Back in May 2012, two panel discussions explored the role that gender plays in our discussions about Toronto politics. The electricity in the room was palpable – and it sparked a dialogue that we had no idea would turn into an organization, a community. But here we are: Women in Toronto Politics, three years later, hosting workshops and karaoke nights and mixers and creating online resources and metaphorically dedicating Shania Twain’s “Still the One” to each other as we move together toward a gender-inclusive civic future. WiTOpoli: we’re still together, still going strong <3
As we move toward that future, it becomes clearer just how big the scope of our work needs to be, and how many different heads and hearts and hands we need to do it. So our steering committee went looking for operations team leads in four areas: Programs, Equity, Communications and Development. We found so many awesome women that it was, tbqh, impossible to choose only four people – and besides, eight heads are better than four. And we’re preeeeeeetty sure 14 heads are better than eight.
So without further ado, here are the 14 heads (and hearts and hands) who we’re proud to announce are taking the reins and leading WiTOpoli – and our community – toward a more inclusive civic future.
Rudayna Bahubeshi, Program Co-Lead
Rudayna is passionate about learning, conversations about social change that amplify marginalized voices, Toronto’s arts and culture offerings, and civic engagement, but she’s most excited about bustin’ broken systems in our city wide open with you.
Kate Bangay, Program Co-Lead
Kate is an idea explorer and knowledge collector who is deeply committed to pedestrianism, sparking and participating in meaningful conversations, supporting art and artists and consuming coffee.
Lauren Atmore, Volunteer Coordinator
After wrapping up her degree in Ottawa, Lauren moved to Toronto where she enjoys what the city has to offer. In her spare time she likes knitting, travelling near and far, finding new Toronto neighbourhoods to explore and hanging out with her cat.
Amrita Kumar-Ratta, Research & Policy Coordinator
Amrita is a lifelong learner, a passionate traveler and a self-proclaimed transnational feminist activist. She adores social policy research, loves to ask hard questions and is a firm believer in “thinking globally, acting locally”. She finds her self-expression in dance, literature and theatre.
Farah Naaz Mawani, Equity Lead
Farah works at the nexus of human rights and mental health, as Founder of Building Roads Together and Farahway Global, and as a Centre for Social Innovation Agent of Change: City Builder, periodically taking chocolate breaks.
Dinoba Kirupa, Equity Liaison (Programs)
A political science and gender studies graduate from the University of Toronto, Dinoba has been engaged in Canadian politics for many years and volunteers for various organizations seeking to address social inequity. In her free time, she loves taking part in debates, working out, and rooting for Daenerys Targaryen.
Ikram Hassan, Equity Liaison (Development)
Ikram is entering her fourth year of a Sociology degree at Ryerson University. In her spare time she is passionate about pursuing her interests in social issues, social justice, and activism.
Alejandra Ortiz, Equity Liaison (Communications)
Emigrating from Colombia at a young age, Alejandra has embraced her new home (though maybe never the winter…), dedicating herself to public service while pursuing her passion for women’s issues.
Lauren Simmons, Communications Co-Lead
Lauren is a high school teacher and activist with the Ontario Secondary School Teachers Federation (OSSTF), who can frequently been seen cycling between farmers markets and craft beer bars in Toronto’s East End.
Abby Plener, Communications Co-Lead
Currently pursuing a Masters in Journalism, Abby has a background in project management and communications, and enjoys writing about gender, politics and pop culture.
Jessica Lyon, Media Relations Coordinator
Jessica is passionate about social justice in the context of heath. Her career has focused on developing community level resiliency to HIV/AIDS, and she is an ardent advocate for the cultivation of femme-friendly spaces across sectors in Canada.
Sonya William, Communications Plan Development
Fuelled by late-night char siu buns and inspiration from The Rock’s Instagram, Sonya has bolstered voices and community activity through communications for non-profit film groups around the world.
Sapph Li, Development Co-Lead
Sapph is a copywriter and designer passionate about helping people translate their ideas into action. Attracted to WiTOpoli because of her interest in civic engagement, she has also volunteered with groups including Samara Canada.
Julia Robinson, Development Co-Lead
Julia is passionate about equity and fundraising, and can’t wait to combine those interests as Development Co-Lead for WiTOpoli. In her spare time she is an avid crocheter and reader.
To celebrate our third birthday, the team recently convened with facilitator Dyanoosh Youssefi (a truly wonderful social justice advocate, lawyer, prof and 2014 council candidate) to wrap our heads around a formalized vision, mission and values for WiTOpoli. A few team members are finessing these core guiding principles as we speak, and we’ll be sharing them with you all later this summer. As a teaser, here were some of the keywords we came up with during the session (and yes, one of the “keywords” IS an all-seeing eye with long eyelashes).
Over the coming months, WiTOpoli will be announcing other ways to get involved: as a member of the operations team or steering committee, or as an occasional volunteer. If you want to make sure you hear about these opportunities, get on our email list!