Transformational Leader & Motivational Speaker
Gracia Dyer Jalea is a community organiser, fundraiser and the award-winning, Founding Executive Director of the Toronto Ward Museum. She holds a BA in Cultural Studies and World Religions from McGill University, an MA in Media Studies from Concordia University and recently completed a mini-MBA program at York University's Schulich School of Business. Her graduate work focused on participatory action research and critical pedagogy. While working at Concordia University she co-authored, Mapping Memories: Participatory Media, Place-Based Stories and Refugee Youth.
In 2017, Gracia received the June Callwood Award from Ontario's Ministry of Citizenship and Immigration and in 2018 she was awarded the Ontario Museum Association's Promising Leadership Award. She has also been nominated for an Ontario Council of Agencies Serving Immigrants' Award of Excellence for her work on the Toronto Ward Museum.
"For those seeking equity and hungering for leadership roles I say:
Know your worth.
Speak up and advocate for more opportunities for yourself and for others.
And in the absence of opportunity do not be afraid to create opportunity for yourself."
- Gracia Dyer Jalea, Ontario Museum Association Awards, 2018
“Gracia Dyer Jalea is a visionary. Her project, the Toronto Ward Museum, started with a dream: to make space for the stories and experiences of many marginalized communities and individuals. Many projects start with dreams, but Gracia's work opened doors for diverse youth, forged connections between activists, academics, community members and artists, and challenged (actually, took by storm!) the heritage and museum sector. She made a mark, she struggled, she fought on behalf of many people, whom she put first, and she did this with compassion and utmost professionalism. “
- Irina D. Mihalache, Assistant Professor, Museum Studies, University of Toronto
"Gracia is an exemplary leader; she is visionary, creative, passionate, and inspiring. An engaging community organizer, a tireless advocate for diversity, equity and inclusion, and a bold game-changer, Gracia is well recognized for her tremendous contributions to the preservation of immigrant histories, cultures and heritages through her groundbreaking leadership work with the Toronto Ward Museum. She has demonstrated incredible ability to lead, influence, and inspire others through community-based learning, collaboration, and empowerment. Her leadership has mobilized meaningful and impactful collaborations and innovations among numerous communities. She is truly a leader modelling the way.”
- Dr. Zhixi C. Zhuang, MCIP, RPP, Associate Professor
School of Urban & Regional
“Gracia Dyer Jalea is a visionary thinker and implementer of innovative initiatives within the culture and heritage sector. Her ideas and approach challenge the status quo and are profoundly outside of the box while still being engaging and meaningful. She is strongly committed to equity and collaboration and I have seen her successfully bring together diverse communities and support emerging leaders. She has been incredibly resourceful and effective in putting place systems to support her team while leveraging support to maintain the ongoing health and sustainability of programs that she has been pivotal in implementing.”
- Anjuli Solanki, Director of Community Programs,
“Gracia is a multifaceted, passionate, and nuanced leader. Throughout my time on the Toronto Ward Museum's Programming Committee, Gracia has cultivated a warm, supportive working relationship with me and others in order to meet our goals and co-create possible futures. Her commitment to the values that guide her work is commendable and it is a true joy to work together in any capacity.”