Nouman Ashraf (He/Him/His), Academic Director 

Nouman is an Associate Professor, Teaching Stream within the Organizational Behavior area at the Rotman School of Management. Nouman is also the Managing Director of In Nova Consulting.

Nouman possesses a broad range of professional, academic and research interests, with a specialized focus on enabling inclusive and innovative practices within teams, organizations and boards. For the last decade and a half, he has held progressively senior roles at the University of Toronto, including most recently as the Director of Equity, Diversity & Inclusion at the Rotman School of Management. He is a recognized thought leader in governance and has taught thousands of directors in the national Rotman program on Not for Profit Governance in partnership with the Institute for Corporate Directors since its inception in 2007.

Nation Cheong (He/Him/His), Program Director 

As United Way Greater Toronto’s (UWGT) VP of Community Opportunities and Mobilization, Nation’s role weaves relationships across public and private sector partners and community service agencies to plan and build better communities collectively. Nation oversees UW’s Research, Public Policy and Public Affairs strategies, the Indigenous Collaboration Framework, Regional Engagement, and the advancement of Community Benefits practices across the GTA.

For over 20 years, Nation has dedicated his professional and personal time to community development strategies. He started on the frontlines supporting individuals experiencing chronic mental health, addictions and inadequate housing. His work later focused on positive youth development for young people across the GTA including the influential Youth Challenge Fund and United Way’s Youth Success Strategy. Known for his integrity and ability to bridge diverse perspectives, he is a respected organizational leader, strategic partner, community animator, artist and teacher.

Sophie Duncan (She/Her/Hers) 

Sophie formerly co-managed Leading Social Justice Collective and leads In Nova’s work with sexual and reproductive rights and women’s rights organizations. As a program coach forLSJC, Sophie works with the team on program design, evaluation, and strategic planning and supports teams through the management of their projects.

Sophie’s previous work includes research on the behavioural effects of Canada’s Food Guide, consultation to the Coalition of Immokalee Workers on a new development strategy, leading food access and community development programming in rural Vermont, and research on gender lens climate investing and international youth development programs. Sophie was also a Fulbright Researcher in Morocco, studying traditional foods and ideas about innovation and authenticity. Sophie holds an MBA from the University of Toronto’s Rotman School of Management and is a board member at the Fair Finance Fund, a non-profit social finance fund dedicated to providing loans and mentorship services to local food and farm enterprises.

Daniel Cowen (He/Him/His) 

At In Nova, Daniel co-manages the Leading Social Justice Collective (LSJC) and co-leads the education practice. As co-manager of LSJC, Daniel contributes to the overall strategy of the program, and is tasked with his co-workers to bring the program to life through creating recruitment materials, identifying and securing speakers and arranging other program supports, among other contributions.

Before joining In Nova, Daniel spent four years advancing equity, diversity and inclusion both within organizations and in a broader systemic way at CenterState CEO. As the Deputy Director of Economic Inclusion for the largest regional chamber of commerce in New York, he designed and implemented initiatives that helped the organization’s business membership identify and act on opportunities and barriers to creating a more diverse and inclusive culture. In this role he launched and directed a business development program supporting intergenerational wealth generation in low-income neighbourhoods.

Lara Muldoon (She/Her/Hers) 

Lara is the Assistant Director, Strategic Partnerships and Initiatives at the School of Cities. She has experience in the design and delivery of executive and adult education programs both in her current role and during her time at the Toronto Region Board of Trade. She is a world traveller and passionate city-builder who excels at creating partnerships and places to explore the economic, social, and cultural vitality of city regions. A graduate of U of T, Lara has also worked in educational publishing, financial services, and the public sector and served as co-chair of Environmental Education Ontario.

Makda Teshome

Makda Teshome joins the School of Cities as a Programs Coordinator and comes to us from Rotman School of Management, where she helped prepare and deliver in person, online, and hybrid programs. During that time, she was a student at the University of Toronto – St. George Campus. In 2020 she received her B.A.Sc. in Criminology and Sociolegal Studies & History.

Sandi Trillo (She/Her/Hers)

As Senior Manager, Strategic Initiatives, she is part of UWGT’s Community Mobilization and Engagement team, advancing reconciliation and equity as part of UWGT’s mission to address urgent needs and the underlying conditions that contribute to poverty and inequality in Peel, Toronto and York Region. Prior to her work at UWGT, she consulted on strategy, governance and leadership development in the non-profit sector; and on performance improvement in the corporate sector. Sandi is passionate about creativity and learning, multi-sector collaboration, and systems thinking.

Nadeesha Watawala headshot

Nadeesha Watawala (She/Her/Hers)

As Manager, Capacity Building and Volunteer Engagement at United Way Greater Toronto (UWGT), Nadeesha is part of UWGT’s Community Impact and Mobilization team where she oversees the strategic engagement and stewardship of volunteers in enabling the success of community impact strategies.

Over the last 17 years at UWGT Nadeesha has also co-led the design and implementation of several innovative and creative capacity building and leadership development initiatives designed to strengthen the capacity of UWGT’s network of agencies across the GTA and to eliminate barriers to education and opportunities. Programs like the Creative Institute for Young (CITY) Leaders that inspired a new generation of transformational leaders through educational modules, applied learning projects, mentorship, and alumni network where she had the opportunity to co-create with young leaders and partners including University of Toronto’s Factor-Inwentash Faculty of Social Work.

Nadeesha is deeply passionate about improving the lives of people by creating inclusive and accessible spaces for connection, learning and growth and brings a wide-range of expertise and on-the-ground experience in program design, stakeholder engagement, partnership building and capacity building.

This fellowship has also benefited from the invaluable contributions of many co-designers. We are grateful to Andrea Aramayo Balboa, Chris Brillinger, Debbie Douglas, Kandy Kennedy, Kwame McKenzie, Abigail Moriah, Naki Osutei, Anowa Quarcoo, Jennifer Sylvester, Leslie Woo and many others for sharing their insights, expertise, feedback, and time.