Experts and acclaimed scholars are always in high demand.
Dr. Kwame McKenzie has found this out, especially since accepting a job seven years ago as a senior scientist at the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH) after migrating from England.
The international authority on the mental health of immigrants is the medical director of underserved populations and director of health equity at CAMH, a director of equity gender and population health in the University of Toronto’s psychiatry department and a United Way of Toronto Board member.
As if his workload is not heavy enough, McKenzie has agreed to become The Wellesley Institute’s new chief executive officer.
“The Wellesley Institute is Canada’s only independent think tank focused on health equity with the resources necessary to make an impact,” said Liz Janzen, the institute’s co-chair. “We welcome Dr. McKenzie and look forward to realizing his ambitious plans to bring new energy and talent to the institute.”
In his new role, McKenzie will lead a team of researchers and analysts at the Toronto-based non-partisan research and policy institute that focuses on developing research, policy and community mobilization to advance population health.
“Kwame is one of the most brilliant minds and researchers in health equity,” said Akwatu Khenti, the CAMH director of transformative global health. “He’s fully versed in various dimensions of health equity, particularly the mental health and addiction component and he’s very much aware of the cultural sensitivities to the needs of marginalized communities. He’s just an exceptional leader with a vast wealth of knowledge, experience and expertise.”
The son of Dominican-born British nationals, McKenzie is looking forward to the new challenge.
“I believe Toronto is very fortunate to have an organization like The Wellesley Institute and leading it through the next period of growth is a real privilege,” he said. “Good health is something that all Torontonians want for themselves and their community. I want to place The Wellesley Institute at the forefront of understanding how social, environmental and economic forces shape the health of Toronto residents.”
CAMH chief executive officer Catherine Zahn said her organization doesn’t mind sharing McKenzie with The Wellesley Institute.
“CAMH and The Wellesley Institute both promote health equity and social change with the aim of improving the health of individuals and populations by targeting the social factors that cause illness and impede recovery,” she said. “Dr. McKenzie’s work at CAMH and The Wellesley Institute are very complementary and we believe that this arrangement can create powerful synergies that will have a positive impact on the normal health of Ontarians.”
Prior to coming to Canada, McKenzie was a psychiatrist at London’s Maudsley hospital, a mental health professor at the University of Central Lancashire and a senior lecturer in transcultural psychiatry at University College London.
Two years ago, the Commonwealth of Dominica Ontario Associations presented McKenzie with a Distinction Award for exemplary professional and community service.