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Program Manager, the Community Research Platform, Leora Sas van der Linden

Get to know Leora Sas van der Linden, the Community Research Platform (CRP)'s program manager

Leora talks about a day in her life, the work being done by the CRP and what she considers her dream trip.

Feb 23, 2022


  1. What did you do before you came to Mac?

Before joining Mac in October 2019, I worked for the YMCA of Greater Toronto where I was Manager of Newcomer Youth Settlement Services.   In this role, I oversaw a multi-sited, government funded, leadership-based settlement program for newcomer and refugee youth who were settling in the Greater Toronto Area. This program engaged and supported more than 500 youth and their families in each year.


  1. What does a day in your life look like as the program manager of the community research platform? 

The Community Research Platform (CRP) is a collaborative initiative between the Faculty of Social Sciences and five local community organizations.  Through the platform, researchers, students, and community experts work together to advance research with a social purpose.  A typical day for me might include chairing a meeting with one of our five research work groups, developing and fostering partnerships with diverse university and community stakeholders, liaising with diverse researchers and community partners to support all aspects of a community-engaged research project or knowledge mobilization activity, helping to put together a grant application for partnered research, and supporting placement students.  


  1. What’s your favourite part of your job?

There are many things I really like about my job. I will highlight two. First, I love that my role sits at the intersection between university and community activity. Even during the pandemic, I have been able to meet (virtually) so many interesting and inspiring folks at Mac and in the community. I have had the pleasure of bringing together scholars and community experts to leverage their respective knowledge and expertise to produce tangible benefits for Hamiltonians (and beyond).  Second, I really enjoy working with students. Whether a Mitacs intern, Research Assistant, or placement student, I admire students’ resolve and passion for engaging in research that addresses issues they feel strongly about.      


  1. Are there any interesting projects you’re working on right now that you can share with us?

Yes! We have so many interesting projects on the go right now. I’d like to highlight two very timely projects that the CRP is helping to facilitate.  The Nurturing Good Beginnings Project is a collaboration between the YWCA Hamilton, Dr. Tina Moffat and MA student Isabel Dewey. The project seeks to understand the impact of the YWCA’s Good Beginnings support program for post-partem birthing parents through quantitative and qualitative research.  The project is part of a broader interest in addressing pre- and post-natal needs of birthing parents, including those experiencing homelessness, poverty, and substance use issues, in Hamilton.  Last spring, the CRP worked with the YWCA and researchers Mary Elizabeth Vaccaro, Drs. Jennie Vengris and Tina Moffat among others to organize a “call to action” to mobilize resources for people experiencing pregnancy and homelessness. 

The Emotions Matter study is a collaboration between CMHA Hamilton and Dr. Diana Singh. In phase one, the research team surveyed mental health workers at several CMHA branches to better understand the emotional labour requirements (a type of work activity that requires human service workers to effectively display certain emotions, while at the same time internally suppressing other felt emotions) of their jobs and the consequences. The results of the survey have been used to design enhanced workplace mental health supports. Out of this project came an awareness that this research would likewise be important for other frontline workers, such as public library workers, and was subsequently adapted for the public library context.

The CRP is also currently facilitating 18 student placements with CRP partners as part of the Experience Venture initiative. Projects include investigating the role of public libraries in food security, assisting with the development of enhanced gender-specific harm reduction programs and practices within YWCA Hamilton’s transitional living program and overnight drop-in space, investigating the role of peer support programs in supporting student mental health with the CMHA Hamilton and supporting the John Howard Society of Ontario’s All 4 One Youth Justice Program research and the Transitions to Care community consultation and stakeholder engagement process.


  1. Random question. If you could travel to anywhere in the world, where would you go?

Hands down Peru! After completing my MA, I moved to Northern Peru to volunteer with a small NGO in an impoverished coastal community. I worked at an elementary school where I taught English and organized children’s extra-curricular programming. I lived with a family in the nearby city of Piura.  I am still in good touch with my Peruvian ‘parents and siblings’ and would love to have the opportunity to visit them and take my own children to see beautiful Peru.