The Knowledge Equity Lab is led by Professor Leslie Chan, and co-directed by other interested faculty members.

  • An Advisory Board consisting of faculty, community leaders, administration, and more guides the strategic vision of the lab. 
  • Project Leads coordinate individual projects and partnerships as co-investigators for their respective projects. 
  • Students volunteer, participate, and actively work with community partners on these various projects. 
  • A Coordinator manages logistics, funding, and activities to enable its operation.

Leslie Chan, is an Associate Professor and Associate Director of the Centre for Critical Development Studies at the University of Toronto Scarborough. 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.

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.

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 (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 and tweets @bali_maha

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.

Isabelle Kim 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 and Development’s Virtual Social Change Hubs and UTSC’s Knowledge Equity Lab. Isabelle lives in Toronto with her partner and three children.

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. 

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.

Kanishka Sikri ( is a feminist writer, consultant, and theorist unravelling the multiple faces and forms of raced-sexed-gendered violence. Committed to crafting new creative lineages from post-de-colonial thought and transnational intersectionality, she yearns to make sense of the messiness of violence as the mother tongue of our dominator culture so as to cultivate worlds without its mutiliating bounds. Her hope is that in unsettling the contradictory violences and oppressive logics of power we have become settled to, we are able to settle in free, liberatory pluriverse worlds. Kanishka is formally trained as an international development specialist from the Centre for Critical Development Studies, University of Toronto, and is a South Asian immigrant settler in Scarborough, east of Tkaronto.

Tasneem Mewa foregrounds improving her advocacy and listening skills as she pursues a degree in Critical International Development Studies at the University of Toronto, Scarborough. She is keen on reflecting on her learning through practice. She has contributed to projects studying gaps in academic knowledge production, set goals to create more equitable research opportunities for students through OPF, bolstered the voices of youth and early-career researchers in Scarborough with Innovate Youth Scarborough, and worked with the Centre for Internet and Society, Bangalore as a research and policy intern to create accessible forms of knowledge at the intersections of gender and technology.

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.

Matthew Lefaive is the Departmental Assistant in the Department of Language Studies at the University of Toronto Scarborough. He also serves as 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 is interested in open access research and developing web applications for language preservation and learning.

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.

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. 

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. 

Alejandro Posada is a researcher and social policy analyst from Colombia working as a consultant with international cooperation agencies, academic research networks, and private policy evaluation firms. He is interested in issues related to rural and agrarian development, inequality and poverty reduction, financialization, and knowledge production. Concerning knowledge production, he is a research associate ar the Knowledge GAP where he has published about the financial and economic behavior of the publishing industry and its implications to knowledge inequity. He is particularly interested in how processes of concentration and financialization in academic infrastructure can exacerbate existing inequalities and hinder diversity of knowledge production. Alejandro holds a master’s in Global Governance from the University of Oxford as well as a bachelor’s in International Development and Economics from the University of Toronto.

Gordon Katic is an award-winning radio producer and journalist who directs Cited Media, which produces the award-winning podcasts Cited, Crackdown, Darts & Letters, and others. His work all focusses on questions regarding the politics of science and expertise, including: the democratization of scholarly authority; the interaction between experts and ‘lay people,’ and questions of science and education policy. He is also working on a PhD at the University of Toronto/OISE focussed on science journalism and public distrust. Previously, he earned a Masters in Journalism from the University of British Columbia.

Safa Shahkhalili is a podcaster and cultural anthropologist who works in research and communications in the international development sector. Her recent work has involved innovative reporting, youth engagement, designing and facilitating online courses, various aspects of education programming, and policy development. She is the founder of the rethinking development podcast + studio and provides both podcast production and training services. 

Mandekh Hussein

Blessing Digha 
Coming Soon


Dr. Bettina von Lieres is Assistant Professor, Teaching Stream, in the Centre for Critical Development Studies at the University of Toronto Scarborough, Canada. She teaches courses in the field of critical citizenship studies. From 1991–2002 she held university positions in South Africa. She is currently also appointed as an Extra-ordinary Senior Researcher at the University of the Western Cape, South Africa. Her publications include Mediated Citizenship: The Informal Politics of Speaking for Citizens in the Global South (co-edited with Laurence Piper, Palgrave, 2014) and Domains of Freedom: Justice, Citizenship and Social Change in South Africa (co-edited with Thembela Kepe and Melissa Levin, UCT Press, 2016).

Suzanne Sicchia 

Myuri Komaragiri is the 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.

Maggie Huang is the Coordinator for the Knowledge Equity Lab, Community-based Research Mentor for the Knowledge for Change Tkaronto Hub, and a Research Member of the KnowledgeGAP collective. She has contributed to research investigating open science policy discourse, inequities in academic infrastructures, commodification of knowledge through intellectual property, and barriers to post-secondary education in Toronto and India. She also brings experience from 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 to build a more peaceful, pluralistic coexistence of humanity’s diverse dreams and futures. 

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