Velma Morgan has experience in creating and implementing public policies and programs in the Ontario provincial government. For over 10 years she advised Cabinet Ministers in 5 Ministries. Her comprehensive knowledge of government and public policy processes allows her to quickly decipher and analyze complex issues and positively contributes to a solution.
As an advocate for gender and cultural representation and inclusion in government,
she ensured that the voices of marginalized communities were reflected in government’s policies and communications. She also helped to strengthen collaborative ties between racialized communities, youth and government in new and innovative ways. Community and business leaders of a variety of backgrounds regularly solicit Velma to deliver results in the area of policy, community and social development.
As Chair of Operation Black Vote Canada, she is the architect of the first ever-Black Community provincial leaders’ debate, Black Women’s Political Summit and Next Generation Political Summit. She also co-created the 1834 Fellowship.
A sought-after political and public policy commentator, Velma is featured on television, radio and print. She has been featured on CBC’s Metro Morning and The House, and in various Canadian, Caribbean and British newspapers.
Velma is the recipient of the John Brooks Community Foundation Scholarship Fund Community Service Award, the TNT Eagles Community Service Award, the Ontario Ministry of Citizenship and Immigration Volunteer Award for her service and commitment to youth and her community, the Canadian International Black Women’s Enterprise 100 Black Women to watch 2015. 100ABC women 2018, 2021 City of Toronto Bob Marley Award and 2021 BBPA Harry Jerome Award.
Born and raised in Mississauga, Ontario, Ian Allen learned the importance of giving back to the community and the value of hard work from his immigrant parents. During high school and into his university years, Ian spent his summers building character and confidence in the youth of Markham at the Ashton Meadows SportsCamp—first as a counselor and later as a director.
With an interest in politics and government, Ian first gained public policy experience interning for the Canadian Taxpayers Federation under the Ontario Director of the CTF, and later served as Special Assistant to Canada’s Minister of National Defence ; Minister for Multiculturalism, the Hon. Jason Kenney, in the last Conservative government.
Ian currently serves as Senior Communications Advisor to Ontario’s Minister of Energy, Northern Development & Mines, and Indigenous Affairs, and formerly served as Senior Outreach Advisor to the Leader of the Official Opposition at Queen’s Park.
Ian is a graduate of the University of Toronto, where he earned his B.A. (Hons.) in political science, and is pursuing his Master of Arts degree in government through the Johns Hopkins University Advanced Academic Program. After completing his undergraduate studies, Ian volunteered for a year as a teacher’s aide at Mott Haven Academy—a charter school in the Bronx, New York that strives to foster a love of learning in the community’s underprivileged youth.
Kevin Modeste joined OBVC with the hope of complimenting the incredible work being done daily throughout Canada’s Black community to build a fairer and more just society.
Over his 20-plus years of working in campaign, constituency and parliamentary settings, it became clear that the challenge of having so few Black elected representatives at the table was compounded by the even smaller number of staffers and policy experts participating in the decision making that affects the day-to-day lives of Black Canadians. Through his experiences as a candidate, campaign worker and legislative staffer – and the all-too-familiar challenge of often being the only Black voice in the room – it reaffirmed his belief that lasting positive change requires not only more principled Black representation on the ballot and in office, but also in the senior staff complements that surround our elected leaders on all levels of government.
Currently the Deputy Director of Research and Legislative Affairs for the Ontario NDP Caucus at Queen’s Park, Kevin holds degrees from Trent University (BA, History and Political Studies) and York University (Master of Public Policy, Administration and Law).
Joseph Smith is a trained teacher who is qualified to teach in the elementary and secondary panels of the TDSB. He is also presently pursuing a PhD in the Humanities focussing specifically on – through utilizing the disciplines of philosophy, psychology, religion and literature studies – the ontology of the mind and its relationship to narrative identities. He was born and raised within the Jane and Finch community and has been drawn to this community work due to his own experiences of having to overcome the emotional ramifications of parental absenteeism, gun violence, drug abuse, racism and classism, all of which pose formidable obstacles to emotional and intellectual development for those within marginalized communities like the one he serves. His vision for the program is that each participant will – after having undergone the program’s educational sessions on emotional intelligence and mental health, and through taking advantage of the partnerships and supports the program provides – become an “Anchor” in their respective communities, capable of not only allowing themselves to live up to their full potential educationally, economically, and emotionally, but also, allowing and aiding others to live up to their own potential, in their respective areas of interest.