Meeting place


The Rouge Valley has always inspired Paul Harpley

Paul Harpley

Paul Harpley BSc 1978 Conservationist, naturalist and artist Paul Harpley has a deep, long-time connection to the Rouge Valley. As a child he spent summers at his grandparents’ cabin in the area, fishing and canoeing the lower Rouge. “There weren’t trails in those days,” he says. “[For me] as a kid, it felt like going to the edge of civilization.” As an environmental science student at UTSC in the 1970s, Harpley became involved with Save the Rouge Valley System (SRVS), participating in many battles against housing development projects threatening the Rouge. One of these sticks out in his memory—a massive residential development known as “Malvern Number Three.” Planned for northern Scarborough, it would stretch from Finch to Steeles avenues, and local council was considering giving it the go-ahead. “We really had to step it up for that one,” recalls Harpley. “I’m proud of what we did because we engaged people that probably never would have been engaged.” During a council meeting for the proposed development, Harpley made a sketch of a white-tailed deer and its fawn that he’d seen while hiking in the Rouge. This sketch became an iconic symbol for the Save the Rouge movement, appearing on countless T-shirts and posters. Today, Harpley operates a research station on Lake Simcoe. And his deep knowledge and respect of the environment still inform his art. Renowned for his pencil and watercolour depictions of wildlife, landscapes and natural habitats, Harpley has been commissioned for book illustrations, and his drawings of zoo animals were the first ones used by the Toronto Zoo. Meanwhile, although pleased to hear that the Rouge will become a national urban park, Harpley is quick to emphasize the need to preserve the natural gifts of the area. “A natural heritage park right in the middle of a major city is a major planning challenge,” he says. “But if they get the right people and engage all the groups involved, I have hope it will turn out well.”

Who’s Doing What

Diana Brown

“This is what keeps me excited and motivated to get up every morning,” says Diana Brown (BBA, 2005) of her job as senior finance manager at Microsoft. The former UTSC management co-op student has come a long way in a short time since landing her first job at Microsoft Canada in 2006. Following a stint as a finance manager and earning the Microsoft Circle of Excellence Award, Brown is cherishing her new role, wherein she supports the top financial executives at the company’s headquarters in Seattle. “The information I provide assists those executives to make important decisions, so my job combines my love of math and strategy,” says Brown, who credits much of her early career success to her co-op experience at UTSC. “It gave me the tools to discover a career path that best suited my personality.”

Cybill Lui

Already, the brief, yet very full, career of Cybill Lui (BBA, 2002) has taken her from brokering high-powered financial deals in the Big Apple to the glitz and glamour of Tinseltown. After graduating from the UTSC management co-op program, she landed a job with an investment bank in New York. Then she went to work for a healthcare start-up where she raised capital to build a series of cancer treatment centres in the U.S. In her current role as producer for L.A.–based Olive Branch Productions—a company she co-founded in 2009—Lui plays an active role in getting movies, such as Casino Jack and The Philosophers, to the big screen. In addition to securing financing for films, Lui is involved in the creative, legal and business aspects of her company, which means, she says, “moving things forward, putting out fires and getting things done.” But although she acknowledges that her job can be “crazy busy” and that it draws on all of her skills to help get films through the production pipeline, Lui doesn’t foresee a move to another industry any time soon. “I think I’ve found what I love to do.”

Satinder Klair

After graduating from UTSC and earning a master’s degree in public policy in 2011, Satinder Klair (HBA, 2009) knew he wanted a career in government. Following two contracts—one with the Ministry of Labour, the other with the Ministry of Consumer Services—he recently became a policy analyst with the Ministry of Finance. “There’s a lot of variation and I definitely do not get stuck in a routine,” he says of his current position, which includes providing advice on public policy issues surrounding securities and financial capital markets. In addition to his educational achievements and contract positions, Klair credits his volunteer experience with Access Capital—a non-profit venture-capital organization in New York that helps those with little or no credit history—as an important step in his career. And while he has gone through a big learning curve at the Ministry of Finance, especially when absorbing the intricacies of the financial regulatory system, Klair is relishing the experience. “Being able to use my analytical skills in probing how certain issues will affect the economy and the average person has been a highlight.”

Mina Singh

For Mina Singh (BA, 1998), the most satisfying part of her job is working with a diverse group of people through the many community engagement projects undertaken by UTSC’s Office of Planning, Partnerships & Strategic Affairs. The former sociology student is thrilled with her current role as executive assistant to UTSC’s chief administrative officer. “Working at UTSC has been a wonderful experience,” says Singh. “Not only is it challenging, it’s also a very friendly and outgoing work environment.” Singh worked at U of T’s Rotman School of Management for three years prior to starting her job at UTSC in 2010 as executive assistant to Chief Strategy Officer Andrew Arifuzzaman, who became CAO for the UTSC campus in July 2012.

Elonnai Hickok

International development co-op graduate Elonnai Hickok (HBA, 2011) parlayed her passion for law and policymaking—as well as a successful internship—into her position as policy analyst and researcher at the Centre for Internet and Society, a multidisciplinary research and advocacy organization in Bangalore. The project she is currently working on—which is funded by Canadian crown corporation International Development Research Centre and the U.K.-based non-profit Privacy International—is involved in research and building awareness of privacy issues in India. “The most challenging part of my job is looking at each policy and law objectively,” says Hickok, “to look at something holistically, without biases, especially when my focus is on privacy.” Hickok is also researching and writing a book on privacy issues in India, which would include recommendations for a national privacy framework and serve as a policy guide for the Indian government.

Ng Lawson

When Chris Ng (HBSC, 2009) and Ainsley Lawson (HSBC, 2009) graduated, they realized that many members of the UTSC Concert Band simply stopped playing music when they finished university. So, Ng and Lawson decided to do something about it: they set up the UTSC Alumni & Community Concert Band. “We wanted to give back to the UTSC community,” says Ng, who is a band conductor and music educator for the York Catholic District School Board. Comprised of UTSC alumni and community members, the newly created band practices on campus and performs concerts twice a year. “We wanted to fill a niche and make a place for people to keep playing a high level of concert music,” says Lawson, who plays clarinet and performs administrative duties for the band. Ng credits UTSC music professor Lynn Tucker with her insight and instruction for the success of the band. It also helps that the band is able to use the UTSC Concert Band’s equipment. Now the next step for the Alumni & Community Concert Band is to keep growing and play a more advanced repertoire of music.