A long-time practitioner of community engagement and co-design, Claudia McKoy is the Founder and Principal of UpSurgence. She has designed and led engagement strategies and co-design sessions involving hundreds of community stakeholders for clients such as the City of Mississauga, for its Black Community Engagement campaign. Through UpSurgence Initiatives, the non-profit arm of UpSurgence, Claudia convened an international team of investors, entrepreneurs, trade professionals and academics to identify global trade opportunities for emerging business communities, and led the co-design of the City of Brampton’s first African trade mission. She is expert at connecting diverse stakeholders to work collaboratively to achieve community goals. Claudia sits on the board of Radius Child and Youth Services Board and is a member of the Black Opportunity Fund’s Government Affairs Committee. She is also the chair of UpSurgence Initiatives, the non-profit arm of UpSurgence, dedicated to connecting marginalized communities to Canada’s growing tech economy through partnership-based programs. Claudia studied Political Science at the University of Toronto
Heather is a member of the Mississauga Health Community Health Advisory Network and the Mayor of Mississauga’s Black Caucus. She was appointed to both the Mississauga Library Board and the Mississauga Traffic Safety Council, where she championed pedestrian safety in the Peel District and Dufferin-Peel Catholic School system. She is former President and Treasurer of the Mississauga Girls Hockey League, serving for 11 years with a focus on increasing access to hockey for the Black community and increasing overall diversity in the sport. Heather received the Dr. Arthur Wood Award for her dedication and work with the Mississauga Traffic Safety Council. Heather is a self-employed Accounting Technician with a strong background in administration and a passion to serve her community. She brings her professional skills and volunteer experience to a host of community organizations and initiatives, promoting fiscal responsibility and fairness, championing awareness of community issues, and being a voice for her community. She grew up in Mississauga and still calls the community home, with her husband and two daughters.
Sarah Agnew, Consultant
Marketing & Communication Consultant
A social issue and cause marketing and communications professional, Sarah has worked with clients in the non-profit, public and private sectors to advance positive social change. Sarah was Vice-President and Senior Account Director at Manifest Communications in Toronto, where she led research, strategy, planning and implementation for branding, social marketing, public awareness and engagement, and fundraising communication. She developed new client business, and planned and managed large-scale, multi-faceted social marketing campaigns as well as smaller communication projects. Clients included United Way of Canada, Community Foundations of Canada, St. Joseph’s Health Centre Foundation (Toronto), Ontario Dental Association, Ontario Medical Association, Aga Khan Foundation Canada, Memorial University of Newfoundland and Labrador, and numerous federal and provincial government departments. From 2016–2022, Sarah was Co-Executive Director of the Bonavista Biennale, a bi-annual international contemporary art festival on the Bonavista Peninsula in Newfoundland and Labrador. She lives in Newfoundland and Labrador.
Angela Cooke Angela Cooke recently joined the Toronto District School Board as the Associate Director of Organizational Transformation and Accountability. Formerly, Angela was the Associate Deputy Minister of Housing, Construction Standards, Multiculturalism and Anti-Racism for the Province of British Columbia where Angela led the introduction of the first co-designed and co-drafted Anti-Racism Data Act, 2022, with First Nations, Indigenous, and Racialized Communities, in Canada. Whilst there she also fostered Institutional Change and Transformation from an Anti-Racism and Equity lens for the employees across the BC Public Service and Crown Corporations. Additionally, she has worked with the British Columbia, Ministry of Education supporting the implementation of compulsory indigenous credits as a graduating requirement for all Grade 12 students and reviewing current Early Years provision for an all-inclusive experience. Angela also led the work to require the University of British Columbia to create a Black Medical Undergraduate program prior to the signing of the post-secondary Scarborough Chapter in 2021. Angela was asked to execute a provincial pandemic response not only on behalf of the Ministry, Housing and Municipal Affairs, but she also provided leadership to the Ministry of Health, Ministry of Attorney General; Ministry of Children, Families and Development, Ministry of Education, Advanced Education, Universities and Colleges, and the Ministry of Social Development and Poverty Reduction, delivering system wide solutions on behalf of 5.1M British Columbian’s. Angela brings a wealth of experience with her, having completed Executive Leadership studies in business performance and leadership, social housing, from NIMBAS, Bradford – Graduate School of Management, and holds a Bachelor of Arts degree, Housing and Urban Planning from Leeds Beckett University (UK). During her career, Angela Cooke has advanced to the executive level, and is no stranger to Toronto, having worked at WoodGreen Community Services, as their Vice President, Housing, Homelessness, Mental Health, Developmental Delay, Community Supports and Facilities Management and at Toronto Community Housing as the Vice President of Tenant Community Services, providing population-based services to 150,000 tenants across the City of Toronto.
Systems Change and Program Development Expert
Amanuel Melles (Aman) is a recipient of the Jane Jacobs Prize, New Pioneers Award, African Canadian Leadership Award, and the Emancipation Day Underground Freedom Train Ride – Community Service Award. He brings more than 28 years of management and senior management experience in settlement and immigration, community health, social services and community development, and funding and sector capacity. He was on the Senior Management Team at United Way Toronto and the Director of Programs & Capacity Building where he led the development of the Organizational Capacity Building Unit and was responsible for leading the introduction of several innovative and creative leadership, capacity building, evaluation and granting programs. Prior to United Way Toronto, Aman held various roles at OCASI, Lawrence Heights Community Health Centre and Family Service Toronto. Aman has contributed to the non-profit sector and communities as a Board member, executive officer and civic leader for Distress Centres Toronto, Social Planning Toronto, Ontario Council for International Cooperation, Inclusive Cities Canada’s Toronto Civic Panel, Couchiching Institute on Public Affairs, and the African Canadian Social Development Council. In 2018, he was appointed to a two-year term on the Confronting Anti-Black Racism Unit of the City of Toronto’s Partnership and Accountability Circle. He’s currently President of InterChange Community-Based Peacebuilding International Institute, sits on the Board of Social Innovation Canada and chairs the Board of Institute of Change Leaders.
Political Organizer and President of the Afro Canadian Political Literacy Foundation
Kurtis has always had a passion for public policy and improving access to it for marginalized groups. In April 2020, he and Patience Adamu launched The Drip: A podcast about political decision-making during a state of emergency with the rationale that BIPOC millennials were underserved by traditional media when discussing Canadian politics, but would engage if addressed on their terms and in their language. The show reached #2 on Apple Podcasts’ Canada: Government chart in February 2021, and was ranked 4th by Buzzfeed on a list of 21 podcasts and audiobooks that Black Canadians that are must-listen for Black Canadians. This impact, coupled with demand from private citizens and educational institutions for Kurtis’s expertise in the political system, led to the creation of ACPL, an organization dedicated to improving political literacy among Black and allied millennials, and advocating for policy that reflects their socio-economic needs. Before founding the ACPL, Kurtis’s business development career saw him generate $6 million in revenue over seven years across the telecom, adtec, digital marketing and market research industries. He was recently part of the Angus Reid Global team, providing timely research to businesses, communications agencies, governments and advocacy groups. He is active in his community as a member of TAIBU Community Health Centre, the Scarborough Business Association (SBA), The Reading Partnership, Kiwanis and Social Economy Through Social Inclusion (SETSI). He is also President of the Scarborough North Provincial Liberal Association in northeast Toronto, where he grew up.
Co-founder, PERTINENCE Group
Sunday Olorunsheyi is a successful serial entrepreneur, business and management consultant, investment advisor and global keynote speaker. His life project is to help people in business break forth by empowering their minds via training and mentoring. He serves a vast clientele in different fields on matters of Management Strategy Development, Business Expansion, Product & Service Development, Activation & Adaptation, Sales and Marketing, Portfolio Management, Investment Risk Assessment & General Business Development. He is the Co-founder of Nigeria’s Pertinence Limited (owners of ABC & VIP Gardens with a team of more than 3,000 employees nationwide) and Chief Executive Officer of Globarel Group and Shop@Discount.
Payments Expert, Marketing & Innovation People Group Former President, CAUFP
Meryl is a regular contributor on the CBC Weekend Business panel, BNN and has been featured in The Globe and Mail, Wealth Professional and Bay Street Bull. Meryl is the recipient of the 2019 Women in Finance Diversity Ambassador award and CIBC’s 2017 Diversity & Inclusion Team Impact Award. Meryl holds a Bachelor of Information Technology with a specialization in Business Systems from Monash University in Australia. Meryl’s Canadian financial services career started when she emigrated from South Africa and worked at Mogo Finance Technology Inc located in Vancouver, BC. After 3 years in the start-up space, Meryl embarked on a sales career in Commercial Banking at CIBC, where she managed portfolios for Northern Alberta and the Northwest Territories. Meryl transitioned to developing and managing payment products for clients in Small Business, Mid-Market and Large Corporate segments. She currently works as a Payments Expert, Marketing & Innovation at Peoples Group, where she represents the organization’s interests on working groups and task forces related to payment policy and by-law review in the Payment Modernization Program led by Payments Canada. Meryl is the former President of Canadian Association Of Urban Financial Professionals, a non-profit organization that provides a link between corporations and the Black professional community, through innovative programming that increases Black talent pipelines, provides educational opportunities, and fosters economic growth.
Specialist, Accessibility Design
Jennifer Chadwick is a digital accessibility strategist and subject matter expert in web and mobile applications. Ms. Chadwick guides organizations by developing a business strategy for integrating accessibility and inclusion into their ICT deliverables and adopting a culture of inclusion. She is the lead Accessibility Strategist, North America at Siteimprove, and a member of W3C, G3ict, IAAP.
Lead & Global Relations Ambassador, Startup Canada
Melloney is an Entrepreneurial award-winning Startup Canada board member serving within the public sector and government for Members of Parliament and Municipal Members of Parliament. Having played a part in the growth of Startup Canada from inception to today, she held roles of Lobbyist, Mentor, Events Manager, Global Ambassador, Ecosystem Connector and Vice President of Communications leading the National Program of Social Media Channels, Sponsorship, Partner Relations and Entrepreneurship. Melloney is the Founder and Community Leader for Startup Peel, in the Region of Peel. Startup Peel has become a resource for entrepreneurs to connect, network and scale from ideation to MVP. Through industry partnerships, Melloney has designed a Bilateral Trade Incubator soon to be launched in the Region of Peel.
A logistics and supply chain management specialist, Joshua Dung launched Jodahlinks Trade Corporation in 2018. Jodahlinks sells African commodities such as agricultural products, solid minerals and energy resources (particularly lithium) globally. Commodities traded by Jodahlinks include sesame seeds, cashew nuts, peanuts, hibiscus, lentils, beans, lithium spodumene, lead ore, zircon sand, crude oil and liquefied petroleum gas.
Daniel Owinyo Odongo
East African Business Development Lead
Daniel is the founder of Mynified Canada, an e-commerce company that facilitates trade between Kenyan and Canadian small businesses by structuring the product supply to create value and efficiencies to the through scale to create shared profit. As a result, Mynified Canada has established excellent working relationships with leading Kenyan companies that include, Tropical Heat Limited, a top East African spices producer; the clothing line BeKnit by Njugush—Njugush is one of the country’s best comedians; Mkurugenzi, a creative art-based venture by Kenya’s leading script writer and entrepreneur, Abel Mutua; PhilIt Productions, film and TV production company; and, Kenya Tea Packers (KETEPA), the country’s successful tea processing company by its government. Recently Mynified Canada partnered with Diamant Company Canada to launch the first-ever Kenyan warehouse/store called Sokoni. Sokoni is a warehouse where vendors of Kenyan origins can collectively import and export products to and from Kenya as well as showcase and sell their products within the Canadian market. Sokoni hosts an entire ecosystem of trade including shipping, clearing, storage, wholesale and retailing, marketing and branding to selling and distributing, all under one roof. In addition, Daniel is the current Deputy Director at Young Jewels Foundation in Kenya, which advocates for menstrual hygiene and wellness in Kenya for children in the rural areas. There he oversees the general operations of the organization including its branding and marketing strategies. He is also a photographer and filmmaker who has produced various shorts.