Our Thought Leaders

Throughout the two-day workshop, we will have the privilege of hearing from thought leaders who will push our thinking further in Asset-Based Community Development, neighbourhood work, and deepening community.

Zita Cobb

Zita Cobb

Business leader, Storyteller, Community builder at Fogo Island

In 2021, Zita Cobb was the first social entrepreneur to be inducted into the Canadian Business Hall of Fame. Growing up on Fogo Island, Zita developed a deep belief in the inherent value of place and profound respect for the human ways of knowing that emerge from respectful relationships with nature, culture, and community. After completing high school on Fogo Island, Zita decided to study business in order to understand the global economic systems that had disadvantaged Fogo Island and numerous other small communities – bringing many to the brink of extinction. After completing university in Ottawa, she took on increasingly senior financial roles in the high-tech industry. She is most recognized for her work with JDS Fitel, subsequently, JDS Uniphase, where she contributed to building the company into one of the most successful high-tech innovators in history.

Zita returned home to Fogo Island in the early 2000s and, along with her brothers, Anthony and Alan began to build Shorefast’s initiatives. In 2016, Zita was awarded the Order of Canada in acknowledgement of the work of Shorefast in collaboration with the community of Fogo Island to help secure a more resilient future for this singular rural place. She now dedicates her full time and energies to the active direction and management of Shorefast and our projects on Fogo Island.

John McKnight

John McKnight 

Co-Director, Asset-Based Community Development Institute

John holds an honorary doctorate from the University of Waterloo, Canada and is Professor Emeritus of Communications Studies and Education and Social Policy at Northwestern University in Evanston, IL. For more than four decades his research and teaching have focused on social service delivery systems, health policy, community organization, neighbourhood policy and the incorporation of labelled people into community life. John leads a group of more than 50 fellows around the world and has mentored the likes of Barack and Michelle Obama.

As a result of a national study of local neighbourhood initiatives, McKnight and his long-time colleague, Jody Kretzmann, created the Asset-Based Community Development strategy for community building. Together, they co-authored the basic guide to asset-based community development, Building Communities from the Inside Out: A Path Toward Identifying and Mobilizing a Community’s Assets. This book has become one of the nation’s best-selling guides to community development, and the methods it outlines are now utilized worldwide.

McKnight has also written two additional books – The Careless Society: Community and its Counterfeits (which came out of a widely popular CBC radio Canada series) and, together with co-author Peter Block, The Abundant Community: Awakening the Power of Families and Neighbourhoods.

Kim Samuel

Kim Samuel 

Founder, Chief Belonging Officer and Fierce Believer in the Right to Belong

Kim Samuel is an educator, researcher, and advocate working to address challenges of social isolation around the world. As Founder of the Samuel Centre for Social Connectedness, Kim ensures that SCSC’s mission and vision is being carried out through its programs, research and partnerships.

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De’Amon Harges

Community Organizer, Creator of the Learning Tree

De’Amon Harges is a faculty member of the Asset-Based Community Development (ABCD) Institute, Community Organizer, Creator of the Learning Tree, chairperson of the Grassroots Grantmakers Association Board, and featured in the new documentary “The Antidote: On Kindness in America” - is a frequent speaker on ABCD in secular and religious groups around the world, and is a layperson at Broadway UMC, Indianapolis, IN. De’Amon's role is to listen and discover the gifts, passions and dreams of citizens in his community, and to find ways to utilize them in order to build community, economy, and mutual “delight.”

The bulk of De’Amon’s work is based on the principles and practices of the Asset-Based Community Development (ABCD) that brings neighbors and institutions together to discover the power of being a good neighbor. De’Amon builds on what is already present and in place in the neighborhood, using those formally undiscovered assets to connect and empower rather than working only from the community’s needs and deficits.

De’Amon now describes his role on this planet as a social banker. He utilizes the intangible currencies that are cultivated and used by human assets and relationships to build a more abundant community.

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Melanie Goodchild 

Founder, Turtle Island Institute 

Melanie Goodchild (Anishinaabe) is moose clan, from Biigtigong Nishnaabeg and Ketegaunseebee First Nations in northwestern Ontario. She is the founder and Co-Director of the Turtle Island Institute and she is a Faculty member of the Academy for Systems Change. Melanie believes in reawakening and honouring the teaching methods of her ancestors, of 'coming to know on the land, and so she supports initiatives that seek to connect people to ceremony, story, art, language and the land.

She has an HBA and MA in Sociology and is a PhD Candidate in Social & Ecological Sustainability at the University of Waterloo. She is a Research Fellow at the Waterloo Institute for Social Innovation & Resilience (WISIR) and her work focuses on understanding complexity theory, resilience thinking and deep systems awareness from a uniquely Anishinaabe perspective. Melanie is an alumna of the International Women's Forum (IWF) Foundation's executive global leadership program (2015/16) sponsored by Harvard Business School and INSEAD and she is a proud member of the Iron Butt Association, riding her Harley-Davidson motorcycle 1000 miles in 24 hours.

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Peter Block

Bestselling Author – Community and Abundant Community

Peter Block is consistently one of Tamarack's most popular speakers. We have brought Peter out of retirement. It has been a long time since we have been able to bring him to Canada and we are thrilled!

Peter is one of the world's top authors on Community and a citizen of Cincinnati, Ohio. He is a partner in Designed Learning, a training company that offers workshops designed to build the skills outlined in his books. He is the author of Flawless Consulting, Stewardship, The Answer to How Is Yes, Community, and co-author of The Abundant Community, and An Other Kingdom. Peter is part of the Economics of Compassion Initiative of Greater Cincinnati and is a member of his local neighbourhood council. He serves on the boards of Elementz, an urban arts centre, and LivePerson, a provider of online engagement solutions. His work is in the restoration of the common good and creating a world that reclaims our humanity from the onslaught of modernism.

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Lisa Attygalle

Consulting Director, Community Engagement, Tamarack Learning Centre

Lisa works with cities and organizations to help them meaningfully engage their communities. Over the last six years, her work has focused on creating authentic engagement strategies and training staff teams, teaching and writing about innovative engagement methodologies, designing and facilitating workshops with a focus on raising the voice of the context expert, integrated communications planning, and the use of technology and creativity for engagement. Lisa advocates for simplicity in infrastructure, frameworks and design and loves applying the principles of marketing, advertising, loyalty, and user experience to community initiatives.

Lisa comes to this work from the private sector where she worked at one of Canada's leading communications firms with clients in agribusiness, healthcare, financial services and technology. Hailing from Australia, Lisa also worked on major water infrastructure projects as the liaison between municipal government, engineering and the community.

Paul Born

Paul Born

Co-CEO Tamarack Institute, Bestselling Author of Deepening Community

Paul Born is a global leader and an award-winning author on issues of community. His knowledge about Collective Impact and Community Engagement is extensive. Paul grew up as the son of refugees that worked together to survive and then thrive. This experience is what made him deeply curious about and engaged in ideas that cause people to work together for the common good.

Paul is the Co-founder and Co-CEO of Tamarack Institute, a 35,000-member learning community, and the Founder and Director of Vibrant Communities, a Collective Impact movement including Cities Reducing Poverty, Cities Deepening Community, Communities Building Youth Futures and Community Climate Transitions. A large-scale community change facilitator, Paul is the author of four books including two Canadian best sellers. He is a global faculty member of the Asset-Based Community Development Institute (ABCD) and a senior fellow of Ashoka, the world’s largest network of social innovators. Paul was appointed to the Order of Canada in 2019.

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Cormac Russell

Author - Teacher - ABCD Consultant

Cormac is a faculty member of the ABCD Institute and an internationally renowned thought leader, Trainer and Speaker. He has supported the establishment of more than 30 ABCD learning sites in Rwanda, South Sudan, Kenya, Canada, Sweden, Ireland and the UK. He is driven by a passionate belief in the importance of localism, economic and environmental sovereignty, and is a strong advocate for the protection of the indigenous living and social justice. Cormac —a long-time friend and collaborator with Professor John McKnight has published extensively in professional journals on Asset-Based approaches to Probation, Health, Ageing Well, Community Housing, Community Development and Disability.

Heather Keam

Heather Keam

Manager, Cities Deepening Community - Tamarack's Vibrant Communities

Heather is happy to be part of the Vibrant Communities team as the Manager of Cities, Cities Deepening Community. Heather brings over 12 years of public health knowledge to this position.

Heather has a passion for helping communities to realize that they are in charge of their future and to take leadership in assessing their own resources and needs. Heather believes that people have choices. They can either sit back and let others determine their future or they can stand up and create their own.

Heather has 13 years of experience generating action at a grassroots level. She loves guiding groups through program planning, implementation and evaluation of local efforts. She has a Bachelor's degree in Health Studies from Brock University, a Graduate Diploma in Nutritional Science from Canberra University, Australia, a Graduate Diploma in Health Promotion from Canadore College and currently working on a Certificate for Knowledge Mobilization. Heather has presented at several provincial, national and international conferences regarding her work on walkable communities and building healthy communities.

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Jim Diers 

Author – Trainer – Activist – City Leader

Jim Diers has a passion for getting people engaged with their communities and in the decisions that affect their lives. His work in the Seattle Department of Neighborhoods was recognized with an Innovations Award from the Kennedy School of Government. He was appointed the first director of Seattle's Department of Neighborhoods in 1988 where he served under three mayors over the next 14 years creating what some would say is a miracle of neighbours where he put his passion to work for a direct-action neighbourhood association, a community development corporation, a community foundation, and the nation's largest health care cooperative.

He teaches courses at the University of Washington and serves on the faculty of the Asset-Based Community Development Institute. Jim travels internationally to deliver speeches and present workshops on neighbours and neighbourhoods. His book, Neighbor Power: Building Community the Seattle Way, is available in both English and Chinese editions.

 

Leaders Panel

Join us as we are led by a panel of leaders representing municipalities across Canada.

Lisa Helps

Mayor Lisa Helps 

Panelist 

Mayor Helps works hard at City Hall and in the community to ensure that the city is prosperous, affordable, sustainable, and ready for the future. Taking a long-term, big-picture perspective, she looks both around the city and around the world for innovative solutions to the pressing challenges facing us including climate change, lack of affordable housing, and growing social isolation and loneliness, especially among youth and seniors.

Mayor Helps believes that the best way to address complex challenges is to bring people from a diversity of backgrounds, perspectives and experiences together and to truly listen to each other. In her experience, listening deeply with empathy and generosity and taking in new information can enable us to change our minds or at least to broaden our perspectives.

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Mayor Lori Ackerman 

Panelist 

Mayor Helps works hard at City Hall and in the community to ensure that the city is prosperous, affordable, sustainable, and ready for the future. Taking a long-term, big-picture perspective, she looks both around the city and around the world for innovative solutions to the pressing challenges facing us including climate change, lack of affordable housing, and growing social isolation and loneliness, especially among youth and seniors.

Mayor Helps believes that the best way to address complex challenges is to bring people from a diversity of backgrounds, perspectives and experiences together and to truly listen to each other. In her experience, listening deeply with empathy and generosity and taking in new information can enable us to change our minds or at least to broaden our perspectives.

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Carole Saab

Moderator

Carole is a tireless champion for cities and communities, driving an ambitious vision for local government leadership in building a more sustainable, prosperous, and inclusive Canada.

Carole is an accomplished strategist with a decade of experience in federal and municipal advocacy. High performing and goal oriented, Carole has been a driving force behind watershed achievements for municipalities, securing unprecedented investment and progress for cities and communities.

Recognized by peers as tenacious, ambitious and a game-changer and consistently voted as one of the Top 100 Lobbyists in Canada. She is a 2020 recipient of “Canada’s Top 40 Under 40”, and the "Women of Influence in Local Government Award" from Municipal World.

Carole’s leadership and effective team building have positioned FCM as one of the most respected and effective advocacy organizations in Canada.

 

Stay posted for additional panel and workshop guests!