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Life after COVID-19: What does it really mean to build back better?

September 29, 2021
2:30 PM EDT - 4:00 PM EDT
Anthony Bakerdjian,
People wearing masks and making a heart shape with their hands. Photo by Rusty Watson.

Photo by Rusty Watson

Hosted by: Faculty of Community Services

As COVID-19 vaccination campaigns reach more people and active caseloads decrease, discussions increasingly turn to life after the pandemic. Vaccines may be dealing with the disease in our bodies, but what about the other impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic? 

The COVID-19 pandemic challenged and dramatically altered nearly every facet of daily life. The critical importance of care for mental and physical health, access to childcare and education, and safety at home and at work was underscored by an urgency and demand at unprecedented levels. At the same time, we witnessed a widening gap between populations’ access to these things, leaving marginalized and vulnerable groups most disproportionately impacted. If we are to emerge from this pandemic with stronger and more resilient communities, we must confront these disparities head on with equity to ensure recovery for the whole of our community.

The Faculty of Community Services presents an interdisciplinary panel of experts from our community who will look at the social fallout of the pandemic — and what it will take to “build back better.”


Dr. Kiaras Gharabaghi, Dean, Faculty of Community Services

Dr. Kiaras Gharabaghi, Dean, Faculty of Community Services

Kiaras Gharabaghi is the newly appointed dean, Faculty of Community Services (FCS). A respected academic leader with over 20 years of experience in community engagement and program development, Kiaras brings a wealth of knowledge to this role. 

Kiaras holds a doctorate degree from Dalhousie University and a master’s degree from the University of Guelph. He joined Ryerson in 2006 and became the director of the School of Child and Youth Care in 2014. During his six-year tenure, he oversaw major projects such as the development of additional graduate and undergraduate student placement opportunities, partnerships with Ryerson International to enable students to study abroad, and the school’s graduate program. A passionate advocate for equity and inclusion, Kiaras was also instrumental in the school’s commitment to attracting and hiring more diverse faculty and staff. 

Prior to this, Kiaras served as the FCS Academic Lead for Social Innovation, as well as the John C. Eaton Chair of Social Innovation and Entrepreneurship. As John C. Eaton Chair, Kiaras launched the FCS Community Transformation Café, an event series offering space for dialogue on transformation and social justice, as well as the Social Innovation 4 Social Justice Project, a five-year program that documented, narrated and disseminated innovations in the social sectors of large urban areas. In partnership with the Chang School, Right to Play, external link and an all-Indigenous Steering Committee, Kiaras also played a critical role in securing funding for the implementation of an Indigenous Youth Worker Certificate within FCS. 

Most recently, Kiaras co-launched FCS’ Teri Project, a new virtual placement initiative that seeks to ease loneliness of long-term care residents amid the COVID-19 pandemic. 


Dr. Jordan Tustin, Assistant Professor, School of Occupational and Public Health

Dr. Jordan Tustin, Assistant Professor, School of Occupational and Public Health

Jordan is a PhD Epidemiologist and Assistant Professor at Ryerson University in the School of Occupational and Public Health.  She is a Canadian Field Epidemiologist fellow, a CIHR Public Health Policy fellow, a Certified Canadian Public Health Inspector, and was awarded with a Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Medal for her service to public health in Canada and abroad. She has extensive field experience in communicable disease investigations and response at the local, provincial, federal and international level — notably H1N1 (Mexico, Canada), Ebola (Guinea, DRC), and vaccine preventable diseases (Canada, Cameroon, Sierra Leone). She is currently involved in several COVID-19 research projects focusing on sociodemographic impacts and the experience of vulnerable populations.

Dr. Pamela Robinson, Director School of Urban and Regional Planning

Dr. Pamela Robinson, Director School of Urban and Regional Planning

Pamela Robinson (MCIP, RPP) is director and professor in the School of Urban and Regional Planning at Ryerson. She is also a registered professional planner. As part of the, external link research team, Robinson's research and practice focus on urban sustainability issues with a particular focus on cities and climate change and the use of open data and civic technology to support open government transformations. She serves on the board of directors of the Metcalf Foundation and has participated in four Metrolinx Community Advisory Committees. Robinson is an editor of Urban Sustainability: Reconnecting Space and Place (University of Toronto Press, 2013), Teaching as Scholarship: Preparing Students for Professional Practice in Community Services (WLU Press, 2016) and is a columnist for Spacing magazine.

Dr. Beverly-Jean Daniel, Assistant Professor, School of Child and Youth Care

Dr. Beverly-Jean Daniel, Assistant Professor, School of Child and Youth Care

Dr. Beverly-Jean Daniel is an Assistant Professor at Ryerson University in the Child and Youth Care Program. She holds a Ph.D. in Sociology and Equity Studies in Education, a master’s in counselling, and a Bachelor of Arts — Honours in Psychology) and a Graduate Certificate in Women and Gender Studies. Her research, publications and community work focus on the education sector and the factors that promote academic, personal and career success amongst Black community members. She has been a strong proponent for addressing anti-Black racism and its impact on Black communities. 

In her previous position as a coordinator of a justice studies program at a college in Ontario, her work focused on exploring the role of social justice and anti-oppression theories and its relevance to concepts and construction of community and justice and most specifically, the effective preparation of justice workers for the field. 

In 2010 Dr. Daniel founded and developed the groundbreaking, strengths-based student intervention program called The Bridge. It is the first of its kind in any Canadian college or university and identifies, develops and implements the types of programming and strategies necessary to foster and enhance academic success in post-secondary institutions amongst students who self-identify as African, Black and Caribbean.  The program was developed to provide opportunities for students to develop the requisite academic skills, enhance their levels of engagement and involvement with existing services and supports at the college and in so doing increase rates of student retention and graduation. 

She has published widely in the areas of race, racism and equity in the education and justice systems in the Canadian context. She has an edited collection titled: Diversity, Justice and Community: The Canadian Context published by Canadian Scholars Press. She has also published articles that highlight the outcomes of The Bridge program. 

In addition to her academic experience she has worked in the areas of diversity training and developing cultural competence for over 15 years. She has worked closely with schools, organizational leaders and front-line staff to strategically enhance the organizational environment and possesses in-depth knowledge of diversity related policies. 

Dr. Josephine Wong, Professor, Daphne Cockwell School of Nursing

Dr. Josephine Wong, Professor, Daphne Cockwell School of Nursing

Josephine Pui-Hing Wong, RN, PhD, Professor and Research Chair in Urban Health, has extensive experience in critical public health and urban health promotion, including the development of access and equity policy, public health practice frameworks, and community-based capacity building programs to promote health equity. 

Her scholarship and teaching focus on making visible how historical and current structural violence (re)produces ‘preventable’ health disparities. Her program of research focuses on social identities and health practices; migration and social (dis)integration; and HIV, sexual health and mental health in diasporic and transnational communities. 

She leads multidisciplinary teams to design and implement intervention studies on stigma reduction and collective resilience in the Asian, Black and Latinx communities in Canada and internationally. Currently, she is leading PROTECH, external link, opens in new window, a COVID-19 rapid response research to mitigate the negative impacts of racism, psychosocial distress and grief on Asian Canadian communities as well as reducing stress among frontline healthcare providers.