Close to 100 York University alumni, students, faculty and friends of the School of Public Policy & Administration (SPPA), in the Faculty of Liberal Arts & Professional Studies, gathered on Nov. 23 for its annual celebration of service.
As part of the annual tradition, last year’s Alumni Award recipient Kevin Giddings (MPPAL ’15) took on the role of Master of Ceremonies for the evening. Several merit awards were also introduced this year, resulting in the school’s longest-yet list of inspiring award winners.
The keynote address of the event was delivered by alumnus Caspar Hall (BA Spec. Honours PPA ’97), policy director with the Anti-Racism Directorate – Cabinet Office, who shared with the audience “Insights from a Public Policy Apprentice”.
Caspar emphasized the importance of integrity and leadership at every level of public service, along with evidence-based decision making and keeping the focus on the intended policy outcomes.
Caspar has been with the Anti-Racism Directorate since its inception in March 2016 and is currently leading a number of high-profile initiatives to support the implementation of Ontario’s three-year Anti-Racism Strategic Plan, including the Anti-Black Racism Strategy (ABRS), the Ontario Public Service Anti-Racism Strategy, and the development of a Race Data Standard and Anti-Racism Impact Assessment (ARIA) framework.
Prior to this role, Caspar held policy and management roles in Cabinet Office’s Policy and Delivery Division, the Ministry of Finance’s Secretariat supporting the Commission on Reform of Ontario’s Public Services (CROPS) and at the Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing. Caspar was recognized with the Silver Medal – IPAC/Deloitte Public Sector Leadership Award in 2012.
Following the keynote address, service awards were presented in the undergraduate and graduate student category:
Undergraduate Student Award to Munisha Basiram, Bachelor of Public Administration Spec. Honours, Management Stream (Class of 2017)
Basiram has served on the Public Policy and Administration Student Association (PPASA) in a variety of roles for several years, including as president. As an enthusiastic peer mentor, she guided many students through their transition to university and inspired them to be engaged. Her tireless work and dedication led to the PPASA being named the McLaughlin College Club of the Year in 2017 as well as her personally receiving the University-wide Robert Tiffin Student Leadership Award. As a BPA student, Basiram held several summer positions with the Ontario Ministry of Tourism, Culture and Sport, completed a placement with the York Region Rapid Transit Corporation and worked as a human resources coordinator intern with Free the Children, an interviewer with York University’s Institute for Social Research, and a Program Evaluation Student Consultant with Service Canada. She currently holds the position of program officer with the Program Evaluation and Transfer Payment Unit in the Ministry of Tourism, Culture and Sport.
Graduate Student Award to Shireen Salti, Master of Public Policy, Administration and Law and Graduate Diploma in Justice System Administration (Class of 2017)
Salti was the social convener of the 2016/17 Graduate Students’ Association of Public Policy, Administration and Law (GSAPPAL) and also represented York University at the 2015-16 Institute of Public Administration Canada (IPAC) National Case Study Competition. She has worked in a number of roles in the Ontario Ministry of Education, Inclusive Education Branch and at the Education Quality and Accountability Office. Currently, she is one of the 10 legislative interns in the Ontario Legislature Internship Programme.
Salti also received the inaugural Major Research Paper (MRP) Award in the MPPAL program. Her MRP focused on the integration of privately sponsored versus government assisted Syrian refugees in Toronto and was presented at the annual conference of the Canadian Association of Programs in Public Administration (CAPPA) at the University of Manitoba in May.
Other MPPAL students Shovan Chakraborty, Salvatore D’Agostino, Rathsara Illangasinghe, Eric Lothman and Hannah Ross were recognized with the Best Team Award for their participation in the 2017 IPAC-CAPPA National Case Competition with John Wilkins, adjunct faculty at SPPA and Executive in Residence at the Schulich School of Business, as the team’s dedicated coach.
This year also marks the launch of a new Emerging Leader Award, which recognizes a current student or recent alumnus/alumna of the School who is an emerging leader within the broader public sector and represents the ideals, values and abilities of sound, responsible and engaging public policy and administration in congruence with the School’s vision to promote Good Governance. The award recipient will normally have five to eight years of work experience in the broader public sector and in this inaugural year, two MPPAL students – Ashley Cabral and Najva Mohammad Amin – were recognized with this award.
Ashley Cabral, Master of Public Policy, Administration and Law and Graduate Diploma in Justice System Administration (Class of 2017)
Cabral started to work in the Ontario Public Service in 2013 as a case worker with the Ministry of Community and Social Services, Ontario Disability Support Program and has progressed through the ranks in a number of roles including business lead expert, program analyst and executive assistant with the Ministry in the Social Assistance Service Modernization Branch.
Cabral is also an enthusiastic volunteer: she currently serves a co-lead, Tomorrow’s Public Service (TOPS) Executive Regional Development Committee and was director of Communication for GSAPPAL in 2016-2017 and a member of the 2015-16 IPAC National Case Study Competition team while she was an MPPAL student.
Najva Mohammad Amin, Master of Public Policy, Administration and Law (Class of 2017)
Amin is supporting the Ontario Minister of Transportation as senior advisor – Strategic Initiatives, previously as senior advisor – Stakeholder Relations and Operations. Amin also has political experience as a federal campaign manager and as president of Ontario Young Liberals. Her commitment to student engagement has also translated into creating practicum opportunities for our undergraduate students at SPPA, and doing so in a most enthusiastic way, supervising as many as four students in a given year. For her outstanding dedication, Amin is also the School’s Practicum Honouree this year.
The coveted Alumni Award was awarded to Tanya Waugh, Bachelor of Public Administration Specialized Honours, Policy Analysis Stream (Class of 2013) and Master of Public Policy, Administration and Law (Class of 2015).
As a graduate of both the BPA and MPPAL programs, Waugh has remained engaged with SPPA, its students and alumni in a variety of informal and formal ways as an avid volunteer, including most recently serving on the Executive Committee of our York University School of Public Policy and Administration Alumni Network (YUSPPAAN). Waugh started to work in the OPS as a business analyst just before graduating with the BPA, and has since then worked in a range of roles, including relationship management, strategic planning and policy development. She has held positions with Service Ontario, the Ministry of Government and Consumer Services, Cabinet Office – Strategy and Results Branch and is currently with the Ministry of Transportation as Senior Safety Policy Advisor.
Adriano Mena (BA Spec. Honours PPA 2001), the Chair of YUSPPAAN also received honourable mention for receiving this year the Faculty of Liberal Arts and Professional Studies Alumni Award.
Congratulations to all the award recipients for their outstanding dedication and accomplishments, and for being such inspirational role models for our students and the entire SPPA community.