Yorkville University Announces Members of its New Diversity Advisory Councils

Thought Leadership

February 26, 2021

Yorkville University has announced the names of its newly appointed, elected and selected members of the Yorkville Diversity Advisory Councils for faculty, staff and students.

“These members will play an important role in advancing diversity, equity and inclusion in our organization,” said Thamina Jaferi, Yorkville’s Diversity Consultant. 

The new members of the Diversity Advisory Council will also play key roles in furthering Yorkville’s proposed Diversity and Inclusion Strategic Plan by providing feedback on policies and initiatives that matter to faculty, students and staff.

Read more about the members of Yorkville’s Faculty & Staff Diversity Advisory Council, as well as its Student Diversity Advisory Council, here: 

Yorkville University Faculty and Staff Diversity Advisory Council

Rick Davey, President (Co-Chair)

Tyler Dunham, Director of Government and Regulatory Affairs

Thamina Jaferi, Diversity Consultant (Co-Chair)

Thamina Jaferi is Yorkville University’s Diversity Consultant. An experienced diversity and inclusion professional and subject matter expert, Jaferi has a background in law, human rights and equity. In her role at Yorkville University, she develops, implements and administers various diversity programs, education and training to advance and support a diverse and inclusive workplace and inclusive service provision in the higher education sector.

Diane Singh, Senior Human Resources Specialist

My passion for diversity, equity, and inclusion started in my undergrad in Political Science when I got a better understanding of systemic discrimination and intersectional inequality. Now working in Human Resources, I know how important diversity and inclusion is in organizations and it has always been an area of interest for me. I look forward to being on the Diversity Advisory Council and continuing to contribute to long-term change and fostering a positive environment.

Sebastian Bustamante, Manager of Student Services (New Brunswick)

My name is Sebastian, but I am mostly known as “Seb”. I was born in Quito, Ecuador and I immigrated to Canada back in 2011. I have worked at Yorkville University since 2015 – first as an Admissions Advisor and now as the Manager of Student Services. I am currently enrolled in the Master of Education in Educational Leadership program, in which I hope that I will be able to implement my Capstone Project’s findings to improve our culture at Yorkville University. Some topics that I am interested are: Coaching in adult education; online learning and teaching; transformational leadership; and motivation and retention in the workplace, to name a few. I am looking forward to being part of this Council and to help our institution move forward for a progressive and inclusive culture.

Jerome Johnson, Industry Liaison Bachelor of Business Administration

I have been proudly working for Yorkville University since 2017. When I first started, I was an Admissions Advisor for our domestic Bachelor of Interior Design students, then soon after started working with our then-new Bachelor of Business Administration program with both domestic and international students as a Team Lead. Two things are certain, the students at Yorkville University want to be successful, and we want that for them. As one of your Diversity Advisory Council members, I look forward to continuing the successes of our amazing staff, faculty and students while ensuring we remain inclusive, aware and embracing of all cultures, orientations and ethnicities. Thank you for this tremendous opportunity and I look forward to a positive future in all we do.

Andree Robinson-Neal, Master of Education in Adult Education Faculty

Andree Robinson-Neal, EdD, serves the global community as a scholar-practitioner dedicated to the study of diversity in higher education. She currently works for the University of Charleston in the Doctor of Executive Leadership (DEL) program as the second-year coordinator and as an assistant professor. Dr. Robinson-Neal also works with Yorkville University and Grand Canyon University as an online faculty member. She completed her doctoral studies at Fielding Graduate University with a dissertation entitled Using Social Network Analysis to Examine How Perceived Beliefs Affect Service Quality in Public Higher Education Institutions, and also completed Fielding Graduate University’s Teaching in the Virtual Classroom program. Her research interests include: Higher education administration; community college education and administration; social networking; faith; social justice; grounded theory; diversity; redevelopment and revitalization of U.S. urban centers.

Amr Shokry, Bachelor of Business Administration Faculty

Amr Shokry has worked at a senior management level for two global Fortune 100 organizations (Novartis and Eli Lilly), managing a full spectrum of human resources management and organization development in Canadian and international locations. Shokry has worked in Canada, USA and Europe, and has also managed teams in India, China and Africa. He brings more than 20 years of global business experience at a senior director level to his teaching. Shokry holds a Master’s Degree in Strategic Human Resources Management from the University of Durham in England and also holds the CPHR designation. He is a certified Six Sigma Black Belt and Organizational Development practitioner. Shokry is very passionate about teaching and mentoring students and emerging professionals and setting them up for success in the workplace. Along with his drive for learning, he loves living in Vancouver and enjoys the adventurous aspects of outdoor recreation.

Violet Ferreira Sutherland, Bachelor of Business Administration Faculty

Violet Ferreira Sutherland is a PhD candidate at York University in the Gender, Feminist and Women’s Studies program. Her research interest is in the area Policy, Banking and Inclusion in the social-solidarity economy (SSE). She holds PMI designation, an MBA in Finance (Western Michigan University, USA), MPhil in Gender and Development Studies (University of the West Indies, Mona), Post Graduate Certification in Project Management (Centennial College, Canada), and a BA in Economics & History (UWI).

Ferreira Sutherland worked as an Associate Professor in Finance at Northern Caribbean University and Adjunct Lecturer in Gender and Development Studies at the University of the West Indies. She has also worked as a Diversity and Inclusion Consultant for a variety of International Development Agencies such as the European Union, UN Women, UNDP, CARICOM, and the Caribbean Development Bank. More recently, she finalized the National Strategic Action Plan to End Gender-Based Violence (2017-2027) in Jamaica, along with its Implementation Plan, which were approved in Parliament for joint implementation by the Bureau of Gender Affairs and UN Women.

Umeka Naidoo, Bachelor of Business Administration Faculty

I have been a Bachelor of Business Administration faculty member with Yorkville University since 2013 and I am really honoured to be a part of the Diversity Advisory Council. Having a diversity, equity and inclusion action plan is the driving force that can aid in not only disrupting, but unseating cultural, structural and systemic barriers. Diversity and inclusion are highly complex concepts but simply stated, the cornerstone of a diversity and inclusion strategy is three-fold. It includes commitment to creatively raise awareness, fostering a safe environment for open rich dialogue and by strengthening discourse, concerted action will see diversity and inclusion being put into practice. Diversity and inclusion is not a box-ticking exercise, it requires everyone that belongs to the institution to be an ally and/or a diversity and inclusion change champion. When everyone in an institution feels respected, welcomed and valued for their individuality, diversity and inclusion triumph!

Yorkville University Student Diversity Advisory Council Members

Thamina Jaferi, Diversity Consultant (Co-Chair) 

Thamina Jaferi is Yorkville University’s Diversity Consultant. An experienced diversity and inclusion professional and subject matter expert, Thamina has a background in law, human rights and equity. In her role at Yorkville University she develops, implements and administers various diversity programs, education and training to advance and support a diverse and inclusive workplace and inclusive service provision in the higher education sector.

Deirdre Pickerell, Dean of Student Success

Dr. Deirdre Pickerell is the Dean of Student Success at Yorkville University. She has more than 25 years of experience as an adult educator, career development specialist, and human resources management professional. As Dean, she leads a team supporting students in three key areas – mental health and wellness, academic accommodations and accessibility, and career services. Pickerell inspires through her leadership, professionalism, and endless determination to help others be the best they can be. As one student said, “You’ve never made me feel silly for asking questions and you’ve responded as though you have discerned wisdom in our comments that we weren’t even aware of…”

Ali Noor, Student Life Coordinator (Ontario)

Ali Noor is the Student Life Coordinator of Yorkville University’s Ontario Campus and is the force behind the creation, implementation and execution of YUEngageNow ­– the events and activities platform for all Yorkville University students, faculty and staff. Under the YUEngageNow banner, he has successfully established the YU Sports Society, which oversees inter-team clubs for cricket, soccer and basketball and the YU Creative Society, which runs multiple clubs including arts, drama, music, and gaming. The clubs alone have more than 200 active student participants and is always growing. Noor also has 15+ years combined work experience in the banking, insurance and education sector and is also a professional musician in the Greater Toronto Area.

Pauline Tiongson, Student Activities Coordinator (British Columbia)

Pauline Tiongson is a Student Activities Coordinator at Yorkville University for the British Columbia campus. She believes in enhancing the student life experience by balancing fun and education. Prior to her start at Yorkville, Tiongson worked as an art educator for eight years for various municipalities across the Lower Mainland of BC. Having taught students of different ages and backgrounds, she has a great understanding of the basic needs and skillsets in order for her students to develop creatively over time. She continues to use this practice in the post-secondary world by coordinating activities and events that give back to the community, hosting cultural events, and mentoring student volunteers to become role models for the entire student body. Tiongson holds a BFA from Kwantlen Polytechnic University.

Dhvani Savaliya, Bachelor of Interior Design Student

As my name means ‘sound’, I am here to listen every individual that is left unheard. As a part of the Yorkville University Student Diversity Advisory Council, I believe in Gandhi’s saying, “Be the change that you wish to see in the world”, and I expect every one of us to do the same. Follow the rules and do what is right for everyone at school.

Sura Almansour, Bachelor of Business Administration Student

My name is Sura Almansour. I live in Ottawa, Ontario, and I am really looking forward to being a part of the Yorkville University’s Student Diversity Advisory Council. I am a student in the Bachelor of Business Administration program and outside of work, I am a Legal Assistant/Law Clerk at a Condominium Firm specializing in civil litigation. My firm represents the Condominium Corporation, and our firm deals with issues relating to human rights violations, tenant disputes, drafting bylaws for the corporation, as well as ownership and governance of condominiums. This is a new practice for me as I was previously working in family law. In my role I attend to all drafting, and preparing court filing documents, affidavits etc. It can be a pretty dramatic and challenging job at times, but I truly and sincerely love what I do.

The reason I decided to embark on the journey of going back to school is because I want to broaden my knowledge of the business field. Once I’ve attained my Bachelor of Business Administration degree, I hope to be able to apply to law school in order to fulfill my dream of becoming a lawyer.

I am truly honoured and humbled to have been selected as one of the candidates for the Yorkville University Student Diversity Advisory Council. Being a person of colour myself, I have a passion for equality, diversity and inclusion and believe I am an ideal candidate for this role. I believe that diversity and inclusion is a core leadership competency that is to be recognized in all professional institutions especially the educational sector. As an inclusive candidate, I understand the need and value of diversity of thought. I have an extreme interest in diversity, equity and inclusion issues and believe I will be able to contribute my knowledge and lived experience to related matters.

Demi Babatunde, Master of Arts in Counselling Psychology Student

Hi, my name is Demi Babatunde. Since my graduation from the University of Alberta, where I studied Chemical Engineering, I have worked in the mining industry in process engineering. However, I have always had an interest in the well-being of people’s psyche and wanting to help bring about relief or more positivity to people’s lives, which is why I am pursuing a Master of Arts in Counselling Psychology at Yorkville University. I have volunteered my time and effort in Diversity and Inclusion committees both at the University of Alberta and at work in the mining industry, so this space is something I enjoy being a part of. I look forward to being a part of making Yorkville University more diversity, equity, and inclusion conscious, to working with everyone on the team, and to learning more about DEI.

Clay Roth, Master of Arts in Counselling Psychology Student

Clay Roth is a MACP student and is thrilled to serve on the Advisory council. Yorkville is the sixth (!) university Roth has attended. Throughout their academic career, Roth has served various roles in student activism and advocacy. Their goal post-graduation is to create a private practice that is accessible and affirmative to people surviving trauma and abuse, particularly targeted populations such as queer and trans folks, people with disabilities, and racialized folks. Roth gratefully lives and works on Coast Salish homelands with their rescue dog, Bruno.