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Tribute Award for Leadership

Liviya Mendelsohn

Headshot of Liviya MendelsohnLiv Mendelsohn gets things done. She makes things happen. And the best thing about her work – it’s all for people with disabilities.

She is a connector, an innovator and a fierce advocate for all people with disabilities. Since the beginning of her career, she has been dedicated to bringing the arts, sport, and culture to children and adults with disabilities in an accessible and appropriate way.

And through all of her endeavours, Liv has followed one defining theme: her leadership in removing barriers to inclusion and participation in daily life for people with disabilities.

As the inaugural manager of accessibility at the Miles Nadal Jewish Community Centre in Toronto, Liv created a new Access & Inclusion department. And that, in turn, led to The Citizenship Project. Launched in 2018, the program immerses young adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities in Toronto’s civic landscape, using creative engagement exercises to explore leadership, self-advocacy and what it means to be a citizen. More than 80 young adults have participated since the program launched.

Liv brought the US-based Reel Abilities Film Festival to Toronto in 2016. Focusing on the work and stories of deaf and/or disabled communities and filmmakers in Canada, the festival is now the largest of its kind in the country.

She expanded the festival’s impact by creating the ReelEducation Program, bringing films and Ontario-aligned curriculum focused on accessibility and equity to students across the province, from kindergarten to grade 12. In 2020, the program grew to include online workshops, virtual screenings and accessible education kits for teachers, reaching more than 30,000 students.

Liv’s tenure at the community centre saw the creation of more than 30 accessible programs. She began her role as a team of one and grew it to include five direct reports and 15 instructors.

In addition to creating opportunities for people with disabilities, Liv also was sure to include activities for other equity-seeking groups, such as LGBTQ+ and racialized communities.

She was an integral partner in the creation and execution of accessible vaccine clinics for children and people with disabilities in the city of Toronto during the COVID-19 pandemic, actively supporting the execution of the city run clinics, and personally ensuring that children and people with disabilities could access vaccines in a safe and appropriate way.

In her current role as executive director of the Canadian Centre for Caregiving Excellence, Liv is creating a movement to support caregivers across Canada. Her experience rooted in the disability sector has meant ensuring that parents of children with disabilities are included as part of their strategy – a major step, given that many parents did not feel they had a place.

Liv has made important achievements over the past many years – innovations that will reverberate positively in our community for decades to come.

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Did You Hear?!

EKO Spring Symposium is Back in 2025!

Every two years EKO hosts this pinnacle event for the child development sector and the largest gathering of professionals and stakeholders from Ontario and across Canada.

learn more about the event!