About Jennilee Austria
Jennilee Austria is a Filipina-Canadian writer, public speaker, community-based researcher, journalist, settlement worker, youth mentor, and the founder of Filipino Talks.
She has a BA in International Studies from Trent University and an MA in Immigration and Settlement Studies from Ryerson University, and a post-graduate certificate from the Humber School for Writers.
She has worked with the Equity and Diversity Advisor at the Kawartha Pine Ridge District School Board, counselled newcomer families in the Toronto District School Board, the Toronto Catholic District School Board, and the Toronto Public Libraries, and served as the Settlement and Education Partnerships in Toronto Program Coordinator for the largest team of school and library settlement workers nationwide.
Her role as a Community Policy Analyst for the Filipino Youth Transitions in Canada project with the York Centre for Asian Research led to her work as a researcher with the HCDSB Pinoy Project to study the needs of 343 Filipino students, parents, and guardians in the Halton Catholic District School Board.
Combining her love of public speaking, research, settlement work, and mentorship, she created Filipino Talks. Through after-school programs for youth, “Letters to Mama” reunification videos, and professional development sessions for school staff, Filipino Talks seeks to build bridges between Filipino youth and educators. Her work has been featured in an episode of Dual Citizen— a documentary series “exploring the eureka moments of the Filipino diaspora.”
Jennilee is a member of the Filipino-Canadian Social and Community Service Workers Network, and a co-founding member of the Pluma Collective and the Filipino-Canadian Writers and Journalists Network. She was the editor for Hoy! A Philippine Islands Activity Book by YETI Arts (Youth Education Through Interactive Arts). She is also a freelance journalist who often covers youth and education, newcomer social services, and Filipino youth leadership. Her articles can be found in New Canadian Media, Rabble, Wanderful, and The Philippine Reporter.
With the support of the Ontario Arts Council, she is working on literature for children and young adults inspired by her newcomer students in the Bathurst and Wilson Filipino enclave of Toronto. Short stories based on her book can be found in Akdang Dayo, LooseLeaf Literary Magazine and TAYO Literary Magazine, and in 2017, an excerpt titled “Belonging at Bathurst and Wilson” won an emerging author’s award from the Ontario Book Publishers Organization.
And lastly, contrary to her last name, she is not from Austria. (You've probably guessed this by now, but she just had to make sure.)
Short Bio for Introductions:
After working in four Ontario school boards as a settlement worker, public speaker, and researcher, Jennilee founded Filipino Talks-- a program that promotes understanding between school staff and Filipino newcomer youth. She has a Masters in Immigration and Settlement Studies from Ryerson University and is a graduate of the Humber School for Writers. As a Toronto-based journalist, community worker, youth mentor, Little Manila tour guide, and author, Jennilee spends a lot of time thinking about Filipino teens-- and celebrating them, too.