York PhD candidate named assistant deputy minister, Anti-Racism Directorate

York University PhD candidate Akwatu Khenti has been named to the position of assistant deputy minister, Anti-Racism Directorate in the Inclusion, Diversity and Anti-Racism Division, Cabinet Office of the provincial government, effective June 26.

Akwatu Khenti

Khenti holds a masters in political science from the University of Toronto and is a PhD candidate in health policy and equity at York University. He is a recipient of the Harry Jerome Award for Professional Excellence and the Ethno-Racial Education Initiatives Award from the Department of Public Health Science, University of Toronto.

He is currently the director of Transformative Global Health at the Centre for Addition and Mental Health (CAMH), and holds a position as assistant professor with the Dalla Lana School of Public Health at the University of Toronto.

“This is a unique opportunity to apply the in-depth social determinants of health and critical race theoretical perspectives which I’ve gained from my health equity studies at York,” said Khenti.

Khenti ‘s legacy of transformative and collaborative initiatives include: leading the cultural adaptation of cognitive-behavioral therapy for spiritual leaders in Haiti; a post-Tsunami three-year mental health capacity building initiative in Sri Lanka; and, recent efforts to strengthen mental health care in India.

Khenti has also been co-leading a hemispheric research capacity building collaboration with the Inter-American Drug Abuse Control Commission of the Organization of American States and 30 universities across Latin America and the Caribbean. His research focuses on effective primary care interventions for reducing stigmatizing attitudes and practices among health professional staff as well as Black homicide victimization in Toronto.

“Akwatu is a seasoned executive leader with deep experience in the implementation of complex multi-sector initiatives with varied stakeholders and partners,” said Sam Erry, associate deputy minister, Inclusion, Diversity and Anti-Racism Division, who led the search for the successful candidate.

“Akwatu brings wide ranging racial equity experience having established CAMH’s Substance Abuse Program for African Canadian and Caribbean Youth and has led international programs to address health gaps for marginalised communities. He also co-chaired CAMH’s Diversity Initiative that focused on ensuring respect and equity for diverse groups within institutional policies, procedures and practices.”