Goodbye, WiTOpoli

Photograph of nine women smiling for the camera in a sunny park, in front of a newly planted tree

Members of the WiTOpoli team at our goodbye party. Top L-R: Farah Mawani, Lauren Atmore, Sonya William, Lauren Simmons, Amrita Kumar-Ratta. Bottom L-R: Jennie Worden, Steph Guthrie, Terra Gillespie. Not pictured: Kate Bangay, Rudayna Bahubeshi, Wyndham Bettencourt-McCarthy, Ikram Hassan, Glenda Jowsey, Claire McWatt, Alejandra Ortiz, Abby Plener, Heather Reilly, Jessica Spence, Dai Williams.

Constant change, growth and rebirth are facts of life for volunteer-run groups. As the people who power those organizations undergo changes, whether a change in their politics or their life circumstances, the life of the organization evolves to accommodate it. These changes can be an opportunity for the organization to reimagine itself and its role in the community.

The lives of many members of our team have transformed since Women in Toronto Politics first emerged in 2012. Some team members had children and are now learning how to balance motherhood with the many other roles they play in their lives as loved ones and community leaders. Others started new jobs or even entirely new career paths (sometimes to explore a new passion, other times because, lol, late capitalism). Others were involved in protracted legal cases that sparked vicious and unwarranted attacks on our organization.

The degree of personal change our team members have experienced has stretched beyond the limits of WiTOpoli’s capacity to evolve. To create the space for our team members to find new equilibrium in their personal lives, the organization’s work must come to a close. WiTOpoli will be ceasing operations, effective July 8, 2016.

We hope that our community will think of this as a chance for rebirth. WiTOpoli team members are eager to reimagine the roles they wish to play in social change, and what new projects they can envision together beyond the WiTOpoli mandate. Our social media accounts and email list will remain dormant but operational so that we may keep our community informed on any new civic inclusion and equity initiatives propelled by WiTOpoli team members.

Civic inclusion and equity are critically important to all WiTOpoli team members. These fundamental values have guided our work at every stage, and helped us amass an incredible community of supporters who share these values. We want to thank our community members for supporting our projects.

Thank you for supporting our 2012 workshop series that led several women to deliver their first-ever deputations to Toronto Council. Thank you for backing (and using!) our 2014 Position Primer website that allowed users to quickly and easily compare their municipal election candidates by simply entering their postal codes. Thank you for participating in our 2015 #countrywewant campaign in support of Muslim Canadians targeted by Islamophobic rhetoric leading up to the federal election. Thank you for spreading the word about Reclaiming Our Narratives, the 2015 conference on gender and racial profiling which we co-organized, and which has since grown into an ongoing event series that WiTOpoli team members continue to co-organize. Thank you for attending the 2016 Toronto The Just exhibit we co-curated to showcase some of the women throughout Toronto’s history who have played pivotal roles in building a more socially just city.

We are so proud of what we have accomplished together, driven by a shared value of civic equity and inclusion. These issues continue to be a priority for all of us, and will likely underlie any new directions our team members may pursue in the coming months and years.

In the four years of WiTOpoli’s lifespan, the municipal politics discourse itself has changed, with many exciting and diverse voices exerting profound influence upon our civic conversation. We are grateful to these activists, organizers and engaged Torontonians for all we have learned through their efforts – especially Black Lives Matter Toronto, with whom we urge you to act in solidarity. These years have been (and continue to be) deeply challenging for equity-seeking groups in Toronto, but they have also been an inspirational time to be involved in city politics at a grassroots level.

WiTOpoli is honoured to have been part of our political landscape for the past four years. We look forward to the new iterations of equity-focused activism and organizing that will undoubtedly proliferate in our civic fabric. As individuals who cherish Toronto and the people who live here, we know our team members will find new ways to join you in weaving that fabric into something that can keep our whole city warm.

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Meet WiTOpoli’s New Operations Team!

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 ❤

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.


PROGRAM TEAM

RudaynaRudayna 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-atmoreLauren 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_01 2Amrita 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. 

 

EQUITY TEAM

FarahFarah 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

Dinoba Kirupa, Equity Liaison (Programs)                                   Dinoba has graduated from the University of Toronto with a degree in Political Science, minoring in Gender Studies. She has been actively involved in Canadian politics for many years and volunteered for various organizations seeking to address social inequality. In her free time, Dinoba enjoys taking part in debates, working out, and rooting for Daenerys Targaryen.

 

Ikram

 

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.

 
 

AlejandraAlejandra 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.

 
 

COMMUNICATIONS TEAM

Lauren SLauren 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.

AbbyAbby 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.

 
 
 

Jess LJessica 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. 

 

SonyaWilliamSonya 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.

 
 

DEVELOPMENT TEAM

The Development team makes WiTOpoli’s programming possible and accessible to as many Torontonians as possible by planning and coordinating all fundraising initiatives for the organization, including memberships, stewardship events, crowdfunding campaigns and grant applications. For further inquiries, please e-mail womentopolitics@gmail.com.

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!

We’ve been looking for you.

Join WiTOpoli!

After a busy election year, during which WiTOPoli worked hard to create tools and events to keep voters informed and to all empower candidates, we’ve been regrouping in early 2015. In the meantime, we’re still producing amazing web content like our How-To series, and keeping you up to date with our Twitter feed and our weekly news round-ups.

As we look forward to the rest of the year, WiTOPoli has some exciting new goals which, along with a new structure, will help us reach as many Torontonians as possible and help us continue our mandate to diversify the civic discourse. Over the next few months, we’re creating by-laws to govern our activity as an organization, and we have big plans in the works for our next major event.

We’re also launching a recruitment process to bring new, exciting voices to our team. We’ve created a new team structure that will help us manage our activity as we expand. Specifically, we have four (4) new volunteer Team Lead positions, and we’d love for you to apply for one of them! The team lead positions are:

  • Program Lead, who will plan and coordinate all key WiTOpoli activities that inform and inspire our community members, such as interactive events, workshop series, online resources and special projects focused on the intersections of gender and political inclusion. Read more about the Program Lead’s role, then apply here.
  • Communications Lead, who will helm all of WiTOpoli’s communications activities to engage our community in creating a more gender-inclusive civic discourse. Activities will include advocacy campaigns, social media management, content strategy for the WiTOpoli blog, and promotion of WiTOpoli events and initiatives. Read more about the Communications Lead’s role, then apply here.
  • Equity Lead, who will work with the Steering Committee, Executive Director and other team leads to build WiTOpoli’s capacity to ensure that our programs and resources address the intersecting experiences that shape, facilitate and constrain political engagement (e.g. gender, race, sexuality, gender identity & expression, class, immigration status, ability, age and more). Read more about the Equity Lead’s role, then apply here.
  • Development Lead, who will make WiTOpoli’s programming possible and accessible to as many Torontonians as possible by planning and coordinating all fundraising initiatives for the organization, including memberships, stewardship events, crowdfunding campaigns and grant applications. Read more about the Development Lead’s role, then apply here.

Each of these roles will involve about five hours of work per week, most of it from the comfort of your own home. Meetings are generally held during evenings and weekends. Sometimes two heads are better than one, so if you and a friend want to tag-team any of these roles, feel free to submit a partnered application!

WiTOpoli is committed to anti-oppression principles and continuous learning about how to best reflect these principles in our activities and initiatives. We seek the same commitment from all candidates. We are especially interested in applications from women (cis + trans) of colour, Indigenous women (cis + trans), non-binary and gender-queer folks, queer women (cis + trans), and women (cis + trans) with disabilities.

Applications are due on Tuesday, April 21st at 11:59pm and must include both:

  • a copy of your resume (emailed to womentopolitics@gmail.com with your desired position title in the subject line)
  • a completed online application form for your desired role

If you’re planning to apply, please reserve the evening of April 27th, 6:30-8:30pm in your calendar now – that’s when we’ll be hosting a mandatory mixer at The Gladstone (wheelchair-accessible, child-minding available upon request) for shortlisted candidates to get to know each other and the WiTOpoli Steering Committee. If you’d like to apply but are already booked for the evening of April 27th, please email us. If you are selected for the shortlist, you will be notified by April 24th at 11:59pm.

WiTOpoli is a 100% volunteer-run organization. We are grateful to everyone who’s contributed their time and effort to help WiTOPoli succeed so far, and we’re looking forward to this exciting new chapter.


Program Lead

The Program Lead will plan and coordinate all key WiTOpoli activities that inform and inspire our community members, such as interactive events, workshop series, online resources and special projects focused on the intersections of gender and political inclusion.

Reporting to the Executive Director, in the first three months of their appointment the Programming Lead will:

  • Build on existing WiTOpoli workshop materials to create and market a steady workshop series on a topic of their choosing.
  • Design a cohesive system for recruiting and managing occasional volunteers.
  • Provide continued leadership on the existing 2015 election barriers research project, which is based in part on data arising from the 2014 municipal election.
  • Work with the Development Lead to plan one major 2015 WiTOpoli event (e.g. panel discussion, mini-conference).
  • Work with the Executive Director to identify the other roles required on their team to bring their plans to fruition.

The ideal candidate:

  • Is passionate about political engagement for women and other equity-seeking groups (e.g. people of colour, queer people, transgender people) and recognizes the systemic barriers to their full inclusion.
  • Takes initiative, generates ideas and doesn’t need an itemized list of tasks in order to take an idea from concept to fruition.
  • Loves creating resources and planning events that spark participatory learning.
  • Enjoys research, whether it’s picking apart a policy brief or Googling til you run out of keyword synonyms!
  • Likes people and zeroes in on the best applications of each individual’s talents, interests and expertise.
  • Has experience with planning events (e.g. researching and booking venues, soliciting facilitators and presenters, sourcing in-kind sponsors, gathering physical materials such as post-it notes and pens, planning interactive online components, writing promotional copy, managing registration lists, etc.)
  • Is well-organized and good at keeping track of the details, preferably using tools like Gmail, Google Calendar and Google Drive (our internal communication system) – but we’ll train you if you haven’t used them before!

This position will require an average of 5-7 hours of your time per week (the vast majority of which can be performed remotely) and regular email correspondence with the WiTOpoli Executive Director and other team leads.

Interested? Apply now!

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Communications Lead

The Communications Lead will plan and coordinate all of WiTOpoli’s internal and external communications activities to engage our community in creating a more gender-inclusive civic discourse. Activities will include advocacy campaigns, social media management, content strategy for the WiTOpoli blog, and promotion of WiTOpoli events and initiatives.

Reporting to the Executive Director, in the first three months of their appointment the Communications Lead will:

  • Work with Program Lead to design an external communications plan for an existing research and policy project, with a goal to launch in late 2015. Plan could include but should not be limited to: social media campaigns including contests and Twitter chats, deputations to Toronto Council, publication of original research via reports and infographics, etc.
  • Provide continued leadership on an existing WiTOpoli blog series and plan a new series to launch in late 2015.
  • Coordinate “renovation” of the WiTOpoli website, including researching WordPress themes, devising a plan for organizing information, and writing new boilerplate content.
  • Design an effective long-term plan for collaborative management of the WiTOpoli social media accounts.
  • Work with the Executive Director to identify the other roles required on their team to bring their plans to fruition.

The ideal candidate:

  • Is passionate about political engagement for women and other equity-seeking groups (e.g. people of colour, queer people, transgender people) and recognizes the systemic barriers to their full inclusion.
  • Takes initiative, generates ideas and doesn’t need an itemized list of tasks in order to take an idea from concept to fruition.
  • Is active on social media and well-versed in popular platforms like Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, Instagram and Pinterest.
  • Feels comfortable with public speaking and media interviews (experience in advocacy and/or PR would be an asset).
  • Has their own way with words and isn’t afraid to use it, but is also comfortable with WiTOpoli’s voice as a group (get to know us!).
  • Is well-organized and good at keeping track of the details, preferably using tools like Gmail, Google Calendar and Google Drive (our internal communication system) – but we’ll train you if you haven’t used them before!
  • Basic graphic design skills would be an asset, but are not essential.

This position will require an average of 5-7 hours of your time per week (the vast majority of which can be performed remotely) and regular email correspondence with the WiTOpoli Executive Director and other team leads. It requires occasional flexibility for media interviews and/or community management during the 9:00-5:00 Monday-Friday workday, like when we put out a press release about a new project or host a lunchtime Twitter chat.

Interested? Apply now!

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Equity Lead

The Equity Lead will work with the Steering Committee, Executive Director and other team leads to build WiTOpoli’s capacity to ensure that our programs, plans and resources address the intersecting experiences that shape, facilitate and constrain political engagement (e.g. gender, race, sexuality, gender identity & expression, class, immigration status, ability, age and more).

Reporting to the Steering Committee and in consultation with the Executive Director, in the first three months of their appointment the Equity Lead will:

  • Advise on equity and access matters during the Steering Committee’s development of a set of WiTOpoli governance documents.
  • Develop and facilitate an anti-oppression workshop for WiTOpoli Team Leads and Steering Committee (completion of this workshop will also be required for any future team members).
  • Build upon existing WiTOpoli research to create an internal guide for equitable and accessible events, ranging from key considerations at the outset of event planning to contact information for interpretation and child-minding service providers.
  • Consult with Program, Communications and Development Leads on their unfolding plans to provide guidance and recommendations as necessary.

The ideal candidate:

  • Is passionate about political engagement for women and other equity-seeking groups (e.g. people of colour, queer people, transgender people) and recognizes the systemic barriers to their full inclusion.
  • Takes initiative, generates ideas and doesn’t need an itemized list of tasks in order to take an idea from concept to fruition.
  • Understands anti-oppression principles and practice, and regularly participates in related discussion (experience on an anti-oppression, diversity or equity committee would be an asset).
  • Advocates and/or organizes for equity, inclusion and accessibility in their own lives, workplaces and/or communities.
  • Is well-organized and good at keeping track of the details, preferably using tools like Gmail, Google Calendar and Google Drive (our internal communication system) – but we’ll train you if you haven’t used them before!

This position will require an average of 5-7 hours of your time per week (the vast majority of which can be performed remotely) and regular email correspondence with the WiTOpoli Executive Director, Steering Committee and other team leads.

Interested? Apply now!

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Development Lead

The Development Lead will make WiTOpoli’s programming possible and accessible to as many Torontonians as possible by planning and coordinating all fundraising initiatives for the organization, including memberships, stewardship events, crowdfunding campaigns and grant applications.

Reporting to the Executive Director, in the first three months of their appointment the Development Lead will:

  • Conceive and plan a crowdfunding campaign to launch in late summer/fall 2015, including devising a concept and goal (in partnership with Program Lead), coordinating videography and graphic design, writing copy and working with the Communications Lead on a community management and donor recognition plan.
  • Design a membership structure for WiTOpoli including sourcing local retailers for in-kind sponsorship, coordinating production of WiTOpoli goods for members, and working with the Equity Lead and Steering Committee to determine members’ role in WiTOpoli governance.
  • Produce a grant application timeline for funds accessible to grassroots groups. If the opportunity arises to apply for a grant in the first three months, the Development Lead will do so in partnership with the Executive Director.
  • Work with the Executive Director to identify the other roles required on their team to bring their plans to fruition.

The ideal candidate:

  • Is passionate about political engagement for women and other equity-seeking groups (e.g. people of colour, queer people, transgender people) and recognizes the systemic barriers to their full inclusion.
  • Takes initiative, generates ideas and doesn’t need an itemized list of tasks in order to take an idea from concept to fruition.
  • Loves building relationships with people and has a wide network and contact list of their own. Our Development Lead also isn’t shy about calling up a stranger, asking for things, or trying to get the best deal.
  • Is skilled at the art of the “thank-you” and generates creative ideas for rewarding people’s participation and generosity.
  • Has a knack for writing, whether it’s a grant application, a newsletter article, or one of those perfect emails that strikes the balance of comprehensive and concise.
  • Is well-organized and good at keeping track of the details, preferably using tools like Gmail, Google Calendar and Google Drive (our internal communication system) – but we’ll train you if you haven’t used them before!

This position will require an average of 5-7 hours of your time per week (the vast majority of which can be performed remotely) and regular email correspondence with the WiTOpoli Executive Director and other team leads.

Interested? Apply now!

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