Our dedicated social innovators are focused on facilitating introductions and wayfinding for students, faculty, teaching staff, alumni and partners focused on social innovation at UofT.

We work with academic, co-curricular and extra curricular programs across the University and external organizations involved in social innovation and entrepreneurship within our local region, Canada wide and globally.


Nicola Liu

Social Innovation Ambassador

Nicola is pursuing a degree in Applied Mathematics and currently works with the Career and Leadership portfolio at Innis College Office of Student Life. She believes that social innovation is relevant to any discipline and that multi-disciplinary approaches are vital in making social impacts. 

Nicola’s volunteer experience includes: 

  • Orientation Leader and Student Mentor, Innis College, University of Toronto 
  • Volunteer Teacher, Peace by PEACE, University of Toronto Student Chapter
  • Sergeant-At-Arms, University of Toronto Toastmasters  

Roshni Thawani

Social Innovation Ambassador

Roshni is a social-tech entrepreneur who is currently pursuing her Masters at the Faculty of Information Science in User Experience Design / Research / Usability.

She is a Junior Fellow at Massey College, Vice-President of Professional Development for Women in Science & Engineering, President & Founder of GO - The Entrepreneurial & Innovative Collective, Researcher for the Reach Alliance and an aspiring social innovator focused on the UN's 2030 Social Development Goals call for action.

Roshni has previously volunteered at:

  • University of Toronto, President of the Indian Students' Society
  • Adam House Advocacy Centre for Refugees, Media, UX, and Public Relations
  • International Development Intern at the Darjeeling Social Development Centre
  • Youth Advocacy Intern, Peacebuilders International

Contact: roshni.thawani@mail.utoronto.ca

Sofia Lazarte Abarca_Headshot

Sofia Lazarte Abarca

Social Innovation Ambassador

Sofia believes that the positive impact of business on our society and environment has never been more important. She is in her second year of an MBA at the Rotman School of Management, majoring in Social Impact and Sustainability.

Before coming to Canada, she worked for 7 years in financial services in Peru, in continuous improvement projects and operations strategy.

Sofia’s past and future projects include:

  • Volunteer scuba diver with Dive Against Debris as part of the PADI Project Aware Program.
  • Currently volunteering with a tech start-up that offers software as a solution for impact-focused companies.
  • In the winter/spring term she will be working as a research assistant intern at boutique design thinking studio for the good of the planet.

Contact: sofia.lazarte@rotman.utoronto.ca

Madi Frost

Madi Frost

Assistant Dean of Student Life at Innis College

Madi is a full-time U of T staff member and part-time student, who is pursuing her Masters at the Ontario Institute for Studies in Education. 

Madi oversees a number of programs at Innis College:

  • Her programs focus on equity and inclusion, university transition, leadership development, mentorship, career education, and community engagement.
  • She is interested in exploring how social innovation intersects with these different portfolios and supports the Agency in delivering programming and managing the Social Innovation Skills Certificate. 
  • Madi also volunteers with U of T’s Women’s Association. 

Contact: madi.frost@utoronto.ca

Cindy Ross Pedersen

Cindy Ross Pedersen

Executive Director

Cindy is a former tech entrepreneur who successfully sold her company in 2006, retired early in 2008 to refocuse on giving back.

She is a Senior Fellow Massey College, Past-President of the University of Toronto Alumni Association, supporter and community member of the Centre for Social Innovation and mentors students, alumni and entrepreneurs.

Cindy has previously volunteered at:

  • Laurier University, Schlegel Centre for Entrepreneurship as the Entrepreneur in residence
  • Advisory Committee Chair, Major Gifts, Amnesty International Canada
  • Consultant Habitat for Humanity Toronto

Contact: cindy@theagencyuoft.ca