Media Releases

University of Toronto appoints urban advisors

June 17, 2015

Toron­to, ON — Uni­ver­si­ty of Toron­to Pres­i­dent Mer­ic Gertler today appoint­ed two advi­sors on urban issues, advanc­ing his goal to make city-build­ing a top pri­or­i­ty at the uni­ver­si­ty.

Dr. Shau­na Brail, a fac­ul­ty mem­ber in urban stud­ies, has been named pres­i­den­tial advi­sor on urban engage­ment, charged with enhanc­ing con­nec­tions with­in the uni­ver­si­ty among the many schol­ars and researchers who are study­ing urban issues. John Brod­head, exec­u­tive direc­tor of Ever­green City­Works, will be a spe­cial advi­sor to the pres­i­dent on urban issues. He will focus on devel­op­ing strate­gic projects with exter­nal part­ners across the region.

The appoint­ments take effect July 1. Brail’s appoint­ment is part-time; Brod­head will con­tin­ue his full-time work with Ever­green City­Works while act­ing as an advi­sor to Gertler.

“Mem­bers of the uni­ver­si­ty com­mu­ni­ty have expressed tremen­dous sup­port for the idea that we should play a larg­er and more vis­i­ble role in city build­ing,” said Pres­i­dent Gertler. “Shau­na and John will help us build stronger link­ages to the com­mu­ni­ties around us, while enhanc­ing the con­nec­tions among urban schol­ars across our three cam­pus­es.”

Brail and Brod­head will work close­ly with Gertler to iden­ti­fy oppor­tu­ni­ties to lever­age the University’s knowl­edge and research exper­tise to address impor­tant urban issues, devel­op and strength­en work­ing rela­tion­ships with civic orga­ni­za­tions, and increase col­lab­o­ra­tive research oppor­tu­ni­ties between U of T and the Cities of Toron­to and Mis­sis­sauga.

Across its three cam­pus­es, U of T pro­fes­sors and researchers have been active­ly engaged in study­ing and part­ner­ing with the com­mu­ni­ties around them – from propos­ing tran­sit and trans­porta­tion solu­tions for the Toron­to area to releas­ing ground­break­ing stud­ies on how the region is becom­ing increas­ing­ly polar­ized along racial and socio-eco­nom­ic lines.

Since being named pres­i­dent, Gertler has had a key focus on lever­ag­ing the university’s loca­tion and its sig­nif­i­cant strengths in urban research, teach­ing, and city-build­ing. He has also been cham­pi­oning the idea of learn­ing from oth­er research-based uni­ver­si­ties locat­ed in large urban cen­tres around the world and recent­ly orga­nized a pan­el for the Cities of Learn­ing sym­po­sium in May that fea­tured senior lead­ers from the Uni­ver­si­ty of Buenos Aires, the Uni­ver­si­ty of Chica­go and the Uni­ver­si­ty of São Paulo.

Brail holds a PhD in geog­ra­phy from the Uni­ver­si­ty of Toron­to and is a senior lec­tur­er in the urban stud­ies pro­gram at Innis Col­lege. Her research lies broad­ly in eco­nom­ic geog­ra­phy with a focus on the social, cul­tur­al and eco­nom­ic changes asso­ci­at­ed with the shift­ing strengths of cities. A co-inves­ti­ga­tor in the Neigh­bour­hood Change Research Part­ner­ship, Brail also devel­ops and man­ages rela­tion­ships with mul­ti­ple orga­ni­za­tions as part of the urban stud­ies program’s acclaimed expe­ri­en­tial learn­ing ini­tia­tives. As part of her teach­ing, she has placed more than 500 U of T under­grad­u­ate stu­dents in intern­ships and ser­vice learn­ing place­ments at urban-focused orga­ni­za­tions across the city over the past 10 years.

Brod­head is the first Exec­u­tive Direc­tor of Ever­green City­Works, a strate­gic ini­tia­tive of Ever­green, a nation­al char­i­ty whose aim is to build green cities. Ever­green City­Works engages cit­i­zens and builds mul­ti-sec­tor col­lab­o­ra­tions to help deci­sion-mak­ers make cities more liv­able and resilient. Pri­or to join­ing Ever­green City­Works, Mr. Brod­head was Deputy Chief of Staff for Pol­i­cy and Cab­i­net Affairs for Ontario Pre­mier Dal­ton McGuin­ty. He was also Vice-Pres­i­dent for Strat­e­gy and Com­mu­ni­ca­tions for Metrolinx. Brod­head is cur­rent­ly an Exec­u­tive Fel­low at U of T’s Mowat Cen­tre for Pub­lic Pol­i­cy, a Senior Fel­low on Urban Pover­ty for the Maytree Foun­da­tion, and was one of the Toron­to Foundation’s Vital Peo­ple for 2015.


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