Advisory Team


The Institute depends on the support of individuals and organizations who see the importance of building capacity for inclusive social change. Key supporters include:


The United Steel Workers - Canada

The USW is the largest private sector union in North America with more than 225,000 members in Canada and more than 800,000 members continent-wide. The USW is Canada's most diverse union, representing men and women working in every sector of the economy. USW members work in nearly every industry and in every job imaginable, in all regions of the country. The USW stands for unity and strength for workers. USW is a key supporter of the Institute for Change Leaders because USW believes in the next generation of community organizers.




Unifor is Canada’s largest private sector union, with more than 310,000 members across the country, working in every major sector of the Canadian economy. Unifor brings a modern approach to unionism: adopting new tools, involving and engaging our members, and always looking for new ways to develop the role and approach of our union to meet the demands of the 21st century. Unifor believes every person of working age in Canada has a right to a good job and the benefits of economic progress - and that is why Unifor supports the work the Institute for Change Leaders is undertaking.



Dave Samuels

Dave is a partner at Birch Hill Equity. Dave is Chairman of Distinction Group and also serves on the Board of Directors of Creation Technologies, Sigma Systems and Softchoice.  He has also served on the Board of Aquaterra, EISI and was Chairman of Shred-it International. Prior to joining Birch Hill, Dave had over 15 years of experience in private equity, operations, consulting and investment banking. Dave’s experience includes serving as President, Rogers Cable (High-Speed Internet Access) and working at McKinsey & Company and Morgan Stanley. Dave received his MBA from Harvard Business School and his HBA from the Richard Ivey School of Business, Western University. Dave believes in the Ganz-model of organizing, and building strong communities that can advocate for their needs.




Ontario's Professional Employees' Union

AMAPCEO is the Association of Management, Administrative and Professional Crown Employees of Ontario, representing 13,100 professional and supervisory public servants. As an Association of accomplished professionals, AMAPCEO's aim as an organization is to defend their members’ rights, protect Ontario’s public services and advocate for better working conditions for all. AMAPCEO is aligned with the Institute for Change Leaders' mission to build stronger democratic and civic engagement in communities across Ontario. 



The Brookfield Institute

The Brookfield Institute for Innovation + Entrepreneurship (BII+E) is dedicated to making Canada the best country in the world to be an innovator or an entrepreneur.  While the institute focuses on all aspects of innovation and entrepreneurship, it endeavours to provide special attention to youth-focused problems, educational partnerships, programs and initiatives. The Brookfield Institute supports the Institute for Change Leaders as a form of social innovation that is critical to Canada's future.

Board of Directors 

  • Olivia Chow
  • Melanie Panitch
  • John Beebe
  • Susan Kwong
  • Betty Won
  • William Flores
  • John Chan
  • Sean Meagher
  • Bob Gallagher
  • Rizwan Tufail

Olivia Chow

In a political career that began in 1985, Olivia Chow has been one of Canada’s most effective and well known public figures. She now leads the Institute’s educational initiatives.  In 1991, Olivia became the first Asian-born woman elected as a Metro Toronto Councilor. 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. First elected to Parliament in 2006, Olivia won re-election twice.  In Parliament, her Early Learning and Child Care Bill laid the legislative foundation for a universal, high quality, affordable and non-profit national childcare program.  She also pushed for faster family reunification and giving a chance for immigrants to succeed through recognition of foreign credentials and employment initiatives. 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. Outside the political sphere, Olivia is known as a tireless spokesperson, fundraiser and champion of numerous charities such as the Canadian Cancer Society and related charities, Centre for Victims of Torture, Asian Community AIDS Service and Culture Link.

Melanie Panitch

Melanie Panitch has been an activist, advocate, researcher, and educator with strong roots in the disability rights movement and broad international experience. In November of 2015, I was appointed the John C. Eaton Chair in Social Innovation and Entrepreneurship. Melanie was the founding director of Ryerson’s School of Disability Studies from 1999-2011. Melanie has been central to embedding social innovation in the Faculty of Community Service's curriculum and fostering international student engagement for social innovation at Ryerson University. Melanie has a BA from the University of Manitoba, a Post-Graduate Certificate in Education from the University of London, and an MSW from Carleton University. Melanie completed graduate work at the Hunter College School of Social Work, receiving a Doctorate in Social Welfare from the City University of New York Graduate Centre.

John Beebe

John’s passion for building strong communities has led him to work which spans many worlds including education, community organizing, photography and politics. He began his formal political engagement working for Congress in the United States where he saw first-hand the benefits that people who can effectively engage the political system derived from it. And, on the flipside—the disadvantages for those who remain on the outside. John’s work has all been tied together by a belief in strengthening people’s understanding of the power that they have. John pursued this work at Samara Canada and is currently a Senior Advisor at Ryerson's Democratic Engagement Exchange.

John Chan

John was born in Singapore and educated in the U.K. There he earned a Bachelor and Master Degree in Electronic Engineering. John is also a current member of the Ontario Society of Professional Engineers (P.Eng). Early in his career, John worked for many major Canadian corporations such as Sony, Bell Canada, BCSI, Motorola, BNS, UBS, and more. Through these experiences, he acquired his management knowledge and an understanding of corporate structures and culture. Later, John worked as a Senior Sales Director for the Asia Pacific region and Japan at the major multinational Canadian Software company, Open Text. Here he was able to motivate and lead his team and successfully grew the business in Asia. Through his accomplishments in sales and management, John was recognized and inducted into his company’s President Club. Outside of work, John is also an avid freelance photographer and has often used his skill and passion to take photos for numerous charity events. Since the passing of his wife, John now dedicates his time as a volunteer at Sunnybrook Hospital and also assists new immigrants in learning English and understanding Canadian culture.

Sean Meagher

Sean Meagher has been President of Public Interest since 2002. During that time, he has managed a host of innovative projects for the not-for-profit and public sectors. Sean has also developed public policy in areas as diverse as food security, child poverty, seniors’ services, tax policy, employment programs, youth services, and recreation. In the past, Sean has worked as a community organizer, a political staffer and an Internet developer. In the early 1990s, Sean was chief of staff to provincial cabinet ministers, including the minister of energy and the government house leader. Sean has worked on a variety of community and organizational development projects for:

  • The City of Toronto
  • United Way of Greater Toronto
  • United Way of Canada
  • Toronto Community Housing
  • Toronto and York Region Labour Council

Bob Gallagher

Bob Gallagher has a long history as a communications specialist, queer activist, political strategist and academic. He co-founded the Campaign for Equal Families and Canadians for Equal Marriage. Bob also helped found the Gay Lesbian Bi Youth Line and for years was a director of Buddies In Bad Times Theatre. Bob was Chief of Staff to Jack Layton and the Federal NDP for three election cycles. Previously, Bob was Executive Assistant to Olivia Chow at Toronto City Council. As political strategist and consultant, Bob has managed numerous election and issue campaigns municipally in Toronto, provincially at Queens Park and at the federal level. Bob’s graduate studies were in political economy at the University of Toronto, studying with C.B. Macpherson, Steven Lukes and Michel Foucault. For years, he taught social theory and public policy at Trent University. Currently, Bob is the Head of Communications and Political Action for the United Steelworkers.

Susan Kwong

Susan Kwong knows that communities are stronger when people come together. From collaborating with diverse stakeholders to facilitate lasting success, to working one-on-one with newcomers and marginalized individuals, she is dedicated to helping build Toronto’s communities. During her eight-year tenure with former City Councillor and Member of Parliament Olivia Chow, Susan helped organize the National Public Transit Strategy; the Children’s Health and Nutrition Initiative; and mandatory side guards on trucks campaign. Throughout Susan’s organizing career, she demonstrated an ability and passion to build partnerships, develop leaders, and take action for social change - whether with fellow organizers to work for social justice, voters to act on their values at the voting booth or standing in solidarity for worker rights and economic justice. With her legendary enthusiasm, Susan has been instrumental in building networks of dedicated volunteers to collaborate with many community development and outreach activities and political campaigns.  Susan has a Masters in Social Work, a B.A. (Hons.) in Economics and Labour Studies and a B.A. (Hons.) in Social Work. Susan Kwong currently works at Social Planning Toronto. In her free time, Susan and her camera can be found capturing the beauty of the Canadian outdoors or 36,000 feet in the air, on her way to a new adventure.

Betty Won

Betty is passionate about fostering political and civic engagement. Fluently bilingual in English and Korean, Betty is also an experienced freelance translator and hopes to use her skills to help build a network of organizers in the city's Korean community. When she isn't hard at work organizing for progressive change, Betty can usually be found either with her nose in a book or shuffling in a zombie-like manner towards the nearest cup of coffee. Betty currently works at the strategic campaigns and fundraising consultant at Stratcom and is the Chair of Project Organize.

William Flores

William first became politically active in 2014. His time on that campaign working under veteran leadership towards a progressive mayor would inspire him to get more involved in his community. After getting his feet wet in the mayoral campaign where he learnt the basic skills of community organizing, William would eventually pursue further training with Project Organize and continue to work with the Spanish-speaking community in Toronto. William looks forward to working with other community organizers to build power in their struggle for social justice. William currently works at For Youth Initiative to empower young people in marginalized neighbourhoods, and is the Vice-Chair of Project Organize.

Rizwan Tufail

Rizwan is the Managing Partner Innovonomics Inc – an international development focused strategic advisory firm that works on strategies, policies, and skills required to accelerate the move towards a global innovation economy. Rizwan took Marshall Ganz's class while studying at Harvard's Kennedy School.

Ganz Trained Advisors

Naheed Hassan

Naheed is an entrepreneur and strategic management consultant, with a focus on economic strategies and interventions for inclusive economic development. Naheed Hassan has previously also worked as the founding project lead for a program, on behalf of the Government of Canada, to enable e-readiness for small and medium-sized businesses. She has also worked for the Aga Khan Foundation and started her career at Procter & Gamble. She has previously served on the Board of Directors at the American International School of Johannesburg. Naheed Hassan holds an MBA degree as well as a Masters in Public Administration and International Development from Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government.

Rizwan Tufail

Rizwan is the Managing Partner Innovonomics Inc – an international development focused strategic advisory firm that works on strategies, policies, and skills required to accelerate the move towards a global innovation economy. The impetus for Innovonomics came out of his work as a Fellow at the Harvard Kennedy School of Government, where his work focused on technology and innovation in emerging markets. Previously, as Microsoft’s Regional Director for Africa, Rizwan led strategic initiatives relating to all aspects of technology strategy, innovation, entrepreneurship, and policy, across the 48 Sub-Saharan governments. Prior to that, Rizwan was the Regional Education Lead for the Middle East and Africa region leading the academic programs, business and engagements across 79 countries in the region. Before joining Microsoft, Rizwan set up and successfully managed his own middleware technology start-up in the Silicon Valley for five years. Rizwan serves as a member of the Board of Directors at the Center for Social Innovation. Rizwan holds a Master of Public Administration degree from the Harvard Kennedy School and a Master of Business Administration degree (in Economics and Econometrics) from Chicago Booth at the University of Chicago, where he has also completed the coursework for his PhD in Quantitative Marketing and Econometrics. He also has a Bachelor of Engineering Degree in Electrical Engineering.

Sabrina Bowman, Facilitator

Sabrina has spent the past decade working in the not for profit sector on the environment, politics, and international health. She trained with organizer Marshall Ganz at Harvard in his Leadership, Organizing and Change course, and has facilitated several sessions training organizers working on a variety of progressive issues. Sabrina co-organized the 2014 Canroots East conference in Toronto, bringing over 150 people together to learn about different approaches to organizing, and is co-organizing Canroots East 2016. She volunteers at a do it yourself bike shop and loves teaching people how to fix a flat tire. Sabrina works at the non-partisan environmental advocacy and capacity building. Sabrina graduated from Environmental Studies from the University of Waterloo and has spent over a decade working in the not-for-profit sector on the environment, politics, and international health in Ottawa, San Francisco, and Toronto. She started with GreenPAC, is a non-partisan organization building capacity for environmental sustainability, in the fall of 2015 and was named Executive Director in December 2016. Sabrina volunteers at a do-it-yourself bike shop and has sat on several boards. In her spare time, she enjoys swing dancing, getting around by bike, and hiking and swimming at the family cottage near Algonquin Park.

Michelle Reimer, Ottawa Lead, Facilitator

Based in Ottawa, ON, serving organizations in Ottawa and across Canada Over a 25-year career, Michelle has gained valuable organizational perspective as a manager, employee, and volunteer. Her early career began in the health sector where she worked as a medical technologist for a regional hospital and the Canadian Red Cross. Since then Michelle has held leadership positions in the private sector, federal public service, as well as, the non-profit sector. Michelle's areas of expertise include collective impact, strategic and operational planning, stakeholder consultations (including dialogue circles), mediation, organizational development and performance measurement.

Ben Donato-Woodger, Coordinator, Facilitator

Ben started organizing in 2006 after doing a project on climate change in school and feeling shocked by the magnitude of the problem.  Ben enrolled in Marshall Ganz's class People, Power, and Change in his fourth year, while simultaneously obtaining a Bachelor of Arts in Social Anthropology. He then brought back his knowledge of organizing to train organizers in the queer, climate, and progressive movements in Toronto and Etobicoke. He is a bit of a dog person.

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