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:
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.
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.
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:
Urban Fellows earn a taxable salary of approximately $78,234 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 Spring 2024.
Committed to employment equity, the City of Toronto encourages applications from Indigenous people and equity deserving groups.
Urban Fellows recruitment follows a three stage process:
Job offers for the 2024-2025 cohort will be made in Summer 2024. The program will begin in September 2024 and conclude in August 2025.
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
Abiraa is a healthcare professional with experience in public health, non-profit, and municipal government settings. With experience in policy analysis and research, she has worked on projects with the Town of Ajax aimed at enhancing social inclusion and engagement within neighbourhoods, and developing age-friendly communities for older adults. More recently, Abiraa worked as an occupational therapist at a Toronto-based non-profit community organization specializing in supportive housing and transitional support for individuals with physical disabilities and at-risk of homelessness. She attended the University of Toronto and holds a Honours Bachelor of Science degree in Human Biology and Mental Health Studies, and a Master of Science in Occupational Therapy. Her master’s research explored the dynamics of health, wellbeing, and traditional societal values among Nunavut’s Inuit. Abiraa looks forward to working on various program and policy initiatives to propel social innovation and elevate the overall health and wellbeing of Toronto’s diverse communities.
Adam Lake is a dynamic professional deeply engaged in community activism, fostering diversity, equity, inclusion, and accessibility within Toronto’s Black, Indigenous, and queer communities. His dedication shines through roles as a policy analyst, program analyst, and coordinator at institutions like the CEE Centre for Young Black Professionals, Canadian Council for Youth Prosperity, and Ontario Public Service. Adam has showcased his adeptness in coordinating, evaluating, designing, and delivering impactful initiatives that uplift marginalized voices. With a Master of Global Affairs from the University of Toronto’s Munk School and an Honours Bachelor of Arts in Sociology from York University, Adam’s commitment to addressing societal challenges is evident. He has a passion for creating a brighter future by promoting justice and equality. Proficient in interpersonal dynamics, he builds enduring relationships, fostering collaboration both internally and externally. Adam’s linguistic versatility, software proficiency, and ethical approach position him as a compassionate and effective advocate for transformative change.
Aftab Ahmed obtained his Master of Public Policy degree from the Max Bell School of Public Policy at McGill University in 2023. In 2022, he received an Honours Bachelor of Arts degree from the University of Toronto, majoring in Economics and International Relations. Between 2018 and 2023, Aftab worked as a banking professional in multiple roles at Toronto Dominion Bank, starting as a Customer Experience Associate, advancing to a Personal Banking Associate, and subsequently, an Investment Consultant. He has authored over 100 articles for media outlets in both Bangladesh and Canada, including the Daily Star, Dhaka Tribune, Business Standard, The Policy Magazine, and The Line. Additionally, Aftab co-founded the Canada-based social impact agency BacharLorai and serves as its Director of Policy Research.
Aisha Cader holds a Master of Public Health from Queen’s University. She has over seven years of project management and stakeholder relations experience, including managing a doctor’s office in Toronto and coordinating programming for a youth-based non-profit in Kingston. She has extensive experience in conducting literature reviews, including presenting the results of one at the International Machine Learning Conference conducting policy research and analysis, which formed the basis of her presentation on funding long-term care at the Canadian Association of Geographers’ Conference and conducting public consultations, such as consulting with an Indigenous community about building a secure digital archive for cultural materials. She has a go-getter attitude with a keen desire to learn new things, and excels in team-based environments. She is delighted to bring these skills to a project that centres stakeholder management, report reading and writing, or policy research, analysis and implementation.
AJ Bimm is a graduate from McGill University’s School of Urban Planning with an interest in how local policies can help improve access to housing and recreation. His varied background includes experience in housing policy, community engagement, and transportation analysis. Prior to joining the City of Toronto, AJ worked as a housing policy researcher with Vivre en Ville, a non-profit in Montreal, exploring development barriers faced by non-profit housing providers and various municipal strategies to help overcome them. AJ’s professional background also includes experience working with the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation, as well as a landscape architecture and planning firm in Boston. As an Urban Fellow, AJ is excited to work with different municipal departments to tackle complex problems to advance a more inclusive and thriving city. In his spare time, he enjoys spending his days outside and discovering new places through biking and running.
Alicia is a public policy and research professional with a rich interdisciplinary background. Before joining the Toronto Urban Fellows program, she made significant contributions at a leading non-profit. There, Alicia engaged in collaborative research, policy, program development and evaluation, social innovation, and public and stakeholder engagement, notably investigating the well-being of youth and the social determinants of health, homelessness, unemployment, and criminal justice involvement. Alicia holds a Bachelor of Arts in Criminology and a Master’s in Socio-Legal Studies from York University. Through her previous role as a Research and Policy Fellow at the John Howard Society of Ontario, active participation in Black Lives Matter, and co-creation of the podcast Black Girls Chatter, Alicia has consistently demonstrated her commitment to equity and diversity through the prioritization and amplification of Black, Indigenous and equity-deserving communities’ voices.
Han holds a Master of Global Affairs degree (MGA’ 23) from the University of Toronto and an Honours Bachelor of Arts in Communication and Management from the University of Ottawa. Prior to joining the Urban Fellows program, she worked in the private, public, and civil society sectors, from which she has gained experiences in policy research and analysis, stakeholder engagement, project management, and knowledge mobilization. As a West-Asia and Africa Programme Officer in UNESCO-ICHEI, she engaged closely with stakeholders to conduct impact analysis on teacher policies and Information, Communication and Technology (ICT) education in various country contexts using analytics tools to generate publications and reports that facilitate quality education. She has also provided project coordination and strategic communications support to government-wide initiatives and projects on service modernization when working in the Government of Canada. Working with cross-sector experts, she leveraged departments’ strategic priorities to build several communication plans and divisional flexible working arrangement strategies to promote internal business efficiency. As a Toronto Urban Fellow, she looks forward to contributing to evidence-based policy development to help achieve an equitable, inclusive, and diverse community.
Jeffrey is an interdisciplinary researcher-advocate with experience spanning education, psychology, psychiatry, sociology, and philosophy—all centred on resilience. He holds a Master’s in Educational Policy Studies and a PhD in Educational Psychology from the University of Alberta. In his doctoral research he worked with street-involved and unhoused queer young men involved in sex work in Edmonton and he recently completed a two-year post-doctorate at York University collaborating with Inuit youth on community-based, digital initiatives to mitigate depression and suicidality. Jeffrey brings an intersectional, ecological perspective focused on the transformation of systems and structures that have historically marginalized BIPOC and 2SLGBTQ+ community members. He hopes his passion for “street-level” public service with a focus on vulnerable populations, as well as his own positionality as queer, will enable him through the TUF program to contribute meaningfully to a more inclusive, just, sustainable, and flourishing city.
Jonta Kamara is a health system and health policy analyst and holds a Master of Public Health from King’s College London. She also holds an Honours Bachelor of Arts Degree in Health Studies with Distinction from the University of Toronto. During her studies, she worked at several research centers gaining insights into disability inclusion, maternal and child health, and COVID-19 vaccination uptake. Jonta has also worked with Friends of the Global Fight on global health policy and advocacy and UNICEF Headquarters, where she worked on education programs. In December 2022, Jonta launched a public health blog on her personal website where she focuses on public health issues in Africa as well as sharing her journey in the public health field. As a Toronto Urban Fellow, Jonta looks forward to bringing a lens of equity and inclusion in addition to focusing on social determinants of health in the City’s programs.
Julia Szujo recently graduated from Dalhousie University with a Master of Planning degree. Her academic focus encompassed the emerging field of marine spatial planning and various interdisciplinary projects, including population forecasting, wildlife connectivity mapping, and natural asset management. This summer, she worked in climate change adaptation planning for a non-profit organization. Before shifting her career to planning, Julia worked in accounting in her hometown of Budapest, Hungary. Julia’s interests revolve around the intersection of the natural environment, equity, and emerging technologies, and she believes that blue & green infrastructure are catalysts for social well-being.
Kayla is passionate about urban planning and the environment. She is committed to challenging the status quo to find solutions that support environmental sustainability, resiliency, and to help create a more green, equitable, resilient, and innovative city for all Torontonians. Kayla graduated from the University of Toronto with a Master of Science in Planning with a Collaborative Specialization in Environmental Studies. Prior to joining the City, Kayla worked at WSP Canada as an environmental planner working on major infrastructure projects, environmental assessments, transportation planning studies and electricity transmission projects. In her free time Kayla enjoys exploring the city on her bike or going for a run and is an advocate for improving childhood literacy by volunteering at the Toronto Public Library
Maiesha Rahman is a Master of Public Health (MPH) graduate, with a specialization in Social and Behavioural Health Sciences, from the Dalla Lana School of Public Health, University of Toronto. Maiesha is passionate about the mobilization and advancement of creative, equitable, and sustainable solutions for addressing the increasingly diverse needs of Torontonians. In her most current role, she coordinated the Campaign Vaccination Toronto initiative at the Toronto Shelter Network which aimed to address the health promotion and related services needs of people experiencing homelessness. Specifically, she led the Community Health Ambassador program, working with partner agencies to establish training and employment opportunities for shelter clients in the realms of health education delivery and health services supports. Maiesha, additionally, has supported a range of strategic planning, research, and evaluation projects at organizations including Access Alliance, Davenport-Perth Neighbourhood and Community Health Centre, Success Beyond Limits, Regent Park Community Health Centre, and OCASI.
Megan recently completed her PhD in neuroscience, focused on the long-term consequences of prenatal cannabis exposure in a preclinical model. This socially and politically relevant research topic led her to develop an interest in the intersection between science and policy. Throughout her graduate studies, she generated, analyzed, and synthesized quantitative data which she presented to a variety of scientific and non-scientific audiences. Megan also gained experience writing grant proposals and scientific articles. She has served as a production manager and editor-in-chief for the non-profit organization Toronto Notes Inc., which produces a textbook designed for medical students preparing for their licensing exams. In these roles, Megan was leading the financial, logistical, partnership, and editorial processes of the organization. In addition, she has co-led a science mentorship program for high school youth for several years. This involved designing and coordinating programming and leading groups through independent science communication projects.
Nadia Bacchus is a recent Master of Social Work graduate who is passionate about public policy and research pertaining to equity-deserving communities. Nadia is experienced in literature reviews, research analysis, stakeholder engagement, and knowledge translation. While working alongside senior policy analysts, Nadia had the opportunity to support the Ministry of Children, Community and Social Service’s 2023 legislative review of the Child, Youth, and Family Services Act. She had the irreplaceable experience of participating in technical roundtable discussions with various First Nation, Inuit, Métis, and Urban Indigenous organizations in Ontario. Nadia has over a decade of experience working directly with children, youth, and families from diverse communities. She has taken on professional roles in the youth justice, education, and community-based sectors. As a Toronto Urban Fellow, Nadia is looking forward to supporting innovative research and policy projects that are equitable, diverse, and that will move Toronto forward.
Nat Rambold (they/them) is an equity and inclusion professional with experience in research, public policy, and community-based education. With a Master of Arts in Gender Studies, Nat’s academic work has focused on the intersection of gender, race, colonialism, and nationalism in Canada. Since graduating they have worked across public and private sectors with specific focus on equity and justice for queer and trans communities. Prior to joining the City, Nat worked as a specialist for The 519, collaborating across sectors including government, healthcare, and education, to create organizational and systemic change. Their approach centers community participation, well-being, and justice, and they look forward to working and learning alongside Toronto’s diverse communities in this role.
Neha is a sustainability professional with three years of international development experience across research, strategy and implementation roles. Prior to joining the City of Toronto, she worked with the United Nations and a non-profit organization, focusing on climate adaptation and mitigation in South Asia. Her interdisciplinary education in social development, public policy and urban planning has allowed her to work across multiple sectors on complex issues facing communities, the natural and built environment. Her past work includes projects related to inclusive transit and housing systems for marginalized demographics, and more recently, enabling the net-zero transition for more than 25 private sector corporations. As a Toronto Urban Fellow, Neha is excited to contribute to the City’s efforts to combat climate change and promote equitable urban development.
Zachary is an adaptable generalist with eight years of professional experience in public policy and administration. As a Toronto Urban Fellow, Zachary will be particularly keen to contribute to projects and portfolios focusing on equity, diversity and inclusion issues in the cultural and creative sectors, heritage conservation and environmental sustainability. In his previous roles, Zachary worked on a diverse set of policy files, ranging from international trade to land development. His past assignments involved intergovernmental liaison, inter-agency coordination, legislative amendments, and community engagement. Between late 2018 and 2021, he served as a trade delegate, and was based in Geneva, Switzerland. Born and bred in Hong Kong, Zachary holds an undergraduate degree in English Literature from the University of Edinburgh, and a Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing from the University of Hong Kong. He has recently completed a Master of Arts in English at the University of Toronto.