Dr. Sara Diamond
President OCADU & Founder BNMI
Born in New York City, USA, Diamond was raised in Toronto, Ontario, Canada, where her father was the Executive Director of the Jewish Family and Child Service and her mother a professor at the University of Toronto. Diamond has an undergraduate Honours BA in Communications and History from Simon Fraser University, a master’s degree in Digital Media Theory from the University of the Arts, London and a PhD from SMARTlab at the University of East London. Diamond’s PhD in Computing, Information Technology and Engineering, from the University of East London, England, has a focus on data visualization.
Diamond was the Artistic Director of Media and Visual Art and Director of Research at the Banff Centre, where she created the Banff New Media Institute (BNMI) in 1995 and led it until 2005. Diamond taught at Emily Carr Institute of Art and Design, at Capilano College, at the California Institute for the Arts and remains an Adjunct Professor at UCLA and at UCD.
She is a member of the Royal Canadian Academy of Arts. In 2012 she was made a member of the Order of Ontario.
Founded and led the international Banff New Media institute from 1995–2005, establishing research and commercialization summits of artists, designers, scientists and companies, practice based and research workshops, creative co-productions, laboratories and research in new media. Diamond also led Ontario College of Art and Design University (OCAD U) to retain its traditional strengths in art and design, while transforming the university to become a leader in STEAM+D (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, Math, Medicine and Design), with capacities in digital media, design research and curriculum. She initiated and funding the Digital Futures Initiative and the Digital Media Research and Innovation Institute; supported OCAD U’s unique research in Inclusive Design and design for health. She collaborated with Indigenous colleagues to develop the Indigenous Visual Culture Program, with correlative prioritization of Indigenous knowledge and culture at OCAD U.
At OCAD U, Diamond led three strategic plans with resulting scorecards and metrics, new vision and mission, brand development, related academic, research, capital and digital infrastructure strategies and implementation plans, multi-year forecasts. The three projects were: Smart Communities as Platform Co-operatives, Housing Typology Innovations, and Culture Creates Bonds.
Diamond is founding Chair of the Mobile Experience Innovation Centre and current co-chair (with RBC). She is co-principal investigator on the Centre for Information Visualization/Data Driven Design, an OCAD U/York University major initiative and sits on the board of the National Centre of Excellence GRAND. Diamond continues to write and lecture on the subjects of digital media history, digital media, strategic foresight; mobility and design strategy for peer-reviewed journals and acts as a reviewer and evaluator for IEEE and ACM conferences and journals; SSHRC, CFI and the Canada Research Chair programs. Her artwork is held by prestigious collections such as the Museum of Modern Art, NYC and the National Gallery of Canada.
Diamond’s work as an artist was shown in exhibitions including at the National Gallery of Canada, the Museum of Modern Art, and the Vancouver Art Gallery. In 1992, Diamond’s work was shown in a retrospective titled Memories Revisited, History Retold, organised by the National Gallery of Canada. During her time as an undergraduate student at Simon Fraser University, Diamond created the Women’s Labour History Project, which, beginning in 1978, collected the oral histories of women who were active in the trade union movement, published resources on the women, toured a photo exhibition, and produced videos of the histories. The project is now housed in the Simon Fraser University Archives.
Sara has been an inspiration and mentor to artists, designers, multimedia and technology developers for decades, and a model leader in the university sector showing a way forward for the Arts in the future of education!