The Honourable Ratna Omidvar, C.M., O.Ont.
Senator, Senate of Canada
Distinguished Visiting Professor, Global Diversity Exchange (GDX), Ted Rogers School of Management, Ryerson University
Ratna Omidvar is an internationally recognized expert on migration, diversity and inclusion. She came to Canada from Iran in 1981 and her own experiences of displacement, integration and citizen engagement have been the foundation of her work. In April 2016, Prime Minister Trudeau appointed Ratna to the Senate of Canada as an independent Senator representing Ontario.
Ratna is the founding Executive Director and currently a Distinguished Visiting Professor at the Global Diversity Exchange (GDX), Ted Rogers School of Management, Ryerson University. GDX is a think-and-do tank on diversity, migration and inclusion that connects local experience and ideas with global networks. It is dedicated to building a community of international leaders who see prosperity in migration. Previously, Ratna was the President of Maytree, where she played a lead role in local, national and international efforts to promote the integration of immigrants.
Ratna is a director at the Environics Institute, and Samara Canada. She is the Toronto Region Immigrant Employment Council’s Chair Emerita as past the Chair of Lifeline Syria.
Ratna is co-author of Flight and Freedom: Stories of Escape to Canada (2015), an Open Book Toronto best book of 2015 and one of the Toronto Star’s top five good reads from Word on the Street. She is also co-editor of Five Good Ideas: Practical Strategies for Non-Profit Success (2011). Ratna received an Honorary Degree, Doctor of Laws, York University in 2012.
Ratna was appointed to the Order of Ontario in 2005 and became a Member of the Order of Canada in 2011, with both honours recognizing her advocacy work on behalf of immigrants and devotion to reducing inequality in Canada. In 2014, Ratna received the Cross of the Order of Merit of the Federal Republic of Germany in recognition of her contribution to the advancement of German-Canadian relations.
Ratna has also been recognized by Canada’s national newspaper, The Globe and Mail, by being named as its Nation Builder of the Decade for Citizenship in 2010. Ratna was named to the inaugural Global Diversity List sponsored by The Economist magazine in 2015, as one of the Top 10 Diversity Champions worldwide. In 2016, CivicAction awarded Ratna with their Lifetime Achievement Award for Civic Leadership in the Greater Toronto Area.
Claire is Program Assistant, DiverseCity onBoard at the Global Diversity Exchange where she provides support for the National and GTA DiverseCity onBoard programs. Previously, Claire has worked with Citizenship and Immigration Canada, the Canadian Red Cross Disaster Management and First Contact programs and settlement services in Vancouver. Claire holds a Master of Arts in Immigration and Settlement Studies from Ryerson University where she researched people smuggling policy and the discourse surrounding refugee migration. Claire also holds a Bachelor of Arts in Sociology from the University of British Columbia.
Research Project Coordinator
Evelyn Siu is the Project Coordinator for Cities of Migration and manages the Learning Exchange, a series of international webinars, convenings, and conferences. She was a former Artistic Associate at the Harbourfront Centre where she produced and curated international arts festivals, led community partnerships with culturally diverse organizations, and co-wrote the youth engagement strategy. Evelyn has worked for Diaspora Dialogues, Ballet Creole, and is an active volunteer in Toronto’s nonprofit cultural sector. She is a Board Member of the Toronto Reel Asian International Film Festival, and served as an Advisory Member to the Cultural Pluralism in the Arts program at the University of Toronto. She holds an honours BA degree with a specialist designation in Arts Management from the University of Toronto.
Serene is Curriculum Developer at DiverseCity onBoard, She works on developing the Governance Training program and conducts research that advocates for diversity in Canada’s leadership. Serene was previously a Policy Associate at the Mowat Centre, and has contributed to research on the Poverty and Employment Precarity in Southern Ontario CURA project. She is also a Sessional Lecturer in the Canadian Studies and Contemporary Asian Studies programs at the University of Toronto, and is co-author of Diaspora Nation: an inquiry into the economic potential of diaspora networks in Canada. Serene holds a PhD in Geography from York University.
Senior Research Associate
Kim Turner is Senior Research Associate at the Global Diversity Exchange where she leads the Cities of Migration program, working with local researchers, practitioners and international partners and networks to identify and share promising practices and policy innovations that drive immigrant integration, inclusion and urban prosperity. Before joining Maytree to launch the Cities of Migration project in 2008, Kim led the national Nonprofit Library Commons project at Imagine Canada (formerly the Canadian Centre for Philanthropy), developing networks and tools to support capacity building in Canada’s community sector. Kim’s background includes working with Francophone, Deaf and First Nations communities in Ontario’s adult literacy sector at AlphaPlus, where she also served as national advisory member and online editor for the Canadian Literacy Thesaurus/ Le Thésaurus canadien d’alphabétisation. Kim holds a Master of Information Science and a Master of Arts in Art History from The University of Toronto.
Senior Research Associate
Cathy Winter is the Project Leader, DiverseCity onBoard at the Global Diversity Exchange. The objective of the program is to change the face of leadership by connecting qualified visible minorities and under-represented immigrants to governance positions in the non profit and public sectors. Cathy is a National Board Member, YMCA Canada and Member of its Governance Committee; a Member of the Board of Directors of the Anne Johnston Health Station, where she chairs the Nominations Committee and is a Member of the Strategic Planning and Quality Committee. She is a former Member of the Allocations and Agency Services Committee of the United Way of Toronto Board of Trustees, a Member of United Way of Toronto’s Agency Review Committee, and serves on United Way of Toronto committees. Cathy holds a Bachelor of Arts, a Masters of Economics, and a Masters of Industrial Relations.