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, and 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 is 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 an MA and a PhD from the University of Sussex. She has taught courses on diversity, civic engagement, community development, and social planning at the University of Toronto, York University, 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. In Etobicoke, Yasmin is actively involved in the Toronto West Local Immigration Partnership.

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. She is a strong advocate for equitable community planning and has been active in several grassroots initiatives across the city. Previously, Saroja was a significant contributor to the NFB documentary project HIGHRISE, where she facilitated media workshops and community-led research in a Rexdale tower neighbourhood for five years. She holds a Master of Arts in Human Geography from the University of Toronto.

 

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 the University of Toronto and a 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.

Ryan Tilley

Membership Coordinator

Ryan Tilley brings over six 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 has bachelor's and master’s degrees in communications, and a certificate in community engagement, leadership and development.

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