Graduated from UTM: June 2012
Degree: Honours Bachelor of Arts
Program(s): Criminology and Socio-legal Studies major, Political Science major, Sociology minor
Awards & Accolades: Recipient of the UofT Alumni Arbor Award
Current Role: Community Investment Leader with the United Way, and Executive Director for two not-for-profit organizations
What have you been doing since graduating from UTM?
Christopher: Since graduation, I first worked in the private sector for an American company called Excell Marketing as an Account Manager for their sports/memorabilia line. I was able to travel all across Canada to support the development and management contracts in various retail department stores such as Walmart, SuperStore, and Target at the time. While doing that, I still enjoyed community work so I continued to volunteer with United Way on their Youth Council and was eventually elected chair of the council. I also maintained connection to UTM after serving as the President of the UTM Students Union, then as the UTMSU Volunteer Board Chair (for one year), and then was asked to join the UTM Alumni Association. I served on the UTM Alumni Association for four years and eventually served as the UTM Alumni Association President. After working at Excell Marketing for two years, an opening became available at United Way Peel as the Communications & Youth Coordinator, and I got that role. I enjoy social sector work. Over time I was promoted to Executive Assistant to the CEO and Human Resources Manager at United Way. When United Way Peel merged with Toronto's United Way, I was promoted to Community Investment Manager and the lead of the Black Community Advisory Council. I started my own charity in 2017 entitled Skills For Life (https://www.theskills4life.ca), focused on inspiring youth to set smart goals from an earlier age which now has nine part-time staff across the GTA, and I sit as the part-time Executive Director. I also helped build a national not-for-profit called The Federation of Black Canadians (https://fbcfcn.ca) since 2018; they have asked me to be the inaugural Executive Director since January 2021 and I manage 11 staff across Canada currently.
Tell us about your current role!
Christopher: Currently for United Way Toronto, I support the growth and connection of emerging groups/community not-for-profits and support their capacity building (governance, operations, grant opportunities, collaboration opportunities, community connection, etc.). For Skills For Life and The Federation of Black Canadians, as the Executive Director I oversee all operations and support strategic planning with the Board of Directors.
What was your favourite Sociology course taken at UTM?
Christopher: I can’t remember the title but - something around sociology of people (learning about community structures, and how people interact). I like learning about people, how they function in various societal situations, how they grow, have challenges, and change over time.
What did you enjoy most about your time at UTM (or the SOC/CRIM program specifically)?
Christopher: Honesty, at first I spent most of my time in the gym. I played a lot of basketball, I even played for the UTM Division 2 and Division 1 basketball teams at the time. I was a member of the Sociology Academic Association and enjoyed going to events and meeting people in careers already and fellow students to build new relationships some of which I still have today. But honestly, I learned the most from getting engaged and participating in student clubs, groups, and activities.
Were you involved in any clubs, teams, or extra-curricular activities while at UTM?
Christopher: Vice-President of a student club called Caribbean Connections; Director of Intramurals with UTM Student Athletic Council; Vice-President Campus Life at the Student Union; President of the Student Union; President of the UTM Alumni Association; Team member of the UTM Division 2 and Division 1 basketball team.
What tip or suggestion would you like to pass along to current students?
Christopher: Explore, explore, explore. Get involved outside the classroom. You pay way too much money to just go to a few classes and leave. Work hard in the classroom and work hard outside of it too. Experiential learning is the best way to prepare for the real word - and network.
What’s next for you?
Christopher: Build up Skills For Life (https://www.theskills4life.ca) to be across provinces in Canada in the next 4-5 years, and build up The Federation of Black Canadians (https://fbcfcn.ca) to have hubs in every province across Canada.
Thanks Christopher, we wish you all the best!