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EMBA grad brings Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion to the forefront

Jun 17, 2021

EMBA Class of 2021 Stachen Frederick "Everyone in the program had a part to play. We all belonged. There was a lesson to learn out of each moment."

Stachen Frederick, EMBA ’21, is one of the outstanding graduates in the Class of 2021.

Stachen Frederick, EMBA ’21, has always taken the road less travelled, and doing so has helped her to make a difference in the world.

As early as age eight, she knew her calling was to travel internationally and work with children and youth. At the time, she was living in the Caribbean. Encouraged to become a medical doctor, she initially directed her studies toward that goal. But it didn’t feel exactly right. While taking an elective psychology course at the University of Ottawa, Frederick discovered her passion was for psychology and social work, which led her to a career addressing the needs of children and youth in marginalized communities. Frederick is currently Executive Director of Weston Frontlines Centre, a charity that offers youth shelter in one of the poorest areas in Toronto.

“I realized that I didn’t have to go through this long pathway of medical school to achieve that outcome [working with children and youth],” said Frederick. “I share that experience a lot because people may think there is one route to your career, but there may be different paths that you could take to the career that you want.”

For her latest goal – to expand outreach programming for vulnerable youth in other communities – Frederick again sought the most direct route through Ivey’s Executive MBA (EMBA). The while-you-work program format allowed her to network with corporate leaders and build her business acumen all while continuing at Frontlines. Most of all, she wanted to challenge herself.

But when she started the program in August 2019, she had no idea what challenges would lie ahead. Roughly six months later, the COVID-19 pandemic hit and, like many others, Frederick had to deal with a lot of uncertainty. Among other things, she had to put her wedding plans on hold. Shortly after came another upsetting world event – the killing of George Floyd at the hands of a Minneapolis police officer in May 2020. Long passionate about addressing injustices in communities, Frederick said the Floyd tragedy gave her an opportunity to contribute to some rich class discussions about Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion (EDI).

“I appreciated the interaction that I had with my colleagues to share ideas. In addition to technical knowledge, you want to learn values. We learned about humility and EDI that I live and breathe in the daily work that I do with marginalized youth,” she said. “Even after the program ended, I’ve continued to have meetups with colleagues to discuss diversity and inclusion and what we are doing in our individual lives and workplaces. We share resources because everyone is on a continuum of their learning and we support each other.”

Addressing inequality on campus

When Ivey launched its Renewed Commitment to Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion (EDI) in August 2020, Frederick engaged in discussions on how to address racism, discrimination, sexism, and inequality on campus and at Ivey. She and Amoye Henry, an EMBA ’21 from another cohort, also provided input on the creation of new awards for self-identifying Black participants in the EMBA program.   

Frederick has been devoted to addressing issues that affect the Black community. In 2008, she founded BrAIDS for AIDS, an international social enterprise that focuses on HIV/AIDS awareness and resources for Black communities. Her community development efforts have been recognized with numerous awards, including the 2017 Black Health Alliance Legacy Award, 2018 L’Oreal Paris Women of Worth Award, and 100 Accomplished Black Women Award, to name just a few. She also received the Canada’s Most Powerful Women: Top 100™ Award from the Women’s Executive Network (WXN) while going through Ivey’s EMBA.

Although Frederick said she is humbled to receive the awards, she’s especially pleased that they put a spotlight on the causes.

“[The awards] allow for another opportunity and another platform for me to raise awareness of the youth in the community that I’m serving,” she said. “It’s a chance to highlight and amplify the voices of the young people.”

Now that she has completed the EMBA, Frederick is focused on using her new skills and knowledge to continue her community work. She has since launched outreach programming similar to Frontlines in Toronto’s Falstaff and Jane and Finch communities.

“I think the Ivey experience made me look at my businesses differently and I was already experiencing the changes while going through the program,” she said. “The kind of lens that the EMBA creates will help me to make the social enterprise stronger.”

Most importantly, she said she’s grateful to have been able to make contributions in the program that will help others, and to have in turn learned from her colleagues.

“My nephew once said to me, ‘What you are doing in your every moment is to your greater future,’ and I’ve always kept that in mind,” she said. “Everyone in the program – we all had our insecurities and we all came from different backgrounds – but we all had a part to play. We all belonged. There was a lesson to learn out of each moment.”