Skip to main content Skip to local navigation
Home » System Culture for Transformational Change: Addressing Anti-Black Racism through Black Excellence

System Culture for Transformational Change: Addressing Anti-Black Racism through Black Excellence

Presenter: Karen Murray, Merrill Mathews, Melanie Riley Case & Jacqueline Lawrence

Workshop Description

This panel discussion will provide system level conversations to address Anti-Black Racism as a transformational process.  The purpose is to intentionally change cultures and structures within District school boards.  Each panelist will share an inquiry question focusing on how they engage in action tied to addressing and disrupting Anti-Black Racism within their local context.  The focus will be on the following:

  • What are the urgencies taking place?
  • What are the intentional actions required?
  • What are the measures and accountability required?

Participants should come prepared to interrogate if they are currently in a space of aspiration, inspiration and transformation.


Karen Murray 
Centrally Assigned Principal for the Centre of Excellence for Black Student Achievement, TDSB

Karen Murray is currently the Centrally Assigned Principal for the Centre of Excellence for Black Student Achievement  in the Toronto District School Board (TDSB).  She was most recently the Centrally Assigned Principal of Equity, Anti-Racism and Anti-Oppression in the TDSB.  Karen leads initiatives focusing on Black Students’ Success and Excellence from K-12 and most recently has been appointed by the Ontario College of Teachers to lead the development of an Additional Qualification on Anti-Black Racism.  This is not Karen’s first provincial appointment as she was previously a Student Achievement Officer with the Literacy and Numeracy Secretariat- Ministry of Education. Karen is currently pursuing her PhD at the University of Toronto where her research focuses on Black students’ success. Karen is the co-writer for the Equity Continuum: Action for Critical Transformation in Schools and Classrooms. In 2020, Karen was honoured as one of the 100 Accomplished Black Canadian Women.

Melanie Riley Case
Peel District School Board - Instructional Coordinator for Black Student Flourishing

Melanie Riley Case is the Instructional Coordinator for Black Student Flourishing at the PDSB. She has been an educator for 14 years, beginning in the classroom as a Secondary English teacher. Melanie supports and trains folks at all levels in the PDSB working under the supervision of the Equity Superintendent. In her training, Melanie draws on arts, music, poetry and Critical Race Theory. Melanie is completing her Masters of Education at York University, where her research considers abolition and reform, and how Blackness is taken up in the education system.

Merrill Mathews
Durham District School Board

Merrill Mathews has been working in public education for close to 30 years.  He has been an Administrator since 2007 with three different school boards- Ottawa Carleton, Halton and most recently the Durham District School Board.  Merrill has had the privilege of opening a new school when he was with the Halton DSB with over 1200 elementary students and a Mission statement of Equity and Excellence for All.  In 2017, Merrill was seconded to the Ministry of Education where he worked on the launch of the Education Equity Secretariat and the provincial implementation of Education Equity Action Plan.  He is currently in his second year as the Education Officer with the Equity and Inclusive Education Team in supporting the important work of equity and human rights in the Durham DSB.

Jacqueline Lawrence
Diversity and Equity Coordinator, Ottawa Carleton District School Board

Jacqueline is the Diversity and Equity Coordinator for the Ottawa-Carleton District School Board. Her priorities include strategizing with system leaders to create accessible, equitable and inclusive learning and working spaces as well as designing and delivering experiential learning to transform mindsets and organizational culture. In addition, she leads the Sankofa Centre of Excellence which houses the Black Youth Forum Course and the Pathways to Excellence Learning Series.

She is the former Policy Advisor on diversity management at Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC). Prior to CMHC, Jacqueline was a consultant specializing in labour market research, communications and diversity strategies for clients in the public, private and not-for-profit sectors. In addition, she was a Parliamentary Assistant, Speech Writer, Executive Director of the National Women’s Reference Group on Labour Market Issues and Executive Director of the Multicultural Women’s Association.

Her passions include travelling, being a facilitator with the International Black Summit and serving as a co-host and producer of Black on Black, a community public affairs programme aired every Saturday morning on CHUO 89.1 FM. As a published author, her work has been featured in Jubilation, an anthology celebrating Jamaica's 50th Anniversary, the international bestseller, Pebbles in the Pond (Wave 3), Transforming the World One Person at a Time, and most recently, the anthology Resilience and Triumph: Immigrant Women Tell Their Stories which captured the first-person stories of 54 racialized immigrant and refugee women across Canada.