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Throughout her career, Dr. Melanie Panitch has been an activist, advocate, researcher and educator, with strong roots in the disability rights movement and broad international experience. As executive director of the Office of Social Innovation (OSI), Melanie is responsible for the planning and developing of the strategic vision for social innovation at Toronto Metropolitan University. 

In 2015, the Faculty of Community Services (FCS) appointed Melanie the John C. Eaton chair Social Innovation and Entrepreneurship where she has been central to embedding social innovation in curriculum, and fostering international student engagement for social innovation. In collaboration with colleagues from FCS and the Ted Rogers School of Management, Melanie taught two pedagogical initiatives exploring social innovation, created the Minor in Social Innovation and launched the Community Transformation Café.

Melanie represented FCS on the steering committee tasked with completing a 360 evaluation and designating Toronto Metropolitan the first Ashoka Changemaker Campus in Canada. She is the recipient of the inaugural Usha George Faculty Recognition Award of Excellence (2015), the Toronto Metropolitan Innovative Teaching Award (2009), and the City of Toronto Access Equity and Human Rights Award for "Out From Under: Disability History and Things to Remember (external link, opens in new window) " (2008). 


416-979-5000 ext. 555875

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Rina Fraticelli, Director, Strategic Initiatives

In her role as Director, Strategic Initiatives, Rina Fraticelli brings a diversified background in organizational leadership, policy-making, engagement strategies, and community development. From March 2018 to September 2020, she served as the founding Director of McMaster University’s Socrates Project, an ambitious two-year pilot aimed at promoting the liberal arts and breaking down barriers between the university and its local communities.

A Genie-award-winning filmmaker, Fraticelli headed two National Film Board of Canada studios. She served as Executive Director of two organizations devoted to advancing opportunities for artists with disabilities – Kickstart in Vancouver; and Tangled Art+Disability (formerly Abilities Arts Festival).

As Founder and  Executive Director of the independent not-for-profit, Women in View, from 2008 to 2018, she produced several influential annual reports, documenting the presence and absence of women in key creative roles in publicly-funded Canadian film and television. She also created a national 3-year strategy, sponsored by the Status of Women Canada and a consortium of private and public organizations. As part of this, Fraticelli produced MediaPlus+, a bilingual, 40 page "gender+ diversity" "toolkit." In 2018 Fraticelli was awarded the Governor-General’s Award in Commemoration of the Persons Case.


Samantha Wehbi is Professor, School of Social Work, and Graduate Program Director of the Documentary Media, MFA program. She is the Creative Development Lead, at the Office of Social Innovation. Her research and practice interests have focused on international issues and grassroots community activism and organizing in Canada and abroad including Lebanon, her country of origin. Her work has explored the complexities of urban landscapes and issues of displacement, anti-colonialism, translocality and social change. Her scholarship explores interdisciplinary intersections of art, community practice, and pedagogy. She has held various academic leadership positions at Toronto Metropolitan including: Associate Dean, Student Affairs at the Yeates School of Graduate Studies (YSGS); Learning & Teaching Chair (FCS); Associate Director of Undergraduate Program & Students at the School of Social Work; Academic Lead on a University-wide curriculum re-design project (FCS); and Member of Senate. Samantha is recipient of the Sue Williams Excellence in Teaching Award and the Provost’s Innovative Teaching Award.


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Jessica has been working in supporting social innovation initiatives in higher education for nearly 10 years. Recently, her collaborative work with colleagues in OSI has been published in the Social Enterprise Journal, Educational Action Research, and About Campus. She holds a B.Sc in Biology and a Certificate in Indigenous Knowledges and Experiences from Toronto Metropolitan University. She is currently pursuing her M.A. in Adult Education and Community Development at the University of Toronto.



416-979-5000 ext. 553115 

Recently joining OSI, Jessica is a community engagement professional with experience developing and implementing community-focused student initiatives in the post-secondary sector. In addition to her experience working with students, Jessica recently graduated from York University with a Master of Leadership and Community Engagement. Jessica is responsible for coordinating special projects at OSI, including the Imagine the Park initiative in her role. She is eager to expand upon her skill-set by acting as a community connector and facilitator.



Lisa Afriyie, Marketing and Communications Coordinator

With a background in marketing, communications and digital media, Lisa joins the Office of Social Innovation team as the Marketing and Communications Coordinator. Lisa comes to OSI after her time as a student at TMU in the Master of Digital Media program. Having previously participated in OSI’s programming during her time as a student, Lisa is a true believer of OSI’s mission of striving to create transformative solutions to complex social issues through teaching, learning, research, and community engagement.


416-979-5000 ext. 553294

Tanya Aberman, Sanctuary Scholars Coordinator

Tanya Aberman (she/her) recently joined OSI to help develop and implement the Sanctuary Scholars program, which will provide an access pathway for students with precarious immigration status. She specializes in the area of access to education for newcomer and migrant students, having developed, coordinated and taught community and university-based education programs. She also holds a PhD in Gender Feminist and Women’s Studies from York University. Her research has focused on migration issues from feminist, intersectional, critical migration and border studies perspectives. Tanya is also one of the founders of the Sanctuary Students Solidarity and Support (S4) Collective, a member-led organization that strives to support migrant students with accessing and succeeding in secondary and post-secondary education and works to increase equitable access for these students.


Natalie Annabelle, Social Innovation Assistant

Natalie recently joined the Office of Social Innovation Team at Toronto Metropolitan University, bringing a strong passion for positive social change. As a fourth-year student pursuing a Bachelor of Technology degree in Graphic Communications Management, specializing in Publishing, Natalie possesses diverse skills and experience. She actively engaged with industry professionals through Connect and Collect and Leadership events during her studies. 

With expertise in creative writing, graphic design, ebook and book production, publishing, and bookbinding, Natalie is equipped to make meaningful contributions in the field. Her interest in joining the Office of Social Innovation stems from a deep understanding that visual communication plays a decisive role in shaping narratives, perceptions, and attitudes. Natalie is committed to utilizing her skills and knowledge to promote diversity, equity, and inclusion while challenging discriminatory practices.

Contact: (external link)