About our team

Office of Equity, Diversity and Inclusion

Our mandate

Students, faculty and staff participate in the Disability Interactive Zone

Students, faculty and staff participate in the Disability Interactive Zone, an interactive session consisting of simulated exercises designed to mimic the various barriers that persons with disabilities may experience in the workplace and everyday life, during Diversity Week 2017.

  • Upholding and facilitating the university campus as a place for creative, respectful, constructive debate or dialogue about controversial issues in a safe environment; supporting healthy conflict

  • Fostering the understanding of different points of view

  • Fostering a community of change makers

  • Supporting the development of future leaders able to work effectively in a pluralistic society by acquiring intercultural competence

  • Developing an integrated strategic plan to continue building a welcoming and inclusive campus community

  • Ensuring each individual feels valued for his or her skills, abilities and contributions

  • Providing a centralized resource for diversity and inclusion information/resources and to link related initiatives/programs across campus

  • Providing a safe and confidential space for individuals to discuss protected disclosure matters, e.g., breaches of ethical conduct including alleged breaches of research integrity; (sexual) harassment, and/or discrimination.


Our team

Dr. Malinda S. Smith

Dr. Malinda S. Smith 

Inaugural Vice Provost (Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion), and a professor of political science at the University of Calgary.

Dr. Smith has published widely in areas of international and comparative politics, and equity, diversity, and human rights in higher education. She is a coauthor of The Equity Myth: Racialization and Indigenity at Canadian Universities (2017), and a coeditor of the forthcoming book, Nuances of Blackness in the Canadian Academy (UofT Press, 2021). She is the editor of three books on Africa, including Securing Africa: Post-9/11 Discourses on Terrorism (2010), Beyond the African Tragedy: Discourses on Development and the Global Economy (2006), and Globalizing Africa (2003); as well as coeditor of Critical Concepts: An Introduction to Politics, 6/E under revision with OUP; and States of Race: Critical Race Feminism for the 21st Century (2010).

Dr. Smith is a 2018 Pierre Elliott Trudeau Foundation Fellow and the recipient of  numerous awards and fellowships, including the Susan S. Northcutt Award from the International Studies Association (2020), 100 Accomplished Black Women Honouree (2020), and the Rosalind Smith Professional Award (2020) from the National Black Coalition of Canada-Edmonton, the Distinguished Scholar Award (2018-19) from International Studies Association-Canada, the HSBC Community Contributor of the Year Award (2016) from the Canadian Centre for Diversity & Inclusion; and the Equity Award from the Canadian Association of University Teachers (2015).

  • More training, education needed to fight systemic racism in public institutions, say Black scholars at U of A UAlberta News Read more.
  • Equity, Diversity & Inclusion are at the core of Dr. Malinda Smith's research RonFanFair Read more.

Ms. Svetlana Ponic

Ms. Svetlana Ponic, BA (she/her)

Ms. Ponic works in the Office of the Provost, as the Executive Assistant to the Vice-Provost Equity, Diversity and Inclusion. She holds bachelor degree in Communication and Public Relations from the University Institute for Modern Languages (IULM) in Milano, Italy. Since 2015 her work at the University of Calgary has focused on the International portfolio, in support of the Vice-Provost (International). In 2020 she is thrilled to join the Office of EDI given her values and passion for EDI issues.


Dr. William Yimbo, EDI Education

Dr. William Yimbo, BA, MA, PhD (he/him)

Dr. William Yimbo is the Education Specialist in the Office of Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion. He holds a BA in Political Science and Economics from the University of Nairobi, Kenya, a graduate diploma in International Relations from the Institute of Social Studies in the Netherlands, an MA in Public Affairs, and a PhD in Mass Communication from the University of Minnesota, USA.

As EDI Education Specialist, Dr. Yimbo develops and delivers equity, diversity, and inclusion workshops to staff, faculty, and students across the university. He previously worked as a diversity advisor in immigration and settlement services. In this role, he delivered diversity education and advocated for equity and inclusivity in government services for Canada’s newcomer communities. Dr. Yimbo has an extensive career background and experience in the public and foreign policy administration in Kenya, Africa.


Carla Bertsch

Ms. Carla Bertsch, BJUS, BA, MSW, RSW (she/her)

Ms. Bertsch is the EDI Sexual Violence Support Advocate, is a queer, Cree, cis gender woman who holds bachelor degrees in Political Science and Justice Studies, as well as a master’s degree in Social Work. She is guided by her social work education and 20 years of professional experience working in gender-based violence, education and mental health.  Carla brings an intersectional, trauma-informed perspective to her role championing the needs of anyone impacted by sexual violence and promises a safe space for people of all genders, sexualities and backgrounds. 

As the EDI Sexual Violence Support Advocate, she serves as a primary point of contact for all members of the University community who are impacted by sexual violence, and advocates for those community members by providing independent, impartial and confidential emotional support including effective referrals to resources on and off campus, navigating and negotiating necessary accommodations on behalf of impacted individuals.

Ms. Bertsch also leads education initiatives and delivers workshops on sexual violence, prevention, consent, gender equity, and gender socialization to inform and empower the campus community, who are working together, to end gender-based violence.  Carla is a strong advocate for all oppressed communities, knowing that our liberation, equity, and just treatment in all aspects of life, is connected.


Image of Furyal Hussain

Ms. Furyal Hussain (she/her)

Furyal is the Anti-Racism Research Assistant at the Office of Equity, Diversity and Inclusion (EDI). She is currently completing her Bachelor of Arts in Law & Society with a minor in Political Science and graduating this Summer. Since 2019, she has been very involved in local and on-campus volunteering initiatives. She volunteers at the Calgary Courthouse and works with diverse people every day which fuels her passion for equality and social justice. Furyal is thrilled to be a part of the EDI team as she is very enthusiastic about justice and equality issues.