End Poverty Edmonton: Who We Are

EndPovertyEdmonton is comprised of 5 Community Tables and a Secretariat.  Each table is meant to represent all the voices necessary to eliminate poverty within a generation Each table is represented in the Stewardship RoundTable, which is the organizing entity for EndPovertyEdmonton. 

EndPovertyEdmonton Stewardship Roundtable Members 

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Rt. Reverend Jane Alexander, EPE Co-Chair

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. 

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Dr. Jeff Bisanz, EPE Co-Chair

Jeff Bisanz is a professor 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, Chair of the Department of Psychology from 2012-2016, and 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 and Co-Chair of the Stewardship Round Table for EndPovertyEdmonton, and he serves on the Board of Directors for the Muttart Foundation.  

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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.


Anne Smith, President & CEO United Way Alberta Capital Region

Anne Smith has dedicated more than 30 years of her career to the work of the United Way.  Anne has lead the local lintroduction of many innovative programs including 211, Success by 6, All in for Youth, EmpowerU and Poverty Simulations. As well, she has served on the Edmonton Housing Trust, Edmonton Community Foundation and the Telus Community Board; has chaired the Edmonton Homeless Commission, and co-chaired the City of Edmonton's Poverty Elimination Task Force. As a dedicated member of EndPoverty Edmonton, Anne believes this is a unique time for our community. Never before has local government driven such a comprehensive and highly collaborative approach toward poverty elimination. The alignment across all sectors is unprecedented, and United Way is fully committed to this collective effort for the betterment of all families, children and individuals in our community.   

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Cheryl Whiskeyjack, Executive Director, Bent Arrow

Cheryl Whiskeyjack is the Executive Director of the Bent Arrow Traditional Healing Society. She started her career in human services with Bent Arrow in 1995 as a youth worker, and become executive director in 2008. Cheryl has had a hand in developing most of Bent Arrow’s 16 programs and services, many of which are accredited, creative initiatives that fill gaps in service provision for Aboriginal people in Edmonton. As the organizations ED, Cheryl leads a team of over 250 employees – the Bent Arrow family. She works to ensure high quality programs and services, and a sense of belonging to the Bent Arrow family for the children and families who come to Bent Arrow. 


David Shepherd, M.L.A. 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.


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!

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Ben Henderson, City Councillor 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.


Lloyd Cardinal

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 Health & Human 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 including the provincial action plan on poverty.  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. 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.


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.