Public service values celebrated at School of Public Policy and Administration awards dinner
The 2018 Students, Alumni and Community Recognition Awards dinner hosted by the School of Public Policy and Administration (SPPA) took place on November 22.
With over 100 guests in attendance, the annual gathering featured a keynote address by alumnus Derek Lett, Executive Director with the Ontario Conflict of Interest Commissioner’s Office. Lett (BA Spec Honours PPA ’91) reflected on his 26-year career in the Ontario Public Service, which spanned many significant changes in successive governments.
Aiming to provide guidance to students and recent graduates on how to cope with change, Lett emphasized adherence to three long-standing core public service values: professionalism, neutrality and integrity. Lett also reflected on what attracts and motivates one to choose public service and “what actually keeps someone there and allows them to weather the storms associated with negative public perception, leaders who might distrust public servants and others who may choose to undermine trust in public institutions for political advantage.” Lett shared experiences that resonated with the audience: high-stakes work “in the face of volatility, uncertainty, complexity and ambiguity”, concluding that “public service is an honourable, humble and noble profession”, and that “we must be open to different ways of achieving an objective. Approaches do not have to be mutually exclusive. Be innovative.”
Lett was also presented with this year’s Practicum Award by for his long-standing commitment to the practicum program for our 4th year Bachelor of Public Administration students. The School’s Experiential Education Coordinator, Peter Constantinou, presented him with the award.
Several other awards were presented to students and alumni:
Undergraduate Student Award to Justin Tan in the Bachelor of Public Administration (BPA) Spec. Honours, Management for his service to the Public Policy and Administration Student Association (PPASA) as President in 2017-18 during his 3rd year of studies and as Director of Recruitment prior to that. In 2018 Tan also received the McLaughlin Academics’ Choice Award for his involvement with the work of the College. Tan has also volunteered and worked for Canadian Red Cross and is currently working as CCTV Team Lead Operator for Security Services while completing his studies at York.
Graduate Student Award to Eric Lothman in the Master of Public Policy, Administration and Law (MPPAL) program. Lothman enthusiastically participated in the 2017 IPAC-CAPPA Case Competition during his 1st year in the MPPAL program and volunteered at open houses and helped organize professional development opportunities for both MPPAL and BPA students. Lothman has also served as Director of Communication for our Graduate Students’ Association of Public Policy, Administration and Law (GSAPPAL); as well as in a number of other volunteer roles including as Manager of Outreach and Partnerships for the Strategic Leadership Forum and as Student Outreach Committee Member for the Canadian Association of Management Consultants (CMC-Canada). Lothman currently holds the position of Policy Analyst with the Student Achievement Division of the Ontario Ministry of Education.
Best 2018 Major Research Paper Award to Rebecca Mukuna (MPPAL, Class of 2018) for her research on the topic of Health and Safety for Migrant Farm Workers in the Seasonal Agricultural Worker Program. Mukuna started to work for the Canadian Centre for Occupational Health and Safety as a Training and Education Assistant in 2017 and what she learned on the job regarding health and safety also inspired her to write her major research paper. University Professor Brenda Spotton Visano served as Mukuna’s research supervisor and presented her with the award.
Other MPPAL students Lisa Gotlieb, Rod Carew, Pauline Raphael, Diane Prelich, Tasha
Oommen were presented with the Best Team Award for their participation in the 2018 IPAC-CAPPA National Case Competition by Professor Dagmar Soennecken, Graduate Program Director for the MPPAL program. Professor Soennecken also acknowledged the work of the team’s dedicated coaches John Wilkins and Anthea English, who both brought to students a wealth of experience from the federal public service and elsewhere, and have held Executive in Residence positions at the Schulich School of Business and at the School of Public Policy and Administration respectively.
Undergraduate Program Director Professor Joanne Magee and Sukhpreet Singh, President of the PPASA, presented the awards to this year’s winners of our high school essay contest for sharing their insightful Vision for Canada:
- 1st Prize to Haohan Zhang, Grade 12, AY Jackson Secondary School, North York, for her essay on Canada's Next Challenge: Implementing a Carbon Pricing Policy;
- 2nd prize to Kayla Evans, Merveille Massamba and Randesh Wijesundera, Grade 11, Francis Libermann Catholic High School, Scarborough for A Call for Canada’s Vision, their co-authored submission that addressed issues of youth homelessness, affordable housing and educational qualifications for political leaders;
- Hanlin Cheng, Grade 12, Marc Garneau Collegiate Institute, North York for the essay Microscopic Change: The Ethical Dilemma of Scientific Policy.
The evening concluded with the presentation of two coveted alumni awards by SPPA Director Alena Kimakova:
Emerging Leader Award to Yana Gravets who graduated with the BPA Spec. Honours, Policy Analysis stream in 2011 Cum Laude on the Dean’s Honour Roll while also completing the Professional Certificate in Human Resources Management at York. Upon graduation, Gravets secured a position with the prestigious Finance Officers Municipal Internship Program with the City of Burlington and was later promoted to a permanent Financial Analyst role, with primary focus on the City’s capital budget and corporate projects. During this time, she also completed the MPPAL program, graduating in 2013. In 2014 she secured the position of Senior Budget and Policy Advisor with the Office of the Budget at York Region. In 2018 she was promoted by York Region to the position of Head of Policy, Planning and Liaison, Finance Commissioner’s Office. Without a doubt, Gravets’ new role at York Region is one of leadership and strategic importance, and a remarkable achievement.
Alumni Recognition Award to Shaun Kuttiyil (BPA Spec. Honours, Policy Analysis stream, Class of 2011 and MPPAL, Class of 2015) for his long-standing service to the School. As an undergraduate student, Shaun held the position of President of the PPASA and received the SPPA Student Award. Since his graduation from the MPPAL program in 2015, Shaun has been active in the York University School of Public Policy and Administration Alumni Network (YUSPPAAN), volunteering as Treasurer until 2018, when he took on the role of Chair. Throughout these years, Shaun has also served as a mentor and role model for our students in the BPA, helping to strengthen their team building capabilities, and as an avid organizer of the YUSPPAAN Book Club that brings together alumni, students and faculty for a unique combination of intellectual stimulation and networking. Shaun has worked in both the public and private sectors, starting as Administration Officer at B2B Bank and currently holds the position of Senior Program Analyst, Fiscal Oversight and Performance Branch, Corporate Services Division with the Ontario Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care.
As part of its annual tradition, the evening was moderated by last year’s Alumni Recognition Award Winner Tanya Waugh (BPA Spec. Honours, Policy Analysis stream, Class of 2013 and MPPAL, Class of 2015) as Master of Ceremonies. In attendance were also the School’s Advisory Committee members President Emeritus Ian Macdonald and Anthea English, the former Assistant Comptroller General for Internal Audit at the Treasury Board of Canada Secretariat, who joined SPPA as its Executive in Residence during the 2017-18 academic year; and Associate Dean Students Peter Avery of the Faculty of Liberal Arts and Professional Studies.
School of Public Policy and Administration hosts breakfast with Auditor General Bonnie Lysyk
The School of Public Policy and Administration (SPPA) hosted its 2018 Ontario Public Service Breakfast on October 2. This year, the event featured Ontario’s Auditor General Bonnie Lysyk as the keynote speaker.
Following the recent change in government, the province’s finances are on the minds of many, and the Auditor General attracted a large gathering of the School’s alumni and students working in the broader Ontario public service.
Auditor General Lysyk was welcomed and introduced by President and Vice-Chancellor Rhonda Lenton and Alena Kimakova, Director of the SPPA. Also in attendance were several members of the School’s Advisory Committee including Ian MacDonald, President Emeritus and Anthea English, former Assistant Comptroller General for Internal Audit at the Treasury Board of Canada Secretariat, who joined SPPA as its Executive-in-Residence during the 2017-18 academic year.
Lysyk is the 13th Auditor General of Ontario, serving in this role since 2013 and has previously held the positions of Provincial Auditor of Saskatchewan, and Deputy Auditor General and Chief Operating Officer of Manitoba. Lysyk’s 25-year career spans positions in both the private and public sectors, and includes extensive audit, finance, risk management and governance experience. In 2017, Lysyk was named a Fellow of the Chartered Professional Accountants of Ontario and is currently a member of the Canadian Council of Legislative Auditors.
Lysyk’s presentation at the breakfast focused on the role of the Auditor General, the Standing Committee on Public Accounts as well as several high profile reports she and her office have recently worked on including Ontario’s Pre-Election Report; the Fair Hydro Plan; pension accounting issues related to Ontario Teachers’ Pension Plan (OTPP) and Ontario Public Sector Employees Union Pension Plan (OPSEUPP); and select 2017 and 2018 Value-for-Money Audits. The event concluded with a lively Q&A session moderated by Professor Dagmar Soennecken, Graduate Program Director for the Master of Public Policy, Administration and Law (MPPAL) program.
Policy priorities in support of children and youth take centre stage at Queen’s Park reception
As part of its outreach and celebration of public service, the School of Public Policy and Administration (SPPA) hosted its annual spring reception on March 27, 2018 at Queen’s Park to bring together policymakers and professionals from the public and not-for-profit sectors with faculty, students and alumni. The focus of this year’s reception was policy priorities in support of children and youth.
“It is well documented that the early years of our lives have a profound and long-lasting impact on all of us. While we may face different challenges, it is important to try to ensure that we all have opportunities and a chance to overcome those challenges.” – Professor Alena Kimakova, Director of the School, noted in her opening remarks. She also explained that the work of Irwin Elman, the first Provincial Advocate for Children and Youth of Ontario, had served as an inspiration for the theme of the event based on the recommendation of a Master of Public Policy, Administration and Law (MPPAL) student who worked in his office and had the opportunity to observe his work first-hand.
Elman, currently serving his second term as the independent Provincial Advocate, spoke to the importance of giving children and youth a voice. He shared a moving account of a young woman who had spent many years in the child welfare system facing abrupt, dramatic changes in her life without any opportunity to shape the decisions made on her behalf. This experience of not having an ability to provide input and maintain control led her to give up on any long-term planning, which became a way of life and thinking. Elman emphasized that while this particular example of not having a voice came from the child welfare system, he had encountered similar experiences and the same sense of disenfranchisement working with youth with disabilities and other challenges. Stakeholder input is an integral part of policy making and service delivery and Elman urged everyone to remember to create channels for children and youth to provide their input.
The Hon. Sophie Kiwala, Member of Provincial Parliament for Kingston and the Islands, and Parliamentary Assistant to the Minister of Children and Youth Services as well as the Minister of Indigenous Relations and Reconciliations, shared her experiences working with indigenous children in Northern Ontario communities and the Right to Play initiative. Professor Kimakova also highlighted MPP Kiwala’s support for the National Aboriginal Organizations’ call on the federal government for a national public inquiry into missing and murdered Aboriginal women with a private members’ motion, which was passed in 2014.
The remaining two speakers at the event focused on the economic empowerment of youth by supporting successful transition to the workplace. Aretha Constant, Director of Integrity Operations at Employment and Social Development Canada/Service Canada spoke to the federal government’s initiatives in support of youth such as the Federal Student Work Experience Program and the Canada Student Loans Program. Julia Deans, CEO of Futurpreneur Canada, a national non-profit organization dedicated to providing assistance with start-ups, including business skills coaching, financing and mentoring, highlighted the growing role of entrepreneurship in our changing world of work.
Municipalities of the Future symposium hosted by the School of Public Policy and Administration
In early March the School of Public Policy and Administration (SPPA) hosted its first municipal symposium. “We wanted to highlight the important work that municipalities do and the fast pace of changes and emerging challenges that they have to anticipate and respond to” said Professor Alena Kimakova, the Director of the School, in her opening remarks.
The keynote speaker for the event was Mary-Frances Turner, President of the York Region Rapid Transit Corporation, who has over 30 years of experience in urban planning, corporate leadership and public-private partnerships. Transit challenges weigh heavily on the minds of residents of urban centres and rural communities alike. The entire York University community is also a major stakeholder in transit policy. Improvements in transit directly translate into quality of life by saving time, space and the environment. Ms. Turner identified technological and demographic megatrends as key drivers of change, and underlined the need for transit systems to be flexible, responsive and resilient. She also emphasized the importance of good governance as a determinant of accountability and success of major infrastructure projects.
The keynote address was followed by five expert panels on topics ranging from technology and economic development to social services, infrastructure, governance, human resources and leadership in municipal public administration. Elected officials, municipal administrators and professional associations, provincial representatives, non-profit managers and private sector companies working with municipalities were all represented on the panels and shared their insight with the 100 participants at the day-long event. The Institute of Public Administration of Canada Toronto Regional Group (IPAC TRG) served as event co-sponsor.
SPPA RECOGNIZES STUDENTS, ALUMNI, COMMUNITY PARTNERS FOR SERVICE
On November 23, 2017 nearly one hundred alumni, students, faculty and friends of the School of Public Policy & Administration (SPPA) gathered for the annual celebration of service to the School. As part of the annual tradition, last year’s Alumni Award recipient Kevin Giddings (MPPAL 2015) took on the role of Master of Ceremonies for the evening. Several merit awards were also introduced this year, resulting in our longest-yet list of inspiring award winners.
The event started with the acknowledgement of several alumni receiving this year the prestigious Amethyst Awards for Service Excellence in the Ontario Public Service, including Mathew Gordon (BA Spec. Honours PPA 2007), Team Lead with the Ministry of Economic Growth and Development in the individual service category; and in the group service category Claudio De Rose (BA Spec. Honours PPA 1998) as Director of the Safety Policy and Education Branch at the Ontario Ministry of Transportation (MTO) and Fausto Natarelli (BA Spec. Honours PPA 1984) as part of the Windsor Border Initiatives Implementation Group (WinBIIG), MTO where he previously served as Manager. Fausto received his first Amethyst Award in the individual category in 2014.
The keynote address of the event was delivered by alumnus Caspar Hall (BA Spec. Honours PPA 1997), Policy Director with the Anti-Racism Directorate – Cabinet Office, who shared with the audience his Insights from a Public Policy Apprentice. Caspa emphasized the importance of integrity and leadership at every level of public service along with evidence-based decision making and keeping the focus on the intended policy outcomes. Caspar has been with the Anti-Racism Directorate since its inception in March 2016 and is currently leading a number of high-profile initiatives to support the implementation of Ontario’s 3-Year Anti-Racism Strategic Plan, including the Anti-Black Racism Strategy (ABRS), the Ontario Public Service Anti-Racism Strategy, and the development of a Race Data Standard and Anti-Racism Impact Assessment (ARIA) framework. Prior to this role, Caspar held policy and management roles in Cabinet Office’s Policy and Delivery Division, the Ministry of Finance’s Secretariat supporting the Commission on Reform of Ontario’s Public Services (CROPS) and at the Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing. Caspar was recognized with the Silver Medal – IPAC/Deloitte Public Sector Leadership Award in 2012.
Following the keynote address, service awards were presented in the undergraduate and graduate student category:
Undergraduate Student Award to Munisha Basiram, Bachelor of Public Administration Spec. Honours, Management Stream (Class of 2017)
Munisha has served our Public Policy and Administration Student Association (PPASA) in a variety of roles for several years, including as President. As an enthusiastic peer mentor, she guided many students through their transition to university and inspired them to be engaged. Her tireless work and dedication led to the PPASA being named the McLaughlin College Club of the Year in 2017 as well as her personally receiving the university-wide Robert Tiffin Student Leadership Award. As a BPA student, Munisha held several summer positions with the Ontario Ministry of
Tourism, Culture and Sport, completed a placement with the York Region Rapid Transit Corporation and worked as a Human Resources Coordinator Intern with Free the Children, an Interviewer with York University’s Institute for Social Research, and a Program Evaluation Student Consultant with Service Canada. She currently holds the position of Program Officer with the Program Evaluation and Transfer Payment Unit in the Ministry of Tourism, Culture and Sport.
Graduate Student Award to Shireen Salti, Master of Public Policy, Administration and Law and Graduate Diploma in Justice System Administration (Class of 2017)
Shireen was the Social Convener of the 2016/17 Graduate Students’ Association of Public Policy, Administration and Law (GSAPPAL). Her responsibilities included planning and facilitation of GSAPPAL events including socials, conferences and networking opportunities for MPPAL students. Shireen also represented York University at the 2015-16 Institute of Public Administration Canada (IPAC) National Case Study Competition. She has worked in a number of roles in the Ontario Ministry of Education, Inclusive Education Branch and at the Education Quality and Accountability Office. Currently, she is one of the ten Legislative Interns in the Ontario Legislature Internship Programme.
Shireen Salti also received the inaugural Major Research Paper (MRP) Award in the MPPAL program. Her MRP focused on the integration of privately sponsored versus government assisted Syrian refugees in Toronto and was presented at the annual conference of the Canadian Association of Programs in Public Administration (CAPPA) at the University of Manitoba in May.
Other MPPAL students - Shovan Chakraborty, Salvatore D'Agostino, Rathsara Illangasinghe, Eric Lothman and Hannah Ross were recognized with the Best Team Award for their participation in the 2017 IPAC-CAPPA National Case Competition with John Wilkins, adjunct faculty at SPPA and Executive in Residence at the Schulich School of Business, as the team’s dedicated coach.
Concluding the student section of the awards, three high school students were recognized for outstanding essays on their Vision of Canada for the Next 150 Years:
First Prize: “Canadian Policies from Sea to Sea” by Leo Xu, Grade 12, Bayview Secondary School, Richmond Hill
Second Prize: “Breaking Barriers: Canada’s Paramount Public Policy Priorities for 150 Years of Prosperity” by William Dunstan, Grade 12, St. Matthew High School, Ottawa
Third Prize: “The Effect of Privatization on Citizens” by Edward Chang, Grade 12, Gordon Graydon Memorial Secondary School, Mississauga
2017 also marks the launch of our new Emerging Leader Award, which recognizes a current student or recent alumnus/alumna of the School who is an emerging leader within the broader public sector and represents the ideals, values and abilities of sound, responsible and engaging public policy and administration in congruence with the School's vision to promote Good Governance. The Award recipient will normally have 5-8 years of work experience in the broader public sector and in this inaugural year, two MPPAL students – Ashley Cabral and Najva Mohammad Amin - were recognized as Emerging Leaders:
Ashley Cabral, Master of Public Policy, Administration and Law and Graduate Diploma in Justice System Administration (Class of 2017)
Ashley started to work in the Ontario Public Service in 2013 as a case worker with the Ministry of Community and Social Services, Ontario Disability Support Program and has progressed through the ranks in a number of roles including Business Lead Expert, Program Analyst and Executive Assistant with the Ministry in the Social Assistance Service Modernization Branch. Ashley is also an enthusiastic volunteer: she currently serves a Co-Lead, Tomorrow’s Public Service (TOPS) Executive Regional Development Committee and was Director of Communication for GSAPPAL in 2016-2017 and a member of the 2015-16 IPAC National Case Study Competition team while she was an MPPAL student.
Najva Mohammad Amin, Master of Public Policy, Administration and Law (Class of 2017)
Najva is supporting the Ontario Minister of Transportation as Senior Advisor – Strategic Initiatives, previously as Senior Advisor – Stakeholder Relations and Operations. Najva also has political experience as a federal campaign manager and as President of Ontario Young Liberals. Her commitment to student engagement has also translated into creating practicum opportunities for our undergraduate students at SPPA, and doing so in a most enthusiastic way, supervising as many as four students in a given year! Despite the incredibly busy nature of her work in the fast-paced Office of the Ontario Minister of Transportation, she finds time to set work plans, arrange for the practicum students to accompany the Minister to meetings and events, and coaches them on the work they do in support of the Minister’s stakeholder engagement and policy work. For her outstanding dedication, Najva is also the School’s Practicum Honouree this year.
Last, but certainly not least, the coveted Alumni Award was awarded to Tanya Waugh, Bachelor of Public Administration Specialized Honours, Policy Analysis Stream (Class of 2013) and Master of Public Policy, Administration and Law (Class of 2015).
As a graduate of both our BPA and MPPAL programs, Tanya has remained engaged with SPPA, our students and alumni in a variety of informal and formal ways as an avid volunteer, including most recently serving on the Executive Committee of our York University School of Public Policy and Administration Alumni Network (YUSPPAAN). Tanya started to work in the OPS as a Business Analyst just before graduating with the BPA and has since then worked in a range of roles, including relationship management, strategic planning and policy development. She has held positions with Service Ontario, the Ministry of Government and Consumer Services, Cabinet Office - Strategy and Results Branch and is currently with the Ministry of Transportation as Senior Safety Policy Advisor.
Adriano Mena (BA Spec. Honours PPA 2001), the Chair of YUSPPAAN also received honourable mention for receiving this year the Faculty of Liberal Arts and Professional Studies Alumni Award.
Heartfelt congratulations to all the award recipients for their outstanding dedication and accomplishments, and for being such inspirational role models for our students and the entire SPPA community.
School of Public Policy & Administration breakfast with the Hon. Michael Coteau on Combatting Systemic Racism
On October 3, 2017, the School of Public Policy and Administration (SPPA) hosted its annual breakfast event downtown to enable students and alumni, many of whom work in the Ontario Public Service (OPS), to come together and discuss one of the pressing issues of the day facing policy makers and the public service. The Hon. Michael Coteau, Minister of Children and Youth Services and Minister Responsible for Anti-Racism, delivered the keynote address of the event on combatting systemic racism – the foundation of Ontario’s three-year Anti-Racism Strategic Plan.
Launched in March 2017 after a series of community consultations, the Plan is spearheaded by the Anti-Racism Directorate, which works across government to identify policies and processes in the public sector that systematically disadvantage racialized groups. As highlighted by Minister Coteau, the Plan takes a crucial step forward by explicitly acknowledging that a policy of multiculturalism has not eliminated racism in Ontario, and that racism takes on a variety of forms, from conscious to unconscious. Compelling excerpts from the community consultations were shared by Minister Coteau both during the event and in the Plan itself to bring to the forefront the lived experiences of individuals and families from racialized communities.
Minister Coteau also emphasized the importance of data collection to both identify existing racial inequities and measuring progress with changing policies and practices, and that the goal of eliminating discrimination is not only important and valuable to individuals and their communities, but to Ontario as a whole. If everyone is unable to reach his or her potential due to discrimination, the economy and society are ultimately also losing out.
After the Minister’s address, a lively Q&A ensued with nearly 80 participating students, alumni and faculty affiliated with SPPA who arrived for this event undeterred by its early start at 7.30 am. Questions ranged from: how do we ensure that the progress made under the Plan is not undone by successive governments and that it is enforced effectively, to how can we expand the Plan beyond the public sector to include the private sector, and how do individual units within the public service determine if they are in fact in compliance with the Plan.
Minister Coteau noted the diversity of the School’s student body in its Bachelor of Public Administration (BPA) and Master of Public Policy and Administration (MPPAL) programs, and discussed with individual students and alumni the work they do in the broader Ontario public service.
Interim Provost and Vice-President Academic Lisa Philipps also highlighted the School’s and York’s commitment to diversity and advancement of human rights through our work and thanked the Minister for his participation at this event that brings together leaders in public policy and administration with our students who represent the future of the public service.
Also in attendance at this event were Akwatu Khenti, Assistant Deputy Minister with the Anti-Racism Directorate; George Bancroft, Policy Advisor with the Ministry of Children and Youth Services; Greg Sorbara, York University Chancellor and Barbara Hall, former mayor of Toronto and Chief Commissioner of the Ontario Human Rights Commission, currently member of the SPPA Advisory Committee.
The provincial Anti-Racism Strategic Plan can be found at:
York University’s School of Public Policy and Administration (SPPA), in the Faculty of Liberal Arts and Professional Studies (LAPS), held a reception on March 28 at the Royal Ontario Museum to celebrate 150 years of public service in Ontario as well its own milestone.
This year, SPPA marks 10 years since the establishment of the School and its Master of Public Policy, Administration and Law (MPPAL) program.
Guests in attendance included the school’s own alumni and other professionals working in the Ontario Public Service (OPS), as well as students and faculty.
The school’s director, Professor Alena Kimakova, opened the event and underscored the importance of recognizing public service. She also highlighted the ever-changing challenges policy-makers and public servants face in their daily work, while balancing multiple, and often competing, objectives as well as diverse stakeholder views. To acknowledge the work involved in the different spheres of public service, the speakers’ list included representatives from the OPS, the municipal government and the non-profit sector. In line with the school’s objective to always remain current and relevant in its work, the speakers focused on the road ahead.
York University Chancellor Greg Sorbara introduced the Hon. Steven Del Duca, Minister of Transportation, who emphasized the important role non-partisan public servants play in supporting decisions made by elected officials. He also commented on the quality of the work that York University and SPPA graduates bring to the OPS. The challenges in transportation are on the minds of all York community members and GTA residents, and Del Duca is aware of the importance of his portfolio for the quality of life in Ontario.
Jim Pine, chief administrative officer of the County of Hastings and co-chair of the ONWARD Initiative dedicated to succession planning in Ontario municipalities, drew attention to the expected wave of retirements in the municipal sector and the need for training and recruitment to rejuvenate the workforce and its leadership. He called on students and alumni to seriously consider careers in surrounding municipalities, and for municipalities to create more opportunities to bring students and young professionals into the sector early on in their careers.
Jane Wedlock, manager, Public Affairs at United Way Toronto & York Region, stressed the importance of community-based research and knowledge mobilization for creating social programs from the ground up, and highlighted the collaborative projects between United Way and York University in this area. Kimakova made note of students involved in such projects in partnership with broader public sector organizations in key experiential education courses, the importance of stakeholder consultations for the design of social programs and capacity-building in non-profit organizations and the communities they serve.
Narda Razack, associate dean, Global and Community Engagement in the Faculty of Liberal Arts and Professional Studies, thanked all of the speakers at the event for their thoughtful and visionary remarks, and called for further collaboration to expand opportunities for our students.
Provost and President-designate Rhonda Lenton offered closing remarks at the event. She thanked the featured guests as well as two York Presidents Emeriti in attendance, Lorna Marsden and Ian MacDonald – who are both currently serving on the SPPA Advisory Committee, for their service to the University and the public more broadly. Lenton also highlighted opportunities for working together in the future, for instance, through the Markham campus development.
SPPA recognizes students, alumni, community partners for service
An event to recognize those who have dedicated volunteer efforts to York University’s School of Public Policy & Administration (SPPA) was held on Nov. 17, and included a dinner and awards.
The annual Student, Alumni & Community Recognition Awards Dinner is a formal thank you to those who have helped to enrich the learning experience and extracurricular activities of students.
Professor Alena Kimakova, SPPA director, opened the event with reflections on the value of service to the school, its undergraduate and graduate student body, learning outcomes and practical experience. She also touched on the professional development of both the student beneficiaries and the volunteers, and noted the engagement offers learning and growth for all those involved.
The evening provided an opportunity for guests to engage in discussions on the meaning and challenges of professional, non-partisan public service that the school, as well as alumni and other partners, prepares its students for. There were nearly 80 guests in attendance, including students, alumni and faculty members.
Victor Severino (BA Spec. Hons. ’88, public policy and administration), returned to York to offer his keynote address, “Reflections on a public service career in (partial) review.” Severino is assistant deputy minister of the Business Climate & Funding Administration Division of the Ontario Ministry of Economic Development & Growth and the Ministry of Research, Innovation & Science. He discussed strategic policy relating to investment, trade negotiations and economic development. He is also Ontario’s Chief Negotiator for the Canada-EU Comprehensive Economic & Trade Agreement (CETA) and the Agreement on Internal Trade (AIT), a volunteer with a number of organizations, including the Institute of Public Administration of Canada (IPAC) and, most recently, a part of the school’s own innovative mentorship circle pilot program.
Following the keynote address, several awards were presented to exceptional individuals for their dedication and leadership in the following categories:
Undergraduate Student Award to Melissa Calanza, bachelor of public administration honours, international development studies minor (’16)
• A passionate student leader and peer mentor, Calanza currently works for the Ministry of Health & Long-Term Care, Digital Health Solutions & Innovation Branch, Project Management Office. She is also the recipient of the 2016 McLaughlin Academics Choice Award. At the school’s celebration she was accompanied by her proud parents, Mon and Felisa Calanza.
Graduate Student Award to Georgette Morris, master of public policy, administration and law (’16)
• Professor Dagmar Soennecken, director of the MPPAL program, presented the award to Morris for all of her volunteering with the Graduate Students’ Association and for fostering the interaction between the school’s undergraduate and MPPAL students. Her professional career spans positions from municipal government (City of Mississauga, City of Brampton) to the federal public service (Citizenship & Immigration Canada, Service Canada). At the same time, she is also a long-standing and avid volunteer with a number of non-profit organizations.
Alumni Award to Kevin Giddings, master of public policy, administration and law (’15)
• Kimakova highlighted that Giddings only strengthened his engagement with the school following his graduation. He is a tireless supporter not only of the MPPAL program, but also of the undergraduate BPA and professional certificate programs in a variety of ways. He has been employed with the Ontario Public Service (OPS) for over 15 years and currently works as a project policy analyst in the Emergency Health Services Branch of the Ministry of Health & Long-Term Care.
Practicum Honouree Award to Sharon Walker, manager, Emergency Planning, City of Vaughan
• Professor Peter Constantinou, the school’s experiential education coordinator, presented the award to Walker for her enthusiastic support of experiential education initiatives and the opportunities she has provided to the fourth-year undergraduate students in the form of a practicum placement and a hands-on program evaluation project integrated into the courses.
High-School Essay Contest Award to Saba Manzoor, Turner Fenton High School, International Baccalaureate program, Brampton, Ont.
• On the occasion of Canada’s upcoming 150th anniversary, the school and its undergraduate Public Policy & Administration Student Association (PPASA) issued a call this year to high school students to share their vision for Canada’s next 150 years. Munisha Basiram, PPASA president, and Kimakova presented the award to Manzoor for her thoughtful and inspiring essay, titled “Cognitive Capital and the Role of Policy Development.” While only in Grade 12, she already has an impressive track record of volunteer engagement and leadership. The SPPA community embraced her accomplishment and the promise she shows with a great deal of excitement.
The evening of celebration concluded with remarks by Robert Haché, vice-president Research & Innovation, and Adriano Mena, the evening’s master of ceremonies, recipient of the 2014 SPPA Alumni Award and tireless supporter of our students and programs. The school aims to inspire junior students, returning alumni and first-time event participants to become engaged with the school and make meaningful contributions to the student community in a variety of ways.
The next call for nominations for the SPPA Student, Alumni & Community Awards will open in January 2017. [read more...]
SPPA annual breakfast featured Hon. Deb Matthews
As part of its annual tradition, York University’s School of Public Policy & Administration (SPPA) brings together its students and alumni in the Ontario Public Service (OPS) for a morning of stimulating discussion on the contemporary challenges facing public policy-makers and administrators.
The 2016 breakfast took place on Oct. 4 and was co-hosted by Chancellor Greg Sorbara, who introduced the event’s distinguished guest, the Honourable Deborah Matthews, currently serving as the chair of Cabinet, minister of Advanced Education & Skills Development, minister responsible for digital government and deputy premier of Ontario.
Rhonda Lenton, vice-president academic and provost, and Alice Pitt, vice-provost academic, also welcomed Matthews.
The early start of the event at 7:30am at the downtown location of the Osgoode Professional Development Centre did not deter over 80 enthusiastic participants – students, faculty and alumni – who were eager to hear the deputy premier’s thoughts on “Female Leadership in Government” as the designated theme of this year’s OPS breakfast.
Professor Alena Kimakova, SPPA director, opened the event by highlighting that the inspiration for this year’s theme was the school’s own exceptional female student leaders at the undergraduate and graduate levels. These female students were keenly aware of the remaining challenges to gender parity in our society, and welcomed the federal government’s move towards a gender-balanced cabinet and the further changes this move can bring about.
The school’s alumni also enthusiastically embraced the theme, and showed support by participating in large numbers before returning to their desks in the OPS.
Professor Dagmar Soennecken, director of the school’s Master of Public Policy, Administration & Law (MPPAL) program, moderated the questions to the deputy premier, who offered her very frank and insightful reflections on the topic, as well as her personal experiences.
Matthews covered a range of issues, including women’s involvement in elected office, their impact on public policy decisions and the interaction with the non-partisan professional public service. Passionate about female leadership, but also aware of the over-representation of women and children in poverty, Matthews reflected on recent policy developments in this area in Ontario and during her extensive parliamentary career, which included serving as minister responsible for women's issues and minister of Children & Youth Services between 2007 and 2009; and as minister responsible for the Poverty Reduction Strategy between 2014 and 2016.
In terms of more recent initiatives, Matthews emphasized the importance of evidence-based decision-making and program evaluation expertise. In response, Kimakova highlighted the alignment of the school’s curriculum with this trend in the discipline by including program evaluation courses in its bachelor’s, master’s and certificate programs for professional development. At the same time, Matthews, Kimakova and Pitt each emphasized the importance of diversity, stakeholder involvement and the enduring challenge for improving the quality of data and methods of analysis for informed public policy decision-making.
Each year, the SPPA OPS breakfast serves as an intellectually stimulating event that kick-starts the academic year and brings together senior public sector officials with faculty, students and alumni in the public service to reflect on current challenges and future trends in public policy and administration. [read more...]
York University’s School of Public Policy and Administration (SPPA) held its first “Celebrating Public Service Reception” at Queen’s Park on March 21, 2016.
The event, held in the Ontario Legislature Dining Room, provided York’s SPPA students with an opportunity to meet and connect with senior public officials, MPPs and their own program alumni.
It also provided SPPA faculty and staff an opportunity to develop connections and bonds between the Ontario government elected and appointed officials. It was an exemplary networking event like none other, and one that participants will long remember.
More than 100 guests – including undergraduate and graduate students, alumni, community partners and MPPs – were in attendance. [read more...]
The Graduate Students’ Association of Public Policy, Administration and Law (GSAPPAL)
and the Public Policy and Administration Student Association (PPASA) of York University’s
School of Public Policy and Administration (SPPA) held their 3rd Annual SPPA Professional Networking Event on March. 10, 2016.
The GSAPPAL and the PPASA are student-run associations that exist within, and are an integral part of, the York University community. The GSAPPAL is a graduate organization and the PPASA is an undergraduate organization, both dedicated to the enhancement of student life at the SPPA.
The purpose of this event is based on the vested interest of both associations to create opportunities for students, alumni and faculty to engage in relationship building with each other and prominent members of the public and non-profit sector in Ontario.
Congratulations to Ashley Cabral, Andrew Farah, Venesse Lewis, and Shireen Salti who have been selected as our CAPPA-IPAC National Case Study Competition MPPAL Team members!
A big shout out to our coaches, Prof. Naomi Couto and Prof. John Wilkins for coaching our MPPAL National Case Study Competition workshops for our graduate students on this most important extra-curricular professional development activity.
We wish them all the best in Ottawa!
York University’s School of Public Policy & Administration (SPPA) recognized several of its community members during its annual Student, Alumni & Community Awards Dinner on Nov. 12, 2015.
The event included the presentation of four awards, the recognition of two special guests of honour and the reflections of several prominent attendees.
Awards were presented in four categories: Undergraduate Student, Graduate Student, Alumni and Practicum Honoree. [read more...]
York University alumnus Steve Orsini was the guest speaker at the annual Ontario Public Service (OPS) Breakfast, presented by the School of Public Policy & Administration (SPPA) on Oct. 1, 2015.
Orsini, who graduated from York with an MES and now serves as the secretary of cabinet, head of the OPS and clerk of the executive council, provided an inside look at government through his keynote speech “Leadership in a Dynamically Changing World.” [read more...]
The School of Public Policy & Administration (SPPA) moved up the ranks in the 2015 Institute of Public Administration of Canada/Canadian Association of Programs in Public Administration National Public Administration Case Competition Feb. 6 and 7 in Halifax.The Master of Public Policy, Administration & Law (MPPAL) case competition team from the Faculty of Graduate Studies at York University was made up of York students Paula Biebelheimer, Suhail Iqbal, Jennifer Nguyen and Sadaf Syed. They were coached by York Professors Naomi Couto and John Wilkins. [read more...]
The School of Public Policy and Administration (SPPA) held its annual Alumni and Student Recognition Awards Dinner on Nov. 27, 2014.
Each year, SPPA recognizes its outstanding students and alumni for their contributions to advancing its undergraduate and graduate programs. This year two special awards of appreciation were presented to individuals who have made exceptional contributions to the school's ongoing development. [read more...]