Dyanoosh Youssefi is a Toronto lawyer, legal studies professor, writer, social justice advocate, and mother of two girls.
She is running for City Council in ward 16 because of her commitment to community-building, social justice, and to effecting positive change through government.
She has been involved in community and volunteer work locally and internationally since her youth, including in elderly care homes, soup kitchens and open custody homes in Toronto, public housing programs in Israel, and as a volunteer teacher in rural Zimbabwe. Dyanoosh served on the Board of Directors of Parkdale Activity Recreation Centre, a community centre for those with mental health, drug addiction, and poverty challenges. She currently sits on the Board of Directors of RESULTS Canada, an advocacy organization devoted to creating the political will to end extreme poverty. She is accredited by the Law Society of Upper Canada, is a member of the Criminal Lawyers’ Association and the Law Union of Ontario.
Dyanoosh is a proponent of alternative dispute resolution and collaborative approaches to problem-solving. She is committed to serving and helping our ward and our city, and believes in open, regular communication with her constituents. Dyanoosh is hard-working, ethical, and dedicated. She can lead and encourage those around her to work collaboratively to find mutually agreeable solutions.
Dyanoosh has frequently spoken out on issues of respectful policing and effective alternatives to incarceration, especially for the mentally ill. She has appeared before the House of Commons Committee on Justice and Human Rights and the Toronto Police Services Board. Her blog posts have been featured on Huffington Post and she has appeared on CTV News Channel and CBC radio.
After graduating from the University of Toronto, Dyanoosh received her law degree from McGill University in Montreal before returning to Toronto to run a successful criminal law practice. When her two daughters were born, she left her practice in order to raise her young family. During those years, she continued her volunteer work as a Director of PARC (Parkdale Activity Recreation Centre) and then RESULTS Canada, served on the steering committee of the Law Union of Ontario, helped to organize legal conferences, started her blog, JusticeRequiresEmpathy.com, then moved on to blog for the Huffington Post, and also began teaching law part-time, first at Humber College and then at Seneca College.
Born in Iran, she has lived in Canada since she was 12. In addition to English, she speaks French, Persian and Hebrew.
Dyanoosh has lived in Ward 16 since 2005. She, along with her husband and children, are frequent users of local services such as parks, playgrounds, libraries, shops and community centres. She has been a member of the Eglinton Park Residents’ Association since its inception.
IN HER OWN WORDS
When I tell people that I have decided to run for municipal office, the reactions are often two-fold: “Awesome!….Why would you do that?”
Why leave my comfortable and meaningful job as a legal studies professor and as a writer? Why not go back to my fulfilling career as a criminal defence lawyer? Why do all of this while my two kids are still young?
The answer is simple: I want to improve our neighbourhoods and our city. I care about helping people, building communities, looking for solutions, and empowering individuals. My past jobs as a lawyer and a professor, and my work as a writer, a social justice advocate, and a volunteer for nearly 30 years, all focused on helping those in need, collaborating, finding solutions, building strong governance, and working to make our communities and our world better.
And that is what I want to do as your City Councillor.
From trees to pot-holes, from new developments to affordable homes, from policing to public transit, and from green spaces to parking spaces, so much of our life is impacted, and can be changed for the better, by our municipal government.
I enjoy helping people and making our communities more vibrant and inclusive. And I want to do that for our ward and for our city.
Where we live:
We (my husband and two daughters) have been living in Ward 16 since 2005. We do everything here. We go to the library (often!), the many parks (even in the winter), the cafés (regularly), and the community centres. We eat frozen yogurt and frozen custard in this ward. We visit the many services and restaurants. We have wonderful neighbours and enjoy great relationships with them. We also often explore the many other amazing neighbourhoods in our great city.
What I believe:
As someone who believes in strong, inclusive neighbourhoods and responsible government, I want to bring your voice and concerns to City Hall, and I want to bring City Hall to you.
Together, we can make our ward and our city more vibrant and inclusive. We can re-examine our public spaces, and improve them for our children and all community members, especially those– such as seniors and persons with physical challenges– who need support and ways to connect with community. We can implement long-term plans and solutions for development and transit. We can make this city even better for all residents.
What I bring:
I have the commitment, the skills, the passion, and the experience to work for the residents of our ward and to make our city a better place. In my volunteer and professional work, I have worked with many different people and groups in this city and outside. I get the issues that our communities face. Here are some highlights of my diverse experiences:
- As a lawyer, I worked with many people with mental health challenges, with people from diverse backgrounds and different socio-economic levels;
- As a professor, I teach and work with young people who are on the verge of entering new careers and who face numerous challenges.
- Volunteered with seniors, in may different capacities, for 4 years (at Baycrest Centre for Geriatric Care);
- Volunteered at an open-custody home for young offenders, tutored residents and helped them with job-seeking and training skills;
- Volunteered at the Lawyers Feed the Hungry Program for 4 years;
- Served on the Board of Directors of Parkdale Activity Recreation Centre, a community centre where persons who have experienced poverty, addictions, mental health problems or institutionalization come to rebuild their lives;
- Currently serve on the Board of Directors of RESULTS Canada, a non-profit advocacy organization where citizens create the political will to end extreme poverty;
- Served as a Steering Committee member of the Law Union of Ontario, an organization comprised of lawyers, legal educators and others who work on justice and equality issues;
- Volunteered, along with many incredibly dedicated parents, for various activities at my children’s schools (Allenby Public School and Associated Hebrew School.)
I have also gained a broader perspective from international volunteer experience in Israel, where I worked for non-profit organizations on public housing policies and taught English, and in rural Zimbabwe, where I taught English and art.
My history (a bit of it):
I came to Canada with my parents, brother and sister in 1983. We left Iran for a freer life here. My parents worked hard in the small business that they established here (my siblings and I all worked there as well.) Because of this background, I have a keen sense of the importance of good governance, the importance of providing opportunities to all members of our society, and the value of having inclusive communities that allow everyone to contribute.
My pledge to you:
I believe that governments have a duty to keep citizens informed and that citizens should stay engaged with their representatives.
I want to bring City Hall to you: with open and regular communication, I will ensure that you are aware of and can participate fully in our government. I will listen carefully to your concerns and suggestions, and will work to bring fresh ideas and solutions to you. This process has already started, and will continue as I knock on your doors in the months to come. I look forward to meeting every one of you!
I thank you for being an engaged citizen and for checking my website. Please feel free to contact me with any questions or suggestions that you may have.
I am committed to working for our ward, for our city, and for a bright future for the next generation.