Two York faculty earn Pioneer of Change award

Ananya MReed for YFile homepage

A prestigious distinction that will honour immigrants recognized as nation builders will highlight the work of two York faculty members during the 2016 Pioneers for Change Award Gala.

On June 9, Ananya Mukherjee-Reed, dean of the Faculty of Liberal Arts and Professional Studies, will receive an award for Excellence in Social Impact; and Marat Ressin, president and founder of York Entrepreneurship Development Institute (YEDI) will receive an award for Excellence in Innovation.

The awards gala this year will focuses on “immigrants working to build a Canada where every immigrant succeeds” with a lens on seven different categories.

“I am delighted that Dean Mukherjee-Reed and Dr. Ressin have been recognized for their outstanding contributions to Canadian society. Both are respected and prolific researchers and strong contributors to the global impact of York University,” said Mamdouh Shoukri, president and vice-chancellor. “In her first year as dean of Canada’s largest liberal arts faculty, Dean Mukherjee-Reed has done an excellent job of engaging thoughtfully with students, faculty members and staff and advancing the strategic priorities of the faculty and the University. As president of one of York’s most ground-breaking institutes, Dr. Ressin’s expertise in the development of small businesses, non-profit organizations and real estate make him uniquely qualified to guide our student entrepreneurs to success.

“On behalf of the York community, I congratulate both Dean Mukherjee-Reed and Dr. Ressin for this well-deserved recognition.”

Ananya Mukherjee-Reed
Ananya Mukherjee-Reed

Mukherjee-Reed has focused her teaching and research primarily on development and inequality in the Global South with a specific emphasis on India. She was the founding director of the International Secretariat for Human Development (ISHD) – an organization with a mandate to stimulate production of new forms of knowledge for social change where disciplinary barriers are dissolved, the divide between scholar and practitioner is overcome, and academic benefits of research are accompanied by concrete social benefits.

Her work, she says, is motivated by “a vision of the University as an engaged social actor, whose task is not only to produce and disseminate knowledge, but much more. The University must be the institution that inspires and enables us to realize our collective potential for bringing about transformative social change.”

Ressin is the president and founder of YEDI, a start-up incubator that works in partnership with York University’s Schulich Executive Education Centre (SEEC) and offers innovators an opportunity to engage in training, education and mentorship through a 12-week fellowship program. He has served as an adjunct faculty member at the institute.

Marat Ressin
Marat Ressin

Ressin says he believes in the “importance of social impact”.

The Pioneers for Change Award Gala was launched in 1993 by Skills for Change, an organization that works to drive forward a shift in immigration and workplace trends.

Pioneers for Change award recipients are, according to Skills for Change, “incredible people who have made a significant and lasting contribution to Canada” and “who inspire newcomers to work toward their own success and follow their vision”.

More than 120 individuals have been recognized as Pioneers for Change since the first awards gala.

For more on the gala, visit