Our School provides many awards for students to get recognition and support for their accomplishments. Take a look through what we have on offer and be sure to apply if you qualify.
Student Leadership Award - Undergraduate Students
This award acknowledges exceptional contributions made by one current or recent undergraduate student to the activities and programs of the School.
Robert has been an engaged student throughout his studies. He served our Public Policy and Administration Student Association (PPASA) as Director of Internal Affairs, and then as President of the club during the 2021-22 school year. Robert also sat on the Office of the University Registrar's Student Advisory Committee for one full-year term, as well as on the Library and Archives Canada Youth Advisory Committee for two years during his degree. Robert is in the final year of his Bachelor’s degree, majoring in Political Science with a minor in Public Administration. For the past 1.5 years, Robert has worked with the Ministry of Education in the Digital and Online Learning Branch where he has had the opportunity to work on the development and continued implementation of Ontario's new Online Learning Graduation requirement, as well as leading the administration of the province's 4-year Math Strategy. Robert started as a Policy Co-op Student through the Faculty of Liberal Arts and Professional Studies (LA&PS) Internship Program, and currently works as a Junior Policy Analyst. He worked in the OPS each summer throughout his degree through the Summer Employment Opportunities Program and credits his involvement with the School for learning about opportunities in the public service during his first year of study.
Khushbu (BA and CPPA, Class of 2021) was a History major at York University with a keen interest in public policy. She completed our Professional Certificate in Public Policy Analysis and has been engaged with our School and student body in a variety of roles since 2017: she served as Junior Ambassador, Director of Recruitment, Vice-President and finally as President for our Public Policy and Administration Student Association (PPASA) in 2020-21 during the challenging times of remote studies and the pandemic. Khushbu has demonstrated exceptional leadership and a can-do attitude in everything that she does: re-designing our professional development workshops in support of students’ internship applications, innovative and engaging events, and mentoring junior students. During her practicum placement she received an outstanding service award - the Supporting Our Future Award at the 5th Annual Standing Ovation Awards in the Client Services Management Branch at the Ministry of Government and Consumer Services. She is currently part of the coveted post-graduate Ontario Internship Program as Service Delivery Intern at the Ministry of Heritage, Sport, Tourism and Culture Industries. Following her graduation, she answered the call to serve on the Board of YUSPPAAN. Her commitment to service excellence is both exemplary and inspirational.
Gurkamal Dhahan is a 2020 graduate of our Bachelor of Public Administration Specialized Honours program, Management stream and Intern with the non-partisan Ontario Legislature Internship Programme, providing backbench Members of Provincial Parliament (MPP) with staff assistance. He also provides research assistance to the Information Services branch, which focuses on the delivery of the Assembly’s digital infrastructure and archival work. Gurkamal has served our Public Policy and Administration Student Association (PPASA) in a number of roles throughout his studies: Junior Ambassador, Director of Recruitment and in 2019-2020 as President. He has approached all these roles with a sense of responsibility, professionalism and enthusiasm. In addition to his role as PPASA President, he served as peer mentor for 1st year students to guide them through their transition to university studies, and as PASS leader for our statistics course, while also completing a practicum placement with the Ontario Ministry of Transportation and a number of upper-level research-intensive courses with group work and deliverables to external partner organizations. He is a seasoned student leader and an ultimate team player, who has balanced all these roles with ease and graduated as a member of the Dean’s Honour Roll.
The Undergraduate Student Award was presented to Sukhpreet Singh from the BPA Specialized Honours (Management Stream) program (class of '19) for his leadership and service to the Public Policy and Administration Student Association (PPASA) in a variety of roles for three years and most recently as president in 2018-19.
Singh joined the federal public service in May as an access to information and privacy analyst at the Treasury Board of Canada Secretariat, and expressed his gratitude at the dinner to his parents, and SPPA faculty and staff for their support during this journey.
The Undergraduate Student Award was awarded to Justin Tan in the Management stream of the Specialized Honours Bachelor of Public Administration (BPA) program for his service to the Public Policy & Administration Student Association (PPASA). Tan served as president in 2017-18, during his third year of studies, and as director of recruitment prior to that. In 2018, Tan also received the McLaughlin Academics’ Choice Award for his involvement with the work of the college. Tan has also volunteered and worked for Canadian Red Cross and is currently working as CCTV team lead operator for Security Services while completing his studies at York.
Munisha has served our Public Policy and Administration Student Association (PPASA) in a variety of roles for several years, including as President. As an enthusiastic peer mentor, she guided many students through their transition to university and inspired them to be engaged. Her tireless work and dedication led to the PPASA being named the McLaughlin College Club of the Year in 2017 as well as her personally receiving the university-wide Robert Tiffin Student Leadership Award. As a BPA student, Munisha held several summer positions with the Ontario Ministry of Tourism, Culture and Sport, completed a placement with the York Region Rapid Transit Corporation and worked as a Human Resources Coordinator Intern with Free the Children, an Interviewer with York University’s Institute for Social Research, and a Program Evaluation Student Consultant with Service Canada.
A passionate student leader and peer mentor, Calanza currently works for the Ministry of Health & Long-Term Care, Digital Health Solutions & Innovation Branch, Project Management Office. She is also the recipient of the 2016 McLaughlin Academics Choice Award. At the school’s celebration she was accompanied by her proud parents, Mon and Felisa Calanza.
Undergraduate Student Award winner Kevin Baksh served as the president of the Public Policy & Administration Student Association, and since graduating in the spring has been working in various positions and on various projects with the Ontario Ministry of Community & Social Services.
Vangjeli is a recent graduate of the Bachelor of Public Administration (BPA) Honours Program (management stream), who is now enrolled in Carleton University’s Master of Public Administration program. She was honoured for her service to the school’s student association.
Student Leadership Award - Graduate Students
This award acknowledges exceptional contributions made by one current student or recent graduate student to the activities and programs of the School.
Paula Tablon Modica obtained her Master in Public Policy, Administration and Law in October 2022. She was the 2021 GSAPPAL President and her MRP explored stakeholder experiences, the co-production process between researchers and community members, and the psychosocial factors that impact people with neurodevelopmental disabilities and their well-being. Paula is currently a Policy Analyst at the Strategic Policy Division, Ministry of Children, Community and Social Services. One of Paula's nominator wrote: "Her ability to maintain engagement and lead the club through many pivots throughout the year is a massive accomplishment and it required pristine dedication to the cause; both to the benefit of the graduate students within MPPAL and the SPPA."
Sylvia Gajusingh (MPPAL, Class of 2021) has committed time and effort towards enhancing the experiences of her fellow students as part of GSAPPAL. This included assisting with all events as well as coordinating merchandise roll-out. Her professionalism and organizational skills were highly appreciated by her peers and the nomination letters for this award spoke to how their own participation in School events and socials was largely due to Sylvia’s enthusiasm and encouragement for them to attend. Sylvia also participated in the mentorship circle program and mentored incoming and first year students. She has provided guidance and support to fellow students, improving their student experience within the program, and ultimately their academic success. In addition, Sylvia completed the personal wellness certificate and sought to enhance access to mental health services for graduate students. She embodies the Graduate Student Award through all her time and energy dedicated to her studies, her extracurricular activities and her commitment to MPPAL as a community that fosters leadership in social justice. Sylvia works as Registry Officer at the Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada, Refugee Protection Division.
Even before Joana was accepted to our Master of Public Policy, Administration and Law (MPPAL) program, she was already committed to the activities and programs of the School by attending networking events as an MPPAL candidate. Her commitment continued into her 1st year in the MPPAL program when she volunteered as a First-Year Representative for her classmates. Working alongside the Graduate Students’ Association of Public Policy, Administration and Law (GSAPPAL), she represented the interests of her fellow students, but most importantly, increased engagement among the first-year students. In the 2nd year of the program, she took on the role of Vice President of GSAPPAL. Joana demonstrates passion, dedication and determination. Her commitment and willingness to work across the undergraduate and alumni associations on various projects – from graduate events to School-wide initiatives (i.e. panels, orientation sessions, medium to large sized networking events) were essential to success and creating a supportive environment for everyone. During her MPPAL studies, Joana secured two promotions – to Executive Assistant and to Senior Program Advisor, Mental Health and Addictions, Ministry of the Solicitor General. She remains engaged as an alumna and serves as Director of Events and Programming for our alumni network, YUSPPPAAN.
The Graduate Student Award was presented to Tiago De Oliveira for his service as director of communications for our Graduate Students’ Association during the first year of his MPPAL studies in 2018-19, and contributions to organizing a career panel for students, the school’s municipal symposium and several networking events. De Oliveira currently holds the position of payroll transformation project lead with the City of Toronto. He is a graduate of our BPA spec. hon. program (law, justice and public policy stream, class of '14) and also holds a certificate in human resources management from York.
The Graduate Student Award went to Eric Lothman in the Master of Public Policy, Administration & Law (MPPAL) program. Lothman enthusiastically participated in the 2017 IPAC-CAPPA Case Competition during his first year in the MPPAL program, volunteered at open houses and helped organize professional development opportunities for both MPPAL and BPA students. Lothman has also served as the director of communication for the Graduate Students’ Association of Public Policy, Administration & Law (GSAPPAL) as well as in a number of other volunteer roles, including as manager of outreach and partnerships for the Strategic Leadership Forum and as a student outreach committee member for the Canadian Association of Management Consultants (CMC-Canada). Lothman currently holds the position of policy analyst in the Student Achievement Division of the Ontario Ministry of Education.
Shireen was the Social Convener of the 2016/17 Graduate Students’ Association of Public Policy, Administration and Law (GSAPPAL). Her responsibilities included planning and facilitation of GSAPPAL events including socials, conferences and networking opportunities for MPPAL students. Shireen also represented York University at the 2015-16 Institute of Public Administration Canada (IPAC) National Case Study Competition. She has worked in a number of roles in the Ontario Ministry of Education, Inclusive Education Branch and at the Education Quality and Accountability Office.
Graduate Student Award winner Sadaf Syed graduated with her master of public policy, administration and law (MPPAL) degree in the fall. Syed is also the recipient of the Professor Ian Greene Book Prize for academic achievement. As a dedicated mother of two young children, she took a few minutes to thank family members for their understanding and support, as she spent many hours studying or in classes while working to complete her degree.
Robert Tiffin Leadership Award
The Robert J. Tiffin Student Leadership Award was established in 2012 and is named after Robert J. Tiffin, who served as York University’s Vice-President, Students for nine years. This award recognizes students whose leadership has contributed to the growth, development, and vitality of York University.
Munisha Basiram, a fourth-year student completing a specialized honours bachelor of public administration degree, with a focus on management received the Robert Tiffin Leadership Award in 2017.
“I am always impressed by the diversity of ways in which leadership occurs here at York and this was truly evident as I went through looking at the nomination packages,” Tiffin said. “There were several key themes I found that really embody the York Education – and this is mobilizing new ways of thinking, preparing engaged global citizens and building stronger communities.”
LORNE FOSTER AWARD IN PUBLIC POLICY
Academic Achievement and Leadership Award
The Lorne Foster Award in Public Policy benefits Black students in their second year of a bachelor’s degree program within the School of Public Policy & Administration (SPPA). Students must self-identify as Black, have a GPA of 6.0 (B or better), and submit a statement describing their volunteer community involvement in social justice issues. The recipient of this award receives $1,000 in support of their studies.
To apply for this award, please fill out your current Student Financial Profile form as the first step. Eligible students will be invited to submit a statement describing their volunteer community
involvement in social justice issues.
This is a new award established by SPPA Professor Lorne Foster and his generous gift. Professor Foster holds the York Research Chair in Black Canadian Studies & Human Rights (Tier 1). He is the Director of the Institute for Social Research (ISR), which is the leading university-based survey research center in Canada. He is a descendent of a Black indentured servant who is believed to have arrived in Accomack County, Virginia from Angola Africa in the mid- 1600s. In 1857, his family settled in Dover Township, Kent County near Chatham, Ontario.
The SPPA Awards Committee was impressed with Udoka’s volunteer engagement with Advocacy Peel. Service, social justice engagement and leadership are core values that we encourage in our students at the SPPA. Read more in our SPPA newsletter.
Paul Cantor Award
Academic Achievement Award
Awarded to a student who has completed 48 credits, has a minimum cumulative grade point average of 6.00 (B) and focused their studies in the areas of public policy and administration. Recipient must be a Canadian citizen, permanent resident or protected person, be an Ontario resident and demonstrate financial need. Paul Cantor has been a long serving member of the York University Board of Governors since 1998 and has extensive experience in the Toronto Business community.
Ian Greene Book Prize (Graduate)
Academic Achievement Award
Awarded to 3-5 graduating MPPAL students with the highest GPA in their cohort.
Gurkamal Dhahan, Khadeja Elsibai, Heather Finlay, Eva Fok, Megan Fowler, Christopher Hedley, Alexander McKenna, Jennifer Holmes Weier
Sarika Bhatnagar, Munir Chagpar, Meghan Ditta, Gyula Kovacs, Cara Santoro
Sara Gajic, Jennifer Lai, Jocelyn McCauley, Kyle Nimmrichter, Alyssa Offenheim
Mary Ormond, Rodney Carew, Ryan Clancy, Pauline Raphael, John Riches
Best Major Research Paper Award (Graduate)
Academic Achievement Award
Awarded to a graduating MPPAL student for best research paper.
Jennifer Holmes Weier is an accomplished, value-driven non-profit executive who brings a diverse portfolio of strategy and leadership experiences gained navigating and influencing complex global charitable federations. She is an experienced senior executive with local, provincial, national, and global responsibilities. Jennifer is trusted in managing reputations, delicate issues, and critical stakeholder relationships, she’s a big picture thinker who always finds the way forward. Jennifer's nominator wrote: "The conclusions and recommendations that logically flow from the analysis and findings are nuanced, balanced and supported by evidence. The central conclusion that decentralization of policy staff would not in and of itself increase diversity and inclusivity in the civil service is important and should inform the work of public administrators." In addition, congratulations to Jennifer for winning the 2022 IPAC/CAPPA National Student and Thought Leadership Award in Public Administration for this research paper “Bursting the Ottawa Bubble: Government dispersal and localization in the context of a diversity strategy”.
Gyula Kovacs (MPPAL, Class of 2021) is an experienced public policy and communications professional who works for Ontario's Ministry of Education as a Senior Policy and Programs Advisor. His previous roles include Issues Management and Media Relations Team Lead with Ontario's Ministry of Training, Colleges and Universities, Communications and Media Relations Officer for Ontario's French-Language Services Commissioner, and Communications and Media Relations Coordinator for the Council of Ministers of Education, Canada. Gyula has also worked as a broadcast journalist in Toronto and Montréal, in both English and French. His research on Diversity training in the workplace: Assessing effectiveness and outcomes was completed under the supervision of Professor Naomi Couto and found that the evidence supports the contention that diversity training can lead to positive outcomes, but results vary depending on (i) the culture of an organization; (ii) the quality of its leadership; and (iii) the type of diversity training that is offered. Findings support the assertion that training alone will not eliminate racist attitudes and behaviours in the workplace and must be supported by additional measures to affect positive change.
Alyssa is a public sector professional with diverse experiences in provincial and municipal governments. She brings her skills in policy analysis, coordination and strategic advice to her role as Policy Analyst at the Ontario Ministry of the Solicitor General. In her spare time, Alyssa volunteers with local climate action initiatives and acts as the Director of Memberships and Partnerships for the York University School of Public Policy & Administration Alumni Network. She holds a Master of Public Policy, Administration and Law and a Bachelor of Public Administration with Honours, Management stream from York University. Her major research paper in the MPPAL program was titled The Impact Assessment Act, Climate Change, and Political Priorities in Canada and was completed under the supervision of University Professor Brenda Spotton Visano.
The Best 2019 Major Research Paper Award was presented to Ryan Clancy (MPPAL, class of '19) for his research on the City of Toronto’s response to gun violence. MPPAL Director Dagmar Soennecken served as Clancy’s research supervisor and highlighted his background and aspirations combining a bachelor of commerce, chartered professional accounting (CPA) designation and commitment to social justice in line with York’s and MPPAL values.
Clancy recently transitioned from the OPS to LIFT Philanthropy Partners as the senior manager, impact investing with emphasis on social finance and impact. He also serves as vice-chair of the Board of Regeneration Community Services, a not-for-profit that provides housing support for persons with mental health and addiction challenges.
The Best 2018 Major Research Paper Award went to Rebecca Mukuna (MPPAL ’18) for her research on the topic of health and safety for migrant farm workers in the seasonal agricultural worker program. Mukuna started working for the Canadian Centre for Occupational Health & Safety as a training and education assistant in 2017, and what she learned on the job regarding health and safety also inspired her to write her major research paper. University Professor Brenda Spotton Visano served as Mukuna’s research supervisor and presented her with the award.
Annear/Bertram Family Graduate Award
Academic Achievement Award
The Annear/Bertram Family Graduate Award will be awarded to full time or part time graduate students who are studying/doing work on or using the Prigent Papers in the Scott Library Archives.
This year there are three Master of Public Policy, Administration and Law (MPPAL) recipients. Congratulations to Sonya Alexander, Rennae Fogah, and Victoria Soogrim.
"My experience in the Master of Public Policy, Administration and Law Program (MPPAL) has been wonderful. I have been able to further develop my knowledge and skills relating to policy analysis and policy development, while exploring my research interests related to the intersections of accessibility, education, and policy. As a person with a disability, accessibility is an essential part of my life, and these experiences have also provided me with a unique perspective that informs my academic and professional experience. During my time in the MPPAL program, I have also had the opportunity to participate in a policy co-op with the Ministry of Education, which allowed me to gain skills and insight into the policy work that is conducted in the Ontario Public Service, while bringing my professional and lived experiences to the role. I have been reflecting on all my experiences during this program and I am grateful for everything I have learned thus far. The knowledge and experiences I have acquired will continue to serve me well into the future. I am so appreciative to have been selected for the Annear/Bertram Family Graduate Award and would like to thank everyone who made this possible!"
"It is an honour to receive the Annear/Bertram Family Graduate Award for the 2021/2022 MPPAL cohort. The School of Public Policy and Administration (SPPA) is home to a vibrant community, unique due to the special nature of diversity and a compassionate group of active students. Within the MPPAL program, I have been able to succeed not only in my studies, but in the high-level professional connections this program provides. My goal of learning from experts for further career advancement would be unattainable without the dedicated support of professors and administrative staff."
"I am a Black writer, poet and storyteller with a passion for justice and learning,
which stems from a long history of community engagement, life experience, and a desire for social change. Born and raised in Montréal to Afro-Peruvian parents, I am an artist with a natural talent for using language to bring stories to life coupled with an ability to transform my
lived experiences, using multilingual narratives. I hold an Honours Bachelor Degree in Women & Gender Studies, Spanish and Italian from the University of Toronto and completing my Master’s in Public Policy, Administration, and Law (MPPAL) at York University. I have extensive experience working in multiple sectors including nonprofit, philanthropy, and corporate. I have worked nationally for almost a decade in advocacy and public policy.
I started the MPPAL program in 2019, a decade after completing my undergraduate degree, with the hopes of refining skills in public policy and administration and learning more about the law. From offering supplementary courses like Court Organization and Management to providing the option of pursuing an independent-style Major Research Paper (MRP), the MPPAL program has allowed me to experience different pedagogies and hone practical research and evaluation skills as well as practical knowledge of the Canadian policy landscape. As a part of this unprecedented COVID-19 cohort, I’ve also valued the support students have shown for each other to balance pursuing a degree, working, and managing other responsibilities. With the knowledge I learn in this program and apply to my MRP on the Future of Black Policy, I hope to dedicate my research to amplify Black voices, Black communities, and Black lives. I’m thankful to have received the Annear/Bertram Family Graduate Award."
"My name is Ismael Hashim. I am currently a 2nd year MPPAL student. I completed my Honours Bachelor of Public Administration at York University in 2019. I currently work as a Program Officer in the federal public service with Service Canada supporting a variety of grant and contributions programs, primarily the Canada Summer Jobs program.
The MPPAL program has generously supported my educational and career development throughout my experience at York University. This program benefitted me by giving me the opportunity to study under the tutelage of exceptionally brilliant and adept professors who not only have sought to develop my academic skills as a student, but my professional skills as a public servant. They are an indispensable resource to success. The School of Public Policy and Administration has accomplished this by providing numerous student events to expand my network within the public sector. It has given me the opportunity to be mentored on a one-on-one basis by accomplished public servants in government. As well, MPPAL course and study commitment design allows me to balance work, school, and life responsibilities adequately, which would not be plausible with any other master’s program in Ontario. The program proudly promotes students to the greater policy and government community in Ontario. Without their support I would not have the position in government I have today. I am extremely grateful to receive the Annear/Bertram Family Graduate Award and to be a part of this student community."
"Throughout my time enrolled in York University’s Master of Public Policy, Administration and Law, I have become deeply interested in better understanding how to promote equitable health outcomes through good governance. I entered this program with little knowledge of the public sector but will be leaving equipped with the necessary tools to meaningfully contribute to the field of public health policy.
The multidisciplinary courses offered through the program have familiarized me with the fundamental concepts and methods of evidence-based research and evaluation that will be invaluable throughout the entirety of my career. My research paper, for example, employs a mixed methods approach to studying race as a public health issue. I examine how Ontario’s data collection practices do not consistently gather information about race, contributing to racial health disparities through colour-blind approaches to health care delivery. Others in my cohort have equally been empowered to explore the ways in which public policy, public administration and law align with their individual interests and aspirations.
Currently, I work in the non-profit sector as a program coordinator for an international non-governmental organization that provides sustainable development interventions to some of the world's most vulnerable communities. I am committed to a journey of learning and ongoing self-betterment to improve my capacity to contribute to positive social change. I strongly believe that we need to continuously work towards removing the socioeconomic barriers that may discourage people with diverse life experiences from accessing this journey of betterment. I am incredibly grateful to have been nominated to receive the very first Annear/Bertram Family Graduate Award."
Alumni Recognition Award
SPPA Alumni Award
The Alumni Recognition Award acknowledges exceptional contributions made by an alum to School's activities and programs as well as to the mentoring of students and new professionals.
Asare entered the public service only in 2015 after working in the private sector as a successful team lead with a strong track-record of customer service. These qualities and values are apparent in everything that he does. Towards the end of his 1st year in the MPPAL program in 2019, Asare secured a promotion to Program Manager, Business Licensing & Regulatory Services, Municipal Licensing & Standards Division with the City of Toronto.Balancing MPPAL studies with the supervision of a large number of staff and responsibility for major projects and modernization initiatives, Asare made it all possible. During the unfolding pandemic, he demonstrated leadership by re-focusing his work to provide administrative support to front-line workers and homeless shelters. At the same time, Asare has remained an excellent student in the MPPAL program with strong academic achievement and extensive volunteer engagement with our student and alumni associations. Asare has a long-standing relationship with United Way and has actively sought out roles in which he can provide support to the organization and its social justice objectives. He is also part of the United Way GenNext Cabinet, which encourages young people in their 20’s and 30’s to become involved with the organization and its fundraising campaigns. Asare is currently Acting Manager, Program and Strategic Support to Deputy City Manager of Corporate Services, City of Toronto.
Romina Chencheva (MPPAL, Class of 2015) has supported students and new professionals through both informal and formal mentorship opportunities. The York University School of Public Policy and Administration Alumni Network (YUSPPAAN) Learning from Leaders podcast series, a primary and formal channel of mentorship, is just one example of initiatives that Romina has created and led. The podcast series is a digital tool to provide advice and information about employment opportunities and key skills required for a career in public policy and administration, while showcasing the different professional journeys of alumni and leaders in the public service space. Romina’s delivery of the podcast ensures that students and alumni have access to insight from inspirational leaders. Romina also mentors informally by working with the student ambassadors of YUSPPAAN. Her leadership in guiding student ambassadors fosters a growing alumni community and develops future SPPA leaders. Romina holds the position of Assistant Credentials Assessor at University of Toronto School of Continuing Studies and serves as Vice-Chair of YUSPPAAN. Romina demonstrates passion, dedication and determination in all that she does.
Marco completed both his undergraduate and graduate degrees at our School of Public Policy & Administration (SPPA) in 2009 and 2015 respectively, and has been an engaged alumnus ever since. He exemplifies what it means to be part of the SPPA family, and we would not be able to provide all the supports to students and alumni without individuals like him who take the initiative to give back. He represents the heart and soul of our network of alumni due to his dedication, values and dependability. A great role model for our students and other alumni, Marco holds the position of Regional Program Manager - Emergency Management Department of Indigenous Services Canada. His other recent positions have been with the infrastructure and governance directorates. He has managed major capital projects - water treatment plants, bridges, roads and wastewater treatment systems - for a portfolio of First Nation communities in Ontario. Working in a governance role, he has also worked with the Indigenous Representative Organizations (IRO) of Ontario in advancing their membership needs. Marco enjoys rewarding work in high-pressure environments, and is always accessible to our students.
The 2019 Alumni Recognition Award was presented to Ashley Cabral (MPPAL, class '17) for her exceptional dedication to creating professional development opportunities for our students and alumni, as well as leadership and strategic vision for our alumni network. Cabral juggles a hectic schedule as executive advisor to the assistant deputy minister of the Ministry of the Solicitor General, Chair of YUSPPAAN and board member and the New Professionals Lead of the Institute of Public Administration of Canada (IPAC). She is also the recipient of the 2017 SPPA Emerging Leader Award. Her commitment to service excellence and visionary leadership to achieve client-centered, outcome-focused service delivery transcend all areas of her work and are assets to the alumni network and the school.
The Alumni Recognition Award went to Shaun Kuttiyil, a 2011 graduate of the Specialized Honours BPA program in the Policy Analysis stream and a 2015 graduate of the MPPAL, for his long-standing service to the school. As an undergraduate student, Kuttiyil held the position of president of the PPASA and received the SPPA Student Award. Since his graduation from the MPPAL program in 2015, he has been active in the York University School of Public Policy & Administration Alumni Network (YUSPPAAN), volunteering as treasurer until 2018 when he took on the role of Chair. Throughout these years, Kuttiyil has also served as a mentor and role model for the school’s students in the BPA program, helping to strengthen their team-building capabilities, and as an avid organizer of the YUSPPAAN Book Club that brings together alumni, students and faculty for a unique combination of intellectual stimulation and networking. He has worked in both the public and private sectors, starting as an administration officer at B2B Bank, and currently holds the position of senior program analyst, Fiscal Oversight & Performance Branch, Corporate Services Division, with the Ontario Ministry of Health & Long-Term Care.
As a graduate of both our BPA and MPPAL programs, Tanya has remained engaged with SPPA, our students and alumni in a variety of informal and formal ways as an avid volunteer, including most recently serving on the Executive Committee of our York University School of Public Policy & Administration Alumni Network (YUSPPAAN). Tanya started to work in the OPS as a Business Analyst just before graduating with the BPA and has since then worked in a range of roles, including relationship management, strategic planning and policy development. She has held positions with Service Ontario, the Ministry of Government and Consumer Services, Cabinet Office - Strategy and Results Branch and is currently with the Ministry of Transportation as Senior Safety Policy Advisor.
SPPA director Alena Kimakova highlighted that Giddings only strengthened his engagement with the school following his graduation. He is a tireless supporter not only of the MPPAL program, but also of the undergraduate BPA and professional certificate programs in a variety of ways. He has been employed with the Ontario Public Service (OPS) for over 15 years and currently works as a project policy analyst in the Emergency Health Services Branch of the Ministry of Health & Long-Term Care.
Emerging Leader Award
SPPA Alumni Award
This award recognizes a current student or recent alumnus/alumna of the School who is an emerging leader within the broader public sector (including the non-profit sector) and represents the ideals, values and abilities of sound, responsible and engaging public policy and administration in congruence with the School's vision to promote good governance. The Award recipient will normally have 5-8 years of work experience in the broader public sector.
Kiersten Allore-Engel is the Manager of Community Safety and Well-being at the Region of Durham. She is a Registered Professional Planner with over 15 years of experience in policy development, project management and community engagement. Most recently she led the development and implementation of the Region's Community Safety and Well-being (CSWB) Plan. The goal of the CSWB Plan is to ensure residents of Durham Region feel safe and have a sense of belonging, and their needs for education, health care, food, housing, income, as well as social and cultural expression are met. Kiersten's nominator wrote: "Kiersten is an emerging leader who very much represents the ideals, values and abilities of sound, responsible and engaging public policy and administration in congruence with the School's vision to promote Good Governance. She is extremely deserving of this recognition."
Jocelyn McCauley (MPPAL, Class of 2021)
is the Lobbyist Registrar for the Town of Collingwood and Senior Advisor to Metrolinx’s Chief Safety Officer. She identifies and actions strategic priorities in the areas of corporate administration, team governance and operations, stakeholder management, safety and system assurances. She regularly represents Metrolinx with senior executives and management at the Ministry of Transportation, Transport Canada, and across Ontario municipalities to advance policy initiatives, intergovernmental strategies and coordinate project activities. In this role, Jocelyn works to analyze, interpret and understand legislation and policy relating to Metrolinx and manages internal and external stakeholders across a complex regulatory environment. Effective government requires dedicated and high-performing public service leaders who inspire others to do their best work for all Canadians. Jocelyn is one such individual. Throughout her career, Jocelyn has demonstrated a strong and enduring commitment to the betterment of society. Having also worked at the federal, provincial and municipal levels of government, Jocelyn has consistently upheld Canadian public sector values and ethics. Jocelyn exemplifies all the pivotal qualities crucial to this Emerging Leader Award.
Asare entered the public service only in 2015 after working in the private sector as a successful team lead with a strong track-record of customer service. These qualities and values are apparent in everything that he does. Towards the end of his 1st year in the MPPAL program in 2019, Asare secured a promotion to Program Manager, Business Licensing & Regulatory Services, Municipal Licensing & Standards Division with the City of Toronto. Balancing MPPAL studies with the supervision of a large number of staff and responsibility for major projects and modernization initiatives, Asare made it all possible. During the unfolding pandemic, he demonstrated leadership by re-focusing his work to provide administrative support to front-line workers and homeless shelters. At the same time, Asare has remained an excellent student in the MPPAL program with strong academic achievement and extensive volunteer engagement with our student and alumni associations. Asare has a long-standing relationship with United Way and has actively sought out roles in which he can provide support to the organization and its social justice objectives. He is also part of the United Way GenNext Cabinet, which encourages young people in their 20’s and 30’s to become involved with the organization and its fundraising campaigns.
The Emerging Leader Award was presented to Shireen Salti (MPPAL, class of '17) who was recently named the executive director of the Canadian Arab Institute, a national not-for-profit, non-partisan organization that focuses on issues and interests of the Canadian Arab community through research, education and community engagement. The institute strives to be the leading policy and research organization on domestic policies of concern to Arab Canadians. Salti has held various positions with the Ontario Public Service, the Ontario Legislature Internship Programme and the Council of Ontario Universities. In 2017, Salti received both the school’s Graduate Student Award for her contributions to student life and the Best MRP Award in the MPPAL program for her major research paper on the settlement of Syrian refugees in Toronto.
The Emerging Leader Award went to Yana Gravets, a graduate of the Specialized Honours BPA in the Policy Analysis stream in 2011, cum laude on the Dean’s Honour Roll, while also completing the Professional Certificate in Human Resources Management at York.
Upon graduation, Gravets secured a position with the prestigious Finance Officers Municipal Internship Program with the City of Burlington and was later promoted to a permanent financial analyst role, with a primary focus on the city’s capital budget and corporate projects. During this time, she also completed the MPPAL program, graduating in 2013. In 2014, she secured the position of senior budget and policy advisor with the Office of the Budget at York Region. In 2018, she was promoted by York Region to the position of head of policy, planning and liaison, Finance Commissioner’s Office. Without a doubt, Gravets’ new role at York Region is one of leadership and strategic importance, and a remarkable achievement.
Ashley started to work in the Ontario Public Service in 2013 as a case worker with the Ministry of Community and Social Services, Ontario Disability Support Program and has progressed through the ranks in a number of roles including Business Lead Expert, Program Analyst and Executive Assistant with the Ministry in the Social Assistance Service Modernization Branch. Ashley is also an enthusiastic volunteer: she currently serves a Co-Lead, Tomorrow’s Public Service (TOPS) Executive Regional Development Committee and was Director of Communication for GSAPPAL in 2016-2017 and a member of the 2015-16 IPAC National Case Study Competition team while she was an MPPAL student.
Najva is supporting the Ontario Minister of Transportation as Senior Advisor – Strategic Initiatives, previously as Senior Advisor – Stakeholder Relations and Operations. Najva also has political experience as a federal campaign manager and as President of Ontario Young Liberals. Her commitment to student engagement has also translated into creating practicum opportunities for our undergraduate students at SPPA, and doing so in a most enthusiastic way, supervising as many as four students in a given year! Despite the incredibly busy nature of her work in the fast-paced Office of the Ontario Minister of Transportation, she finds time to set work plans, arrange for the practicum students to accompany the Minister to meetings and events, and coaches them on the work they do in support of the Minister’s stakeholder engagement and policy work.
Foster – Greene Award for Excellence in Public Policy, Administration and Law
MPPAL Alumni Award
The Foster – Greene Award for Excellence in Public Policy, Administration and Law recognizes an alumnus/alumna of the MPPAL program whose work has demonstrably and significantly advanced social justice, human rights, ethics and good governance in congruence with the MPPAL program’s founding principles. The Award recipient will normally have min. 10 years of work experience in the broader public/NGO sector.
Orelie Di Mavindi is the manager of the Legislation and Adjudication Policy unit under Canada Pension Plan - Disability Directorate at the Income Security and Social Development Branch of Employment and Social Development Canada. Here Orelie is responsible for providing departmental advice in the interpretation and application of CPPD legislation, regulations and policy, including providing adjudication advice on Social Security Tribunal appeals and court proceedings. Orelie is also responsible for developing legislation, regulations and policy for CPPD. Orelie is a former quasi-judicial decision maker at the Federal Court. She was the Project Manager for the Federal Court’s Centre for Access to Justice pilot project in Toronto, a resource centre that equips self-represented litigants with tools and resources to navigate their proceedings at the Court. Orelie was also the Court liaison for the Federal Court Legal Assistance Program, a pilot project that matches self-represented litigants ineligible for legal aid, yet unable to afford legal services with pro bono legal representation in immigration and refugee related proceedings at the Federal Court. In her spare time, Orelie is passionate about anti-racism and serves as an identity mentor for women and BIPOC individuals navigating their professional careers.
John Riches (MPPAL, Class of 2019) is an experienced paramedic service leader providing strategic guidance, coaching, and mentoring to Region of Durham paramedics and supervisors. As the Deputy Chief of Regulatory Compliance & Administration, his responsibilities include overseeing community programs, quality assurance and continuous quality improvement, regulatory compliance, adherence to privacy and access to information legislation, and risk management processes. John is the lead representative for the Region on Ontario Health Team partnerships and initiatives and is also involved with the development of the legislatively mandated Community Safety and Wellbeing Plan. A lifelong learner, John completed his York University Master’s Degree in Public Policy, Administration, and Law in 2019. He also holds degrees and certificates/diplomas from Western University, Ontario Tech University, Centennial College, and Durham College. In 2019, John was a recipient of the Governor General’s Emergency Medical Services Exemplary Service Medal.
Judith D’Souza Soares currently works at the Workplace Safety and Insurance Board as a Director in charge of the Occupational Disease and Survivor Benefits Program. She leads a multi-disciplinary team of adjudicators, nurses, occupational hygienists, crisis intervention counsellors and their managers who are responsible for making entitlement decisions in all acute, chronic, and long latency disease claims and fatalities (both traumatic and disease-related). Adhering to governing policy and legislation, and identifying the necessary process improvements, while maintaining strong relationships with external stakeholders, internal partners and WSIB staff from senior leaders to front-line staff are both critical to her role and extremely important to her.
Judith holds two Masters degrees. The first is a Master in Public Policy, Administration and Law (MPPAL) from 2013 and more recently a Global Professional Master of Laws (GPLLM), which she completed in late summer 2020. In addition, she holds post-graduate certificates in Strategic Leadership, Dispute Resolution, and Project Management, as well as being a certified Law Clerk and Paralegal. Judy’s interest in education, both educating herself and helping to educate others, is profound. She carried this interest to serve as the Co-Chair of the National Education Program Committee for the Women’s Legal Education and Action Fund (LEAF) where she also served as a National Board Member. Social activism and the pursuit of equality, fairness, and justice, especially for women and girls, has always been at the cornerstone of Judy’s community involvement which involved serving as Chair of the Board of Directors for the Women’s Support Network or York Region for 6 years.
Leading with purpose and ensuring that all persons have equal access to opportunities and resources is extremely important to her as she selected career, academic and volunteer pursuits. Law-based education has not only helped raise her own awareness but also helped inform, educate and empower those around her. She embodies “education is power” through her own fervent commitment to self-learning and teaching others both in her professional and personal life.
YUSPPAAN Board Member Kevin Giddings (MPPAL '15) championed the establishment of the Foster – Greene Award for Excellence in Public Policy, Administration and Law and presented it to its inaugural recipient, Amuna Baraka-Clarke (MPPAL,'18). Baraka-Clarke’s career spans three decades in the non-profit sector, including 15 years at senior leadership level. She currently holds the position of director of human resources and operations for the Jane/Finch Centre. In this role, she strengthens organizational structures and practices through strategic human resources interventions and the engagement of policy. She is also a 2019 CivicAction DiverseCity Fellow and sits on various boards, including the newly engaged York University Black Alumni Network.
SPPA Practicum/Partner Honouree
SPPA Practicum Award
The Practicum Honouree Award is in recognition of the meaningful learning opportunities and support given to our practicum students by one of our partners/organizations.
As the Associate Deputy Minister of the Centre for Public Sector Labour Relations and Compensation (CPSLRC), Marc has responsibility for the team that supports Treasury Board and Management Board of Cabinet’s labour and compensation responsibilities as the Ontario Public Service (OPS) employer and overseer of $80B of compensation related expenditures covering 1.2M public sector employees that deliver programs and services on behalf of the Ontario Government. These responsibilities include enterprise-wide policy, delivery and support to ministries on OPS labour relations and total compensation programs as well as central agency oversight and coordination of Broader Public Sector (BPS) labour relations and executive compensation. The CPSLRC team undertakes collective bargaining, grievance management as well as managing the relationship with bargaining agents and also has responsibility for oversight of OPS pensions, benefits, judicial remuneration and related agencies.
Mandeep Flora is the director of data strategy and solutions platform at the Mandeep Flora is the director of data strategy and solutions platform at the Ministry of Children, Community and Social Services. SPPA thanks him for his commitment to providing practicum opportunities for our undergraduate students in public administration despite the challenges of remote work. Mandeep is passionate about using better data to solve complex public policy problems. His mission is to build more efficient and effective digital-first, data-driven, equitable and inclusive public services. With 16 years of experience in public policy encompassing strategy, policy and operations, legislative reform, I&IT and data infrastructure, and analytics, he is driven to lead diverse, inclusive, multi-disciplinary teams to transform how organizations use data. Mandeep is currently leading efforts at the Ministry of Children, Community of Social Services (MCSS) to build and grow its Data Platform - to better use leading-edge data analytics and business intelligence in improving client and program outcomes through actionable data and information.
Alexey Togunov is passionate about transforming public sector services to become more lean and modern, delivering greater value to users. With over 12 years experience leading modernization and process improvement initiatives for the Ontario government, he has a strong understanding of how to navigate around the challenges of delivering innovation in the public sector. In his current role as Manager of the Project Management Office at the Ministry of the Attorney General, Alexey is responsible for realizing the ministry’s vision to bring justice services online. Previously he led improvement initiatives in the Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care and the Office of the Public Guardian and Trustee. Before his career in government, Alexey worked in financial services supporting continuous improvement projects. Alexey also mentors aspiring change champions, helping them realize their potential and developing capacity to deliver innovation. Alexey is an Industrial Engineering graduate from the University of Toronto specialising in Information Systems, a Project Management Professional and a Certified Six Sigma Black Belt.
Creativity and compassion in partnership are an incredible combination. Louise Simos is that type of partner. No one works harder to think about the kind of work students get to do and to ensure they are fully engaged in meaningful learning. Thanks to Louise, our practicum students have real experiences which give them an edge in learning and preparing for their careers. A respected mentor and manager, Louise Simos has been an Ontario public servant for over 25 years. Most of her career has involved leading projects that fall at the intersection of people, ideas and technology. Louise pioneered online policy consultations in the Ontario Public Service (OPS), led digital and internal communications for several ministries, and recently received the highest award in the OPS - an Amethyst Award - for digital disruption and an innovative new intranet for the 60,000-plus employees in the OPS. She currently leads a team responsible for ServiceOntario’s intergovernmental relations and data services at the Ministry of Government and Consumer Services.
In many ways, Claudio has never really left our program. Ever since entering management in the OPS, he has been a dedicated partner to the program. We have really wonderful partners but Claudio earns a reputation for having hosted the greatest number of students over the years. It is not uncommon for him to ask: "how many do you need me to take?” Claudio is currently Acting Executive Director, Driver & Vehicle Program Development & Modernization in the Road User Safety Division. He leads the planning for modernizing driver and vehicle programs and information technology systems, to digitally transform services for clients, improve efficiency, safety, and use of data. Claudio joined the Ministry of Transportation in 2015 as Director, Safety Policy & Education Branch. In this role, he successfully led multiple high-profile stakeholder consultations, and the legislative and regulatory design work on many key initiatives including implementation of Bill 31, the Making Ontario’s Roads Safer Act; launching Ontario’s Automated Vehicle testing pilot; the Safer School Zones Act and the road safety measures in Bill 174, the Cannabis, Smoke-Free Ontario and Road Safety Statute Law Amendment Act.
SPPA Practicum/Student Excellence
SPPA Practicum Award
The Practicum Excellence Award recognizes a current student for demonstrated excellence, professionalism and collegiality on a public administration practicum project in the given academic year.
Rushell completed our Practicum in Public Administration with the Ministry of Government and Consumer Services, ServiceOntario, Central Production and Verification Services Branch (Land Registry) where his positive attitude and willingness to take on any challenge or assignment were much valued. His supervisors also recognized an exceptional level of judgement and discretion to take on significant projects. So much so, his placement supervisor indicated “At times, we felt that Rushell was no different than our full-time employees”. In light of Rushell’s contributions, his performance was also recognized by way of an exceptional evaluation and a 10/10 score. Rushell also volunteered for our Public Policy and Administration Student Association (PPASA) during his studies, initially as Junior Ambassador and later took on the role of Director of Outreach. Rushell graduated from the Management stream of the BPA program and currently holds the position of Registration Services Representative at the Ministry of Public and Business Service Delivery - Land Registration Services Branch (Ontario Public Service). Rushell joined our Master of Public Policy, Administration and Law (MPPAL) program in September 2022.
Rean completed our Practicum in Public Administration with the Ministry of Tourism, Recreation and Sport’s Destination Ontario where they found Rean to be extremely hard working, conscientious, and her contributions excellent. The quality of her work was found to be superior, excellent time management and task prioritization capabilities, and the need for minimal supervision enabled her to complete several projects concurrently while working with different teams. Leveraging these skills, Rean contributed to several major projects and initiatives, supported the development of presentations, slide decks, communications strategies, and jurisdictional scans. Rean’s contributions were recognized by way of an exceptional performance evaluation and a 10/10 score. Further, she was asked to stay on through a Summer Experience Program paid placement. Throughout her studies in the BPA program, Rean also volunteered for our Public Policy and Administration (PPASA) as Junior Ambassador and later as Director of Marketing (2019-2021).