Reem Ali will begin her role as the City of Peterborough’s first Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Officer in July.
The city made the announcement on Monday morning, noting the focus of the position is to help the city address racism, discrimination, and prevent, identify, and remove barriers to access in opportunity.
The newly created position — through the 2021 city budget — is part of the city’s actions after joining the Coalition for Inclusive Municipalities in December 2019.
“The new position reflects the city’s commitment to diversity and inclusion,” stated Mayor Diane Therrien. “For our community to thrive, we need to be open and welcoming to all people. Diversity of experiences, backgrounds and cultures makes us a better, stronger, more vibrant community.
“As we see the historical and present-day experiences of discrimination and hate that have destroyed lives, we have a responsibility to learn, to understand and to take action to improve our city and our country.”
Ali currently serves as the interim executive director of the Kawartha Sexual Assault Centre and she taught in International Studies at Trent University. Previously, she worked at the New Canadians Centre.
She also currently serves on non-profit boards including the YWCA, the Kawartha World Issues Centre, the Peterborough Field Naturalists, and the Clean Slate Enterprise. She is also chairperson of the Peterborough Regional Farmers’ Market steering committee.
Ali holds a Master of Science degree in biochemistry from McMaster University, a Master of Public Policy and Administration degree from Carleton University and a certificate in Ethics and Contemporary Social Issues from Saint Paul University.
“I am very honoured to have been trusted with this new and important role in my home City of Peterborough, and look forward to advancing this challenging, but much-needed DEI work within the City and our local community,” she stated.
City councillor Don Vassiliadis, chairperson of the diversity portfolio, says the city has a responsibility to “take action.”
“But diversity and inclusiveness are values we need to hold throughout our community,” he said. “Reem’s experience, knowledge and relationships in our community will help our organization as we build a more diverse and inclusive Peterborough.”
In 2018 Ali was a recipient of the Greater Peterborough Chamber of Commerce’s 4 Under-40 award recognizing individuals in the community who are under the age of 40 for their achievements or contributions through the business sector, community involvement, or not-for-profit sector. Also in 2018, she received a leadership award during the Peterborough-Kawartha Women’s Leadership Awards organized by MP Maryam Monsef.