Throughout the month of February, the Office of Alumni Engagement is proud to celebrate our diverse community during Black History Month by highlighting our alumni and their impact. Read about alumna Tiffany Ford (BA ’06) and other alumni at alumniandfriends.yorku.ca.
Tiffany Ford (BA ’06) is a serial entrepreneur, advocate for youth at-risk, and the chair of the newly launched York University Black Alumni Network (YUBAN). We recently interviewed her to learn about her York experience and how she is creating a positive impact within her community.
Q: Why did you choose to study at York?
A: I chose York University because of its rich diversity and proximity to my home. York was a natural fit for me because it was well connected to schools in the area. During high school we took trips to the University and it was natural and familiar for me to attend.
Q: What was York like in the year(s) that you attended?
A: York was a very politically and culturally conscious space to me. We had a lot of activism and protests during that time. I’m sure that happens every year because York is a place where so many students learn more about the world around them and themselves. I learned a lot about myself at York.
Q: What is an important lesson you learned during your time at York?
A: What has resonated with me the most from my time at York is the concept of social constructions. That how you move in the world may be faced with challenges and barriers, but you can manoeuvre towards your goals, knowing that those social constructions were created and can be dismantled.
Q: How did your time at York prepare you for your career
A: Initially, when I came to York, I was unsure as to what I wanted to do as a career. In my final year, I was lucky to have been accepted in the Communications Experience program. Only 25 students were accepted into the program, and I actually applied one month after the deadline and still got in. That year-long program allowed me to intern at the Harbourfront Centre, where I worked in the public relations and marketing department. I was confident in the work that I was doing that I decided upon graduation to start my own PR/marketing agency. I had my first company, Ford Publicity, for 10 years and worked with numerous clients across North America and Africa until I became elected as a school board trustee with the Toronto District School Board from 2014-2018.
Q: Did you have any favourite or memorable professors/coaches/mentors?
A: Yes, Professor Andil Gosine. He taught me so much about race and racism, social constructs and more, and I’m pleased to still see him around at events in the city.
Q: What led you to pursue a career in PR/Marketing, politics and entrepreneurialism?
A: As mentioned before, the Communications Experience program directly influenced my marketing communications skills set, and I’ve used it throughout all of the start-up businesses and consultancy companies that I have created. In my political career, what I’ve learned using my double honours degree in Communications and Sociology assisted me with my decision-making processes and working with constituents.
Q: How do you spend your free time now? What are your passions/hobbies?
A: I enjoy speaking at schools and working on various projects with my non-profit organization Beyond ‘at-Risk’ (www.beyondatrisk.org) which aims to dismantle the stereotypes associated with the term ‘at-risk’. I want to provide opportunities for young people in the community just outside of York University to find their voices. For example, we were going to start a girls’ program at Downsview Secondary School, however due to labour action we had to put it on pause. We also provide scholarships each year to graduating students from Westview, CW Jefferys, Downsview and Emery. People can donate to the Beyond ‘at-Risk’ Community Scholarship by visiting the website.
Q: What advice would you give to current York students?
A: Get involved with groups at York and make time to cultivate relationships with students outside of your program.
Q: What are your future plans? What do you want to accomplish in the future?
A: I’m focused on completing my MBA but in terms of a new initiative – I am working on a venture capital company where we raise funds and invest in entrepreneurs from marginalized communities and companies that provide economic opportunities in those communities.
YUBAN is hosting its official launch event and a celebration of Black History Month on Thursday, February 13. The event will provide an opportunity to mingle and network with fellow alumni. Details can be found here.
YUBAN’s mission is to provide opportunities to connect former Black students of York from different generations and for the community to network, bridge experiences and opportunities. If you’re interested in getting involved with YUBAN, get in touch via social media: