Dr. Agnes Thomas is the Executive Director of Catholic Crosscultural Services (CCS), a Greater Toronto Area-based non-profit organization that provides programs and services assisting in the settlement and integration of immigrants and refugees. As the chief steward of CCS, Agnes is committed to driving impact for the 40 000 plus newcomers served by CCS yearly in their suite of programs and services. Agnes served in the not-for-profit sector for more than two decades locally and internationally. This includes her time at various L’arche communities in India, Canada, and the US, at the Yonge Street Mission, and at the Jane/Finch Family and Community Centre. She also serves on several non-profit boards and network tables in the GTA.
Dr. Thomas is a leading community development practitioner and academic with a passion for gender equity, community mobilization and transformation, and organizational change. She has been a long-time advocate for the rights of marginalized groups, both locally and internationally, championing the rights of immigrants, women, children, and people with in/visible disabilities or those in precarious employment situations.
In her leadership role, Dr. Thomas is committed to working with various partners to address issues of marginality to bring about transformational change in our communities by investing in people, shifting organizational cultures, and diversifying partnerships. Her areas of expertise include immigration and settlement issues, community organizing, governance, policy, strategic planning, community-based research, training, micro-enterprise, and the creation of tools for transformative learning initiatives for organizations and community leaders alike.
Her passion for advocating for the rights of marginalized groups led her to complete and receive her Ph.D. in Adult Education and Community Development with an award-winning thesis from the Ontario Institute for Studies in Education (OISE), University of Toronto. Her research examined marginality and learning in the realm of informal/cash work performed by immigrant women from Asia. She has a Masters (M.A.) in Critical Disability Studies from York University, and a Diploma n Social Development from the Coady International Institute, St. Francis Xavier University with this study and other community-based research under her direction; she was able to conceive and implement inclusive learning frameworks and analytical tools to listen to voices that are not traditionally heard, or understood.
Agnes was recognized as a Canadian South Asian Trailblazer and a champion for Gender Equity by the Council of Agencies Serving South Asians (CASSA), an umbrella organization of agencies providing services to the South Asian community, to celebrate South Asian Heritage Month 2019 and for organizational excellence in 2022 by the Ontario Heroes. Dr. Agnes is also a finalist for the Top 25 Canadian Immigrant Awards, 2020.
Agnes is a firm believer that everyone has something unique to offer and should be given every opportunity to participate and contribute tangibly to society. Agnes enjoys teaching, facilitation, coaching, mentoring, volunteering, writing, and photography. Agnes and her husband have three children and live in Scarborough.