INSPIRE: OCIC’s 30th Anniversary AGM & Symposium Speaker Bios


JP Bervoets – Vice President, Community Foundations of Canada

For the past decade, JP has worked to foster collaboration and build partnerships across sectors to advance community wellbeing and sustainable development. He joined CFC in 2014 to help connect the work of Canada’s community foundation movement with a network of partners from the public and private sector and civil society.

Prior to joining CFC, JP held various positions in the international development sector in Canada, and internationally, including as Manager, Communications at North Star Alliance, a groundbreaking public-private partnership founded by the UN World Food Programme and TNT Express.

JP’s interests include public health, culture and development, and public-private partnerships. He sits on the Board of Directors at Canadian charity Art for AIDS International, and has voluntarily supported a number of organizations at home and abroad including Boys and Girls Clubs, the Nkosi Johnson AIDS Foundation, and UNAIDS.

Julie Wright – General Manager, Waterloo Global Science Initiative 

Julie Wright is the General Manager of the Waterloo Global Science Initiative (WGSI), a partnership between Perimeter Institute for Theoretical Physics and the University of Waterloo that aims to catalyze collective action on complex global issues.

Julie’s career has focused on communicating complex ideas to broad audiences. For the last eight years, in her role at WGSI, she led the organization through its start-up phase to successfully launching its Summit series and follow-through impact activities. The inaugural event, Energy 2030, focused on a roadmap for decarbonizing our global electricity supply, while Learning 2030 focused on redesigning our approach to high school for the 21st century. In 2016, OpenAccess Energy, focused on accelerating electricity access for the energy isolated. WGSI’s current project, Generation SDG, focuses on catalyzing collective action on the Canadian implementation of the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

Prior to working at WGSI, Julie spent 10 years in communications and public affairs roles for companies, clients, and campaigns in the tech, cultural and non-profit sectors. She is a veteran of the millennium bubble and began her career in publishing.



Jon Beale – Network Manager, SDSN Canada

Jon Beale is the Manager of the Sustainable Development Solutions Network (SDSN) of Canada. Through SDSN Canada, Jon works on mobilizing Canadian scientific and technological expertise to facilitate learning and accelerate problem solving for sustainable development. The network links Canadian experts to global discussions on a universal agenda for sustainable development and supports action-oriented research helping Canada adopt and implement policies and practices that provide international leadership in sustainability.

Jon has built his career around bringing stakeholders from multiple perspectives together for effective discussion and collaboration. This includes working with small-holder farmer cooperatives in Zambia, Inuit and Métis fishermen in Labrador, senior municipal and provincial government staff, founders and executives of non-profits and start-up companies, academic leaders, and national media outlets. He values collaboration between all types of stakeholders to create meaningful solutions, and uses his skills as a leader and facilitator to help create change.

Shelagh McCartney – Assistant Professor, School of Urban and Regional Planning, Ryerson University

Professor Dr. Shelagh McCartney is a licensed architect and urbanist who researches informal settlements in rapidly expanding urban agglomerations and the effect that emerging institutional and redevelopment practices have on those communities. She is a Fulbright Scholar who received her Doctor of Design (2012) and Masters in Design Studies, concentrating in Urban Development and Housing (2007), from Harvard University, and Bachelors of Professional Architecture (2000) and Bachelor of Environmental Studies – Pre professional Architecture (1997) from the University of Waterloo, Canada.

At Harvard Dr. McCartney served as Teaching Fellow for Professors Joan Busquets, Alex Krieger and Jerold Kayden, for the Urban Design Pro-Seminar, Designing the American City and Private and Public Development courses respectively. Additionally she led teams for the conference on the “X Lines: A New Lens for the Urbanistic Project”, research project “Cerda I Barcelona of the Future: Reality vs Project.”, and “Ecological Urbanism” conference. Dr. McCartney’s eight years of professional practice encompassed lead design, technical and management roles. Including for Du Toit Allsopp Hillier for projects such as the winning entry now being realized for Toronto Central Waterfront with West 8. As part of a team and individually she has secured wins and mentions in four international competitions, and her work has been featured in numerous exhibitions and publications.

Currently Dr. McCartney is an assistant professor at the School of Urban and Regional Planning at Ryerson University. Previously Dr. McCartney was assistant professor and Urbanism Program coordinator at the Azrieli School of Architecture and Urbanism at Carleton University, Teaching Fellow at Harvard University, adjunct assistant professor at the University of Waterloo, lecturer at the University of Toronto and guest critic and invited lecturer at universities in the United States, Canada, Argentina, and Australia.

Ikem Opara – Strategy Lead – Connected People, Ontario Trillium Foundation

Ikem is a global citizen whose work intersects seamlessly with his passion for building communities and social structures that work for all. He’s really excited about telling, hearing and collecting stories of how people see themselves and their communities. He spends far too much time thinking about how people can build better bridges within and across communities. His international work over the years included program delivery partnerships in Tanzania and Cuba, while locally he volunteered as a board member of the Ontario Council of International Cooperation where he has served as chair. Currently, as a Strategy Lead at the Ontario Trillium Foundation, he brings his Equity, Diversity and Inclusion knowledge to guide

Brielle Beaudin-Reimer –  Métis Citizen, Advocate for Métis Culture and Participation & Speaker

Brielle Beaudin-Reimer is a citizen of the Métis Nation, a policy analyst at the Manitoba Metis Federation, and advocate for Métis inclusion. She serves as a Board Member for the Bell Tower Community Café and is a member of the Indigenous-led Committee for the Red River Regional Seed Library. Brielle is a lifelong learner, who is passionate about research, Indigenous issues, politics and policy development. “Through local and Indigenous led-research, advocacy, and development of evidence-based policy and programs,” says Brielle, “I hope to advance sustainable development in Canada and advocate for the participation of the Métis Nation and other Indigenous nations in this important area.”

After volunteering abroad in a rural community in South Africa, Brielle realized that local knowledge was key to sustainable development. Her focus in development shifted to taking a more local approach, one within her own community, the greater Métis Nation and with other Indigenous nations in Canada. Brielle went on to complete a Masters in Indigenous Governance at the University of Winnipeg, conducting community-based research that focused on promoting Métis food sovereignty by privileging Métis traditional food systems and Métis harvesters’ food-related knowledge and perspectives in Manitoba.

Brielle hopes to bring an authentic voice as a Métis citizen, advocating for the inclusion of diverse Indigenous perspectives, partnerships and Indigenous knowledge systems as important components to achieving sustainable development in the current era of reconciliation in Canada. In her spare time, Brielle loves spending time with her children, husband, family and friends and enjoys reading and being out on the land.

Joyce Sou – Director of B Lab Canada

B Lab serves as a global movement of people using business as a force for good through Certified B Corporations.  Previous to her time at B Lab, she was at the MaRS Centre for Impact Investing as the Manager of B Corps and Social Impact Metrics; growing the B Corp community throughout Ontario and other provinces.  Joyce is also a Chartered Accountant and, in a past life, worked as an Audit Manager in Consumer Markets at KPMG.  She enjoys exploring new nooks in her city of Toronto and dance parties (impromptu or planned).

Dominique Souris – Co-Founder and Executive Director, Youth Climate Lab

Dominique Souris is a graduate student in the Master of Arts in Global Governance program at the Balsillie School of International Affairs and a Junior Research Fellow at the Centre for International Governance and Innovation. She holds a Bachelor of Environmental Studies from the University of Waterloo, where she focused her Honours Thesis research on the political challenges relating to climate finance in UNFCCC negotiations.

Dominique has worked on climate change, adaptation finance, youth engagement and energy policy issues in both private and public sector organizations, including the International Development Research Centre, United Nations Environment Programme, Indigenous and Northern Development Canada, Ontario Energy Board, and ERM Consulting. She has been actively following the UNFCCC negotiations since 2013. She attended COP21 as a member of the Seychelles delegation to the UNFCCC, where she covered issues relating to climate finance. She will be joining the negotiating team again at COP22 in Marrakesh, Morocco in November 2016.

As one of Canada’s Top 30 under 30 Sustainability Leaders, Dominique has led and participated in workshops and conferences across the globe to advance the role of youth in environmental decision-making. She supports the efforts of YOUNGO, the official youth constituency of the UNFCCC, to engage young people in negotiations relating to loss and damage and climate finance. She is also on the advisory boards of the Sierra Youth Coalition and the Youth Arctic Coalition

Tina Sweeney – Outreach and Partnerships Officer, Cuso International

Tina Sweeney is passionate about creating a space for us to network and talk about how we can share our skills and talents locally and globally. In 2008, after 11 years as a brand marketer for clients that included Unilever’s, Dove Campaign for Real Beauty, Tina made a career transition. The catalyst was volunteering in Tanzania and Dharamsala India, where she found meaning in proximity and that closeness voiced a new narrative.

Tina works for Cuso International as the Outreach and Partnerships Officer, where she has the great opportunity of engaging individuals from diaspora communities, academic institutions, and business associations on how to use their expertise as a vital partner for sustainable development.

Tina is on the International Development Program Advisory Committee (PAC) of Centennial College, an executive member of the Canadian International Council, and a member of the Diaspora Networking Group, assembled though the Ontario Council for International Cooperation. Tina’s vision for the future is ‘a shared humanity’ through proximity.

Closing Speaker

Karen Craggs – Leading Canadian equality, intersectionality and inclusion expert

Karen is a White House recognized Gender Equality Changemaker (June 2016), a Canadian Global Goodwill Ambassador (Jan 2018) and a passionate thought-leader on global equality. As the Global Group Director for Gender Equality & Inclusion at the African Institute for Mathematical Sciences, Karen designs and leads innovative initiatives that accelerate progress for women in Science, Technology, Engineering & Mathematics (STEM) in Africa.

A leading Canadian equality, intersectionality and inclusion expert, Karen is known as the go-to person for NGOs, governments and corporations seeking to deliver effectively on equality — both internationally and across Canada. Learn more about her work at


Laveza Khan, Member Outreach & Government Relations, Alberta Council for Global Cooperation

Laveza works for the Alberta Council for Global Cooperation as the Membership & Government Relations Coordinator. Her work allows her to engage civil society, private sector and multiple levels of government to work collectively to advance sustainable development in Alberta, Canada and around the world. She completed her postgraduate studies at Humber College in International Development and has an Honours BA from McMaster University in Labour Studies and Sociology. Her work exists at the intersection of community development and sustainability. She is passionate about gender equality, education, and social justice. Laveza was selected for the Women Deliver Young Leaders Program and is committed to advancing gender equality and women’s rights both locally and globally.

Cindy Ross Pedersen, Executive Director, The Agency at The University of Toronto

Cindy is a former tech entrepreneur who successfully sold her company in 2006, retired early in 2008 to refocus on giving back.  At The Agency at the University of Toronto, she leverages her extensive network to connect students, faculty/staff, alumni and entrepreneurs with resources inside the University and out in the community that support their social innovation efforts.

She is a supporter and community member of the Centre for Social Innovation, a Senior Fellow at Massey College, Past-President of the University of Toronto Alumni Association, and volunteered as the Entrepreneur in Residence at Laurier University’s Schlegel Centre; Advisory Committee Chair, Major Gifts, Amnesty International Canada and as a Consultant for Habitat for Humanity Toronto.

Jack Bolland, Development Consultant, Oikocredit Canada                                                                                    
Jack has worked at the interaction of humanitarianism and sustainable development for the better part of a decade. His experiences stretch across: global research initiatives with top-tier academic institutions; Impact Investing & ESG standards; SME business development; Environmental Management & Climate Change Resilience; Policy advocacy; Entrepreneurial start-ups; Humanitarian Relief & Charitable Fundraising; Social Activism, FDI & Overseas Development Strategies; and more. Currently, Jack works as a development consultant. One initiative he is particularly passionate about is his work with OikoCredit – remodelling the stigma surrounding social investing where commercial demands can and should be accompanied by environmental and social goals for a triple-bottom line impact. He also works with young, aspiring humanitarians by preparing them for deployment through a simulated training course.

INSPIRE: OCIC’S 30th Anniversary Global Changemaker-Powered Evening Celebration

Keynote Speaker

James Thuch Madhier
Founder & Executive Director, Rainmaker Enterprise

James Thuch Madhier is the founder and executive director of the Rainmaker Enterprise, an awardwinning and climate-adaptive social enterprise that uses solar-power to access water for safe human consumption and sustainable agriculture to achieve zero hunger, zero poverty and improved quality of life in South Sudan.

Born into war-torn Sudan in 1990, James endured war, famine, and forced displacement, fleeing to Kakuma refugee camp in Kenya in 2005. There, James worked as a humanitarian field interpreter with the UNHCR, and as a community mobilizer with Windle Trust International’s Girl Child Education program.

In 2014, James relocated to Toronto, Canada to pursue a degree in Peace, Conflict and Justice Studies at the Munk School of Global Affairs, through the World University Service of Canada. For his work advising world leaders on inclusive sustainable development and as executive director of the Rainmaker Enterprise, James has been recognized as a Future Leader by the European Commission; as a lifetime fellow with the Resolution Project; as a Global Change Maker Youth Ambassador with the Ontario Council for International Cooperation; and as a North American regional finalist of the United Nations Environment Program’s Young Champions of the Earth award. James is also an Ambassador with One Young World, a global network of young leaders that convenes annually to address pressing global issues.


Linda Bui

Linda Bui is the co-founder of the Girls Empowerment Movement and is a motivated and passionate Changemaker engaged in a number of programs and initiatives relating closely to the themes of innovation toward environmental sustainability, gender equality, innovation, and community-based peace-building & reconciliation. In her role as a QE Scholar within the Center for Critical Development Studies University of Toronto Scarborough, Linda continues to engage with the community around her through a wide range of activities and is an active student leader and peer mentor. Linda has collaboratively worked on numerous projects, including as the Monitoring and Evaluation Officer and the Communications and Marketing Officer for the Women’s Entrepreneurship Program (WEP) in Sri Lanka through the World University Service of Canada (WUSC).



Ashley Rerrie

Ashley Rerrie is the Country Director of Casa – Pueblito, currently living and working in Managua, Nicaragua. She was an OCIC Global Changemaker Youth Ambassador in 2016. Originally from Nova Scotia, Ashley travelled to Nicaragua for the first time in 2012, where she became interested in social justice, solidarity, and how to build intentional relationships across international borders. Since then, she has graduated from York University’s Master of Arts program in Development Studies, focusing on NGO-community partnerships and global social justice education for youth. Currently, Ashley coordinates Casa – Pueblito’s Community Development and Global Education programs in Nicaragua, working with various community partners towards justice, equity, and sustainability in their communities, while teaching delegations of Canadian youth about solidarity and global systemic issues through the microcosm of Nicaragua.