TORONTO, November 9, 2015 — MaRS Discovery District today announced that Lekan Olawoye has joined MaRS as Program Director, Studio Y.

Lekan brings extensive experience in youth policy, leadership development and social justice, playing a pivotal role in delivering empowering youth programs in Ontario. In his seven years as executive director of For Youth Initiative, Lekan developed the agency into an impactful organization that provides programming to 1,000 at-risk youth each year. Lekan also served as the first-ever Chair of the Premier’s Council on Youth Opportunities, developing a multi-year youth strategy.

“MaRS is excited to welcome Lekan Olawoye to lead the Studio Y team,” said Dr. Ilse Treurnicht, CEO, MaRS. “His depth of leadership and commitment to youth advocacy is a perfect fit for Studio Y and its mission to develop our young changemakers and prepare them to tackle challenges from youth unemployment to economic inequality.”

Funded by the Province of Ontario, Studio Y prepares young people, ages 18-29, for success in an increasingly complex world. The program includes nine months of intensive training and mentoring to build and refine participants’ leadership, social innovation and entrepreneurial skills to spur social change in their communities and across the province.

“Now in its third cohort of students, Studio Y is continuing to challenge Ontario youth to push themselves to their full potential and to come up with ideas that can transform our communities for the better, both economically and socially,” said Tracy MacCharles, Minister of Children and Youth Services. “I look forward to meeting with Lekan and this year’s students to hear their innovative ideas.”

“I have dedicated my life to serving our community by striving to make a major impact at a policy, program and systems level,” said Lekan Olawoye, Program Director, Studio Y. “MaRS is a place where innovation and impact collide, so I am thrilled to join the MaRS team as we look for innovative ways of turning Ontario’s high-performing young people into our high-performing future leaders.”

As Program Director, Lekan will provide strategic and operational direction for Studio Y’s initiatives. He will oversee the development and evolution of the curriculum and work collaboratively with varied stakeholders and adjacent programs both nationally and internally at MaRS.

Lekan is a graduate of CivicAction’s DiverseCity Fellow program, United Way’s Creative Institute for Toronto’s Young (CITY) Leaders and is a 2012 Governor General’s Canadian Leadership Conference alumnus. He was named a Vital Person in 2012 through the Toronto Foundation and is a past winner of the Innovation award through United Way Toronto.

Launched in January 2014, Studio Y will help over 100 talented young leaders over five years to realize their full potential and transform their communities.

About MaRS Discovery District
MaRS Discovery District (@MaRSDD) in Toronto is the one of the world’s largest urban innovation hubs. MaRS supports promising young ventures tackling key societal challenges in the health, cleantech and ICT sectors. In the last three years, these ventures have raised $1.3 billion in capital and earned $640 million in revenue. In addition to helping startups launch, grow and scale, the MaRS community is dedicated to cross-disciplinary collaboration, commercialization of discoveries and driving ideas to impact.

For media enquiries, contact:
Lara Torvi
MaRS Discovery District