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Jessica Ferne - IDRF (International Development and Relief Foundation). Toronto, ON, CA

Jessica Ferne Jessica Ferne

Director of Programs | IDRF (International Development and Relief Foundation)

Toronto, ON, CANADA

Leader in disaster response, international development, youth & women-led programming, and sexual health & rights



Jessica Ferne oversees an extensive global portfolio of humanitarian response and development initiative. As the Director of Programs for IDRF, a Canadian-based INGO, she has delivered dozens of programs serving people in need across South Asia, the Middle East, Eastern and Southern Africa, Eastern Europe, and the Americas. Throughout her career, she has deployed to Lebanon, Turkey, Pakistan, Nepal, Belarus, Zambia, Tanzania, Guyana, and across Canada.

Jessica currently serves on the Board of Directors for the Ontario Council for International Cooperation, an international development and education network working globally for social justice, as well as for Licensed to Learn, which provides over 3,500 Toronto & GTA youth with free peer-led academic support and leadership opportunities each year. She is also an ally volunteer with NU, a youth-driven collective aiming to diversify the sexual health and rights dialogue for GTA newcomer, immigrant, and second generation youth.

A passionate social justice advocate, Jessica has served in various leadership capacities in Canada and abroad, with a particular focus on emergency response; refugee, undocumented community, and criminalized community health; youth engagement; and sexual and reproductive health and rights. Prior to joining IDRF, Jessica held diverse roles with the UNDP, Bay Centre for Birth Control, Access Alliance Multicultural Health and Community Services, Planned Parenthood Ottawa, and many others.

Jessica completed her Master of Public Health degree at the University of Toronto, and an Honours Bachelor of Arts degree in Philosophy at the University of Ottawa. She has completed post-graduate studies in Advanced International Project Management (University of Toronto); International Policy Analysis & Strategic Planning (Carleton University); and Humanitarian Response (Harvard University).

Jessica is currently based in Toronto, and speaks both English and French.

Industry Expertise (5)

International Affairs


Government Relations


Program Development

Areas of Expertise (12)

Humanitarian Assistance

International Development

Disaster Management

Sexual & Reproductive Health

Refugee and Human Rights Issues

Women's Health

Youth Engagement

Human Rights

Policy Analysis

Public Health

Program Management

Non-Profit Leadership

Education (5)

University of Toronto: Master of Public Health (MPH) 2010

Health Promotion, Women's Health

University of Ottawa: Honours Bachelor of Arts 2006


Carleton University: Executive Certificate 2017

International Policy Analysis & Strategic Planning

Humanitarian Academy, Harvard University: Certificate 2014

Humanitarian Response

University of Toronto - School of Continuing Studies: Graduate Certificate 2011

Advanced International Project Management

Affiliations (2)

  • Board Member, Licensed to Learn
  • Board Member, Ontario Council for International Cooperation

Languages (2)

  • English
  • French

Media Appearances (4)

'Our duty to help'

Metro News - Toronto  print


Group launches relief campaign for East Africa

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Toronto group wants to engage with young Muslims on disability issues

Metro News - Toronto  print


The challenges of living with disabilities know no religious boundaries. That’s why a Toronto group is hoping to engage Muslim millennials across the country, talking about how they can help bring down barriers so everyone can live with dignity.

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IDRF's Director of Programs Speaks about the Challenges and Needs of Nepal

IDRF  tv


Excerpt from full interview

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Ebola Response: Household Protection Kits

IDRF & GlobalMedic  online


Joint Disaster Response: Household Protection Kits Distribution

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Event Appearances (8)

Saviour Complex: Navigating Religion’s Messy History & Current Role in Development

International Development Conference 2017, University of Toronto Scarborough Campus  Toronto, Canada


Reflections on Moving towards the Sustainable Development Goals

Development Drinks, OCIC  Toronto, Canada


From International Volunteer to Career: Pathways in International Cooperation

Go Global Expo  Toronto, Canada


Responding to the Syrian Crisis - our work in Canada and abroad

When Art mets MSF  Toronto, Canada


Witness: Standing Committee on Citizenship and Immigration

Standing Committee on the Federal Government’s Initiative to Resettle Syrian Refugees to Canada  Ottawa, Canada


Needs of Syrian refugees resettling to Canada

Town Hall: Syrian Refugee Resettlement  Toronto, Canada


Rewriting the Script: Queer-Positive Health Care in Action

32nd Annual Guelph Sexuality Conference  Guelph, Canada


Sex Work and the Urban Environment

18th Congress on Women’s Health Issues  Philadelphia, USA