Our speakers will be exploring innovation and change in addressing current and future workplace diversity, equity and inclusion trends and issues: inter-generational differences, legal perspectives, unconscious biases, sexuality and sexual identity, visible and non-visible disabilities, impact of technology on workplace diversity, diversity and the marketplace.

Denise Balkissoon, Journalist & Editor, Globe & Mail

Denise Balkissoon is an editor in the Globe’s Life section and a columnist in Comment. The National Magazine Award-winning writer is also a co-founder of The Ethnic Aisle, a blog about race and ethnicity in the Greater Toronto Area.

Monica McKay, Director, Office of Aboriginal Initiatives, The Office of Equity, Diversity & Inclusion, Ryerson University

Monica McKay oversees Ryerson Aboriginal Student Services and Programs and is a primary contact for the Ryerson community regarding Aboriginal Education, community partnerships and initiatives.

Katerina Belazelkoska, Ph.D., Program Manager of the Workplace Communication in Canada Program at The G. Raymond Chang School of Continuing Education, Ryerson University

Dr. Katerina Belazelkoska is the Program Manager of the Workplace Communication in Canada Program at The G. Raymond Chang School of Continuing Education, a program developed by subject matter experts in the field of intercultural communication and was generously supported by the Government of Canada.  In the past eight years, Katerina has managed several bridging programs under the umbrella of the Gateway for International Professionals at The G. Raymond Chang School of Continuing Education, Ryerson University. Before immigrating to Canada Katerina was a practising engineer, a teacher and a principal of a secondary technical school in her native Macedonia. She received her Master’s in Administrative Leadership and Supervision in Education and her PhD in Educational Administration from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee (UWM) before immigrating to Canada in 2007.

Brad Duguid, Minister of Economic Development and Growth, MPP Scarborough Centre

Brad Duguid currently serves as Minister of Economic Development and Growth. He was previously Minister of Economic Development, Employment and Infrastructure, and Minister of Training, Colleges and Universities. Prior to that, he served as Ontario’s Minister of Economic Development and Innovation, during which time Duguid focused on creating jobs, promoting Ontario as a smart place to invest, building a culture of entrepreneurship and growing a strong, innovative economy.
He ushered in Bill 11 (Attracting Investment and Creating Jobs Act 2012), a marquee piece of legislation that established the Southwestern Ontario Development Fund and made permanent the Eastern Ontario Development Fund.
Previously, as Ontario’s Minister of Energy, Duguid launched Ontario’s Long-Term Energy Plan, which built on Ontario’s commitment to clean energy.
As Minister of Aboriginal Affairs, he worked at building relationships and launched PLAY, a program for aboriginal youth using participation in sports and activities to teach life-skills.
Duguid’s involvement in politics began more than 25 years ago while working at Queen’s Park and on Parliament Hill in Ottawa.
Duguid lives in Scarborough with his wife, Crystal, and has two sons, Kennedy and Jordan.

Thomas Sasso, MA, PhD Candidate. Industrial and Organizational Psychology, University of Guelph. Co-founder, Sexual and Gender Diversity Research Lab.

Thomas Sasso is a PhD candidate in Industrial/Organizational Psychology at the University of Guelph, where he also received his master’s degree. His research is dedicated to understanding and improving the experiences of diverse and marginalized populations in workplaces, with particular emphasis on LGBTQ+ identified individuals. He co-founded the Sexual and Gender Diversity Research Lab, works as an organizational consultant, and volunteers with numerous community-based organizations. In partnership with the Canadian Centre for Diversity and Inclusion and Pride at Work Canada, Thomas co-authored the national report “In & Out: Diverging Perspectives on LGBT Inclusion in the Workplace”.

Sarah Saucier, Founder and CEO of Every1Games Professional Services Inc.

Sarah Saucier is the Founder and CEO of Every1Games Professional Services Inc., an award winning social enterprise helping neurodivergent youth (autism, adhd, learning disabilities etc.) transition and succeed in life after high school.   She is an avid speaker and the founder of The Au-Some Conference, an annual event that brings autistic advocates together to identify and combat societal barriers to education and employment. Her experience is rooted in the autism community, working with neurodiverse youth for the past eleven years focusing her work at the epicenter of accessibility, education, entertainment, and technology.

Shurla Charles-Forbes, MEd., CTDP, Senior Organizational and Employee Effectiveness Consultant at Ryerson University

Shurla has a Master’s degree in Adult Education and has over ten years of experience working in learning and development. Shurla is very passionate about workplace diversity and works with diverse teams across Ryerson University to diagnose, design and implement a number of organizational development initiatives.  Shurla also has prior experience working with internationally educated professionals.

Chavon Niles, PhD Candidate, University of Toronto and Senior Coordinator, OCASI’s Accessibility Initiative

Chavon Niles is a Guyanese-Canadian Doctoral Candidate at the Ontario Institute for Studies in Education at the University of Toronto. Chavon uses an anti-racist, anti-oppressive and intersectional lens in her position as the Senior Coordinator of the Accessibility Initiative at OCASI- Ontario Council of Agencies Serving Immigrants where she works to bring greater attention to the challenges and barriers immigrants and refugees with in/visible disabilities experience in Canada. Chavon is also an Instructor in the Concurrent Teacher Education Program at the Ontario Institute for Studies in Education, University of Toronto where she teaches Social Foundations of Teaching and Schooling. Chavon’s doctoral thesis explores the migration experiences of racialized immigrant youth with disabilities living in the Greater Toronto Area. She hopes to better understand how participants’ migration experiences come to shape their identity construction and participation (non-participation) in schools and health and human services.

Chavon completed a Master’s degree in Critical Disability Studies from York University focusing on regular and special education classroom teachers’ perceptions of teaching students with IEPs, a Bachelor of Education degree from the University of Toronto with a specialization in primary/junior education, and an Honors Bachelor of Science degree from McMaster University with an interest in supporting students with disabilities in the classroom.

Maayan Ziv, Entrepreneur, Owner of Maayan Ziv Photography

Maayan Ziv is an activist, a photographer and an entrepreneur. From a young age, Maayan challenged norms and worked within her community to increase awareness of disability issues and improve accessibility.

Living with Muscular Dystrophy, Maayan is a passionate and relentless advocate for creating a more accessible world. In 2015, Maayan founded AccessNow, a mobile app that maps the accessibility status of locations worldwide. In 2016, Maayan received the City of Toronto Access Award, the Startup Canada National Resilient Entrepreneur of the Year and the David C. Onley Leadership in Accessibility Award.

Adam Morrison, VP, Projects and Partnerships, OTEC

As OTEC’s Vice President, Projects and Partnerships, Adam leads provincial workforce development initiatives in partnership with industry, government, education and non-profit community networks.  Adam works closely with OTEC’s industry and community partners to integrate and align resources and systems, ensuring that businesses and destinations can attract, retain and advance a dynamic and competitive workforce that includes youth, newcomers, indigenous communities and people with a disability. Adam’s commitment to innovation in workforce development and education has led to his leadership of organizational research, capacity-building, and sector-level strategy projects at OTEC, including the recently launched ALiGN Network: A province-wide employment training and job matching model for youth. Adam holds a Master’s of Science degree from the University of Guelph in Capacity Development Studies with a specialization in soft systems methodology.

Evelyn Askelrod, Director, Business Relations, First Work

As the Managing Director of Altitude Management Consulting, Evelyn is currently supporting First Work: Ontario Association of Youth Employment Centres on various development projects and initiatives. Evelyn is passionate about fostering partnerships between the private and public sectors with the aim of creating real and sustainable solutions with mutual success.

Evelyn holds a Bachelor’s Degree and a Post-Grad in Non-Profit Management from the University of Toronto along with extensive training in Board Governance, HR and Project Management.

Cyril J. Cromwell Simmonds, Youth Work Curriculum Specialist at the Youth Research and Evaluation eXchange (YouthREX)

Cyril is a social justice advocate, educator, media artist and entrepreneur. For over a decade Cyril has supported community programs across Toronto, with a focus on youth development and skill building. Combining his passion for community engagement and the creative arts, Cyril established a photography studio in 2013 to provide accessible space and resources for young entrepreneurs in Toronto’s east end. As a graduate student of sociology and education, Cyril has integrated his appreciation for critical theory and reflective practice throughout his career ventures. At YouthREX, Cyril supports in-person and online capacity building for youth serving organizations in Ontario.

Wade Poziomka, Human Rights and Labour Lawyer | Ross & MsBride

Wade practices human rights law at Ross & McBride LLP in Hamilton, Ontario. Wade regularly acts for applicants before human rights tribunals and recently began to act for unions in human rights matters. Prior to practice Wade obtained his juris doctor degree from the University of Toronto. During law school Wade interned with the International Labour Organization in Geneva, Switzerland, working directly with Guido Raimondi (currently Judge and Vice-President of the European Court of Human Rights). Prior to articling with Ross & McBride LLP, Wade worked for Justice Robert Sharpe of the Ontario Court of Appeal. In 2013, Wade completed his LL.M. at Cornell University in Ithaca, New York, where he placed within the top three students in his program. While studying at Cornell, Wade traveled to Buenos Aires, Argentina as  part of a four-member fact-finding team to explore the causes, conditions and consequences of female imprisonment in the federal prison system. This study resulted in an extensive report which was presented in collaboration with the United Nations Special Rapporteur for Violence Against Women.

Wade is an applicant-side representative on the Human Rights Tribunal of Ontario’s Practice Advisory Committee, and sits on the Board of Directors of ARCH Disability Law, the United Way of Burlington and Greater Hamilton, and Volunteer Hamilton. Wade serves on the executive of the Ontario Bar Association’s Constitutional, Civil Liberties and Human Rights Section.

Leslie Frattolin, Associate at DLA Piper (Canada) LLP

Leslie Frattolin is an associate in the Employment Group at the firm’s Toronto office.

In developing her labour and employment practice, Leslie provides advice and transaction support in all areas of employment, labour, occupational health & safety and human rights & disability law. As counsel to both national and international organizations, Leslie represents clients with respect to various labour and employment issues including:

  • the hiring and termination of employees;
  • the defence of wrongful dismissal claims, grievances and human rights complaints;
  • the defence of claims for disability benefits;
  • the preparation of employment agreements and independent contractor agreements; and
  • the application of employment standards legislation, workplace safety and insurance legislation, occupational health and safety legislation and human rights legislation

Leslie joined the firm in 2008 as a student and returned as an associate following her call to the bar in June 2010. Leslie earned her Bachelor of Arts degree in Economics from Lakehead University in 2006 and received her J.D. from Osgoode Hall Law School in 2009. While attending law school, Leslie was awarded the Osgoode Centennial Entrance Scholarship for academic excellence.