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Gold medal recipient to bring technical skills to nonprofit sector

Daniel Liadsky

Daniel Liadsky (centre) came to Ryerson’s spatial analysis program after years in the nonprofit sector. At right is Chancellor Lawrence Bloomberg and left, President Sheldon Levy. Photo by Clifton Li

Before he came back to school, Ryerson Gold Medal recipient and 2015 graduate Daniel Liadsky took a job as Director of Community Engagement at the North York Harvest Food Bank. “2008 was when food security was developing more public interest, and you could see it was a growing movement,” said Liadsky. “I had been in the social services field for a little bit, watching how food had been growing as a tool for community engagement. All those things taken together made it interesting.

“Food is a common denominator for everyone. It’s a great gateway for having conversations about lots of things, such as social justice and inequality, and about health and wellbeing. There are lots of things to talk about.”

He chose Ryerson’s Master of Spatial Analysis (MSA) degree to make a greater impact. “I spent about 10 years in the sector and I guess I have become a very good generalist. I thought it would be a good opportunity to build some stronger technical skills that I could then apply by returning to the sector.”

The MSA degree in the Faculty of Arts gave Liadsky a chance to learn about the intersection of geography and statistics. “I built a very strong foundation in geographic data visualization as well as accurately, correctly interpreting those data,” he said. “For community services in the nonprofit sector, a lot of the work that’s done is place-based – it’s about the neighbourhoods that you’re serving and who lives in those neighbourhoods. A geographic component to understanding your data is pretty important.”

Liadsky had the highest cumulative grade point average within the MSA program, and was cited as having “analytical and writing skills far beyond the level of a master’s student.” He was able to bring his previous work experience to his major research project, which looked at how Toronto’s retail environment influences fruit and vegetable consumption. He also completed a placement with the Canadian Urban Institute as a GIS analyst where he worked on municipal planning projects.

He’ll also be able to bring his skills to other nonprofit sectors. Liadsky, who graduated October 15, now works on the community business intelligence team at Reconnect Mental Health Services, where he studies how Toronto residents access health services.

The Ryerson University Gold Medal is the university’s highest honour, given to students with outstanding academic achievement combined with outstanding involvement with the university, their profession, and/or their community. For more information on Ryerson awards, go to