End Poverty Edmonton: Who We Are
Structuring a movement
EndPovertyEdmonton is comprised of 5 Community Tables and a Secretariat. Each table represents the voices necessary to eliminate poverty within a generation. And each table is represented in the Stewardship Round Table, which is the leadership entity for EndPovertyEdmonton.
EPE Stewardship Round Table Members
Michael Phair, University of Alberta, Co-Chair EPE SRT
Michael Phair served as a City Councillor for 15 years, during which time he directed Council initiatives on homelessness and housing policy, the inclusion on the ‘next generation’ social policies. He initiated a water conservation program and contributed to the creation and funding of the Edmonton Arts Council. He also co-chaired a Council-led initiative on housing for low-income Edmontonians, which became Edmonton’s Cornerstones Program. He serves on numerous boards including the Edmonton Social Planning Council, Homeward Trust, the North Saskatchewan River Valley Conservation Society, Sage Seniors Association and NeWest Publishing. He founded, and is past chair, of the HIV Edmonton Society and helped create the EndPovertyEdmonton Task Force. He has also served as an adjunct professor with the Institute of Sexual Minority Studies and Services, at the U of A’s Faculty of Education. Mr. Phair is currently Chair of the University of Alberta Board of Governors, and the Executive Director of the North Saskatchewan River Valley Conservation Society.
Cheryl Whiskeyjack, Executive Director, Bent Arrow, Co-Chair EPE SRT
Cheryl has served her entire career with Bent Arrow Traditional Healing Society, starting as a youth work and growing into her current position of executive director. Cheryl proudly serves as a board member of the Canadian Accreditation Council of Human Services and the Align Association of Community Services. She has contributed to the work of End Poverty Edmonton since its inception as a member of the original Aboriginal Round Table and the current Indigenous Circle. She acts as a mentor for the Edmonton Chamber of Voluntary Organizations Executive Director Mentorship program. Cheryl is proud of the strong partnerships she has maintained across sectors. She also represents Bent Arrow through C5, a collaborative partnership of five non-profits representing over 30,000 Edmontonians.
Mayor Don Iveson
Mayor Don Iveson has set his sights on transforming Edmonton into a highly liveable, uplifting and globally competitive city that is recognized as one of Canada’s very best places to build something great. In his time on Council and as Mayor, he has earned a reputation for being pragmatic, creative, collaborative and compassionate in his approach to building Edmonton. Harnessing a renewed confidence among Edmontonians, he is focused on driving progress in four priority areas: Building a more uplifting and inclusive city; Building a more resilient and green city; Building a more prosperous and competitive region; and leading an open and effective local government.
Randy Boissonault, MP Edmonton Centre
Randy Boissonnault is the Member of Parliament for Edmonton Centre and the Special Advisor to the Prime Minister on LGBTQ2 Issues. Randy discovered his passion for leadership and public service at the University of Alberta, where he served as President of the Students’ Union. Since studying at the University of Oxford as a Rhodes Scholar, Randy has worked as a lecturer at the University of Alberta’s Campus Saint-Jean, and as a journalist and political commentator for CBC Radio-Canada and Les Affaires.
A proud Rotarian, Randy has a long history of charitable work, both locally in Edmonton and abroad. He founded Literacy Without Borders, an international NGO devoted to promoting literacy for both children and adults in the developing world and in Canada. He has also served as Vice Chair of TEDx Edmonton and Chair of the Board of Directors of the Francophone Economic Council of Alberta, the Francophone Sport Federation of Alberta, and the Canadian Francophone Games. He was one of the 50 founders of Startup Edmonton and was a finisher of the Ironman Canada Triathlon.
David Shepherd, MLA Edmonton Centre
David Shepherd loves context. He can often be found lurking around the edges of conversations, exploring margins, tracing paths of influence and digging for root causes. A lover of story, metaphor and rhetoric, David found a natural path from working as a musician and studio and engineer to a degree and work in professional communications. Along the way he channeled his natural curiosity and passion for improving systems into community advocacy with #YEGBIKE and the Edmonton Bike Coalition. These experiences led David to run for the Alberta NDP in the 2015 provincial election. As the MLA for Edmonton-Centre, he now couples his interests and skills with the advantage of his position to dig deep into the concerns of communities in our downtown core and build alliances across sectors and orders of government to develop long-term solutions. Some of David’s key focuses in his work include: housing & homelessness including supportive housing; urban vibrancy including support for the arts, local business and family housing; harm reduction; expanding use of and infrastructure for active transportation; and increased understanding of and supports for mental illness.
Rt. Reverend Jane Alexander, Anglican Archdiocese
Bishop Jane Alexander was born in England and began her professional life in 1981 as a music teacher in Newcastle Upon Tyne. On moving to Canada she earned a Master’s Degree in Education in 1993 and a Ph.D. in Educational Psychology in 1996, both from the University of Alberta. She earned a Master’s degree in Theological Studies in 2001 from Newman Theological College. She was ordained to the priesthood in 2001, served in several parishes in the Diocese of Edmonton and became Dean in 2006. Jane was consecrated and installed as Bishop of Edmonton on May 11th, 2008. In March 2014 she joined Mayor Don Iveson in Co-chairing the EndPovertyEdmonton Task Force, a group of community leaders with the ambitious goal of ending poverty in Edmonton in a generation. She is past Co-Chair of the EndPovertyEdmonton Stewardship Round Table.
Dr. Jeff Bisanz, University of Alberta
Jeff Bisanz is a professor (emeritus) in the Department of Psychology at the University of Alberta, where the main focus of his research is on cognitive development in children. He served as Director of the Community-University Partnership for the Study of Children, Youth, and Families (CUP) from 2000-2011, as Chair of the Department of Psychology from 2012-2016. as a member of the Mayor’s Task Force for the Elimination of Poverty in Edmonton (2014-2016). Currently he is Co-Chair of CUP’s Steering Committee, Co-Chair of EPE's Early Learning and Care Steering Committee, and past Co-Chair of EPE's Stewardship Round Table. He also serves on the Board of Directors for the Muttart Foundation.
Lloyd Cardinal is Cree from Wolf Lake, Alberta of both Treaty and Metis ancestry and his family comes from the Eagle Clan. He was raised traditionally by his Mosum and Kokum in Wolf Lake hunting and, trapping. This is how he connected with his true identity and culture. When Lloyd moved to Edmonton he experienced a loss of culture and lost his way for 14 years to alcohol addiction and poverty. When he came into healing a drum was passed down to him by his father and the drum took him on a healing journey. Lloyd has been drumming now for seven years working in the inner city within homelessness. He has seen the drum bring healing to people. Now, Lloyd is a drum keeper, makes Pow Wow and hand drums and is a member of the Nehiyawak singers.
Dr. Crista Carmichael, Ministry of Community and Social Services
Crista joined the Government of Alberta in 2006 and has worked in the ministries of Health, Human Services and now Community and Social Services in a number of roles. Her current role is leading a team of professional staff to work on strategic policy initiatives in the social services sector to support improved outcomes for Albertans. Previously, Crista worked at the City of Edmonton in an organizational effectiveness role based in Human Resources. Prior to moving to Edmonton in 1997, Crista completed a PhD in Psychology at the University of Minnesota and worked in a research project management role for a psychological test publisher in Minneapolis, Minnesota. Crista grew up in southwestern Ontario and attended Western University.
Dr. Louis Hugo Francescutti, University of Alberta School of Public Health
Louis Hugo Francescutti is a professor in the School of Public Health at the University of Alberta. He is an emergency and preventive medicine physician with special interests in end-of-life issues. There is no doubt in my mind that poverty causes ill health. Eliminating poverty is the boldest means a community has to make its people healthier. It has been an honour to serve on the mayor's EndPovertyEdmonton task force and the stewardship table and collectively we can make this dream a reality. The time has come to not only reduce poverty but to boldly eliminate it completely. Of all the important things i do, this is by far the most important of them all!
Martin Garber-Conrad, CEO Edmonton Community Foundation, Chair EPE Investment Collective
Martin Garber-Conrad is the Chief Executive Officer of Edmonton Community Foundation, the fourth largest community foundation in Canada, with assets of more than $500 million.
After a brief stint designing resource industry training programs, Martin has spent most of his career leading non-profit organizations. His accomplishments include several social housing projects, restoring/repurposing historic buildings and starting a social enterprise—Kids in the Hall Bistro—in Edmonton’s City Hall.
At the Foundation, Martin’s interests include their ten-year old Social Enterprise Fund which has successfully loaned $30 million to more than 50 charities and non-profits in Edmonton and takes a leadership role in the developing social finance movement in Canada.
Martin’s current passion and preoccupation is Edmonton’s new Community Development Corporation, in response to the EndPovertyEdmonton strategy.
Kate Gunn, City of Edmonton
As Director, Community Initiatives for the City of Edmonton, Kate and her team lead and support a variety of complex community change initiatives, including Edmonton's WinterCity Strategy, Edmonton's Women's Initiative, and RECOVER: Edmonton's Urban Wellness Plan. From 2014- 2016 they supported the Mayor's Task Force to End Poverty in the development of its Strategy and 5 Year Road Map that became the foundation for EndPovertyEdmonton. They continue to support EndPovertyEdmonton and advance City Road Map actions to end poverty.
In past years, Kate helped lead the task force that led to the creation of REACH Edmonton, as well as the City's Next Gen Task Force and its Walkable Edmonton initiative. She is a passionate Edmontonian, a palm reader and avid traveller who lived in Rovaniemi, Finland, for a year. ( if the last sentence is too informal you can delete!)
Kate holds degrees from Trent and Queen's University, in addition to a Diploma in Community Collaboration from the Tamarack Institute.
Ben Henderson, City Councillor Ward 8
Before being elected to Edmonton’s City Council in 2007, Ben Henderson was very active in cultural and community-building in Edmonton. Henderson brings a master’s degree in Fine Arts, years of experience as a theatre director, as well as involvement with the Professional Arts Coalition of Edmonton and the Edmonton Arts Council (as vice-president). A member of the Old Strathcona Foundation, he was also a vice-president of the Edmonton Federation of Community Leagues (EFCL) for several years and chaired their Planning & Development Committee. He served on the City of Edmonton’s Infrastructure and Technical Advisory Committee, also the Advisory Committee on Taxation of Non-Profits. He is trained and has worked in mediation and negotiation. Since being elected to Edmonton City Council in 2007, some of the many committees and initiatives Henderson has been involved in are Inter City Forum on Social Policy, Task Force on Contaminated Gas Stations, Utilities Committee, Joint Committee on Stakeholder Involvement in the Planning Process, Winter City Strategies Initiative, Capital Region Waste Management Advisory Committee and the Poverty Elimination Initiative, among others. He has been a board member of the Federation of Canadian Municipalities (FCM) since 2008, including 3 years as Chair of the Socio-Economic Policy Committee and representing FCM on the Canadian Council on Social Determinants of Health. He now chairs the national committee “Green Municipal Fund” for the Federation of Municipalities. As a City Councillor, he represents Ward 8, which includes much of the mature south-central and east side of Edmonton.
Shannon Hebden, Drop-In & Cultural Supports Manager, Boyle Street Community Services
Shannon Hebden was born and raised on the Treaty 6 territory of Amiskwaciy and has been honoured to walk her journey and work with Elders, Knowledge Keepers and Ceremony Peoples within the Indigenous community for many moons now. Shannon has been working in the heart of the inner city for over 6 years, starting as a volunteer before moving into frontline employment and management at Boyle Street Community Services. She currently sits with four important teams offering services to our most vulnerable and marginalized community members of Edmonton in the Drop-In and Winter Emergency Response programs, Inner City Recreation & Wellness, and the Indian Residential Schools Resolution Health Support program. It is through her own personal experiences, spiritual awareness, and passion for helping and healing work that Shannon has dedicated her life to serving the community with genuine purpose. Her work with Boyle Street Community Services led Shannon to the Road Map Planning teams for End Poverty Edmonton, which grew into an invite on the Indigenous Circle and a seat with a team of people who she believes carry great heart and passion for coming together to end poverty in a good way, respecting and acknowledging the wisdom, knowledge and experiences of the First Peoples.
Mark Holmgren, Edmonton Community Development Company
Mark serves as executive director of the Edmonton Community Development Company and has served as a Senior Director at the Tamarack Institute, where, among other things, he led a team supporting 60 member communities working on poverty reduction. Before that, he was the CEO of Bissell Centre and led the growth and expansion of the organization, in particular in the areas of housing the homeless, and designing and launching an eviction prevention program (Community Bridge) and an assertive street outreach team. He also led the redevelopment of Bissell’s Thrift Shoppe into a profitable social enterprise with annual revenues approaching a million dollars.
Earlier in his career, he held two senior staff positions at the local United Way and led the development of Operation Friendship’s multi-purpose facility. Mark is a prolific writer and teacher in traditional as well as new media on topics including: Community Engagement, Social Innovation, Upside Down Thinking, and Collaborative Leadership.
Bin Lau, Mayor's Office
As a long-time communications practitioner, Bin has worked in the private sector and public service in Canada and internationally, including the Saskatchewan Workers' Compensation Board, Government of Alberta, City of Edmonton and Edmonton Economic Development. He joined Mayor Iveson's team after his election as the 35th mayor of Edmonton in 2013.
As a community member, Bin serves on the boards of Edmonton Mennonite Centre for Newcomers and Ronald McDonald House Charities Alberta, and is a 12-year volunteer at North America's largest and longest-running fringe theatre festival. Bin has a BA in economics and an MA in Southeast Asian studies.
Claire MacDonald, Office of the MLA Edmonton Centre
Dr. Maria Mayan, Community-University Partnership
Maria Mayan is a Professor and Associate Dean, Research, in the Faculty of Extension, as well as an Assistant Director of the Community-University Partnership. She is also the Women and Children's Health Research Institute lead for patient-community engaged research. This means she loves working at the intersection of government, not-for-profit, lived experience, and clinician communities to tackle complex health and social issues. She commits to initiatives over the long-term and has devoted the past and upcoming years to EndPovertyEdmonton.
Susan Morrissey, Executive Director, Edmonton Social Planning Council
Susan Morrissey has been with the Edmonton Social Planning Council (ESPC) for over 11 years. ESPC is an independent social research and analysis organization, which supports organizations and agencies who advocate and serve the needs of individuals living in low income. In her capacity as Executive Director she has been successful in re-vitalizing and re-branding the Council. Her position allows her to work collaboratively with others towards moving the needle on the bigger social issues facing our community. Susan’s involvement with End Poverty Edmonton (EPE) dates back to 2013 when she was a member of the original Poverty Elimination Strategy Steering committee. Since that time she was involved with the Economic Security working group as well as the EPE Road Map Team which was tasked with developing a community implementation plan building on the foundation laid by the EPE Strategy. Susan is currently a member of the City of Edmonton Age Friendly Steering Committee and Co-Chairs one of the working groups and continues to be involved in the development of the Edmonton Community Foundation Vital Signs reports. In 2002 she was the recipient of the YWCA Women of Distinction award in the category of Business Management and the Professions and in 1994 and 2001 she was voted by her peers as Professional of the Year by the Alberta Therapeutic Recreation Association. Born and raised in Edmonton, Susan’s passion lies in helping those who are vulnerable recognize and achieve their potential. Please visit edmontonsocialplanning.ca for more information on this vital organization.
Aaron Paquette, City Councillor Ward 4
As a lifelong Edmontonian and a parent raising his family in Ward 4, Councillor Paquette is committed to building strong and diverse communities in northeast Edmonton.
Prior to his election to Council, Aaron worked as an award-winning Indigenous artist and author. His work can be viewed in museums, schools, hospitals and LRT stations across our city. His novel, Lightfinder, is taught in schools and post-secondary institutions across Canada. He has also worked with local schools in Edmonton’s north side to help create mural projects.
His passion for education also led him to work with Alberta Education, various school boards and teachers associations to help develop art curriculum and improve academic achievement. In 2012, he created an education conference to lay new ground for more effective approaches to creating healthy and respectful learning environments for students and teachers.
In his role as City Councillor for Ward 4, Aaron sits on Executive Committee, Utility Committee and the City Manager and City Auditor Performance Evaluation Committee. He has sponsored the Council Initiative on Food Security, and has also taken a leadership role working on the Child-Friendly Edmonton, EndPovertyEdmonton, Multiculturalism and Urban Isolation/Mental Health initiatives.
Aaron lives in Brintnell with his wife Clarice and their four children.
Zahra Somani, Pirani Group
Zahra Somani is the President of His Highness the Aga Khan Ismaili Council for Edmonton. She is as an active member of the business community and is a passionate ambassador motivated by the desire and ability to influence and strengthen communities that enhance quality of life.
Rob Yager, President & CEO United Way of the Alberta Capital Region
Rob Yager has spent nearly 20 years dedicating his career to helping others in the community. A committed and passionate leader, Rob has held roles in organizations focused on healthcare, seniors support and social services.
Since 2004, Rob has held executive leadership positions at United Way of the Alberta Capital Region, including Chief Operating Office and his current role as President & CEO.
His contributions include providing direction on United Way’s Pathways Out of Poverty mission, participating on the national United Way Movement Advisory Council, leadership on pan-organizational projects and executive sponsorship of the All in for Youth initiative.
In addition to United Way, Rob has served on the the Salem Manor Society, Stony Plain Road Business Association, the Greenfield Baptist Church, and the Camrose Handivan Society Board. Rob has also held senior leadership positions at The Bethany Group and St. Mary’s Hospital.
Rob is excited to be a part of the EndPovertyEdmonton Stewardship Roundtable and to be working together with the City to help every individual in our region thrive.