Equity Leaders Pre-Conference

Navigating Uncertainty, Leading Equity Transformation in Higher Education

October 11, 2023

We invite you to the inaugural gathering of Senior Equity Leaders in Canada, “Navigating Uncertainty, Leading Equity Transformation in Higher Education,” which will be held at the University of Calgary on 11 October 2023. This pre-conference event will be immediately followed by the 2023 Canadian Association for the Prevention of Discrimination and Harassment in Higher Education (CAPDHHE) Conference on the evening of 11 October to 13 October.

We are pleased to be co-hosting this inaugural gathering of Senior Equity Leaders (e.g. vice presidents, vice provosts, and associate vice presidents) and invite faculty-level Equity Leaders (e.g. associate deans, faculty directors), as well as institutional executive directors, directors, and senior advisors of Equity Offices to join us. This pre-conference, with a keynote and professional development workshops, will be a targeted, private gathering for Equity Leaders to come together for in-camera sessions, deepen our networks, as well as to discuss persistent and emerging issues, challenges, and roadblocks that we are all navigating in our efforts to lead equity transformation.

Importantly, we also want to explore trends, innovations, and opportunities to ignite transformation through collaboration and strategize how best to respond to the ever-changing landscape we find ourselves in. We believe these candid conversations are urgently needed and will be instrumental in our ability to lead the strategic advancement of EDI on our campuses.

Dr. Malinda Smith (UCalgary) and Dr. Tanya (Toni) De Mello (TMU)
Co-Chairs of the Inaugural meeting of Senior Equity Leaders

Nous vous inviter à la rencontre inaugurale des cadres supérieurs en équité au Canada, « Navigating Uncertainty, Leading Equity Transformation in Higher Education », qui aura lieu à l’Université de Calgary le 11 octobre 2023. Cet événement pré-conférence sera immédiatement suivi par la conférence 2023 de l’Association canadienne pour la prévention de la discrimination et du harcèlement dans l’enseignement supérieur (CAPDHHE) dans la soirée du 11 au 13 octobre.

Nous sommes heureux d’organiser conjointement ce rassemblement inaugural de leaders principaux de l’équité (p. ex. vice-présidents, vice-recteurs et vice-présidents associés) et invitons les leaders de l’équité au niveau du corps professoral (p. ex. doyens associés, directeurs de faculté), ainsi que les directeurs exécutifs institutionnels, les directeurs et les conseillers principaux des bureaux de l’équité à se joindre à nous. Cette préconférence avec un discours principal et des ateliers de perfectionnement professionnel sera un rassemblement privé ciblé pour les leaders de l’équité afin de se réunir pour des séances à huis clos, d’approfondir nos réseaux, ainsi que de discuter des problèmes, des défis et des obstacles persistants et émergents que nous traversons tous dans nos efforts pour diriger la transformation de l’équité.

Il est important de noter que nous voulons également explorer les tendances et les innovations, les possibilités de déclencher la transformation grâce à la collaboration et élaborer des stratégies sur la meilleure façon de répondre au paysage en constante évolution dans lequel nous nous trouvons. Nous croyons que ces conversations franches sont nécessaires de toute urgence et qu’elles contribueront à notre capacité de diriger l’avancement stratégique de l’EDI sur nos campus.

Dre Malinda Smith (UCalgary) et Dre Tanya (Toni) De Mello (TMU))
Coprésidents de la réunion inaugurale des agents principaux de l’équité

Malinda S Smith, PhD, LLD (Hons) Vice-Provost & Associate Vice President Research (Equity, Diversity, Inclusion) Professor, Political Science Office of Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion University of Calgary

Dr. Malinda S. Smith
Vice Provost and Associate Vice President Research (EDI)
University of Calgary

Dr. Malinda Smith is the inaugural Vice Provost and Associate Vice President of Research (Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion) and a full professor of political science at the University of Calgary. Prior to joining UCalgary, she was a full professor of political science at the University of Alberta, where she held various roles, including Provost Fellow (EDI Policy) in the Office of the Provost and Associate Chair (Graduate Studies) in the Department of Political Science.

Dr. Smith has served on numerous higher education governance committees, including Vice President (Equity Issues) for the Canadian Federation for the Humanities and Social Sciences and Chair of the Equity, Diversity and Inclusion External Review Committee for the Canada Research Chairs. Currently, she serves on SSHRC Governing Council and Executive; as Vice Chair of the Inter-Institutional Advisory Committee for the Scarborough Charter, on Statistics Canada’s Immigration and Ethnocultural Statistics Advisory Committee; and Innovation, Science and Economic Development Canada’s External EDI Advisory Board.

Dr. Smith is the coauthor, editor, or coeditor of 7 books, numerous articles, book chapters and reports and has given dozens of invited keynotes and public lectures in the areas of equity, diversity, human rights, and decolonization in higher education, African political economy, and international relations. Dr. Smith is the coauthor of The Equity Myth: Racialization and Indigeneity at Canadian Universities (2017); coeditor of Critical Concepts: An Introduction to Politics (OUP 2023); the Nuances of Blackness in the Canadian Academy (UofT Press, 2022); States of Race: Critical Race Feminism for the 21st Century (BTL 2010). and three books on Africa, including Securing Africa: Post-9/11 Discourses on Terrorism (2010).

Dr. Smith is the recipient of numerous awards and fellowships, including Calgary Black Chambers’ Lifetime Achievement Award (2023), an Honorary Doctorate of Laws from Simon Fraser University (2021), Compelling Calgarians (2021), the International Studies Association’s  Women’s Caucus’s Susan S. Northcutt Award (2020), 100 Accomplished Black Women Honouree (2020), the ISA-Canada Distinguished Scholar Award (2018-19), P.E. Trudeau Foundation Fellow (2018), the HSBC Community Contributor of the Year Award (2016); and the Canadian Association of University Teachers’ Equity Award  (2015).

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Dr. Tanya (Toni) De Mello (she/her), Vice-President, Equity and Community Inclusion Toronto Metropolitan University (recently renamed)*

Dr. Tanya (Toni) De Mello
Vice-President, Equity and Community Inclusion
Toronto Metropolitan University 

With a background comprising finance, management consulting and law, Tanya (Toni) De Mello has spent much of her career focusing on and researching equity, diversity and inclusion (EDI). She is a human rights lawyer and a certified coach and mediator. She has taught at the University of Toronto, Toronto Metropolitan University (TMU) and several Colleges. She has worked at TMU as the Director of Human Rights and then at Lincoln Alexander School of Law, Canada's newest law school. She is currently the Vice-President, Equity and Community Inclusion at TMU. She has worked with over 100 organizations in training, consulting and supporting them in their EDI journey.

In addition to founding two NGOs, Toni has served in the United Nations High Commission for Refugees and the World Food Programme in Geneva, Senegal and Columbia. Toni holds a dual Bachelor of Economics and Political Science from the University of Waterloo, a double Master's in Public Policy and Urban and Regional Planning from Princeton University, a dual law degree from McGill University and a Master of Counselling and Psychotherapy from the University of Toronto. She also completed her doctorate at the University of Toronto, where she researched bias in hiring in Canada.

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Jon Cornish

Mr. Jon Cornish
University of Calgary

Canadian Football Hall of Famer and community leader Jon Cornish was elected the 15th chancellor of the University of Calgary, effective July 1, 2022.

Cornish is most known for his legendary nine years as a member of the Calgary Stampeders in the Canadian Football League where he was selected as the top Canadian player for three years consecutively, Most Outstanding Player in 2013, and led his team to two Grey Cup championships. In recognition of his Kansas University football career, where he still holds numerous records, the Jon Cornish Trophy is awarded annually to the best Canadian NCAA Football player.

During and after this unmatched Canadian Football Hall of Fame career, where he was only the second football player to win the Lou Marsh Trophy as Canada’s top athlete, Cornish spent the last nine years in various wealth management roles, working as a consultant and was a part of a top-ranked private investment counsel wealth team. He is now an investment advisor and team lead at RBC Dominion Securities, where he is responsible for building relationships, providing wealth management guidance, and holistic, goal-oriented financial planning so his clients can realize their best lives.

Cornish works with various non-profits and charities around Calgary, including many events as an emcee for the Alberta Children's Hospital, working directly with at-risk youth for Wood's Homes, and at the Calgary Foundation, where he serves on Doc Seaman Hockey Fund. He also continues to work with the Calgary Stampeders as their gameday ambassador. Cornish is president and founder of the Calgary Black Chambers, a non-profit working to make Calgary the best place to live and work for BIPOC people. The Calgary Black Chambers provided over $60,000 in scholarships to help university students and supported 300 high school students with skill training to aid in their careers and life journeys over the last two years.

Arig al Shaibah, Ph.D., Associate Vice-President, Equity and Inclusion Campus: UBC Vancouver Pronouns: She, her, hers

Dr. Arig al Shaibah
Associate Vice-President, Equity and Inclusion
University of British Columbia

Dr. Arig al Shaibah is the Associate Vice President (Equity and Inclusion) at The University of British Columbia. She has broad and deep experiences advancing equity, diversity, and inclusion (EDI) in community and in higher education, where she has worked to action commitments to addressing systemic inequities, promoting intercultural dialogue, and fostering accessible, inclusive, and dignified learning and working spaces where campus community members can thrive.

As a member of the President’s and Provosts’ leadership teams, the AVPEI has a broad mandate to champion inclusive excellence and lead pan-institutional efforts to action UBC’s commitments to equity and antiracism priorities, as well as to promote and support university-wide capacity building for sustained systems change across both Vancouver and Okanagan campuses.

Holding a PhD in Education (Cultural and Policy Studies) and a master’s degree in public administration, Dr. al Shaibah describes herself as a scholar-practitioner. Dr. al Shaibah has amassed nearly 15 years of experience working as a senior administrator in three Canadian research-intensive universities advancing accessibility, employment equity, and inclusive excellence goals. She served as McMaster University’s inaugural Associate Vice-President Equity & Inclusion, as Dalhousie University’s Vice-Provost Student Affairs and Interim Executive Director for the Human Rights & Equity Services, and as Queen’s University’s Assistant Dean Student Life and Learning as well as Assistant Dean Residence Life, Diversity, and Community Development.

Recently, Dr. al Shaibah’s EDI leadership was recognized with the 2021 Angela Hildyard Award in Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion granted by the Senior Women Academic Administrators of Canada.

Stephanie Simpson

Ms. Stephanie Simpson
Vice-Principal (Culture, Equity, and Inclusion)
Queen's University

Stephanie Simpson has been a member of the Queen’s University Community since 1996, starting in the portfolios of anti-racism advisor and education coordinator and increasing in responsibility since. She was most recently appointed in June 2023 as the Vice Principal (Culture, Equity and Inclusion). In this role, Stephanie leads the Offices of Human Rights and Equity, Indigenous Initiatives, Ombuds and Complaints and Investigations.  Stephanie plays a key role in fostering both competence and legislative compliance around matters such as inclusivity, diversity, accessibility, human rights, and equity on Queen’s campus.

Stephanie holds a Master of Education degree and a Master of Laws degree from Queen’s. Her research has focused on how racism and processes of racialization affect youth in smaller urban centres such as Kingston, as well as adjudicative silences with respect to racial inequality and access to justice for racial equality seekers.

During her academic career she was active as a student in the African Caribbean Students Association, the Southern Africa Solidarity Group, and was a founding member of the Queen's Black History Collective. An engaged community member, she is a founding member and past Co-ordinator of Black History Month Kingston and is a longstanding member of the Black Inmates and Friends Assembly. Stephanie currently represents Queen's on the Kingston Immigration Partnership Operations.

Stephanie is a sought after speaker on issues related to anti-racism, anti-oppression, social justice and domestic human rights. She has provided consultation and education services to a wide range of community partners, including Interval House, Limestone District School Board and Kingston General Hospital, among many others. Stephanie has been a well-respected leader on Equity, Diversity and Inclusion for many years.

Yabome Gilpin-Jackson

Dr. Yabome Gilpin-Jackson
Vice-President, People, Equity and Inclusion
Simon Fraser University

Throughout her career, Dr. Yabome Gilpin-Jackson (she/her/hers) has helped people and organizations advance Equity and belonging in workplaces and society through her work as a scholar and practitioner in Leadership and Organization development.

Prior to SFU, Gilpin-Jackson served as chief people officer of the British Columbia Lottery Corporation, executive director of organizational development for Fraser Health and regional lead of organization development for Vancouver Coastal Health. She is the founder of Supporting Learning and Development Consulting Inc., which has helped organizations advance leadership and development and create processes for systemic and social change. Gilpin-Jackson holds a MA and PhD in human and organizational systems from Fielding Graduate University, well as an MBA and undergraduate degree from SFU Beedie School of Business.
She is an associate faculty member at Beedie. The author of several books, book chapters and journal articles, Gilpin-Jackson is a well-known presenter on equity, organization development and systems change, leadership and Black identity.

She is a global and multi-award recipient, including in Canada, the Harry Jerome Professional Excellence Award in 2018, the 2021 runner-up Woman of the Year: Equity and Inclusion Champion by BCBusiness magazine and the 2022 Top 100 Black Women to Watch.

Awad Ibrahim

Dr. Awad Ibrahim
Full Professor,Vice-Provost, Equity, Diversity and Inclusive Excellence
Holder of the Air Canada Professorship on Anti-Racism
University of Ottawa

Awad Ibrahim is the Air Canada Professor in Anti-racism. He is a Curriculum Theorist with special interest in critical Black studies, Hip-Hop, youth and Black popular culture, social justice, cultural studies, social foundations (i.e., philosophy, history and sociology of education), community service learning, diasporic and continental African identities, ethnography and applied linguistics. He has researched and published widely in these areas. Professor Ibrahim obtained his PhD from OISE, the University of Toronto, and has been with the Faculty of Education of the University of Ottawa since 2007. Before that, he taught at Bowling Green State University in Ohio, USA.

His immediate projects include Air Canada Professorship projects (including anti-racism in the workplace, arts and anti-racism, Project Citizen and Black youth experience in schools), a study of Ontario's equity policy and Black youth experience at the university. He initiated the Urban Education Cohort within the Faculty of Education and the Hard Conversation about equity and race relation among principals at OCDSB.

With more than 100 publications, his books include: Nuances of Blackness in the Canadian academy: Teaching, learning, and researching while Black (2022, with Kitossa, Smith & Wright); Disruptive learning narrative framework: Analyzing race, power and privilege in post-secondary international service learning (2022, with Sharma & Allen); Black immigrants in North America: Essays on race, immigration, identity, language, Hip-Hop, pedagogy, and the politics of becoming Black ( 2020); Black immigrants in the United State: Essays on the politics of race, language, and voice (2020, with Cooper); In this together: Blackness, Indigeneity and Hip-Hop (2019, with Hudson & Recollet); Internationalizing curriculum studies: Histories, environments, and critiques (2019, with Hébert, Ng-A-Fook, & Smith); The education of African Canadian children: Critical perspectives (2016, with Abdi); Provoking curriculum studies: Strong poetry and the arts of the possible (2016, with Ng-A-Fook & Reis) ; The Rhizome of Blackness: A critical ethnography of Hip-Hop culture, language, identity and the politics of becoming (2014); Critical Youth studies: A reader (2014, with Steinberg); and Global Linguistic Flows: Hip-Hop Cultures, Youth Identities, and the Politics of Language (2009, with Alim & Pennycook).

For high school students, he is known as Dr. Dre.

Ms. Jacquline Lacesse

Ms. Jacqueline Lacasse, JD
General Counsel, Office of the General Counsel
University of Calgary

Jacqueline Lacasse leads legal services, labour relations, secretariat, and the office of protected disclosure and research integrity for the University of Calgary as the General Counsel. Reporting to the President, she is a member of the executive leadership team.

Jacqueline started working at the University of Calgary in 2012 and most recently served as the university’s Associate Vice-President (Labour Relations). Prior to joining the University of Calgary in 2012, Jacqueline practiced labour and employment law with a national law firm and was in-house legal counsel for Alberta Health Services before returning to private practice with a boutique litigation and labour firm.

Since 2016, Jacqueline has been a member of the Alberta Labour Relations Board and has routinely been asked to sit as a board member hearing complex legal matters. In addition, Jacqueline sits as a sector representative on the Treasury Board’s Labour Relations Advisory Committee and has been a guest speaker and panelist for both the Association of Corporate Counsel and the Lancaster Labour Arbitration Conference.

Lacasse holds a Bachelor of Arts in Economics from McGill University and a Juris Doctor from the University of Calgary.

Amy Nixon

Ms. Amy Nixon, B.Kin, B.A., LL.B., GPC.D, OLY
General Counsel and University Secretary
Mount Royal University

Amy Nixon is Mount Royal University’s first General Counsel and University Secretary.  Reporting to the President, with a dotted-line responsibility to the Chair of the Board of Governors, she is a member of the executive team responsible for governance, legal, risk, privacy, safe disclosure and information management functions. Amy Nixon started working at Mount Royal University in 2011 as Legal Counsel and then Senior Legal Counsel.  Following, she served as Chief of Staff to the President, and University Solicitor, previous to her current role.

Amy is a strong legal professional with a Bachelor of Laws (LL.B.) from The University of Calgary, is an active member of the Law Society of Alberta and holds a Governance Professionals of Canada Designation (GPC.D).

Outside of Mount Royal, Amy has been an active volunteer and board member. Amy is a retired competitive curler and Olympic medalist. She is an avid outdoors-person who can be found in the mountains trying to keep up to her daughter on the ski hill in the winter and on the lake in the summer.

Shannon Dea

Dr. Shannon Dea
Professor and Dean of Arts
University of Regina

Shannon Dea is Dean of Arts and Professor of Philosophy at the University of Regina. She is the creator of University Affairs’ “Dispatches on Academic Freedom” column and the author of multiple scholarly and semi-popular pieces on academic and expressive freedom. She is also the author of Beyond the Binary: Thinking About Sex and Gender (Broadview, 2016, with a revised, expanded second edition currently in press) and of numerous articles and book chapters on pragmatism, history of philosophy, social philosophy and gender studies. She is a recipient of the University of Waterloo's Distinguished Teacher Award, UW Faculty of Arts' Excellence in Teaching Award and the Ontario Women’s Directorate’s Leading Women Building Communities Award. 

Shannonis a settler who grew up on the traditional territory of the St. Lawrence Iroquois, Omàmiwininiwak (Algonquin), and Huron-Wendat peoples on land covered by the Upper Canada Treaties. Today, she lives and works on Treaty 4, the territory of the nêhiyawak, Anihšināpēk, Dakota, Lakota and Nakoda, and the homeland of the Métis/Michif nation.

Dr. Evelyn Hamond

Dr. Evelyn Hamdon
Senior Advisor, Equity & Human Rights, Provost & Vice-President Academic - Admin
University of Alberta

Dr. Evelyn Hamdon is the Senior Advisor, Equity and Human Rights, in the Office of the Provost and is a member of the EDI team led by Vice Provost (EDI), Dr. Carrie Smith. Combining over 25 years of practical EDI experience with a PhD in Educational Policy Studies, she brings both current theory and informed practice to her work.

Evelyn’s research and practice are grounded in intersectional, anti-racism, and post-colonial feminist theories which she uses to examine social exclusion in organizational and learning spaces. She has developed rich insights into identifying and addressing performative EDI work and supporting organizations in moving from performance to substantive change.

Prior to holding her current position, Evelyn was an advisor and Acting Director in the Office of Safe Disclosure and Human Rights (University of Alberta), and before coming to the U of A she worked for over 20 years as an educational and strategic consultant in equity, diversity, inclusion, and anti-racism. Her clients included all levels of government, not-for-profit and for-profit organizations, and businesses. Evelyn has extensive experience in education, strategic planning, audits, and evaluation as they relate to EDI and anti-racism work.

In addition to her work at the U of A, Evelyn currently serves as President of the Canadian Association for the Prevention of Discrimination and Harassment in Higher Education (CAPDHHE), an association of equity, diversity, inclusion (EDI) and human rights practitioners that centre on the dignity of the individual and work to foster equity, diversity, and inclusion on Canada’s post-secondary campuses (physical and virtual).

While passionately committed to social justice Evelyn also tries to live a life of balance and spends as much time as possible with her hands in the dirt or on a paintbrush. Her movement practices include swimming and long meandering walks in forests. She has two amazing children, both of whom are musicians and one of whom is a builder and maker of things and the other of whom is an ethnomusicologist. They are her best teachers and inspire her to keep going.

Dr. Tanya De Mello

Dr. Tanya (Toni) De Mello
Vice President, Equity and Community Inclusion Vice President, Equity and Community Inclusion
Toronto Metropolitan University

Dr. Malinda Smith

Dr. Malinda S. Smith, LLD (Hons)
Professor and Vice-Provost & Associate Vice President Research (Equity, Diversity, Inclusion), Office of Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion
University of Calgary

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Hon. Kirsty Duncan, PMP

The Honourable Kirsty Duncan
Member of Parliament
Etobicoke North, Ontario

Dr. Verna St. Denis

Dr. Verna St. Denis
Professor Emerita of Education
Special Advisor to the President on Anti-Racism and Anti-Oppression
University of Saskatchewan

Adelle Blackett

Dr. Adelle Blackett, F.R.S.C., Ad. E
Professor of Law and the Canada Research Chair (Tier 1) in Transnational Labour Law and Development, Faculty of Law
McGill University