The York University Alumni Association (YUAA) is committed to providing services and programs that facilitate the life-long process of education and personal development for all York graduates.
The YUAA is committed to advancing the interests of York University. Whether the activity be in the form of advocacy, counsel, philanthropy or any other form of volunteer assistance, the graduates of York University have a unique and valuable role to fill in promoting the excellence, advancement and prestige of the University.
Randy Williamson (LLB ’88)
Chair, elected in 2012
Randy Williamson was appointed to the Board of Governors on October 1, 2013 and serves as Chair of the Investment Committee and as a member of the Executive Committee. He is also Chair of the York University Pension Fund Board of Trustees.
A partner of Toronto law firm Aird & Berlis LLP, Randy has over 30 years’ experience as a lawyer, CPA, CA, public company senior executive and independent business owner-operator.
Prior to returning to Bay Street in 2005, Randy owned and operated three business process outsourcing companies; was a senior executive with a multi-billion dollar public industrial products company; and a partner in another prominent Toronto law firm. Randy was originally trained as a CPA, CA, and holds the speciality Corporate Finance qualification.
He is the Chair of the York University Alumni Association; past Vice-Chair of the Board of Toronto Atmospheric Fund; founding Chair of Big Brothers Big Sisters Alumni; Past Chair of the Investment Committee and a Governing Council member at St. James Cathedral, Toronto; past President of Advancing Canadian Entrepreneurship; founding Board member of Ontario’s Promise to Children and Youth; and past Chair of Big Brothers Big Sisters of Canada. Randy was honoured with Queen Elizabeth II’s Golden Jubilee Medal for Community Service and was twice Toronto’s Big Brother of the Year.
Randy received his law degree from Osgoode Hall Law School at York University and his Honours Bachelor of Commerce degree from Queen’s University.
Francesca Accinelli (BFA ’92)
Francesca Accinelli began her career as a cultural administrator in theatre, working at places such as Harbourfront Centre and Solar Stage before moving to television production. While at York, the Vanier College grad was a recipient of the Murray Ross Scholarship.
For the last nine years Francesca has been working for Telefilm Canada, a federal cultural agency dedicated to developing and promoting the Canadian audiovisual industry, she is currently the Director of Communications and National Promotions, but previously held the roles of Director, CMF Program Administration, English market and Deputy Director, Television Business Unit, English market. Francesca has spent the last 15 years working with producers of film, television and digital media.
It is a great pleasure for Francesca to serve on the alumni board for York University. she spent a lot of time at York both prior to be a studentattending York Youth Connection day camp and then while at the university working with Vanier College Productions and at the Open End Pub. And sometimes she misses running up the old Ross building ramp.
Heather Bennett (BA ’75)
Heather Bennett is a career and talent management consultant, transitions coach and educator. Graduating with a BA in Linguistics (Glendon’75), Heather began a career in branch banking with CIBC. She was invited to join the Bank’s leadership training group leading to a career designing, facilitating, and managing professional development for leaders and senior staff at National Trust, Royal Trust, Royal Bank and the Institute of Canadian Bankers.
As an independent consultant, she set up the mentoring program for KPMG and the Canadian Corporate Counsel Association. She has an independent coaching practice and works with individuals in mid-life, mid-career to transition to new roles, prepare for second careers, or plan the active years of retirement.
Heather earned a Masters in Education Administration degree from the Ontario Institute for Studies in Education and completed the Athabasca’s University Certificate in Career Development. She holds the Career Management Fellow (CMF) designation from the Institute of Career Certification International (ICCI) and is a certified transformational coach through the Collaborative Leadership Institute.
In addition to serving on the YUAA Board and as a member of the Networks Committee, Heather chairs the advisory board for a large Anglican parish in downtown Toronto and chairs ICCI’s Application Review Division. She sits on the advisory boards for the Career Development Practitioners Certification Board of Ontario and is a member of the Certification Working Group for the Canadian Council for Career Development.
Heather is the mother of two adult children, both of whom completed graduate studies at York. Representing the YUAA at Convocation ceremonies is the highlight of her work on the Board!
Michelle Dagnino (BA ’02, MA '03, LLB '06)
Michelle is a Gen-Y innovator, speaker, writer, lawyer and social entrepreneur. She has spoken to thousands of people around the world, from students to educators, from workers to bosses, about the issues affecting Gen Y, also known as Millennials (also known as “those kids living in your basement”). She uses statistics, compiled as psychographics and demographics, to tell the stories of the generations. These fact-based, funny, and inspiring presentations leave audiences laughing, and empowered with new knowledge to take to their workplaces, schools, homes and communities.
Michelle is the recipient of 2004 YWCA Young Woman of Distinction award, and in 2006 was named as one of Canada's Top 100: Most Powerful Women by The Globe and Mail and the Women's Executive Network. The Toronto Star named her "a woman to buoy the soul", and Maclean’s magazine named her one of Canada’s top 30 under 30. She is the subject of two documentaries.
Michelle is currently the executive director of the Jane/Finch Community and Family Centre, a social services agency in west Toronto, dedicated to supporting the local community through service delivery and resident capacity-building. Prior to this, Michelle held positions as the Canada director for Ashoka’s Youth Venture, executive director of Youth Action Network, and was in private practice with one of Canada’s leading labour and human rights law firms. She is also a frequent consultant on issues of program evaluation, youth work, organizational governance, and board development.
Hamza S. Dawood (BA ’07, MBA/JD ’11)
Hamza Dawood is an associate of Blake, Cassels & Graydon LLP in Toronto. His law practice encompasses a broad range of corporate and commercial matters, with a focus on corporate transactions, governance and complex commercial agreements.
While at York, Dawood received numerous scholastic and leadership awards, including the Murray G. Ross Award, York's highest student honour for exceptional academic and extracurricular achievement. He served, among other things, as executive editor of the Osgoode Hall Law Journal and president of the South Asian Law Students’ Association at Osgoode.
Antonio Di Domenico (BA Hons. ’02, LLB ’05)
Antonio Di Domenico was elected to the YUAA board in 2005. He is currently practicing law at Fasken Martineau DuMoulin LLP in Toronto, where he is engaged in a broad litigation and dispute resolution practice.
While at York, Di Domenico received numerous awards, including the Murray G. Ross Award for his high academic achievement and outstanding leadership and community involvement. He also served on more than 30 committees or bodies at the University, including the York University Board of Governors, Senate and the Faculty Council of Osgoode Hall Law School. He is currently a member of the teaching team of the Lawyer as Negotiator course at the Osgoode Hall Law School.
Kiera Dinsmore is a third generation York University student. Kiera attends Glendon College where she is completing a Bilingual International Bachelor of Arts degree in International Studies. She is a Glendon eAmbassador, campus ambassador, former research assistant and, recently, became the first-ever student director inducted into the York University Alumni Association.
In 2013, Kiera was the recipient of the Harry Arthurs Alumni Families Scholarship and the Top Scholar Award from Glendon College. In her spare time, she enjoys performing in music, theatre and dance. A former Premier of the Ontario Youth Parliament, Kiera is very involved in avenues of youth activism and engagement. Kiera takes special interest in women's rights and health, refugees and migration, the LGBTQ* community, First Nations accountability, and environmental sustainability. An avid traveller, Kiera will partake in an academic exchange to Brussels, Belgium this spring.
Monika Federau (BA ’86)
Monika Federau is the Chief Strategy Officer for Intact Financial Corporation where she leads the development of corporate strategies, and oversees branding, government relations and communications.
She joined Intact in 2010 as Senior Vice President, Marketing responsible for national advertising, communication and sponsorship strategies, as well as research and digital initiatives. Prior to Intact, Ms. Federau lived in Hong Kong working for a global life insurer where she was responsible for developing and executing strategies to enhance the company’s brand throughout Asia.
Monika serves on the Board of the Toronto Financial Services Alliance as well as on the Board of the Interactive Advertising Bureau of Canada.
Layth Gafoor (BA ’02, LLB '06)
As managing partner of Lucentem Sports & Entertainment Law, Gafoor's practice involves representing and advising athletes, artists, management personnel, coaches and organizations in business and legal matters. His practice also encompasses providing legal advice and representation to clients in the music, film and television industries. Gafoor also manages the firm’s crisis management group, which provides direct crisis communication, support and trial advocacy for high profile individuals and corporations facing criminal and regulatory charges throughout Canada.
Gafoor has become a leading television and print media commentator on sport and entertainment law matters. He is often called upon by various media sources to discuss international legal issues within sport, as well as provide analysis from a Canadian perspective. Gafoor is a source that international organizations turn to when Canadian sport and entertainment expertise is required.
Gafoor regularly lectures at universities and industry conferences throughout the world in the areas of comparative Canadian/American sport & entertainment jurisprudence. Gafoor was recently appointed to the board of directors for the sports lawyers association (SLA).
Stephanie Ling (BA ’85, BA Hons. ’87, MEd ’02, PhD ’08)
Stephanie Ling has been involved in multiple areas of education for more than 35 years. A supporter of both public and independent education, she founded Cornerstone Montessori Prep School in the late 1980s with a values-based approach that focuses on developing leadership and critical analytical skills in students from preschool to university entrance.
Apart from her volunteer roles on numerous York committees, Ling has established the Cornerstone Leadership in Action Graduating Student Award at York to recognize two outstanding graduating teachers each year. She has also initiated a number of grants to be used in promoting ways of integrating specialized music programs with York’s Faculty of Education. Ling currently serves as chancellor of Tyndale University College & Seminary, the largest seminary in Canada.
Paul Nguyen (BA ’04)
Paul Nguyen is an award-winning activist and filmmaker from Toronto's Jane-Finch area. In 2004, he created Jane-Finch.com to change negative stereotypes about his community.
He is a public speaker and media commentator on race, crime and youth issues.
Paul is a recipient of the Paul Yuzyk Award for Multiculturalism, William P. Hubbard Award for Race Relations, Heritage Toronto Award, Canadian Ethnic Media Association Award, National Ethnic Press Award and the Ontario Medal for Good Citizenship.
In 2012, Paul was presented the Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Medal by the Governor General and Prime Minister at Rideau Hall for 'fighting stereotypes and acting as a role model and mentor for at-risk youth'. He is recognized as 1 of 25 Notable Canadians of Asian heritage by the Government of Canada.
Daniel Steinfeld (BBA ’04)
The ex-chief financial officer and vice president of sales for the Toronto Argonauts Football Club, Steinfeld currently operates Grasp Consulting, a strategic consulting firm dealing with business expansions and modeling projects spanning three continents. Steinfeld is a chartered accountant and has made a career out of relationship building and using a unique background to serve clients and colleagues at the highest level. Steinfeld is also a licensed realtor and is practices real estate in the Greater Toronto Area.
Outside of his professional life, Steinfeld mentors young professionals, speaks at conferences and teaches in several business settings. In addition to his role on the YUAA Board, Steinfeld sits as a senator on York University’s Senate. He also advises several university organizations on budgeting, responsible management and sponsorship.
Daniel lives in Woodbridge, Ontario, and is married as well as father to four future York alumni.
David Trick (BA ’77)
David Trick is president of David Trick and Associates Inc., consultants in higher education strategy and management. His clients include universities, colleges, associations and government agencies that require advice and expertise on issues in postsecondary education.
Trick is a former Assistant Deputy Minister for Postsecondary Education in the Government of Ontario and was the first Chief Executive Officer and Vice Provost of the University of Guelph-Humber. In addition to YUAA, he is a current or former volunteer on the Principal’s Advisory Committee of Glendon College, the Policy and Research Advisory Council of The Learning Partnership, and the Schools Committee of the Harvard Club of Toronto.
Steve Watt (BA ’06)
Steve Watt leads marketing and communications at ClearFit, a small software company that delivers new data and insights that help leaders build and manage high-performing teams.
Prior to ClearFit, Wattworked for LinkedIn, managing a variety of marketing functions while also teaching students how to best position themselves for a successful transition from campus to career. He led dozens of personal branding and strategic networking workshops on college and university campuses across Canada including five sessions at York.
Watt has a BA in Philosophy from York and an MBA from the Rotman School of Management.
Bart Zemanek (BA ’07, MSc '10)
Bart Zemanek has a long history at York, spanning more than 13 years, that includes as a student-athlete, coach and administrator. He is currently the manager of varsity athletics within York’s Athletics & Recreation Department.
Zemanek assumed the role in August 2015. Prior to that, he served as the Athlete Services Coordinator for the Lions for the past five years, where he created the University’s very successful PAWS (Providing Athletes with Winning Strategies) mentoring program to provide academic and personal support to Lions student-athletes with a special focus on first-year transitioning student-athletes. He also currently sits on both the board of directors for the York University Alumni Association and The Fifth Quarter Football Alumni Association.
Zemanek began his time at York as a kinesiology and health science student and as the starting quarterback of the Lions football team. Throughout his playing career he was a team captain and MVP, and was awarded the prestigious Charles Saundercook Memorial Trophy in 2007. He was also a top student in the classroom, receiving academic all-Canadian honours, and was the recipient of the Stuart G. Robbins Award, which is given annually to the student-athlete with the highest GPA among Sport Excellence Award recipients.
He graduated from York with a bachelor of arts degree in 2007 and a master’s in kinesiology and health science in 2010. Before becoming the Athlete Services Coordinator with the Lions, he spent one season playing professional football in Helsinki, Finland, was the starting quarterback for the first ever Polish national team and more recently has also served as an assistant coach with the Lions football team.
Internal Board Member
Mamdouh Shoukri became York’s seventh president and vice-chancellor on July 1, 2007. He comes to York from McMaster University in Hamilton, Ont., where he was vice-president of research and international affairs, as well as a mechanical engineering professor.
Among other things, Shoukri is a member of the Ontario Research and Innovation Council, which advises the government on its innovation strategy to keep the province’s economy strong, and the Board of Directors of the Ontario Centres of Excellence Inc. A Fellow of the Canadian Academy of Engineering and the Canadian Society of Mechanical Engineering, his scholarly interests are in thermo-fluid sciences, particularly areas related to multiphase heat transfer and nuclear reactor thermal-hydraulics. Shoukri has authored and co-authored more than 100 papers published in refereed journals and symposia.
Internal Board Member
Since October 2011, Jeff O’Hagan has served as Vice-President, Advancement at York University, responsible for the University’s alumni relations, alumni and donor communications, community relations and fundraising. York University is one of Canada’s largest universities with 55,000 students on two campuses and a global network of 285,000 alumni. Mr. O’Hagan is a leading advancement professional and is the former chief executive officer of the Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre Foundation, where he led all aspects of the organization and the $470-million Campaign for Sunnybrook. Prior to Sunnybrook, Mr. O’Hagan held senior advancement and fundraising roles at Western University (UWO) from 2000-2007, including Western’s Schulich School of Medicine & Dentistry, as part of Western's $270-million Campaign. Prior to Western, Mr. O'Hagan worked at the St. Mary’s General Hospital Foundation in Waterloo. He also spent six years in the wealth management and estate services sector and held a number of positions with leading financial institutions, including the Royal Bank of Canada. Mr. O’Hagan earned a bachelor of arts in Political Science from Western University.