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Sylvia Cheuy

Sylvia Cheuy
Sylvia is a Consulting Director of the Tamarack Institute’s Collective Impact Idea Area and also supports Tamarack’s Community Engagement Idea Area. She is passionate about community change and what becomes possible when residents and various sector leaders share an aspirational vision for their future. Sylvia believes that when the assets of residents and community are recognized and connected they become powerful drivers of community change. Sylvia is an internationally recognized community-builder and trainer. Over the past five years, much of Sylvia’s work has focused on building awareness and capacity in the areas of Collective Impact and Community Engagement throughout North America.

Recent Posts

The Thick and Thin of Community Engagement

Posted by Sylvia Cheuy on October 10, 2018

I recently had the opportunity to attend a workshop co-hosted by Public Agenda, non-profit organization based in New York City in partnership with the City of Toronto.  Public Agenda, “helps cities, states and countries integrate the principles, practices and tools of sound public engagement.”

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How the Lens of Movement Building Can Strengthen Community Engagement

Posted by Sylvia Cheuy on September 21, 2018

A common thread throughout my career has been a focus on building support and commitment for change on a variety of social issues.  I have learned that effective engagement rarely happens by accident.  More often, it results from deliberate strategies that include: making a clear and compelling case for change; continually communicating core messages through different channels to reach several audiences; and, offering simple ways for people to take action to show their support.  Occasionally, something magical would happen and our engagement campaigns sparked a groundswell of support that ignited passion and gave our campaign a life of its own.  Somehow we had done more than implement an effective engagement strategy, we had sparked a movement. 

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St. Catharines:  Creating a City-Wide Movement of Compassion

Posted by Sylvia Cheuy on July 3, 2018

St. Catharines Ontario is championing a movement to make their city one where all residents have an opportunity – and responsibility – to make their community vibrant, prosperous and compassionate. 

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Building your Practice of Authentic Community Engagement

Posted by Sylvia Cheuy on June 12, 2018

Community change initiatives are often set against complex and systematic problems – problems that cannot be solved in isolation and without authentic support from community stakeholders.

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Investing to Create a Network of Community Change Agents - A Case Study

Posted by Sylvia Cheuy on March 2, 2018

For more than 100 years, the Lehigh Valley, a metropolitan region in northeastern Pennsylvania, was renown as an industrial powerhouse, and manufacturers like Bethlehem Steel, Mack Truck and Coplay Portland Cement were its heart.  But by the 1980's, these industries had closed, moved out of the region or were downsized due to national and global competition.  The urban areas- Allentown, Bethlehem and Easton- went into a sharp economic decline, which lasted for nearly three decades.

By 2014 however, the city of Allentown was gaining global recognition for its “innovative, forward-looking approach to design and development.” The economic renaissance of Allentown is a testament to the innovative and entrepreneurial spirit of its ancestors.  The establishment of a Neighbourhood Improvement Zone (NIZ) in Allentown’s downtown core was the spark that launched the city’s economic revitalization, which has included: a 10,000-seat multipurpose arena, several office towers, restaurants, green spaces, restored historic buildings as well as residential and retail spaces.  Downtown Allentown is now “a regional centre of excellence for business, culture and metropolitan living."  In 2011 only 9,000 people worked downtown but by 2018, that number had grown to 16,000.

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Trust: An Essential Ingredient in Authentic Community Engagement

Posted by Sylvia Cheuy on February 12, 2018

I recently had the privilege to travel across Ontario to facilitate five workshops exploring an essential ingredient of community change: authentic community engagement.  Participants at each session identified community engagement challenges that were “top of mind” for them.   Common themes included:  finding adequate resources for engagement; needing to address diverse audiences and/or span vast geographies; retaining engagement once it had been initiated; and, a need for more capacity-building in this area.  A root community engagement challenge that surfaced was that residents and communities are often unwilling or, at best, reluctant to participate in organizationally-led engagement efforts. 

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