Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion at the Max Bell School

The Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion (EDI) Committee is a standing committee of the School created in 2020 to make recommendations to the School in the five broad axes identified by the University: student experience, research and knowledge, outreach, workforce and physical space. These axes are based on the University’s EDI Strategic Plan 2020-2025 and the University’s Action Plan to Address Anti-Black Racism, released on September 30, 2020.

The EDI Committee was created in the context of broad structural and systemic challenges related to racism and discrimination in our learning environments. It works for and with people who face systemic barriers, including people with disabilities and LGBTQI2S+ people, and to address all forms of racism, including against Black people, Indigenous peoples, and people of colour. The School is committed to developing innovative policy solutions and ideas that address these challenges

2021-2023 Plan:

In the Spring of 2021, the School approved in principle the EDI plan for the next two years based on the following priorities:

1. Ensure available resources to support EDI work.

2. Diversify program, events and publications.

3. Improve diversity of workforce, advisory boards.

4. Establish mentoring and wellness initiatives for staff, instructors, and students.

5. Improve accessibility for persons with disabilities and promote universal design for all.

The School’s Report on Plans and Priorities 2021-2023, which includes accomplishments to date, was shared with the University, Faculty, staff and advisory bodies over the summer and fall of 2021. Indicative activities and timelines are included, but each cohort will have a voice in determining priorities and planning.

EDI Committee

The EDI Committee is chaired by Leslie Fierro, the Sydney Duder Professor in Program Evaluation at the Max Bell School. Meet the 2023-2024 EDI Committee:

Current Members

Leslie Fierro

Leslie Fierro

Chair, EDI Committee

Sydney Duder Professor in Program Evaluation, Max Bell School of Public Policy, McGill University

Dr. Fierro is both an evaluation practitioner and scholar. She has worked in a variety of settings including the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Deloitte Consulting LLP, Claremont Graduate University, and the International Development Research Centre.

Through her practice, Dr. Fierro has contributed to building the evaluation capacity of CDC’s National Asthma Control Program – most recently by co-authoring an open-access e-textbook entitled Planting the Seeds for High-Quality Evaluation in Public Health. In addition, she has played leadership roles in several high-profile evaluations including a formative evaluation of the Canadian Evaluation Society’s Credentialed Evaluator Designation.

Her research interests relate to creating robust ecosystems for effective evaluation within nations, building organizational evaluation capacity, and developing and implementing evaluation policies that promote high-quality, equitable evaluation practice. She is the Co Editor-in-Chief of New Directions for Evaluation, one of two flagship journals sponsored by the American Evaluation Association.

Head shot of Jennifer Welsh

Jennifer Welsh

Canada 150 Research Chair in Global Governance and Security and Director, Centre for International Peace and Security Studies, McGill University

Jennifer Welsh is the Canada 150 Research Chair in Global Governance and Security at McGill University, cross-appointed to the Department of Political Science and the Max Bell School of Public Policy. She is also the director of McGill's Centre for International Peace and Security Studies.

Jennifer has lived abroad for two decades, as a graduate student and professor at the University of Oxford and as professor at the European University Institute in Florence, Italy. She has published widely on issues related to the ethics and politics of armed conflict, civilian protection, the role of the UN Security Council, and Canadian foreign policy.

From 2013-2016, she served as Special Adviser to the UN Secretary General on the principle of the 'responsibility to protect'. She has also served on a variety of Boards over the past three decades, including Anduhyaun Women's Shelter in Toronto, the United Way of Greater Toronto, the Walter and Duncan Gordon Foundation, and more recently, the Trudeau Foundation, the Auschwitz Institute for Peace and Reconciliation, and the Global Centre for the Responsibility to Protect. She is of Metis heritage and was born and raised in Saskatchewan.

Isabel Diavolitsis

MPP Alumni

Isabel Diavolitsis graduated from the MPP in 2024 and completed the McMaster University's Arts & Science program with a minor in Health, Aging, and Society. In her four years at McMaster, Isabel advocated for equity in musical theatre, including through anti-oppression training and non-stereotypical casting choices. Her other experiences include working with sustainability organizations for community engagement, researching conceptions of fitness on TikTok, and, most recently, tutoring high school students in the James Bay Cree Nation on math and science topics. Isabel is interested in learning the details of existing policy frameworks and how to promote societal change within them by creating and maintaining space for marginalized voices. She recently graduated from Max Bell as part of the fourth cohort and is serving as a Program Officer for the Strategic Initiatives Branch in the Ministry of Children and Family Development in BC. 

V. Weston

Staff representative

Weston is the Communications Officer for the Max Bell School. They previously worked in the Office of Diversity and Inclusion at the University of Central Florida and were designated a “Safe Zone” ally (both Secular & LGBTQ+). They identify as part of the 2SLGBTQIA+ community. Weston's office at the Max Bell School is room 616 and they can also be reached at victoria.weston [at] mcgill.ca.

Jamil Taminu


Jamil is a dedicated advocate for the development of Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) in conflict areas and rural communities. Growing up in a conflict zone himself, he has a deep understanding of the challenges faced by women and children in rural-communities and is committed to improving their access to public services. With a background in Social Work and Political Studies, Jamil founded the Nectar of Hope Foundation, which has provided educational support to thousands of children in Ghana.

He has 6 years’ work experience with civil society organizations where he successfully led projects that promoted women empowerment, social justice and poverty eradication. He contributed to the development of the National Decentralization Policy in Ghana as a member of the Inter-ministerial-coordinating committee.

Keen on developing his knowledge in public policy, he has published research papers and numerous articles on social policy in Ghana. He is joining Max Bell as a Mastercard-Foundation Scholar.

Pallawi Anand

MPP Candidate 

Pallawi Anand is from India and it is her first time in Canada. Pallawi has a 6+ years of work experience & expertise in Indirect Tax Administration and Tax System implementation in the Department of Revenue, Ministry of Finance, Government of India. Being a Tax Administrator, her responsibility included collecting, administering, and implementing Indirect Tax policies.

She has worked in variety of fields like Goods and Service Tax, Indian Customs department wherein she was thrilled to work in collaboration with different stakeholders and implementation of laws originating from WTO. Pallawi wants to use the opportunity as MPP candidate to learn tools and strategies to learn effective policy design in areas of Global governance and policy making.

During her leisure time, she likes to travel and try out different cuisines.

Leah Brodovsky

MPP Candidate 

Leah grew up in Ontario, where she completed her BSc. Food Science at the University of Guelph. She has spent the past three years living in Montreal and is bilingual in English and French. Leah has professional experience in food and pharmaceutical technical sales as well as food R&D. She is passionate about policy focused on One Health, the intersection of human, animal, and environmental health. In her free time, Leah trains with the McGill Triathlon Club.

Gagan Gill

MPP Candidate

Despite the frigid winters, Gagan is proud to call Winnipeg, Manitoba (Treaty 1 Territory), and by extension, the prairies, her home. She is a first-generation university graduate, receiving her B.Sc. in Psychology at the University of Manitoba. Over the years, Gagan has been heavily involved in health research and worked as a research associate at both the University of Manitoba and Carleton University. She is a strong proponent of community organizing and is involved in grassroots initiatives supporting Prairie Asians. Gagan’s research and policy interests include aging, palliative care, and environmental and occupational health

Past Members

Sokhema Sreang

RA for the EDI Committee

Sokhema Sreang is a recent Cambodian graduate from McGill University with a Bachelor of Arts in International Development Studies and Sociology. Sokhema's experiences growing up in Cambodia and working for the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) as an Economic Research Intern have influenced her particular interests in the politics of developing countries, social protection, and social change. She has continued this line of work through contributions to the Catalyst newsletter as a staff writer to write and investigate nuanced topics pertaining to various international development issues that are worthy of attention. Sokhema hopes her experience at the Max Bell School includes a combination of theoretical and practical training, policy engagement, and public outreach that aligns directly with ensuring that the future policies she aims to work on place Cambodian need at the centrality of decision-making.

Harshini Vangal Natesa Ramesh

Student representative

Harshini Ramesh's journey to policy began with various engagements in the health sciences sphere, including public health programming, and biomedical and education research. Most recently, she spent two years as a Research Associate at Smart Prosperity Institute, an environmental economics think tank, where she focused on researching and advocating for clean economic and climate policies to decision-makers. Harshini is an advocate for increasing youth engagement and equity in policymaking, a cause for which she has furthered initiatives at national and international levels. As a researcher and avid policy enthusiast, she looks forward to creating innovative solutions that reimagine policy and governance responses to climate change.

Aiza Abid MPP '22

Alumni representative

Aiza Abid is a children’s rights advocate, passionate public speaker, Plan International Canada youth ambassador, and UNICEF’s Voices of Youth storyteller. After witnessing the generational effects of poverty at a young age and fueled by the urge to make meaningful volunteer activities accessible for all, she founded Aiza’s Teddybear Foundation. Since 2013, the non-profit organization has provided physical and emotional support to thousands of at-risk and under-resourced children across the globe. As a celebrated service-learning educator, Aiza aspires to lead a movement to help all children understand their basic human rights and freedoms through teaching peace, justice and healing.

Pearl Eliadis

Professor, Faculty of Law, McGill University; Professor, Associate Professor (Professional), Max Bell School

Pearl also has more than a decade of public policy experience in government, including as Director of Policy and Education at the Ontario Human Rights Commission and Senior Director at the Policy Research Initiative (Privy Council Office) in Ottawa. From 2000-2003, she served on several UN missions to Rwanda to establish the National Human Rights Commission and the Unity and Reconciliation Commission in that country. Pearl has written extensively on human rights, public policy and evaluation in the social justice context and Is deeply engaged with civil society organizations in Canada and internationally. She has served in leadership roles with many human rights NGOs and is a recipient of several awards for this work, including the Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Medal and the Canada 125 Commemorative Medal. She was named a Human Rights Change Maker in 2017 by Equitas.

Adriana Goreta

Adriana Goreta

2020-2022 EDI First Responder; Special Projects Manager, Max Bell School

Adriana Goreta is the Office Manager at the Max Bell School and is responsible for the administration and general operations of the School. She also serves as one of School’s three EDI First Responders. Adriana has bachelor’s degree in Equity Studies (Major) and Social/Cultural Anthropology (Honours) from the University of Toronto and has had a life-long interest in issues of social inequalities and their historical origins and trajectories.

Sugandha Gupta

2021-2022 EDI Committee Student Member-at-Large

Originally from India, Sugandha has successfully navigated the pervasive gender stereotypes and broken the glass ceilings number of times to build an ecosystem for effective enforcement of strong, diverse, and equitable values, both for personal success and wider marginalized community groups. With an academic background in Economics, she comes with a decade of experience in development, coordination, and implementation of Federal Government of India’s policy on Higher Education. Having led the government-approved projects on promoting Equity and Diversity across 245 educational institutions in 10 Provinces, she has had a first-hand exposure to their needs and requirements, with special focus on enhanced inclusion of the diverse and disadvantaged groups. Sugandha is keen to bring these values and experiential learnings to the Max Bell’s EDI Committee and endeavors to build the core values of diversity and equity into mainstream operations, along with fostering an environment of equal-opportunity and inclusion for every student. She aims to integrate inclusive excellence throughout the school’s teaching and research and promote fair and accountable governance.


Mune Mafusire

2021-2022 VP EDI PPAGS

Munesuishe (Mune) Mafusire (He/Him) is a Zimbabwean national and has lived in over six countries. This diverse experience has made him more adept at working with and across different cultural contexts. Mune's experience in policy advocacy has strengthened his research and communications skills, while fostering an entrepreneurial mindset. As a recent graduate from McGill University's Political Science program, he has developed a keen interest in the complexities of the policy process for African countries, whether in local or global contexts. Mune hopes to gain deeper insights into the continent's geopolitical issues and how to address them from a policy perspective. As VP EDI, Mune’s role will include ensuring that students feel part of a community that embraces different identities and experiences. Furthermore, he will be the student representative on Max Bell’s EDI standing Committee to advance students' interest, especially as it relates to the school’s long-term objectives. Mune will work more closely with the VP Academic, VP International, and VP Mental health to make sure all programming at the school has a sensitivity to equity, diversity, and inclusion.

Head shot of Nayantara Sudhakar

Nayantara Sudhakar

2020-2022 EDI Committee Member, Max Bell Policy Scholar, Canada West Foundation (Max Bell School MPP ’21)

Nayantara Melissa Sudhakar holds a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology and Sociology from the University of British Columbia and a Master of Public Policy from McGill University. Eager to continue supporting the Max Bell School be a trailblazer in inclusive policymaking, Nayantara decided to be part of the School’s EDI Committee for the second year in a row – only this time as an alumna. Nayantara’s lived experience as a woman of color and growing up in different world regions, including India, the UAE, the United States, and Canada, made her understand that the world has not fully embraced the values of equity, diversity, and inclusion. Her commitment to realize these values is demonstrated through past frontline roles supporting equity- seeking groups such as individuals with substance abuse and addictions, developmental disabilities, and mental health illnesses. Her work now focuses on researching a "just" energy transition for people and communities so that no one is left behind in the move towards a greener economy. As a member of the Max Bell School’s EDI Committee, Nayantara hopes to leverage what she learned as VP EDI of PPAGS and her lived experience and champion for an environment conducive to all individuals reaching their potential.

Photo of Yvette Yakibonge

Yvette Yakibonge

2020-2022 EDI Committee Member; Ministry of Women and Gender Equality Canada (Max Bell School MPP ’21)

Yvette Yakibonge holds a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science and a Master of Public Policy from McGill University. With a passion for empowering immigrant communities, youth, women and striving for gender equality, Yvette is actively involved in the community and has worked as a public servant for over 5 years. She currently works for the Ministry of Women and Gender Equality Canada, formerly known as Status of Women Canada, advancing gender equality through an intersectional and gendered lens. As the child of parents who immigrated from the Democratic Republic of Congo, Yvette has always had a heart for helping immigrant communities in Canada, especially through empowering youth and women. From a young age, Yvette has been involved in her community as a volunteer, particularly for Alliance-Jeunesse-Famille de L’Alberta Society (AJFAS), an organization committed to empowering francophone immigrant families in Edmonton. Yvette was also selected as a member of the Canadian Commission for UNESCO’s (CCUNESCO) Youth Advisory Group, where, for over two years she collaborated with other young Canadians on issues concerning youth in Canada. Recently, Yvette has become a board member of the Centre for Race and Culture (CFRAC), an organization that works to address racism by supporting individual, collective, and systemic change. As a member of the Max Bell School of Public Policy EDI Committee, Yvette is committed to supporting the school in its efforts to be an inclusive, anti-racist and anti-discriminatory academic institution that embraces diversity in all its forms. We must lead by example.

Lina Vissandjee Amarsy

Lina Vissandjee

Max Bell School MPP ‘20; Multilateral Affairs Officer, Québec Government Office in Paris

Lina Vissandjee holds a Bachelor of Arts in International Development Studies and International Relations and a Master of Public Policy from McGill University. Passionate about gender equality and women’s empowerment, Lina has worked in Canada, France, Madagascar, and Mexico, supporting innovative public policy and social initiatives. Lina is a diplomat and currently represents the Government of Québec in multilateral organizations based in Paris and Geneva, with a focus on democratic consolidation, girls’ and women’s empowerment and 2SLGBTQI+ rights. Through her role as member of the Max Bell School of Public Policy EDI Committee, Lina contributed to shaping her alma mater’s leadership in anti-racism and commitment to meaningful progress towards the inclusion of marginalized groups.

Katrine Claassens

Katrine Claassens

Communications Manager, Max Bell School of Public Policy

Omar Akeileh

Omar Akeileh

Max Bell School MPP ‘20

Growing up as an immigrant and witnessing both intended and unintended consequences of policies on folks near and wide, Omar sought to synthesize his sociological and political science backgrounds to cultivate an avenue of change, via a Master of Public Policy, that can enable a tangible positive impact. Through his various experiences, Omar believes in adopting an inclusive outlook, and advocating for the enactment of just, collaborative, and effective policies that produce solutions for the majority, and emphasize meaningful representation beyond mere tokenism and window-dressing. It is in this regard that Omar strives to be a passionate advocate for equity, representation, and justice, on the Max Bell EDI Committee, while championing for those who have been traditionally excluded from the decision-making table.

Rudayna Bahubeshi

Rudayna Bahubeshi

Max Bell School MPP '21

Rudayna Bahubeshi has spent the last several years working at non-profits and philanthropic foundations working towards a more equitable future. Most recently, she worked on designing and managing programs at the Canadian Women’s Foundation and leading stakeholder engagement and communications at Inspirit Foundation. Rudayna has a wide breadth of volunteer and organizing experience from managing a recent municipal election campaign and designing programming to activate young women’s civic leadership to advising projects focused on health equity and supporting artistic productions. Rudayna is passionate about racial and economic justice and she is keen to bring both her professional and lived experience to Max Bell’s EDI Committee. In addition to fostering an inclusive and accessible space for all students, she looks forward to contributing to the school’s efforts to be a preeminent policymaking institution that is unwaveringly anti-racist, anti-oppressive, and committed to communities commonly excluded from policymaking processes and prosperity. Rudayna resides in Tkaronto.

Head shot of Clarissa Passos

Clarissa Passos

Administrative Coordinator, Max Bell School

Clarissa Passos is the administrative coordinator at the Max Bell School of Public Policy. She has a bachelor’s degree in Social Communication, and a certificate from the Faculty of Native Studies, University of Alberta. Clarissa studied Immigration and Interethnic Relations at UQAM and has also completed a post-grad in Audiovisual Translation. Prior to joining the Max Bell School of Public Policy, Clarissa worked as Administrative Coordinator at McGill University, Faculty of Medicine.


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