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5 Concordians named CBC Quebec’s Black Changemakers

The series celebrates and amplifies the contributions of Afro-descendant Quebecers across industries
June 5, 2024
By Kay Pettigrew, BA 22

Headshots of give Concordia alumnae who were named CBC Quebec's 2024 Black Changemakers. Clockwise from top left: Ayanna Alleyne, Shanice Nicole Yarde, Tamara A. Medford-Williams, Sharon Nelson and Cynthia Waithe

CBC Quebec has announced its annual list of Black Changemakers, and five Concordians are among its honorees. 

Black Changemakers is an editorial series that began with the goal of recognizing the exceptional contributions of Black “innovators, movers, shakers and connectors.”

The broadcaster invites nominations from friends, family and colleagues who wish to celebrate Black trailblazers in industries ranging from entertainment to corporate leadership. A rotating panel of judges — consisting of past Changemakers and selected community members — then narrows down the list, highlighting those who “have the courage to do things differently and the motivation to act.” The winners’ stories are shared on radio, television and online.

This year, the judges selected 22 Changemakers, including Concordia alumnae Cynthia Waithe, BA 92; Sharon Nelson, BSc 97, BEng 10; Shanice Nicole Yarde, BA 14; and Tamara A. Medford Williams. Concordia attendee Ayanna Alleyne was also recognized. 

Read on to learn more about their contributions.

A close up of woman with long black braids and a black shirt smiling to the camera.

Cynthia Waithe, BA 92

Cynthia Waithe is the vice-president of Black Wall Street Quebec, an organization that strives to inspire positive change by investing in programs and initiatives that promote education, economic growth and social well-being for Black individuals. She has also served as the president of Barbados House Montreal, one of the city’s oldest cultural organizations, since 2022. 

Waithe is actively involved in reviving Montreal’s Caribbean festival, Carimas, celebrating Black heritage and bringing together diverse communities to promote understanding and solidarity. She is the former president of Genesis Community Foundation, a Montreal non-profit addressing food insecurity and community engagement for socially excluded individuals.

A woman in a grey blazer is pictured with a large window behind her

Sharon Nelson, BSc 97, BEng 10
Biology; Building, Civil and Environmental Engineering

In addition to being a two-time Concordia alumna, Sharon Nelson is the assistant director of the Executive MBA program at the John Molson School of Business, where she was previously recognized with a Dean’s Staff Award for her outstanding service. 

Nelson is the vice-president of the Jamaica Association of Montreal, helping to guide the organization’s strategic direction. She regularly speaks at community events and meetings about issues pertinent to the Jamaican and Black communities in the city. In addition her long-standing work as a community activist, Nelson is a member of the L’Ordre des ingénieurs du Québec (OIQ). 

A woman with short black hair and black-framed glasses is wearing a green top and dangling earrings. She is smiling and is posing in front of a light grey background

Shanice Nicole Yarde, BA 14
Human Relations

Shanice Nicole Yarde is recognized for her significant contributions to social justice, education and advocacy. She is known for her work in promoting equity, diversity and inclusion, institutionally and in her community. She is also a spoken-word poet and author of the children’s book, Dear Black Girls (Metonymy Press, 2021), and a former member of the Stingers women’s basketball team (2009-11).

Yarde serves as senior advisor for Anti-Racism and Equity Education at McGill University and is a community activist. Among her many contributions, Yarde builds solidarity through racial-justice advocacy, promotes education through initiatives like the Black Foundation of Community Networks Scholarship Directory, empowers and mentors Black youth and curates the monthly “Jobs and Things” newsletter to share employment and other opportunities. 

A woman with black hair pulled back into two braids smiles at the camera. She is wearing a black blazer over a leopard-print top with black collar.

Tamara A. Medford-Williams, Cert 19, BA 20, GrDip 21

Family Life Education, Human RelationsYouth Work

Tamara Angeline Medford-Williams is the director of Black Community Initiatives at the DisAbled Women’s Network (Dawn Canada), an organization that advocates for women and girls with disabilities. She is also the director of strategic planning for Welfare Avenue, a non-profit addressing the needs of low-income and unhoused individuals, and a caseworker for AMCAL Family Services. 

Medford-Williams is recognized for her leadership, advocacy, community engagement, public speaking and mentorship. She is the founder of Miracle Makers, a community-based action group, and cohosts the podcast Fall Awake, which promotes social awareness of issues impacting Black and marginalized communities.


A woman with long, black braided hair smiles at the camera. She is wearing a black shirt with a colourful print and gold hoop earrings.

Ayanna Alleyne, attendee

Ayanna Alleyne is the chair of the Côte-des-Neiges Black Community Association, an organization she began attending as a youth. She promotes the intersection of the English- and French-speaking Black communities and is currently advocating for permanent funding for Black non-profit organizations in Canada.

In addition to her volunteer work, Alleyne advocates for positive workplace cultures through her employment at Health Canada, where she co-chairs the Black Employees Matter Network, an employee-led initiative governed by the department’s Equity Diversity and Inclusion Office.

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