Thank you for visiting the Toronto Urban Fellows website. We are currently recruiting the 11th cohort of TUFs. The application period has closed and applications are under review.


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.


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.

The job posting for the 2021-2022 Toronto Urban Fellows program is open from May 14, 2021 to May 31, 2021.

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.

Job offers for the 2021-2022 cohort will be made in Summer 2021. The program will begin in September, 2021 and conclude in August, 2022.


  • 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

David Absalom

BA (Hons), McMaster University; MPH, McMaster University

David is a public health professional committed to bridging the worlds of research, policy, social justice and advocacy. During his graduate career, his research interests surrounded the intersections of HIV/AIDS, Gay Men’s Health, and the well-being of Black communities. David has worked both on the frontlines serving community and in population health research. As a Toronto Urban Fellow, David plans to contribute to the City of Toronto’s research agenda from a community-minded, intersectional, evidence-based perspective.

Mehereen Bhaijiwala

PhD, University of Toronto; MSc. McGill University; BA (with Dist.), McGill University

Besides acquiring her PHD in clinical neurodevelopment, Mehereen has also worked as a policy advisor in the former Ministry of Child and Youth Services. There, she was part of a team that implemented an innovative service-delivery model for access to child and adolescent mental health services. She now looks forward to leveraging her research and evaluation background to collaboratively deliver evidence-based solutions for complex challenges facing the City.

Emma Bowley

BSc, University of Guelph; MFC, University of Toronto

Emma has a multidisciplinary background in public policy, conservation and project management. Most recently, Emma worked at the Ontario Ministry of the Environment, Conservation and Parks, supporting innovative policy and program development to protect and restore the Great Lakes. Emma has also led extensive public consultations to modernize provincial social programs and remove barriers for residents. As an Urban Fellow, Emma looks forward to collaborating on solutions that support resilience and sustainable ecosystems within our City.

Swinzle Chauhan

BSc, University of British Columbia; MScSM, University of Toronto

Swinzle began her career working in waste management at UBC’s Sustainability office. After finishing her BSc, she joined the Sunshine Coast Regional District (SCRD) in BC, where she managed public engagement on water conservation and drought management. Swinzle then pursued an MSc in Sustainability Management from U of T. During this time, she ventured into the private sector and joined Scotiabank’s Sustainable Business team where she worked on sustainability reporting, climate change resiliency and sustainable finance.

Anum Dhalwani

B.Sc. Honors, Lahore University of Management Sciences; MPPA, Ryerson University

Prior to the fellowship, Anum worked as a policy analyst for the Ontario Ministry of Infrastructure, where she led strategic policy and programming initiatives to empower municipalities to sustain their infrastructure. Anum has also lent her expertise in program development to support non-profits expand their operations to underserved communities in Ontario. Anum’s current work at the City involves developing programming for the Indigenous Centre for Innovation and Entrepreneurship which is scheduled for launch in 2021.

Kathleen Donovan

BA (Hons), University of Toronto, Trinity College; Masters of Human Rights and Humanitarian Action (MHRHA), Paris School of International Affairs, Sciences Po

Kathleen spent the past several years as a public policy researcher working on issues ranging from countering online hate to improving digital transformation in the public service. She has completed a BA (Hons) in International Relations from the University of Toronto and a Masters of Human Rights and Humanitarian Action from Sciences Po. She is passionate about working on issues at the cross-section of good policy, human rights, and social and economic disruption.

Emma Helfand-Green

BA, University of Guelph; MPP, University of Toronto

Emma is a public policy professional with experience in policy development, program design, research and project management. Prior to joining the City of Toronto, Emma worked in policy and government relations for the College of Family Physicians of Canada and Children’s Mental Health Ontario, and as a project manager for the Northern Policy Institute – an independent public policy think tank. She holds a Masters of Public Policy from the University of Toronto.

Lauren Kimura

MPH, University of Toronto; BSc (Hons.), McGill University

Lauren is a public health professional who has spent the past few years designing, implementing and managing interdisciplinary research and evaluation projects in the fields of homelessness, housing and health. She is passionate about social inclusion and innovation, with a particular focus on urban health and community development. As an Urban Fellow, Lauren is excited by the opportunity to apply collaborative, intersectional and evidence-based policy development to help confront the City’s most complex challenges.

Brina McMillan

Honours BA, University of Toronto; MES, York University

Brina’s interdisciplinary background combines urban planning, municipal affairs, environmental policy, research, and data analytics. Prior to the fellowship, Brina worked as policy analyst, supporting municipalities across Ontario on a range finance policy matters. She has also applied her research and data skills to economic development and environmental policy, and honed project management skills while managing an international non-profit organization.

Michael O’Neill

BA, Human Geography, University of Alberta; Master of Urban Planning, McGill University

Trained as an urban planner, Michael has experience in municipal government and consulting, most recently in the private sector where he contributed to high-profile transit projects, including as project coordinator for the design of two Relief Line stations. He has used his collaboration and project management skills to support his community, including co-leading the implementation of Pride’s new Wellness Zone in 2018. Michael looks forward to collaborating across the City to translate thoughtful policy into tangible outcomes.

Shunxian (Cindy) Ou

MSPH, Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health; BEng, Sun Yat-Sen University

Cindy is a transportation professional with a unique blend of education in urban planning and public health. Cindy brings in infrastructure development and project management experience from her previous work at the Baltimore City Department of Transportation and WSP USA. She is interested in advancing data-driven and forward-looking policies that are grounded in community interests.

Kelly Rahardja

Honours BA, University of Toronto; MPP, University of Toronto

Kelly recently served as Research Associate for Electronics Product Stewardship Canada, working on policy issues related to waste management, environment and red tape reduction. She holds a Masters in Public Policy and has worked as a policy advisor with the Ontario government. Previously, she served as team leader for Statistics Canada during the 2016 Census, and as program editor for the NATO Association of Canada. Kelly has experience in project management, government relations and stakeholder engagement.

Sudipta Saha

BSc, University of Toronto; MSc in Global Health and Population, Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health

Sudipta is a public health researcher whose work has explored how social and political determinants shape spatial patterns of health disparities in urban contexts. During his Master’s thesis, he worked with the Municipal Health Secretariat of Fortaleza, Brazil to investigate spatial patterns of homicide risk and their association with economic inequality. Sudipta has also been active in drawing attention to colonial structures in global health research and advocating for anti-colonial approaches in the field.

Rajesh Sankat

Honours BA, University of Toronto; MPP, University of Toronto’s Munk School of Global Affairs and Public Policy

Rajesh Sankat is a design-minded civil servant who joins the Urban Fellows Program from Ontario’s Policy Innovation Hub, where he used his facilitation and design-thinking skills to create narratives that galvanized change, facilitate difficult discussions, transform government decision-making processes and prioritize the end-users of policy. Rajesh is interested in better understanding and finding solutions to civic challenges through technology, design research, and public policy. He is currently supporting the City’s Smart City/Connected Community initiative.

Diana Tsui

MPP, University of Toronto; MA, Graduate Diploma, and BA (Hons.) York University

Diana is a policy professional who most recently worked for the Leader of Ontario’s Official Opposition. Her passion for social innovation and service design was shaped by her time at Ontario’s Office of Women’s Issues and the Institute for Social Research at York University. At the City, Diana is developing a quality assurance program for the Human Services Integration Project to improve service delivery to clients. She also manages a not-for-profit with a mission to improve social outcomes of suburban youth.

JieLan Xu

PhD, University of Toronto; MscPl, University of Toronto; BEng, South China University of Technology

JieLan has an interdisciplinary background in urban development, architecture/urban design, environment and health, spatial analysis/GIS, and big data analytics. JieLan’s recent work includes examining aging-in-place in Canada and generational trends of transportation mobility an activity participation. Her current project focuses on supporting corporate management through analyzing the interconnections between the City’s strategies and long-term plans.