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Department of Leadership, Higher and Adult Education

Adult Education and Community Development Program

Meet Our Alumni

Our graduates are leaders in a diverse range of industries, communities, and organizations. They work in political activism, research, industrial and labour relations, radical trauma counselling, social work, organizational development, consulting, community development, policy analysis and more. 

Here's what some of them are up to. 

Alex Abramovich, PhD 2014
Independent Scientist, Institute for Mental Health Policy Research,
Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH)

An internationally recognized leader in the area of LGBTQ2S youth homelessness, Dr. Alex Abramovich works closely with municipal and provincial governments to develop strategies that address the needs of LGBTQ2S youth experiencing homelessness.

At OISE, their doctoral research investigated homophobia and transphobia in Toronto’s shelter system, looking at the experiences that LGBTQ2S young people have in the shelter system and how broader policy issues serve to create oppressive contexts for LGBTQ2S youth. In 2019, Alex was selected as member of National Advisory Council on Poverty for Canada's Poverty Reduction Strategy.

Simon Adam, PhD 2017
Assistant Professor, York University, Faculty of Health

Simon is an assistant professor at York University’s Faculty of Health, in the School of Nursing. His program of scholarship centres around the mental health industry, its various institutional and discursive dimensions, the consumer/survivor experience, and alternative and counter-hegemonic ways of conceptualizing human suffering, pain, and crisis.

Simon’s other interests include social movements, activism, and resistance, particularly in the context of the medicalization of mental health. He has worked as clinician in the emergency department and volunteered on street outreach and harm reduction initiatives in Toronto, Canada.


Nadine Atwi Ammache, MEd 2020
Published writer, Poet, Adult educator, Instructor at the University of Toronto’s School of Continuing Studies

While completing her degree. Nadine joined the University of Toronto’s School of Continuing Studies, where she thought courses in Translation and Arabic language, and recently won the “Outstanding New Instructor Award” for her first year as an instructor at SCS. 

With fluency in Arabic, French and English, and formative years spent in Lebanon, France, and Saudi Arabia, Nadine volunteered to help refugees, displaced women and young adults settle in Canada. Her area of research focusses around Women, Young Adults, Peacebuilding, War Trauma and Media representation. Visit Kalimat, a website she created, to showcase stories and struggles of refugee women she worked with in Toronto.


Adam Benn, MEd 2019
Manager, Human Rights, Equity & Diversity
Centre for Human Rights, Equity & Diversity, Humber College

In his current role, Adam manages education and training, Humber’s compliance with the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act and supports nitiatives to integrate equity, diversity and inclusion throughout the College.

He has more than ten years of experience working with diverse populations, including racialized people, persons who identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender/transsexual, queer (LGBT2SQ), and persons with disabilities, in non-profit and community healthcare organizations. He has developed and delivered trainings and workshops on equity focused topics through an intersectional lens and his training approach is grounded in critical theory and anti-oppression practice.


Michelle Coombs, PhD 2018
Executive Director, The Jean Tweed Centre

Michelle is a nonprofit sector leader with over 20 years’ experience working with homeless men, women and families and people living with mental health issues and addictions. Her theoretical interests include how discourse constructs notions of gender, difference and leadership and how this relates to the practice of leadership in the charitable sector. In her sector work Michelle applies an adult education approach to her leadership and community work.

She is presently the Executive Director of The Jean Tweed Centre, an organization that supports women and their families in the pursuit of health and well-being, and the Chair of West Toronto Community Legal Services. 


Shama Dossa, PhD 2011
‎Director Evaluation Research and Learning Unit, Aga Khan Foundation

Shama is a researcher and community development practitioner with over fifteen years of experience working in the Asia Pacific region. Her interests include participatory research methodologies, qualitative research, arts-informed research, empowerment theory and youth leadership.

She recently completed her tenure as Director Evaluation, Research and Learning with Aga Khan Foundation in Afghanistan where she headed the AKDN Quality of Life Study for Afghanistan. Previously, Shama worked with the Asia Pacific Resource and Research Center for Women (ARROW) in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. Shama has also held academic posts at Ryerson University, Aga Khan University, and Quid-e-Azam University.


Chris Glover, MA 1995, PhD 2018
Adjunct Professor, York University
MPP, Critic Colleges and Universities
Standing Committee on General Government

Dr. Glover is an Adjunct Professor at York University, teaching courses on education and public policy, and has taught at the University of Toronto and East York Collegiate. He has worked internationally, developing and teaching health programs for children in India, Kenya, and Turkey. Working as a research consultant, his clients include Toronto Public Health, the United Way of Greater Toronto, Parent Action on Drugs, and Trustees of the Toronto District School Board. His projects have successfully promoted high school students, and have evaluated community health and education needs. Chris is currently an MPP, representing the electoral district of Spadina-Fort York.


Deirdre Gomes, MEd 2015
Development Officer, Stewardship & Donor Relations
University of Toronto

"I took to the Adult Education and Community Development program because it really prides itself on transformative learning. It’s a program where you can build in your own experiences in discussions and amongst your peers. It also offers a supportive environment where you can express your thoughts and opinions, and learn from your peers who come from varying backgrounds.Through the program, I was able to learn much more than I had ever before." Watch Deidre talk about her experience in the Adult Education and Community Development Program


Judy Grant, MEd 2016
PhD Student, Department of Leadership, Higher and Adult Education
Ontario Institute for Studies in Education

One of best parts of Judy’s experience in the Department of Leadership Higher and Adult Education was the support she received from staff, faculty and classmates. During her Master's Judy connected with academics, practitioners and colleagues who helped challenge her perspectives and develop her academic acumen. These relationships have been instrumental in her academic and professional life. 

Judy is now a PhD student in the department. Her goal is to work with women at the grassroots level to promote consciousness and build capacity. She believes that being part of OISE's rich and supporting environment will enable her to succeed her academic and activist pursuits.


Lisa Gulesserian, MEd 2013
Consultant, Abu Dhabi University Knowledge Group

For the past 12 years, Lisa has been working in corporate learning and development for organizations such as KPMG, Ernst & Young, Rotman Executive Programs (U of T) and most recently at Abu Dhabi University Knowledge Group in the United Arab Emirates. She has also been a part-time faculty member at George Brown College.

In Lisa’s current role, she works with organizations to design and deliver leadership development programs. She’s also been researching the challenges that women in the GCC face with respect to entering and succeeding in leadership positions. 


Megan Haggerty, MA 2007
Consultant, World Bank

"Many new doors were opened for me through my MA in the Adult Education Program and Comparative, International, and Developmental Education Collaborative Program.

At OISE, I got involved with the Canadian Global Campaign for Education (CGCE), which was just being founded by Professor Karen Mundy. I became the CGCE’s first coordinator and project manager. Here, with the help of many others, I produced the national “Send my Friend to School” and then the “Every Child Needs a Teacher” curriculum. These works aimed to teach Canadian children about the international crisis in educational access, quality and equity, and give them the tools to join other children around the world in advocating for 'Education for All.'" Read more


Payal Khazanchi, MEd 2020
Director, Inclusion Initiatives, Community Living Ontario

Payal is currently serving as Director of Inclusion Initiatives at the Community Living Ontario. She was a family leader at Holland Bloorview Kids Rehabilitation Hospital and has held key leadership roles on the Family Advisory Committee, including the pandemic recovery planning and the Health Equity Steering Committee. 

Through the hospital’s ‘Family as Faculty’ training program, Payal co-taught the ‘Social Work and Disability Practice’ Masters level course at the Factor Inwentash School of Social Work, University of Toronto. In year 2019, Payal was the recipient of Margaret I. Hambly Memorial scholarship at OISE and is also the recipient of the MacNaught-Taillon (M&T) Emerging Patient Leader Bursary award for the year 2020. Read more


Tracey King, MEd
Aboriginal Human Resources Consultant, Ryerson University

"As a first-generation student, I learned that my Aboriginal perspective and worldview is very much needed in academia. My OISE MEd has enabled me to understand, navigate and apply my knowledge in the work I do as Canada's first Aboriginal human resources consultant in the higher education industry." 



Winnie Ng, MA 1995
Unifor Sam Gindin Chair in Social Justice and Democracy
Ryerson University

For over three decades, Winnie has championed the rights of workers through her involvement with various labour organizations and networks. Her research interest in anti-racism, equality, and capacity-building draws upon her extensive experience in social justice. She's recognized for her leadership in the Canadian labour movement, and recipient of numerous distinctions including the Urban Alliance on Race Relations Leadership Award, the United Farm Workers' Cesar Chavez Black Eagle Award, and the YWCA Women of Distinction


Jason Merai, MEd 2014
Inspector, Ministry of Community Safety & Correctional Services,
Government of Ontario

"I firmly believe in community development as a measure for keeping institutional power accountable, as well as empowering individuals to accomplish transformative change. 

I pursued my Masters in Adult Education and Community Development in order to develop pedagogical approaches to education as a vehicle for sustainable change. I had the opportunity to work with wonderful professors like Jack Quarter, Sherida Ryan, Sara Carpenter and David Levine. They were instrumental in determining the need to apply intersectional approaches to education, adapting to different learning styles, and constantly being aware of the need to be innovative in supporting marginalized and disempowered communities." Read more


Sohelia Pashang, PhD 2011
Professor and Academic Coordinator 
Social Service, Immigrant and Refugee Program, Seneca College

Dr. Pashang's research explores the lived conditions of non-status women and ways in which these women manage to navigate the system with limited access to human services, human rights, health, and legal support.

Prior to  her studies at OISE, Sohelia worked as a social worker and therapist assisting immigrants and refugees, children and families dealing with psycho-socio-physical challenges, survivors of war and torture, victims of sexual and physical abuse, people dealing with mental health and addictions, and other marginalized groups.


Robert Roopa, MEd 2013
Lead Therapist, Counselling Services for York Region

Robert has a Master’s degree in Counselling Psychology and Adult Education, both attained at OISE. He was named Lead Therapist at Counselling Services for York Region and holds registration titles as a Psychologist in Ontario and New Brunswick. Mr. Roopa has also been named Resident Supervisor at the OCD and Anxiety Clinic of Ontario, which is a practice dedicated to helping individuals who experience difficulties with obsessive compulsive disorder and related anxiety disorders. He is passionate about counselling, helping others, community development, and building relationships.

''Jorge Sousa, PhD 2005
Associate Professor, Department of Educational Policy Studies,
University of Alberta

Dr. Sousa's research falls within the context of the intersection between community development and adult education, including community governance models, participatory decision-making, and housing policy and practice. Currently, Jorge is working with stakeholders interested in converting public housing into a tenant managed arrangement. The objective is to develop learning strategies to institute a process that can account for the needs of citizens and their housing community.


Nathasha Swaminathan, MEd 2007
Teacher, Dufferin-Peel Catholic School Board

Nathasha is a teacher at the Dufferin-Peel Catholic District School Board. In this role, Nathasha has mentored new teachers and developed new teaching resources. She has also initiated and led student and community events that promote diversity within the school and at the school board level.  

Nathasha’s interest focuses on inclusive education as an avenue to promote equity and inclusivity to all students. Through inclusive education, Nathasha feels that communities and cultures are valued which enhances learning experiences, increase confidence and overall well-being for a long-term growth. Read more


Kathleen Wynne, MEd 1995
Former Premier of Ontario

Kathleen Wynne was the 25th Premier of Ontario and is a member of the Legislative Assembly of Ontario, representing the riding of Don Valley West for the Liberal Party. She was elected to the Ontario legislature in 2003 and re-elected in 2007. She served as Minister of Education for more than three years, leading the government’s efforts to bring smaller classes to the early grades, improve test scores and create more opportunities for high school students to reach their full potential. Prior to becoming an MPP, she served as a school trustee in Toronto.