The Toronto Urban Fellows program is a competitive opportunity for recent graduate of Masters, LLB, JD, and PhD programs to tackle strategic projects at the City of Toronto.

The Toronto Urban Fellows program provides talented new professionals with an intensive introduction to the governance, operations and administration of Canada’s largest city. This is accomplished through a combination of full-time work experience and a series of seminars, tours and workshops.

The Toronto Urban Fellows program has established a strong reputation as an innovative, ground-breaking initiative that has welcomed more than 90 highly skilled and talented professionals to the Toronto Public Service.

Urban Fellows make important contributions to the City of Toronto’s policy and research agenda, provide fresh perspectives on complex issues, and undertake essential program development and evaluation activities. While their academic and professional backgrounds vary, all Toronto Urban Fellows share a commitment to excellence, public service and the City of Toronto’s success.

The TUF program was recognized with a City Manager’s Award in 2013. Check out the video!

Toronto Urban Fellows complete two six-month project assignments in two different divisions at the City of Toronto. These full-time, project-based professional development opportunities are enhanced by monthly Learning Series events that connect Urban Fellows with leaders at the City of Toronto and in the broader community. The program consists of:

Orientation and Project Matching

In the first week of the program, Urban Fellows learn about the host divisions and project assignments. Project matching – a mutual interview and selection process – is made to place Urban Fellows with a host division for a six-month assignment. Urban Fellows are matched based on their interest in the project, the skills and qualifications they bring to this particular assignment, and the professional development opportunity that the project offers. The project matching process is repeated half-way through the year to match Urban Fellows with their next six-month project rotation.

Program participants are not guaranteed a match with their top choice of assignment, and may be matched with any participating City division. Urban Fellows are often assigned to projects outside of their professional discipline. In this way, the Toronto Urban Fellows program allows for cross-pollination of professional expertise across the City of Toronto. It gives Urban Fellows an opportunity to step outside their comfort zones to gain new experiences, skills, and professional development opportunities.

Projects

The Toronto Urban Fellows program selects projects based on their strategic importance to the City, professional development value, and exposure opportunities for the Urban Fellow, among other criteria. Project assignments are overseen by experienced directors, managers or senior professionals within the Toronto Public Service.

Projects typically involve a combination of research, policy development, stakeholder consultation, project management, program delivery and evaluation, and/or business process review and re-engineering. To ensure project success, Urban Fellows must draw on their strong analytical, research, communication and interpersonal skills and be ready to ask and answer tough questions.

Learning Series

Urban Fellows participate in a year-long Learning Series that provides broader exposure to the City of Toronto’s governance system, administration and policy landscape. The Learning Series consists of seminars, workshops and tours. At these sessions, Urban Fellows meet with senior government officials, community champions, business leaders and academics who are passionate about Toronto and working hard to shape its future. Examples of Learning Series events held in recent cohorts included:

  • Fiscal Environment for Cities with Dr. Enid Slack, Director, Institute on Municipal Finance and Governance
  • Indigenous Reconciliation at the City of Toronto with the Native Child and Family Services
  • Governing in the Fishbowl: Perspective on Communications and Media Relations at the City of Toronto with Adrienne Batra (Toronto Sun) and Jeff Grey (Globe and Mail)
  • Visioning for the Future: The role of public infrastructure in social city-building and tour of the RC Harris Water Treatment Plant

Benefits and salaries

Urban Fellows earn a taxable salary of approximately $76,694.80 and are eligible for health care benefits after completing six months of employment.

Urban Fellows are not guaranteed employment with the City of Toronto upon completion of the program. However, through the experience gained in the program, participants will be well-positioned to apply for relevant vacancies and are eligible for health care benefits after completing six months of employment.

Applications for the next cohort will open early 2022.

Committed to employment equity, the City of Toronto encourages applications from Indigenous people and equity deserving groups.

Recruitment process

Urban Fellows recruitment follows a three stage process:

  • All candidates are required to submit a resume and cover letter that demonstrate their qualifications and potential to contribute to the Toronto Public Service.
  • Following an evaluation of the resume submissions, select candidates will be asked to complete a written assessment.
  • Following an evaluation of the written assignments, select candidates will be invited to a job interview.

Opportunities will open Spring 2022.

Eligibility

  • Applicants must have recently completed graduate level education, (within the past three years), at a Master’s level or greater, including LLB/JD.Internationally educated professionals are eligible and encouraged to apply. Individuals with a post-graduate certificate in Public Administration are also eligible to apply.
  • Applicants who are currently enrolled in a Masters, LLB, JD or PhD level program, will need to meet all academic criteria in order to be eligible to graduate before the Urban Fellows program begins.
  • Individuals are encouraged to apply regardless of academic major, discipline or field of specialization. Academic and/or work experience in areas such as Finance, Accounting or Information and Technology is considered an asset but not necessary. Candidates with backgrounds in disciplines such as urban planning, public policy, public administration, international development, social work, engineering, political science, sociology, history, kinesiology, public health, environmental studies and landscape architecture have been accepted into the program.
  • Applicants must be legally entitled to work in Canada for the duration of the program. If you are not a Canadian citizen, you must be a permanent resident of Canada or possess a valid open work permit for the duration of the program as per the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act and regulations (SOR/2002-227).  Please note that the Toronto Urban Fellows Program does not meet the requirements of NAFTA appendix 1603.D.1 for an exempt work permit for applicants from the United States or Mexico.
  • Applicants must meet the Key Qualifications described in the job posting.

As an organization dedicated to research on municipal finance and governance, the development of good public policy, and the strengthening of municipal public administration, IMFG strongly supports the Toronto Urban Fellows (TUF) program. The applicant demand for the program and the cadre of dynamic, dedicated and diverse fellows the TUF has welcomed, are testament to both a burgeoning interest in urban affairs and the capacity of the City to attract future leaders. We commend the City of Toronto and the innovative developers of the TUF program for having the vision and courage to launch and nurture a program that will pay great dividends in the years ahead.

Enid Slack, Director, Institute on Municipal Finance and Governance, Munk School of Global Affairs and Public Policy, University of Toronto

“Toronto Urban Fellows bring energy and innovative ways of thinking to the projects they tackle at the City of Toronto. They are enthusiastic, talented, and highly motivated professionals with skills that are transferable throughout our corporation. To date, Solid Waste Management Services has hosted seven Urban Fellows, many of whom went on to accept permanent, full-time roles at the City. The Toronto Urban Fellows program has been a strategic opportunity for our division to build its people-power by generating meaningful professional development opportunities on a range of innovative research, policy, and project management initiatives. If you’re ready to tackle unexpected challenges and contribute to projects with a real impact to the City, I strongly encourage you to apply to the Toronto Urban Fellows program.”

Carlyle Khan, Director, Infrastructure Development & Asset Management, Solid Waste Management Services

After finishing my PhD in Information Studies, I was looking for an opportunity to use my data analysis and research skills in new ways. I wanted to change careers, and was delighted to find exactly what I had been looking for in the TUF program. The program’s structure – rotating fellows through two divisions – helped me to learn about the various careers and projects at the City, while also making a contribution in my own work. I discovered a passion for both information management and operational data analysis, and have been able to develop and hone my skills in both areas. The TUF program provided me with great mentors, a broad and rich network of colleagues, and has given me immense pride in the contributions public servants make to programs and policies at the City of Toronto.

Lisa Quirke, QA Consultant, Toronto Water

Andrew Tidswell

Andrew’s varied background includes urban planning, strategic communications, and political organizing experience. Most recently, he worked with a Toronto-based consulting firm where he focused on transportation master plan projects and public consultation. Prior to entering the field of urban planning, Andrew worked as a copywriter in the political and non-profit sectors. He holds a BA in Political Science from Dalhousie University, and a MScPl in Urban Planning from the University of Toronto.

Angelica de Jesus-Bretschneider

Angelica is a public policy professional with skills in project management, stakeholder engagement, and advocacy. She gained advanced research and analysis skills training through her Ph.D. in Planning at the University of Toronto. Angelica has pursued an international career in non-profit, academia, and government – having built up experiences in Canada, Jamaica, South Africa, the Netherlands, and Thailand. Prior to joining the Toronto Urban Fellows Program, Angelica worked as a Researcher & Policy Analyst at Social Planning Toronto – a non-profit community organization, where she supported equitable policymaking and planning for underrepresented and underserved residents across our city.

Cadhla Gray

Cadhla Gray is passionate about creating democratic and inclusive processes for communities to drive public agendas, priorities, and change. She has facilitated public consultations, convened stakeholders, and developed recommendation reports on urban, environmental, health, accessibility, and tech plans with MASS LBP, the Institute for Canadian Citizenship, Access Now, and the International Organization for Migration. Most recently, she worked at Elections Ontario to expand outreach initiatives that reduce barriers to voting, especially for youth and first-time voters, Indigenous communities, and people with disabilities. Cadhla graduated from the University of Toronto with a master’s degree in global affairs and environmental studies.

Caroline Meier

Caroline is a policy professional with an interdisciplinary background, including in municipal and international affairs, sustainability, youth engagement, government relations as well as architecture. Most recently, she supported Small Business Owners during COVID-19 while working with the Ontario Ministry of Economic Development, Job Creation and Trade. She has completed a BA in Language and International Studies from the Aalborg University in Denmark, and holds a Master of Global Affairs from the University of Toronto. Caroline is passionate about social innovation and the building of sustainable, inclusive and resilient communities and cities.

Dena Badawi

Dena has worked within health research, programming, and policy. Her research background has focused on health and psychosocial well-being within refugee populations. She has also previously worked on mental health policy and programming for newcomer communities as well as programs and policies to support LGBTQ+ newcomers. Dena is interested in conducting translational health work to tangibly address health access and health equity for marginalized populations. She holds a Master of Science in Global Health from McMaster University and an Honours Bachelor of Science from the University of Waterloo, where she studied Biomedical Science and Peace and Conflict Studies.

Hazelmae Valenzuela

Hazelmae is an urban planner, with an interdisciplinary background in public policy and research. Prior to the Fellowship, Hazelmae led and designed research projects, supported innovative policy, program development, and stakeholder engagement on planning and social policy issues within several Ontario ministries, and at the City Manager’s Office. She completed a Master of Science in Urban Planning (MScPl) at the University of Toronto. As an Urban Fellow, Hazelmae is passionate about inclusive citybuilding and committed to applying anti-racism, and intersectional lens to confront the City’s most critical and complex challenges.

Joseph Burley

Joseph is a public health professional whose previous work focused on enhancing health equity for 2SLGBTQ+ Canadians through community-based research, specifically in the areas of anti-violence, sexual health, and harm reduction. He brings an intersectional and participatory lens to every project and firmly believes that our most wicked and entrenched problems demand community-led solutions. As an Urban Fellow, Joseph is eager to contribute his skills to projects that work towards a more equitable Toronto through inclusive and accountable policy development.

Keerthana Elankeeran

Keerthana earned a Master of Social Work with a specialization in Human Services Management and Leadership. Keerthana has experience in research, public policy, and clinical practice, with strong skills in policy and research analysis, stakeholder engagement, and project management. Prior to the fellowship, she worked in provincial policy development and implementation at the Canadian Mental Health Association. Keerthana has worked across a range of portfolios, including, substance use, health equity and post-secondary student mental health. Keerthana is committed to advancing social and health equity for marginalized communities through research and policies that are informed by intersectional, anti-oppressive, and culturally responsive approaches.

Lamia Aganagic

Lamia is a public policy professional with expertise in policy analysis, stakeholder consultation, qualitative research methodologies and project management. Her passion for evidence-based policy development and community engagement stems from her experience as a Business Coordinator in the Strategic Planning division at Toronto Community Housing and as a Senior Quality Improvement Analyst at Trillium Health Partners. She holds a Masters of Public Policy from the University of Toronto with international experience at the Hertie School of Governance in Berlin, Germany.

Lorina Hoxha

Lorina is a researcher and strategist with interdisciplinary experience spanning policy institutes, architecture studios, journalism, non-profits and academic projects in Canada, the Netherlands, and the Balkans. She is passionate about building policy and planning strategies that address systemic inequities in the built environment and social institutions. Having grown up in tower neighbourhoods in Toronto’s inner suburbs, Lorina has come to know many corners of the city. She looks forward to using her time as an Urban Fellow to learn from communities and develop actionable policies to address the city’s evolving challenges.

Naama Ofrath

Born in Jerusalem, I have moved internationally for work, study, and family purposes and settled in Toronto in 2015. My interests and experience lie in human rights, policy design and implementation, and affecting change. I have investigated human rights as an academic, looking into conflicts of rights, particularly where religion or immigration are concerned. I graduated with an SJD from U of T in 2019. I have provided legal research and support in international negotiations, and worked with not-for-profits in human rights, accessibility, settlement, and community services. Most recently, I have provided research and policy analysis on equity, diversity, and inclusion issues.

Neha Mathur

Neha is a recent Master of Public Policy graduate from The George Washington University with a focus in policy analysis and program evaluation. She also holds a Masters in economics and has more than 7 years’ experience as an Assistant Professor, teaching courses in intermediate and advanced microeconomics and statistics at the University of Delhi. Her areas of interests include development economics, monitoring & evaluation and data analytics. She supports evidenced based policymaking and is passionate about working towards making this society less inequitable. She is excited and keen to work on policies and programs that drive positive changes at the community levels.

Seemi Qaiser

In addition to a Master of Science in Global Health from the Harvard School of Public Health, Seemi has a strong background in the non-profit sector and has supported policy development internationally. Seemi is excited to bring her multisectoral expertise to the Toronto Urban Fellows program where she looks forward to leveraging her research skills and applying an equity lens to improve the quality of life for all Torontonians.

Shafeeq Armstrong

Shafeeq Armstrong, a public health professional, joins the Urban Fellowship with a desire to make Toronto a healthier, more equitable city. Before joining the City he worked for Special Olympics Ontario, overseeing their health and research programs. After graduating with his Master of Public Health, he led a variety of public health and policy-based projects with organizations such as Access Alliance and the Toronto Shelter Network. He has a passion for contributing to the development of urban policy seen through the lens of the social determinants of health.

Tej Heer

Tej is a multidisciplinary researcher interested in helping enact collaborative, evidence-based policy solutions to ongoing challenges. He was previously the Senior Research Associate at the non-profit organization Evidence for Democracy, where he completed solutions-focused research on misinformation, scientific integrity, and government transparency. He completed his PhD in 2020 in Physical and Environmental Sciences at the University of Toronto Scarborough, focusing on preventing the spawning of invasive fish species in the Great Lakes Basin. He also previously received a MSc in Climate Change from the University of College London.

Tina Pahlevan

Tina is a public health professional with experience in program planning and implementation, research, and community engagement. She is passionate about centering the community in the policymaking process and applying a health equity lens to all her work. In recent years, Tina has worked in non-profit and municipal government settings as a Health Promoter. As an Urban Fellow, she looks forward to advancing progressive solutions that support the City and its residents.

Tyler Ward

Tyler has a multidisciplinary background in health policy analysis, tobacco control, educational policy development, and legal research. He has been active in social justice advocacy throughout his career and performed various roles to remedy health inequities experienced by marginalized and equityseeking groups. During his MA, his research focussed on an intersectional approach to health equity and human rights violations resulting from childhood immigration detention in Canada. As a Toronto Urban Fellow, Tyler looks forward to contributing to the City of Toronto’s research discourse by applying evidence-based solutions that promote sustainability, inclusion, and diversity.