About Rick Tobias

The official bio

Dr. Rick Tobias is one of Canada’s best-known advocates for people whose lives are defined by poverty and exclusion. With credibility earned through front-line rick photo croppedexperience and innovative leadership, he has involved thousands in a vision for lasting change for people and communities.

Since 1983 Rick has served at Yonge Street Mission in Toronto. In 2012, after 23 years as CEO, he took on a new role as Community Advocate. Rick’s aptitude for communicating faith-based values and vision draws in people of all faiths and with no specific faith.

Rick’s insights and convictions spark commitments in others he meets while speaking, consulting, and mentoring and in 25 years of teaching at Tyndale University College and Seminary. Those moved to act include business and religious leaders, church-goers and secular audiences, students and scholars, social service managers and front-line workers.

In addition to family and work, Rick’s key interests are motorcycling, music, and deepening his understanding of personal spirituality.

Summary C.V.

Rick Tobias is a native of Saint John, NB. Prior to beginning his work at YSM in 1983, Rick studied and ministered in his home town, and in Coldbrook, NS, Chicago and Halifax, N.S.

Ministry at The Yonge Street Mission

  • Community Advocate – 2012-present.
  • President and CEO – 1989-2012
  • Evergreen Centre for Street Youth – 1983-1989

Other formal ministry experience

  • Church planting pastor, Coldbrook, NS 1973-1977
  • Founder, Baptist Inner City Ministries, Saint John, NB 1977-1979
  • Student intern, La Salle Street Church, Chicago, 1979-80
  • Urban education staff, Acadia Divinity College, 1980-1981


  • Bachelor of Arts degree from Acadia University in 1977
  • Master of Divinity degree from Acadia Divinity College in 1981
  • Certificate in Urban Pastoral Ministry in 1980 from SCUPE (Seminary Consortium for Urban Pastoral Education), Chicago Il.


Since 1985 Rick has been an adjunct professor of Urban Missiology at Tyndale University College & Seminary. He also has been a guest lecturer at Arrow leadership several times, and has taught as a guest in several graduate and undergraduate institutions and professional gatherings for groups from various branches of Christian faith traditions. Since 1985 Rick has been a Fellow of The CASE Institute.


Rick has been singled out for several significant awards, as well as many heartfelt honours from his peers and associates. Among the most visible honours are:

  • 2000 – Leadership Award – Atlantic Baptist University, Moncton, NB (now Crandall University).
  • 2003 – Honourary Doctor of Divinity degree – McMaster University
  • 2009 – Honourary Degree Recipient- Humber College
  • 2012 – Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Medal
  • 2012 – Honourary Doctor of Laws degree – York University

Speaking and Consulting

  • More than 1,500 speaking engagements across Canadaon issues pertaining to urbanization, the poor, Youth at Risk, and Violence against women and children.
  • Staff training events and consultancy for Church bases agencies serving the poor in Canada as well as with other not-for-profits and direct service agencies.
  • Frequent conference speaker and guest on religious and mainstream media.
  • Have spoken, conducted staff training, or, presented workshops, or consulted to ministries in nine other countries



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