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Spring 2021 update from the Dean

Dear students, faculty, and staff,

As we look forward to spring, I am pleased to provide you with an update on ongoing initiatives and new faces that you will soon see at FIFSW. Taken together, these efforts will contribute to strengthening our commitment to equity, diversity and inclusion (EDI); student success; and enhancing our social work impact.

Equity, Diversity and Inclusion

The horrific events centering on the murder of eight people, six of whom were Asian, in Atlanta, Georgia last week reinforced the urgency of our collective work to end discrimination, racism, and gender-based violence. Last week, we released a statement on the anti-Asian racist attacks in Atlanta. This week, faculty members facilitated a space for FIFSW students, staff and faculty to collectively listen and to learn about how systemic racism is impacting us — and to support each other and mobilize advocacy.

It is important to note that all forms of discrimination and racial violence are interconnected. Silence does not protect us. Therefore, we must continue to speak out and take action against all social inequalities. To this end, I wanted to share some new resources and upcoming initiatives.

On Friday, March 26, FIFSW hosted the event “How the social work profession has promoted racism without racists: Real talk about anti-Black racism.” This important discussion brought together social workers across multiple system levels to discuss strategies to curtail structural racism in social work.

This week, Zócalo Public Square published I piece that I wrote on the constellation of restraints on Black life. I would like to invite you to read it here.

Since September 2020, I have been co-chair of the University of Toronto’s Task Force on Anti-Black Racism. At the end of March, we will submit our report to senior University administration with actionable system-wide recommendations. Though these recommendations are geared towards addressing anti-Black racism, they will also benefit Indigenous community members and other People of Colour who may experience discrimination at U of T and ultimately move us towards a more inclusive University community for all.

Similarly, since December 2020, Professor Faye Mishna has been a member of U of T’s Anti-Semitism Working Group, which is focusing on how to create an inclusive environment where Jewish members of our community feel welcome and respected. The working group recently launched a consultation survey. I encourage all members of the FIFSW community to participate in this important survey, which will help inform a much-needed policy framework that will be submitted to the University’s senior leadership to better foster inclusivity for Jewish students, staff and faculty.

New faces at FIFSW

Student services, programs & support

Milad Tabataba joins FIFSW as our inaugural Assistant Dean, Student Services, effective March 29, 2021. This new role was created to provide enhanced central support to all students and student services with an EDI lens. To this role, Milad brings over 14 years of student support expertise, along with a dynamic academic leadership portfolio in the post-secondary education system. Having completed the course requirements for the Master of Education – Post Secondary Studies degree at Memorial University of Newfoundland, Milad is currently involved in research on the diversity of leadership in post-secondary education.



Assistant Professor Tara Black has been appointed to the role of MSW Program Director, effective July 1, 2021. In this role, Tara is responsible for academic oversight of our master’s program. Building on FIFSW’s current administrative capacity, Milad and Tara’s functions will increase the Faculty’s investment in student success by 140 percent.

The new administrative positions occupied by Milad and Tara will replace the role of Associate Dean, Academic. As such, Associate Professor David Burnes, will be stepping down from his position as ADA, effective June 30, 2021 to focus on his expanding research. We are grateful for his contributions to our Faculty, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic when we pivoted to online teaching within 48 hours. I would like to encourage you to join me in thanking David for his service to our students and faculty over these past two years.


Nora Khudhair will be joining us from UTemp to substitute as Student Programs and Outreach Coordinator while Valerie Groysman is on maternity leave. Nora is finalizing a master’s degree in Education from Athabasca University in Alberta, and is a certified Data Analyst and TEFL teacher with a passion for community service.

We are currently recruiting for a full time International Student Coordinator. This role will focus on supporting the success of our international students, and we hope to announce a new hire soon.



FIFSW online clinic: Talk it out TO

Sylvia Delgado (MSW, RSW) has joined FIFSW as Manager of our recently launched online counselling clinic: Talk it Out TO. A graduate of our Indigenous Trauma and Resiliency field of study, Sylvia is highly experienced in child welfare and as a trauma counsellor, who synthesizes racism, trauma, substance use and attachment in her practice. She looks forward to working alongside our clinic practicum students to support communities isolated and impacted by racial, economic, and COVID-19-related traumas.


Dean’s Office and Advancement

Christopher Henion will be joining FIFSW as Executive Assistant to the Dean effective March 29, 2021. Chris comes to us from the Department of Philosophy where he was Assistant to the Chair and brings nine years of solid executive and administrative experience in post-secondary and education settings. Prior to his appointment in Philosophy, he was an Administrative Assistant and Program Coordinator at the John H. Daniels Faculty of Architecture, Landscape and Design.

I would like to thank Daniel Downey for the valuable service he provided to the Faculty as Acting Executive Assistant to the Dean for the past 11 months. As he returns to his role as Advancement Coordinator on April 5, 2021, our alumni and alumni association will be thrilled to once again receive his effective and dedicated support.


In a prior message, I introduced you to Steve Hoscheit who is supporting the Faculty as Interim Director of Advancement while we conduct a search for a permanent Advancement Director. I look forward to announcing our new director in the coming months.




Campaign for universal early learning and child care

This March, as we celebrate Social Work Month and International Women’s Day, FIFSW has been proud to join alumna Margaret McCain and Professor Ramona Alaggia in advocating for a universal, Canada-wide Early Learning and Child Care system that will ensure no child is left behind.

I would like to invite you to join us in reaching out to Federal leaders and your local representatives in support of a universal system, which will significantly enhance the health and wellbeing of children and families across Canada’s diverse communities. We have drafted some sample letters that you can use to contact your Members of Parliament, who often take action based on the volume of letters they receive. Please consider submitting — and encouraging your friends to submit — a letter. The sample letters and contact information are available on the FIFSW website.

2021 Distinguished Speaker Series Lecture

This year’s Distinguished speaker will be the Right Honourable Michaëlle Jean, who served as Canada’s Governor General from 2005 to 2010. This lecture will take place on May 10 from 6:30 – 7:30pm via Zoom. More details and registration information for this event will be shared shortly.





I hope you are excited about the many initiatives and advancements taking place at FIFSW. As we welcome Spring, I look forward to being in touch and hearing from many of you.

Best regards,

Dexter R. Voisin
Dean & Professor
Sandra Rotman Chair in Social Work