Our Staff

Social Planning Toronto's staff team brings passion, skill and decades of combined experience to our projects. We believe in our work and building lasting relationships with our partners and members.

Devika Shah

Executive Director

Devika is passionate about building a civic society in Toronto—the city she loves—that is grounded in diversity, equity, social and economic justice, and active democratic engagement. Her interdisciplinary background and experience in the environmental sector have strengthened her commitment to advancing grassroots, community-led, multi-stakeholder solutions, which she views as the most powerful lever for achieving systems change.

Through past positions with the World Wildlife Fund Canada, Pembina Institute, York University and KCI Philanthropy, and volunteer positions with the Catherine Donnelly Foundation, GreenPAC and the Children’s Aid Society of York Region, she has strengthened organizational capacity in the areas of public engagement, strategic integration and planning, fundraising and operations management.

Devika holds an MBA from York University's Schulich School of Business and a B.Sc. from the University of Toronto.

Maria Serrano

Director of Operations

Maria has extensive experience providing creative, innovative and strategic leadership in the community sector in the areas of operations, organizational and human resources. She's responsible for the development and implementation of systems, human resources, overall management of the administrative needs of Social Planning Toronto and supervision of Program Support Staff.

Mohamed Ismail

Financial Manager

Mohamed Ismail brings over 50 years of financial management experience in both corporate and non-profit environments. Having worked globally in Somaliland, Saudi Arabia and Canada, Mohamed has been working with Social Planning Toronto since 2002.

Mary Micallef

Program Support

Mary brings decades of experience to Social Planning Toronto's offices. She provides program support to our staff operations.

Shahina Sayani

Senior Community Planner

Shahina Sayani has 15 years of experience as a funder, Executive Director, community development worker, facilitator, consultant and researcher. She is passionate about increasing access to grassroots and formal education, as well as developing community capacity building initiatives that facilitate sustainable leadership. She enjoys volunteering as a mentor and raising funds for youth scholarships.

Israt Ahmed

Senior Community Planner — Scarborough

Israt Ahmed works as Senior Community Planner at Social Planning Toronto coordinating civic engagement initiatives and building resident leadership. She coordinates city-wide campaigns and local initiatives to make the city equitable, accessible and affordable for Torontonians. She holds MA and PhD from university of Sussex in U. K. She taught courses on diversity, civic engagement, community development and social planning at the university of Toronto, York and Ryerson.

Yasmin Haq Khan

Community Planner

Yasmin has worked in social planning since 1992, and has been a tireless advocate for racialized youth, women, newcomers and the homeless through leading or facilitating many committees and collaborations, as well as being a founding member and supporting the development of several local organizations serving youth and ethno-racial communities.

Saroja Ponnambalam

Community Planner — North York, East York

Saroja is a community organizer and documentary filmmaker who has expertise in resident capacity-building in diverse neighbourhoods. At SPT, she is the Community Planner supporting neighborhood groups and networks in Flemingdon Park, Thorncliffe Park, Jane-Finch, Lawrence Heights and Bathurst-Finch. She has been a strong advocate for racial justice, mental health awareness, and migrant rights, and has been active in several grassroots initiatives across the city. Saroja has an M.A in Human Geography from University of Toronto.


Shadya Yasin

Project Cordinator, ANC Mount Dennis 

Shadya studied African Studies, International Development and Community Arts at York University. She is also a certified teacher and recently finished her Masters of Education with a focus on Adult Education and Community Development from University of Toronto. Shadya has over 10 years work experience within the youth, education and community development sectors. She is an artist, an advocate and an organizer with local and international community development initiatives. Shadya is a life long learner and always looking forward to learning and sharing while working with children, youth, adults and seniors.

Beth Wilson

Senior Researcher and Policy Analyst

Beth Wilson is our lead on policy and research at Social Planning Toronto, starting at our organization in 2002. She has a Master of Social Work (MSW), Policy, Organization and Community.

Angelica de Jesus-Bretschneider

Researcher & Policy Analyst

Angelica is committed to driving social change through community-based research. She has led and supported numerous qualitative and quantitative research initiatives on public policy and planning matters that affect marginalized populations in Toronto and in various countries around the globe. Angelica has extensive experiences in the non-profit, government, and academic sectors. She has a Ph.D. in Planning degree from the University of Toronto.

Sharma Queiser

Researcher and Policy Analyst — Education and Human Development

Sharma is passionate about translating research into action for systemic change. With an MSW from UofT and BSW from Ryerson University, she has a strong understanding of social justice and anti-oppressive practice. Her work at SPT currently focuses on equity in education, access to public space, and recreation services.

Samandar Mahmodi

Policy and Research Assistant

Samandar has a bachelor degree in business and an associate degree in computer science from Afghanistan. He has also completed a certificate in Management and Leadership for Integrity at the Central European University in Budapest, a certificate in Integrity Management and Anti-Corruption at the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Academy, and the International Program for Development Evaluation Training (IPDET) at Carleton University. He is also certified in Leadership for Evaluation of the Sustainable Development Goals by UNITAR. Sam is an evaluator by profession, and has 10 years of experience in evaluation, data analysis, surveys and research, management, fundraising and organizational development.

Ryan Tilley

Program Assistant — Membership

Ryan Tilley brings over 6 years of experience with fundraising and development within both non-profit and corporate environments. Passionate about engaging with Social Planning Toronto's diverse membership on social justice issues, Ryan has been serving our organization since 2012.

Lisa Ferguson

Communications Coordinator

Lisa combines her love of storytelling with a passion for social change, community, and culture. Her journalism has appeared in publications such as NOW, CityLab, Spacing, Torontoist, and Ms. From 2014 to 2016 she wrote the annual Toronto’s Vital Signs Report (a city “report card” that drives civic engagement, debate, and advocacy). She holds a master’s degree in communications, and a certificate in community engagement, leadership and development.

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