TYC Leadership Team 2017-18





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 experiences in municipal politics from a female Councillor. As a former Civic Leader for the Canadian Council of Muslim Women’s 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. At the Toronto Youth Cabinet, Edna led the Community Safety Working Group where she worked to develop initiatives propelling youth voices and perspectives concerning policing and violence prevention.




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 (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 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.

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.

Andrea Fernandez, DIRECTOR OF organizational development


Andrea is a recent Master’s of Public Administration graduate from Queen’s University. Prior to pursuing graduate studies, she completed her Honours Bachelor of Arts in Criminology and Latin American Studies at the University of Toronto. She was an Intern at the Ontario Ministry of Community Safety and Correctional Services and currently works as a Junior Policy Analyst at the Ontario Ministry of Education. Here she provides policy advice on several student success initiatives. She hopes to support the Toronto Youth Cabinet by sharing her experiences in policy development and civic engagement.

From a young age, Andrea has been passionate about equity, diversity and inclusion. While at the University of Toronto, Andrea was the Vice President of the Criminology Students’ Association as well as a Senior Mentor for the First in the Family Peer-Mentor Program. In these roles, she was a strong advocate for creating academic, leadership and social opportunities that enable first-generation students to feel connected to and engaged in their school communities.  





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.




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 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.



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Keisha is a currently pursuing an Honours Bachelor of Arts in Political Science and Urban Studies at the University of Toronto. As a Co-operative Housing Federation of Toronto (CHFT) Diversity Scholarship recipient, she is especially passionate about housing, community development and engagement, and urban politics more broadly.

While acting on the executive of the Victoria University Student’s Administrative Council (VUSAC) Equity Commission, Keisha used equity practices to create positive, inclusive and accessible spaces for all – including those who are marginalized. Understanding and incorporating intersectional and anti-oppressive frameworks that value the lived-experience of others has been fundamental to her work.

She is currently the Vice-Director for the Standing Committee on Municipal Affairs for the University of Toronto’s Model Parliament (UTMP) where one of her main focuses will be issues of housing (un)affordability, (in)accessibility, and homelessness. In this role, she reflects upon and evaluates the roles that government, local organizations and civil society play in ameliorating housing issues faced by youth across the Greater Toronto Area (GTA).



Riley is currently 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 lead 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 the Toronto’s 2017 budget cycle.




Ninar is currently attending 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 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.



ANatasha Allen is a recent graduate of the University of Toronto, with an Honours Bachelor of Arts degree in Women's and Gender Studies, Public Law, and Sociology. Much of her academic research and interests were focused on gender-based violence in the Afro-Caribbean community in Canada, and how it intersects with race, legal status and socioeconomic status. Natasha has a heart for community safety as she served as the Finance and Safety Coordinator of the Women and Trans Centre at the University of Toronto Scarborough (UTSC) and also worked with university administrative bodies at the University of Toronto (U of T) and UTSC to see the implementation of a sexual violence policy at all three of U of T’s campuses.

During the 2016/2017 term, Natasha served as a member of the Research and Policy Team, as well as the Community Safety Working Group, where she conducted research on topics such as policing best practices for youth engagement, and the effects of carding on Toronto’s youth. Natasha’s hope for this working group is that it will serve as a portal for youth to be able to freely express their concerns and ideas directly to the Toronto Police Service without fear or intimidation




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.