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BOARD ELECTIONS

To Active Oxfam Canada Members:

At the Annual General Meeting in September, Oxfam Canada will elect a new Board. Here’s your chance to make a difference in charting Oxfam’s future!

If you have any questions about the profiles or candidates below, please contact ac.ma1566275226fxo@p1566275226ihsre1566275226bmem1566275226 or 613-627-8601.

Oxfam Canada’s Board of Directors is integral to the smooth running of the organization and is the main governance body guiding the organization. The Board of Directors accept a huge responsibility and dedicate many volunteer hours to the mission and mandate of Oxfam Canada.

Every three years, Oxfam Canada undergoes a renewal process to recruit a new Board of Directors to govern the organization. There are many requirements for board members such as previous Board experience; fundraising background; policy expertise; experience with finance and strategy; and other requirements. In addition, according to our bylaws, we require Directors to represent different regions of the country.

In accordance with our bylaws, a Nominating Committee made up of representatives from previous board members and other Oxfam Canada members was struck to review all the nominations that were put forward for the 2019 election cycle. The Nominating Committee is tasked with seeking and accepting nominations, vetting candidates for the board, and, finally, presenting a recommended list of candidates for the post of Board Director in keeping with the provisions of the bylaws and the priorities of the board. The Nominating Committee then presents this slate to the membership. While they give notice of the slate in June, they continue to review any new nominations that come in until the deadline.

While this balanced slate is presented to the membership by the Nominating Committee, members who are in good standing are also able to put forward their name and stand as nominees for the Board, although they are not included in the proposed slate. Members elect each individual nominee during the Annual General Meeting.

Below you will find the thirteen (13) members recommended as Board Directors by the Nominating Committee marked with an asterix (*), as well as other members who are putting their names forward for election:

Ricardo Acuña, Alberta*

How does serving on the Oxfam Canada Board fit with your values and commitment to ending global poverty and injustice? Please provide any information on your background and life experience that you think may be of assistance to members as they consider issues of diversity and inclusiveness in electing a new Board.

I was born in the global South, but as the child of political exiles, I have lived in Canada most of my life. I was raised with a strong sense of activism, justice and equality that spans national borders. As a result, I have worked and volunteered for global justice and the elimination of poverty my entire adult life. This work has always followed my belief that we will not succeed in creating a more just and equitable world unless we work to fundamentally change our political and economic paradigm in the North. It is our wealth and our economic and political systems that see us benefit from, and perpetuate, growing inequality, poverty and oppression both in the global South and the global North. The universality of the Sustainable Development Goals speaks to these connections, especially on topics such as inequality, gender equity, climate, First Nations and employment. I see Oxfam Canada’s mission of change and justice to be directly in line with my own values and beliefs in this regard, and serving on the board would allow me to make my own contribution to the achievement of that mission.

Biography:

Ricardo has spent more than 25 years as a staff member, consultant, volunteer and board member for numerous community, non-profit, labour and political organizations. He has managed and monitored overseas development projects and provincial funding organizations, and built strong relationships with overseas communities. As Executive Director of a university-based think tank, he has extensive experience in financial management, fundraising and governance. Ricardo has been a board member since 2013.

Additional Information on Board Experience:

I have spent the bulk of my adult life working for and volunteering on non-profit boards of different types. These have included the fields of international development, advocacy organization, labour unions, community organizations and research institutes. I have extensive experience in financial management, fundraising, governance and strategic planning, both as staff and a board member. In addition to being the current Chair of Oxfam Canada, I am Deputy Chair of Oxfam International and sit on the OI Governance Committee, the Governance Review Working Group, and the Finance, Risk, and Audit Committee. I am Treasurer of my Faculty Association, and am Executive Director of a university-based think tank.

Bilan Arte, Ontario*

How does serving on the Oxfam Canada Board fit with your values and commitment to ending global poverty and injustice? Please provide any information on your background and life experience that you think may be of assistance to members as they consider issues of diversity and inclusiveness in electing a new Board.

I’m excited for the opportunity to serve a second term on Oxfam Canada's national board of directors. As a feminist who is committed to social justice and equity in our world, I know that my values and personal priorities line up well with the incredible efforts and work of Oxfam Canada, both domestically and globally, to end poverty and injustice. In particular, Oxfam Canada’s commitment to women’s rights and gender equality set the organization apart from others in the field as a true leader in addressing the root causes of poverty. I’m proud to be an Oxfam Canada supporter already, and I look forward to the opportunity to continue to lend my support and networks as a member of the board.

Biography:

Bilan is a Black, Muslim feminist residing on unceded and never surrendered Algonquin Territory. She is an activist with more than a decade of experience in grassroots and youth-led movements and is fueled by her passion for social justice and equity. Today, Bilan is the National Representative for Women and Human Rights at the Canadian Labour Congress.

Additional Information on Board Experience:

As a former student union president, national chairperson for the Canadian Federation of Students, and current national women and human rights national representative in the labour movement, I believe I am well-equipped to support Oxfam Canada’s mission and values as a seasoned human rights activist with close to a decade’s worth of relevant board experience. What's more, I currently serve as co-president of Planned Parenthood Ottawa, a local organization in the capital region dedicated to sexual and reproductive health education and access in my community. As co-president, I support the governance structure of the organization and hold a leadership role in meeting facilitation, staff support, priority setting, fundraising and fiscal management. I can’t wait to apply my skill set to continue to support Oxfam Canada’s vision as a national board member.

Delvina Bernard, Nova Scotia*

How does serving on the Oxfam Canada Board fit with your values and commitment to ending global poverty and injustice? Please provide any information on your background and life experience that you think may be of assistance to members as they consider issues of diversity and inclusiveness in electing a new Board.

No answer provided.

Biography:

Delvina has spent the past 20 years working for not-for-profit organizations and has been involved in women’s rights and gender issues for the past three decades. Currently a doctoral student in the faculty of International Development Studies at Saint Mary’s University in Halifax, her area of study examines the political economy of globalization which focuses on promoting a clearer understanding of how local development and global factors interact; alternative development paradigms; new forms of social agency in the global south which move beyond mainstream concepts of human development; a critical analysis of global development institutions; and an understanding of local responses – in particular, civil society organizations and social movements – to the activities of transnational capital and global enterprise. Delvina is starting her second term on the Board of Directors.

Additional Information on Board Experience:

No answer provided.

Leilani Farha, Ontario*

How does serving on the Oxfam Canada Board fit with your values and commitment to ending global poverty and injustice? Please provide any information on your background and life experience that you think may be of assistance to members as they consider issues of diversity and inclusiveness in electing a new Board.

No answer provided.

Biography:

Leilani Farha, the UN Special Rapporteur on the Right to Adequate Housing, the world’s top watchdog on housing, has set out to reignite the idea that housing is a social good not an asset or commodity. In the role since 2014, Farha has presented reports to the UN on homelessness, the connection between housing and life itself, and the treatment of housing as a commodity and its consequences for people who are poor as well as middle class. She has traveled to India, Chile, Egypt and Portugal, among other places, to investigate whether governments are meeting their human rights obligations with respect to housing. In 2017, Leilani launched a new initiative called The Shift, a global movement which calls for everyone to approach housing as a human right, not a commodity – now gaining traction in every part of the world. A lawyer by training, Farha has worked to advance the rights of poor and marginalized groups throughout her career. She is the Executive Director of the NGO Canada Without Poverty and was instrumental in launching a historic constitutional challenge to government inaction in the face of rising homelessness in Canada. She was awarded an honorary doctorate by a Canadian university in recognition of her work, the Barbra Schlifer Award for her commitment to advancing women’s rights, and most recently the Jack Layton Social Progress Award for Leadership.

Additional Information on Board Experience:

No answer provided.

Mary Ellen MacCallum, British Columbia*

How does serving on the Oxfam Canada Board fit with your values and commitment to ending global poverty and injustice? Please provide any information on your background and life experience that you think may be of assistance to members as they consider issues of diversity and inclusiveness in electing a new Board.

I have always been aware of the relative privilege we enjoy here in Canada, perhaps because my father worked in reconstruction of post-war Korea while I was growing up, As a young adult looking for ways to “change the world”, I was naturally drawn to support Oxfam, with its emphasis on local knowledge and working with local partners. For me, as a trained ecologist, Oxfam’s approach seemed like the social analogue of growing a rich diversity of crops in local soil rather than a monoculture. Similarly, diversity brings strength to any organization: a board comprised of people who all look or think alike or have the same skills is less robust than one that represents a range of backgrounds, experience and perspectives. My professional work on organizational development – helping new organizations identify prospective new staff needs – reinforced the desirability of diversity. Inclusiveness further enriches an organization. Not only does it reduce injustice, it also benefits the organization by adding people who have different insights and strengths as a result of their lived experience.

Biography:

Mary Ellen worked in international development as a senior manager for more than twenty years. Her career in environmental management, first with Canadian First Nations and Inuit people, and subsequently in Asia and the Middle East, was rooted in listening deeply, respecting diversity and working with partners to find a path forward. She brings those same skills to her work on the Oxfam Canada Board.

As a field project manager and a capacity development specialist she saw firsthand the difference that development based on gender equality can make in the lives not only of girls and women, but of entire communities. She has been an Oxfam supporter all of her adult life and is proud that Oxfam Canada reflects those values. She has been an active Oxfam volunteer for more than 10 years, and a member of the Board for the past six. She has been the Chair of the Policy Committee from 2016 to 2019.

Additional Information on Board Experience:

I have served on the Oxfam Canada Board since 2013 and chaired the Policy Committee since 2016. It has been an exceptional experience. This has been a period of significant growth and renewal for Oxfam Canada. We have overseen a large increase in our programs abroad and at home and the implementation of a Strategic Plan that puts women at the center of all we do. We have also faced, handled and, to date, weathered very difficult challenges associated with what has been known as the Haiti crisis. Meanwhile, Oxfam International is undergoing major institutional restructuring, and we will be looking for a new Executive Director for Oxfam Canada. All this underlines the importance of the experience that incumbent members have acquired. In my case, six years. While looking forward to seeing a large number of new faces around the board table, I hope to see all six incumbents re-elected so we can benefit from our collective, specific Oxfam board-related experience.

Amelia Martin, British Columbia*

How does serving on the Oxfam Canada Board fit with your values and commitment to ending global poverty and injustice? Please provide any information on your background and life experience that you think may be of assistance to members as they consider issues of diversity and inclusiveness in electing a new Board.

I am eager to make a contribution to ending global injustice by serving on the Oxfam Canada Board. I am a life-long feminist. I believe that supporting women and children throughout the world is an integral step to achieving sustainable social change and ending global poverty. Having served on several boards with domestic, feminist-related mandates in the past, I look forward to applying my experience and knowledge in a global context by supporting Oxfam Canada. In my work as a lawyer, I have learned that collaboration and cooperation are key to producing results. This aligns with Oxfam’s approach to listening to others, sharing knowledge and working with partners. In the past, I have assisted other charitable organizations to navigate times of change, including setting strategic goals, assessing bylaw compliance and applying changing legislation. While these tasks are not always the most glamorous, they found not-for-profit work by ensuring that organizations are compliant with relevant rules, regulations and laws and, therefore, can continue to accomplish their goals. I look forward to sharing this experience with Oxfam. My past board experience and identity as a bi-racial, cisgender woman (and the accompanying privilege I experience) have bred within me a deep commitment to working from an anti-oppression framework. I hope to contribute all that I can to the Oxfam Canada Board and humbly ask for your vote.

Biography:

Amelia is a feminist lawyer with a commitment to achieving long-term social change by ensuring that women and other equity-seeking groups achieve justice. Beginning with her commitment to social justice as a director of her university’s women’s centre, Amelia has continued her work on women's issues with legal organizations, including the Ontario Bar Association. Amelia relies on her unique viewpoint as a bi-racial woman to assist her in her understanding and analysis of social justice issues. In her work with METRAC, Amelia was instrumental in developing a three-year strategic plan, as well as assisting in the planning and execution of a large-scale fundraising gala in 2015. Since relocating to the interior of British Columbia in 2016, Amelia has developed her understanding of the challenges facing women in rural and small urban settings, especially indigenous women. In her capacity as Board member with the Vernon Women's Transition House, Amelia reviewed and revised the organization's bylaws to ensure compliance with new provincial legislation concerning charitable organizations. She also assisted in the planning and execution of a gala fundraising event, including securing sponsors and reviewing financial documents. After becoming a mother in January 2019, Amelia's commitment to social justice for women has deepened considerably.

Additional Information on Board Experience:

No answer provided.

Jessica McCormick, Newfoundland and Labrador*

How does serving on the Oxfam Canada Board fit with your values and commitment to ending global poverty and injustice? Please provide any information on your background and life experience that you think may be of assistance to members as they consider issues of diversity and inclusiveness in electing a new Board.

Serving on the Oxfam Canada Board for the past three years has been an incredibly fulfilling and challenging experience. As a feminist and trade unionist, my work and my activism has always been rooted in an approach that centres the voices of the marginalized. As a member of the board, I hope to continue to advance Oxfam Canada's work to end global poverty and injustice by ensuring these perspectives are reflected in the governance of the organization.

As a young woman working in an industry traditionally dominated by men, I have never been afraid to speak up or challenge the status quo, especially when the status quo perpetuates inequality and injustice. While I have more than a decade of experience working for progressive, social justice organizations, it's my perspective as a young feminist that I believe will be an asset to the Oxfam Canada Board.

My background, both as a leader in the student movement and in my current capacity working in the labour movement, has instilled in me a set of values that very much aligns with Oxfam Canada's work. Whether it's the labour movement's fight to protect workers' rights here in Canada or Oxfam's work to end poverty around the world, if the work doesn't centre gender justice, it cannot be successful. I believe that principle must also be applied to how we operate as a Board of Directors. When we adhere to feminist principles within our organizational governance structures, we are walking the walk, not just talking the talk.

I have no doubt Oxfam Canada will continue to lead the sector in groundbreaking work that changes lives and breaks barriers to create a more just and equitable world. I hope to have the opportunity to do my part to support this work as a member of the Board of Directors.

Biography:

Jessica is a feminist and activist from St. John's, Newfoundland and Labrador. She is the Director of Public Affairs for the Fish, Food and Allied Workers Union-Unifor, the largest private sector union in the province, representing workers in the fishing industry. She has served on various non-profit boards over the past ten years, including as Vice President of the Newfoundland and Labrador Federation of Labour, as the Student Representative on the Board of the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives and as a regional representative and two-term national chair of the Canadian Federation of Students. These experiences have provided her with extensive experience in governance, accountability and strategic planning. Jessica is looking forward to continuing her activism with Oxfam Canada in the fight to improve the lives of women and girls around the world and end poverty and injustice.

Additional Information on Board Experience:

Over the past 10 years, I have served on several non-profit Boards and institutional governance bodies. These boards oversaw both small and large, multi-million dollar budgets and provided me with extensive governance experience, including drafting constitutions, bylaws and strategic plans. For the past three years, I have served as a member of Oxfam Canada's Board of Directors and as a member of the Governance Committee. In March 2019, I had the opportunity to participate in an Oxfam International Board of Supervisors' Meeting on behalf of Oxfam Canada. This opportunity provided me with valuable insight on the governance of the Oxfam Confederation and gave me important context and experience that has been an asset to my work as a member of the Oxfam Canada Board.

Rita Parikh, British Columbia*

How does serving on the Oxfam Canada Board fit with your values and commitment to ending global poverty and injustice? Please provide any information on your background and life experience that you think may be of assistance to members as they consider issues of diversity and inclusiveness in electing a new Board.

As a feminist and social justice activist, I have long taken aim at the systemic causes of poverty, violence, forced migration and hunger. Through my work at organizations like Inter Pares in Ottawa, where I lived for almost 20 years, and Pacific Peoples’ Partnership in Victoria, my current home, I have had the deep privilege of working in collaboration with, and learning from, marginalized peoples and communities all over the world. Oxfam’s explicitly feminist approach is one that forces us to continuously identify and address systemic power imbalances – including in international aid – examining how they deepen and extend injustices. Oxfam’s rights-based, inclusive approach is one that I strive to bring to all my work, community and social relationships.

As a Co-Manager and Asia Program Officer at Inter Pares, and while the Asia Program Officer at MATCH International, I developed programs and partnerships – in solidarity with groups in the Global South – aimed at strengthening women’s efforts to advocate for, and protect, their reproductive health, end gender-based violence and enhance food security. Policy advocacy, awareness raising, fundraising, program development, organizational management and strategic planning, and simply standing in solidarity – these are the tools I’ve used to identify and promote the rights of marginalized peoples. As the former chair of the board of Mountain Equipment Coop, and a director with Vancity Credit Union, I have brought governance experience to organizations deeply committed to democratic empowerment, climate and economic justice. This has meant guiding these organizations as they transform their own assumptions and processes, and as they develop programs and partnerships to better support communities organizing for change.

I was born and raised in Canada as the daughter of Indian immigrants, and have direct experience both with racism and the varied struggles against it. As a writer (trained formally as a journalist), I have sought ways to give voice to the lives and experiences of those living on the margins. My work over the years has also focused on women and migration – on the integrated forces of climate change, political insecurity, religious persecution and poverty that propel women from their homes, in search of economic, political and social security and shelter. Most recently, I co-founded a refugee sponsorship community group in Victoria, which, over the past three years, has sponsored and settled three refugee families. I respect and support the holistic, gender-based, inclusive analysis that underpins Oxfam’s mission and programs.

Biography:

Rita brings to the board table a long and abiding commitment to community development, and to supporting local aspirations for safe, just and sustainable livelihoods. After completing a Master’s of International Affairs, Rita launched her career in the field of international development. She spent two decades working alongside women and refugees, Indigenous peoples and farmers, unions and students in Asia, Latin America and the South Pacific. Her work for groups like Inter Pares and Pacific Peoples’ Partnership – where she served as Executive Director – helped her gain a deep appreciation for the creative and determined efforts of communities, activists and social movements working to create viable and sustainable economic alternatives. Rita has served as the Chair of the board of directors of Mountain Equipment Coop – Canada’s largest retail cooperative – and is currently a board director with Vancity Credit Union – BC’s largest credit union with more than 550,000 members, and $24 billion in assets. She has also served as a director with Canadian Parents for French, which advocates for better access to French second language education for youth. At a local level, Rita has been on the boards of the Victoria Immigrant and Refugee Centre and the Victoria International Development Education Association. As a board member, Rita has served on and/or chaired the Audit, Executive, Environmental, Nominations, Risk and Governance committees of these organizations. Rita is the Executive Director of the Nursing Community Assessment Service, an organization working to ensure that internationally-educated nurses can enter practice in Canada safely and quickly. Rita lives and works in Victoria, BC.

Additional Information on Board Experience:

Rita is currently the Chair of Governance for Vancity Credit Union, the largest credit union in British Columbia with more than 550,000 members, and $24 billion in assets. She was the Chair of Mountain Equipment Coop, Canada’s largest retail cooperative, and served on its board for seven years. Rita was also on the board of the national organization, Canadian Parents for French, which advocates for French-language educational opportunities for youth across the country. Finally, Rita has been on the board of the Victoria Immigrant and Refugee Centre, and the Victoria International Development Education Association. In her role as a board member for these organizations, she has served as the Chair and/or member of Governance, Audit, Nominations, Risk, Human Resource, Digital, Environment and Executive Committees. She has worked alongside her board colleagues to shift organizational visions and missions, develop and evaluate strategic plans, provide financial oversight, and hire and evaluate CEOs and executive directors.

Karen Sander, British Columbia*

How does serving on the Oxfam Canada Board fit with your values and commitment to ending global poverty and injustice? Please provide any information on your background and life experience that you think may be of assistance to members as they consider issues of diversity and inclusiveness in electing a new Board.

As a young boy, my father and his family lost everything due to the partition of India and Pakistan, and he spent several years living in refugee camps. Canada gave my father back his dignity and a chance for a new start. He has never forgotten the small acts of kindness that made such a difference during all his years of struggle and he ensured that, as a family, we always gave back to the country that gave him a home when he didn't have one. With this family history and a mixed-race heritage, it was only natural that I would end up studying and working in the non-profit sector. I have spent several years working in Development in Africa and played leading roles for other non-profits here in Canada. Working to end inequality and injustice have always been at the core of everything I do. Being a part of Oxfam Canada's mission on both a national and global scale has been a great honour and one that would be very meaningful to me to be able to continue.

Biography:

Karen has deep global experience building charitable initiatives that scaled rapidly from zero to millions of dollars in funding and had massive impacts. A serial philanthro-preneur, Karen has played leading roles in the launch of multiple groundbreaking charitable foundations that used business and entrepreneurship as key components. Her experience ranges from executive work with the World Bank (Washington, DC) to a private foundation that drilled 300 clean water wells in South Sudan over the course of two years, to building all the funding and partnerships for The Next Big Thing, a charity co-founded by Ryan Holmes of Hootsuite. She has more than 15 years of experience in building cross-sector partnerships and is a strong believer in the power of women, technology and entrepreneurs to be nation builders and drivers of social change.

Additional Information on Board Experience:

I am currently sitting on three other non-profit boards and chair the fundraising committee for one of them. These organizations are focused on the social issues of Health, Housing and Community Services here in Canada. While these organizations are domestically-focused, the same issues are relevant to Oxfam Canada's work here and abroad. In addition, I play a strong fundraising advocacy role across all of these boards and am able to bring all of this learning back to Oxfam Canada.

Paulette Senior, Ontario*

How does serving on the Oxfam Canada Board fit with your values and commitment to ending global poverty and injustice? Please provide any information on your background and life experience that you think may be of assistance to members as they consider issues of diversity and inclusiveness in electing a new Board.

The work of Oxfam Canada, and Oxfam worldwide, has always been at the forefront of the global movement to end poverty and address injustice. Over the past several years, I’ve been even more impressed with the leadership that Oxfam Canada has taken to shed light on the critical role women play in these efforts, and the inevitable link to the movement for gender equality, without which even the most earnest efforts will not have lasting impact. As such, and considering where I’ve focused my career for almost three decades, lasting impact that transforms the lives of women will undoubtedly lead to doing the same for children, families, communities and, indeed, nations. I have always held this to be true in my work where I’ve witnessed the results of such transformations as a program worker in communities in Toronto, and as a leader in the sector across the country and globally, in my work with the YWCA movement.

In my work with the Canadian Women’s Foundation, I lead a team that raises resources and provides multi-year grants that are directly channeled into grassroots community organizations throughout Canada for initiatives that address gender-based violence and prevention projects; alleviate poverty through women’s economic development programs; promote women’s inclusive leadership; and champion girls’ empowerment. I consider these strategic imperatives, which I believe, over time, will improve and transform the lives of women, not just domestically but also globally, bringing about the change we all envision for the world.

A necessary underpinning to my work and life, no matter where I am, are principles of equity and inclusion that leave no one out; but, in fact, places the most vulnerable among us at the centre, allowing their experiences of exclusion and marginalization to drive how we go about the work, and thus preventing unintended negative impacts. Matters of anti-racism/anti-oppression further grounds and guides the lens through which I view, analyze and interact with the world around me. And balancing all of this, which I absolutely cannot do without, is a sense of humour, optimism and hope for a better world.

Biography:

Paulette Senior has devoted her career to empowering women and girls to overcome barriers and reach their full potential. She faced her own set of barriers when she immigrated to Canada from Jamaica as a young girl – an experience that ignited her interest in justice and activism. Paulette began her career on the front lines of social service organizations in some of Toronto’s most economically disadvantaged neighbourhoods. She saw firsthand the urgent need for social resources and systemic change to transform women’s lives. Through her work and advocacy with shelters, as well as employment and housing programs, she has earned numerous awards and become one of the most respected women leaders in Canada. Paulette joined the Canadian Women’s Foundation in 2016, after 10 years as CEO of YWCA Canada. She is a sought-after speaker and commentator on issues including gender equity, gender-based violence, women’s poverty and the wage gap, girls’ empowerment and leadership.

Additional Information on Board Experience:

I look forward to learning more about Oxfam Canada up close and from the lens of a Board member and supporter. I have served on many Boards, but found each experience to be unique and an incredible learning opportunity. Hopefully I can contribute as much as I’ll gain from others.

Larry Swatuk, Ontario*

How does serving on the Oxfam Canada Board fit with your values and commitment to ending global poverty and injustice? Please provide any information on your background and life experience that you think may be of assistance to members as they consider issues of diversity and inclusiveness in electing a new Board.

I have been a social justice activist and advocate all of my adult life, beginning with participation in the student-led anti-apartheid movement at the University of Windsor in the 1970s. I first went to Africa – to Lesotho – in 1984 with Canadian Crossroads International. The motivation for this was primarily cross-cultural, in particular my then-felt belief, based on experiences of race/class at home, was that I wanted to experience what it was like to be a visible minority in society. This being my first time to Lesotho, the white privilege I experienced came as quite a shock to me and continues to inform my understanding of and approach to challenges of race, class, gender and social justice. I am an activist academic with a focus on social equity and environmental sustainability in relation to the access and use of natural resources.

Prior to returning to Canada in 2007, I spent eleven years in Botswana, where I served on numerous committees at both local and national levels. At national level, for example, I sat on the governance and management committee of the Okavango Delta Management Plan. At local level, I served as vice president and president of the Ngamiland Community-Based Natural Resources Management Forum – a civil society organization joining together 48 local communities in the Okavango Delta in pursuit of their socioeconomic interests. While I thought it odd to be chosen as president of the Forum, from local people’s point of view, I was a useful conduit to influential people and organizations normally out of their reach. I continue to see my value this way: as someone who works with and helps represent the interests of groups at the margins of society.

Today, I fulfill this role primarily through the development and delivery of undergraduate and graduate education in international development (INDEV) at the University of Waterloo. The majority of INDEV students are female. They arrive to the program with passion and energy but limited skill sets. The goal of the programs we have developed is to equip the next generation of global social activists with the necessary practical and theoretical tools for their direct engagement in building a better world for all. They spend eight months on field placements all around the world, working with a wide variety of local partners, primarily NGOs. Many of our students have gone on to careers in international development. It is this direct experience of working with youth in Canada, in Africa and elsewhere in the world that shapes my thinking about appropriate approaches to and directions for civil society engagement in sustainable development as we head toward the 2020s. Oxfam Canada’s central focus on gender equality and supporting and advancing the interests of women and girls aligns with my own strong socialist/feminist perspective and approach not only to international development but to everyday life. I see my participation on the Oxfam Board as a natural complement to my main professional activity of teaching and training the next generation of sustainable development-oriented scholars, activists and practitioners.

Biography:

Larry Swatuk is a Professor at the School of Environment, Enterprise and Development and is also a Faculty Member of the Water Institute, the Balsillie School of International Affairs and is cross-appointed to the School of Planning and the Department of Geography and Environmental Management. Dr. Swatuk's research focuses on the political economy of natural resources with a particular focus on freshwater governance and management in the Global South. He teaches courses in global political economy, theories of international development and water security. Larry is also Associate Editor of the open access journal Water Alternatives and a founding member of the Environmental Peacebuilding Association.

Additional Information on Board Experience:

I have served on numerous advisory boards and committees over time. For example, I am currently a member of the Advisory Board of the International Development program at Humber College. I have and continue to sit on a wide variety of committees tasked with providing advice, guidance and oversight of university programs and the School of Environment, Enterprise and Development (SEED) at the University of Waterloo. I have served in similar capacities at universities elsewhere in Canada and in different countries in Africa. For example, during my years in Botswana, I served as a member of the academic advisory board of the SADC WaterNet program in Integrated Water Resources Management. This program delivers research, teaching and training to young water professionals drawn primarily from southern African countries.

Dudley Thompson, Manitoba*

How does serving on the Oxfam Canada Board fit with your values and commitment to ending global poverty and injustice? Please provide any information on your background and life experience that you think may be of assistance to members as they consider issues of diversity and inclusiveness in electing a new Board.

My experience with poverty and social justice has been focused in Winnipeg. Upon my return to Winnipeg after university in Toronto, my wife and I chose to move into the inner city of Winnipeg and live among the poor in Winnipeg’s Point Douglas neighborhood. As we experienced the inequities of poverty and racism, we recognized the necessity to become active in community development and grassroots politics in order to make significant change in the lives of our community. Over the years, we became very committed to community-based empowerment and working on political equity and social justice.

In my professional life, I have attempted to create a community-based architectural practice that was founded on the principles of bottom-up stakeholder involvement. I developed tools such as a Collective Design Process that enabled communities to select preferences and pragmatic options to all levels of design and building. It offered the poor and disenfranchised a voice before any work was started. I employed four Indigenous architects for many years to ensure our work with First Nations communities and organizations was led by members of the Indigenous community. I understood my role was one of mentor to enable a respectful engagement of the Indigenous community. I believe that, in any culture, it is key for the white dominant society to step back and offer a mentoring and empowerment role.

I am hoping that service on the Oxfam Board will connect my local experience in social justice and equality to a global perspective.

Biography:

Dudley is Principle in Dudley Thompson Consultancy – a consulting firm focusing on Sustainable Community, Regenerative Architecture, Advocacy, Stakeholder Engagement and Climate Change Mitigation. He works in Winnipeg for a variety of corporate and not-for-profit clients. He was the founding principal of Prairie Architects Inc. in 1981 and has practiced as an architect in Manitoba since 1976. He holds a Bachelor of Environmental Studies degree from the University of Manitoba and a graduate degree in Architecture from the University of Toronto. He transferred Prairie Architects in 2017 to four employees. Dudley nurtured Prairie as an architectural firm that was committed at its roots to sustainability, stakeholder participation in design and building community. Prairie demonstrated this commitment to Sustainable Buildings with an integrated staff of building scientists and 90% of staff members that are LEED accredited. Prairie certified over 30 LEED buildings under Dudley’s leadership including Manitoba’s first LEED GOLD Building, Mountain Equipment Co-op, and several LEED Platinum projects including Manitoba Hydro Place and Amber Trails School. In his 35 years of practice, Dudley guided Prairie Architects Inc. as an Integrated Design Process Facilitator on numerous projects, in the regeneration of dozens of historic buildings, the renewal of many urban sites, the creation of many First Nations projects, as well as a wide variety of residential, community and educational projects. Mr. Thompson recently served on the Board of Directors of Manitoba Hydro and was chairperson of the non-profit Winnipeg Housing and Rehab Corporation.

Additional Information on Board Experience:

Manitoba Hydro Board 2011-2016 (Member)
Winnipeg Housing & Rehab 1996-2006 (Chair)
Manitoba Green Building Council 2008-2010 (Committee member)
Manitoba Association of Architects 1994-1999 (Member)
Manitoba Energy Council 1980-1988 (Member)

Robert (Bob) Van Den Berg, Ontario*

How does serving on the Oxfam Canada Board fit with your values and commitment to ending global poverty and injustice? Please provide any information on your background and life experience that you think may be of assistance to members as they consider issues of diversity and inclusiveness in electing a new Board.

I had a transformational experience volunteering in Ghana for Canadian Crossroads International in 1980 as a young university student and, since then, I have been committed to a vision of a just world without poverty. This vision, which I share with Oxfam Canada, was the reason I completed a B.Sc. minor in international agriculture, and later an M.A. in international development. My first job after graduating from my M.A. was with the United Nations' World Food Program. The injustice and poverty that I saw firsthand in Indonesia, and then Malawi, spurred my commitment to make development work the centre of my professional life. Since then, both of my post-graduate diplomas (adult education and program evaluation) were completed with the goal of improving my value as a development and humanitarian advocate professional. Oxfam’s mission – to build lasting solutions to poverty and injustice with a focus on women's rights – is aligned with my own career path.

I have learned firsthand through almost 30 years of work in Africa, Asia and Latin America that focusing on women’s rights, women’s empowerment and economic justice for women is central to sustainable change. I have also learned that one of the most effective ways of fighting inequality and poverty is through solidarity and long-term partnership with appropriate, community-based organizations. This is the foundational value-add that Oxfam Canada offers as an affiliate of a globally-networked movement for change. And this is the reason I have been a regular monthly donor to Oxfam for several decades.

I learned more about Oxfam many years ago when I volunteered to help facilitate a free development course run by a local Oxfam committee, and when I undertook several paid consultancies for the Ottawa office. Life-long learning is a personal goal, and the reason that I have asked to join the Oxfam Board. I want to learn more about how this important NGO is structured and functions, while making a significant contribution to its mission. I hope to offer my skills as a professional, credentialed evaluator and performance-monitoring specialist.

My past volunteer work includes: former Board Director and fundraising committee member of the Somerset West Community Health Centre, former member of the Project Review Committee for USC, former member of Dalhousie Community Association of Ottawa, volunteer and writer for Ottawa Buzz, a community-based newspaper, volunteer evaluator for the Program Committee of the Big Sisters of Ottawa (through the Canadian Evaluation Society), and, more than 10 years on the Board of the Meredith Centre, a community centre conceived, built and now managed by volunteers from the Municipality of Chelsea.

Biography:

Robert is a credentialed program evaluator with more than 10 years of professional experience conducting evaluations. He has 30 years of experience as a senior-level manager, and as an international management consultant with bilateral donors, non-governmental organizations and multilateral organizations, and has led numerous contracts for the United Nations: WFP, FAO, OCHA, PAHO, UNICEF and UNDP. Robert has advised clients in 23 countries on a full range of program and management issues. His experience includes practical, front-line work managing humanitarian and development projects while based in Africa and Asia. Robert is an accredited adult educator and is experienced designing and delivering directly applied experiential learning activities. His strong adult training and facilitation skills come from direct experience leading face-to-face working sessions for small and large groups in diverse cultural contexts.

Additional Information on Board Experience:

I was a “pioneer” supporter of the Chelsea Foundation, a not-for-profit created to improve culture and recreation facilities in Chelsea. Its biggest project to date was the design and construction of a new community centre in our community. That project started in 2001 and required more than 10 years of persistent organizing, community mobilization, fundraising, grant application and trust building. This work, which involved more than 150 core volunteers, culminated in the construction of the Meredith Centre in Chelsea. Doors to the brand-new $9 million facility opened in 2013. Since 2015, the Meredith Centre has operated with an annual surplus. I was a Board Director of the Chelsea Foundation for nine years and ended my volunteer work there in 2018 as Vice-President.

The following candidates were self-nominated:

Meladul Haq Ahmadzai, Ontario

How does serving on the Oxfam Canada Board fit with your values and commitment to ending global poverty and injustice? Please provide any information on your background and life experience that you think may be of assistance to members as they consider issues of diversity and inclusiveness in electing a new Board.

My name is Meladul Haq Ahmadzai and I have been a member of Oxfam Canada since 2014. I am very interested to get more involved in the decision-making process. My values are being honest and truthful. My background is in the non-profit sector and I believe I can make a difference in the lives of poor people by becoming a director of Oxfam in the Ontario area. I have strong communication skills and, as well, I have worked on strategic thinking on past boards. I am looking forward to inspiring and working with all members. I ask members to vote for me based on my experience and interests, which are highlighted in this profile. Please read my bio below.

Biography:

I am standing for the 2019-2022 Oxfam Canada Board of Directors, and I hope you can consider my nomination based on my dedication and experience. I have been a member of Oxfam since 2014, and now I want to help by getting more involved in the decision-making process. My background is mainly in the non-profit sector, but part of my experience comes from the computer industry. I believe my experience will be useful for Oxfam as a director for Ontario area. I support Oxfam’s work, whether in Canada on campaigns and policy work or on international level, helping the beneficiaries of the programs. I will bring my communication skills and, as well, the strategic thinking required to move forward at a time of technological change and human needs of the organization. I am currently pursuing a M.Sc. degree in Global Health. Thank you for your solidarity and continued support for Oxfam’s work.

Additional Information on Board Experience:

I support Oxfam’s work, whether in Canada or abroad. Women are crucial to reducing poverty and inequality. Oxfam must continue to work on relevant policies to make this happen. I will bring that experience. Over the past 8 years, I have dedicated my time and energy towards helping people. As a member of Oxfam Canada, an associate member with OCIC, and a director with ORDA, I think my experience is clearly in line with international development goals and meeting the needs of the program participants. Vote for me to continue working on annual reports, policy and community events. Thank you for your vote.

 

Board of Directors 2016-2019



Ricardo Acuña
Board of Directors, Chair, Alberta
Ricardo has spent over 25 years as a staff member, consultant, volunteer, and board member for numerous community, non-profit, labour, and political organizations.
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He has managed and monitored overseas development projects and provincial funding organizations, and built strong relationships with overseas communities. As Executive Director of a university-based think tank, he has extensive experience in financial management, fundraising and governance. Ricardo has been a Board member since 2013.
Karen Sander
Board of Directors, British Columbia
Karen has deep global experience building charitable initiatives that scaled rapidly from zero to millions of dollars in funding and had massive impacts.
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A serial philanthro-preneur, Karen has played leading roles in the launch of multiple groundbreaking charitable foundations that used business and entrepreneurship as key components.Her experience ranges from executive work with the World Bank (Washington, DC) to a private foundation that drilled 300 clean water wells in South Sudan over the course of two years, to building all the funding and partnerships for The Next Big Thing a charity co-founded by Ryan Holmes of Hootsuite. She has over 15 years of experience in building cross-sector partnerships and is a strong believer in the power of women, technology and entrepreneurs to be nation builders and drivers of social change.
Bilan Arte
Board of Directors, Ontario
An experienced social justice advocate, Bilan is currently a National Women’s & Human Rights Representative for the Canadian Labour Congress.
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Previously, Bilan was the Chair and Manitoba Representative for the Canadian Federation of Students. As an activist within Canada’s labour and student movement, she brings a wealth of experience on educating and agitating young people on issues of social concern. This is Bilan’s first term on the Board of Directors and she is excited to contribute to a team that is committed to advancing a progressive agenda for our world.
Andy Joyce
Board of Directors, Ontario
A retired lawyer, Andy spent significant time during his legal career working in the governance and accountability areas and presenting seminars and workshops to non-profit boards on liability and governance issues.
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Andy has extensive experience on boards, and over the last several years, has volunteered with CUSO and had placements in four countries. He is looking forward to his continued involvement on issues of equity and justice both internationally and within Canada with Oxfam. This is his first term on the Board of Directors.
Jessica McCormick
Board of Directors, Newfoundland & Labrador
Jessica is the Communications Officer for Fish, Food and Allied Workers, Unifor.
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She has served on various non-profit boards over the past six years, including as the Student Representative on the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives and as a regional representative and national chair of the Canadian Federation of Students. These experiences have provided her with extensive experience in governance, accountability and strategic planning. Jessica is looking forward to extending her activism and experience to the global fight to end poverty and injustice. This will be Jessica’s first term on the Board of Directors.
Delvina Bernard
Board of Directors, Nova Scotia
Delvina has spent the past 20 years working for not-for-profit organizations and has been involved in women’s rights and gender issues for the past three decades.
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Currently a doctoral student in the faculty of International Development Studies at Saint Mary’s University in Halifax, her area of study examines the political economy of globalization which focuses on promoting a clearer understanding of how local development and global factors interact; alternative development paradigms; new forms of social agency in the global south which move beyond mainstream concepts of human development; a critical analysis of global development institutions; and an understanding of local responses -- in particular, civil society organizations and social movements -- to the activities of transnational capital and global enterprise. Delvina is starting her second term on the Board of Directors.
Nidhi Tandon
Board of Directors, Ontario
Originally from East Africa, now based in Toronto, Nidhi designs and facilitates grassroots workshops for women’s organizations, small business and farmer communities, enabling women to organize and articulate their priorities around sustainable development.
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Much of her work revolves around the relationships between women and water, energy, natural resources, food security and policy decisions, but she also works on issues related to information and communications technologies and applications that enhance women’s livelihoods in developing countries. Nidhi is the founder of Networked Intelligence for Development. Nidhi is returning for her third and final term on Oxfam Canada’s Board of Directors.
Oliver Martin
Board of Directors, Ontario
A stakeholder engagement specialist with more than 15 years of international experience working with leadership organisations, Oliver is an expert in the design and execution of research to identify innovations in marketing, brand and reputation strategy.
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A partner at Canada’s first innovation-focused travel and tourism development consultancy, Twenty3, he works closely with senior leadership teams. Oliver was formerly with reputation and sustainability consultancy GlobeScan, where he led thought leadership and stakeholder engagement projects for numerous multinational/multilateral organizations. Oliver is returning for his second term on the Board and is Chair of the Governance Committee.
Mary Ellen MacCallum
Board of Directors, British Columbia
Mary Ellen worked for many years on international development projects and has been an Oxfam supporter for all of her adult life.
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Her work, first with First Nations people and Inuit, and subsequently overseas, has underscored the value of diversity and increased her awareness of the injustices experienced on a daily basis by people who are marginalized. To be effective as a board member, she believes it’s essential to recognize the role of equity and inclusiveness in counteracting injustice, to be respectful of all and know how to listen. Mary Ellen is returning for her second term on the Board and is Chair of the Policy Committee.
Gerry Barr
Board of Directors, Secretary, Nova Scotia
Gerry has years of experience as a professional manager for labour and civil society organizations and coalitions.
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As a community organizer and trade unionist, and as a leader in the Canadian Council for International Cooperation (CCIC), he has worked to advance human rights and equity which has included supporting and, as a public spokesperson, promoting women’s rights and gender equality as part of CCIC’s “Ten Point Agenda” for Global Development. Gerry is returning for his second term on the Board of Directors.
Saad Bashir
Board of Directors, Treasurer, Ontario
Saad is currently the Chief Information Officer for the City of Ottawa and brings experience from multiple non-profit boards, providing both strategic planning advice and financial management oversight.
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During the last six years, as Director of Economic Development at the City of Ottawa, he has built strong relationships within the business community, as well as political space. His experience of growing up in Pakistan and seeing first-hand many of the poverty and injustice issues gives him a perspective to better guide Oxfam's strategic planning and program development efforts. This is Saad’s first term on the Board of Directors.

Communications



Management Team



Kate Higgins
Deputy Executive Director and Director of Communications, Ottawa
Kate Higgins is the Deputy Executive Director and Communications Director at Oxfam Canada, where she oversees Oxfam Canada’s policy, advocacy, campaigning and media work.
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Prior to joining Oxfam, Kate worked at CIVICUS, the North-South Institute, the Overseas Development Institute and AusAID in a number of strategy, policy and research roles focused on global sustainable development, inequality, women’s rights and citizen action. Kate has lived and worked in Australia, Canada, Papua New Guinea, South Africa, Thailand and Uganda and has worked on assignments in many other countries, including Colombia, Indonesia, Peru, Tanzania and Yemen. Kate’s work is driven by her deep commitment to women’s rights and social justice and her belief that people and their organizations can drive long-lasting, progressive change. Kate has degrees in economics and development studies from the University of Oxford and the University of Sydney.
Lauren Ravon
Director, Policy and Campaigns , Ottawa
Lauren Ravon is the Director of Policy and Campaigns at Oxfam Canada. She leads a team of campaigners and policy experts working to advance Oxfam’s influencing agenda on a range of issues, ranging from women’s rights and economic inequality, to food and climate justice.
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Prior to joining Oxfam, Lauren worked for five years at the International Center for Human Rights and Democratic Development (Rights & Democracy) where she was responsible for managing programs in the Americas. She has also worked on programs to tackle gender-based violence and promote women’s reproductive rights with Planned Parenthood in Sub-Saharan Africa and the International Rescue Committee in East Timor. She holds Masters Degrees in International Affairs from Columbia University and the Institute of Political Science in Paris (Sciences Po).
Christina Polzot
Director of International Programs

Jennifer Luedey
Director of Fund Development

Diane O’Reggio
Director of Finance and Operations

Our Executive Director



Julie Delahanty
Executive Director, Ottawa
Julie Delahanty, Executive Director of Oxfam Canada is a committed feminist and leader on gender equality and human rights with more than 20 years of international development experience.
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Before joining Oxfam, she was the Director of the Central America Program for Global Affairs Canada and served in many other posts in government including as Director of the Gender Equality and Child Protection Division, as Deputy Director for Pakistan and Deputy Director for Human Rights and International Women’s Equality. Julie has written extensively and campaigned on issues of gender and employment, trade, agricultural biodiversity, sexual and reproductive health and rights and globalization. She sits on the Executive Board of Oxfam International where she acts as the gender champion for the world-wide influencing and campaigning work of the confederation. Julie has lived and represented Canada in a number of countries in Africa, Asia and Latin America. In 2016, she was named one of the 100 most influential women in Canada.

 

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