DOCTORAL STUDENT I ACTIVIST I SPEAKER
“IF YOU HAVE SOME POWER, THEN YOUR JOB IS TO EMPOWER SOMEBODY ELSE"
― TONI MORRISON
Rhonelle Bruder is entering her first year as a Ph.D. student in Social and Behavioural Sciences at Dalla Lana School of Public Health at the University of Toronto. Rhonelle’s research interests include gender-based violence prevention methodologies and community-based recovery and resiliency interventions for survivors of human trafficking. Rhonelle earned a Master of Science in Health Informatics from the University of Victoria and an Honours Bachelor of Science in Health Services Administration from New York City College of Technology. She has over ten years of public service, community leadership, and research experience.
In 2020, Rhonelle founded Project iRISE, a Toronto-based survivor-led organization that offers innovative skills and leadership development programs for survivors of human trafficking and gender-based violence and those at risk. Rhonelle's work with Project iRISE is inspired by her own lived experiences. She understands the challenges survivors face when trying to rebuild their lives and developed Project iRISE as a tool to help educate and empower survivors to reach their full potential. The nonprofit provides programs such as educational training, career coaching, self-esteem building, and one-on-one mentorship. The Survivor Leadership program is currently funded by Ontario’s Ministry of Children, Community, and Social Services to support Ontario’s comprehensive Anti-Human Trafficking Strategy 2020- 2025.
Rhonelle’s public service career includes serving as a selected member of Canada’s Delegation to the 65th United Nations Commission on Women's Status (UNCSW). She sits on the Board of Directors of HEAL Trafficking, a network of multidisciplinary professionals dedicated to ending human trafficking and supporting its survivors, from a public health perspective. Additionally, she is an Advisory Board member for Civic Action’s anti-trafficking task force, The Ministry of Education’s Anti-human trafficking workgroup, Sick Kids Hospital, Lotus Health Clinic’s Child and Youth Sex Trafficking Community Protocol Advisory Committee. She is also an independent consultant, trainer, and speaker on human trafficking, gender violence, resiliency, and leadership development. Her “What is Sex Trafficking” educational video provides an overview of how sex trafficking works and how victims are targeted and then groomed is now used by law enforcement, child welfare services, and the hospitality industry across Canada as part of their anti-trafficking curriculum.
Rhonelle's work has been widely recognized, with the 2021 distinction as L'Oreal Paris Women of Worth Honouree, CSPN’s Millennial Leader Award, and the selected as one of the Top 100 Black Women to Watch by the Canadian International Black Women Event. Her work has been featured on CBC, CP24, The Toronto Star, Flare Magazine, Global News, and many more
Human Trafficking/ Sexual Exploitation
Public Health/Community Health
Gender Violence Prevention
Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs)
Rhonelle is the Founder and Executive Director of Project iRISE, a grassroots not-for-profit organization