Event Galleries

OPS Breakfast - 2017

School of Public Policy & Administration breakfast with the Hon. Michael Coteau on Combatting Systemic Racism

The Hon. Michael Coteau, Minister of Children and Youth Services and Minister Responsible for Anti-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.

Chancellor Greg Sorbara and The Hon. Micheal Coteau

Barbara Hall and crowd





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.

Provost and VPA Lisa Philipps with MPPAL students

Provost and VPA Lisa Philipps with MPPAL students

Chancellor Greg Sorbara and Barbara Hall

Chancellor Greg Sorbara and Barbara Hall






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:


Group picture

From left to right: Greg Sorbara, York University Chancellor; Alena Kimakova, Director of SPPA; Minister Coteau; Lisa Philipps, Provost and Vice-President Academic; Dagmar Soennecken, Director of the MPPAL program

Celebrating 150 Years of Public Service Reception - 2017

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.

The Honourable Steven Del Duca, Minister of Transportation

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.

From left to right: Jim Pine, Rhonda Lenton, Alena Kimakova and Jane Wedlock

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 Public Policy & Administration Lecture & Reception - 2017

"Why Good Government means Good Healthcare Policy" by Dr. Bert Lauwers - March 2, 2017

Why Good Government Means Good Healthcare Policy poster

Student, Alumni and Community Recognition Awards Dinner - 2016

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.


Alena Kimakova

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

Victor Severino

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:

melissaUndergraduate 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.

georgetteGraduate 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.

kevinAlumni 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.

sharonPracticum 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.

sabaHigh-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...]

OPS Breakfast - 2016

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.

Chancellor Sorbara introducing the Hon. Deborah Matthews

Chancellor Greg Sorbara introducing the Hon. Deborah Matthews

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.

From left to right: Professors Kimakova, Soennecken, Minister Matthews and Vice-Provost Academic Alice Pitt

From left to right: Professors Alena Kimakova, Dagmar Soennecken, Minister Deb Matthews and Vice-Provost Academic Alice Pitt

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.

Minister Matthews with our undergraduate student leaders

Minister Deb Matthews with undergraduate student leaders

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.

Minister Matthews with SPPA alumna Tanya Waugh, Advisor at Cabinet Office (BPA class of 2013, MPPAL class of 2015)

Minister Deb Matthews with SPPA alumna Tanya Waugh, advisor at Cabinet Office (BPA class of 2013, MPPAL class of 2015)

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...]

Celebrating Public Service Reception - 2016

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...]

3rd Annual SPPA Professional Networking Event - 2016

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.

Master of Public Policy and Law Case Study Team - 2016

2016 MPPAL Case Study TeamCongratulations 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!

Student, Alumni & Community Recognition Awards - 2015

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...]

OPS Breakfast - 2015

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...]

Master of Public Policy and Law Case Study Team - 2015

2015 MPPAL Case Study TeamThe 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...]

Student, Alumni & Community Recognition Awards - 2014

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...]

OPS Breakfast - 2014

Student, Alumni & Community Recognition Awards - 2013

Case Competition - 2013

Alumni Recognition - 2011

OPS Breakfast - 2011

Fall Campus Day - 2011