Dr. Sara Diamond
Chair, Research Advisory Committee
Dr. Sara Diamond is President Emerita of OCAD University, Canada's "university of the imagination". While sustaining OCAD U’s strengths in studio-based learning, Diamond guided OCAD University to become a leader in digital media, design research and curriculum through the Digital Futures Initiative, new research in Inclusive Design, health and design, as well as in sustainable technologies and design; built two additional campus locations and almost doubled the student population . Diamond implemented Indigenous and racialized diversity inclusion efforts, recruiting Canada’s first Indigenous chancellor and a Tier One Canada Research Chair; undertaking Indigenous and Black cluster hires, and ongoing priority hires and student recruitment. Diamond created a strong network of partnerships for OCAD University in the cultural sector, design industries, ICT industries, financial sector, health sector and government – in essence wherever design, strategic foresight and creativity are needed.
Diamond holds an ICD.D (Directors Designation) Institute of Corporate Directors and Rotman School of Management, University of Toronto, a PhD in Computing, IT and Engineering from the University of East London, a Masters in New Media Arts from the University of Arts, London, and a Bachelor of Arts, Honours, History and Communication, Simon Fraser University. In 2020 Simon Fraser University awarded her a Doctor of Science, honoris causa and she received the Exceptional Women of Excellence Award from the global Women’s Economic Forum. She is appointed to the Order of Canada C.M. and the Order of Ontario and received the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee Medal for Service to Canada. She has received two digital media “pioneer” awards, an Inspiring 50 award for the Advancement of Diversity in STEM fields (Government of Netherlands and Senate of Canada); and was designated a Canada 150 leader, champion and luminary and one of Toronto Life’s 50 Most influential in 2014.
Diamond leads and co-leads funded research projects and networks in urban data analytics (iCity), wearable and mobile technologies and applied data analytics, AI and visualization (.e.g. Centre for Information Visualization and Data Driven Design and BRAIN) and cultural analytics (supporting cultural industries, audiences and funding agencies) and was co-principal investigator on the Centre for Information Visualization/Data Driven Design). Diamond was founding Chair of the Mobile Experience Innovation Centre, founded OCAD University’s Imagination Catalyst Incubator and OCADU CO, its commercialization agent. Diamond continues to write and lecture on the subjects of digital media history and practice, visual analytics, strategic foresight; mobility and design strategy for peer-reviewed journals. Her artwork (1982 – 1995) is held by prestigious collections such as the Museum of Modern Art, NYC, and the National Gallery of Canada.
Diamond currently serves as co-Chair of Toronto’s Year of Public Art with Counsellor Crawford and is Chair of the Scotiabank Nuit Blanche Toronto Advisory Committee. Diamond has served the larger university community as Vice-Chair of the Council of Ontario Universities and through her membership on committees of Universities Canada. Diamond was a member of the 2011-2012 Council of the Canadian Academies' expert panel on the State of Science & Technology in Canada. She is a member of Toronto Regional Board of Trade and City of Toronto’s Smart City Working Group, and on the Government of Canada Service Advisory Council.
Diamond was the Artistic Director of Media and Visual Art and Director of Research at the Banff Centre, where she created the Banff New Media Institute (BNMI) in 1995 and led it until 2005. In this role she assisted with the development, incubation and support of many of Canada's leading new media companies, as well as international think tanks and collaborations in ICT, digital media and science research with artists, designers and scientists from Latin America, Africa, Asia, Central and Western Europe and the U.S.A., as well as Canada.