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Elevate & Amplify, a virtual conference centred on BIPOC voices within design and social change, happened on June 3rd, 2021!

Elevate & Amplify is bringing together those in design and social change who think differently and are hungry to be critical.

Elevate & Amplify is the first conference of its kind in Canada. At this moment in history, we are challenging norms and asking ourselves what we need to heal and move forward. We want vital conversations about designing alternatives, learning from failures, and grappling with tensions in the work. We crave a level of critical reflection that we feel is missing from conversations, so we are attempting to make that community for ourselves.

Why Elevate & Amplify now?

  • To counter the narrative that it is difficult to find BIPOC professionals in design and social change work
  • Every single speaker is BIPOC, so we will hear valuable perspectives and experiences that aren’t always given the spotlight in our society
  • Challenge our understanding of who does design and social change work
  • Appreciate and learn from diverse ways of doing to push against the dominant culture


Navigating Systems that are not Designed for Us

A panel of “recipients” engaged in design processes who are charting their own paths and designing alternatives

Beyond Broken Promises of Co-design

A panel of designers who have adapted their practices and approaches to engagement as they learn from failure

Now what — how do we do Systems Change?

A panel of those leading who grapple with the tension of solving immediate/urgent problems and long-time change


Teshyla Bailey (she/her)

Founder of Sis To Sis Toronto 

We have just concluded our latest program called The Personal Come-Up and have entered into our reporting season. Currently, we are collecting data around our project impact over the year and sharing that with stakeholders. 

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Chantel Parris (she/her)

Outreach Coordinator of Sis To Sis Toronto 

I currently work at Sis To Sis Toronto as the Outreach Coordinator. I am working towards building relationships that will uplift and empower Black women and women of colour within the GTA community. 

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Daisy Nolasco (she/her)

Program Coordinator & Co-Founder of Bayanihan Empowerment

I am the Program Coordinator and one of the co-founders of Bayanihan Empowerment, a grassroots group based in Tkaronto that builds capacity in Filipinx youth through community, conversations, peer support, and mentorship. 

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Marc Kerwin Fernando (he/him)

Co-Founder of Bayanihan Empowerment

I am one of the co-founders of Bayanihan Empowerment which is a Filipinx organization for and by the youth. Our grassroots organization aims to connect 1st and 2nd generation Filipinx and to empower the community through conversations, co-healing, and recognition of shared humanity.

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Shenikqwa Phillip (she/her)

Program Manager at Black Women in Motion

Currently, I am working on finishing my degree in History from York University and overseeing the Black Peer Education Network; a 6-month employment and training program for Black womxn, femmes, and non-binary youth between the ages of 16-29 living in Neighbourhood Improvement Areas and/or Toronto Community Housing communities.

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Megan Lewis (she/her) Queer, Mixed Kanyen’keha:ka woman and member of Tyendinaga Mohawk Territory

Director of the Centre for Indigenous Policy & Research at CRE

I am currently the Director of the Centre for Indigenous Policy & Research at CRE. The focus of The Centre is to create space for new leadership and provide resources and tools for Indigenous youth voices to create impactful change. In my spare time, you can find me beading and exploring outside. 

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Ranee Lee (she/her)

Associate Professor in the Industrial Design Program at OCADU

Ranee is the first WOC/POC tenured faculty in the ID program at OCAD University with a teaching pedagogy reflecting her professional practice. Since 2015, she integrated design for social change into the program by engaging with a group of immigrant women in Regent Park (former social housing area) to design and sew for income generation as part of the City of Toronto’s Poverty Reduction Strategy.

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Anu Radha Verma (she/her)

Research Manager, Community-Based Research Centre (CBRC), independent curator & consultant, organizer with QTBIPOC sauga, radio host

Working towards the development of a national survey on 2SLGBTQQIA+ communities and chronic health, informed by anti-racism, intersectionality, disability justice and more. Also curating a few virtual shows for Pride events: any chance to celebrate QTBIPOC brilliance!

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Karen Carter (she/her)

Co-founder of Black Artists’ Network and Dialogue (BAND) and BIPOC fellowship in museum, arts and culture 

Karen Carter is a cultural sector executive who enjoys working in creative and educational environments. She has over 25 years of experience working and volunteering in a range of arts, culture and heritage settings.

Lena Phillips (she/her)

City-Building I Systems Design I Equitable Philanthropy I DEI Consultant

Up until recently, I spent 4+ years working at the intersection of equity and philanthropy supporting grassroots and systems change work led by-and-for Black and/or Indigenous communities. Additionally, past work includes engaging as a: youth-led, grassroots organizing for climate justice; International Development Fellow with the Aga Khan Foundation in Uganda; participatory action researcher focused on housing/displacement in London post-2012 Olympics and anti-eviction work in slums/informal settlements in Dar es Salaam; research consultant with OCAD U’s Faculty of Design exploring creative placemaking; and a researcher with Digital Justice Lab/Trinity Square Video examining digital, just and Black urban futures. I’m currently based in Cape Town at the African Center for Cities engaging non-Western urbanisms and concepts of space/placemaking.

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Yumi Kotani 小谷友美 (she/elle)

Senior Policy and Programs Strategist on the Anti-Racism Task Force at Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada

I came to the federal public service after many years in the non-profit sector, working on equity and inclusion, civic engagement, community development, and − although I didn’t know the terminology at the time − social innovation. I try to bring my critical thinking, creative problem-solving, and a human-centred approach to make public policy more relevant for the diverse people and communities it serves.

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Organizing Committee

Communications: Alexandra Da Dalt (she/her)
Communications: Rachel Phan (she/her)
Co-Organizer: Jennifer Chan (she/her)
Co-Organizer: Vanessa Toye (she/her)


Pro-bono design: Trajectory Brands Inc.
Technology: Karim Rizkallah (he/him)
Participant Caretakers: Alia Bye (she/her), Elvin Velasco (they/them), Irene Lam (she/her), Joanne Tsung (she/her), JoAnne Wang (she/her)

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