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Administration and Operations Management Group

Deborah Brown

My Commitment to Dismantling Anti-Black Racism at Ryerson

On July 17, 2020, Ryerson released the Anti-Black Racism Campus Climate Review Report. In order to address the recommendations of the report, President Lachemi has appointed me as one of three co-chairs of the Presidential Implementation Committee to Combat Anti-Black Racism. I acknowledge how important it is for me to take on this work, and I am deeply committed to using my position to make real change.

I would like to extend my sincere gratitude to Dr. Rinaldo Walcott, as well as the Office of the Vice-President, Equity and Community Inclusion for this important work on the consultations and the report. Most importantly, a sincere thank you to each Black community member who participated in the consultations and spoke so bravely. I want to acknowledge that speaking truth to power about your experiences of racism on our campus is traumatizing and exhausting. You have provided an important service to our whole community, and I’m grateful.

My privilege impacts my lens

As a cisgender, white, able-bodied settler, and a vice-president at a university, I recognize that my positionality informs my work and my perspectives. These characteristics of my life afford me considerable privilege. As I participate in the work of dismantling anti-Black racism at Ryerson, I recognize that my positioning impacts the lens through which I see the world and navigate through it. To take on this work effectively, I need to continually check my privilege, focus on my own learning and unlearning, and leverage my influence and access to power. It is fundamentally a position of privilege to educate myself about racism because I never have to personally experience it.

Employee and student experiences

There are over 500 staff in my portfolio, which includes Human Resources, University Business Services, information technology, facilities and more. Many of the functions of my portfolio are front-facing, providing services directly to community members. We also write, influence, and implement policy. I’m responsible for the employee experience, and understanding that Black employees are perpetually made to feel like outsiders requires us to take action to change this now. Black staff cited that anti-Black racism is a defining feature of their work life at Ryerson, from everyday microaggressions to larger, systemic issues like compensation disparities, barriers to promotion, and being treated differently than their white colleagues.

The employee experience directly impacts the student experience, both in students' ability to see themselves reflected in our community, and in the ways students interact with our administrative programs and services. Systemic anti-Black racism is pervasive in all elements of university life, and this is not unique for Ryerson.

Many of you know that I am an alumna of Ryerson, and so the student experience has a personal importance to me. I now have a greater understanding of the ways in which my experience as a white student would have been very different from my racialized classmates.

The role of all leaders

I’m also a member of the university’s executive group, and so it is my responsibility as a senior leader to demonstrate change, to integrate inclusive principles in everything we do, and to provide supports for employees to understand their role in dismantling anti-Black racism at Ryerson. To my direct reports, and all members of the Administration and Operations departments, I am committed to this work being a top priority.

I’m listening and ready to create change

I, like others, encourage you to read the report. Anti-Black racism exists at Ryerson, and this exercise of truth telling is critical for us to now be able to focus on the future. I would like to clearly state that I unequivocally accept all the recommendations of the report, and I will work diligently to implement each and every one of them.

To our Black community members, I hear you. I am listening. And I’m committed to leading meaningful change.

Sincerely,

Deborah Brown
Vice-President, Administration and Operations

Deborah Brown joined Ryerson University January 29, 2018, as the Vice-President, Administration and Operations. Deborah is a Ryerson alumnus.  She is proud to hold a degree in journalism from Ryerson and to work at the university that provided her education.

Deborah came to Ryerson from Mohawk College, where she was the Vice President of Corporate Services from 2014 until January 2018. Deborah led the corporate services team, which was responsible for capital projects, finance, human resources, information technology, internal audit, corporate governance, legal services, campus safety, business and ancillary services.

While at Mohawk, Deborah was the executive lead for the region’s first new zero building, the Joyce Centre for Partnership & Innovation.  The building, which is designated as a national pilot project to demonstrate a new net zero carbon building standard, won the Green Building Council’s Innovation in Sustainability Award for 2017. Deborah’s team at Mohawk won 16 local, regional and national sustainability awards, including the 2017 Canada’s Greenest Employer, the Greenbelt Fund’s 2017 Local Food Champion, and the 2016 Metrolinx Smart Commute Workplace. A new Centre for Climate Change Management was also developed by Deborah’s team, further marking its community leadership and partnerships in sustainability.

Deborah spearheaded many “firsts” at Mohawk, including its Internal Audit and Risk Management Framework, the design and implementation of its Emergency Operations Centre and Emergency Management Plan, and the creation of a Community Plaza.

Prior to her role at Mohawk, Deborah worked in leadership positions within the Ontario government for 15 years.  She was most recently the Acting Chief Administrative Officer and Assistant Deputy Minister at Treasury Board Secretariat (TBS). In that role, she was responsible for business planning and reporting, controllership and financial management, and human resources.

Previous to that role, she was the Director of the Strategic Business Unit where she was responsible for the provision of strategic human resource advice to TBS' executive group, and led the development and launch of both the Human Capital Plan and the Leadership Enrichment and Advancement Program. Prior to that, Deborah served as the Director, Operations for the Deputy Minister's Office in the Ministry of Government Services; Director of the Tourism Agencies Branch at the Ministry of Tourism; and as the director responsible for consumer policy and agency governance with the Ministry of Consumer Services.

Deborah serves on the board of directors for the YWCA of Hamilton and is chair of its Governance and Diversity Committee. She is also a Special Advisor to CivicAction’s Escalator: Jobs for Youth Facing Barriers. Previously, she served as a provincial government appointee to the Boards of Directors of Tarion Warranty Corporation, the Travel Industry Council of Ontario and the Canadian Motor Vehicle Arbitration Plan.

Along with her journalism degree, Deborah holds a corporate governance designation from the University of Toronto’s Rotman School of Management/Institute for Corporate Directors. She is also a graduate of the Western University’s Ivey School of Business Executive Leadership Program and the University of Windsor’s Executive Certificate Program in Conflict Management.

 

The Administration and Operations Management Group (AOMG) consists of leaders of six non-academic units (Administration and Operations Communications, Computing and Communications Services, Facilities Management and Development, Human Resources, Internal Audit, and University Business Services) that work in partnership with colleagues across the university. The group focuses on people, infrastructure and ensuring that students, faculty and staff can call Ryerson a vibrant place to learn and work.

The activities of the units of the AOMG range from complex undertakings such as building the new Daphne Cockwell Health Sciences Complex, providing healthy, delicious and sustainable food in the cafeterias and student residences, to everyday operations that include ensuring WIFI is up to speed, classrooms are turned over for the next group of students and the campus feels safe and welcoming.

The objective of the AOMG is to help every Ryersonian feel valued and empowered to do their work - whether it is to excel as a student, shine as top-notch researcher or win accolades as a staff member.