Meet the Community Engagement, Partnerships and Project Management Team!

They say you can define community by the shared attributes of the people in it or by the strength of the connections among them. The importance of community has not only been a driving force behind our main goal of TEDxDonMills but also a defining reason of why our team is extremely passionate behind bringing this project of Designing Tomorrow to life in Don Mills.

The teams behind Community Engagement, Partnerships and Project Management have shared what community means to them, and how it has shaped their TEDxDonMills experience thus far.

Question: What have you learned from the Community of Don Mills?

Naomi Litowitz (Director of Strategy and Planning): I’ve learned that with blended communities comes varied perspective. A community like Don Mills has more diversity and more perspective than most. With that, comes phenomenal possibility. And I for one, can’t wait to see what this community designs for tomorrow.

Jan Tiff Perez (Project Control Officer): I realized that the Community of Don Mills is distinct. The initial noticeable characteristic is the cluster of modern buildings and high-rise condominiums. But if you take a closer look, there are actually many residential areas for Canadians of different backgrounds. Don Mills is a reflection of what Canada is about, a melting pot of cultures. It is also the home for a significant number of senior citizens.

Danish Karmally (Manager of Partnerships): I believe Don Mills is a perfect example of how people of different backgrounds, age and religion can live in a caring and peaceful environment. Even though I’ve only lived in the Don Mills area for a few months now, I’m in love with the area and the people within it. I can’t think of a better community to be a part of.

Jason Chong (Project Manager): What I’ve learned from the Community of Don Mills is that it is a diverse and lively community that continues to grow as a central hub in the city.  Don Mills is central to our city with an up-and-coming Eglinton Light Rail, new condo developments, and an expansion of business including those at The Shops at Don Mills.  The key attractions in the community include the Hiking Trails with Rainbow Trail, Fairview Mall, Ontario Science Centre, and the Aga Khan Museum. I’ve learned more about the community in the past year from living nearby (East York) and spending time at the local restaurants and grocery shops. The diversity of the people, the collaboration of the community, and the urban investment brings further excitement to the community.

Rahim Rahim (Director of Branding): I have learnt that the Don Mills Community is a cohesive melting pot from all walks of life.  The people are passionate and love being part of the community. Look around and you will see key landmarks such as community centres, churches, mosques, museums, cultural centres, restaurants, and government and civil society learning centres.  In these places, community members are learning, playing, eating, praying, and loving each other. These are the signs of a forward-looking community driving positive change.

Hafiz Kanji (Executive Director of Partnerships): The community is really diverse and it has changed a lot in the last 5-10 years. There seems to be a new sense of pride to say “I’m from Don Mills”. The community is also extremely resilient, able to adapt to rapid change and gentrification of neighbourhoods.


Question: In your opinion how does the importance of having a strong community impact our tomorrow?

Naomi Litowitz (Director of Strategy and Planning): We only live on this earth as individuals within larger communities. We’re nothing without both the support and contribution to those communities.

Jan Tiff Perez (Project Control Officer): Creating a change requires collective action. Having a strong community empowers individuals to achieve an exponential effect.

Danish Karmally (Manager of Partnerships):  It makes a HUGE difference. By having a strong community, where you can grow, learn and contribute, you can stay motivated since everyone around you will be on the same wavelength as you and will also contribute to the cause.

Jason Chong (Project Manager): The importance of having a strong community impacts our tomorrow since it defines the direction for which we shape our future.  A community has an influence on reinforcing values and encouraging investment as the local population stimulates the need for investment. In turn, we work with our local changemakers, influencers, and politicians to shape and build our essentials and desires for the community.

Rahim Rahim (Director of Branding): A strong community is the foundation of a healthy community.  A community in which diversity is seen as a strength. Where curiosity drives creative solutions and supportive people help each other because it is the right thing to do.  It is about setting up the youth for success as the success of tomorrow is determined by the youth of today.

Hafiz Kanji (Executive Director of Partnerships) : A group of people is always stronger than an individual. Having a strong community is important to ensuring their voices are heard. A strong community is also important for providing a sense of belonging, as the world becomes more connected, we are seeing fewer real connections. A strong community is important to ensure that people never feel like they are alone.

Overall Designing Tomorrow is an exciting platform for diverse people and organizations to make a difference in our community for generations to come.  It is predicated on the belief that we all have a purpose and the ability to shape the future we want to see. We’re thrilled to be a part of this team and holding such a great experience within this community.