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Home » Events » Taking Action, Making Impact: A Fireside Chat on York's DEDI Strategy

Taking Action, Making Impact: A Fireside Chat on York's DEDI Strategy

Watch the fireside chat, on the Decolonizing, Equity, Diversity and Inclusion (DEDI) Strategy, hosted by York's President and Vice-Chancellor, Rhonda Lenton and York's Interim VP Equity, People and Culture, Alice Pitt.

Learn how key community members are taking up the strategy in their work, explore how each of us can engage in DEDI work and imagine together how we can transform this institution to right the future for everyone.

YouTube Link:

The fireside chat invites four York community members to imagine how they can take up the strategy in their work, how they imagine others can take up the work and how they imagine it can transform the institution.

The panelists for the fireside chat include Susan D. Dion, Ph.D. Associate Vice President, Indigenous Initiatives Professor, Faculty of Education; Gin Marshall Ph.D. student in the Social Work Program, Lisa Cole, M.Ed Director of Programming, K2i academy, Lassonde School of Engineering and Jean-Jacques Rousseau Ph.D. Instructor & Special Advisor to the Office of the Dean, Schulich School of Business.


Susan D. Dion, Associate Vice President, Indigenous Initiatives Professor, Faculty of Education

Susan D. Dion is a Lenape-Potawatomi scholar with mixed Irish and Quebecois ancestry who has been working in the field of education for more than thirty years. Associate Vice President Indigenous Initiatives and Professor in the Faculty of Education at York University her research focuses on Indigenizing, Decolonizing and Realizing Indigenous Education, Urban Indigenous Education, and Indigenous Student Wellbeing. Dion works in collaboration with the Toronto District School Board Indigenous Education Centre on research and program development. She is widely consulted by diverse community groups, workplaces, and institutions on developing methods for building more equitable, respectful relationships between Indigenous and Non-Indigenous people.

Gin Marshall Ph.D. Student

Gin Marshall (they/he) is a Toronto-based PhD student in the Social Work Program at York University, studying queer and trans cultural production and allyship  histories through an anti-racist, decolonial and feminist lens.  Gin’s work draws on their activist background, and is also grounded in twenty years of experience in Information and Database Technology. Gin is Student Co-Chair of the Sex Gen Committee and represented  Sex Gen on the President’s Advisory Council on Equity, Diversity & Inclusion.  After organizing the Canadian Professional Association for Transgender Health (CPATH) National Conference in 2019, Gin was elected to the CPATH Board of Directors as Treasurer and served in that capacity from 2020-2022. Gin’s greatest pride and joy is their daughter, Kate Last who is currently  completing her PhD at Trent University, and their son-in-love, Mark Allwood, who completed his PhD last year.

Lisa Cole, Director of Programming, K2i academy, Lassonde School of Engineering

Lisa is the Director of Programming at the Lassonde School of Engineering’s k2i (kindergarten to industry) academy, an innovative ecosystem of diverse partners, committed to dismantling systemic barriers to opportunity for underrepresented students in STEM (Science, Technology Engineering and Mathematics). The k2i academy engages youth by bringing STEM to life – connecting directly with school boards and their classrooms, offering innovative work-integrated learning programs, and partnering with community organizations to provide unique, hands-on STEM learning opportunities. Since June 2020, k2i academy has received over $5 million in funding to support this work. k2i academy has provided free programming for over 6,000 students, teachers, families, and community members, spending over 175,000 hours in virtual and face-to-face engagements with collaborative partners. Recently, k2i academy was awarded a Minister’s Award of Excellence in the category of Equality of Opportunity. Lisa Cole is a passionate, award-winning educator, and system leader in STEM Education. She is an advocate for diversity and inclusion in STEM with experience providing workshops, consulting on the development of resources, managing large scale projects, developing partnerships, and facilitating diverse teams. @k2iacademy @llimcole

Jean-Jacques Rousseau, Instructor & Special Advisor to the Office of the Dean, Schulich School of Business

Jean-Jacques Rousseau is a philosopher of science, with a practice in inclusive innovation at the intersection of tech, entrepreneurship and big ideas.

A member of the Task Force on the Future of Pedagogy at York University, he advises the Office of the Dean at the Schulich School of Business in Decolonization, Equity, Diversity and Inclusion (DEDI). As Managing Director at Rousseau Ventures, he helps clients Innovate for Impact ™. He spent 10 years in the Ontario Public Service, starting as an Economist in the Ontario Ministry of Finance, and ending as Investment Attraction Lead and Senior Manager of Life Sciences Programs at the Ontario Ministry of Research and Innovation. After four years of varied client work, he was recruited for the role of Inaugural Technical Advisor in Innovation, Science and Competitiveness to the President of the Republic of Haïti. Today, Rousseau Ventures has a client list that includes postsecondary institutions, a cultural centre, entrepreneur incubator spaces, and tech startups.

He holds a B.A. in Law and Philosophy from Carleton University, MBA from the Schulich School of Business, and PhD in Philosophy of Science from the Institute for the History and Philosophy of Science and Technology at the University of Toronto. He completed a postdoctoral fellowship in Explainability & Trust in AI Systems at the Lassonde School of Engineering, an intensive in Philosophy of Physics at the University of Geneva, and the EinsteinPlus workshop in modern physics at the Perimeter Institute for Theoretical Physics. He also completed a rigorous introduction to Machine Learning at the Vector Institute for Artificial Intelligence.

Jean-Jacques regularly speaks and teaches on inclusive innovation, public policy and governance, digital and scientific literacy, and on Haiti as the light of the Enlightenment. He is an Instructor at the Schulich School of Business, Network Manager at the AI for Pandemic and Epidemic Preparedness (AI4PEP) project, Research Fellow at Dahdaleh Institute for Global Health Research, and Past Chair of CARE for Internationally Educated Nurses. He is a former Board Member at Groupe Média TFO and the World Summit AI Board of International Government and UN Advisors, Mentor at NextAI (Montréal) and former Chair of the Board of the Obsidian Theatre Company.