School of Cities Urban Leadership Fellowship and Academy Virtual Research Festival : Session 9 & School of Cities Recognition Awards

When and Where

Friday, October 30, 2020 2:15 pm to 4:00 pm
via Zoom


Session 9 and Closing Ceremonies of a weekly webinar series showcasing students’ engaged research, virtual simulations, social impact and creative projects.

Friday, October 30, 2020

2:15pm – 4:00pm



World Cities Day 2020

Click here to RSVP for the World Cities Day event & the One City, One World Collective Visioning exercise

Virtual Research Conference Session 9 banner


With performances from special guest artists!


Marieme Diop  – Los Angeles based singer and songwriter

Marieme is a dynamic, innovative, buzzed about singer/songwriter with a presence at once as glamorous as she is brutally honest in her music. With music focused on themes of Self Love, Revolution, and Empowerment, this Senegalese-American songstress is making a name for herself with her signature sound featured on film and television and most recently as the voice of LinkedIn’s international campaign.

Listen to Marieme on Spotify, Apple Music or YouTube

Follow Marieme on Instagram & Facebook





Denardo Hepburn - Storyteller and spoken word artist original spoken words performance

Denardo Hepburn is a curious storyteller who explores the cross-sections of culture, humanity, expression, and art. He writes and performs poetry and prose celebrating blackness and Caribbean life; edits everything from books to essays to press releases; acts in stage plays with television and film aspirations; enjoys public speaking; produces; and is presently creating his debut podcast, which underscores the Bahamian diaspora in Canada and their successes, tribulations, and reasons for emigration. As a diasporic Bahamian in Toronto, Hepburn preserves The Bahamas’ culture through storytelling. His poetry mainly explores the juxtapositions of existence, blackness, Caribbean-ness, and modern-day life. In his quest to find his calling, he has served as a Foreign Service Officer, a Priority Manager, an Editor-in-Chief, and a Research Assistant, all while amassing provocative stories.










Order of Presentations

  • Welcome back from World Cities Day event!
  • 15 minutes presentation per panelist
  • 20 minutes moderated Q&A
  • Closing ceremonies: Virtual School of Cities
    Recognition Awards
Adam El-Masri
Cup Collective (TO)
Soukayna Remmal 
Sustainable Urbanization in Africa: Challenges and Policy Options 
Evelyn Ascencio and Conroy Gomes 
Academy Group: 
Urban Indigeneity/ Indigenous and Racialized Communities 
Community Organizing: Leading through Change 

Presenter Bios

Adam El Masri

Adam El-Masri

Bachelor of Science in Computer Science and Indigenous Studies

Adam is a 4th+ year Computer Science and Indigenous Studies major with over 6 years experience in the field of software engineering including social innovation, autonomous vehicles, cryptocurrency, finance, education and health technologies. He is a software development instructor with the School of Continuing Studies and a head teaching assistant within the department of Computer Science. He has been actively involved in civic engagement for over 3 years as the lead for a City of Toronto youth advocacy committee (YDAC). He is the founder of a tech-oriented non-profit (Dana Project) and a poverty alleviation advocate, working on a multitude of local projects within Engineers Without Borders. He volunteers for and consults on numerous non-profit projects on a regular basis. Above all else, Adam is a long-time and passionate Torontonian who is fixated on leveraging technology and agile processes for the purposes of bettering our communities.

Soukayna Remmal

Soukayna Remmal

Master in Global Affairs

Soukayna Remmal is currently pursuing a dual degree Masters in Public Policy and Global Affairs (MPP/MGA) at SciencesPo Paris and the Munk School of Global Affairs & Public Policy. Prior to that, she graduated with a B.A in International Relations and a minor in African Studies from Al Akhawayn University in Ifrane-Morocco. In pursuit of her degrees, she completed internships at a think tank, an embassy, and an international humanitarian organization. Her areas of interest are policy, advocacy, African urbanization, and international cooperation in the Global South.

Urban Indigeneity/ Indigenous and Racialized Communities

Community Organizing: Leading Through Change

This series seeks to centre the expertise of grassroots community leaders in conversations surrounding COVID-19 response and opportunities for change amid the pandemic.

PDF iconConroy Gomes and Evelyn Ascencio (2020). Community Organizing: Leading Through Change. A research report. Toronto: CA. School of Cities, University of Toronto.


"Community Organizing: Leading Through Change" is an interview series developed by University of Toronto alumni and School of Cities Academy members, Evelyn Ascencio and Conroy Gomes, in partnership with Platform. For this project, we interviewed four Black, Indigenous, and racialized community organizers based in Toronto and Ottawa, Yohanna Heyuan Mehary, Gabrielle Fayant, Rosetta Lucente, and Andrea Vásquez Jiménez, in the autumn of 2020 to learn more about their work, how the pandemic has affected their community organizing efforts, and calls to action that the public can participate in. This project was developed after noticing that community organizers are not regularly profiled for their work despite being leading experts on social issues. As a result, Community Organizing: Leading Through Change aimed to shift the equity, diversity, and inclusion narrative from institutions back to the grassroots community level where many of these ideas originated from."

Yohanna is an organizer with Climate Justice Toronto, Climate Justice Scarborough, and Scarborough Co-op Market.

Gabrielle Fayant, a co-founder of Assembly of 7 Generations (A7G).

Rosetta Lucente, the Secretary General of Anakbayan Toronto.

Andrea is the co-director of Latinx, Afro-Latin-America, Abya Yala Education Network (LAEN)


Evelyn Ascencio

Evelyn Ascencio

Urban Indigeneity/ Indigenous and Racialized Communities

Master of Public Health, Social and Behavioural Health Sciences (Health Promotion)

Growing up as the daughter of Salvadoran refugees in a predominately low-income and immigrant neighbourhood in Toronto, Evelyn Ascencio witnessed the daily effects of health inequities on her family and friends. These lived experiences motivated her to work directly with the community to educate them about societal factors that lead to health disparities. This has led her to work as a Youth Health Action Network member with Toronto Public Health. She has also facilitated peer support groups and supported community advocacy efforts for Fred Victor Centre. At Planned Parenthood Toronto, she has analyzed teen pregnancy and STI rates to identify high risk neighborhoods in Toronto. Evelyn ultimately aims to raise awareness of the experiences that marginalized communities face in Toronto in her work as a researcher and educator. Most recently, to contribute her skills to the Covid-19 pandemic response initiatives Evelyn worked with ReConnect, an interactive web-based tool that allows users to locate available services and supports in their respective communities. Watch her interview on CTV's "Your Morning" as she puts job-searching as a new grad during a pandemic, into perpective. 


Conroy Gomes

Conroy Gomes

Urban Indigeneity/ Indigenous and Racialized Communities

Bachelor of Science in Neuroscience, Biology and Physiology

As a current Honours Bachelor of Science Candidate majoring in Neurobiology and Physiology, Conroy is a passionate, experienced, and knowledgeable student leader within the academic community at the University of Toronto. Growing up in traditionally underprivileged areas, this gave him an early understanding of the role of urbanization and infrastructure mismanagement in social and health inequalities. Conroy is driven to use his passions in public health policy, research and law, toward the demonopolization of resources for traditionally underserved peoples. He has engaged in advocacy, outreach, and leadership on the ground through community-service development, policy, research, and student initiatives. These activities encompass work at institutions such as the Dalla Lana School of Public Health, Kensington Health, the Toronto Rehabilitation Institute, the Hospital for Sick Children, and the University of Toronto International Health Program. 

Through his professional, academic, and personal experiences, Conroy has instantiated a strong understanding of how health/social infrastructure and services contribute to the vitality of disparaged populations while remaining undeterred to offering an empathetic and engaged perspective on such issues. His interests in health and social issues go far beyond traditional science avenues, hence his involvement with the School of Cities. Through his current fellowship within the School of Cities, Conroy will be examining the role of art as a vehicle against oppression by disparaged populations and in the construction of cities as well as their amalgamation of culture. As a deliverable for this project, an art gala and book will be curated by Conroy featuring the artworks of traditionally underrepresented artists and their messages.

Contact Information

Prof. Marieme Lo, Associate Director, Education