Yumi Kotani recently joined the federal public service, where she seeks ways to improve public policy through social innovation and human-centred design. She came to this work after an accomplished career as a collaborative leader in the not-for-profit sector, where she developed expertise in equity, inclusion and community development. Yumi has worked on several of Ottawa’s most complex challenges, including most recently at Refugee 613, where she brought together diverse stakeholders to support Syrian refugee settlement.
Yumi has promoted gender and cultural diversity within the banking industry, and led Equity Ottawa, a cross-sectoral initiative to help public and non-profit institutions become more welcoming for newcomers. She was also a key leader in the development of the Equity and Inclusion Lens for the City of Ottawa, a nationally recognized guide on how to integrate inclusive thinking into municipal public service.
As an engaged member of the community, Yumi has served as a member of many boards and committees, including the Investment Committee for the Ottawa Community Foundation, the Pan-Canadian Advisory Board for Women’s Worlds 2011 Global Conference, and as Director of the Board and Treasurer for Women’s Initiatives for Safer Environments, among others. Yumi is an editor of the book Resilience and Triumph: Immigrant Women Tell Their Stories featuring life stories of women who have migrated to Canada since the 1960s, which has been used as a textbook for university courses.
She holds Master of Arts and Bachelor of Arts degrees from Carleton University and the University of British Columbia, and was the recipient of UBC’s Outstanding Graduating Leader Award for spearheading Community Service Learning initiatives in Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside.