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The Future Skills Centre welcomes Selena Zhang as Director, Strategic Initiatives, and Sarah Gaikwad as Director of Operations

Selena Zhang is a creative and action-oriented leader with a track record of delivering innovative initiatives that prioritize marginal voices, test new ways of creating community impact, and support the most vulnerable to gain access to pathways to opportunity.

As the Future Skills Centre’s Director, Strategic Initiatives, she brings a passion for working across sectors to drive a range of cross-organizational priorities and strategic initiatives.

Prior to joining the Future Skills Centre, Selena was Senior Director of Strategic Initiatives and Partnerships at the Canadian Urban Institute, where she led numerous nation-wide programs focused on COVID recovery in Canadian cities. Before that, she served as Manager of Strategic Initiatives at United Way Greater Toronto, and Manager of Programs and Research at the University of Toronto’s Institute on Municipal Finance and Governance. Earlier in her career, Selena provided support to Ontario’s migrant workers in Canada’s agricultural sector, worked for the Cape Town local government on the impact of their urban agriculture policy on low-income families, and ran a youth-led international development charity operating in four countries around the world. In 2010, she exhibited a solo art exhibition of 17,989 portraits representing Ontario’s migrant farmworkers—drawing attention to the permanently temporary hands behind our local produce. Selena was one of 25 rising leaders in the GTHA named a CivicAction DiverseCity Fellow in 2017. She holds a Master of Public Policy from the University of Toronto and Bachelor of Arts in Global Development Studies from Queen’s University.

COVID has laid bare many of the disruptive and unequal realities in today’s world of work. Luckily, the pandemic shows us, too, what we can accomplish with each other in times of great need. As we think about what’s next for skills innovation, the soul of the future is a shared project. It’s an all-hands-on-deck moment. Let’s get going together.

A proud first-generation Chinese Canadian, Selena holds at the centre of her practice that communities know best what they need; that no single sector holds the monopoly on solutions; and that our duty as professionals and as people is to prioritize (un)learning, and to practice humility in service of community-based power, wisdom, and joy.

Sarah Gaikwad is committed to comprehensive innovation and community engagement, and is enthusiastic about disruptive spaces with a focus on value creation via diversification.

She brings a zest for critical thinking, creative problem-solving, and strategic planning to her role as Director, Operations at the Future Skills Centre.

Sarah’s key strength is to turn an idea into a strategic plan with actionable steps towards successful execution. In addition to over a decade of experience in program development, access to education, and international education, Sarah is a part-time lecturer at The Chang School of Continuing Education, teaching courses and seminars on critical thinking and academic and professional writing. She has also taught with the Toronto Centre for Community Learning and Development’s Immigrant Women Integration Program. Sarah is a Board Director, and Co-Lead of the Equity Committee, for SKETCH, a community arts enterprise engaging diverse young people from across Canada, who live homeless or on the margins. Furthermore, she is Co-Founder of Silk Theory, an online boutique offering a curated collection of Indian jewellery and handicrafts, featuring traditional design and contemporary aesthetic. 

Sarah holds an MBA with a focus on strategy and global management and a Bachelor of Arts in Arts and Contemporary Studies, both from Toronto Metropolitan University (formerly Ryerson University).