For over ten years, CivicAction, Maytree’s partner in the DiverseCity project, has been building a pipeline of emerging leaders, preparing them to lead the change that the Greater Toronto and Hamilton Area (GTHA) is ready to see. CivicAction takes pride in its community of civic leaders, which is made up of engaged, passionate, emerging leaders as well as established individuals who have committed their lives to making the GTHA a better place for all.
This was evident at the MetroNext event on January 21, 2015, which brought together an eclectic mix of civic leaders spanning a generation or two. The two inaugural awards presented at the event acknowledged the good of the past and the energy of the present.
The Lifetime Achievement Award for David Crombie, former Mayor of Toronto, recognized his commitment to city-building and civic engagement. The Emerging Leader Award for Andrew Graham was an acknowledgement of his outstanding leadership to date.
“CivicAction lives and breathes leadership and knows the importance of growing strong civic leaders for today and tomorrow. MetroNext is about shining the spotlight on some extraordinary, engaged young leaders who are the new boots on the ground impacting change in their communities,” said Sevaun Palvetzian, CEO, CivicAction.
Andrew is the co-founder of Toronto Homecoming, an initiative incubated by CivicAction’s Emerging Leaders Network (ELN). The initiative, to attract and retain top talent in Canada, connects Canadians working abroad with opportunities in the Toronto Region.
In an interview with Yonge Street, Andrew, who moved to Toronto in 2008 after living abroad, quipped that he got involved with CivicAction to stay out of trouble outside of work hours. “My girlfriend of the time, now wife, was not in the same city the first few years I was here. So I always joked that I was looking for ways to stay busy.”
Toronto Homecoming is one among the many city-building projects supported by ELN and DiverseCity Fellows, another CivicAction leadership program. These projects include the Aboriginal Professional Association of Canada, which is dedicated to advancing Aboriginal leadership across Canada, and the Pan Am Path, a multi-use path to connect Toronto’s ravines for the 2015 Pan Am/Parapan Am Games.
ELN is now a network of more than 900 emerging leaders who inspire and motivate each other to take action. The network offers over 30 events each year to build their skills. DiverseCity Fellows, fashioned as a “civic MBA” program, provides 100 hours of intensive leadership training to around 25 rising stars each year. So far, over 130 individuals who have graduated from the program continue to put into action learnings from one of North America’s leading urban fellow program.
Fellows include individuals like Nouman Ahmad, Executive Director of CanLeads, an organization that trains future political leaders. Nouman is leading the development of a first-of-its-kind Nominations Playbook to demystify the federal nominations process and design interventions to support first time under-40 candidates. “I believe Canada’s future prosperity lies with a new generation of leadership and responsible capitalism with a long term focus,” says the 2014-15 DiverseCity Fellow.
As seen through its ELN and other initiatives, CivicAction thrives on collaboration and is always encouraging new players to come to the table. To maintain its role as “neutral sandbox,” CivicAction will continue to bring together senior executives and rising leaders from all sectors to tackle some of the GTHA’s toughest challenges.