Tonya is the founding CEO of the Centre for Social Innovation (CSI), a co-working space, community and launchpad for people who are changing the world, with three locations in Toronto and a fourth location opened just last year in New York's Chelsea neighborhood.
CSI's "theory of change," which has evolved over the last dozen years, can be represented in a Maslow-style hierarchal pyramid. Space literally is foundational, making it possible for communities and networks to develop and from there for innovation through creative collaborations to flourish: a blueprint for serendipity.
CSI is much more than co-working space. The social mission sector is broad, an umbrella terms for anyone or group working to improve conditions for communities or the environment. CSI is designed to play to the sector's signature strength: diversity. We bring together under one roof nonprofits, charities, for-profits, entrepreneurs and activists working in areas from health and education to the arts and environment. Diversity provokes discovery.
Tonya is a Global Ashoka Fellow, the highest global recognition in social entrepreneurship for her innovative work building models of collaboration. Tonya’s work fundamentally embodies collaboration, entrepreneurship and systems change. As part of her work at CSI, she helped develop a citizen-based Community Bond, a social finance tool that was used to purchase CSI's second location, the 36,000 square foot Annex.
Since then, CSI has launched its own crowdfunding platform called Catalyst and a social enterprise microloan program called Catapult.
Previous to CSI, Tonya was the founding Partnership Director for the Canadian Partnership for Children's Health and Environment, whose work, in part, led to a new legislative framework to manage chemicals and the banning of BPA in baby bottles. Tonya has been creating and leading social ventures since 1987 and has built her body of knowledge around multi-sector collaboration and entrepreneurship for social change.
In her spare time, she is building an urban farm on her roof and hosts outdoor movie nights and street parties in the hood with her husband and two boys in High Park.