Plenary Session:
Interdisciplinary Approach to Building Back Better

Building Back Better has become associated with post-Covid 19 recovery strategies. The early 21st century was already proving to be an especially momentous time for urban thinkers and city-builders, with high political stakes. Then came Covid-19 which exposed the fault-lines of social inequity, inadequate housing, poverty, among other urban issues. Bringing together key representatives from the City of Toronto, from academic institutions and civil society, this plenary is conceived of as a keynote to this summit that itself embodies the interdisciplinarity and partnership-building that is at the core of CivicLabTO.   

Patricia Wood
Dr. Patricia Wood
Professor and Graduate Program Director, Geography, York University

Urban Affairs Columnist,

Dr. Patricia Wood is Professor and Graduate Program Director of Geography at York University. She studies rights claims, activism, and governance, particularly the experiences of marginalized communities. Her current projects include comparative international research on municipal and urban regional governance. Dr. Wood has written a transit and urban affairs column for several years, first with Torontoist, and now for She is a Senior Advisor for the transit advocacy organization, CodeRedTO, and was also a member of the City of Toronto-TTC transit review expert advisory panel on the proposed upload of the subway.

Tracey Lloyd

Dr. Tracey Lloyd 

Director, Career Services and Co-operative Education, Centennial College

Dr. Tracey Lloyd is the Director of Career Services and Co-operative Education at Centennial College. She has over 20 years of experience in career education and employment services, working in the nonprofit and postsecondary sectors. She currently oversees career education programming and employer relations, and also co-chairs the College's Graduate Employment Committee. 


Prior to joining Centennial, Dr. Lloyd worked in the community as Director of Employment Programs at Tropicana Community Services, a nonprofit organization that provides a range of services for youth, newcomers, and members of the Black and Caribbean communities. She believes that career education is a social imperative - it helps people realize possibilities for themselves in the world of work, with the potential to transform lives.

Chris Murray
Chris Murray
City Manager, City of Toronto

Chris Murray was appointed the City Manager of Toronto in 2018. Prior to this, he was the City Manager of Hamilton for almost 10 years. He is by profession a registered city planner; by previous experience a transportation and housing director; by necessity a relationship builder; and by passion a public sector employee.

Matti Siemiatycki
Matti Siemiatycki
Director of the Infrastructure Institute and Professor of Geography and Planning, University of Toronto

Matti Siemiatycki is the Director of the Infrastructure Institute and Professor of Geography and Planning at the University of Toronto. His work focuses on delivering large-scale infrastructure projects, evidence-based infrastructure investment decisions, and the effective integration of infrastructure into the fabric of cities. Siemiatycki’s recent studies explore transit policy decisions, the value for money in public-private partnerships, the development of innovative mixed-use buildings as a form of place-based infrastructure policy, and the diversity gap in the infrastructure industry workforce. 


Siemiatycki is a highly engaged public scholar with a deep commitment to informing public discourse about city building. He regularly provides advice to governments, civic institutions and industry, and is a frequent commentator in the media and public realm on urban issues, with a honed ability to communicate with various audiences.

Daniele Zanotti
Daniele Zanotti
President & CEO, United Way Greater Toronto

With more than 20 years of experience in the public and non-profit sectors, Daniele Zanotti has earned a reputation as an accomplished, strategic, and energetic leader. He served as CEO of United Way York Region from 2007 to 2015. During that time he led an evolution that transformed the charity from federated fundraiser into a convener, mobilizer, and agent of community change. Under Zanotti’s guidance, the charity launched new initiatives to foster community dialogue; invested in more targeted and effective ways; and brought new social services to the communities most in need.

In 2015, Zanotti  was the catalyst of a historic merger between United Ways in York Region and Toronto. He committed himself and his organization to a broader alliance for community change, and established a new regional organization that is now better positioned than ever before to tackle issues. In 2018, now as President & CEO, Zanotti merged Peel Region with United Way Greater Toronto, becoming the largest United Way in the world and largest funder of social services outside the government. In this capacity, he has played a fundamental role in driving greater alignment between strategies for youth, poverty reduction, and community investment across Greater Toronto.