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Ending global poverty begins with women’s rights

Our
People

Oxfam Canada is part of
a global movement of people

We depend on and value our staff, volunteers, members and Board, who provide the hard work, experience, commitment and vision that ensures our organization achieves its goals.

Board of Directors, 2019-2022



Ricardo Acuña
Board of Directors, Chair, Alberta
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.
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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.
Bilan Arte
Board of Directors, Ontario
Bilan is a Black, Muslim feminist residing on unceded and never surrendered Algonquin Territory.
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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.
Delvina Bernard
Board of Directors, Nova Scotia
Delvina Bernard is an educator, institutional change strategist, human rights advocate, cultural activist and songwriter.
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She holds degrees in business administration, adult education and is currently pursuing her PhD on the topic of Reparations. Her thesis working title is: Reparations for Trans-Atlantic Slavery – An Economic Development Strategy and Alternative to Aid. For 20 years, Delvina led the nationally-acclaimed female a capella quartet Four the Moment – gaining international recognition for award winning compositions themed around gender justice, anti-racism and wider social justice issues. As a principal founder of the Afrocentric Learning Institute of Nova Scotia (ALI), she has been at the forefront of the Canadian Afrocentric education movement and is most noted for establishing Canada’s first ever university degree in Afrocentric Educational Leadership at Mount Saint Vincent University in Halifax. She served as Executive Director of CACE (an educational advisory committee) from 1997 – 2015; prior to that she held leadership positions in the public, private and not-for-profit sectors. Including: Youth Employment & Training organizations, Women’s Shelters, Federal Human Resources Development Canada and a sessional lecturer with both Dalhousie and Mount Saint Vincent University. As an Afrocentrist, Feminist and student of Global Development, Delvina has a significant interest in the political economy of globalization; the interaction of local development and global factors; alternative development paradigms; new forms of social agency in the global south; Anti-Racist models of human development; Feminist analysis of global development institutions; and reparatory justice approaches to understanding local responses to the activities of transnational capital and global enterprise. Delvina has traveled widely, is an active volunteer in her Halifax community and is the mother of two daughters.
Leilani Farha
Board of Directors, Ontario
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.
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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.
Mary Ellen MacCallum
Board of Directors, British Columbia
Mary Ellen worked in international development as a senior manager for more than twenty years.
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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.
Amelia Martin
Board of Directors, British Columbia
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.
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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.
Jessica McCormick
Board of Directors, Newfoundland & Labrador
Jessica is a feminist and activist from St. John's, Newfoundland and Labrador.
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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.
Rita Parikh
Board of Directors, British Columbia
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.
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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.
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 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.
Paulette Senior
Board of Directors, Ontario
Paulette Senior has devoted her career to empowering women and girls to overcome barriers and reach their full potential.
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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.
Larry Swatuk
Board of Directors, Ontario
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.
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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.
Dudley Thompson
Board of Directors, Manitoba
Dudley is Principle in Dudley Thompson Consultancy – a consulting firm focusing on Sustainable Community, Regenerative Architecture, Advocacy, Stakeholder Engagement and Climate Change Mitigation.
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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.
Robert (Bob) Van Den Berg
Board of Directors, Ontario
Robert is a credentialed program evaluator with more than 10 years of professional experience conducting evaluations.
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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.

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.

 

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.
Jennifer Luedey
Director, Philanthropy and Development, Ottawa
Jennifer Luedey is the Director of Philanthropy and Development at Oxfam Canada, where she leads a team of enthusiastic and committed fundraisers for the public fundraising program.
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Jennifer has more than twelve years of experience as a fundraising professional for women's rights and international development organizations, and is a proud feminist and activist. Her education and background in social services and community work has brought a deep understanding of the importance of working within an anti-oppression framework. With a focus on women's rights and gender equality, she has worked with girls in rural communities around healthy relationships and media literacy, coordinated a community advocacy and public education program for sexual health and reproductive rights in Toronto, and as a residential counsellor at a shelter for women fleeing violence.

When she isn’t trying to convince you that direct mail is still relevant, you can find her supporting the local music scene or painting at home in Wakefield. Originally from New Brunswick, Jennifer has lived in Montreal, Toronto, Calgary, Ottawa, a ski resort in the Rocky Mountains (although she doesn’t ski) and New Zealand, where she managed a hostel and had a short stint on a soap opera!
Diane O’Reggio
Director, Finance and Operations, Ottawa

Christina Polzot
Director, International Programs, Ottawa
Christina Polzot is the Director of International Programs at Oxfam Canada, where she provides strategic leadership and oversight to Oxfam’s long-term development and humanitarian programming, with a particular focus on ensuring women’s rights and gender justice are at the heart of all programs.
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Prior to joining Oxfam, Christina held a number of positions with Care Canada – including Country Director in Cuba; Acting Director of Bilateral Projects; and Program Manager for Latin America and the Caribbean. Christina lived and worked extensively in Latin America, including Cuba, Honduras, Paraguay and Costa Rica leading long-term development and humanitarian programs focused on the promotion of women’s rights and social justice. Christina began her career as an AFS Interculture Canada volunteer, and was a 2-term CUSO cooperant. She holds a Master’s Degree in Environmental Studies and International Development from York University and a B.Sc. from McGill University.
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).

Policy and Practice



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.

 
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).
Mayssam Zaaroura
Women's Rights Knowledge Specialist, Ottawa
Mayssam Zaaroura is Oxfam Canada’s Women’s Rights Knowledge Specialist working on feminist approaches to research and development on Violence Against Women and Girls. She is an expert on Gender and Violence in Fragile and Conflict-Affected States, with over 15 years’ experience on gender transformation, working with civil society organizations and political actors on women, peace and security, gender and forced migration, conflict and transition processes, and women’s political empowerment in conflict and post-conflict settings.
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Prior to joining Oxfam Canada, Ms. Zaaroura was the Program Officer with the Safe and Inclusive Cities Initiative in the Governance and Justice Program at the International Development Centre, working on urban violence and on women’s empowerment in Middle East, Africa and Southeast Asia. As a communications expert, she was National Desk Editor and Senior Political Journalist at The Daily Star newspaper in Lebanon, covering political issues in the MENA region. She holds a Master’s Degree in International Development and Global Studies from the University of Ottawa (2011), and a Bachelor’s in Communications and Languages from the University of Sunderland in the UK (2002).
Ian Thomson
Policy Specialist, Extractive Industries, Ottawa
Ian leads our policy work on gender justice in the mining, oil and gas industries. In collaboration with partners and colleagues in Canada and more than 30 countries, he advocates for public policy reform and changing industry norms to tackle the entrenched gender bias around natural resource extraction – who benefits, who bears the risk and who holds power.
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He is actively involved in the Publish What You Pay-Canada network and the Canadian Network on Corporate Accountability. He also guides Oxfam Canada’s policy work on climate change, international trade and investment, and the role of the private sector.

Prior to joining Oxfam, from 2005 to 2017, Ian coordinated the human rights and natural resources program of KAIROS Canada, a coalition of 10 national churches and religious organizations. He is a board member of MiningWatch Canada and the Maquila Solidarity Network, and holds engineering degrees from Queen’s University and the University of Toronto. A passionate cyclist and runner, he loves the month of May when his hometown of Ottawa emerges from winter and fully comes into bloom.
Brittany Lambert
Women's Rights Specialist, Policy and Advocacy, Ottawa
Brittany Lambert is a Women’s Rights Policy and Advocacy specialist at Oxfam Canada. She has over a decade of experience in international development research, policy and advocacy.
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She has worked extensively on issues such as economic inequality, women's rights, Canadian aid and foreign policy, rights-based approaches to trade and investment, and social determinants of health. Currently, she leads Oxfam Canada’s policy and advocacy on humanitarian and refugee issues, bringing a strong gender lens to this work. Brittany is a proud feminist. Women’s rights and human rights are at the heart of her vision for social change. Prior to working for Oxfam, she worked at the Canadian Council for International Cooperation and the McGill Institute for Health and Social Policy. She has a Master’s degree from McGill University.
Dana Stefov
Women's Rights Specialist, Policy and Advocacy, Ottawa
Dana Stefov is Women’s Rights Policy and Advocacy Specialist and the policy lead on sexual and reproductive health and rights (SRHR) at Oxfam Canada. She also supports the team’s work on women’s economic equality.
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Dana is a committed feminist that has worked in women’s rights, climate and food justice programming and policy, in Canada, throughout the Americas and internationally. She has lived and worked in several Central American countries – Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua and Costa Rica - and is particularly fond of the region. She has held recent positions with USC Canada, the Halifax Initiative Coalition, the Canadian Council for International Co-operation and a coalition of human rights organizations in the Americas advocating to strengthen the Inter-American Human Rights System.

Dana hold a M.Sc. in Development Management from the London School of Economics and a B.A. (Hons) in Development Studies and Political Science from Queen’s University. She lives with her partner Sébastien and two children, Alexis and Sacha, in a house they built with their own hands in Wakefield, Quebec in the national capital region of Canada. Dana is a beer-loving foodie who speaks Greek, Romanian, Spanish, French and English.
Diana Sarosi
Manager of Policy and Advocacy, Ottawa
Diana Sarosi is the manager of Oxfam’s women’s rights policy and advocacy team. She is a long-standing feminist advocate, with over 15 experience working with non-governmental organizations in Canada and throughout Southeast Asia.
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At Oxfam Canada, she is advancing policy files related to economic inequality, gender budgeting, humanitarian assistance, peace and security, aid and foreign policy, and women’s leadership, all with an emphasis on feminist approaches, targeting the Canadian government and multilateral fora. She is an ongoing analyst and commentator on Canada’s federal budget. Diana previously worked for the Nobel Women’s Initiative and grassroots organizations throughout Southeast Asia. She lived five years in Thailand and founded a NGO working to protect human rights defenders. She is also a steering committee member of the Women, Peace and Security Network Canada.

Diana holds degrees in Political Science and Conflict Resolution and has published several reports, articles and op-eds.

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If you are approached by someone in an Oxfam t-shirt or vest, talking animatedly about ending global poverty, you have likely met one of our face-to-face canvassers!

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