Office of the President

Andrew Petter, President and Vice-Chancellor

Petter's Perspective: Notes from the President


Emerging Thought Leaders program amplifies the voices of SFU’s women scholars

September 21, 2018

As Canada’s engaged university, SFU is well known for scholarly excellence, research impact and knowledge mobilization. Media outlets reach out to SFU Experts daily for comment on a wide range of topics from housing affordability to climate change to crime. An average of 85 SFU experts are interviewed in the media each month. However, too few of these experts are women. And nationally, women’s voices make up only 29 percent of those being heard on air or quoted in print.

As part of our commitment to diversity, equity and inclusion, SFU is working to change this by assisting women scholars add their voice to public discourse.

Launched earlier this year, SFU’s Emerging Thought Leaders (ETL) program provides training and support to women who would like to enhance their public persona and contribute their expertise on important issues.

The curriculum is led by Shari Graydon of Informed Opinions, an award-winning speaker, author and advocate. Participants take part in interview and presentation training, op-ed writing workshops and receive personalized coaching. They also have the opportunity to build their online media profiles with support from SFU’s Communications and Marketing team.

In addition to the skills practiced in the program, an enhanced public profile may also assist scholars in attracting funding or partners to support their research.

To date, 33 scholars have taken part in the ETL training, with the third cohort completing the program at the end of October. The examples below are just a few of the emerging thought leaders who have already had success both in increasing their profile and in publishing their work. 

Neha Shivhare (Professor, Education) published: The many benefits of meditation in the classroom an op-ed in The Conversation

Cecilia Sierra Heredia (Researcher, Health Sciences) published: How to protect your children from wildfire smoke, an op-ed in The Conversation 

Meghan Winters (Professor, Health Sciences) was featured on The Lynda Steel Show talking about how green spaces affect the health and happiness of Vancouverites

The ETL program is now accepting SFU faculty and scholars for the next cohort in 2019. An information session and ETL Storyteller's Lunch will take place on October 31 (11:30 - 1:30) at the Diamond Alumni Centre. Guests will hear from facilitator Shari Graydon, VP Research and International Joy Johnson, and ETL graduates who will share their experiences and successes with the program. If you are interested in attending, please contact Amy Lippett at

I urge all those eligible to consider participating – and let’s amplify the voice and representation of SFU’s outstanding women scholars.