The Breakout Session Team

Héctor Alfonso Acero Ferrer IMG_0027Héctor currently leads Scarboro Mission Interfaith Department’s “Youth in Interfaith” project. In addition, he is pursuing a Master of Philosophy at the Institute for Christian Studies and working as a research assistant for the Centre for Philosophy, Religion, Society and Ethics. Originally from Bogota, Héctor began undergraduate studies in philosophy at the National University of Colombia, transferring to the University of Toronto to complete his Honours Bachelor of Arts. He also holds a Master of Divinity and a Bachelor of Sacred Theology from the Toronto School of Theology, Regis College. While at TST, Héctor was actively involved as a student representative, serving as president of the Regis College Student Council. Parallel to his studies, Héctor has worked for several non-for-profit, faith-based organizations dedicated to the promotion of social justice, equality and dialogue, including Fontbonne Ministries and the Newman Centre Catholic Mission. Héctor’s research interests include philosophy of language, the intersection of faith and society, and current trends in Latin American theology.

J. Kolz R2E Headshot copyJennifer E. Kolz, Don of Hall Emerita of Massey College, is currently pursuing her doctorate in Pastoral Theology at the University of St. Michael’s College (USMC). In addition to her studies, she is also an occasional teacher with the Toronto Catholic District School Board, an associate editor of the Journal of Religion and Spirituality in Society, and a research assistant to Fr. Stan Chu Ilo of the Center for World Catholicism and Intercultural Theology, DePaul University. Jennifer graduated with an Honours Bachelor of Arts with a double major in Geography and Religious Studies from Laurentian University before completing a Bachelor of Education at the Ontario Institute for Studies in Education (OISE), a Master of Religious Education and a Master of Theological Studies at the University of Toronto and a Post-Master’s Certificate in Spiritual Formation at Boston College. She has served as director of the Rite of Christian Initiation (RCIA) and Confirmation programs at the Newman Centre Catholic Mission, as co-chair of the Local Planning Committee of the Canadian Theological Students’ Conference, graduate student representative on the USMC Senate and as the Advanced Degree Students’ Association representative on the Toronto School of Theology Advanced Degree Council. Jennifer is an active volunteer and her research interests include Catholic education and teacher faith formation.

EMacraeHeadshotEmily Macrae is pursuing a Masters of Urban Planning at the University of Toronto, where she is also a Junior Fellow at Massey College. She is interested in (and blogs about) urban arts events, accessibility and active transportation. Emily holds a Bachelor of Arts from the University of King’s College, where she conducted research on how people use and perceive public libraries. While studying in Halifax, Emily also volunteered with local nonprofits including Leave Out Violence and was an active member of the Swing Dance community. Outside of her degrees, Emily worked in France and studied in Poland. She is fiercely multilingual but continues to explore how best to foster inclusive debate in English.

AValliani headshotAyesha Valliani is a graduate student at the Department for the Study of Religion and a Junior Fellow at Massey College. Her work focuses on political Islam in Canada, specifically on how Muslim organizations and individuals engage with the law and understand citizenship as both a legal and an ethical process. Originally from Karachi, but having lived in London, Dusseldorf, Dubai, and Toronto, Ayesha has a deep curiosity about the ways in which minority citizens engage with and alter the political landscapes of their adopted homelands. During her time as a graduate student, Ayesha founded The Elements Experiment, which brings together young people in Canada to talk about issues of religion, the secular, and public spaces. She is also a team member of the Religion in the Public Sphere initiative, has worked with a Muslim lawyer’s association, and has mentored and counseled youth both at the University of Toronto and across the city. Her broader research interests center around the equality rights of minority communities in constitutional democracies, questions of belonging, and South Asian politics.


Paul Xavier Weitzmann currently works with Elections Canada, where he uses his community knowledge, and expertise on spatialized data to ensure voter participation and inclusion in the upcoming General Election.  Growing up in the Regent Park community gave Paul a first-hand perspective on the impact socioeconomic disadvantage has on youth.  During undergrad, he became an active member of Regent Park Focus, a community organization that provides a platform for youth to produce and share their own media content.  Paul recently completed his Masters in Information (MI) from the Faculty of Information, where he specialized in Critical Information Policy Studies and Information Systems Design.  During his graduate studies he was invited to present at a student-lead conference on the topic of “Smart City Design,” and was an active Junior Fellow at Massey College, where he contributed to multiple committees including the Massey Diversity Committee, Community Services Committee, Junior Fellow Lecture Series, and Spanish Table.  Paul continues to be involved at Massey College through his participation in the Massey Fellowship Selection Committee, and the Faculty of Information’s Fifth Floor Renovation Committee.  Paul’s research interests include technological innovation, the intersection of technology and economic opportunities, and design.

Photo Credit: Milan Ilnyckyj (please see links below for the originals)





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