The co-Founders of Monumental, Zahra Ebrahim and Kofi Hope, have come on board at the School of Cities as Urbanists-in-Residence.
Zahra Ebrahim is a public interest designer, a strategist and an established bridge-builder across grassroots and institutional spaces. Before founding Monumental with Kofi Hope, Zahra built and led Doblin Canada, Deloitte's Human Centred-Design practice, focusing on engaging diverse stakeholders to use design-led approaches to address complex organizational and industry challenges. Zahra led one of Canada’s first social design studios in her early career, working with communities to co-design toward better social outcomes, leading some of Canada’s most ambitious participatory infrastructure and policy programs. Zahra has taught at OCADU, MoMA, and is currently an Adjunct Professor at the University of Toronto. She is the Vice-Chair of the Canadian Urban Institute and the Board Chair for Park People. She has been recognized as a Next City’s Vanguard, Ascend Canada’s Mentor of the Year, one of “Tomorrow’s Titans” in Toronto Life, and one of WXN’s Top 100 Women in Canadian Business.
Kofi Hope is a Rhodes Scholar and has a Doctorate in Politics from Oxford University. He is the co-founder of Monumental, a Toronto-based strategic advisory firm. Currently, Kofi writes a monthly opinion column for the Toronto Star newspaper and is an emeritus Bousfield Scholar and adjunct professor at UofT’s School of Geography and Planning. He serves as a Senior Fellow at the Wellesley Institute and is a board member at the Atkinson Foundation. In 2017 he was the winner of the Jane Jacobs Prize and, in 2018 a Rising Star on Toronto Life’s Power List. Kofi was the co-founder and former Executive Director of the CEE Centre for Young Black Professionals. In 2005 he established the Black Youth Coalition Against Violence, advocating for real solutions to gun violence and being named one of the Top 10 People to Watch in Toronto in 2006 by the Toronto Star.
The work we're going to going to focus on integrating racialized voices into the the real estate development industry, exploring the shifting core competencies for urbanists in the 21st century (human-centred design, cultural competency, anti-oppression, facilitation, etc.), building culturally competent social infrastructure, and models for truly inclusive real estate development.
Zahra and Kofi's Monumental is committed to building more fair and just cities where social power is increasingly redistributed among local communities and neighbourhoods. They're working towards this goal that resonates with the School of Cities' strategic priorities through research, public engagement, policy development and civic education to craft pragmatic solutions for critical urban issues. They believe that design, leveraged responsibly, has the potential to create significant and lasting change across sectors only when it is done together with those most affected by its outcomes. They leverage the most impactful components of human-centred design, co-design, and community action research to transform services, policies, and infrastructure. They resist siloed work that focuses on short-term outcomes. They are passionate about spearheading bold, change-making initiatives that are collaborative in their design, flexible and responsive in their implementation, and grounded in equitable and sustainable relationships.
We welcome Zahra Ebrahim & Kofi Hope to the School of Cities team!
Urbanists-in-Residence are globally influential and prominent practitioners in civil society, the arts, business, media and all levels of government as well as academics outside the University of Toronto. Urbanists-in-Residence bring substantive knowledge of urban development and dynamics, insight and recognition to the School of Cities.