City Building with Gracie Goad

Posted by Gracie Goad, November 26, 2015

Gracie Goad, our Food & Beverage + Training Manager at Drake Hotel, is quite the busy bee. When she's not at the Hotel organizing workshops + tutorials in things like product knowledge or personal finance for servers, she's one of twenty seven up-and-coming leaders selected by CivicAction to participate in the DiverseCity "Civic MBA".

I call it my “third thing” – something to do beyond work + home life – but the Google-able name would be CivicAction DiverseCity Fellowship. And I’d like to pull back the curtain + show you what I’ve been doing these past few months to encourage you to get involved with the city we’re living in (even if politics is SO not your thing).


Photo via Mark Sommerfeld, Drake staffer

So, what is CivicAction + how come they can’t spell “diversity” correctly?

CivicAction is a non-profit organization with a strong love for the Greater Toronto + Hamilton areas, as well as blended words (I bet you they love guesstimate and chillax, too). The DiverseCity Fellows program is in its 7th year developing rising leaders, providing access to top influencers + a unique platform for community-focused action. You can get a lot more information by Googling it, take my word for it… it is nerdy fun times.

How did you come to be involved with the DiverseCity Fellows?

To be honest, I don’t remember much of that time. It was July, I was moving in with my saint of a boyfriend + patio season here was in full-swing at The Drake Hotel (where I work as a Food+Beverage Manager). Someone reached out to me through LinkedIn a few days before the deadline, I begged my references to write something nice + they came through just in time. I was a teensy bit hoping they wouldn’t get back to me, so that I could defer applying to this cool-sounding program some other year… but it felt fortuitous when they got back to me, so I submitted my application anyways.

What cool things have you done so far?

Meeting the other Fellows still stands out as such a highlight for me this year; you can read their awesome bios here + see for yourself what I mean:

Bucket list stuff?

We attended an elections night party at Google Canada headquarters, we took a VIP tour of downtown Hamilton + heard from the CEO of the Brooklyn Chamber of Commerce on how “Hamilton is the New Brooklyn,” plus a few of us were featured in the Toronto Star on behalf of entire cohort. Check out the article!


The 2015-16 DiverseCity Fellows on a leadership retreat in November 2015

What is the end goal with a program like this?

The program is intended to make an impact in a few keys areas – improving our access + education on issues facing the GTHA, developing key leadership traits within each of us to benefit our communities, plus there is a project component where we get to showcase what we’ve learned over the year by giving back. My group is narrowing in on the concept of mandatory volunteer hours in Ontario secondary schools + trying to identify ways in which we can explain WHY volunteering is important rather than simply enforcing it. We’re tossing around the idea of a “hack-a-thon” where students can self-identify the many reasons why volunteering is important + potentially propose ways by which companies seeking volunteers can improve the meaningfulness (is that a word?) of the positions they offer to volunteers. It’s a work in progress!

What’s in it for you? Are you the future Mayor of Toronto?

Funny you should say that, as John Tory (Toronto’s current mayor) was a former Chair of the CivicAction Board of Directors + involved in its’ inception. But no, absolutely no political aspirations for me. The key point here is that civic engagement – or plainly spoken, giving a sh*t about where you live – is NOT just for politicians, we all have a role to play here.

Personally, though? This is my “third thing” – my chance to meet cool people living in this great city of ours, my chance to learn about issues facing the region + what we all can do about it. The expression “You don’t know what you don’t know” comes to mind. This is me widening my horizons + breaking out of my comfort zone. I encourage you all to do the same!

Posted in: People

Tags: City  Community  Culture  Drake Hotel  Gracie Goad  Guest Blogger  Toronto