Student Voice Coordinator for the LKDSB, and as the Executive Director for Student Voice Initiative. She will continue to better understand the education system in her job as a Programs Assistant within the Ontario Ministry of Education this summer.
Mana Sadeghipour, Equity & Employment Lead
Mana is currently pursuing her Master's degree at the School of Policy Studies at Queen's University. She received her Bachelor’s degree in Political Science from the University of Toronto.
Mana is passionate about issues related to the democratic engagement, labour-market integration, and social cohesion of vulnerable communities within the Greater Toronto Area. These interests were sparked by her experience interning with organizations such as Samara Canada, where she worked on projects such as Democracy Talks which aimed to strengthen civic and political engagement across different communities. Moreover, Mana’s collaboration with organizations such as Lifeline Syria and Diversity Exchange encouraged her to pursue a career in the public service, so that she could contribute to meaningful policymaking that help improve the living standards of her community. Mana will be working as a policy intern with Ontario’s Ministry of Attorney General in the Summer of 2017.
Labiba Chowdhury, Housing Lead
Labiba is a recent University of Toronto graduate with an Honours Bachelor of Arts in Urban Studies, Sociology and Philosophy. Through her academics and work experiences, she discovered her passion for cities, especially Toronto, and the unique challenges and opportunities they present. A strong believer in the centrality of housing to one’s wellbeing, Labiba is eager to ensure that housing is affordable, accessible and equitable for youth.
For the past year, Labiba has worked at CivicAction, where she supported cross-sectoral programs and initiatives such as workplace mental health, and affordable and high quality child care. Prior to that, she has worked with the Ministry of the Attorney General on program support and evaluation projects, and with Housing Services at U of T, where she helped students with house searching and landlord-tenant issues. Currently, she works on policy and program development at the Treasury Board Secretariat of Ontario.
Riley Peterson, Budget Lead
Riley is currently a grade twelve student at Vaughan Road Academy. In September 2017, she will begin studying urban and regional planning at Ryerson University.
She is a lifelong resident of York South-Weston and spends most of her time community organizing in her neighbourhood.
During her previous term as Budget Lead, she led the working group in mobilizing youth around the City of Toronto’s Participatory Budgeting Pilot Project. She also worked with local organizations to engage youth in Toronto’s 2017 budget cycle.
Ninar Fawal, Newcomer Lead
Ninar is currently attending grade 12 and plans to pursue political science at the University of Toronto. Her interests lie in international politics, human rights, and law.
Ever since she moved to Canada four years ago, she was eager to involve herself in her community. She volunteers in various community-oriented organizations aimed at empowering minorities. She is bilingual in English and Arabic, and writes in a local paper about issues affecting the community. She also volunteers with different organizations that assist newly arrived Syrians in Canada, including acting as a translator for Syrian newcomers with the Daughters for Life foundation, which aims to sponsor the education of women in the Middle East. She has also began to involve herself in politics, such as volunteering with a former MPP candidate and being selected to participate in the 2016 Legislative Assembly of Ontario Model Parliament. She is a recipient of the Duke of Edinburgh Award, bronze level, and is currently working on her silver.
Turja Chowdhury, Transit Lead
Turja Chowdhury is a high school student at Leaside High School. Since joining the TYC in August of 2016, Turja has been an active member, serving as both the Sponsorship Lead for the annual Identify ‘N’ Impact Awards and the annual TYC Summit.
He is passionate about advocating for government policies that will positively impact the lives of other youth in Toronto and looks forward to taking on a stronger leadership role in the TYC. As the Transit Lead, he hopes to focus his work on altering future developments around the youth of this city.
Aniqah Zowmi, Community Safety Lead
Aniqah Zowmi recently completed her Bachelor’s of Science at Brock University, and has a passion for youth engagement at all levels of government and civic organization. Aniqah is a 3M National Student Fellow of the Society for Teaching and Learning in Higher Education, an honour awarded to youth who have “demonstrated outstanding leadership in their lives and at their college or university.” She has been recognized as one of twenty Emerging Social Innovators across Canada by Ashoka and American Express for her work advocating for marginalized youth. In November 2015, she represented Canada at the Commonwealth Youth Forum, creating a communiqué presented to Prince Charles and Commonwealth Heads of Governments on economic policies pertaining to youth entrepreneurship. In November 2016, Aniqah spoke at the United Nations Headquarters in New York as a keynote panelist for Rotary UN Day, where she was highlighted as an inspirational young leader working towards achieving UN Sustainable Development Goal 11: Sustainable Cities and Communities. Aniqah is currently a Member of the Youth Advisory Group to the Canadian Commission for UNESCO. She hopes to create a future that will allow her to leverage the voices of young people to build communities and co-create solutions to the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals.
Arjun Sahota, Chair
Arjun Sahota is a student at Ryerson’s Ted Rogers School of Management and a graduate from the Future Leaders Pathway program at R.H. King Academy, a high school located in the east end of the City of Toronto. Arjun has dedicated the last four years to advocating for youth issues and enabling youth to be involved in municipal politics through his position as an executive at the Toronto Youth Cabinet. Along with being the Chair at the Toronto Youth Cabinet, Arjun is the Manager of Community Relations at Count Me In, the largest youth-led Charity in North America and a Board of Directors member at Sacraspice, a community serving organization within the City of Toronto. Arjun’s experience in the charity and non-profit sector enable him to understand youth issues at both a community and policy level.