Director of Projects and Partnerships
Denise is a collection of many things: a social worker, a social entrepreneur, a community developer, a disability advocate, a baker, a kitchen warrior, and a Torontonian. She has been with CSI since the fall of 2017 and often gets to wear all of those hats at once!
Denise came to CSI from the disability community with a degree in sexuality, marriage and family studies, and social work, both from the University of Waterloo. Denise has run a social enterprise bakery and residential treatment facilities for youth with disabilities, she’s chaired a sexuality and disability board, served on the citizens advisory committee for Corrections Canada. She bought an ice cream parlour, The Lansdowne Cone, in 2014, and turned it into an employment social enterprise, creating supportive job opportunities for youth with multiple barriers.
For 3 years Denise ran the CSI coworking space Regent Park, and connected into the neighbourhood social ecosystem. In October of 2020, CSI began to pivot its work in Regent Park to be more focused on social and community infrastructure building. In November of 2020 Denise launched the Every One Every Day: Toronto Our Neighbourhood project, engaging Regent Park residents in participatory projects with, in, and for the community – including community gardening, and a community mural project! In June 2021 we released a report on the feasibility of a Community Wealth Strategy for Regent Park.
Denise also helps run the CSI Community Living Room in the Daniels Spectrum Building, a pilot site for social enterprise and diversely owned businesses that creates opportunities to connect residents, strengthen social capital, and build community infrastructure that will support the Next Economy at the neighbourhood level.
Her passions are strong communities and happy healthy people. #dowhatyoulove