Who We Are

Who We Are 2021-07-16T17:31:03+00:00

Jane’s Walk was founded in Toronto in 2006 by a group of Jane Jacobs’ friends and colleagues as a way to honour her life and activate her ideas. That first year, there were a handful of walks in Toronto. Over the next decade, the movement saw rapid global uptake by urban activists around the world. In 2017, 1,700 Jane’s Walks took place in 225 cities around the world, spanning 37 countries and 6 continents. The movement continues to grow every year!

About the Steering Committee

This website is maintained by the Jane’s Walk Steering Committee, an all-voluntary group governing Jane’s Walk Toronto on the MakeWay platform. The Steering Committee is based in Toronto, on the unceded territories of the Wendat, Haudenosaunee, the Anishinabeg, and the Mississaugas of the Credit people. It was formed by some of the folks who convened the original Jane’s Walks in 2006.

The Steering Committee is responsible for hiring a team to organize and coordinate the Toronto Jane’s Walk Festival each year. Prior to 2018, Jane’s Walk had a global project office located in Toronto, advised by the Steering Committee. While this office no longer exists, the Steering Committee continues to steward the global project by fostering conversation among Jane’s Walk City Organizers, liaising with Jane Jacobs’ surviving family and friends, and providing guidance on the principles and practicalities of leading a Jane’s Walk.

The global Jane’s Walk community is a non-hierarchical movement. The Steering Committee is not a central organizing authority, and we cannot provide funding for Jane’s Walk activities outside of Toronto.

Steering Committee

Celia Beketa ᛫ Steering Committee Member

Celia is an innovation strategist and service designer with a background in social finance. In her work at Doblin Canada, she helps private and public sector organizations better understand their users (for instance, customers, employees, residents, or citizens), and design their services around these users’ needs. She challenges traditional definitions of “innovation”, and helps clients articulate and activate innovation strategies accordingly. Celia is an active member of The Toronto Public Space Committee and, through her client work, has helped shape a vision on the future of affordable housing in Canada. In her spare time, you can find her attending public consultations on all topics from cycling infrastructure to Sidewalk Toronto’s Quayside project, and either in the audience or on the stage of a community theatre production.

Jiya Benni ᛫ Steering Committee Member

Jiya is an urban designer and is currently Project Manager at 8 80 Cities. She grew up in India and lived in the Netherlands before moving to Canada in 2016. She holds a Master’s in Urbanism and a Bachelor’s in Architecture. A great believer in the power of collaborative planning and placemaking in city-building, she is passionate about creating equitable, sustainable, and resilient cities. Outside of work, you will find her writing on her blogs ‘Contemplating Urban Matters’ and ‘Patient Caterpillar’, making art or taking long walks and hikes with her partner.

Geraldine Cahill ᛫ Steering Committee Member

Geraldine is Director of UpSocial Canada. UpSocial uses a social lab approach to facilitate the identification and scaling of transformative social innovations with communities. Prior to UpSocial Canada, she was deeply immersed in the Canadian social innovation community, supporting the development of programs, policies and an enabling environment for enterprises focused on positive impact.  She is co-author of Social Innovation Generation: Fostering a Canadian Ecosystem for Systems Change, published in November 2017. Before her foray into social innovation, Geraldine worked in community-owned and run media organizations, and produced independent documentary film projects. In addition to her passionate commitment to Jane’s Walk, she is on the Advisory Board for Liisbeth, an innovative, sustainable, intersectional, feminist media enterprise that promotes and gives visibility to the feminist economy.

Adam Roy Cohoon ᛫ Steering Committee Member

Adam is an artist with a disability living in Toronto and an accessibility advocate and tech tester. Adam uses technology and continues learning about technology and media to explore how they can make for a more exciting disability community. He has used technology in his artwork for many years to come up with compelling ideas creatively. Adam also actively advocates for creativity, innovation, and technology to bring wider accessibility of the arts for everyone. Adam has recently moved to the mobile realm and is learning how to use mobile smart technology to help bring more creativity and culture to the world.

Zahra Ebrahim ᛫ Steering Committee Member

Zahra is a public interest designer, working to increase citizen participation in civic engagement processes, capital projects, and the creation of public policy. For the past two years, Zahra has led Doblin Canada after its acquisition by Monitor Deloitte, leading design-driven, user-centred transformation projects with the public and private sector. Ten years ago, Zahra founded and led one of Canada’s first design-led innovation firms, focused exclusively on doing deep research with end-users to co-design towards better social outcomes. Through this, she worked with Canada’s largest corporations, charities, philanthropic organizations, and governing bodies to help them understand how to better engage the people they’re tying to serve. Zahra taught for six years at the Ontario College of Art and Design, the Museum of Modern Art, and currently teaches at the University of Toronto.

Selam Eyob ᛫ Steering Committee Member

Selam is an Urban Planning graduate student whose passion lies at the intersection of public health and urban planning. Her interests are within equity and community planning with a focus on cultural conservation, as well as ethical and community-centered revitalization. You can find her on Twitter: @SelameyEyob

Jenny Foster ᛫ Steering Committee Member

Jenny loves her city, and has worked in the non-profit world for over 10 years. After being inspired at an early age by her grandmother, she has devoted her life to her community and has held fundraising roles across various sectors, including education, food security, social services, and politics. Currently a Senior Development Officer at Egale Canada, the country’s leading 2SLGBTQI Human Rights organization, she also has a strong history of volunteerism. She held the role of Executive Director at West Hill Harvest, a local Scarborough charity, for over 10 years and currently sits on the Board of the Housing Help Centre. She is a Crossfitter, triathlete and an award-winning yoga teacher. Jenny holds a BA in Political Science from The University of Toronto and a certificate in Fundraising Management from Seneca College, and is a Certified Fundraising Professional.

Nadia Halim ᛫ Steering Committee Chair

Nadia Halim is a writer, editor, and facilitator with 25 years of experience in Toronto’s cultural communities. In the 1990s she worked at The Canadian Forum and This Magazine, and for small presses including Sister Vision Press and ECW. She has graduate degrees in English and Philosophy, and spent several years teaching and leading tutorials in Philosophy at York University. From 2014 through 2016, she was the Global Cities Coordinator at Jane’s Walk, where she supported the international community of volunteer City Organizers and helped to build networks between them. She is interested in city-building and placemaking, and particularly in simple, creative initiatives, like Jane’s Walk, that expand at a grassroots level, spreading out without scaling up. Her podcast, The Opposite of Lonely, is about finding social connection in our changing and often isolating times. She likes good conversations and exploring the city with friends.

Candice Leung ᛫ Steering Committee Member

Candice Leung is a passionate urbanist. Professionally, Candice is a Project Coordinator with the Toronto based organization, 8 80 Cities where she supports city building initiatives. She has over 5 years of experience facilitating public engagement and working on community development issues.

Building on Candice’s professional experiences, she has been recognized for various accomplishments. She was selected as a Sidewalk Toronto Fellow and had the opportunity to conduct research on smart cities and waterfront development internationally. She has also presented at several conferences, symposiums and university classes. Candice is also an organizer with TTCRiders, Scarborough Transit Action, and Transportation Equity TO. Working at the intersections of community organizing, city planning, and public health is where she thrives.

Michelle Pinchev ᛫ Steering Committee Member

Michelle is one of Toronto’s leading digital marketing strategists with nearly 15 years of industry experience working both client-side and more recently, as the founder, Managing Director and Creative Director of Pinch Social, a boutique social media and events marketing agency. Since 2016, Michelle has also served as the Host and Executive Director of Social Media Week Toronto. Michelle has worked with organizations in the private, public and not-for-profit sectors, and with small and medium-sized businesses across industries including retail, food and beverage, hospitality, fashion, health and wellness, legal and professional services, film and television, and countless others. Michelle is a strategist, consultant, speaker and certified trainer, and has taught Social Media at George Brown College. She currently lives downtown Toronto near her Trinity Bellwoods office with her husband, baby daughter and rescue dog. A long-standing supporter of TIFF, the AGO and Jane’s Walk, she is passionate about local arts, culture and entertainment and loves exploring historical sites around Toronto. She is also an avid supporter of Toronto’s small business community.

Cecelia Pye ᛫ Steering Committee Member

Cecelia is an urban planner, researcher, and connector. She brings creativity and a variety of experiences, including the last two years at the School of Cities at U of T. She previously held roles in non-profit and government sectors across Toronto, planning major festivals, leading public realm improvements, and launching a tax to protect arts and culture institutions. She is passionate about amplifying community voices, cooking and recipe swapping, and exploring new cities. As a member of Jane’s Walk Steering Committee, she hopes to strengthen global partnerships and encourage walks that address critical issues facing cities and citizens.

Alia Scanlon ᛫ Steering Committee Member

Alia is a service designer, researcher, and strategist who uses human-centred design to put kindness, joy, and prosperity at the center of how we create products, systems, and services. Formerly the Executive Director of Jane’s Walk, she now works in incident and crisis response at Shopify. As a member of the Jane’s Walk Steering Committee, Alia brings disciplined curiosity, a love of complexity, and ten years of experience solving problems and implementing solutions for nonprofits, start-ups, governments, and large firms in the US, China, and Canada.

Sarena Seifer ᛫ Steering Committee Member

Sarena’s work focuses on equitable, mutually beneficial partnerships between communities and academic institutions. She spent 17 years advancing such partnerships as founding executive director of Community-Campus Partnerships for Health and continues to do so as a consultant.  Sarena also curates urban excursions focused on food, history, art and culture – for example, street art tours, gallery hops, food crawls, architectural visits and performances in unusual venues. Her friends have appointed her Connector-in-Chief for the way in which she sees connections and helps to build relationships between people.

Wesley Reibeling ᛫ Steering Committee Member

Wesley Reibeling is an artist with a passion for transformative arts, new work development, community engagement and collaborative creation. He holds a Bachelor of Arts in Theatre Studies at York University. Wesley has worked with youth and adults in the past to deliver workshops on various topics such as performance and movement, social justice, and issues that affect the LGBTQI2S community. Also being an avid urban gardener, he teaches workshops on plant design and care.

Wesley is a Project Coordinator at Egale Canada where he has helped to facilitate various national projects geared toward promoting human rights and inclusion of LGBTQI2S people. He has a great love for equity and disability rights, conservation, art, history and technology. He is delighted to be joining the Steering Committee at Jane’s Walk,  He is excited about how Jane’s Walk can continue to adapt and reconstruct itself to global challenges and remain an accessible and enriching way for our communities to engage in the public and the commons.

About MakeWay

Jane’s Walk is a project on MakeWay’ shared platform, which supports on-the-ground efforts to create uncommon solutions for the common good. MakeWay is a national charity and public foundation with a goal to enable nature and communities to thrive together.

MakeWay’s shared platform provides governance, human resources, financial, and grant management for leading environmental and social projects across Canada, allowing projects to more effectively achieve their missions. MakeWay has full fiduciary and governance responsibility for Jane’s Walk.

Jane’s Walk is committed to principles of dignity, independence, integration, and equal opportunity. For more information please see MakeWay’s Accessibility Policy and Plan.