A lawyer and social worker by profession, Mike Perry is ICL's Executive Director and an outstanding community leader who has been instrumental in building up those around him to act for the better.
A natural teacher and a skilled organizer, Mike has served as Legal Advisor to the Metis National Council; Director of Communications for the National Capital Region YMCA-YWCA's Capital Campaign; and Executive Director of the Kawartha Lakes Family Health Team.
In 2023, Mike was elected Councillor for Ward 3 in the City of Kawartha Lakes.
Mike is an alumnus of the public leadership program at Harvard, where he is currently a teaching fellow for the Leading Change: Leadership, Organizing, and Action course. He has taught ICL's programs across the country, including to students, union workers, survivors of sexual abuse, and minority women - en français - seeking to run for school boards.
Mike has also co-founded the Community Foundation of Kawartha Lakes in his hometown, where he has been recognized as Citizen of the Year, and served on ICL's Board of Directors prior to his appointment as Executive Director.
"With Mike's leadership, boundless energy and enthusiasm, I know he loves ICL as much as I do, and he will lead with strength, dedication, power and passion" - ICL Founder & Mayor of Toronto, Olivia Chow
Director of Programs
Amrit Parhar is the Director of Programs at ICL. She believes that through collective action, we can make social change and build stronger communities, especially through the power of storytelling. Amrit was previously the Education & Training Manager responsible for the day-to-day management of educational training at ICL. She got involved with ICL as a placement student while pursuing her Masters at Toronto Metropolitan University (formerly Ryerson University). She completed her Masters while working at ICL, focusing on issues related to the refugee and immigration system, early childhood education, anti-racism, gender-based violence and more. She is also a facilitator with the Institute for Change Leaders and has completed certification for the Train the Trainer program through the Leading Change Network. Amrit holds a Bachelor’s degree in Criminology and a Master’s degree in Immigration and Settlement Studies at Toronto Metropolitan University.
Alex is the Communications Officer for ICL. A graduate of the University of Manchester, he holds a BA in Modern History and Politics, during which he studied on exchange at the University of Toronto. As a teenager, he developed a passion for social justice when working with the charity Christian Aid, going on to cover student political movements as a journalist and producing a weekly human rights column.
Having previously worked at the UK House of Commons, as a Toronto community journalist and as part of progressive political campaigns in Canada, he is passionate about the communication and tactical strategies needed to achieve lasting progressive change. He believes our stories are the key to transforming our communities for the better, and that hope and optimism never go out of style.
Violet Rudman (she/her) is a fourth-year social work student at Toronto Metropolitan University. Before pursuing her undergraduate degree at TMU, she completed the social service worker program at George Brown College. With a passion for community development and social justice, she hopes to develop her knowledge and skill set further to engage and participate in social change initiatives with the team at ICL. Violet is particularly interested in worker’s rights, healthcare, and movements taking on the affordability crisis in Ontario/Canada. She looks forward to engaging with diverse communities and individuals to learn and grow as a social change advocate.
Krissy comes to ICL with more than 18 years of experience in accounting and financial administration, including in the affordable housing and healthcare sectors.
She provides services and advice in all aspects of financial processes, serves as a staff liaison, and conducts training on financial administration, practices, and issues.
Ms. Hickson is the principal of Hicksons Management, based in Kawartha Lakes, Ontario.
Eishvinder is the Finance Assistant for ICL. She is currently completing her undergraduate studies in Fashion Design at Toronto Metropolitan University (formerly Ryerson University). Her passion for leadership and social change developed from her consistent involvement in student council from a young age. Being involved in student council in grade school helped Eishvinder to value the impact that leadership and advocacy can have in a professional or academic setting. In her leisure time, Eishvinder can be found designing a new outfit or trying out a new recipe she found online!
BSW Placement Student and Outreach Assistant
Luisa Gonzalez (she/her) is a current student at Toronto Metropolitan University in her fourth year of the Bachelor of Social Work program. She brings previous experiences in event management, mentoring, and research, with a particular emphasis on working with Latinx communities. While pursuing her education, Luisa is committed to social justice. Her goal is to foster a more equitable environment for those in need, aligning with ICL's mission of creating positive change for underserved communities.
MSW Placement Student and Outreach Assistant
Katie Choi (she/her) is a registered social worker and a current Advance-Standing MSW at the University of Toronto studying in the Human Services Management and Leadership stream. Katie has various experiences in serving and working with communities of diverse backgrounds. As a front-line worker, she saw the gaps between the managerial level and the front-line workers, recognizing that change needs to happen. Katie entered this stream, hoping to implement one small change at a time. By joining the Institute for Change Leaders, she is learning and exploring different ways of advocacy to close the gap she sees.
Videographer Student Placement and Communications Assistant
Jasper Derhak (he/him) is a Film student attending Toronto Metropolitan University (formerly Ryerson University). He has done photo and video work for multiple clients. Jasper hopes to incorporate his film and photography experience into his work for ICL to spread social change effectively. His main inspiration for his work stems from his love for storytelling, and his passions lie in film, photography, music, and art creation.
Student Placement and Outreach Coordinator
Lawrence Chan (he/him) is a first-year student in the Politics and Governance program at Toronto Metropolitan University. Before coming to Canada to seek asylum, he worked with multiple elected officials and was elected to be a union executive representing hundreds of political workers in Hong Kong. Lawrence is now bringing his fire and passion to Toronto, organizing for a better future for all. Besides politics, you can often find him indulging in football (or soccer in North America).
BSW Placement Student and Outreach Assistant
Fawziyah Chandsa is finishing her 4th year of the Bachelor of Social Work program at Toronto Metropolitan University. Her passion for advocacy and supporting others from a young age has led her down the social services career path. With this drive and her skills from previous volunteer and work experiences with numerous communities, she hopes to continue collaborating with others in various ways to promote tremendous change. As someone who enjoys reading and learning through stories, she believes promoting accessible and relevant information can change lives.
Sandra Whiting has been at the epicentre of activity and change in Toronto’s African Canadian community for over thirty years. She has worked with among others: The Black Business & Professional Association, the Jamaican Canadian Association, The YWCA, Factory Theatre, Obsidian Theatre, The Caribbean Cultural Committee; The Convention Centre; the Broadcast Standards Council and many more organizations as President, Board member and volunteer and is now the President for PACE Canada. She was awarded the Harry Jerome Award for Community Leadership, has received the JCA Award, Pace Canada Pacesetter Award; Community Service awards from the JCA & JN & the Gleaner Company and was featured on the Black History Month Legacy poster as well as being named as one of the 100 ABC Women (Accomplished Black Canadian Women of 2016). She also has her name on a Bench of prominent African Canadian at Harbourfront Centre for her work in the Cultural arts sector. As a writer and storyteller, Sandra uses the arts as a vehicle for change. Sandra now concentrates on being a speaker using personal stories as her means of delivering her message.
Angelique is always enthusiastic about taking action and leading change. She focuses her PhD research on the analysis of women’s economic behaviour ranging from studying the education gap in India to shedding light on the interdependence of economic incentives and violence against women. She is not only a leader on campus but also a leader outside the university through her work for the Institute for Change Leaders, a not-for-profit organisation that partners with local NGOs to lead community organizing training and make people’s voices heard. Angelique understands the importance of belonging and she shares that by being a champion for inclusivity and community building.
I’m an organizer and educator currently based in Toronto after formative spells in Montréal, Peterborough and Eeyou Istchee. I’m equally at home paddling through wetlands, poring over archives, and taking action in the streets. Through my work with the Institute for Change Leaders, I equip teams to connect personal stories with a clearheaded power analysis and make plans that win.
I'm committed to racial justice, decolonization and queer liberation.
My passion for organizing almost matches my obsession with wildlife-friendly gardening, but not quite.
Lyndsay Macdonald is a passionate early childhood educator (ECE) and a full-time professor at Humber College. Mentored by some of Canada's most notable child care advocates, Lyndsay has a deep commitment to a vision of universal, affordable, childcare and professional pay for all early childhood educators. In her spare time, Lyndsay is obsessed with her dog Murray.
Dawn T Maracle, BAH, BEd., MEd.
Indigenous Research Consultant, Trainer, Instructor, Emcee, Facilitator
An award-winning diversity organizer, professional speaker and lifelong activist, Dawn T Maracle is a Mohawk woman from Tyendinaga Mohawk Territory who sits with the Bear Clan. She has consulted with Indigenous communities, organizations, regions, nationally and internationally to facilitate, teach, write curriculum, policy, strategy and communications, to support individuals and groups with Indigenous and interfaith issues. With over two decades of experience working to promote Indigenous health, education, and governance, Dawn is a KAIROS Blanket Exercise Facilitator, Corporate and Master Trainer, and has experience in strategic planning, project management, and educational program development and evaluation. Dawn is the CEO of SKYroots Indigenous Training and Education Institute, as well as the Executive Director of HOPES: Healing Our Peoples through Education and Social (Justice) Indigenous Training Network (not-for-profit).
Dawn’s experience as a Mohawk woman working for decades within and for various Indigenous communities means she has extensive, deep relationships with those communities in Ontario and nationally, as well as internationally. She has worked from grassroots, volunteer positions on many Indigenous Boards of Directors, as well as in national leadership positions such as the Director of Professional Development at the National Centre for First Nations Governance, and the National Chair for the AFN-INAC Post Secondary Education Working Group, as well as on the UNESCO Arts and Education Roundtable.
Duncan Pike is an activist, campaigner, and social movement trainer with a passion for supporting people who are organizing for a more just, fair, and equitable society. Duncan has trained hundreds of new activists and union members on organizing and campaign strategy and tactics. As a campaigner with Canadian Journalists for Free Expression, Duncan led the successful campaign to pass Canada’s first ‘press shield’ law to protect journalists’ sources. A survivor of Hodgkin’s Lymphoma, Duncan organizes with other adolescent and young adult cancer survivors to fight for increased resources for AYA cancer care.
Rizwan Tufail is one of the most experienced members of the ICL teaching team, having taken Marshall Ganz’s curriculum during a full-semester course while studying for his Master’s degree at Harvard’s Kennedy School in 2012. Rizwan teaches ICL's flagship Building Skills for Change workshop and supports the growth of youth, ECEs, African community leaders, and countless other leaders striving to make change across Canada. His dedication and commitment to ICL come from a genuine love for storytelling and a passion for teaching others the skills they need to make the change they want.
Rizwan is a technological wizard with over 25 years working in the industry. He has worked for industry leaders such as Microsoft and Mozilla and runs a public policy consulting house. The need to fight for technological equity drives him to be a change leader. The vast benefits of technological advancement are not experienced by all segments of the population. In our fast-paced world, while most of us are racing ahead, Rizwan fights for those who are being left behind.
Rahat Hossain is a resident physician at the University of Toronto. A trainer and facilitator at the Institute for Change Leaders, he founded HEART (“Health and Equity through Advocacy, Research, and Transformation”), a program which transforms stories gathered from people experiencing marginalization into participatory, research-based theatre as a platform for policymaking. Through HEART, Rahat has been establishing the basis for “health policy by the homeless,” seeking to disrupt how policy is shaped to centre those with lived experience. He also plans and teaches a yearly session on health advocacy for medical students at McMaster University, conducts research in medical education using lived experience and theatre, and is undertaking health services and policy research to enhance knowledge and practice in health care for people experiencing homelessness.
Monica first got involved with ICL through their Black Youth Leadership program. Growing from student to facilitator to event organizer, Monica has always been involved in fighting for a better world. She does it in her neighbourhood as a member of the executive youth organizing board or in her cultural community as Vice-Chair of the Yemba NCR youth faction. If you don’t find her working, reading a book or painting, you're probably not looking at the right place.
Robb Johannes works in program and policy development with Fred Victor in Toronto; co-chairs the St. James Town Service Providers' Network (SJTSPN); sits on the Boards of Directors for the Canadian Alliance to End Homelessness (CAEH) and Working for Change, Executive Committee of Health Promotions Ontario (HPO), advisory councils for the Canadian Association for Suicide Prevention (CASP), and Toronto Police’s Race-Based Data Strategy; and is an Adjunct Professor at both the Factor-Inwentash Faculty of Social Work at the University of Toronto and York University’s School of Social Work. He was Executive Director of the Vancouver Area Network of Drug Users (VANDU), who spearheaded the opening of North America’s first supervised injection facility and worked on successful Supreme Court challenges affirming harm reduction practices, the safety of marginalized women in sex work, and the right of individuals without fixed addresses to vote in federal, provincial, and municipal elections. He coordinated Justice Studies at the Native Education Centre (NEC), Canada’s longest-running Indigenous post-secondary institution, and taught in the School of Criminology and Department of Women’s Studies at Simon Fraser University, where he earned his Master’s Degree. For eight years, he coordinated the Alternatives to Violence Project (AVP), a restorative justice initiative in federal prisons. Sometimes referred to as "Toronto Bono" (as he for over ten years has been lead vocalist of the acclaimed rock band Paint and has a new musical project, “a question of when,” in development), Robb works with Bono's ONE campaign on women's rights and ending extreme poverty internationally.
Erin Filby is an Early Childhood Educator who found her role and calling in Community Organizing through the Institute for Change Leaders.
For the last 3 years Erin has worked with the Association of Early Childhood Educators of Ontario (AECEO) as a Community Organizer.
In her role at the AECEO Erin is tasked with supporting Early Childhood Educators to build supportive communities for themselves where they can find and offer a sense of belonging, agency, and hope.
Erin believes that Educators possess the skills and strengths needed to co-create communities that centre radical care, and that supportive relationships are the best foundations for advocacy and action.
Sabrina has spent the past decade working in the not for profit sector on the environment, politics, and international health. She trained with organizer Marshall Ganz at Harvard in his Leadership, Organizing and Change course, and has facilitated several sessions training organizers working on a variety of progressive issues. Sabrina co-organized the 2014 Canroots East conference in Toronto, bringing over 150 people together to learn about different approaches to organizing, and is co-organizing Canroots East 2016. She volunteers at a do it yourself bike shop and loves teaching people how to fix a flat tire.
Brian Chang, a Gay man living with a disability, is a grassroots organizer who is at home chipping away at the façade of urban elitism and the appropriation of social justice work by those who treat it as a hobby and not a lived experience. An incredibly experienced organizer, he has worked all variety of roles such as Finance Officer and Volunteer Coordinator for the Jennifer Keesmaat campaign for Mayor of Toronto, Director of Operations of Jagmeet Singh’s successful leadership campaign, CFO for Felicia Samuel’s campaign for Scarborough North, and Tour Advancer for Andrea Horwath. A graduate of Innis College, University of Toronto and with a Masters from York University, he is at home in academic discourse or talking in baby-voice to cute puppies. His organizing interests are suburban organizing; ethno-specific, racialized, queer engagement; the environmental policy process; HIV/AIDS & STI/STD prevention; choral music; and music theatre.
Amber is dedicated to social justice and is a strong advocate for progressive organizing. She is a current PhD student in Environmental Applied Science and Management at Ryerson University. Her research focuses on examining environmental justice in urban forest management and decision-making. Amber has been working as a facilitator and educator, both locally and internationally, for the past six years with several non-profits. She is a progressive leader on campus in her roles as a graduate student, course instructor, and writing programs developer. In her spare time, she enjoys riding her bicycle around the city, exploring new parks, playing with dogs, and spending time with her partner and friends.
Amanda grew up hearing about climate change from her parents. She has been involved in environmental initiatives from a young age, but it wasn’t until joining her campus fossil fuel divestment campaign in 2014 that she learned to approach climate activism from a social justice perspective. Working on divestment, she has had the opportunity to engage with related social issues including Indigenous rights, anti-racism, and feminist activism. She came to Project Organize hoping to improve her skills and connect with the broader activist community; now, as a facilitator with the group, she coaches organizers in the skills they need to enact progressive change.
Lisa is a passionate Registered Early Childhood Educator (RECE) and activist. She has been working in early childhood since 2000. She is the team lead for the Early Years Professionals RISE UP T.O. Community of Practice that is championing Early Childhood Educators to fight for Decent Work and Professional Pay in Toronto. She is currently completing her MA in Early Childhood Studies at Ryerson.
Susan Kwong knows that communities are stronger when people come together. From collaborating with diverse stakeholders to facilitate lasting success, to working one-on-one with newcomers and marginalized individuals, she is dedicated to helping build Toronto’s communities. During her eight-year tenure with former City Councillor and Member of Parliament Olivia Chow, Susan helped organize the National Public Transit Strategy; the Children’s Health and Nutrition Initiative; and mandatory side guards on trucks campaign. Throughout Susan’s organizing career, she demonstrated an ability and passion to build partnerships, develop leaders, and take action for social change - whether with fellow organizers to work for social justice, voters to act on their values at the voting booth or standing in solidarity for worker rights and economic justice. With her legendary enthusiasm, Susan has been instrumental in building networks of dedicated volunteers to collaborate with many community development and outreach activities and political campaigns. Susan has a Masters in Social Work, a B.A. (Hons.) in Economics and Labour Studies and a B.A. (Hons.) in Social Work. Susan Kwong currently works at Social Planning Toronto. In her free time, Susan and her camera can be found capturing the beauty of the Canadian outdoors or 36,000 feet in the air, on her way to a new adventure.
Ben started organizing in 2006 after doing a project on climate change in school and feeling shocked by the magnitude of the problem. Ben enrolled in Marshall Ganz's class People, Power, and Change in his fourth year, while simultaneously obtaining a Bachelor of Arts in Social Anthropology. He then brought back his knowledge of organizing to train organizers in the queer, climate, and progressive movements in Toronto and Etobicoke. He is a bit of a dog person.
Alexander Waddling is a grassroots organizer engaging young men and boys on gender equality issues. In 2012 he established Ride For A Dream, an organization that has facilitated various forms of fundraising, educational, and awareness-raising events that address gender inequality in Canada through an intersectional lens. The largest campaign they conducted was an educational speaking tour by bicycle from coast to coast, over 8,400 kilometres, while fundraising for local shelters for women escaping violence. He is also involved in municipal politics, having managed a mayoral campaign, engaged in cycling advocacy, and peer mentorship. More recently he co-organized a project called the 'Meatless Manifesto' to educate on factory farming and its ecological impact, animal rights, and the sexual politics of eating meat, with the intent of engaging men in particular.
Amah Harris B.A., B.Ed, M.Ed
Producer, artistic director, playwright, actress, facilitator, educator, Amah Harris is known as an award winning cultural and social activist. Her work promotes positive imaging of Caribbean and African Peoples towards the Harmonious co-existence of Peoples. Hamilton Spectator: “Amah is a pioneer in the field of Black Theatre in Canada” – quote by Evelyn Myrie, then Co-Chair of The John Holland Awards, one of a list of awards won by Amah Harris. Documented in the book, 100 Accomplished Black Canadian Women (2018), she is an innovator in education and theatre, who has been integrating elements of both disciplines to yield the most productive results from those with whom she works, ranging from professional performers to school students. Amah’s productions and experiential workshops have been experienced by literally hundreds of thousands across Canada, the U.S., Caribbean and as far south as South Africa.
Melanie is a registered social worker who holds an Honours Bachelor of Social Work and a Master of Social Work and brings a wealth of experience from her 13 years of working with non-profit organizations. She works as a psychotherapist with her small private practice and as a researcher interested in mental health and addictions. Melanie first became involved with ICL by taking a Building Skills for Change workshop in April 2019. With her passion for community engagement and commitment to striving for social justice, Melanie found a home working with ICL. She strives to meaningfully engage with ICL Alumni and facilitate continued relevant participation in ICL activities.
Andreea is a professional communicator passionate about using storytelling to create conversation and community. She is involved with the Ryerson community in many different capacities. She has served as a Content Specialist with the Centre for Communication Knowledge (CCK) as well as a Recruitment Communications Intern with the MPC. She has also worked in corporate communications for Hamilton’s Horizon Utilities Corporation.
She brings a broad mix of academic and corporate communications experience to the table, along with a very hard working attitude and passion for giving back to the community.
Abigail heads up communications for the Alumni Exec, and is also ICL’s videographer and social media coordinator. As an undergrad student in Ryerson’s Film Studies program, she hopes to utilize the powers of film and social media in her activism and use them positively for social change. She’s previously worked in the non-for- profit sector, and is incredibly passionate about art, justice, and the ways they intersect.
Jay is a Disability Justice Advocate, Human rights activist, and Community and political organizer.
Damineh holds a Bachelor of Engineering in Mechanical Engineering and a Bachelor of Science in Physics as well as an MBA in International Business from the University of Victoria. She is a Senior Aerospace Engineer at Viking Air Ltd. and a Founder and CEO of Global Women in STEM Inc.promoting equality for women and underrepresented groups in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) on the global stage through education, advocacy, and action.
Damineh is passionate about the advancement of women and other underrepresented groups in STEM fields, and involvement of children and youth in STEM subjects. She has been an advocate for diversity, equity, and inclusion for women in STEM, and a champion for women in Engineering for the past 17 years, a passion that has grown over the years especially after becoming a mother.
Damineh became involved with ICL by taking the Building Skills for Change workshop in April 2021. As the Co-Chair of the ICL Alumni Association, she is excited about bringing the ICL community together to create strong connections and build lasting change.
Adenike is a recent graduate of Seneca College of Applied Arts and Technology where she obtained a diploma in Early-Childhood Education. While at Seneca she was a peer mentor for two semesters and participated in the Virtual Leadership Institute in 2020 and 2021. She also served as the first Secretary of the Seneca Student Federation (SSF) Career Preparation Club and provided academic guidance to a number of her peers. She is very passionate about innovation and Universal Design for Learning (UDL) in childhood education. ICL’s 2021 virtual training on how to utilize the power of stories in achieving a particular change in the world has broadened her perspectives on the knitty-gritty of an effective tactic she could use to advocate for worthy cause she is passionate about. With this knowledge, she feels empowered to unite her voice with other educators to advocate for changes in the broader social conditions that impact families; campaign for a proper balance in the ratios of qualified and unqualified staff in licensed child care centres; lobby for increase funding for child care centres, and see a bridge in the wage gap between teachers and educators. She looks forward to great accomplishments with the ICL Team.
The Institute for Change Leaders is a Canadian registered charity that can issue official donation receipts (no. 763310679 RR 0001). ICL is brought to you by the Faculty of Community Services at Toronto Metropolitan University.