Office and Communications Team
Julia Smeed – Innovation Hub Project Leader
Julia is a leader, innovator and “intrapreneur” who specializes in design thinking, collaboration and related methodologies that strive to design programs with students rather than for them. As the Leader of the Innovation Hub at the University of Toronto, she works with hundreds of students, faculty and staff on campus to improve the community’s campus experience. Julia holds an MBA in Global Leadership and a BA in Psychology. Julia is also the Secretary of the Council on Student Services at the University of Toronto, instructs courses in leadership and design at UofT’s School of Continuing Studies and has presented at various conferences including the Canadian Association of College & University Student Services and the Canadian Association of Career Educators and Employers. Outside of her work, Julia is a single mom to 5-year-old twins Joshua and Victoria.
Danielle Lum – Project Assistant
Danielle is a second-year graduate student with the Faculty of Information (iSchool), holding a Bachelor of Arts degree in English Literature, Political Science and Gender Studies. Empathetic and a passionate problem-solver, she is currently specializing in the field of User Experience Design. As project assistant, she plays a supportive role to the project manager and teams of the Innovation Hub, as well as contribute to communications strategy and development. In her free time, Danielle enjoys indulging in video games, pulpy mystery novels, compiling Spotify playlists for various fictional characters, and watching reruns of Brooklyn Nine-Nine with her sister.
Mia Sanders – Storyteller
Mia is a second-year undergraduate student at UofT double majoring in Diaspora & Transnational Studies and Women & Gender Studies. Their role on the team is to engage audiences in the Innovation Hub’s work and vision through multimedia storytelling. Outside of class and the Innovation Hub, Mia works for an education non-profit, is on the editorial board of a youth research journal, and does climate justice activism. They are a fan of playing the piano, biking around Toronto, and hanging out with their human and animal friends.
Volunteer Strategy and Curriculum Development Team
Joel West – Volunteer Coordinator
Joel West is an undergraduate in the Faculty of Arts and Sciences with a double major in Semiotics and the Study of Religion. Joel has been published several times in several different topics including Forensic Semiotics, Linguistic Anthropology, Problems of interpretations of fiction and they are currently working on a monograph, as part of their Popular Culture series, to be published by Brill in 2019. Their interests are ubiquitous and they are hoping to go on to graduate school to study popular culture and religion. They have a history in the IT industry, having worked as a technical support analyst, quality assurance analyst and a Linux System Administrator. Their real interest is in people- Joel has served as a peer mentor for Accessibility at UofT and hopes to continue to do so in the 2018/2019 term. Joel is also probably the oldest honours graduate of the Humber College Comedy Writing and Performance program and, aside from comedy, they currently co-produce the monthly show “Dare: Stories We Thought We’d Never Tell” the third Thursday of every month at The Ossington Pub. They still perform stand-up comedy on occasion.
Camille Courville – Curriculum Developer
Camille is a first-year Master of Education, Adult Education and Community Development student, specializing in Workplace Learning and Social Change. She holds a Bachelor’s degree in Psychology and has worked professionally in a human resources capacity over the past three years. Her role with the Innovation Hub is to help with the development of a training curriculum strategies for volunteers. In her spare time, Camille likes to read and stay active. She also loves to travel, and recently took eight months off to travel through Europe and Southeast Asia.
Brendan Burrows – Curriculum Developer
Brendan is a sixth-year PhD student whose research focuses on using Indigenous-produced film to improve teacher success rate in the incorporation of Indigenous content in public curriculums. His role on the team is to develop curriculum strategies to aid with volunteer training and student integration. In a professional capacity, Brendan has worked as TA/GA for many years and recently taught a university-level undergraduate course.
Ethnography and Research Team
Brigid Burke – EthnographY/Insights Expert
Brigid is a fifth-year PhD student in Sociology whose research applies an intersectional lens to explore how norms around violence and emotional intensity are negotiated through embodied micro-interactions. She is passionate about championing equity, diversity, and accessibility, as well as fostering inclusive spaces. Her role on the Innovation Hub team is to conduct and analyse qualitative interviews with the goal of understanding life from others’ perspectives. She has worked as a Teaching and Research Assistant in the Sociology Department for the past 6 years, and is now a Course Instructor in the areas of sociology of health and gender. Outside of work, Brigid enjoys experimenting in the kitchen, travelling and going on walks with her partner and two dogs.
Irene Duah-Kessie – EthnographY/Insights Expert
Irene completed her Bachelor’s of Science degree at McMaster University and is now pursuing a Master of Science in Sustainability Management at UofT. Her academic interests centre around health equity and sustainable development, with an emphasis on racial inequities in employment, education, and housing. Her role as an ethnographer on the Innovation Hub team involves conducting and analyzing qualitative interviews to better understand student experiences across UofT. As an advocate for education and anti-oppression, Irene has extensive community engagement experience in Hamilton and Toronto surrounding anti-racism and supporting initiatives aimed at addressing the underrepresentation of Black students in academic institutions.
NICK FEINIG – integrative & design thinking specialist
Nick has been an active member of the University of Toronto community since 2007, completing his undergraduate and graduate degrees in Socio-Cultural Anthropology here, prior to starting his doctoral work. He has held several research assistant, project management and committee roles in both the Munk School of Global Affairs and the Department of Anthropology. Nick has acted as a Teaching Assistant for various Anthropology courses and was an Adjunct Professor at Rikkyo University teaching a course in the Ethnography of Japan.
Liza Brechbill – Integrative & Design Thinking Specialist
Liza is relatively new to the city and currently moving their way through an MA in Adult Education and Community Development at OISE. Their previous research focused on the experiences of first-generation and working class women and queer folks in post-secondary education, and for the past four years has worked in the field of gender-based violence and prevention education at the University of Victoria. Liza’s current research is focused on the relationships between empathy, power, and difference in education. They are also committed to engaging in research and conversation that challenges assumptions and narratives about change, growth, and success and looks forward to being challenged in equal measure through their time with the Innovation Hub. On some personal notes, Liza loves cats, dreams about the ocean, and watches a lot of bad science fiction.