Zakaria is a community advocate who works towards building vibrant communities informed by inclusive public policy. Zakaria enjoys work that involves empowering youth and marginalized groups so they can influence and shape public policy decisions that have a social impact. Zak has a Bachelors degree in Political Science and Sociology and a Certificate in Social Work and will be graduating in the fall with a Masters in Public Administration from Western University with a focus on local governance in Canada’s growing cities.
Zakaria works as a Program Coordinator at Toronto Community Housing Corporation’s Community Economic Development Division. Prior to this position, he was an intern in the Mayor’s Office of John Tory in Toronto building connections with marginalized communities to improve community development initiatives. In the past, Zakaria served as the chair to the Premier’s Youth Council on Opportunities where he led a group of 25 young leaders across Ontario as they gave policy advice to over 18 ministries in the Ontario Government on policy development which could improve outcomes for youth across Ontario. At Western, Zakaria advised the municipality of Sarnia on the development of their policy response to the legalization of cannabis, and he is currently completing a major research project on the city of London’s ongoing efforts to inform residents of the upcoming use of ranked ballots in their 2018 election. Zakaria hopes to build upon his local and provincial experience with policy development by gaining senior leadership skills needed to launch impactful public policy projects in Toronto.
Dr. Tahara Bhate
Tahara Bhate is an early career physician with a dual practice in Hospitalist Medicine and Critical Care. As a faculty member at the University of Calgary, she is highly involved in undergraduate medical education, including curricular design in evidence-based medicine and simulation, while also undertaking a medical education fellowship program next year. Active in research with numerous publications, she focuses on both basic clinical research and quality improvement, with a developing interest in complex care delivery models which draw on her passion for health systems improvement.
A long-standing supporter of advocacy in medicine, Dr. Bhate spearheaded the development of a provincial advocacy program for UBC Medical students, now entering its 5th consecutive year. Supporting the movement towards a social accountability mandate in medical training, her concept of a competency-based advocacy curriculum was published in a leading medical journal, and later included in a national framework. Passionate about removing barriers to medical education, Tahara has been involved in numerous outreach initiatives, including organizing province-wide presentations from medical students to high school students in rural communities. Dr. Bhate holds a Bachelors of Science in Honors Biochemistry and a Medical Doctorate, as well as a Masters in Health Sciences (MHSc) with a focus on clinical epidemiology, all from the University of British Columbia.
Dr. Masha Cemma
Originally from Latvia, Masha Cemma is a biomedical scientist and a science policy professional. Recruited into federal government through the Recruitment of Policy Leaders program, she is currently a policy advisor to Canada’s Chief Science Advisor. Prior to her current role, Masha completed a Mitacs Canadian Science Policy Fellowship at the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA). At the CFIA, she helped built and supported a high containment laboratory network that span five countries and fostered international cooperation, knowledge translation, and exchange with the goal of strengthening preparedness to high-consequence pathogens. Masha was recognized by CFIA President’s award in Innovation and Best Practices and was selected as an Emerging Leader in Biosecurity with the John Hopkins Centre for Health Security.
Masha earned her PhD in 2016 from the Department of Molecular Genetics at the University of Toronto. During her PhD, she examined the role of autophagy machinery in host defence. Her research was supported by scholarships from the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada, the Canadian Institutes of Health Research and the Ontario Graduate Scholarship, and her extracurricular activities were recognized by the Gordon Cressy Student Leadership Awards. Masha received her first exposure to policy in 2014 through a fellowship at the World Health Organization.
Geneviève Chabot is currently the Deputy Chief Commissioner of the Canadian Human Rights Commission. A native of Québec City, she holds a B.A. in Psychology from Laval University, a dual LL.L./J.D. degree from the University of Ottawa Faculty of Law, and a Master of Laws (LL.M.) from Harvard Law School. In 2009-2010, she clerked for the Honourable Justice Louis LeBel at the Supreme Court of Canada. Prior to joining the Canadian Human Rights Commission, Ms. Chabot worked in the litigation department of Osler, Hoskin & Harcourt LLP in Montréal, before moving to the Yukon to join the Department of Justice Canada. Her areas of expertise include Aboriginal law, constitutional law, administrative law, and human rights. Very involved in her community, Ms. Chabot has held a number of leadership positions, including Deputy Chair of the Yukon Human Rights Commission, President of the Canadian Bar Association – Yukon Branch, and member of the boards of the Yukon Legal Services Society and the Yukon Public Legal Education Association. In 2016, she was appointed to the Federal Judicial Advisory Committee for Yukon.
Sophie Gagnon is Executive Director at Clinique juridique Juripop, a legal clinic promoting access to justice by offering affordable legal services to vulnerable populations. She previously practiced as a litigation lawyer at Norton Rose Fulbright, where she notably specialized in anti-corruption law.
Sophie holds a Bachelor of Laws and a Juris Doctor from Université de Montréal. She also studied international human rights at the London School of Economics and international law at the Saint Joseph University of Beyrouth. She remains involved with her almla mater as a member of the Dean’s Advisory Council, where she counsels the dean on development and strategic orientation.
Sophie is actively involved in her community as an advocate for social justice and public interest matters. She is Vice-President of the Women Lawyers Forum of the Canadian Bar Association – Quebec Division, where she promotes women’s stature and influence in the legal profession. Sophie also sits on the board of Gender Creative Kids Canada, an organization providing resources for supporting and affirming gender creative kids within their families, schools and communities, which she also represents in a constitutional litigation pertaining to children and immigrant’s rights to change gender markers on government-issued documents.
Sophie regularly comments legal news and social issues in the media, notably as a radio columnist for CBC.
Shawn works for the Government of Canada, currently with Infrastructure Canada as part of the team that has launched the Canada Infrastructure Bank. Previously, he worked at Finance Canada in the Financial Sector Policy Branch and as a corporate lawyer at Dentons in New York. Shawn holds an undergraduate degree in math from the University of Waterloo, a JD from Harvard Law School, and a Masters in Economics from the University of British Columbia. Outside of work, Shawn enjoys pub trivia, playing basketball and reading on his balcony.
Sally Guy is the Director of Policy and Strategy at the Canadian Association of Social Workers (CASW), a role that touches on government relations, policy analysis, and communications. She is honoured to work on behalf of a profession with a mission to advance social justice. Sally holds a Bachelor of Social Work from St. Thomas University, as well as a BA in English Literature and Linguistics and a MA in English Language and Literature, both from Queen’s University. Born and raised in Ottawa but influenced by her father’s Maritime roots, Sally spent several years on the East Coast before returning to her hometown in 2015.
Umang recently graduated with a degree in law from the University of Cambridge, having served two terms (2016-2018) on University Council, the highest governing body of the University. She spent a summer at Hootsuite as a legal student, assisting in international expansions, providing contractual support and improving internal legal processes. Umang’s prior degree in International Relations was from the University of British Columbia in Vancouver, where she spent a term abroad at Sciences Po Paris studying economics and politics of the EU, earning a Certificate in Social Sciences and the Humanities. As a Hansard Scholar, Umang worked for a Peer in the House of Lords in London as a legislative assistant, focusing on prison reform for women and increasing the representation of women in politics. She is committed to fostering inclusion in communities, having practised as an anti-discrimination workshop facilitator at UBC.
Umang has participated in the WTO’s Public Forum in Geneva, the Council of Europe’s World Democracy Forum in Strasbourg, and the Spring Meetings of the IMF and World Bank in Washington D.C. In 2016, Umang represented Canada in China as part of a five-member delegation at the Y20, one of the official stakeholder groups of the G20, and presented the negotiated policy document to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau. She is dedicated to increasing access to justice for immigrants, refugees, Indigenous peoples and other marginalized groups, and has volunteered with the B.C. Civil Liberties Association and Access Pro Bono. She has been named a Darpan Magazine Newsmaker 2016, Barclays Top 100 Women to Watch 2017, and an RBC Top 75 Canadian Immigrant 2018.
Since moving to Canada with her mother in 2009, Umang carries with her fond memories and values rooted in her childhood in India, which continue to shape and guide her.
Matthew Klassen is policy professional and problem solver. He was fortunate to be a part of the 2017-2018 cohort of the Ontario Legislature Internship Programme (OLIP) at Queen’s Park where he provided non-partisan support to Liberal and Progressive Conservative MPPs. He is currently working with the British Consulate-General and Department for International Trade in Toronto.
Matthew studied in the interdisciplinary Bachelor of Knowledge Integration (KI) program at the University of Waterloo. While studying KI, he gained a passion for human-centred design and design thinking, and was able to connect his interests in political science, international politics, and climate change. He also holds a Master of Science in International Relations (Research) from the London School of Economics. Matthew has pursued opportunities in museum design, international politics, and environmental policy. He has worked with a social enterprise that promotes credit harmonization among Canadian universities, as well as Sustainable Waterloo Region, an organization that works to build resilient and sustainable communities within the Region of Waterloo. He as also participated on boards like the Churchill Society for the Advancement of Parliamentary Democracy and the Millennium Journal of International Studies.
Although he has lived in various places around Southern Ontario, Mitchell and Perth County will always be his home. When not addressing policy challenges or working with interesting people, Matthew likes to work outdoors, travel or canoe.
Petros Kusmu is an accomplished public policy advocate, experienced strategy consultant, and international trade scholar. Born in Edmonton, Petros’ upbringing in Northeast Africa inspired him to pursue a Bachelors (Double Honors) in Economics & Political Science at the University of Alberta.
Post graduation, Petros was President and VP External of the U of A Students’ Union—a $13.5M organization representing +31,000 students. He successfully co-led efforts to change provincial election laws, bolster federal post-secondary education funding schemes, and create Ignite—Canada’s largest student-led consultative PSE project. The campus media acclaimed his Presidency as “one of the most successful terms an SU president…has had.”
Consequently, Petros was awarded a full-ride scholarship (Chevening) to pursue a Masters in International Political Economy at the London School of Economics. There, he consulted the European Parliament on trade policies and co-published his findings in a book recognized as 2015’s “Best Policy Study Produced by a Think Tank” by the University of Pennsylvania.
As a Senior Consultant at Monitor Deloitte, Petros operates at the intersection of innovation, exponential technologies and strategy for public and private sector organizations across North America. Leveraging his experience scaling startups nationally, he helps organizations achieve breakthrough innovations and business transformations.
Concurrently, Petros continues his activism—from representing Canada at the G20’s youth summit to providing pro-bono consulting services for local not-for-profits as a World Economic Forum Global Shaper. He is passionate about making PSE and careers in professional services more accessible to Canada’s underprivileged youth.
Petros was previously featured on CBC’s “Canada’s Smartest Person” program and is currently a member of the Banff Forum.
Anna Laurence currently works as Senior Manager, Government Affairs at Rogers Communications, where she focuses on Rogers federal government relations issues relating to broadcasting, copyright, accessibility, and cyber security. Prior to joining Rogers Anna worked in government relations with The Canadian Real Estate Association, dealing with a variety of housing issues and leading the internal coordination of the association’s annual grassroots lobby days – one of the largest of its kind in Canada.
Anna has long been passionate about politics and grassroots involvement. She first directed grassroots advocacy efforts as the Chapter Advocacy Coordinator of STAND Canada, a student led human rights advocacy group. She later pursued her interest in politics working on Parliament Hill while taking part in the Parliamentary Internship Programme (PIP). Since finishing PIP she has assumed various roles on the alumni Board, including as President. She is a board member of Voice Found Canada, a survivor led national charity that aims to increase awareness of and educate individuals and organizations on how to identify, prevent and respond to child sex abuse and sex trafficking. She also actively volunteers with the National Capital Region YMCA and chaired the organizing committee for the 2018 Y Cycle for Strong Kids. A former competitive fencer, equestrian and soccer player she likes to keep active. Having hung up her foil nowadays she teaches spin classes on a regular basis instead. A proud maritimer Anna may live in Ottawa but still calls Halifax home. She holds an MA in Political Science from McGill University and a BA in Political Science and Film from Carleton University.
Madeleine Lyons is currently the Director of Research, Policy and Accountability for Canadian Operations with the Canadian Red Cross. Within the organization Madeleine plays an incubator function, developing and implementing new capabilities focused mainly in the area of quality and information management. Currently Madeleine works to leverage data to equip internal and external stakeholders for operational decision-making, organizational strategic design and public policy guidance in the area of emergency management.
Madeleine holds an MSc from the London School of Economics, a BA (Hons) from the University of British Columbia and a certificate in French language and civilization from the Sorbonne. Madeleine has worked for a variety of voluntary, academic, private and public-sector organizations including PwC, the Liu Institute for Global Issues, the War Child Canada and the Canadian Consortium for Human Security as well as being a participant in the BC Legislative Internship Program. Madeleine represented the Canadian Red Cross in the finals of the Google.org Impact Challenge and has been the recipient of a number of awards, including Canadian Department of Foreign Affairs Summer Practicum Award, the World University Service of Canada’s Alumnae Seminar Award and the Community Care Foundation scholarship.
Madeleine currently lives in Toronto with her partner and Old English Sheepdog.
Charlotte-Anne Malischewski is a lawyer at McCarthy Tétrault LLP, where she maintains a broad civil litigation practice with an emphasis on civil and professional liability, class actions, and appellate law as well as an active pro bono practice with an emphasis on civil liberties issues. Throughout her studies and work, she has had a leadership role in a number of initiatives advocating for feminist causes and refugee rights. Charlotte-Anne holds a B.A. Honours in International Studies and Music from Earlham College, a Masters with Distinction in Refugee and Forced Migration Studies from the University of Oxford, and Bachelors of Common and Civil Law from McGill University. Born and raised in Newfoundland, Charlotte-Anne is also a fiddle player with a passion for promoting traditional music.
Born in Québec City, Anne-Marie (Ana) Rouleau recently joined the Government of Canada’s Advanced Policy Analyst Program, a rotating program for perfecting and training leadership. She currently works as an analyst for the Foreign and Defence Policy Secretariat of the Privy Council where she works on issues regarding North America.
Passionate about big democratic issues, she is particularly interested in citizens’ place in democratic life and the development of public policy. In this regard, she has participated in the implementation of consultations conducted by the Government of Canada on a potential free trade agreement with China. She has also taken part in election observation missions by the Organization of American States in both Peru and Haiti.
Ana Rouleau has a bachelor’s degree in international studies and modern languages, for which she studied in Mexico and China. She also has a master’s degree in international relations from the l’Institut québécois des Hautes Études Internationales. She was the recipient of a scholarship from the China Scholarship Council, which allowed her to take an intensive one-year Mandarin course at the Shanghai International University.
She places particular importance in her international experiences which gave her a more inclusive vision of the world. In her spare time, she is an apprentice ballerina who loves to learn new languages – she already speaks five! She is always ready to take on a new challenge. We are very happy that she will be joining the Action Canada Team.
Albertan Karl Schwonik has had an extensive and successful career in the arts, education and entrepreneurial sectors. In 2008, he founded the Wetaskiwin Jazz Society (WJS): a non-profit organization dedicated to bringing education to rural Alberta. While serving as President and Artistic Director, the WJS’s programs reached nearly 20,000 rural students and collaborated with stakeholders from local small businesses to international banks and multinational energy companies. Karl has served on a plethora of boards including appointments to the Government of Alberta’s Alberta Foundation for the Arts and Travel Alberta. In addition to teaching and working at several prominent post-secondary institutions, Karl currently serves as an Associate Dean at Medicine Hat College. He has completed studies in music, business and arts leadership at Cambridge University, University of Toronto, McGill University and the University of Calgary. Additionally, he has received numerous awards and honours including: the Lt. Governor of Alberta’s award, Queen’s Jubilee award, Canada Council and SSHRC grants, and was named one of Calgary’s ‘Top 40 Under 40’ by Avenue magazine.
A native of Toulouse, France, Julien Valmary is the Director of Grant Programs and Strategic Initiatives at Conseil des arts de Montréal – a position he has held since 2014. He is responsible for providing leadership on inclusive initiatives to the Conseil. With over 15 years of experience in arts management in France and Canada, he’s a theatre studies’ graduate of Université Sorbonne Nouvelle (Paris 3) Institut d’études théâtrales and holds a Master’s Degree in Performing Arts Management from École Nationale Supérieure des Arts et Techniques du Théâtre in Lyon. After a career in arts administration in France, he relocated in Toronto in 2005 and completed the Income Managers Program, a post graduate program in conjunction with the Centre for Cultural Management, University of Waterloo, and the Cultural Careers Council of Ontario. He has been with many arts organizations over the last decade in various positions as Administration Director, Head of Donations, Communications Director and Associate General Manager including at Tarragon Theatre, Théâtre français de Toronto, and since moving to Montreal in 2010, the Segal Centre for Performing Arts and Grands Ballets canadiens de Montréal.
His main interests and expertise fields: public policies in arts funding, philanthropy, arts management, inclusive policies, grants management and government relations.