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Dais Senior Fellows

Bringing bold ideas to TMU and beyond

Our Dais Senior Fellows program brings leaders from around the world to Toronto Metropolitan University for focused, intense ‘bursts’ of learning activity.

We provide these visionaries with a platform to enhance the thinking of students and practitioners, influence public conversations on today’s most relevant issues, and further their work through projects and research.

All of our fellows have deep expertise in one or more of the Dais’ three areas of public policy focus: economic innovation and technology; education and skills; and democracy and trust.

Our Senior Fellows come from diverse backgrounds, but share TMU’s passion for building more connected, trustworthy and inclusive institutions.

Fellowship Activities

Leadership issues matter – now more than ever – and today’s greatest leaders are shaped through mentorship, experience and even failure.

We are bringing leading experts from around the globe to help bridge the divide between policy-makers, critics, and the people who depend on our leaders and institutions.

Dais Senior Fellows are a core part of our learning model:

Mobilizing learning opportunities

Students, faculty, and staff have opportunities to engage with Fellows – inside and outside of the classroom and our Dais learning programs.

Practitioners develop new skills in our Fellows’ areas of expertise.

Connecting to power

By providing our Fellows with opportunities to present their ideas directly to key decision-makers and influencers from across sectors, we’re helping to turn important ideas into meaningful action.

Influencing the conversation

Through appearances in top-tier media and high-profile events, our Fellows share crucial ideas on the most pressing issues facing Canadians and our world.

Meet Our Fellows

Martin Regg Cohn

Martin Regg Cohn (Canada)

Founder and Host, TMU Democracy Forum

Martin (he/him) is a political columnist for the Toronto Star and founder of the TMU Democracy Forum.

A foreign correspondent for 11 years, Martin has reported from more than 40 countries. He was also Foreign Editor, a world affairs columnist and Parliamentary correspondent. He is also a Senior Fellow at the Dais and Munk School of Global Affairs at U of T.

Katie Gibson

Katie Gibson (Canada)

Responsible Digital Innovation

Katie (she/her) works, writes, and speaks on issues at the intersection of technology, social impact, and governance.

She has played leadership roles across sectors – at the Digital Governance Council, the Canadian Centre for Nonprofit Digital Resilience, and Ontario’s economic development ministry. She is also a lawyer and dedicated volunteer.

Jake Hirsch-Allen (Canada)

Technology and Skills

Jake (he/him) focuses on inclusive technology and skills. Most recently, he has been building public-private partnerships in workforce development and higher education for LinkedIn.

Jake advises the Mila AI institute, impact investors, public sector leaders and start-ups, including on responsible tech and AI governance. He is a director on the boards of Ontario Tech Talent and the Canadian Club and founded Lighthouse Labs. A former intellectual property and international criminal lawyer, Jake was also chair of the Technology Committee of the Global Education Platform, taught Global Health at McMaster University and clerked at the Supreme Court of Israel.

Sam Jeffers

Sam Jeffers (Ireland)

Technology and Democracy

November 6-8, 2023

Sam (he/him) is the co-founder of Who Targets Me, a company that produces software to help people understand how political campaigns use paid advertising to win votes.

He also runs Join Together, software which makes it easier for people to join trade unions. Previously, he spent 7 years at Blue State Digital (the agency that helped elect President Obama in 2008 and 2012) as UK Managing Director.

He holds a First Class degree in International Relations from LSE and a Master’s in Public Policy from Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government.

Sarada Peri

Sarada Peri (United States)

Communications and Leadership

March 4-8, 2024

Sarada (she/her) was Special Assistant to the President and Senior Speechwriter for President Barack Obama.

She is the founder of Peri Communications, where she helps C-suite executives, nonprofit leaders, philanthropists, and politicians with speechwriting, speech delivery, message strategy, and more. Prior to joining the White House, she was a Principal at West Wing Writers. She was also a member of the 2012, 2016, and 2020 Democratic National Convention speechwriting teams. Sarada also writes under her own byline, and has been published in The Atlantic, The Washington Post, The Daily Beast, and other outlets.

A recovering policy wonk, Sarada worked in the U.S. Senate as a health care and education legislative staffer. She started her career as a high school English teacher in New Orleans through Teach for America, and is a graduate of Tufts University and Harvard University’s Kennedy School of Government.