Black Excellence Discussion Series

What does Black Excellence mean? How can we work together as a community so that African, Black, African-Caribbean (ABC) students can envision and feel empowered to reach their goals and achieve their full potential?

The OCDSB will be hosting a four-part discussion series focusing on the topic of Black Excellence. It will explore support within the OCDSB, role models in the community, student perspectives, and the role of community partners. It is our goal to work towards changing the narrative around Black Excellence and fostering conversations that would distinguish and demonstrate what this can mean.

These sessions will be livestreamed over YouTube and students, parents and staff are encouraged to share questions in advance to influence the discussion.

Date and time


Livestream Link

Questions/Discussion Topic Suggestions

March 10, 2021, 7:00-8:00pm

Black Excellence at the OCDSB

Video of session 1


May 18, 2021, 7:00-8:00 pm

Career advice


Google Form

October 2021

Student leadership

To be added

Form to be added

December 2021

Community Partnership

To be added

Form to be added

Session #2 - Career advice: Opening doors for others

For session #2 of the OCDSB Black Excellence Discussion Series, we invite four professionals to share their experiences and offer their career advice for students.


Introductions: Camille Williams-Taylor, OCDSB Director of Education
Moderator: Jacqueline Lawrence, OCDSB Diversity and Equity Coordinator


  • Dominique Dennery,  coach, facilitator, and management consultant
  • Dr. Joy Harewood, Director of Diversity, Equity, Inclusion and Belonging and Associate Clinical Professor at SUNY College of Optometry (former OCDSB student)
  • Dr. Kwadwo Kyeremanteng, a critical care and palliative care physician at The Ottawa Hospital
  • Faisa Omer, Mental Health Counsellor (former OCDSB student)

About our panel:

Dominique Dennery is an award-winning facilitator, certified management consultant and certified coach who has spent more than 30 years supporting individual and collective potential. As an expert facilitator, she specializes in difficult discussions within organizations engaged in cultural change. She is also the facilitator of choice for national inclusion dialogues on issues such as racism, access to housing and gender-based violence. In 2018, she was selected to facilitate the pan-Canadian federal anti-racism consultations that led to significant policy and program changes. In the last year, she has supported key efforts to build community capacity, develop networks/coalitions and engage decision-makers at all levels of government in removing systemic barriers to equity. As a coach, Dominique is particularly interested in facilitating mental health with racialized professionals and working with non-racialized people to become true allies. She helps individuals and groups learn to heal, empowering women and racialized people to reclaim and thrive. In addition to this work, Dominique is a sculptor and her works are in public and private collections in Canada and abroad. One of his most remarkable sculptures is the bronze bust of Toussaint Louverture, a hero of the Haitian revolution, commissioned for the 375th anniversary of the city of Montreal.  Dominique is also a board member of the Ottawa Art Gallery, where she advocates for racialized artists and cultural workers.

Dr. Joy Harewood, OD, FAAO, Dipl ABO is a graduate of University of Toronto, Trinity College, and of the UC Berkeley School of Optometry. She completed a residency in ocular disease at the State University of New York (SUNY) College of Optometry, achieved Fellowship of the American Academy of Optometry and is a Diplomate in the American Board of Optometry. She has extensive experience in hospital-based eye care and the first was the first fulltime optometrist performing inpatient consults at Northwell Health’s Staten Island University Hospital. Dr. Harewood then worked as a faculty member in the Department of Ophthalmology at BronxCare Health System. There, she taught optometry and ophthalmology residents in a clinical and didactic setting, and provided direct patient care. She was a panelist in the highly regarded “Race in Optometry’ series in the summer of 2020 and currently serves on the UC Berkeley Optometry Council for Diversity, Equity, Inclusion and Belonging (DEIB). She is currently the inaugural Director for Diversity, Equity, Inclusion and Belonging at SUNY College of Optometry, and an Associate Clinical Professor. She has published and been quoted in numerous articles, lectured widely, and is a leading voice in the push for diversity, inclusion, and equity in the optometric field. 

Dr. Kwadwo Kyeremanteng is a critical care and palliative care physician at The Ottawa Hospital. Dr. Kyeremanteng cares for the sickest of the sick patients in the intensive care unit (ICU).  As a researcher, he is interested in using ICU resources more efficiently and improving access to palliative care in the ICU. To help do this, he founded the Resource Optimization Network, a multidisciplinary research group working to reduce health spending in this area without compromising care. In September 2019 Dr. Kyeremanteng launched his ever-growing podcast “Solving Healthcare with Kwadwo Kyeremanteng” these podcasts feature interviews and discussions on the topic of improving healthcare delivery in Canada. Underpinned by the values of cost-effectiveness, dignity, and justice, these podcasts will challenge the status quo, leaving no stone unturned as we explore gaps, assumptions, and different perspectives in the pursuit of finding solutions to problems in Canada’s healthcare system.

Faisa Omer is a studio photographer and mental health professional. She was born and raised in Ottawa, Ontario. Her parents immigrated to Canada in the early 90s to escape the Somali Civil War. Faisa attended Severn Avenue Public School, Broadview Public School and Woodroffe High School in her youth. Her educational background also includes two degrees in Neuroscience from Carleton University including a Masters in Neuroscience. She has also just completed a second Masters, this time in Counselling Psychology from Yorkville University. Faisa also spent time at Algonquin College in Ottawa where she learned the technical aspects of studio photography. Faisa's recognized work includes the "Reclaiming Ritchie" project that showcased the racial divide in the west-end Ottawa neighbourhood and is currently exhibited at the Ottawa Art Gallery until August. She has also collaborated with the South-East Ottawa Community Health Centre on the "It's Different for Us" photo voice project around the south-end Ottawa neighbourhoods negatively affected by the pandemic. In her spare time, Faisa enjoys taking photos of her friends and family in her dining room.

Previous session

Session #1 - Cultivating Black Excellence at the OCDSB

Topic: How can we support Black students to overcome barriers and find opportunities to reach their potential?


Introduction remarks: Camille Williams-Taylor, OCDSB Director of Education

Moderator: Jacqueline Lawrence, OCDSB Diversity and Equity Coordinator


Mariam Abdullahi, former OCDSB student

Prince Duah, OCDSB Superintendent of Instruction

Tess Porter, OCDSB Black Graduation Coach

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