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Home » Meet York's 2021 Top 30 Changemakers Under 30

Meet York's 2021 Top 30 Changemakers Under 30

Bold. Inspired. Visionary. It takes a true leader to inspire positive change in the world, and these are just some of the traits that define the successful York University alumni, driven to make a meaningful difference in their communities.

At home and abroad, graduates of York University are not only entering the workforce prepared to put their education into practice, but to enact positive, real-world change. From business leaders championing diversity and equity, to social impact researchers and environmental champions, York alumni across all sectors are 13.5% more likely than graduates of other GTA universities to volunteer in their communities. York’s unique pairing of research and learning excellence with a deep commitment to inclusion, community engagement, and social and economic justice truly helps to develop a community of changemakers.

That’s why we’ve launched York's Top 30 Changemakers Under 30 list – to recognize and honour the inspiring and diverse alumni who are exemplary leaders in creating positive change, at home and abroad.

Does this sound like you or a York alumna/alumnus who you know? We want to hear from you!  

To nominate a York grad for the 2022 list, tell us how the candidate demonstrates a commitment to creating positive change through their actions and values for York students, the wider community, and the world around them. 

Nominations are due no later than Monday, October 18, 2021. The recipients will be announced in winter 2022.


Krystal Abotossaway

Krystal Abotossaway

BHRM '13, Faculty of Liberal Arts & Professional Studies
Senior Manager, Diversity and Inclusion, Indigenous Peoples Area of Focus, TD Bank

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Krystal Abotossaway (BHRM '13) is an urban Ojibwe Anishinaabe Kwe from Aundeck Omni-Kaning First Nations and a sought-after expert, speaker and leader on Indigenous engagement.  As a senior manager at TD Bank, Krystal is responsible for TD's Indigenous Peoples strategy, integrating colleague, customer, and community perspectives while continuing to build TD's brand as the employer, bank, and community partner of choice for Indigenous Peoples. As the president of the Indigenous Professional Association of Canada she is helping to redefine the agenda and identify new measures for advancing the opportunities for and the capabilities of Canada’s Indigenous Peoples. Her thought leadership in advancing human resources knowledge on Indigenous engagement is informed by her academic background, including a degree in human resources from York’s Faculty of Liberal Arts & Professional Studies, and ongoing leadership roles on multiple boards in the GTA.

Isabella Akaliza

Isabella Akaliza

BA '20, Faculty of Liberal Arts & Professional Studies
Founder, FreeThePeriod Rwanda

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Isabella Akaliza (BA '20) is the founder of FreeThePeriod Rwanda, an initiative that campaigns for increased accessibility to period products and the ending of period poverty. She is a multilingual, results- driven communication specialist with a track record of leading successful national public health campaigns. In December 2019, she successfully campaigned for the tax exemption of period products in Rwanda, in a bid to make them more affordable. Today, she uses her skills at developing and maintaining effective internal and external stakeholder relations to campaign for more eco-friendly solutions to ending period poverty. Her hope is that one day, all period products will be free, and that period poverty will be something of the past with one less barrier to gender equality.  Isabella is a graduate of the communications studies program in the Faculty of Liberal Arts & Professional Studies.

Prakash Amarasooriya

Prakash Amarasooriya

BSc '15, Faculty of Health
Manager, Scorecard Operations, TD Bank; Co-host, Real Talk Roundtable

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Prakash Amarasooriya (BSC '15) works at TD as the manager of Scorecard Operations, and has been featured in the media for the financial literacy campaign he initiated with the Toronto Youth Cabinet. Prakash created a proposal to have financial literacy incorporated into the Ontario Grade 10 Career Studies course, as well as a petition to gather support from the public. He continues to promote financial literacy across Canada as a member of the board of directors and the chair of the programs committee for the Canadian Foundation for Economic Education (CFEE). Prakash has also expanded his activities to support the arts and entertainment industry in Canada, currently serving on the board of directors for Crow's Theatre and volunteering with the Toronto Symphony Orchestra. His passion for volunteerism has been recognized as the recipient of both the Volunteer Toronto Award and the Canada Volunteer Award. He is also a published neuroscience researcher. 

Miranda Baksh

Miranda Baksh

BES '17, MES '19, Faculty of Environmental and Urban Change
CEO and Founder, Community Climate Council

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Miranda Baksh (BES '17, MES '19) is an environmental educator, public speaker, and climate action catalyst who co-founded the Community Climate Council (CCC), of which she is the chief executive officer. Her Master’s degree research focused on the intersections between biodiversity conservation and digital science communication. Her passion for climate justice led her to investigate ecosystem-based disaster reduction in Belize, and eco-health approaches to conservation in Costa Rica. Near the end of her studies, after co-organizing the first climate march in her city and delegating for the Region of Peel’s climate change master plan, she recognized that there lacked a platform for her community, specifically racialized and marginalized youth, to take the lead on local climate action. The CCC, comprised of about 30 volunteer council members, fills this crucial gap, where she and her team are now able to empower community members through enhancing climate literacy and political engagement. She aims to inspire youth to follow their passion and to recognize that we can all collectively drive solutions towards climate and community resilience.

Bo Cheng

Bo Cheng

BSc '17, MMAI '20, Faculty of Science; Schulich School of Business
Data Scientist, Rogers Communications

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Bo Cheng (BSc '17, MMAI '20) is a data scientist at Rogers. He enjoys leveraging machine learning to solve problems for the community. Bo is a firm believer that machine learning will shape our future, is always learning new things, and inspires others to stay curious. As a first-generation college graduate, Bo recognises that education is a privilege, and also acknowledges the importance of staying true to oneself. As an innate goal, he seeks out opportunities to apply his skills to help his community. In the summer of 2019, Bo implemented a flood warning application to help Canadians nationwide monitor natural disasters. At a Data For Good event, Bo presented his findings and helped to promote and drive traffic to underutilized Toronto community stores. In the midst of the COVID pandemic, he implemented an app which helps elderly people deal with the isolation caused by the measures to combat the virus. The app allows volunteers to help the elderly get daily errands done without risking exposing themselves to virus.

Larissa Crawford

Larissa Crawford

BA '18, Faculty of Liberal Arts & Professional Studies
Founder and Managing Director, Future Ancestors Services

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Larissa Crawford (BA '18) is a restorative circle keeper, published Indigenous and anti-racism researcher, award-winning ribbon skirt artist, and proudly passes on Métis and Jamaican ancestry to her daughter, Zyra. She is the founder of Future Ancestors Services, a youth-led professional services social enterprise that advances equity and climate justice through lenses of ancestral accountability and anti-racism. Under Larissa's leadership and since their launch in April 2020, the organization has mobilized over $20,000 in donations for anti-racist and climate justice initiatives. Larissa is a CohortX Climate Justice fellow, a Raven Trust Capital Fireweed fellow, Action Canada fellow, and a 2019 Corporate Knight’s Top 30 Under 30 in Sustainability. Larissa graduated from York University with a Bachelor of Arts in International Development and Communication Studies in June 2018.

Christine Dikongué

Christine Edith Dikongué

BA '14, Glendon College
Co-founder, AfricaHacks

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La version française suit la version anglaise.

Christine Edith Dikongué (BA '14) is a global speaker, consultant, community builder, and entrepreneur. Born and raised in Douala, Cameroon, she's a graduate of economics at Glendon, where she served as the president and vice-president of various African and Francophone organizations, including the Glendon African Network. Christine is a firm believer in community and dedicates time and resources to building thriving ecosystems. At 21, she joined the Canadian Prime Minister project to promote women's leadership across Canada. She was selected as a young leader to meet Barack Obama in 2020, and is the co-founder of AfricaHacks. AfricaHacks organizes Africa's largest tech competition, a virtual hackathon with thousands of youth, judges, and sponsors from around the world, and supports innovation across Africa. Christine's work has supported 40 new start-ups in Nigeria, Cameroon, Ghana and Kenya. On the global stage, Christine speaks about innovation, smart cities, entrepreneurship and the African potential. Presently, Christine is one of the youngest members of the board of directors at the United Nations Associations in Canada. She is also completing her Master in Management, Innovation, and Entrepreneurship at the Smith School of Business at Queen's University, and continues to be instrumental in inspiring young women and youth to dream big, reach high, and achieve their goals.


Christine Edith Dikongué (BA 2014 [Glendon]) est une conférencière, consultante, bâtisseuse communautaire et entrepreneure de calibre mondial. Née et élevée à Douala (Cameroun), elle possède un diplôme en économie de Glendon, où elle a été présidente et vice-présidente de diverses organisations africaines et francophones, dont le Glendon African Network. Christine croit fermement à la communauté et consacre temps et ressources à l’élaboration d’écosystèmes prospères. À l’âge de 21 ans, elle a rejoint les rangs du projet du premier ministre du Canada visant à promouvoir le leadership des femmes dans tout le pays. En tant que jeune leader, elle a été sélectionnée pour rencontrer Barack Obama en 2020. Christine est également cofondatrice de AfricaHacks. Cette plateforme organise le plus grand concours technologique d’Afrique, un marathon virtuel de programmation avec des milliers de jeunes, de juges et de commanditaires venus des quatre coins du monde, et soutient l’innovation dans toute l’Afrique. Christine a soutenue la création de 40 jeunes entreprises au Nigéria, au Cameroun, au Ghana et au Kenya. Au niveau international, Christine parle d’innovation, de villes intelligentes, d’entrepreneuriat et du potentiel africain. Elle est actuellement l’une des plus jeunes personnes du du comité d’administration de l’Association canadienne pour les Nations Unies. Elle termine également sa maîtrise en gestion, innovation et entrepreneuriat à la Smith School of Business de l’Université Queen's, et continue à jouer un rôle déterminant pour inspirer les jeunes femmes et les jeunes à voir grand, viser haut et atteindre leurs objectifs.

Nicole Doray

Nicole Doray

IBA '17, MES '19, Glendon College; Faculty of Environmental and Urban Change
Manager, Social Impact, Innovation and Transition Leadership at Academy for Sustainable Innovation; Senior Researcher, ASI International

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La version française suit la version anglaise.

Nicole Doray (IBA '17, MES '19) is a dedicated social impact specialist and environmental champion who brings cross-disciplinary experience to her work supporting Canada’s low-carbon and socially-inclusive economic transition. Working across the public and private sector, she supports leaders navigating complex challenges, leveraging business and academia as forces for good. At the Academy for Sustainable Innovation, she shapes innovative education programs with academic partners across Canada including at York University, the University of Waterloo, and l’Université de Montréal, among others. Simultaneously, she helps industry partners build organizational resilience while driving innovation, inclusivity, and sustainability. Currently, Nicole is also pursuing advancements in climate science, policy, and community resilience as a senior researcher at ASI International. Her 2020 report, Leveraging Technology for a Healthy Planet, informed the equitable integration of emergent technologies such as AI, blockchain, and big data for environmental and social benefit.  


Nicole Doray (IBA 2017 [Glendon], MES 2019) est une spécialiste de l’impact social et une championne de l’environnement. Elle met son expérience transdisciplinaire au service de ses efforts pour appuyer la transition économique du Canada vers l’inclusion sociale et les faibles émissions de carbone. Œuvrant dans les secteurs public et privé, elle appuie les leaders qui relèvent des défis complexes, en faisant des entreprises et des universités des forces du bien collectif. Dans son rôle à l’Academy for Sustainable Innovation, elle élabore des programmes éducatifs innovants avec des partenaires universitaires dans l’ensemble du Canada, dont l’Université York, l’Université de Waterloo et l’Université de Montréal. Parallèlement, elle aide des partenaires industriels à développer une résilience organisationnelle tout en favorisant l’innovation, l’inclusion et la durabilité. Aujourd’hui, Nicole contribue également aux avancées en climatologie, en politique et en résilience communautaire, en tant que chercheuse senior à ASI International. Son rapport de 2020, Leveraging Technology for a Healthy Planet, éclaire l’intégration équitable de technologies émergentes comme l’intelligence artificielle, les chaînes de blocs et les métadonnées, au profit de l’environnement et de la société.  

Bailey Francis

Bailey Francis

BA '19, Faculty of Liberal Arts & Professional Studies
Founder, Blankets by Bailey

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Bailey Francis (BA '19) is an active member of her community and has been a volunteer from a young age. She was an avid volunteer at KIP Canada and Special Olympics Ontario while completing her undergraduate degree. Bailey also runs her own community project called Blankets by Bailey (@blanketsbybailey) which focuses on donating homemade blankets and other supplies to local shelters and organizations. Blankets by Bailey also conducts workshops that focus on teaching youth about the importance of community service. In fall of 2019, Blankets by Bailey was awarded a $1500 grant that was used to conduct four different youth workshops during which the participants made blankets to donate to a local organization. Because of the project’s success, Blankets by Bailey received a second grant of $15,000 in early 2020. Due to the onset of COVID-19, the funds were used to create care packages for those affected by the pandemic. Bailey is now pursuing her master’s degree in social work at Columbia University in New York.

Mikhaela Gray-Beerman

Mikhaela Gray-Beerman

BA '14, MED '18, Glendon College; Faculty of Education
Anti-trafficking advocate, researcher and educator

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La version française suit la version anglaise.

Mikhaela Gray-Beerman, (BA '14, MEd '18), is an anti-trafficking advocate, researcher, and educator, as well as a non-profit consultant. The work she does is informed by the many inspiring women and girls who have entrusted their stories with her. Mikhaela is the host of a RogersTV television program and podcast on human trafficking called Freedom Fighters: Code Gray and she is the Chair of Untied Freedom, an anti-human trafficking committee. During her graduate studies at York University, she completed her Masters of Education thesis on the trafficking of women and girls in India.  Other interests include creative movement, collaborative art initiatives for social justice, cross-cultural service learning and community outreach.


Mikhaela Gray-Beerman (BA 2014 [Glendon], MED 2018) est une chercheuse, une éducatrice et une fervente défenseure des mesures de lutte contre la traite des personnes. Ses travaux s’appuient sur l’histoire des nombreuses femmes et filles inspirantes qui se sont confiées à elle. Mikhaela est l’animatrice de l’émission « Freedom Fighters: Code Gray » de RogersTV, qui est consacrée à la traite des personnes, et elle préside Untied Freedom, un comité de lutte contre la traite des personnes. Au cours de ses études supérieures à York, elle a rédigé sa thèse de maîtrise en éducation sur la traite des femmes et des filles en Inde. Elle s’intéresse aussi à la danse créative, aux initiatives artistiques collaboratives pour la justice sociale, à l’apprentissage interculturel par le service et à la sensibilisation communautaire.

Maneesha Gupta

Maneesha Gupta

JD '17, Osgoode Hall Law School
Founder, Mindful Lawyer Canada; Intellectual Property and Technology lawyer, TD Bank

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Maneesha Gupta (JD '17) is a Toronto-based lawyer, practicing in all aspects of intellectual property, privacy and technology law. After graduating from Osgoode Hall Law School, Maneesha identified gaps in resources and opportunities that kept lawyers trapped in the cycle of chronic mental health issues. She founded Mindful Lawyer Canada (MLC), a wellness solution that seeks to increase access, community and care for legal professionals experiencing mental health and addiction challenges. MLC offers on-demand mental health support services, community mindfulness workshops and meditation training for busy professionals. Aside from law, she has given lectures at universities and colleges across Ontario and presented at the Law Society of Ontario and Toronto Region Board of Trade. Deeply committed to women empowerment and achieving equality for underrepresented groups, she serves as a board member within equity-seeking law associations. Maneesha also serves as vice-chair of the Ontario Bar Association’s Law Practice Management section, an organization serving 16,000 lawyers, judges and members. 

Shant Joshi

Shant Joshi

BFA '17, School of Arts, Media, Performance & Design
Owner and Producer, Fae Pictures

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Shant Joshi (BFA '17) is a queer Indo-Canadian producer based in Los Angeles and Toronto. His credits include the films Porcupine Lake (TIFF, Busan, Rome, Outfest), Framing Agnes (Tribeca, Inside Out, Winner - Best Experimental - Outfest) and Pink: Diss (CBC); the hit web series Teenagers (IAWTV, Indie Screen Awards, CSAs); and the Dekkoo original series, I’m Fine (Outfest, NewFest, Inside Out). Shant co-founded the Future of Film Showcase as a launchpad for emerging Canadian filmmakers, and he previously worked at the United Talent Agency, Buchwald, and Lit Entertainment Group. He is an alum of the Producers Lab at the Canadian Film Centre. Shant is currently a sitting member of the executive leadership team at the Independent Media Producers Association of Cinematic Talent (IMPACT), the visioning committee at BIPOC TV & Film, and the advisory board at the Future of Film Showcase. He is the founder and president of Fae Pictures, a production company with a mandate to “engage audiences with stories rooted in the perspectives of the Other.”  

Eunice Kays

Eunice Kays

BA '17, Faculty of Liberal Arts & Professional Studies

Co-founder and Director of Youth Engagement and Programming, Toronto Black Policy Conference;
Co-founder, Canadian Black Policy Network

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Eunice Kays Yeboah (BA '17) is a devoted policy professional, public speaker and co-founder/executive director of the newly established Canadian Black Policy Network and first-ever Toronto Black Policy Conference. A graduate of the business and society, and public administration and law programs in the Faculty of Liberal Arts & Professional Studies, Eunice is amplifying the voices of Canada’s Black communities and leading sustainable systems change in the world of public policy. Eunice continues to demonstrate her passion for equity, diversity and inclusion through her work within various levels of government, including her role as a senior policy/program analyst with the Ministry of Children, Community and Social Services, where she led aspects of the Ontario Black Youth Action Plan. She has also collaborated with post-secondary institutions, entrepreneurs, community organizations and media outlets to address racism/anti-Black racism in Canada, and will continue this important work as the Toronto Transit Commissions’ first anti-racism policy consultant.

Farzia Khan

Farzia Khan

BA '17, Lassonde School of Engineering
Founder, MyGuideBox and TopStudentAdvice; Senior Manager, Cyber Security, TD Bank

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Farzia Khan (BA '17) is an award-winning community builder, technologist, entrepreneur and a senior manager of cyber security experience at the TD Bank. As a graduate of the computer science program in the Lassonde School of Engineering, she is a strong advocate for women in STEM and a fast-rising technology leader. Farzia is a sought-after speaker and is the founder of two Hackathons, Ellehacks, the first all-women Hackathon in Canada and Robocon, the first international Hackathon on service robots. As part of her commitment to helping others, she uses her talent as a polyglot to offer free translation services to underprivileged immigrants, is a SheEO activator, and has her own mentorship program to support students from under-represented backgrounds. In addition to her day job and community work, Farzia is also the founder of a subscription service, MyGuideBox, and runs a blog called TopStudentAdvice, providing academic and career related advice.

Aurangzeb Khandwala

Aurangzeb (Zeb) Khandwala

BA '18, Faculty of Liberal Arts & Professional Studies
CEO, Bay Polymers; Advisory Board Member of The Great Sea Project

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Aurangzeb (Zeb) Khandwala (BA '18) is the C.E.O of Bay Polymers, a recycling centre that handles hazardous and non-hazardous material. He and his team are responsible for rediverting tens of thousands of pounds of plastics from landfills and incineration centres every day and reintroducing the plastic into the supply chain industry. During Zeb’s time at York he cultivated his love for social and political activism, which led to the creation of his company. Zeb has a strong commitment to environmental issues and strives to make meaningful changes in the community. Zeb is on the advisory board of the Great Sea Project, an organization creating sustainable programs of recycling to help reduce ocean plastics. Born in Chicago, Zeb currently resides in the Greater Toronto Area with his family.

Deanna Lentini

Deanna Lentini

BSc '16, Faculty of Health
Founder, Fix the 6ix; Physiotherapist

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Deanna Lentini (BSc '16) is working to create positive change in her community as the founder and committee chair of Fix the 6ix, part of West Neighbourhood House. The mission of Fix the 6ix is to humanize homelessness, which they do by sharing the stories of individuals experiencing homelessness in their own words to destigmatize the community and reframe the narrative around homelessness in Toronto. Fix the 6ix also runs an innovative donation program called the ReGiftcard Program which exclusively uses new and partly used gift cards to purchase wish list items for homeless shelters and service agencies in Toronto. An alumna of the kinesiology and health sciences program in the Faculty of Health at York, Deanna currently works at Unity Health Toronto as a physiotherapist.

Alexandra Lutchman

Alexandra Lutchman

BA '14, Faculty of Liberal Arts & Professional Studies
Co-founder and Director of Rhodium Labs

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Alexandra Lutchman (BA '14) is a second-generation immigrant from Trinidad. She is focused on laying the groundwork for women and people of colour to impact traditionally insular domains such as technology, venture capital, and finance. She co-founded a start-up which reduces the risk of investing in cryptocurrency, where she raised an $8.25 million seed round and oversaw the subsequent growth of the company. Today, her primary focus is providing opportunities to strengthen local economies and create wealth and financial literacy for people in and from the Caribbean. By creating these opportunities for overlooked minorities, Alexandra seeks to provide access to new spaces – including cryptocurrency, investing, technologies in Trinidad and surrounding Caribbean islands. Her companies  all have the goal of helping individuals access emerging technology solutions, and stay afloat in volatile economies. She is a co-founder of Rhodium Labs, a technology and finance advisory firm which invests in innovative technology solutions that solve fundamental problems in housing, finance and healthcare access in emerging markets.

Jillian Lynch

Jillian Lynch

BA '19, Faculty of Health
Frontline Peer Support Worker, Inner City Health Associates; Digital Health Associate, Babylon by Telus Health

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Jillian Lynch (BA '19) cared for her brother through three double lung transplants while completing her degree in kinesiology and health sciences in York’s Faculty of Health. Her life experiences have guided her towards an unwavering devotion to improving patient and caregiver experiences. In 2016, she started a gift package program called BonusDays to provide patients with gifts and help them celebrate life during long hospital stays. She also researched and guided caregivers to the resources and supports that were most relevant to their needs. Inspired by the needs of a fellow caregiver, Jillian launched a virtual caregiver support group that was attended by caregivers from across the globe. She is currently raising funds through Love for Caregivers, a new project supplying families living with Cystic Fibrosis with much needed funds. Jillian continues to identify unmet needs and brings to life her vision for supporting patients and caregivers.  

David Marrello

David Marrello

BBA '15, Schulich School of Business
Founder, TechServeTO; Associate Director, OMERS Growth Equity

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David Marrello (BBA '15) is a passionate changemaker through his professional and personal pursuits. David grew up a short distance from York University, where he was a co-founder of the York University Student Investment Fund, which provides students with enrichment opportunities. David has remained involved post-graduation as an advisory board member. Since graduating from York, David has worked in technology investing at CPP Investments and OMERS Growth Equity. In these roles, David has helped to foster innovation by investing in software companies globally. He has been involved in the origination and analysis of investments in companies such as Dialpad, GitLab, and Coveo. David is also the co-founder of a federally incorporated non-profit called TechServeTO. A COVID-19 response initiative, TechServeTO provides free technology support services to seniors to help them connect with loved ones and the broader community using modern technologies such as Zoom, online shopping, and more. Since its launch in April 2020, TechServeTO has provided support to more than 1,200 seniors and has recruited 175 volunteers. In addition, David is a member of Humber River Hospital's youth philanthropy board and a governance volunteer with the YMCA.

Iman Mohamed

Iman Mohamed

 BA '14, Faculty of Liberal Arts & Professional Studies
Director, Programs and Services, Somali Canadian Association of Etobicoke; Employment Service Specialist, Skills for Change

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Iman Mohamed (BA '14) is a community leader, policy professional, and researcher who is driven to create social impact. She is currently the correspondence officer for the Leader of the Opposition Party at Legislative Assembly of Ontario and the director of programs and services for Somali Canadian Association of Etobicoke. Iman has created conferences to connect and amplify the voices of newcomer youth in Toronto. She formed a Community Emergency Hotline designed for newcomers in rural Ontario to receive support and services, assisted vulnerable communities during COVID-19 by providing food gift cards and mental health supports, and designed and delivered various culturally-appropriate training tools and outreach material to support community capacity building and stakeholder engagement. Iman is an alumna of the political science program in York’s Faculty of Liberal Arts & Professional Studies.  

Rana Nasrazadani

Rana Nasrazadani

BA '20, Faculty of Liberal Arts & Professional Studies
Disability rights advocate

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Rana Nasrazadani (BA '20) is an advocate, activist, educator, public speaker and former competitive swimmer. Her work focuses on the intersections of accessibility, human rights and education in Canada. Informed by her lived experience navigating interlocking systems of oppression, Rana uses her passion for accessibility and equity to drive her comprehensive strength-based approach to disability rights advocacy. Rana is currently a member of Ontario’s K-12 Education Standards Development Committee, which is working to develop a province-wide standard to improve accessibility within the education system. She has been featured in The Toronto Star, CBC, and has been a guest speaker at advocacy events across Ontario. As a student at York she championed accessibility work on campus, particularly in her roles as a president’s ambassador and co-chair of Enable York. She successfully consulted on several projects regarding the university's accessibility initiatives, including serving on an accessibility consultation committee where she advised architects on accessible design for the upcoming Markham Centre Campus.  

Shaquille Omari

Shaquille Omari

BA '15, Faculty of Liberal Arts & Professional Studies
Television Reporter and Producer, FOX 44 in Waco

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Shaquille Omari (BA '15) is a television reporter and producer who has worked for several media organizations including Spectrum News and the FOX affiliate in Waco, Texas. Through his work, he has helped shed light on hard-hitting issues such as the disappearance of Fort Hood soldier Vanessa Guillen, shootings of unarmed black men Michael Dean and Patrick Warren, and the fight to remove confederate statues in Bell County. He has interviewed then-presidential hopeful Michael Bloomberg, Senator Ted Cruz, and Texas Governor Greg Abbott. Omari began his career at York where he worked as an alumni fund representative, raising thousands of dollars for scholarship programs. He also served as director of broadcasting of the Communications Club. He has lent his skills to local and national media outlets including CNN, The Wendy Williams Show, New America Foundation and Rogers TV in Toronto. Since graduating he has gone on to earn a master’s degree in Broadcast Journalism and is currently working on his doctorate in Strategic Communication. 

Basia Pozin

Basia Pozin

BBA '17, Schulich School of Business
Founder, Money Matters; Commercial Banking Associate, TD Bank

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Basia Pozin (BBA '17) graduated from the Schulich School of Business in 2017 and went on to pursue the National Management Training Program for Consumer Banking at TD Canada Trust. Upon completing the training, Basia became the youngest branch manager in Canada at the age of 23. As a passionate banking professional, she noticed early on in her career that many Canadians lacked basic money management skills. This was the inspiration behind Money Matters, an online course developed and taught by Basia in hopes of making financial literacy more accessible and less intimidating. Money Matters caters to the beginner. It is a course intended to teach participants the basics of personal finance. The program focuses on practical applications of financial concepts, and Basia works with each participant to empower them to take ownership of their finances by breaking down complex topics into an easy to understand form. Basia hopes to help every curious mind become financially literate.

Matthew Ravida

Matthew Ravida

BCOM '18, Faculty of Liberal Arts & Professional Studies
Partner, The Ramblr Project; Co-host, The Mind Sweep Podcast; National ambassador, Kids Help Phone; Product Operations Analyst, BMO Financial Group

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Matthew Ravida (BCOM '18) works as an events officer with BMO Without Barriers - an enterprise resource group for employees with both visible and non-visible disabilities. He is also a national ambassador for Kids Help Phone where he has created a physical presence within Toronto and surrounding areas through multiple media outlets such as CBC Toronto and Global News. Matthew is a partner with a not-for-profit mental health hub known as the Ramblr Project, dedicated to creating a community for people to share, connect and learn about their mental health. He also serves as the co-host of the podcast Mind Sweep, a Ramblr Project initiative. The podcast aims to highlight guests that have experienced any mental illness related struggles and provide individuals with resources to attain better mental health practices. Matthew was the recipient of BMO’s 2019 Annual Best of BMO Award for his efforts within the mental health/illness space at BMO and within his communities.

Luke Reece

Luke Reece

BA '15, School of Arts, Media, Performance & Design
Associate Artistic Director, Soulpepper; Slam poet

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Luke Reece (BA '15) strives to share authentic and engaging stories with audiences through his work as an award-winning producer, playwright, poet and educator. The graduate of York’s School of Arts, Media, Performance & Design’s theatre program is the associate artistic director at Soulpepper Theatre, and sits on the board of directors for the Professional Association of Canadian Theatres as chair of the labour relations portfolio. Through Luke’s work as an artistic leader in the national arts community, he advocates for engaging and nuanced storytelling that challenges Canadian audiences. Luke is one of Toronto’s most decorated slam poets, representing the city on the national and international stage. He continues to give back to the Toronto spoken word scene as a board member for the Toronto Poetry Project. Most recently Luke has been featured performing for former Toronto Raptor and NBA Champion Serge Ibaka on his Instagram talent show.

Dani Roche

Dani Roche

BDES '13, School of Arts, Media, Performance & Design
Creative Director and Designer; Owner and Director, Kastor and Pollux

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Dani Roche (BDES '13) is a creative director and designer interested in exploring identity, education, and community. She is the owner of the design and marketing studio Kastor & Pollux and the co-owner of SCHOOL by K&P – an online educational platform working towards mindful and accessible knowledge for all. Her work combines a multi-disciplinary design background with a drive for digital strategy to produce ideas and output for a range of international clients including Bumble, Netflix, Wealthsimple, and Oxford Properties. Always trying to push the needle forward in her industry, Dani is an advocate for increased Asian representation in media and encourages women to fight for a seat at the table. Dani's empathy, forward-thinking leadership and acute understanding of digital communities has garnered her a spot on the prestigious Forbes Under 30 List (Marketing & Advertising 2019), as well as recognition from Marketing Magazine as a leader in Canadian marketing, and from Applied Arts Magazine as a design industry disruptor. Dani has also been profiled internationally by Vogue, Refinery29, and Coveteur.

Giancarlo Sessa

Giancarlo Sessa

BBA '19, Schulich School of Business
Co-founder and CFO, Blade Filters

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Giancarlo Sessa (BBA '19) has started a total of four companies since 2013. At just 21 years old, Giancarlo co-founded Blade Filters, a company that revolutionized the carbon filtration industry by creating the world’s first zero-waste carbon air filter. In response to COVID-19, Blade Filters developed a HEPA air purifier, which is now being used in thousands of classrooms and businesses across Ontario. With 100 per cent Canadian-made products, they have always had a focus on helping their community. In his spare time, Giancarlo is an advisor for the Junior Achievement Company Program, where he supports youth on their entrepreneurial journeys. He finds joy in working with organizations of various sizes to determine ways in which they can provide more value to their customers, solve problems, and scale to the next level. Giancarlo is an alumnus of the business administration program at the Schulich School of Business.  

Rowena Tam
Photo credit: Kelann Currie-Williams

Rowena Tam

BA '17, School of Arts, Media, Performance & Design
Drama therapist and counsellor; Community Researcher and Wellness Coordinator, Montreal Indigenous Community NETWORK

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Rowena Tam (BA '17) is a settler, artist, researcher, and creative arts therapist currently living in Tiohtià:ke/Montreal, on unceded Kanien'kehá:ka territory. Holding a BA in Devised Theatre and Psychology (minor) from York University and an MA in Creative Arts Therapies (Drama Therapy) from Concordia University, Rowena will further pursue her academic studies this fall by starting a PhD in Concordia’s Individualized Program.  As the president of the Canadian Counselling and Psychotherapy Association's Creative Arts Chapter and committee member on the North American Drama Therapy Association’s Cultural Humility, Equity, and Diversity Committee, Rowena uses these platforms to translate knowledge to address ongoing institutional problems through community engagement. Rowena facilitates workshops and conference presentations where she often speaks about how rampantly entrenched white supremacy is within the creative arts therapies and counselling fields, and its effects on clients, communities, and clinicians. Rowena is presently a community researcher and wellness coordinator at the Montreal Indigenous Community NETWORK where she supports the safety, wellbeing, and belonging strategy, oversees a mental health program for frontline workers, and records data relevant to COVID-19 and Indigenous communities in Tiohtià:ke. 

Ajith Thiyagalingam

Ajith Thiyagalingam

BA '15, JD '18, Faculty of Liberal Arts & Professional Studies; Osgoode Hall Law School
Immigration and Refugee lawyer

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Ajith Thiyagalingam (BA '15, JD '18) is a lawyer specializing in immigration and refugee law, international human rights, national security, and privacy law. He was previously legal counsel at the Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada – Canada’s largest independent administrative tribunal – where he assisted members with their decision-making and lent a voice to legal and policy issues of national interest and international significance. He has held positions as a policy subject-matter expert at Shopify Inc., litigation associate at a top boutique firm, and start-up entrepreneur, and has volunteered with international human rights and youth organizations. Ajith sits on the Board of Directors of JusticeNet – a national not-for-profit organization seeking to make justice more accessible and equitable – and was previously on the Board of Directors of the South Asian Bar Association. He completed the Fintech Programme at University of Oxford’s Saïd Business School and an Executive Programme in Business Strategy and Finance from INSEAD Business School.

Xiaoyu (David) Wang

David (Xiaoyu) Wang

MSCM '20, Schulich School of Business
Environmental Advisory Committee and Accessibility Advisory Committee, The Town of East Gwillimbury; Manager, Transportation and Optimization, Labatt Breweries of Canada

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David (Xiaoyu) Wang (MSCM '20) is the youngest committee member of the Environmental Advisory Committee and Accessibility Advisory Committee in the Town of East Gwillimbury. As part of the Environmental Advisory Committee, he advocates to reduce water wastage and leverage East Gwillimbury’s social media platforms to increase environmental awareness in the community such as protecting biodiversity, reducing greenhouse gas emissions, and promoting sustainable dietary choices. As part of the Accessibility Advisory Committee, David is actively participating in new municipality constructs to pre-emptively remove barriers for people with disabilities. At the onset of the pandemic, he decided to participate in outreach projects addressing accessibility concerns such as taking public transit, reducing COVID-19 exposure risks, and acquiring daily necessities. Moreover, David is building a charity basketball camp called Unicorn Basketball Camp in York Region for underprivileged youth and utilizing basketball as a vehicle for social change. The basketball camp will primarily focus on social justice, youth empowerment, inclusion, and diversity.