Celebrating Black Leaders Who Are Making History
Shift Health Signs BlackNorth Initiative CEO Pledge, Committing to Ending Anti-Black Systemic Racism
Shift Health Hosts Webinar on Embedding Inclusion, Diversity, Equity and Accessibility (IDEA) in Research-Intensive Organizations
Embedding Inclusion, Diversity, Equity and Accessibility in Research-Intensive Organizations
Black History Month reminds us of our collective responsibility to create space for, give thanks to and uplift the voices and stories of Black women and men—now and every month of the year.
The team at Shift Health has the privilege to work with Black leaders who inspire us and help us grow. Today, we pay tribute to three remarkable individuals who are making history—and creating the future—in, with and for their communities. We are grateful to Onome Ako, Sharon Nyangweso and Eugenia Addy for allowing us to share their stories and their perspectives on leadership.
Executive Director, Amref Health Africa in Canada
“For me, Being a black female leader is about the WE. It is representing and building community rather than self.”
Onome Ako is the Executive Director of Amref Health Africa in Canada, the largest African led international health NGO. In her role, she is responsible for leading the organization’s strategic growth and innovative programming in areas which include maternal newborn and child health, sexual reproductive health and rights, adolescent health and nutrition. Onome brings her passion for developing strategic partnerships and placing communities at the heart of solutions to their own health challenges to achieve Amref’s mandate of lasting health change in Africa. With over 15-years’ experience in international development, Onome has led initiatives in more than 15 countries with organizations including World Vision Canada, the Commonwealth and UNESCO-Regional Bureau for Education in Africa. Onome has an MSc in Management of NGOs and Social Policy from the London School of Economics, United Kingdom. Onome is the Chair of the Board of the Canadian Partnership for Women and Children’s Health (CanWaCH) and member of the advisory committee for the Centennial College International Development program. Onome was named to the 2020 Canadian Women in Global Health list.
Our team has had the privilege to collaborate with Onome on Amref’s new strategic plan, and our President, Dr. Ryan Wiley, has worked with Onome for many years as a member of Amref’s Board of Directors. Onome’s vision, determination and boundless humanity have steered Amref through this most difficult year–sustaining life-saving programs for African women and girls at a time when COVID-19 has threatened years of progress in human rights, social justice and health equity.
CEO and Founder, QuakeLab
“We are in a unique moment in time where Blackness refuses to be confined or defined into any one space. Black folks are taking up space, building their own tables and thriving. From Assata Shakur to Thomas Sankara, our ancestors have left us with the knowledge we need to move forward and that is exactly what leadership looks like today. Black leadership doesn’t exist because we understand we are not homogeneous, and decentralizing power and influence allows us to expand our reach, engage in positive conflict, and build a world that allows us to be our full selves.”
Sharon Nyangweso (She/Her) is the Founder and CEO of QuakeLab, a full-stack inclusion and communications agency, Sharon specializes in a radical new approach to diversity and inclusion that is measurable, strategic, and based on a strong foundation of design thinking. A leader in empathetic community engagement and moving inclusivity from aspiration to action, Sharon is a regular contributor and panelist on CBC radio and television, Rabble.ca, Live 88.5, and CTV. An immigrant from Kenya who has lived and worked in Canada for nine years, Sharon has worked across sectors with organizations in 11 countries. Follow her on Twitter at @Sharon_Okeno.
Sharon and her team have played a role in preparing our team to take actionable steps to design for equity, and specifically identify how anti-Black racism can emerge in institutions like ours and what we can do to systematically tackle it. We are currently working with Sharon and her team of Functional Experts to review our internal practices, policies and culture and help us develop an Inclusion, Diversity, Equity and Accessibility (IDEA) strategy with a strong anti-racism lens, informed by data.
CEO, Visions of Science Network for Learning
“Being a Black leader today and everyday comes with a deep sense of responsibility to your community. A responsibility to be seen, to be heard, to unapologetically take up space.”
Eugenia Addy is the CEO of Visions of Science Network for Learning (www.vosnl.org), a charitable organization that empowers youth from under-resourced communities through meaningful engagement in STEM (science, technology, engineering and math). In her role, she leads organizational strategic growth and development focused on yielding long-term impact through unique integrative learning models, centered on STEM Learning and Positive Development. She has over 10 years of experience working in different low-income communities across the Greater Toronto Area and developing numerous city-wide engagement and leadership programs. She holds both an honours bachelor degree in Chemistry and Biology and a PhD in Chemistry from the University of Toronto. Eugenia is a member of the Board of Trustees for the Ontario Science Centre, and a member of the Telus GTA Community Board.
Shift Health is inspired by, and shares, Eugenia’s commitment to engaging youth from low-income and marginalized communities to enrich research and innovation by developing the next generation of leaders in STEM. Our team is excited to have the opportunity to partner with Visions of Science to build and support programs that will advance this goal.