These are some of the experts, leaders, facilitators, and storytellers coming together to help shape the conversations and skill building sessions that is the SCI agenda.
Founder, Institute for Change Leaders
For over thirty years, Olivia Chow has been an effective and well-known public figure, serving in Toronto’s municipal politics and on the national stage as a Canadian Member of Parliament. In 2015, Olivia Chow joined Ryerson University as a Distinguished Visiting Professor. Her work focuses on community engagement and leadership development. As a founder of the Institute for Change Leaders, Olivia and her team of 30+ trainers have taught community and political organizing to over 1350 people since March of 2015. She became an activist as a young woman, fighting for the rights of refugees and immigrants. For over 20 years, she was at the forefront of the ultimately successful campaign to achieve a national apology and redress for the discriminatory “Chinese Head Tax”. In 1991, Olivia became the first Asian-born woman elected as a Metro Toronto Councillor. She was re-elected to city council five times, serving with distinction for 14 years. While at City Hall, she served as Chair of the Community Services Committee and Vice Chair of the Toronto Transit Commission (TTC), among other senior responsibilities. Throughout her career, Olivia has been at the forefront, working for progress for all. She has reached across party lines and travelled across the country, forging alliances with municipal and provincial leaders, business and advocacy groups.
Adam Seth Levine
Associate Professor, Cornell University
Adam Seth Levine is an Associate Professor of Government at Cornell University. He studies civic engagement. He is the author of several papers as well as a book entitled American Insecurity: Why Our Economic Fears Lead to Political Inaction, published by Princeton University Press in 2015. That book won the 2016 best book award from the American Political Science Association for a book using experimental methods to answer a substantively important question. In addition, in 2011 he won the E.E. Schattschneider award for the best dissertation on the study of American government. Finally, he is also the president and co-founder of research4impact, a nonprofit founded in 2017 that connects scholars and practitioners in order to solve important problems and answer meaningful questions.
Public Servant, Community Organizer, Change Maker
Inspired by Mayor Gregor Robertson’s leadership to join Vision Vancouver, Councillor Andrea Reimer was first elected to Vancouver City Council in 2008, and re-elected in 2011 and 2014. She had previously served as a School Board member with the Green Party from 2002–2005, a first for the Green Party in Canada. In her original campaign for City Council, Andrea made commitments in three key areas: greenest city on Earth, a city of compassion and opportunity, and a city of strong communities. In her three terms on Council, Andrea has spearheaded a number of initiatives including the first ever comprehensive urban plan for the Downtown Eastside, a nationally significant municipal framework for reconciliation with First Nations and the urban aboriginal communities, the largest municipal childcare program in Canada and award-winning environment and open government policies. Prior to being elected, Andrea ran the largest membership-based environment organization in Canada, led the Organizing for Change initiative, served as President of a Credit Union and the Canadian Women’s Voter’s Congress, was trained by Al Gore, ran a small business, worked in service, retail and manufacturing, and survived drug addiction and homelessness. In her spare time she is mom to Roan, wife to Andy, and goalkeeper to the Van City Haulers.
Deputy Communications Director, Wellstone
Arianna brings her experience in digital organizing, political campaigns, and storytelling to the Social Change Institute. She is the Deputy Communications Director at Wellstone. Previously, she was the Director of Narrative and Cultural Strategy at TakeAction Minnesota, where she developed the digital program to include creative storytelling and political education. In 2013, Arianna began her career organizing at the neighborhood level in Minneapolis, working to direct city resources towards investment in communities of color. Her love for organizing and creative pursuits led her to launch Latina Theory, a podcast that elevates the voices of Latinas in politics and art. Soon after, she joined TakeAction Minnesota where she directed the statewide digital program as part of a series of successful campaigns, including passing earned sick and safe time in the Twin Cities. In 2017, she served as Campaign Manager for the winning municipal campaign of Jeremiah Ellison in North Minneapolis.
Arianna Trujillo Wesler
Principal of Movement Technology, Wellstone Action
Arianna is Principal of Movement Technology at Wellstone Action, where she leads on data and analytics trainings, including Data and Analytics Camp and their Online Coding Cohorts. She has over a decade of experience in community, labor and electoral organizing on and offline. Before coming to Wellstone, Arianna served as Deputy National Data Director for Bernie 2016, where she crafted the tech infrastructure behind the national distributed volunteer program, including the dialer engine which powered 75 million remote phone calls. An alumna of the 2008 Obama Campaign, the 2010 South Bay Labor Council and NationBuilder, her organizing philosophy is grounded in a firm belief that communities bound by empathy and driven by hope are unstoppable.
Executive Director, Social Venture Partners Vancouver
Dara is a nonprofit executive with over 17 years’ experience working in social purpose organizations who are driving meaningful, systemic change. Dara began her career working in international development and has travelled to over 50 countries, spanning five continents. Her CIDA-funded youth engagement work in Lesotho (Southern Africa), inspired her to return to pursue a Masters in Planning at the University of British Columbia, with a focus on using human-centered design principles in international development. Dara is a skilled public speaker who is regularly asked to speak on diversity and inclusion. A regular commentator on current issues, she has been featured on Global BC, CTV, CBC, CKNW, The Globe and Mail, The National Post, The Vancouver Sun, The Georgia Straight, and The Vancouver Courier. Dara’s notable achievements include: working for QMUNITY, Kids Help Phone, the United Nations Association in Canada, the City of Burnaby, and Cuso International.
Executive Director, Stonewall Community Foundation
Jarrett Lucas helms Stonewall Community Foundation, a leading LGBTQ philanthropy. In addition to being a prolific funder, awarding nearly $19 million to date, Stonewall builds the capacity of its grantees, offering free skills-based workshops and 500 hours of coaching each year. Jarrett, a certified governance trainer, joined SCF in 2010 as a consultant. Previously, he spent more than a decade supporting movements that center women, LGBTQ people, and communities of color, working with an impressive roster that includes YP4, Soulforce, and the European Commission against Racism and Intolerance. Jarrett has held leadership on a number of boards, recently serving as Vice Chair at the Astraea Foundation. His activism has garnered three Congressional tributes and has been profiled in acclaimed documentaries, Equality U and Generation Next 2.0. Jarrett studied computer and architectural engineering at Drexel University and has a certification in Nonprofit Executive Management from Duke.
Convenor, Consultant, Singer
Jocelyn Macdougall delights in convening interesting, meaningful, productive groups of people, and helps figure out how to pay for it! As an independent consultant in event and fundraising strategy, Jocelyn works to connect people with their passions, and then with brilliant organizations who are making those passions a reality. She believes that the arts are a price-of-admission component of a sane, healthy society, having a unique propensity to enable self and social reflection. She is also blessed to sing her heart out with seven other exceptional musicians in Vancouver’s hottest funk and Motown cover band, Queer As Funk.
Chair, Renewal Funds
Joel Solomon is Chair of Renewal Funds, Canada’s largest mission venture capital firm. With $98m assets under management, Renewal Funds invests in organic food, green products, and environmental innovations. Joel is a Senior Advisor with RSF Social Finance, a 2012 TEDxVancouver speaker, founding member of Social Venture Network, Business for Social Responsibility, the Tides Canada Foundation, and is Board Chair of Hollyhock. Joel founded Social Venture Institute at Hollyhock and has been producing it for 20 years.
Khari Wendell McClelland
Facilitator, Performer & Songwriter
Khari was born and raised in Detroit, he made his way to Canada over a decade ago and is currently based in Vancouver, BC. There, he quickly began his journey learning from and working with internationally renowned facilitators and artists. His passion for being of service to communities is clear, both in his musical life and in his facilitation work. Khari balances his time each year performing and working with communities as a facilitator. He has worked throughout Canada and internationally in Australia, The United States, The United Kingdom, Jamaica and Uganda.
BC Director, Broadbent Institute
Maria Dobrinskaya is the BC Director at the Broadbent Institute, an independent national organization that champions change through the promotion of democracy, equality, and sustainability, and the training of a new generation of leaders. A creative political strategist and effective communicator, Maria is focused on expanding and strengthening the ability of all people to be involved in the decision-making that impacts their lives. She brings over a dozen years of political experience to her work, having been involved in successful campaigns at all three levels of government, in electoral and issue-based politics.
Melanie Matining is a queer filipinx activist and community organizer on the traditional and unceded territories of the Coast Salish peoples. Her work focuses on the intersections of community-determined access and solidarity building for both for-profit and non-for-profit organizations. She convenes communities to create platforms for celebration and healing. In the recent past, she also worked as the Community Development Manager at Heartwood, a social space that was centred on community and movement building. Currently, she is an event producer for queer accessible events and is currently continuing her education in Business Operations at BCIT.
Mirabai Starr is a leader in the interspirituality movement. She’s perhaps best known for her translation of Christian mystics such as Santa Teresa de Ávila, St. John of the Cross and Julian of Norwich. She also draws deeply on the traditions of her Jewish heritage, Sufi Islam, Buddhism and Hinduism. Author of the award-winning God of Love: A Guide to the Heart of Judaism, Christianity and Islam, she will focus on the divine feminine in her new book, due out in 2018.
Reverend angel Kyodo williams
Zen Priest, Founder Center for Transformative Change Berkley California
Reverend angel Kyodo williams, an ordained Zen priest and the founder of the Center for Transformative Change in Berkeley, California, seeks to bridge the racial divides that exist within communities through the power of practice and what she calls “a radical dharma.” Her faith in the transformative ability of the individual grounds her conception of a “presence-centered social justice movement,” where developing greater self-awareness can also awaken a community. In her latest book, /Radical Dharma: Talking Race, Love and Liberation/, Rev. williams addresses racial injustice and the barriers to a socially just world while pointing to how one individual’s commitment can spark healing within a community — just as a single drop can transform an entire body of water.
Arianna Trujillo Wesler
Principal, Movement Technology at Wellstone Action
Arianna Trujillo Wesler is Principal of Movement Technology at Wellstone Action, where she leads on data and analytics trainings, including Data and Analytics Camp. She has over a decade of experience in community, labor and electoral organizing on and offline. Before coming to Wellstone, Arianna served as Deputy National Data Director for Bernie 2016, where she crafted the tech infrastructure behind the national distributed volunteer program, including the dialer engine which powered 75 million remote phone calls. An alumna of the 2008 Obama Campaign, the 2010 South Bay Labor Council and NationBuilder, her organizing philosophy is grounded in a firm belief that communities bound by empathy and driven by hope are unstoppable.
Member of the Legislative Assembly, Vancouver Mount-Pleasant
Melanie Mark is the first Indigenous woman to serve in the B.C. Legislature. Elected in a by-election in February 2016, with the New Democrat Official Opposition, she first served as the Deputy Spokesperson for Housing and is now the Official Opposition Spokesperson for Children and Family Development. Melanie is passionate about building communities that thrive on quality social services, prosperous economies, and environmental sustainability. Raised in East Vancouver, with a single mom, she has spent much of her life standing up for the Vancouver-Mount Pleasant community in a variety of leadership capacities. She is the former president of the Urban Native Youth Association and co-founder of the Vancouver Aboriginal Community Policing Centre.
Director of Digital Engagement, American Civil Liberties Union
Jenn is the Director of Online Engagement at the ACLU where she heads up digital campaigning and communications strategies, mobilizing the ACLU’s 5.5M supporters to fight to get the U.S on a better track. Prior to working at the ACLU, Jenn led digital strategy and engagement at the Astraea Foundation, Center for American Progress’s Enough Project, and the Human Rights Campaign. Jenn’s improbable career has included stints as a UNIX sysadmin, cab driver, and baker. Her proudest educational achievement was completing Computer-Circus camp as a teen, where she learned to eat fire, walk a tightrope, juggle, and code video games in Pascal and C – all life experiences that come in handy as a digital strategist for social change.
Executive Director, Pivot Legal Society
A month into law school, Katrina was looking for new ways to ground her education (which includes an MA in women’s studies) and contribute to real social change in Vancouver’s downtown eastside. She connected with John Richardson, established Pivot’s sex work and human rights campaign and has been with Pivot ever since. As Pivot’s executive director, Katrina brings legal strategy to Pivot’s campaigns and connects Pivot with the broader legal community. Outside the office, Katrina spends her time hanging out with her partner and kids. She also stays active by jogging regularly and dancing as often as possible.
Director of Development, Broadbent Institute
As the founding Director of Development to the Broadbent Institute Josh offers years of business and political experience to the leadership team. He has managed fundraising programs for campaigns at every level of politics and seen his candidates elected and debt free. Josh prides himself on his outreach a wide array of stakeholders to assist in the advancement of a progressive agenda. Outside of politics Josh is well-regarded fundraising consultant in the NGO sector specializing in capacity building, systems integration, and revenue diversification.
Publisher, Mother Jones
Steven Katz is Publisher for Mother Jones and its non-profit publisher, the Foundation for National Progress. He joined MoJo in 2003 after several years as Vice President of Development for Earthjustice, the nation’s leading non-profit environmental law firm. While at Mother Jones, Steve helped found and was the first Project Director for The Media Consortium, a network of more than 70 independent, progressive media organizations around the United States.
Facilitator & Organizer
Ajay is a movement builder and social artist. He has 15 years experience in empowering communities and creating social change in the non-profit, academic, government and social innovation sectors. A featured TEDx speaker and one of Canada’s top five volunteers in CBC’s Champions of Change contest. He has spoken to over 150 audiences nationally and internationally on topics dealing with social movements, social innovation, leadership, digital engagement, and healthcare transformation. He has co-founded many movements including: LeadNow, #EastVanLove, BeeVancity, RangiChangi Roots and most recently Changemakers Vancouver. He currently sits on the Leadership Council of the David Suzuki Foundation and the Advisory Boards of Kwi Awt Stelmexw, Vancouver Indigenous Fashion Show, and Social Change Institute at the Hollyhock Leadership Institute. He teaches social movement thinking at SFU RADIUS Ventures, Groundswell Social Ventures, Pearson and Bodwell Colleges.