Clarke and Hayles are DiverseCity Fellows
February 8, 2018
You need to be part of the solution and not the problem.
Those words still resonate with Toronto Police Service staff sergeant Stacy Clarke after she met retired detective Terry James 21 years ago.
Late staff inspector Jim Sneep, who was a long-time friend of Clarke’s mother, forged the impromptu recruitment meeting after Clarke had graduated from the University of Windsor with a degree in criminology & sociology and was considering applying to law school.
“I took those powerful words to heart and that was what really made me change my career journey,” she said. “That was also the first time that I had seen a female Black officer.”
Two decades after joining the Service and making her mark in several high-profile administrative capacities, Clarke is set to expand her capabilities through one of North America’s top programs for rising leaders interested in urban issues and effecting change.
As a 2018 DiverseCity Fellow cohort, she is among 25 emerging leaders poised to take action on issues critical to the health and prosperity of Toronto.
“This is an opportunity to work with other members of the city who are interested in making meaningful and influential change,” Clarke, who migrated from Jamaica at age 16, said. “When we talk about change, we only have to look at our Service and the modernization it is undergoing with the partnerships and collaborations that we have with our city stakeholders. Being part of this esteemed group also provides a platform for me to expand my professional networks.”
Joining the Service in April 1998, the new recruit spent five years at 51 Division where she was the only Black female officer, 18 months in Intelligence, three years with the Divisional Policing Support Unit and two years in Homicide before being transferred to the Toronto Police College where she was promoted to sergeant in 2010.
After assignments at 13 and 22 Divisions, she joined the Professional Standards Unit in 2013 and was assigned to the Police & Community Engagement Review (PACER) that focused on how the Service could enhance public trust and safety while delivering a bias free service.
“That project provided one of the best collaborative experiences for me,” added Clarke who co-chaired the PACER committee with former Jamaica Canadian Association (JCA) president Audrey Campbell. “The subject was contentious, but the fact that good people with good intentions sat down to be part of the solution, I think, is what made it very special.”
Promoted to staff sergeant in 2016, Clarke – the mother of two children – is the section head in charge of Learning Development & Standards at the college.
The cohort also includes Volunteer Toronto executive director Camara Chambers who graduated from the University of Liverpool with a law degree, Montreal-born Operations at Success Beyond Limits executive director Tesfai Mengesha, McCarthy Tetrault LLP. litigation associate Atrisha Lewis and Tanya Hayles.
Three years ago when Hayles hit roadblocks in her search for answers about child rearing support and advice for raising her young son, she started Black Moms Connection which is a safe online space for mothers to sort out challenges and help each other navigate complex situations.
“At the time, I wasn’t looking to be a leader,” she said. “All I wanted was to start something because I needed support. It then grew into a movement and very important space for moms. Leadership was thrusted on me back then, but I am at a point now where I need to enhance my leadership skills moving forward, so this opportunity couldn’t have come a better time.”
After graduating in 2003 with an undergraduate degree from the University of Ottawa, Hayles was an event planner and marketing co-ordinator before starting Black Moms Connection with 20 moms in the Greater Toronto Area. The network has grown to nearly 8,400 members worldwide.
The successful candidates were chosen based on their community involvement, capability for collaboration and professional experience.
“We are facing increasingly difficult urban challenges that require an all-hands on deck approach,” said CivicAction chief executive officer Sevaun Palvetzian. “Having diverse voices at our decision making tables is the only way to create an inclusive region. DiverseCity Fellows, our ‘civic MBA’, provides that recipe for success.”
Now in its ninth year, this free year-long DiverseCity program exposes participants to important regional issues, provides opportunities for personal leadership development and helps them develop a strong network of civic-minded peers across sectors. It also provides access to the region’s top influencers and a unique platform for community-focused action.
Danielle Dowdy, a member of the inaugural class in 2009, said the program was an amazing experience.
“It provided me with an opportunity to meet a cross-section of really interesting, talented and brilliant people from across the Greater Toronto Area who are all passionate about city-building in various ways,” she pointed out. “I learned a lot, but I also completed the program with friendships that continue to this day. And the alumni group continues to be a source of inspiration, not to mention an amazing resource for folks trying to get things done.
“The program is not only a powerful network of highly motivated people, but it also provides Fellows with the opportunity to freely and boldly enter into typically hard-to-access spaces. It also bolsters important linkages across industries, communities and people.”
A Toronto Police Service analyst, Dowdy is on secondment to the Independent Police Oversight Review team as a senior strategic initiatives lead.
She said Clarke has a lot to gain and offer to the program.
“As Black women who are members of the Toronto Police Service, the lens in which we see and experience things are unique,” Dowdy added. “I have no doubt that Stacy will use the opportunity to share this unique lens when engaging, educating and learning from her peers.”