People

PEOPLE

Team

KEL Summer 2021 Team Meeting
COORDINATION TEAM

Leslie Chan

Leslie Chan is the Director of the Knowledge Equity Lab. An early practitioner of the Web for scholarly and educational exchange, Leslie has been particularly interested in the role of “openness” in the design of knowledge infrastructure, and the implications on the production and flow of knowledge and their impact on local and international development. As one of the original signatories of the Budapest Open Access Initiative, Leslie has been active in the experimentation and implementation of scholarly communication initiatives of varying scales around the world. Director of Bioline International, an international collaborative open access platform, Leslie is a long time advocate for knowledge equity and inclusive development. Leslie has served as advisor to numerous projects and organizations, including the Canadian Research Knowledge Network, the American Anthropological Association, the International Development Research Centre, UNESCO, the Open Society Foundation, the Directory of Open Access Journal, more recently the San Francisco Declaration on Research Assessment (DORA). Leslie is the principal investigator for the Open and Collaborative Science in Development Network (OCSDNet), funded by IDRC in Canada and DFID in the UK, the PI of the Knowledge G.A.P project, and Director of the Knowledge Equity Lab.

Maggie Huang

Maggie Huang is the Coordinator for the Knowledge Equity Lab, Community-Based Participatory Research Mentor for the Knowledge for Change Tkaronto Hub, and a Member of the KnowledgeGAP research collective. She has contributed to research investigating open science policy discourse, inequities in academic infrastructures, the commodification of knowledge, and barriers to post-secondary education in Toronto and India. She also brings experience working in community development, community-based youth participatory action research, Collective Impact network coordination, and strategic fundraising and communications to advance the goals of KEL. Maggie is a graduate of the Critical Development Studies Co-op program from the University of Toronto Scarborough, where she was humbled to receive the Gordon Cressy Award and Letter Award for student leadership and significant community contributions. Maggie is passionate about collaborative ways to learn and raise critical consciousness; and contributes to movements co-emerging wisdom and collective action towards a more holistic and pluralistic emergence of humanity’s diverse dreams and futures.

Matthew Lefaive

Matthew Lefaive is the Project Manager for Bioline International – the longest running project currently housed in the Knowledge Equity Lab – managing the platform’s content as well as the day-to-day project workflow. He first joined the Bioline International project as a student while completing his undergraduate studies in Computer Science and Linguistics and has furthered his involvement since graduating in 2019. Matthew also works as the Departmental Assistant in the Department of Language Studies at the University of Toronto Scarborough. Matthew is interested in open access research and developing web applications for language preservation and learning.

ADVISORY BOARD

Donna Okubo

Donna Okubo is an advocate for Open Science.  She has worked within the Open Access community since 2004.  Donna worked at The Public Library of Science (PLOS) where she directed their Instructional membership program, lead the California coalition to successfully pass AB 609 — the first state public access bill in the US and lead the convening of a group of U.S., international funder, and infrastructure stakeholders to form the Open Research Funders Group (ORFG).  She co-founded International Open Access week and continues to serve on the OA Week Advisory Committee.  Prior to her work in Open Science she was a fundraiser for a variety of non-profits

Budd Hall

Dr. Budd Hall is a Professor Emeritus, School of Public Administration, University of Victoria and a Co-Chair, UNESCO Chair in Community-Based Research and Social Responsibility In Higher Education. He has 40+ years’ experience in community-based research, is world-renowned for his advocacy and activism in advancing equality and equity in higher education for marginalized students and has spent his career working with vulnerable populations in Canada and around the world. Dr. Hall is actively engaged in decolonializing open source and open access scholarship and knowledge democracy mobilization.  Budd is also a poet and actively engaged in addressing injustice through all forms of poetry.

Isabelle Kim

Isabelle has been working in the fields of international cooperation, public engagement, and community-based education, health, arts and research since 1996. She has had the pleasure of working in Canada, Peru and China with diverse communities, schools, universities, hospitals, and civil society organizations, including Development and Peace, and Scadding Court Community Centre. Isabelle joined Partners in Health Canada in September 2020, as a Grants Manager. Isabelle is a proud alumna of UTSC’s International Development Studies Coop Programme (2000). She holds a PhD (2007) from the Ontario Institute for Studies in Education at the University of Toronto (OISE), where Isabelle has been teaching courses in research methods and cooperative learning since 2009. In August 2019, Isabelle initiated with Dr. Leslie Chan, the formation of the UNESCO Knowledge for Change (K4C) Toronto Hub. In April 2020 she was certified as a Mentor in Community-Based Participatory Research (CBPR) by the UNESCO co-Chairs in Social Responsibility in Higher Education and CBPR. Isabelle is grateful to be part of knowledge equity initiatives such as the Toronto Centre of Learning & Development’s Virtual Social Change Hubs and UTSC’s Knowledge Equity Lab. Isabelle lives in Toronto with her partner and three children.

Maha Bali

Maha Bali is Associate Professor of Practice at the Center for Learning and Teaching at the American University in Cairo. She has a PhD in Education from the University of Sheffield, UK. She is co-founder of virtuallyconnecting.org (a grassroots movement that challenges academic gatekeeping at conferences) and co-facilitator of Equity Unbound (an equity-focused, open, connected intercultural learning curriculum, which has also branched into academic community activities Continuity with Care and Inclusive Academia). She writes and speaks frequently about social justice, critical pedagogy, and open and online education. She blogs regularly at http://blog.mahabali.me and tweets @bali_maha

Carolina Boutero Cabrera

Carolina Botero Cabrera is the executive director of the Colombian civil society digital rights organization Karisma Foundation. She is a researcher, lawyer, lecturer, writer and consultant on topics related to law and technology. Carolina works in the defence of human rights in technology environments, following debates on freedom of expression, privacy, access to knowledge and culture. Karisma’s work includes social and gender perspectives. Carolina strongly supports citizen participation through research as a key democratic value. Carolina holds a master’s degree in international law and cooperation (VUB – Belgium), and a master’s degree in Business and Contracting Law (2006, UAB – Spain). Writes frecuent Opeds in local media @elespectador and @lasillavacia. @carobotero

Niloufar Pourzand

Niloufar Pourzand has a PhD in Sociology, Gender and Ethnic Studies, and has been a development/humanitarian practitioner, mostly with UNICEF, for over 3 decades, in quite a number of different regions, countries and capacities. This includes Iran, Afghanistan, Tajikistan, the Caribbean, Indonesia and India.  She has been teaching a Masters Course in Development Studies at York U for the past four years, after being the first Centre for Refugee Studies Professor of Practice in 2016-2017.  She is teaching an undergraduate course at the U of Toronto in the Fall Term of 2020.  Niloufar has consistently focused on women, children and refugee rights, as well as education, protection and social policy issues in her career. She continues to support/be connected to different organizations and networks in many different countries, while also being a guest lecturer at other universities and mentoring young development professionals.

AFFILIATE RESEARCHERS & FELLOWS

Mandekh Hussein

Mandekh Hussein is driven by initiatives grounded in collaboration, sustainability, and ownership. She takes part in efforts centred on equipping individuals and communities with the resources, skills and opportunities to actualize their vision, find new opportunities and connect with one another. Mandekh is currently a Lecturer at Brunel University in the BASc Global Challenges programme, where she focuses on the use of evidence-based approaches to designing and delivering interventions. She is also strategic consultant for primary care in Hammersmith and Fulham, with a particular emphasis on addressing health inequalities through embedding of innovation, leadership development and workforce development. Outside of this, Mandekh is an Associate for Educators International, leading the current project in Liberia, and previously, that in Colombia. She is also the CEO for Eastside Youth. She is also a member of  Pivot Projects

Denisse Albornoz

Denisse is a former Research Associate for the Open and Collaborative Science in Development Network (OCSDNet). She is an International Development and Sociology graduate from the University of Toronto, and is interested in inclusive and transgressive approaches to knowledge construction and dissemination. In Toronto, she has facilitated inclusive education programs, exploring the use of art or media in alternative pedagogies and research practices with youth. She has also worked with the Centre for Internet and Society in Bangalore, mapping change-making practices at the intersections of new media, art and activism in South Asia. At OCSDNet, she is researching power and inequality in discourse construction about Open Science.

Blessing Digha

Alejandro Posada

Alejandro Posada is a former Research Associate with the OCSDNet, based in Toronto. He graduated from the International Development and Economics programs at the University of Toronto Scarborough and is interested in the political economy and financialization of the publishing industry as well as the synergies between open science and traditional knowledge systems in agriculture. He previously worked with the Centre for Indian Knowledge Systems in Chennai, assessing the economic viability of revitalizing traditional knowledge in agriculture as well as researching the political ecology of India’s agricultural micro-insurance industry. Alejandro is a Colombian citizen who has lived in seven different countries including Canada, India, Costa Rica, Russia, England, and Venezuela. During his time in Canada, he has been involved with various community organizations such as the Stop Community Food Centre, WUSC Student Refugee Program, and Frontier College. Follow him on Twitter at @pal3jo

Karen Villanueva

Karen Villanueva-Paez is a Colombian community worker currently based in Tkaronto, Kanata (Toronto, Canada). She graduated from York University with an HBA in International Development Studies and is currently pursuing a Master in Social Work at the University of Toronto. Karen currently holds the portfolio of Supervisor of Programming at the Toronto Centre for Learning & Development. For the past 6 years, through her community development practice, Karen integrates her passion for popular education, activism and visual arts to support immigrant and newcomer populations living in underserved communities. Karen collaborates with grassroots stakeholders to create programs that serve their own communities and foster their capacity to enact social change.

Henrietta Teh

Henrietta Teh (she/her) is an undergraduate student at the University of Toronto pursuing a specialist degree in International Development and Human Geography. Broadly interested in political ecology and critical perspectives in community development, her current research focuses on examining agrarian change and uneven vulnerabilities to climate change and irregular migration in Guatemala. Also, she is a project consultant for ChildFund Guatemala, continuing her work in participatory youth engagement in Central America and Mexico. Her previous fieldwork experiences include working in refugee rights advocacy and capacity building with community-based organisations in Malaysia as well as with global NGOs in Latin America focusing on child protection. Through research and practice, she strives towards community engagement that is founded on equity, justice and co-construction through fostering meaningful relationships. 

Bushra Zaheer

Bushra is the project lead of the Open Science and Decolonization of Knowledge (OSDOK) project. She has a keen interest in environmental justice applied through furthering decolonial, Indigenous-centered policy responses to climate change. She recently worked as a Research Support Officer for an organization called IMPACT Canada where she provided bilingual report writing and data visualization support for initiatives tackling natural resource mismanagement in the DRC and the Ivory Coast. She was also an intern for Natural Justice where she contributed to the development of Biocultural Community Protocols outlining the land and resource rights of Indigenous communities in South Africa and Botswana. She is a 2020 graduate of the International Development Studies Co-op program and an incoming student of the University of Waterloo’s MA Global Governance program.

Kanishka Sikri

Kanishka Sikri (www.kanishkasikri.com) is a post-de-colonial feminist, scholar-activist, and interdisciplinary student of critical development studies at the University of Toronto living in Scarborough, known for her writing and cultural critique, public and academic talks, collaborative workshops and trainings, and critical development consultancy. As an award-winning speaker and advocate engulfed in the fight for freedom, justice, and critical pedagogy, Kanishka aims to messily ‘do’ the inquiry into the functioning of raced-sexed-gendered violence as a mundane language of our dominator culture, so as to cultivate pluriverse worlds without its genocidal bounds. 

STUDENT MEMBERS

Karma Salloum

Karma is an undergraduate student at the University of Toronto, Scarborough pursuing a degree in International Development Studies with minors in Anthropology and Political Science. She is passionate about social justice issues, particularly women’s rights and refugee rights, and is keen on working in Lebanon, her home country, in the future. At Open Praxis Forum (OPF), she is a communications manager who works on web design and social media. Karma joined the Knowledge Equity Lab out of her interest in understanding knowledge inequities and the barriers to creating and accessing knowledge in academia, and she hopes to contribute to amplifying students’ voices and help create equitable opportunities for youth to present their work and ideas through OPF. 

Simran Suri

Simran is an undergraduate student at the University of Toronto Scarborough pursuing a specialist degree in the CO-OP International Development Studies program along with a minor in the Women and Gender Studies program. She is consistently striving to build upon her organization, communication and collaborative skills which have been enhanced through her work with the Knowledge Equity Lab. Her role at the lab includes working as a communications manager and project coordinator for the Open Praxis Forum team. By using these skills, she has experience in communicating messages through digital forms such as posters using Canva and will also be co-hosting a workshop surrounding ideas of food security. As an immigrant from India, she seeks opportunities within arts and development, methods to address the increasing number of disparities among such communities and mobilizing knowledge to reach vulnerable populations in the Global South. 

Ingrid Leung (she/her)

Ingrid is a third year student at the University of Toronto specializing in mathematical applications in finance and economics and minoring in cinema studies. She is very grateful to be working at KEL as a projects assistant and aiding in team support and coordination. She is hoping to learn more about  notions of white saviorism and how they manifest themselves in everyday applications, methods of storytelling and passing down generational knowledge in different cultures, and how she can use her own privilege to make knowledge more accessible for overlooked groups. In her spare time she enjoys baking, running, and travelling!

Estrella Marquez

Estrella (she/her) is currently completing her undergraduate degree at UTSC, with a double-major in International Development Studies and City Studies, and a minor in Sociocultural Anthropology. She is interested in the role of anchor institutions at both local and international scales, and how they interplay with power and knowledge-building. She is interested in the study and amplification of intersectional and situated knowledges in creating equitable spaces for learning and healing. With her position at the Knowledge and Equity Lab, Estrella hopes to better understand her own positionality, and that of her institution and community in decolonizing the production, perpetuation, and sharing of forms of knowledge. Estrella has a passion for visual art and social justice, and has experience working in community engagement as a previous placement student with the Department of Community Partnerships and Engagement at UTSC, with this experience, she hopes to build on the potential for arts and culture to become fundamental modes of knowledge equity. 

Kibati Femi-Johnson

Kibati Femi-Johnson is a second-year student at the University of Toronto Scarborough, pursuing a Double Major in International Development and Political Science. He is primarily interested in equitable policy and governance, but is also curious about other fields of study. Having roots in Nigeria, the United States, England and Canada, Kibati is interested in analyzing global interactions. He studies what makes communities different, similar, and what can be learnt from the overlap (or lack thereof) between the two. This passion has led Kibati to study history, geography and the environmental sciences in order to learn more about unique cultures and societies. Now at the Knowledge Equity Lab, Kibati works with Bioline International as a publishing assistant; downloading, proofing, and uploading journals to the Bioline website. He hopes that by opening himself to a whole new world of information, he can continue to grow in his interests and learn at a higher academic level. In the long-run, Kibati hopes to become a well-rounded and inclusive thinker by seeing the world through a global lens, and to use the knowledge he has to positively influence his community. 

Jerusha Alvares

Jerusha Alvares is an undergraduate student at the University of Toronto Scarborough, double majoring in linguistics and international development studies and minoring in anthropology. She is passionate about equity and decolonizing institutions such as the health care and education systems. Her interests in global health and health equity led to her participating in UTSC’s Global & International Health Week first as a student in the IDSC11 class and then as a volunteer with Open Praxis Forum. She is currently involved with the promotion, outreach and communication aspects of OPF. As a part of the Knowledge Equity Lab, she seeks to better understand the production and dissemination of knowledge within academia. In her free time, she enjoys volunteering with community organizations and trying new foods. Ultimately, she aspires to serve marginalized populations by working as a speech-language pathologist. 

Myuri Komargiri

Myuri Komaragiri is the Assistant Program Coordinator, International Development Studies co-op at the Centre for Critical Development Studies (CCDS), where she also coordinates the graduate level collaborative specialization in Development Policy and Power. She is the coordinator for the Community Knowledge Learning Hub (CKLH) and project manager of the Knowledge for Change (K4C) Toronto Hub. She was the Youth Exchange Program Manager at Paper Airplanes Inc., which facilitates english tutoring for conflict-affected adolescents, and is now a member of Paper Airplanes’s advisory board. She has taught and supported education access projects in Guatemala, Morocco and Jordan. She has an MA in Education and International Development from UCL’s Institute of Education, and will begin a PhD in Higher Education at the University of Toronto in Fall 2020. 

Sigrid Roman

Sigrid Roman (she/her) is  a  PhD  Candidate  in  the  Educational  Leadership  and  Policy  (ELP) Program  and  the  Comparative,  International  and  Development  Education  (CIDE)  Collaborative Program at  the Ontario Institute for Studies in Education in Canada. Her principal teaching  and research  area  concentrate  on education  and political  violence/conflict for  social  change  and transformation and  related  fields  such  as  human  rights,  democracy  and  critical  citizenship.  Her personal  and  professional  hope  is  to  establish  strong  collaborative  relationships  with  partners across communities, civil society organizations, research institutions and governments to develop research insights and policy that both illuminates and responds to contemporary issues of political conflict  and/or  violence  and  help  strengthen  peace-oriented  praxes  from  within  education  and aligned spaces. Sigrid is also a visual artist. More recently, her work explores and examines the embodiment and shifting perceptions of peace, violence and human connection. In her free time, Sigrid enjoys swimming, archery and climbing precipitous mountains.

FORMER MEMBERS

Tasneem Mewa

Tasneem Mewa is the founder of the OpenPraxisForum. She was a student at the University of Toronto pursuing an Honours Bachelor of Arts in International Development Studies. She is interested in critiquing neoclassical economic theory and deconstructing conventional notions of spatiality. In addition to her research with the Centre for Critical Development Studies, she currently works as a Senior Editor for the student run development journal, The Undercurrent.

Rayner Sutherland

Rayna Sutherland (she/her) is a senior undergraduate student at the University of Toronto Scarborough (USTC) pursuing a specialist degree in International Development as well as Women’s and Gender Studies. Her past research and community-based organizing experiences include working with grassroots organizations such as a Tanzanian member-based small-scale farming organization, MVIWATA; the UTSC Women’s and Trans Centre, and Natural Justice, a pan-African social and environmental justice organization. Currently, her research explores tensions between biodiversity conservation, land restitution and Indigenous land rights in relation to intuitive justice in South Africa. She also serves on the Youth Coordination team within the Club of Rome’s Youth Engagement Program. These experiences have further solidified her passion for “justice” mobilizing through anti-oppressive, feminist, community-based, and action-oriented approaches, ever-grounded in relationships.

George Chen

George Chen is a research associate at the Knowledge GAP. There he worked on both the mergers and acquisitions of academic publishers as well as the role of data providers in academic rankings (forthcoming).  A graduate of the University of Toronto’s Management and International Business program with a stream in Economics, George is interested in the economics of development as well as the drivers of academic discourse. George had also worked as a research assistant for the Centre for Critical Development Studies. He is currently pursuing a law degree at Harvard Law School.

Mayesha Chaudhury

Mayesha Chowdhury is a fourth-year student pursuing a specialist degree in English at the University of Toronto St George campus. She is interested in communications, project management and the ways in which social media can be used to create important conversations. In her spare time Mayesha likes reading, travelling, and writing for University of Toronto publications like The Varsity and The Mike. 

Lilly Pagliacci

Lilly Pagliacci (she/her) is in her final year as an undergraduate student specializing in International Development and Human Geography at the University of Toronto Scarborough. Her primary research interests and work focuses on processes of anti-colonial environmental governance and community land-based rights. Currently, her thesis research explores narratives and notions of women’s empowerment within handi-craft focused community development in Nepal. Her thesis work is based upon her seven month position as the Communication and Documentation Coordinator for Nepal Knotcraft Centre. Her past work includes contributing to an ongoing project through UTSC’s geography department that works to historicize land struggles and Indigenous land rights in British Columbia. 

Member Reflections


Bushra Zaheer

Since getting involved with this project (and the Knowledge Equity Lab as a whole), I have learned that no aspect of the global infrastructure for knowledge production is neutral nor unintentional in its design and impacts. In particular, North-South funding disparities and geographic areas of knowledge-producing cores/peripheries are ongoing legacies of colonization.

Blessing Digha

The most valuable thing I have learned while working with this project is that I belong here, not as a token or project but as a valuable community member. My ways of expressing Knowledge even though “not-conventional” are valid and valuable not just to the project but to the community. I dealt with impostor syndrome when I first joined because I thought I would not fit in. I have a background in working in communities (advocacy, engagement, mobilization, and research) and here I am amid academia. I tried to “copy” the ways of doing and expression especially the lingua and expressed my fears to my supervisor, Prof Chan who encouraged and most importantly validated my ways of knowing, expression and growing. Most importantly that the C in Community was not just about the project but also genuinely about we the people who carry out these projects.

Aniujan Chandran

“Being a member of the Knowledge Equity Lab, I have had the opportunity to grow in multiple capacities. I truly enjoyed the thought-provoking experience that came about when learning from the webinars, taking part in group discussions, presentations and synthesizing the overall report. Learning from leaders in knowledge equity research and practice, and contributing to regular discussions with teammates has provided me with a unique lens to view knowledge. Ultimately, this project has immensely shaped the way I view knowledge production, barriers to knowledge and the prospective opportunities to address the gaps in knowledge equity. “

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