Jason Murray

President and Managing Partner

He/Him

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Over the course of his career, Jason has worked on 400+ executive searches as well as a range of EDI services in partnership with client companies. Prior to founding BIPOC Executive Search Inc., Jason worked at a multinational executive search firm as well as a boutique search firm before that. For part of his career, he worked in the Consulting Division of Deloitte & Touche as the Human Capital and Strategy & Operations Supervisor. In this position he provided organizational management and HR services to the 994 individuals in the division, and was a respected voice around matters of equity, diversity, and inclusion and increasing representation throughout the organization.

Jason has a community-facing orientation, and currently serves as Chair of the Board for the Toronto Fringe Festival. He has done work with a number of organizations that have a deep and abiding commitment to representation in the workforce, including the Canadian Board Diversity Council, Fora (formerly G(irls)20), and Pride at Work Canada. He has facilitated EDI workshops and talks for a number of organizations and initiatives, including the African Canadian Women in the Public Service Network (ACWPS), Business for the Arts, Innovators Alliance, National Dialogues and Action for Inclusive Higher Education and Communities, Supply Chain Canada, Social Value Matters, and The Walrus.

Jason holds an Honours Bachelor of Arts from the University of Toronto, and a Master’s degree in Management from Boston University (also the alma mater of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez). He is certified in unconscious-bias decision making and iOS app development, and has completed courses on predictive analytics and the use of artificial intelligence in recruitment and retention.

Erica Ing

Vice-President, Operations

She/Her

Erica has worked in both a boutique and international executive search firm, and has gained considerable experience providing operational, client service, and delivery support within a variety of sectors, including real estate, public sector and academia, and leadership coaching and assessment. As Erica brings invaluable insights, judgment, and intelligence to executive search processes and professional services, at BIPOC Executive Search she is an integral bridge between clients, candidates and the BIPOC team.

Erica holds a Bachelor of Commerce from Ryerson University.

Helen Mekonen

Partner

She/Her

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Helen brings 16 years of experience in executive search recruitment and has built a proven track record of identifying, attracting, assessing, and hiring top diversity talent.

Prior to joining BIPOC Executive Search Inc., Helen worked at a boutique executive search firm in Toronto. Here, she concluded several searches where mission-critical talent—who have since proven to be key additions to client teams—were sought. Prior to this, Helen was a consultant at one of the leading global search firms helping clients across North America with their talent acquisition needs. She holds diplomas in Business Marketing and Business Administration from George Brown College.

Helen is a member of the Italian Chamber of Commerce of Ontario. She is multilingual—fully bilingual in English and Italian, and conversationally proficient in French and Spanish.

Urmilla Khan

Partner

She/Her

Urmilla brings 20+ years’ experience leading recruitment, talent acquisition, and career coaching services in the not-for-profit, private, and public sectors. She has worked in complex, dynamic environments, and has created innovative programs that have enhanced recruitment efficiencies, as well as diversity and inclusion in recruitment. She has also supported organizations with their compensation and onboarding programs, and over the years has contributed to her clients’ organizational strategies and growth.
Migrating to Canada from Trinidad and Tobago over 25 years ago, Urmilla has helped numerous executives, internationally trained professionals and newcomers to Canada along their career trajectory. She has hired thousands of professionals in a variety of industries and across functions, including Engineering, Healthcare, Information Technology, Logistics and Pharmaceuticals.

Committed to making a difference and influencing positive change, Urmilla takes an active role in the community and empowers people to do their part in creating a more inclusive, peaceful, and sustainable planet.

Urmilla is a graduate of the Human Resources Management Program at Sheridan College, and is a member of the Human Resources Professionals Association.

Candice Frederick

Partner

She/Her

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Candice has over 15 years’ experience working within community agencies and educational institutions; she started her career in social services with the City of Toronto, went on to be Director of Student Services at Randolph College, and most recently has worked as a faculty member at George Brown College. Candice also spent time as a mental health and addictions therapist as well as a counselling manager.

Candice has facilitated workshops and taught classes on anti-oppressive practice. She is frequently asked to facilitate group sessions on anti-black racism and the impact of racial trauma on the black community. When teaching or facilitating, Candice provides a space to engage in mindfulness and to explore intersectionality.
Her work is rooted in strengths-based practices, equity frameworks, and trauma-informed perspectives. She is most proud of her community volunteer work centering decolonization and economic redistribution efforts.

A published writer, Candice has engaged in social work training and has a Master’s of Education (M.Ed.) in Counselling Psychology from the Ontario Institute for Studies in Education at the University of Toronto.

Shirley Ley

Partner

She/Her

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Dr. Shirley Ley is a social justice informed psychologist (Oregon & New York, USA) who is committed to bringing an equity lens to the forefront of all organizational consultation and development endeavours. For several years, she provided expertise on diversity, inclusion, belongingness, and community-building related matters within higher education settings in the United States.

Shirley has a personal investment in supporting industries that are committed to dismantling oppressive structural and systemic practices that disadvantage and racialized communities. Her philosophy to the work is informed by her political identity as a woman of Color, critical race and liberation theories, and community-centered healing practices. To facilitate the structural changes that are needed to sustain diverse and inclusive work environments, she forges relationships, by the way of cultural development work, educational programming, and mentorship engagement, with people across disciplines, inviting them to become allies in creating environments that allow racialized peoples to affirm their potential and to realize their inherent worth.

Shirley holds a Master of Education (MEd) degree in counselling psychology from the Ontario Institute for Studies in Education (OISE) at the University of Toronto and a Doctor of Clinical Psychology (PsyD) from Adler University – Vancouver campus.

Melissa Sumnauth

Partner

She/Her

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Melissa brings an abundance mindset to her work, fueled by over 17 years of cross-industry experience focusing on human dynamics, culture, learning and development, recruitment, organizational growth, and resilience coaching.

She is a dialogue master and facilitator who can navigate complex environments while being attuned to healthy change management and forward-thinking solutions.
Having coached countless clients, Melissa’s career is underpinned by a values- and strengths-based leadership approach that is anchored in compassion, collaboration, and curiosity.

Melissa’s curiosity is amplified by her growth mindset, having studied both Sociology and Women’s Studies at the University of Toronto. She is also a certified Adult Learning & Development Practitioner through the Ontario Institute for Studies in Education at the University of Toronto.

Taq Bhandal

Partner

She/Her

Dr. Taq Kaur Bhandal brings over 10 years of academic, research, and practice experience in social justice, public policy, and gender-based health analysis to the firm. She currently lives on Mi’kmaw Treaty Territory in Halifax, Nova Scotia where she spends her weekends going on forest walks with her dog Hopper. Taq’s ancestors are from the Punjab region of India and Pakistan.

Taq specializes in decolonial approaches to recruitment and search, with a particular focus on bringing ancestral worldviews to solve modern-day problems. She has worked across the borders of Canada in post-secondary, non-profit, and health care settings in Vancouver, Toronto, and Halifax. Taq has also taught several courses on mental health, addictions, women’s and trans health, feminism, and anti-racism practice.

In her spare time, Taq runs an Instagram page called @imwithperiods and published a book titled Self-Care Down There with Simon & Schuster in 2020.

Taq has a doctorate from UBC’s Social Justice Institute, an MA in Health, Policy, and Equity from York University, and a BSc Hon in Biology (with a specialization in molecular evolution) from Dalhousie University.

Stacy-Ann Buchanan

Director, Marketing and Content

She/Her

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As a mental health advocate and award-winning presenter, Stacy-Ann brings an array of experience to the service and training sections of BIPOC Executive Search. Her award-winning documentary, The Blind Stigma, made Canadian history when it debuted as the first documentary produced in Canada that examined mental health in the Black community. She is listed as one of the 100 Black Women to Watch in Canada, one of the 150 Black Women Making Canada Better and one of the 150 Leading Canadians for Mental Health.

As a highly respected motivational speaker with engagements that include TEDx and Bell Let’s Talk, Stacy-Ann’s work encompasses dismantling how mental health is perceived within the Black diaspora, stimulating dialogue in an effort to fuel resources, and orchestrating safe spaces for black voices to be amplified and helping them reclaim their narratives.

Stacy-Ann enjoys giving back to the community, and is a co-donor of The Buchanan Scholarship—a scholarship awarded to a first-year university student entering a Liberal Arts or Fine Arts program.

Laurie Toulouse

Head of Research and Consultant

She/Her

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Laurie Toulouse is Anishinaabe kwe, a member of Serpent River First Nation. She grew up on the lands of the Kwikwetlem First Nation and Coast Salish Peoples and currently calls T’karonto, Dish with One Spoon treaty territory her home.

Laurie is a mother, partner, teacher/coach/facilitator, and observer/learner. As a lifelong learner, she is committed to a journey of continuous personal growth and expansion. She has had an expansive management career in the retail fashion industry, with a specialty in education and development. Her lived and professional experience inform the way in which she promotes inclusive excellence at the workplace. Embodying the principles of Intentionality and thoughtfulness, she ensures that her teaching and facilitation support leaders and decision makers in shifting environments that favour inclusion and the service of all peoples.

Stephanie La

Head, Delivery and Design, and Project Manager

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Stephanie La (she/her) is a Toronto-based professional with a specialized background in Retail Operations and Management. With experience working at an international executive search firm, Stephanie brings project management, research, and operations experience to BIPOC Executive Search and plays an integral role in client delivery and operational support. She has served a number of industries while in the executive search business across sectors (private, public, and not-for-profit).

Stephanie holds a Bachelor of Commerce degree, with a major in Retail Management, from the Ted Rogers School of Management at Ryerson University, and a Human Resources Management certificate from the Raymond G. Chang School.

Chad Martin Stauber

Senior Technical Writer and Data Analyst

He/Him

Chad Martin Stauber, is a proud member of the LGBTQ+ community. He has an extensive background in recruitment both at the Faculty of Medicine, University of Toronto (Academic Affairs portfolio), as well as from executive search work in a boutique firm. Chad brings deep experience to project management and is a prolific writer and researcher.

Chad holds a PhD in Near and Middle Eastern Civilizations from the University of Toronto, and an MA from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem.

Zo Vandekas

Community Relations Specialist and Researcher

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An Intercultural Relations graduate from Ryerson University, Zo is multilingual (Spanish, Greek, English) and has a passion for facilitating constructive client-facing experiences. Zo has invested a considerable amount of their academic, professional, and volunteer experiences conducting market research, providing literacy training, and curating sales and promotional programming for organizations in the non-profit sector, as well as for the education and food and beverage industries. Prior to working for BIPOC Executive Search, Zo’s most fulfilling professional endeavors have consisted of diversity work in the non-profit space, which included establishing inclusive educational environments for youth.

Avery Jackman

Researcher & Project Coordinator

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Avery Jackman is Black Queer Professional/ Creative based in the GTA that leads with love and humility because he simply wants to make the world a better place. In 2021, Avery Graduated from McMaster’s Honours Health and Society program where he was an active member and executive of multiple community organizations including the Pride Community Centre and the Black Student Association. His strategy for community and program development centers around creating holistic health-based programming that empowers, supports, and celebrates the multifaceted culture within the Black diaspora. With an emphasis on 2SLGBTQIA+ matters, mental health, decolonization and intersectionality, his professional career has been filled with highlights that reflect this approach. Avery is super excited to be joining the fabulous team at BIPOC executive search and cannot wait to contribute to the amazing the work the team has done and continues to do.

Jessie Skinner

Technical Writer & Researcher

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Jessie Skinner is a Toronto based writer with a background in film. His work has included professional writing in publicity, journalism and corporate content. Through this work he has transcribed the words of many artists, newsmakers, community activists and business leaders both local and international. Jessie has also produced dramatic theatrical work and greatly enjoys writing in all forms. Jessie has a Bachelor of Arts Degree from York University.