About the Summit

The Black To The Future (BTTF) Summit is certain to be one of the most important gatherings for engaging thought leadership within the local, regional and international Black-led, Black-serving and Black- focused (B3) nonprofit community, bringing about change between service providers, government and industry partners.

This is a one-day virtual event that will draw a variety of stakeholders from across Canada to share knowledge and experiences. Attendees will engage in learning and knowledge exchange sessions, artistic activities, and disruptive panel discussions.

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9:00 AM – 9:50 AM
Official Opening & Fireside Chat with Min. Hussen and Agapi Gessesse
Agapi Gessesse, Executive Director, CEE Centre for Young Black Professionals; Minister Ahmed Hussen, Minister of Housing and Diversity and Inclusion, Government of Canada
9:50 AM – 10:00 AM
10:00 AM – 11:00 PM

CEE Essentials Preview Followed by Panel: Best Practices in Culturally-Relevant Facilitation

Since its inception, CEE has been developing and honing its suite of culturally-relevant essential skills workshops known as CEE Essentials. This personal and professional development programming was created by Black leaders specifically for Black youth and young adults with the goal of supporting them in their careers and life goals. This year, CEE will be sharing its CEE Essentials programming with other 3B organizations across North America. In this session, Instructional Designer and Researcher, Gabrielle Zilkha, will share information about CEE Essentials and moderate a panel CEE’s program staff on facilitation best practices for culturally-relevant programming. The discussion surrounds key findings from the research conducted on CEE Essentials and its impact on program participants. Attendees will leave with concrete tips for how they can develop and improve their facilitation practice and how they can better advocate for culturally-relevant programming with their funders and community supporters. 

CEE Essentials Team
11:00 AM – 12:00 PM
Panel Presentation: Pivoting During the Pandemic

The panel aims to spur organizations towards new ways of servicing their community during unprecedented times by sharing lessons learned and barriers overcome.

When the pandemic suddenly forced many non-profit and grassroots organizations to close their doors or limit public access, various organizations such as Ontario Non-profit Network, City of Toronto – Confronting Anti-Black Racism Unit, First Work, Canadian Council for Youth Prosperity and many others redoubled their efforts to serve their communities in every way possible.

These organizations demonstrated their resilience by quickly pivoting to new modes of service, offering new opportunities for networking between Black-Serving, Black-Led and Black- Focused organizations and initiating research and development focused on B3 organizations.

Offering real-life examples, this discussion will center on how B3 non-profits can continue to bounce back during this pandemic, provide essential tools for capacity building, look at existing systems and processes that can aid organizations as they pivot and adapt to the circumstances. We will also take a look at the current funding and capacity-building systems that are required for maintaining this growth and not just recovering from the pandemic but building back stronger”.

Akosua Alagaratnam, Executive Director, First Work; Sophia Doulaghsingh, Director, Community Partnerships Scotiabank; Yamikani Msosa, Network, Engagement Manager, Ontario Nonprofit Network; Tinyan Otuomagie, Project Manager, Canadian Council For Youth Prosperity; Effie Vlachoyannacos, Director, Community Investment and Engagement, Maytree; Andrea Zackary, CEO and Founder, Def Events & Beyond.
Moderator: Mawuli Chai
12:00 PM – 12:45 PM
Lunch – Entertainment, network and meet with sponsors and exhibitors
Amoya Ree, Spoken-Word Artist; DJ Dreadie, DJ Dreadie Love Ent.; Jay Smooth, Saxophonist
12:45 PM – 1:50 PM
Afternoon Opening Remarks and Keynote Presentation by Mark Blumberg

Keynote Presentation: Changing structures and seizing opportunities in volatile times

Organizations are dealing with unprecedented change. In this presentation Mark will discuss:

•    Is your structure still appropriate?
•    Should we incorporate?
•    Should we be a charity?
•    What is the difference between a for-profit, non-profit and registered charity?
•    With all the pros and cons of each type of entity do we need more than one entity to achieve the necessary impact?

Mark Blumberg, Partner, Blumberg Segal LLP
1:50 PM – 2:00 PM
Break – explore the platform and sponsor/exhibitor booths
2:00 PM – 3:00 PM

CEE Essentials – in Action 

Having been introduced to CEE Essentials in the beginning portion of Black To The Future 2022, this interactive session allows participants to experience CEE Essentials by doing. Long time CEE Essentials facilitator, Horace Spence, will lead attendees through an abridged version of the CEE Essentials workshop, entitled Mental Chains.   

Attendees will leave the session with a better understanding of CEE Essentials works and with heightened self-knowledge.  

For this session you will need:

Scrap paper, a stapler or tape, and a marker or pen. 

CEE Essentials Team
3:00 PM – 3:10 PM
3:10 PM – 3:55 PM
Concurrent Workshops
Knowledge Exchange and Learning Imbizo (KELI)
Working Group 1: The State of Black Healing: Resilience also Means Rest

The Years 2020 & 2021 has been a time of upheaval for many, a time of loss, grief and collective pain causing many of us to make significant life changes awakening us to prioritize our mental health. This discussion takes a critical look at the importance of essential self-care and healing while identifying the stigma, systemic inequalities, and misconception of Black Mental Health.  

Krystal Meek, Clinical Director/ Registered Psychotherapist, Therapy Avenue
Working Group 2: Sustainability and Organizational Capacity

In recent years, funders and other external stakeholders have been controlling the narrative about what success looks like in our sector. With a call to action, funders have been asked to reassess their view of our sector’s collective ability to provide unparalleled expertise by leveraging funding access and in-depth knowledge of the needs of the sector by those delivering on the fore front. Join us as we engage in discussion on funding trends, how B3 organizations can diversify funding streams to produce long-term longevity and the pivot funders are making to ensure sustainable resiliency. 

Fabio Crespin, Manager, Youth Initiatives, United Way Greater Toronto and Mohamed Huque, Director, Community Impact, Toronto Foundation
Working Group 3: Housing Matters: My R.O.O.F – (Resting on Other’s Floor)

There is a housing crisis!  (Youth Without Shelter) 20% of the homeless population in Canada is comprised of youth between the ages of 13-24. In any given year there are at least 35,000 to 40,000 youth experiencing homelessness and this number continues to increase.  The environment in which individuals are born, learn, play, work and develop becomes more than just “a place to live”. This discussion looks at the housing inequities and inherent obstacles black youth are still faced with, magnified by the current pandemic climate. What’s being done to curb this dilemma? In this discussion we will take a critical look at polices, early prevention and intervention strategies B3 Organizations can adopt when supporting homeless youth.  

Nathan Okonta, Research Assistant – Black Youth Homelessness, Canadian Observatory on Homelessness
Working Group 4: Reflections: Youth Justice in Black & White

Did you know that there are more than 300,000 youth in Ontario aged 15- 29 that are not in employment, education, or training? (N.E.E.T) Ontario’s overall unemployment rate in the second quarter of 2021 showed that youth between the ages of 15 to 24 had the highest unemployment rate of 20.4% (Ontario Employment Report), and at the same time 50% of Toronto’s youth workforce are experiencing mental health issues? (Ontario Employment Report). In this discussion we will examine the racial and ethnic disparities within institutional systems that have long plagued black youth, placing them in precarious positions, leading them into the hands of the justice system, while introducing best practices to B3 service providers to mitigate the over policing of Black youth. 

Julian Falconer, Barrister at Law, Falconers LLP
3:55 PM – 4:00 PM
Conference Closing Remarks



Akosua Alagaratnam

Executive Director at First Work


Akosua is the Executive Director of First Work. Prior to joining the organization, Akosua worked as a senior public affairs professional, primarily focused on policy affecting marginalized communities and youth.

In the panel “Pivoting During the Pandemic”, Akosua along with other panelists will be offering real-life examples of what it means to be a non-profit organization serving the Black community and share how many organizations transitioned to virtual and socially-distanced services.

Mark Blumberg

Lawyer at Blumberg Segal LLP

Afternoon Keynote

Mark is a partner at the law firm Blumberg Segal LLP (Blumbergs) in Toronto and works almost exclusively advising non-profits and registered charities on their work in Canada and abroad.

Mark’s afternoon keynote will provide B3 non-profit organizations with useful advice on navigating today’s precarious funding situation and how to seize opportunities in the midst of these unprecedented times.

Through this discussion, we hope to shine a light on the opportunities ahead and what is next for the sector.

Mawuli Chai

Creative Director | Publicist


Mawuli Chai (pronounced Ma-WHO-Lee) is a gregarious human being who is a creative savant and social entrepreneur. He brings 10-plus years of progressive engagement in capacity building, stakeholder engagement, youth and community development, and media relations. He brings multi-sector experience that spans municipal, provincial and federal levels—leading major projects, initiatives that has had social impact on individuals, communities and organizations he has consulted and engaged with.

A consummate content creator, writer and publicist that brings an immersive repertoire of compelling celebrity interviews and encounters.

Fabio Crespin

Manager at United Way Greater Toronto


With a business administration degree, Fabio initially worked in investment banking. Since 2001, Fabio has been working in various capacities related to public and privately funded socio-economic development programs in areas such as entrepreneurship and business education, employment, immigrant and youth services.

Since October 2014, Fabio has been part of United Way Greater Toronto’s Youth Initiatives team where he leads the implementation of the innovate Career Navigator program – a workforce development model for youth facing multiple barriers to employment.

Sophia Doulaghsingh

Director, Community Partnerships for Scotiabank


Sophia Doulaghsingh is Director, Community Partnerships for Scotiabank. In her role at Scotiabank, Sophia leads a team that is responsible for creating and delivering the Bank’s Global Community Partnerships strategy to drive social impact, employee engagement and business impact.

Prior to her role in Community Investments, Sophia was the Head of Canadian Corporate Access for Scotiabank Global Banking and Markets. 

Sophia started her career as a desk associate at Scotia Capital, honed her Corporate Access skills at Merrill Lynch in the UK and then returned to the Bank to formally establish and develop Scotiabank’s Corporate Access & Equity Marketing platform.

DJ Dreadie Love

DJ Dreadie Love Ent

Official DJ For The Summit

Ameera McIntosh, musically known as DJ DREADIE LOVE is a passionate lover of music. As a drummer, Zumba instructor and MC for over 10 years, she decided to leap into the musical world of DJ’ing 5 years ago.

She is an alumni graduate of U for Change DJ program, and has been hired to DJ for several corporate, private and special events throughout Canada.

Her motto is to create an unforgettable musical experience for all to enjoy.

Good Music + Good Vibes = Good Times 

Julian Falconer

Partner at Falconers LLP


Julian Falconer is a founding partner of Falconers LLP, and holds degrees from the University of Alberta, McGill University, University of Toronto and an Honorary Doctorate of Laws from the University of Guelph-Humber. He is a Bencher on the Law Society of Ontario, and co-authored the book, Annotated Ontario Coroners Act. Julian’s practice takes him to civil, administrative, and criminal courts at both trial and appellate levels, including the Supreme Court.

Julian has been counsel on matters related to prisoner rights, police accountability, and human rights. His work has included the representation of Maher Arar, the family of Ashley Smith, and Adam Nobody and the “Free Press Four.” 

Agapi Gessesse

Executive Director at CEE


Agapi Gessesse is an Award-winning change maker who was named a 2020 top Black woman to watch in Canada. Born and raised in Toronto to a refugee mother, Agapi’s commitment to mentoring marginalized youth stems from her lived experience, and belief in community development. 

Agapi has captivated audiences on local and national stages as a commentator on anti-black racism, workforce development and youth engagement. For over a decade. She has spoken at conferences such as, National Housing Conference, Association of Fundraising Professionals, The Economic Club of Canada and many more. She speaks and writes on topics such as anti-black racism, workforce development and youth engagement.

Mohamed Hugue

Director, Community Impact at Toronto Foundation


Mohamed has spent his entire career advancing social change, from grassroots organizations to global charities. He currently serves as the Director, Community Impact at Toronto Foundation where he mobilizes the organization’s vast philanthropic resources towards addressing the social inequities in the city and beyond.

Previously, he was a consultant advising some of the world’s leading NGOs on programs that ranged from supporting micro-enterprises in Afghanistan to establishing women-led co-operatives in rural Sudan. As a former nonprofit executive, he’s also led an advocacy organization to develop Canada’s first national reading strategy and a frontline social service agency that supports low-income communities.

Ahmed Hussen

Minister of Housing and Diversity and Inclusion, Government of Canada


A passionate advocate for his community, the Honourable Ahmed Hussen has been proudly representing the residents of York South—Weston since 2015.

Before he started in politics, Minister Hussen worked at the grassroots with neighbours and allies to create “local solutions to local problems.” This would lead to the Minister helping to secure $500 million to revitalise Toronto’s, Regent Park in 2006.

Minister Hussen is a firm believer that diversity is a fact and inclusion is a choice. During his time as the National President for the Canadian Somali Congress, he worked with national and regional authorities to advocate on important issues to Canadians of Somali heritage, which helped foster better civic engagement and integration. 

Krystal Meeks

Psychotherapist at Therapy Avenue


Krystal Meeks is a Registered Psychotherapist, public speaker, and an advocate who has over 15 years of experience working with diverse communities to promote mental health care and wellness. 

She is passionate about quality mental health support for the black community and addressing trauma through a social justice and cultural framework.

Krystal continues to work with diverse communities while specializing in trauma, anxiety, depression, within her private practice Therapy Avenue.

More information about services offered can be found at

Yamikani Msosa

Network Engagement Manager


Yamikani (they/them) is a Black genderqueer Malawian arrivant currently living in Tkaronto who grew up as a visitor on Algonquin Territory. As a creative, strategic consultant and facilitator, they love building containers for connections to be forged, and holding space for individual, community, and systems transformation.

Yamikani is committed to a practice of anti-racism, decolonization and anti-oppression, using popular culture, creative facilitation, emergent strategy and digital engagement. They completed hir Master’s degree in Women and Gender Studies at Carleton University, and a Certificate from Michigan State University in Equity, Diversity and Inclusion, and Organizational Change. 

Nathan Okonta

Research Assistant


Nathan Okonta has a master’s degree in international and community development. He is an alumnus of both York University and the University of Toronto. Nathan has been a social developer in Toronto for the past 20 years working with youth who are involved in both the youth and adult criminal justice systems as well as with those who are at-risk of such involvement.

His work also extends to youth and adults who are impacted by the increasing intersection of the criminal justice systems with the immigration system and work to prevent or reduce deportation and the detaining of youth on immigration hold. Nathan has been involved in community-university research projects since 2004 and is a community educator on issues that affect the Black community.

Tinyan Otuomagie

Canadian Council for Youth Prosperity


Tinyan Otuomagie currently works for the Canadian Council for Youth Prosperity (CCYP) as a Project Manager on a research and engagement project focused on how the eco-system can address some of the implementation challenges that arise from systemic racism and underfunding of black-led and black-serving organizations. The goal is to identify new approaches to workforce development for Black youth.

Her areas of interest are Black women and Black youth access to meaningful employment and capital for entrepreneurship ventures. Tinyan is also an implementation specialist, program evaluator, coach, speaker, facilitator, and published author. She has a BA Hons in International Development Studies (Major) and Women’s Studies (Minor), an MA in Gender and Development Studies and is currently a PhD student.

Amoya Reé

Spoken-Word Artist


Amoya Reé (she/her) is a Jamaican-Canadian performance poet and 2018 Canadian National Champion. Her writing is rooted in her lived experiences as an immigrant, mother, & community worker.

Reé was crowned the 2021 Toronto Grand Slam Champion and her debut collection, funded by the Ontario Arts Council and the Canada Council for the Arts, is set to release Fall 2022.

Jay Smooth



Jay Smooth is an international inspiring saxophonist, which he performs for weddings, corporate events, award ceremonies, fashion shows, birthday parties, and a plethora of other events. Jay Smooth has been performing for 18yrs, leading him big roles to be a part of the Harry Jerome awards, Rogers Cup, and presented as a special guest for the Ontario Lieutenant Governor David Onley, during his term in Parliament.

Jay Smooth sincerely trusts that instrumental music has really allowed him to be confident within myself, have an understanding on what makes him happy in life; which is music, and has also taught him to never give up on his goals, to be a saxophonist. Jay Smooth strongly believes that life is too short to be unhappy!

Effie Vlachoyannacos

Director, Community Investment and Engagement at Maytree


Effie (she/her) leads Maytree’s grants program and engagement work to build participation in, and the development of, civic processes that include the voices of people with lived experience of poverty.

Effie has spent over 15 years working with resident and tenant leaders, and communities across Toronto’s inner suburbs in systems change work that has resulted in progressive changes in affordable housing, public transit and community economic development.

She holds a BA and a BSW from York University.

Andrea Zackary



Andrea Zackary is a loving mother to 5 beautiful girls and wife of 11 years to a wonderful husband. She grew up in a blended and athletic family and also a former Deaf Olympian and World Championship qualifier in Track and field. She is identified as Oral Deaf and a mentor within her community.

Andrea started to lose her hearing around the age of 6 but still pursued her studies and was able to complete high school and College. She then worked in the hospitality industry as a front desk agent but suddenly became completely deaf at the age of 25 and lost her job as a result. She holds a diploma in Hotel & Restaurant Management and has worked in the hospitality industry for 10 years.

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