Our Team

Our team supports faculty and instructors, staff, students and community partners as they work together to create community-engaged learning and research opportunities.  

Jennifer Esmail, Ph.D.  
Director, Centre for Community Partnerships 

Jennifer has worked in a range of academic and community spaces and now bridges these spheres in her work as Director of the Centre for Community Partnerships (CCP). Before joining the CCP, she was Assistant Professor in the Department of English and Film Studies at Wilfrid Laurier University, where she taught as part of the Walls to Bridges prison co-learning program. Jennifer has published in areas including community-university engagement, Disability Studies and English literature, including her prize-winning monograph, Reading Victorian Deafness (2013). She has been involved with a number of community organizations in Ontario, including sitting on the Board of Directors of The Children’s Book Bank and the Advisory Board of the Enabling Nonprofits project of the Ontario Nonprofit Network. Jennifer’s identity and lived experience as a woman of color, a settler and uninvited guest on this land, and a first generation post-secondary student inform her commitment to anti-oppressive and anti-colonial approaches to education. 

Rebs Lee  
Programs Administrator 

In their role as Programs Administrator, Rebs brings a passion for social justice to everything they do. They spent over 15 years working in the nonprofit sector, with several years focused on perinatal health, and the links to the Social Determinants of Health. Other experiences in the nonprofit sector include urban outdoor education, and international development. As a community builder, they are known to connect people with the goal of building mutual support systems. Their lived experience as a disabled queer settler informs their perspective, which centres anti-oppression, anti-racism, and intersectional feminism. 

Ewa Cerda-Llanos, M.A.  
Lead Coordinator, Co-curricular Learning 

Ewa brings over 15 years of experience in the not-for-profit sector, with a focus on community development. Her work has included the design of place-based strategies, facilitation of networks, accessible program design, project management, coaching, and the facilitation of cross sector collaborations, while centering community-identified priorities. Ewa is passionate about social justice and brings an equity lens to developing meaningful programming for students and community partners. She thrives on working with different players to facilitate cross sector understanding, and alignment, placing reciprocal learning at the center. Ewa holds an M.A in Political Science from York University.

Michelle Christian, Ph.D.
Program Associate

Michelle brings over 10 years of experience supporting student learning and faculty teaching at the University of Toronto. While completing a Humanities Ph.D. also at the University of Toronto, she taught undergraduate courses on the topics of religion and structural inequalities in premodern worlds and developed pedagogical resources for department and campus programs. At the Centre for Community Partnerships, Michelle supports both co-curricular and curricular community-engaged learning programming and initiatives. In her work, and as a racialized person and settler, Michelle advocates for inclusive pedagogies and anti-oppressive approaches to post-secondary education.


Amina Farah
Coordinator, Co-curricular Learning 

Prior to this role, Amina was a coordinator at ReachOUT at the Griffin Centre; a program that centers and values the lived experiences of LGBTQ+ Newcomer youth. She has the pleasure of coordinating the Alternative Reading Week program and loves collaborating with community organizations to create programs that serve their needs while connecting students to great learning opportunities. She has a teaching degree from OISE and a Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing from the University of Guelph.

Janet Fitzsimmons  
Coordinator, Co-curricular Learning

Janet brings over two decades of community development experience to her role. In her career, Janet has worked with municipal leaders and grassroots actors, designed innovative learning models that prioritize voices of lived experience, and fostered social benefit through cross-sector collaboration. She is eager to bring her deep knowledge of Toronto and her commitment to anti-oppressive practice to her work with students and community partners. 

Adrienne Glasgow Harte
Coordinator, Faculty Development

Adrienne has worked in secondary and post-secondary education for 25 years, with a focus on creating spaces, conversations and experiences that are truly reflective of the diversity in our communities. She is a proud 9th generation African Canadian woman, mother and partner, who was born and raised in Nova Scotia. As a lifelong learner, who holds Master’s degrees in Adult Education and Counselling, Adrienne is continually looking for new opportunities to challenge herself. Volunteerism has been an important aspect of her service to others and she is currently a member of the Ajax Anti-Racism Task Force. 

Heather Hermant, Ph.D. 
Lead Coordinator, Academic Initiatives

Heather joined the CCP in 2020 as Lead Coordinator, Academic Initiatives after more than a decade teaching community-engaged learning and community-engaged research. She has taught at the Women and Gender Studies Institute, and the Community Engaged Learning program, New College, University of Toronto. Prior to coming to U of T, Heather taught in the Community Arts Practice Certificate Program in the Faculties of Urban and Environmental Change and Arts, Media and Design at York University, Toronto. Heather holds an Hon. B.Sc in Ecology and Environmental Biology from the University of British Columbia; a Magisteriate in Environmental Studies from York University; and a PhD in Gender Studies from Utrecht University, The Netherlands. Heather is a queer settler historian and artist who has worked at the intersection of performing arts, community practice, academic research and instruction for almost twenty years.