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.

Jin Huh

Executive Director

Jin's passion is bringing people together to find common ground, shared values, and vision. From grassroots organizing to nonprofit leadership, Jin has supported and led change efforts in communities, organizations, and nonprofit sectors, and collaborated with residents and decision-makers across the city. She has deep knowledge of how policies and priorities impact marginalized communities and agencies.  

Jin has over two decades of experience in the nonprofit sector, with experience in community development, social planning, program development, sector development, and organizational development/change management. She comes to SPT from North York Community House, where as Program Director she oversaw the community development, civic engagement, and neighbourhood development initiatives, as well as settlement services and other programs/services. Previously, she led organizational development and held management roles at Toronto Community Housing, consulted, and was Organizational Standards Coordinator at OCASI. She has worked in women’s and 2SLGBTQ+ health, adult and popular education, and community arts, and was co-editor of HanKut: Critical Art and Writing by Korean Canadian Women. She serves on the Board of Toronto Environmental Alliance.

Jin holds a Master in Environmental Studies from York and an Honours Bachelor of Environmental Studies in Environment and Resource Studies from Waterloo.

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.

Melissa Wong

Director, Engagement & Strategic Initiatives

Melissa Wong is an experienced strategist and organizer with a passion for social justice and equity. For nine years, she worked at the municipal level for a Toronto City Councillor, leading campaigns and advancing policy to improve the lives of the city’s most vulnerable residents, including the initiation of the Downtown East Action Plan and the development of the Indigenous Centre for Innovation & Entrepreneurship. Melissa’s career in the community and non-profit sector has been dedicated to supporting intersectional gender equality and gender equity. In 2017, Melissa co-founded Women Win Toronto, a program to support and train progressive women to run for elected office. Prior to her work at city hall, Melissa held roles at the Toronto Women’s City Alliance and the North York Women’s Centre.

Mary Micallef

Program Support

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

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.

Community Planners

Shahina Sayani

Senior Community Planner
(Currently on leave)

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.

Saroja Ponnambalam

Community Planner 

Saroja has over seven years of experience in resident engagement in Toronto's diverse neighbourhoods. She is dedicated to reducing barriers to civic participation through local governance, and has worked with numerous community groups and networks across the city to organize around systemic issues, ranging from racial discrimination to housing inequity. She holds a Master of Arts in Human Geography from the University of Toronto. Saroja also has a media arts practice which utilizes community arts and documentary film as tools for advancing social justice and influencing policy.

 

Rima Athar

Community Planner

Rima has over a decade of experience working to advance gender equity and the rights of women, girls, and 2SLGBTIQ+ people globally. As a facilitator, researcher, educator, and organizer, she has worked with community-led teams from every continent to strengthen advocacy around sexual and bodily autonomy, gender-based violence, digital rights and privacy, land rights and environmental justice, government and corporate accountability, and more. Rima also loves holding spaces for healing and well-being to support those at the frontlines of social change.

Research & Policy

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.

Sharma Queiser

Researcher and Policy Analyst 

Sharma conducts community-based, action-oriented research and supports stakeholder engagement. Currently, her work focuses on academic streaming, access to recreation for equity-seeking groups, and community use of public spaces. A social worker by training, Sharma is dedicated to addressing the root causes of social injustices.

Ammar Adenwala

Researcher and Policy Analyst,
Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada
and Toronto South LIP project

After studying climate science, Ammar received an MA from McGill University in human geography. Interested in power and social justice in cities across the globe, Ammar has spent the last 5 years researching urban development in Southeast Asia and how residents navigate rapid urban change. He is particularly committed to participatory research approaches that try to flatten hierarchies and highlight participant voices. Ammar hopes that by taking a holistic, intersectional perspective to studying urban experiences, we can work to build a more just and equitable future.

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