Steering Committee

Celia Beketa (she/her) is a design researcher who has helped a range of federal government agencies and ministries develop more human-centric services, by bringing the voices of employees, residents, and citizens to the forefront. She is inspired by community-centric, grassroots approaches to creating just and equitable cities, and is a Steering Committee member of both Jane's Walk and the Toronto Public Space Committee.

In her spare time, you can find her either in the audience or on the stage of a community theatre production, exploring the backcountry wilderness, or sitting with a book at her favourite local coffee shop.

 

 

 

 

Cara Chellew (she/her) is a public space researcher, writer, and founder of DefensiveTO, a multi-media project that documents defensive/hostile urbanism in Toronto and beyond. She is a graduate of York University's Master of Environmental Studies Program in Planning and her work has been published in Azure, the Canadian Journal of Urban Research, Spacing and the Ontario Planning Journal.

Cara has been leading the reboot the Toronto Public Space Committee since 2019 and is the founder of the Defensive Urbanism Research Network. By uncovering exclusive design strategies, Cara hopes to inspire people to create more inclusive public spaces.

 

 

Thevishka Kanishkan (she/her) is a landscape designer with professional interest and experience in projects occurring at the intersection between accessibility, equity, and ecology. Prior to becoming a landscape designer, Thevishka worked in communications and design in Toronto’s non-profit sector with organizations focused on city-building, urban design policy, and the environment.

She holds a BScH in Environmental Biology from Queen’s University, a Post-Graduate Certificate in Interdisciplinary Design Strategy from the Institute without Boundaries at George Brown College, and a Master of Landscape Architecture from the John H. Daniels School of Architecture, Landscape and Design at the University of Toronto.

 

 

 

Merve Kolcak (she/her) is a future urban planner, currently completing her Master’s of Environmental Studies at York University specializing in Urban and Regional Planning. She is passionate about creating inclusive and safe spaces and communities for everyone, especially for those vulnerable in society.

She believes that having a collaborative and interactive community and capacity building in communities to be a powerful tool that allows for a transparent and inclusive decision-making process. In her free time, she likes to explore many of the hikes, trails and parks in the GTA and Ontario at large.

 

Jasmine Mohamed (she/her) is an emerging planner completing a Masters in Environmental Studies and Urban Change (MES) - Planning at York University. She is a lifelong learner that is passionate about transforming cities, with key focus areas in equity, placemaking and transportation. She recently co-authored “Engaging Black People and Power” Publication in collaboration with York University and Jay Pitter Placemaking, providing proven engagement strategies and tools while working in Black communities. A co-editor of Black Futures on Eglinton - Cultural Mapping Study, providing recommendations on the impacts of the Eglinton Crosstown LRT. In early 2020, she was selected to be a Canadian Delegate attending the United Nations - Habitat World Urban Forum 10 in Abu Dhabi, a unique international experience exchanging best practices and solutions to urban challenges. Her lived experience as a Black muslim woman has helped her develop keen analytical skills for examining social inequality, power structures, social policy, and how urban spatiality impacts the lives of equity-seeking communities. She currently sits on the Board of Directors for TTCRiders and is an active member of the Black Planners & Urbanist Association (BPUA).

 

Fran Quintero Rawlings (she/her) is a deeply curious innovator passionate about working on projects that improve both the human and design experience. As a systemic designer, researcher and artist she enjoys curating and provoking important conversations around equity, fairness, wellness and gender through curated public installations and events.

Fran is a Co-Lead at Method Collective, a foresight and design consultancy that works with organizations, institutions, and individuals to explore the complex interactions between people, technologies, and their environment. In her free time Fran loves to roller skate, read, and create pop up dance parties around the city.  

 

Linda Salem (she/her) is a graduate of the University of Toronto, having done a double major in City Studies and Art History. She is passionate about the intersection of cities and the arts. Her interests lie in striving to create simple solutions to complex issues in our city while fighting for equity and amplifying the voices that have always occupied our city.

 

 

 

Rachel Singer (she/her) is a policy planner with a background is in urban sustainability and environmental research. She currently works with municipalities and organizations across Ontario researching and developing policies on a range of topics including affordable housing, environmental management plans, and urban/rural connectivity. Rachel loves garage sales, communal gardens, public conservatories, and slow walks down busy streets. She joined the TPSC in 2020 and is geared up to help advocate for public spaces and the communities that use them.

 

 

 

 

Igor Samardzic (he/him) is a disability advocate and urban planner. He is a co-founder of S+G Urban Partners, a social impact firm specializing in urban development. With a background in community development, non-profit management, and evaluation. Igor holds a BA in Urban Studies & Political Science and an MScPl in Urban Planning & Development from the University of Toronto. He has also studied Program Evaluation at Ryerson University and is an avid kayaker and runner. 

 

 

 

Char Wayara - (she/her) Wielding personal accounts with racism, misogyny, and Otherness as a Black femme, as well as social justice and intersectional agendas, Char is deeply passionate about public space equity and policy reform to advance the needs of racialized, queer, and people with disabilities.

In addition, she is a proponent of realizing participatory planning and design interventions and centring lived experience and community knowledge in activating and improving these groups' quality of life in search of holistic and workable representations of health justice.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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