• Olivia Chow - Distinguished Visiting Professor
  • Ben Donato-Woodger - Coordinator
  • Angélique Bernabé - Project Assistant
  • Dawn Maracle, Indigenous Research Consultant, Facilitator
  • Maria John, Social Work Intern


Olivia Chow  

Distinguished Visiting Professor

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.



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.



Angélique Bernabé 

Project Assistant

Born and raised in France, Angélique moved to Toronto in 2011. After going through the struggle to learn a new language while completing her undergraduate education at Glendon College (York University), she started volunteering in communities and learnt more about social issues in Canada. Angélique believes passionately in social progress by organizing campaigns efficiently. Being a research and project assistant at the Institute for Change Leaders taught her how to empower people with the skills they need to make the change they want. Her thirst for knowledge led her to start her PhD in Economics at Ryerson University, with emphasis on Labour Economics and Behavioural Economics. She is focusing her Economics research towards Economics issues that our world is facing, which will help design policies and programs to alleviate poverty, at home and abroad. After finishing her PhD, she wants to teach future policy-makers how to use economics for inclusive growth.



Dawn Maracle

Indigenous Research Consultant, Facilitator

An award-winning diversity organizer, professional speaker and lifelong activist, Dawn Maracle is a Mohawk woman from Tyendinaga Mohawk Territory who sits with the Bear Clan. She has consulted with Indigenous communities, organizations, regions, and nationally to facilitate, teach, write curriculum, policy, strategy and communications, to support individuals and groups with Indigenous and interfaith issues. With over two decades of experience working to promote Indigenous health, education, and governance, Dawn is a KAIROS Blanket Exercise Facilitator, Corporate and Master Trainer, and has experience in strategic planning, project management, and educational program development and evaluation.

Dawn’s experience as a Mohawk woman working for decades within and for various Indigenous communities means she has extensive, deep relationships with those communities in Ontario and nationally, as well as internationally. She has worked from grassroots, volunteer positions on many Indigenous Boards of Directors, as well as in national leadership positions such as the Director of Professional Development at the National Centre for First Nations Governance, and the National Chair for the AFN-INAC Post Secondary Education Working Group, as well as on the UNESCO Arts and Education Roundtable.

To request a blanket exercise, email



Maria John

Social Work Intern

Rooted in her South Asian heritage, Maria is passionate about bringing the stories and unique experiences of her people to the forefront. She decided to do her undergraduate education at Ryerson University in Social Work and is now completing her final year. In 2016, Maria attended a workshop by Olivia Chow and instantly decided to make the Institute for Change Leaders her fourth-year placement. So far, Maria has learned a lot about the power of community organizing in bringing about change and looks forward to learning more. Maria is also passionate about cooking and an avid food vlogger in Toronto.

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