Deborah MacDonald

Young Lives Research | We examine and support youth wellbeing on a complex planet


Deborah MacDonald

Senior Research Associate & Manager (BA, MA)


Deborah MacDonald is our Senior Research Associate and Manager at the Young Lives Research Lab where she supports the collaborative, participatory action research activities of Dr. Kate Tilleczek’s Tier I Canada Research Chair in Youth, Education and Global Good. Deborah promotes connection and liaison with partners and participants across Canada and all around the globe, and contributes to the collaborative design, implementation and evaluation of a variety of multidisciplinary research projects and partnerships based in youth and community wellbeing, education, and better understandings of the impacts of the modern world on young people today.

Since 2016, Deborah has collaborated on multiple large-scale, international projects through YLRL. As Project Manager of the Wekimün School Project, she worked with the Chilean-based team and Canadian partners in creating and implementing an Indigenous-focused, socially and culturally attuned school and curriculum withfor, and by Williche communities of Chiloé, Chile.

Her ongoing work with Knowing Global Youth uses Project Based Learning approaches to further engage young people from the region of Chiloé in piloting and co-creating a unique, youth-centered curriculum about young people’s lived experiences.

In collaboration with partners from Ryerson University, Deborah’s work with the Rights for Children and Youth PartnershipYouth, Education and Wellbeing in the Americas, uses institutional ethnography to explore the impacts of education systems on the human rights and wellbeing of young people in the Dominican Republic, Jamaica, Trinidad and Tobago, Guatemala, Honduras, and El Salvador and diaspora populations of Canada.

At York University Deborah supports the innovative work of Ph. D student, Roxanne Cohen, Rooted and Rising; Post-doctoral Fellows Dr. Mark Terry, Planetary Health Film Lab, and Jim Stinson, New Journey to Save Fish: Oshki Maadaadiziwin Jaa Bimaaji’ut Gigooyike; and Visiting Research Fellow, Pablo Aranguiz Mesias. She also collaborates with the Students Commission of Canada, Tech for Good Canada, and Young People and the Anthropocene, among other partners with whom new projects are in the making!

Deborah holds a Master of Communication from the University of Queensland, Australia and a Bachelor of Arts from the University of Prince Edward Island, Canada.