Meet Dyanoosh

Dyanoosh is the face of Toronto:

A Jewish-Iranian Canadian woman whose family escaped Iran when she was 11-years-old, Dyanoosh embodies the spirit of contemporary Toronto, a world-class city that embraces civic engagement, diversity, and compassion.

A resident of Ward 16 (to be 14) for the last 13 years, this mother of two has volunteered at her children’s schools, Allenby Junior Public School and Associated Hebrew Day School.  Her older daughter started attending Glenview Senior Public School this year.

Dyanoosh has dedicated much of her life to helping others.

“Building inclusive communities where everyone is connected and where neighbours can thrive reflects an integral part of who I am.  It is my passion,” says Dyanoosh.

Dyanoosh wants to focus on responsible development that improves neighbourhoods.  This includes building an integrated, modern system of transit, bike lanes, and transportation measures that help all Torontonians get around in easier, healthier, and more environmentally friendly ways.  It also requires ensuring that Toronto has housing for all, and helping local residents with issues that affect our neighbhourhoods.

“Being available and engaged with residents is an integral part of a City Councillor’s job.  And I look forward to working with and helping the dedicated and passionate residents of our ward.”

Those who know Dyanoosh say that improving communities and people’s lives and working for more equitable societies is what Dyanoosh has been doing all her life.

Indeed, Dyanoosh’s professional career and her rich history of volunteerism are a testament to her dedication to community-building.  If you want to know what Dyanoosh will do as City Councillor, how she will collaborate with residents and other City Councillors, and how hard she will work for you and the city, you just need to look at her past contributions.

Dyanoosh is an accomplished professional with a long history of community-building, volunteerism, and political engagement: 

Dyanoosh is a lawyer, a professor, a writer, a non-profit leader and a social justice advocate, who has, since the age of 13, volunteered consistently with diverse groups and organizations, including,

  • Four years of volunteerism with seniors at Baycrest Centre for Geriatric Care;
  • Four years of volunteerism with the homeless and the indigent at Lawyers Feed the Hungry;
  • Three years of volunteerism with people with mental health and addiction issues at Parkdale Activity Recreation Centre, serving on the Board of Directors as Chair of Governance;
  • Five years of volunteerism with Canadian citizens who work to create the political will to address poverty world-wide, serving on the Board of Directors of RESULTS-Canada as Chair of Governance and Vice-Chair;
  • Years of work with youth-at-risk, immigrants, and people with mental health issues;
  • Volunteer at her children’s schools: Allenby Junior Public School and Associated Hebrew Day School;
  • Volunteer internationally in Israel and in Zimbabwe;
  • Founder and Director of of All IN, an organization committed to building inclusive communities;
  • Member of the First Narayever Synagogue; the Criminal Lawyers’ Association, the Law Union of Ontario, and Eglinton Park Residents’ Association;
  • Trained in alternative dispute resolution, cross-cultural mediation, and victim-offender reconciliation
  • An active and engaged citizen, Dyanoosh has made submissions on housing, policing, and criminal justice issues before municipal, provincial, and federal government committees

What makes this community advocate, lawyer, and professor, run for office?

“My involvement in politics is an extension of who I am and what I have wanted to accomplish since childhood,” Dyanoosh says.  “As a member of Iran’s small and vulnerable Jewish community, I realized early in life the importance of building bridges and helping others.”

When an elementary school classmate proclaimed that she did not want to “sit next to that dirty Jew,” Dyanoosh reached out and built a friendship with that classmate, breaking down the barriers and prejudices that some of her friends carried.

Dyanoosh’s earliest memories are those of helping anyone around her who was distressed, and of trying to address injustice and inequality.  She was a peacemaker among her friends.  Even at a young age, she dreamt of one day helping children in war and bringing peace to Israel and its Arab neighbours.

In her first years in Canada, Dyanoosh faced many of the typical struggles of an immigrant whose family had left most of their belongings behind and was starting from scratch.  Despite that, she soon took on the role of listening to and comforting new friends and classmates.

She also quickly learned English, French, and Hebrew.  She began her volunteer work shortly after her arrival to Canada.  In addition to her volunteerism, Dyanoosh’s high school (Community Hebrew Academy of Toronto), university (U of T), and law school (McGill) activities often revolved around improving human relationships.  She organized events that brought together Jewish, Israeli, Arab, and Mediterranean students at U of T for cultural celebrations.  She participated in Jewish-Palestinian dialogues, and conducted programming between the Jewish Law Students’ and Black Law Students’ Associations at McGill.  She was one of the Editors and founders of Dmuyot (Images), a Jewish campus magazine.  “I love to use writing as a means of engaging the public and raising awareness, particularly on social justice, criminal justice, and city-building issues.”

Ward 16 has been home to Dyanoosh and her family for 13 years. She has deep connections in the community, has friends across all sections of the Ward, and has been an active member of the Eglinton Park Residents’ Association.

Dyanoosh believes that City Council has a responsibility to “move the city forward.”

“We need a more innovative, bold vision for Toronto: one that uses advancements and technology to build a vibrant, successful city AND one that is inclusive, supportive, and provides neighbourhoods where everyone fully belongs.  We need to move beyond the rhetoric that pits cars against bicycles, the environment against business, and that sacrifices long-term benefits and thriving communities for short-term gains. We need to identify our priorities and find ways of achieving our goals.”

Dyanoosh loves her neighbourhood, and on the rare occasion when she has a free afternoon, she loves to take her daughters to the city’s many beautiful parks and neighbourhoods.

Dyanoosh and her daughters, Sipora and Ramona, Rosh Hashanah, 2017
Dyanoosh and parents, Max and Flora, during her 2014 campaign
All IN community 2015 federal election event, with (then candidate) M.P. Marco Mendicino
All IN community 2015 federal election event, with (then candidate) Andrew Thomson

Endorsements

SharonLerado

Sharon Laredo

Ward resident, Allenby & Glenview parent

Dyanoosh has the knowledge, experience and vision to represent our vibrant community and make a real difference for residents of our Ward. Her understanding of the issues that impact our City and her respect for residents is what is deeply needed both in the community and at City Hall.

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Avrum Rosensweig

I have known Dyanoosh Youssefi for over 20 years. I have always been deeply impressed by her very well developed spirit and soul and her sense of what is right. Dyanoosh is one of those individuals who is hyper aware of injustices and the fundamental importance of strong community. As the Founder and Ambassador of Ve’ahavta: the Canadian Jewish Humanitarian & Relief Committee, I am fully supportive of her bid to be elected as city councillor and believe with all my heart she will bring needed changes to our city and a soulfulness unseen in the past.

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Dr. Karen R. Mock

Human Rights Consultant, former federal Liberal candidate for Thornhill, Chair of JSpaceCanada; former National Director of the League for Human Rights of B’nai Brith Canada; former CEO of the Canadian Race Relations Foundation
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Ray Wroblewski

P.Eng., Ward Resident

As a longtime resident of our Ward and Professional Engineer, I have witnessed the tremendous growth of Toronto over the years. It regularly receives worldwide acclaim as a great city to live in. As we continue to grow as a dynamic cosmopolitan metropolis, however, there is a need to deal with issues of inclusivity, care and well being of young people and seniors of all stripes, and well functioning transportation systems and infrastructure appropriately dimensioned to current and future growth. This in my opinion requires a new breed of city councillors who are not only progressive and pro-active but also willing to tackle the issues outlined above.

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Based on working with and getting to know Dyanoosh Youssefi and her compassionate views on humanity over the last few years I have no hesitation in recommending her as our new Ward councillor in the upcoming municipal elections later this year.

I initially met Dyanoosh when she was running in the last municipal election and also worked with her on the advocacy group ALL-In that she started, dealing with shelter needs for homeless people in Toronto. In both situations I was mightily impressed with her empathetic understanding of issues covering all age groups but particularly with young people and seniors.

In an all candidates meeting that I attended in the 2014 municipal election campaign, I was very taken with Dyanoosh’s poise, eloquence and professionalism when speaking about pragmatic solutions to city issues particularly those around transportation and associated infrastructure. She was by far the best candidate.

Dyanoosh brings to the table all the qualities that a City Councillor should possess and is someone who is willing to tackle complex human issues with great wisdom, determination and a sense of justice and fair play. In addition she is no stranger to hard work and laser focus on important issues.

Inclusiveness for all Toronto citizens is something that Dyanoosh passionately believes in and this attribute alone makes her perfectly qualified in my opinion to be a most suitable, effective, fearless, progressive and dynamic representative for our Ward in the upcoming 2018 municipal election.

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Leslie Starkman

Management training consultant and small business owner (retired), Ward Resident

I met Dyanoosh during the 2014 municipal election campaign when she knocked on my door. I was immediately impressed by her openness and willingness to listen to issues I was concerned about, and completely won over by her responses. They showed significant awareness and understanding of the issues, and a practical, progressive approach to addressing them.

During that campaign I hosted a meet-and-greet event at my house so that friends and neighbours could meet her.

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Once again I was incredibly impressed by the amount of research she had done and the depth of thought she had given to issues in the city, and by the positive and respectful way she engaged with people asking questions or commenting on issues.

Since the last election I’ve seen Dyanoosh in several situations where she has shown initiative, vision and focus along with a genuine willingness to include people and their ideas into the process and the outcome. She is highly intelligent and principled, and at the same time truly warm and outgoing – a real ‘people’s person.

I was thrilled to learn that Dyanoosh is running for Toronto City Council in the October 2018 municipal election and look forward to her bringing a responsible, inclusive and dynamic voice to City Hall.

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Sheldon Maerov

Executive Director (retired) Council of Jewish Federations of Canada
Executive Director (retired) Beth Tzedec Congregation of Toronto

I have known Dyanoosh professionally and personally for over two decades. I believe Dyanoosh will be a major asset to our City Council because she has energy, passion and current relevant experience. Dyanoosh is a consensus builder who continues to demonstrate that, while she can see the ‘big picture’, she understands how to get to it through building with the required ‘small steps’. She seeks the input of others in finding solutions to serve the greater good of the community and the City of Toronto.

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As a lawyer she understands and fights for just outcomes. As an educator she is an effective communicator, one who understands and engages young and older adults alike. As a parent, she is experienced in the challenges of raising a family in her Ward and the larger city. Through outreach to her neighbours, Dyanoosh knows their concerns and is committed to successfully representing them. Dyanoosh believes in striving for ‘win-win’ resolutions to many of the issues facing City Council.

Most importantly, Dyanoosh will work to build and support a healthy and progressive City Council of which the citizens of Toronto will be proud.

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Gilda Berger

Lawyer, Legal Studies Professor, Seneca College School of Legal and Public Administration

I have known Dyanoosh as a colleague at Seneca College in the legal studies department, and as a candidate in municipal elections of 2014. In both these capacities, I have witnessed her intelligence, competence, diligence and commitment to high standards.

In addition, she exhibits a tenacity in defending the social and political values that she believes reflect the best elements of our civic democracy.

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Dyanoosh’s passion for justice will serve to improve the conditions for all the residents of Toronto. This passion has a foundation of knowledge and understanding of legal parameters, based on her academic background and her past professional engagement. This is vitally important for anyone who is participating in city governance.

Dyanoosh’s views and positions are formed after thorough research and consideration of all facets of the issue. This approach is respectful and effective in a political setting with divergent interests.

Dyanoosh welcomes, and is receptive to the views of others, with an interest in, and ability to work collaboratively. She is firm in standing for her beliefs and her beliefs are those that will be for the betterment of Toronto.

City council badly needs to be infused with councillors such as Dyanoosh, who are driven by the highest ideals of city governance, putting self-interests after the interests of the constituents.

Dyanoosh has the important traits that highly recommend her for a position on city council: a sense of commitment, a dedication to learning and high performance, intelligence, and an ability to communicate with a broad spectrum of city residents.

She is a candidate who will enrich, and be an asset to city council.

I strongly support her bid for city council.

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Reid Rusonik

Defence Counsel

I first met Dyanoosh when she came to article for our criminal defence law firm in 1998. I was impressed with her dedication to fighting for and serving others then and I have followed her career doing the same things as a lawyer, teacher and politician with equal admiration.

Dyanoosh has so many fine qualities that make her ideally suited to represent the people of her ward at City Hall, but I think it is her rare combination of idealism, compassion, courage and hard-nosed pragmatism that makes her so special.

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She was a sponge for knowledge as our student and I have seen that same appetite to know everything there is to know about whatever she is doing, including the viewpoints of others.

I believe many Torontonians share a dream of this city as a model to the world of how all people can live and work and recreate together in social harmony. It will be leaders like Dyanoosh Youssefi who will make that dream a reality.

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Hazel Newton

Management training consultant and small business owner (retired), Ward Resident

I am enthusiastically supporting Dyanoosh Youssefi for City Council. I trust her integrity, honesty, concern for balance, fairness, and inclusion, as well as her consideration of the environment, infrastructure, and realistic fiscal awareness.

Dyanoosh understands the importance of building a clear vision for our city and working from a plan that accounts for the needs of all. She believes that we need to remember the importance of a strong infrastructure when considering development and transportation.

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I went door to door with Dyanoosh in 2014 for her first campaign. Time and time again I witnessed her broad knowledge of the issues, her strong, clear presentation of the facts, and her ideas for solutions. She took the concerns of constituents to heart. When faced with opposing points of view, either in canvassing or in candidates debates, Dyanoosh always heard the ‘other side’ with respect, and was consistently able to call up the facts while clearly stating her own beliefs and considerations.

She stands in her integrity, and has a strong gift of being able to see how everything fits together. This ability to see the big picture leads to finding solutions…bringing opposing sides together and helping to grow the community.

I am confident that Dyanoosh would be a very positive force in City Council, by being able to help people with different views and agendas come to agreements that are win-win. This would be beneficial not only to our Ward, but also to all of Toronto.

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Pippa Feinstein

Lawyer, Sole Practitioner

I have had the pleasure of getting to know Dyanoosh over the last three years through my synagogue, the First Narayever Congregation, and through the Law Union of Ontario where we are both members. At the Narayever, Dyanoosh was instrumental in initiating the community’s sponsorship of a Syrian family of refugees. She also regularly provides insightful addresses to the congregation concerning Jewish tradition and social justice.

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Dyanoosh has long been an indispensable part of the Law Union of Ontario, and continues to be a leading voice amongst lawyers in the province advocating for just and inclusive communities. Her engagement with the Jewish and legal communities – in addition to her teaching work, the non-profit she founded, and her devotion to her two wonderful daughters – shows not only her integrity and dedication to social issues, but also her tremendous capacity and efficacy in doing the necessary work to bring her ideas to fruition.

Like many women who are drawn to politics, Dyanoosh is completely issues driven: a fierce proponent of responsible development in her ward, be it sidewalks, stop signs, bike lanes, environmental responsibility, good housing, green spaces, and access to good schools. She cares deeply for her neighbourhood and neighbours, and is completely committed to inclusive and holistic neighbourhood health. She would be a strong advocate for all these things at City Hall, and an exemplary representative for her Ward. Dyanoosh is one of the hardest working, most intelligent, capable, and committed women I have ever met. I am convinced she would be one of the finest councillors Toronto has ever seen!

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Mohamed Bhyat

Director, Organizational Knowledge Management Systems, Canada; Ward Resident

I met Dyanoosh during the 2014 municipal election campaign when she knocked on my door.

I had tried engaging all who came to my door on a vision and strategy for the city that would begin to address many of the issues that we have been grappling with for many years.

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This would include poverty in this seemingly very wealthy city, the extremely high cost of rentals, child care (especially as it affects single mums trying to get by on often less than minimum wage), the carding polices of the police services, and so on. I was very concerned that all the other candidates who had come calling during that campaign had such limited knowledge of these broader political issues.

So when Dyanoosh came calling, I was impressed by her openness and willingness to listen, and by her knowledge and perspective about these concerns.

After the 2014 election Dyanoosh continued her commitment to the Ward and the City by inviting many diverse supporters to create an advocacy group. I joined and became part of the Steering Committee for All In.

One of her key strengths is her ability not only to connect with individuals and respond to their local concerns, but also to look beyond and develop evidence-based arguments and policy positions to address the city-wide issues that affect us all.

Some of the critical issues that face Toronto include unaffordability of housing, general poverty, and lack of planning for public transportation. Without looking at the bigger picture we cannot address these issues. We need a coherent vision for the city that takes into account economic growth as well as social issues that make cities livable and sustainable. I believe Dyanoosh has this kind of vision. We need more progressive and dynamic people like Dyanoosh on City Council.

PauletteHaynes

Paulette Haynes

Lawyer, Toronto Resident

I had the pleasure and privilege of canvassing with Dyanoosh during her campaign in 2014. Dyanoosh knocked on thousands of doors in the ward and demonstrated an undeniable respect for the residents. I am consistently impressed with how she readily connects with people and how they, in turn, are positively affected by her efforts to reach out to them.

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When I learned that Dyanoosh is running for City Council in this year’s municipal election, I immediately let her know that I would be pleased to help her in any way that I can. Dyanoosh is a bright, articulate and hardworking candidate who possesses a thoughtful, long-term vision for the City. She is deeply engaged and versed on the issues that matter to the constituents in the ward. She exercises sound judgment and works well with others.

Dyanoosh is committed to the residents of the Ward and aspires for excellence in whatever she undertakes. The ward, as well as the City of Toronto, will be well-served by her. I, therefore, endorse her without reservation.

RosarioMarchese

Rosario Marchese

Former NDP MPP for Trinty-Spadina, NDP Education critic; Chair of Citizens’ Coalition Against the Privatization of Hydro One