Maya Fennig


  • Program Year
  • 2015-17
  • Country of Current Residence
  • Canada
  • City/Town of Current Residence
  • Montreal
  • Current Position
  • Sauvé Fellow
  • Organization
  • Jeanne Sauvé Foundation
  • Profession(s)
  • Social Worker, PhD Candidate

  • Sector(s)
  • International development, Migrant culture, NGOs, Social justice
  • Language(s)
  • English, Hebrew, Spanish
  • Mentor
  • Laurence Kirmayer, Director, Social Transcultural Psychiatry, McGill University; Dr. Andrew Ryder, Concordia University
  • Interest(s) / Expertise
  • community, health, human rights, mental health, refugees, social work
Scholar email address
Impact Statement

Maya is dedicated to designing and researching innovative, culturally appropriate initiatives that advance the well-being of asylum seekers and minorities. She is particularly interested in the field of transcultural mental health and psychosocial support, with the goal of improving the access, equity and quality of mental health services for underserved ethnic and minority populations.


Maya is currently pursuing a PhD at McGill University’s School of Social Work, under the supervision of Dr. Myriam Denov. Her doctoral research examines the effects of social and cultural factors on Eritrean refugees’ mental health with the goal of developing a novel cultural adaptation framework for working with Eritrean refugees.

Maya believes that the most effective way to promote social change is by working within communities themselves. Maya has worked extensively in the psychosocial field in support of refugees and asylum seekers. Maya worked for two years as the research officer and coordinator of Empowerment & Resilience in Children Everywhere (ERICE), an Italian-Palestinian-Israeli research group working to promote the mental health of children and families.

From 2010 to 2012, Maya served as founder and executive manager of The Refugee Voice, the first media source in Israel authored by and for African refugees and asylum seekers living in Israel, one that expresses their voice and speaks for them in their own language. With the support of The UN Refugee Agency, Ha’artez and dozens of volunteers, the newspaper’s printed and electronic editions have reached more than 150,000 readers in Israel and abroad, raising national and international awareness about refugee issues. Maya hopes to advance her most recent project, which aims to train refugee community health workers to deliver mental health psychosocial support within their communities.

Maya holds a Master’s in Social Work (MSW) from Washington University and a Bachelor’s in Social Work from Tel Aviv University – both completed with honours.

As a Fellow

In alignment with their program’s theme of Public Leadership for Culturally Diverse Societies, the 2016-17 Sauvé Fellows decided to collectively explore the complexities of refugee integration in Canada. To advance their learnings, they led a critical reading group, conducted site visits, and met with a wide range of relevant stakeholders, including refugees and parliamentarians. Their team project’s goal was to develop and pilot an approach to refugee integration in a holistic and practical way that delivered both impact and thought leadership while espousing core values of agency, inclusivity, fairness and cultural sensitivity.

In tackling the issue of refugee integration and implementing their team project, the Fellows wrote a policy brief (which they presented to several ministers while in Ottawa) and an op-ed, produced a short film on refugee experiences in Montreal as well as organized a series of public events exploring refugee integration in Canada.