Staff

Meredith Preston McGhie

Secretary General

Meredith Preston McGhie –

Secretary General

Meredith Preston McGhie has devoted more than 20 years to addressing conflict and instability in Africa and Asia in some of the most troubled situations. From working with the Naga in Northeast India and indigenous communities on the Thai-Myanmar border, to supporting UN efforts in Kosovo, Northern Iraq and several African countries, her work has straddled frontline negotiation, policy and diplomacy.

She became the Global Centre for Pluralism’s Secretary General on October 1, 2019. Most recently, as Africa Regional Director with the Centre for Humanitarian Dialogue, she oversaw the HD Centre’s complex mediation and dialogue efforts in Nigeria, Ethiopia, Mozambique, Sudan, Somalia and South Sudan, among other places. In the Kenyan National Dialogue and Reconciliation Process in 2007-08, she advised the Panel of Eminent African Personalities led by the late Kofi Annan. She has contributed annually to the Oslo Forum, a gathering of the world’s leading experts and policymakers in conflict resolution, and teaches mediation practice internationally.

Ms. Preston McGhie studied military and international history at the University of British Columbia before pursuing graduate studies in global security at Keele University in the United Kingdom.

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Nassir Ali Adem

Manager, Finance (on leave)

Titilayo Ayolola

Manager, Finance

Jayne Barlow

Director, Programs

Jayne Barlow –

Director, Programs

Jayne Barlow works with a committed and resourceful team to advance the Centre’s global programs.

Prior to joining the Global Centre, Jayne held several positions within the Aga Khan Development Network, including with the University of Central Asia and Aga Khan Foundation in Canada and East Africa. Jayne has managed a wide range of portfolios supporting the AKDN’s work in rural development, financial inclusion, and health and education systems strengthening in developing and conflict-affected countries in Africa and Asia.  Before joining AKDN in 2002, Jayne worked for 7 years with non-profit organizations involved in education sector reform in the transitioning countries of the former-Soviet Union. Jayne has an MA in Soviet and East European Studies from Carleton University and is always looking for new ways to improve her Russian language skills.

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Farhan Bhayani

Senior Manager, Business and Operations

Farhan Bhayani –

Senior Manager, Business and Operations

Since April 2018, Farhan has been responsible for facilities management, operations, business management and long-term financial sustainability of the building through development of revenue generating programs.

Farhan is an accomplished professional with extensive experience in organizational leadership, program execution, supply chain management and facilities management. He has thorough understanding of supply chain, finance and HR principles complemented by exceptional organizational and interpersonal skills with a proven track record of coaching and developing cross-functional teams in rapidly changing contexts and accomplishing committed deliverables within budget and pressing deadlines. Farhan holds degrees in business administration and mechanical engineering with certifications in project management, purchasing management, Six Sigma, cultural competence and quality management systems auditing.

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Matt Burkard

Senior Program Officer

Matt Burkard –

Senior Program Officer

Matt Burkard works focuses on developing and implementing the Global Pluralism Monitor.

Previously, he coordinated editing and publication of the “Accounting for Change in Diverse Societies” and “Intersections” research paper series. Before starting at the Centre, Matt received an MA in Russian Studies at Carleton University, where his research focused on nation-building and peasant consciousness in Soviet Ukraine in the 1920s. In his spare time, Matt enjoys growing hot peppers, reading, and playing bass guitar.

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Jessie Castello

Senior Program Officer, Global Pluralism Award

Jessie Castello –

Senior Program Officer, Global Pluralism Award

Jessie manages the Award selection process and oversees engagement with Awardees.

Jessie’s previous roles have taken her to Eastern and Southern Africa, Southeast Asia and the South Pacific. Her experience includes program design and management, partnership development and civic space research. She is passionate about supporting civil society actors working to build peaceful, inclusive societies. She holds a graduate degree in peace and conflict studies from the University of Waterloo and an undergraduate degree in international relations from the University of Toronto. More recently, she completed a certificate in conflict management and mediation through the University of Waterloo’s Institute of Peace and Conflict Studies.

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Leslie Cumming

Senior Manager, Resource Development

Maria Desjardins

Office Manager/Executive Assistant

Maria Desjardins –

Office Manager/Executive Assistant

Ms. Maria Desjardins provides support to the Secretary General, the Board of Directors, and the Members of the Corporation and has held this role since the very beginning of the Centre in 2011.

Ms. Desjardins brings to GCP more than 20 years of experience on the not-for-profit sector.  Previously, she worked at the Canadian Council for International Co-operation (CCIC) in the same position. Ms. Desjardins travelled extensively and worked in different countries as Bolivia, Argentina, Peru, Morocco, and P.R. of China. Her international experience in different cultures and countries is an asset for her work at the Global Centre for Pluralism.

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Calina Ellwand

Manager, Communications and Public Affairs (on leave)

Rajvir Gill

Program Officer, Global Analysis

Rajvir Gill –

Program Officer, Global Analysis

Rajvir Gill works to increase engagement in relation to the Global Pluralism Monitor.

Rajvir Gill is a lawyer and a member of the New Brunswick Law Society. Prior to the Global Centre for Pluralism, Rajvir worked for the New Brunswick Office of the Child, Youth and Senior Advocate in law and individual case advocacy. Rajvir has extensive experience in the not-for-profit sector in Canada, where she led projects addressing gender-based violence, legal education and human trafficking and was named as one of the top 20 under 20 by the Alberta Council for Global Cooperation for her work in 2013. Her international experience involves studying and working in various countries, including volunteering in the Philippines on projects combating child poverty and an internship with the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime in Bangkok. Rajvir has a Bachelor of Commerce Cooperative Education Degree from the University of Alberta, a Masters of Political Science from Uppsala University in Sweden, and a Juris Doctor from the University of Calgary.

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Alyse Kennedy

Manager, Peace and Conflict

Alyse Kennedy –

Manager, Peace and Conflict

Alyse Kennedy supports peacemakers to operationalize pluralism in various peacemaking interventions and peace supportive activities.

Prior to joining the Global Centre for Pluralism, Alyse most recently worked for the UN Mission in South Sudan. She has developed strong programme management and conflict analysis skills working in various conflict, post-conflict and development environments. Her ability to build relationships with diverse stakeholders in complex contexts has enabled her to support UN, NGO and government partners with well informed insights to enable conflict prevention and peacemaking interventions. Alyse has a Bachelor in Political Science from the University of California, Berkeley, and a Masters of Global Affairs from the Munk School at the University of Toronto. Alyse hails from the Boston area and has since made Toronto her home base and launching pad for her overseas work before returning to Canada in 2021 to join the Centre.

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Shaunel London

Coordinator, Communications and Public Affairs

Shaunel London –

Coordinator, Communications and Public Affairs

Shaunel finds strategic and engaging ways to share the Centre’s initiatives to help create a world where everyone truly belongs.

Shaunel’s previous work ranges from strategic communications and marketing, event planning, and research in the areas of race and representation, sexual and gender-based violence prevention, and right-to-housing initiatives in Canada. Her work has taken her across North America and the Caribbean, and she’s conducted workshops in the tech sector on changing the way we think about sexual violence prevention strategies and technologies. Shaunel has an MA in Communication from Carleton University where her thesis explored the relationship between comedy, alternative media, and representations of Blackness. In her spare time, Shaunel enjoys engaging in all aspects of music, playing tabletop RPGs and petting all the cats and dogs.

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Tanja Maleska

Manager, Communications and Public Affairs

Katie O’Brian

Senior Program Officer, Education

Katie O’Brian –

Senior Program Officer, Education

Katie works on program development and implementation. She leads our global teacher training program and manages our education platform, MOZAIKO.

She has technical expertise in project management, e-learning course development and is a UN-certified intercultural dialogue facilitator. Previously, she managed a two-year cross-Canada travelling exhibit for the Governor General’s office, focused on the Canadian Honours System. Katie has a master’s degree in International Development and Global Studies from the University of Ottawa and spent five years living in Taiwan where she taught English, conducted her master’s research and learned to scuba dive. She’s an avid reader and enjoys being outside as much as possible – swimming, cycling, kayaking, x-country skiing and going for long walks with her puppy, Moki.

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Kevin Parra-Duque

Program Coordinator, Global Pluralism Award

Kevin Parra-Duque –

Program Coordinator, Global Pluralism Award

Kevin has a BA in International Relations from the University of Toronto and a Post-Graduate Diploma in International Development from Humber College. Kevin’s trajectory includes work with LGBTQ2S+ communities in Canada, as well as positions as gender advisor and in monitoring and evaluation for several rights-based development projects across South America. He has conducted trainings on gender and sexual diversity and has collaborated in the creation of tools to track and improve attention to cases of gender-based violence in post-secondary institutions in Bolivia. During his spare time, Kevin enjoys reading, going on hikes, and daydreaming about future travels.

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Joy Robert

Finance Officer

Joy Robert –

Finance Officer

Joy Robert applies her talents in finance and administration to create a workplace environment that is productive and positive.

Joy completed her bachelor’s degree in Accounting in 2009 at Bishop’s University. After spending a decade working for various private corporations, Joy decided to move to the non-profit sector. Her mission is to be an instrument of positive change in her work and her community and seeks to ensure her community is responsive and growing. In her spare time Joy loves to read books, listen to podcasts, play Ultimate Frisbee and spend quality time with her family and friends.

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Nathalie Sirois

Senior Manager, Education

Michael Youash

Manager, Global Analysis

Michael Youash –

Manager, Global Analysis

Michael collaborates with colleagues to produce applied research with a view to enabling social transformation.

Michael earned a PhD from the University of Toronto in Political Science and his research work is largely focused on policy development, helping to inform policy reforms and interventions in diverse contexts on a variety of issues ranging from local security force development, to legislature strengthening, and public participation in policy processes. This research work includes support for legislative drafting, policy briefings at senior legislature and executive decision-making bodies, and support for civil society organizations engaged in social transformation initiatives. Much of Michael’s work has been based overseas, working with governmental and non-governmental organizations in relatively peaceful contexts as well as areas of active conflict. In all his work, past and present, Michael strives to connect communities, their elected officials, and government officials to identify local solutions to local problems.

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Past Secretary General

John McNee (2011-2019)