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Board, Executive & Staff

Linda Peake

Professor Linda Peake 
Faculty of Environmental and Urban Change

Linda Peake is Director of the City Institute at York University, Toronto, and principal investigator of the SSHRC funded GenUrb: Gender, urbanization and the global south. She has written widely in the field of critical human geography with interests in urban theory, feminist methodologies and, more recently, mental health. She is co-chair of the AAG Affinity Group on Mental Health in the Academy, co-editor of the special issue on ‘An engagement with planetary urbanization’ in Environment and Planning D: Society and Space (2018), of Urbanization In A Global Context, second ed. (forthcoming, OUP) (with Alison Bain), and of Peake, L., Koleth, E., Tanyildiz, G., S. Narayanareddy, R. N., and patrick, d. (eds) (2021) A Feminist Urban Theory for our Time: Rethinking Social Reproduction and the Urban (London: Antipode Book Series, Wiley).


Leeann Bennet

Leeann Bennett 
(April 2017 – Present)
Grant Manager

Leeann Bennett is the Grant Manager of the new SSHRC Partnership Grant, Urbanization, Gender, and the Global South: a transformative knowledge network, with Dr. Linda Peake, at the City Institute. She took on this role in November 2017. Leeann has been the coordinator of the CITY Institute since April 2017, but has worked at CITY in various roles since 2013.  Leeann has a Master's degree in Women's Studies from York University. Her research interests include Sexuality Studies, particularly sex work and LGBTQ activism, Caribbean Studies, transnational feminism, feminist methods and methodologies, and popular culture. To contact Leeann, please email her at leeann3@yorku.ca


Haze Dizon ID photo

Hazel Dizon
Research Institute Coordinator

Hazel is a geographer whose research interests lie primarily in examining the processes of urban and rural social change and their intersections with development. She finished her MA in Geography from York with her research on the housing take-over of socialized housing by the homeless Filipino urban poor. This scholarly endeavor led her to interrogate occupation, strategies of resistance, and social movements under the “right to the city” conceptual framework. Prior to embarking on her graduate studies, she has worked in the academe as a research assistant. She also has experience in development work with child rights focused non-government organizations in the Philippines.


Shubhra Gururani

Professor Shubra Gururani
(September 2019 – September 2022)
Department of Anthropology, Faculty of Liberal Arts & Professional Studies

Professor Gururani is an associate professor in the Department of Anthropology at York University. Her areas of research are at the intersection critical political ecology, urbanization in the Global South, space and place, and history of science and technology. Over the last ten years, she has been conducting research on urban peripheries of metropolitan cities, namely the making of Gurgaon in India. From a political ecological perspective, she focuses on the questions of urban nature/ecologies, planning, villages in the cities, agrarian-urbanism, waste, sewage, infrastructure, and labour migration. ​


Emily Lim ID photo

Emily Lim 
(September 2021 - August 2022)
Student Representative, Faculty of Liberal Arts and Professional Studies

Emily Lim is an Urban Studies major (Honours Specialized Bachelor of Arts) from the Department of Social Sciences (LA&PS). She is also an internal/external coordinator for the Federation of Urban Studies Students (FUSS). Her research interests include equitable urban planning through urban design and policy, affordable and liveable housing, and environmental racism in racialized communities. Emily hopes to use a social justice approach in seeing through policy and practice in urban planning.  


Farida Rady in front of a sunflower field

Farida Rady 
(September 2021 - August 2022)
Student Representative, Faculty of Environmental and Urban Change

Based between Toronto, Cairo, and Abu Dhabi, Farida Rady is a researcher, writer, and artist currently pursuing an MES Planning at York University. Her interests are centered on questions of agency in the city and extend to questions of housing justice, radical planning, environmental justice, and counter-narratives. Rady explores these interests within the spectrum of academic and creative processes. 


Nasya Razavi ID photo

Dr. Nasya Razavi
(2019- 2021)
Post-Doctoral Visitor

Nasya Razavi is a Post-Doctoral Visitor at the City Institute at York University, and lead researcher for the Cochabamba City Research Team on the GenUrb project (Urbanization, Gender, and the Global South: A Transformative Knowledge Network). Her research explores the nexus between urban transformations and inequalities. Specifically, she examines the challenges in peri-urban Bolivia as changing infrastructure and severe water shortages shape public participation, gendered insecurities, and everyday practices. Nasya recently completed her PhD at Queen’s University, and her dissertation will be published as a book: Water governance in Bolivia: Cochabamba since the Water War. She is also affiliated with the Municipal Services Project, an international research programme on policy alternatives in municipal service delivery.


Vidya Shah

Professor Vidiya Shah 
(September 2019 – September 2022)
Faculty of Education

Professor Shah is an Assistant Professor in the Faculty of Education, and teaches in the Master of Leadership and Community Engagement and Initial Teacher Education Programs. Her research explores the contributing factors to district reform for equity. Vidya has worked in the Model Schools for Inner Cities Program in the Toronto District School Board (TDSB) and was a primary, junior and intermediate classroom teacher in the TDSB. She is currently the GTA Regional Lead for the Réseau de Savoir sur l’Équité/Equity Knowledge Network in partnership with the Faculty of Education at the University of Ottawa and the Ontario Ministry of Education. Vidya is also a curriculum writer and is actively involved in community initiatives


Luisa Sotomayor

Professor Luisa Sotomayor 
(September 2019 – September 2022)
Faculty of Environmental and Urban Change

Professor Sotomayor is an assistant professor in the Faculty of Environmental and Urban Change (FEUC) and the Planning Program coordinator. Her research and teaching interests focus on the various dimensions of urban inequality and governance, and their connections to planning practice. She is interested in how regimes of socio-spatial inequality consolidate in contemporary cities and the roles that planning tools, tactics, politics, and discourses may play in their formation. She also considers the limits and possibilities of grass-roots activism, collective action, equity planning approaches, and state-led policy experimentation to overcome such urban divides. The geographic scope of her work involves both, Latin America and Canada.


Jeffrey Squire

Professor Jeffrey Squire
 (September 2019 – September 2022)
Department of Social Science, Faculty of Liberal Arts and Professional Studies

Professor Jeffrey Squire is passionate about cities and the complex dynamics of urbanization in postcolonial urban spaces. A faculty member in the Department of Social Science at York University, Professor Squire’s current research examines the political economy of plastic packaging in Ghana and Post-conflict Rwanda. He has an extensive teaching and research background in the fields of urban studies (theory, planning, governance and policy) ‘critical’ development studies, waste & water management, pollution, plastic packaging, social exclusion, global health and popular culture. As well, social justice, experiential education and community-based learning are cardinal features of Professor Squire’s approach to teaching and research. 

Marcy Burchfield is the Director of the Canadian Urban Institute and Vice President of the Economic Blueprint Institute. Prior, she was the Executive Director of the Neptis Foundation. She has worked in the forefront of regional planning in the Toronto region for the past 15 years. In her various roles at the Neptis Foundation, Marcy supported, conducted, designed, and presented research and analysis that has informed the Province of Ontario’s Growth Plan for the Greater Golden Horseshoe, the Greenbelt Plan and the Regional Transportation Plan, the Big Move. Marcy has used her quantitative, spatial analysis expertise to develop methods for measuring and monitoring how city-regions change over time. Marcy began her career in planning at the City of Chicago where she worked to deploy their city-wide enterprise GIS and assisted in creating standards policies in the departments of Environment and Emergency Services.  In 2000, she received her Master of Science at the University of Toronto, Department of Geography where the focus of her research was the application of remote sensing and geomatics technologies to understand and illustrate environmental challenges facing cities.  Immediately following her studies, Marcy worked with a group of economists at the University of Toronto and the London School of Economics to study and explain patterns of urban sprawl across the continental US.  Marcy has authored a number of papers at the Neptis Foundation as well as peer-reviewed publications such as the Quarterly Journal of Economicsand the University of Calgary, School of Public Policy Research Paper Series.


John Cartwright is the President of the Toronto and York Region Labour Council, representing 195,000 union members in Canada's largest urban centre.  John has been deeply involved apprenticeship and training issues, as well as crafting the “Green Jobs Strategy” for the Canadian Labour Congress.  He has served on the Boards of the Waterfront Regeneration Trust, the United Way of Greater Toronto, and recently he helped launch the Good Jobs for All Summit and the subsequent conference on Good Green Jobs for All.


Jane Farrow works in public consultation and civic engagement drawing on a strong background in writing, journalism, facilitating complex urban dialogues and instigating creative city-building initiatives. Her career highlights include stints as CBC Radio One host and producer, best-selling author, executive assistant at City Hall and dynamic emcee and moderator. She was founding director of Jane’s Walk, an NGO based in Toronto engaged in walkability initiatives that celebrate the ideas of urbanist Jane Jacobs. Jane has done consultation and facilitation work with Park People, The Planning Partnership,  Public Work, City of Toronto, Metrolinx and Swerhun Inc. The Toronto Community Foundation recognized Jane's contribution to community development with a Vital People award in 2010.


Hibaq Gelle

Hibaq Gelle

Hibaq Gelle is an award-winning tri-sectoral leader in the areas of community development, policy development, stakeholder engagement, and business strategy. Hibaq’s passion and commitment to social justice has compelled her to work towards improving outcomes for the most marginalized, including working on multi-million dollar capital projects and system level changes in policy.

She has a decade of experience working with various levels of government, the non-profit sector and private industry to rethink and align community investments.  In recognition of her contributions to city building, she has been awarded the CivicAction Emerging Leader Award, YWCA Woman of Distinction Award and the Canadian Urban Leadership Award.

Currently, Hibaq is working on an initiative at the Ontario Ministry of Children and Youth Services to improve outcomes for youth in the justice system. When she’s not at work, you will find Hibaq enjoying her love of reading or discussing the next big system shift!


Glenn Miller, FCIP, RPP, is Vice President, Education and Research, with the Canadian Urban Institute, Canada’s applied urban policy institute, where he is responsible for evidence-based research into the value of Canadian downtowns, regional competitiveness and the impact of population aging. A Fellow of the Canadian Institute of Planners (CIP), Glenn is a graduate of Concordia University (BA (Hon.) Urban Studies) and McGill University’s School of Urban Planning (MUP). Glenn was also editor of the Ontario Planning Journal, the professional practice magazine of OPPI, from 1986 to 2011. He has taught at Ryerson University in the School of Urban and Regional Planning and in 2012 was “Planner in Residence” at the University of Waterloo’s School of Planning.

Linda Peake

Professor Linda Peake
Director of the City Institute

Linda Peake is Director of the City Institute at York University, Toronto, and principal investigator of the SSHRC funded GenUrb: Gender, urbanization and the global south. She has written widely in the field of critical human geography with interests in urban theory, feminist methodologies and, more recently, mental health. She is co-chair of the AAG Affinity Group on Mental Health in the Academy, co-editor of the special issue on ‘An engagement with planetary urbanization’ in Environment and Planning D: Society and Space (2018), of Urbanization In A Global Context, second ed. (forthcoming, OUP) (with Alison Bain), and of Peake, L., Koleth, E., Tanyildiz, G., S. Narayanareddy, R. N., and patrick, d. (eds) (2021) A Feminist Urban Theory for our Time: Rethinking Social Reproduction and the Urban (London: Antipode Book Series, Wiley).


Haze Dizon ID photo

Hazel Dizon
Research Institute Coordinator

Hazel is a geographer whose research interests lie primarily in examining the processes of urban and rural social change and their intersections with development. She finished her MA in Geography from York with her research on the housing take-over of socialized housing by the homeless Filipino urban poor. This scholarly endeavor led her to interrogate occupation, strategies of resistance, and social movements under the “right to the city” conceptual framework. Prior to embarking on her graduate studies, she has worked in the academe as a research assistant. She also has experience in development work with child rights focused non-government organizations in the Philippines.

Ellen Spencer ID

Ellen Spencer
Coordinator (2020)

Ellen is a seasoned Executive Assistant with over 20 years of experience in the resource industry. She also spent time as the Operations Manager at the Toronto location of a for-profit Academy. Ellen recently worked with York’s Schulich School of Business, where she was responsible for the execution of the Inaugural Virtual Celebration for the IMBA graduates of 2020. She studied Accounting at the University of Toronto, during which time she received her Mutual Fund and Canadian Securities licenses. She also studied Business Administration at Georgian College.


Francesca D'Amico-Cuthbert

Francesca D’Amico-Cuthbert
Coordinator (2018 - 2020)

Francesca D’Amico-Cuthbert is the Coordinator at the City Institute. She took on the role in January 2018. Francesca has a Masters degree in History, and is currently nearing the completion of her PhD studies in American History at York University. Her research interests include the history of urban popular music forms in the United States and Canada, feminist readings of popular culture, and the relationship of racialized artists to social justice movements and state apparatuses and discourses. Francesca is also a filmmaker currently working on two documentary projects (and accompanying film curriculums) that focus on mixed race identities and the history of Caribbean-Canadian social and cultural contributions to the city of Toronto.


Sara Macdonald

Sara Macdonald
Coordinator (2006-2017)

Sara Macdonald is the former Coordinator of the City Institute and the previous Project Coordinator of the MCRI "Global Suburbanisms" research project. She is currently working on her PhD at Utrecht University in the Netherlands. Sara has her Master's in Environmental Studies from York University and her research interests include urban and regional planning, suburban growth and development and greenbelts. She has been with the City Institute since 2006.

Leeann Bennet

Leeann Bennett
Grant Manager

Leeann Bennett is the Grant Manager of the new SSHRC Partnership Grant, Urbanization, Gender, and the Global South: a transformative knowledge network, with Dr. Linda Peake, at the City Institute. She took on this role in November 2017. Leeann has been the coordinator of the CITY Institute since April 2017, but has worked at CITY in various roles since 2013.  Leeann has a Master's degree in Women's Studies from York University. Her research interests include Sexuality Studies, particularly sex work and LGBTQ activism, Caribbean Studies, transnational feminism, feminist methods and methodologies, and popular culture.

The CITY has an External Advisory Board, an internal Board, and an Executive Committee that answers to the general membership (referred to as the Council of Affiliates).

Board

The CITY Board is intended to expand the accountability of ORUs beyond the Office of the Vice President Research and Innovation. It is a venue for the VPRI and the Dean’s Offices’ of CITY’s two sponsoring faculties, FES and LA&PS, to meet together with other institutional stakeholders (eg., Advancement) where appropriate, to review the ORU’s Annual Report with a view to providing feedback and support to the Director. The Board will receive and respond to the Annual Report and budget, provide input to directorship appointments, advise on strategic planning, etc. The Board meets once a year in the spring/summer and the meetings are called by VPRI.

Executive Committee

The members of the Executive Committee, other than the Director and any Associate Directors, will be appointed by the Executive Committee. At least once a year, the Executive will solicit faculty at York to seek nominations for appointments to the Executive. Appointments will start on July 1st of each year and be for three years, although students including post-doctoral fellows, will be appointed for one year terms. Student members may also run again for re-election the following year or in later years. However, students may not hold the position for more than two terms consecutively (i.e., they must not run for third re-election in a row). Appointments will be staggered so that normally no more than half of the Executive Committee shall change in a given year. If a member of the Executive Committee misses three consecutive meetings, the Director may ask the person to voluntarily step down. Vacancies due to resignations, departures or other contingencies are to be filled by the Director in consultation with the Executive.

External Advisory Board

The City Institute's External Advisory Board was established in 2010. The board consists of a small number of individuals from public life, the private sector, the arts and from Toronto's diverse communities who have shown enthusiasm for or have accomplishments in the urban realm broadly defined. The board plays a critical role in identifying emerging issues and joins our commitment to critical urban research.

The External Advisory Board has two main functions:
1. CITY relies on this board for substantive advice on issues related to urban and regional research; board members bring their wisdom and experience to the Institute. In addition, the board members help us identify important problems, issues and trends that need the Institute's attention.

2. We also count on the board members to project the Institute into their worlds. This can take the form of spreading the word about CITY and its activities in their communities.