The End of Poverty

May 5-6, 2021





The End of Poverty national summit will be guided by keynotes and thought leaders from across the field of poverty reduction, both established and emerging. Speakers will share their experiences and perspectives, stimulate discussions, and inspire innovative solutions to ending poverty.

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Melody Barnes

Former Director of the White House Domestic Policy Council

While Melody Barnes was leading the White House Domestic Policy Council under President Barack Obama, the DPC was supporting the work of the White House Council on Community Solutions with honorary chair Michelle Obama and leaders from the private, non-profit and philanthropic sectors. Two key recommendations of that council were to focus on solutions for Opportunity Youth (youth whose futures had stalled in or after high school) and to ensure that every community was able to access a collective impact approach to community change. When Melody left the White House, she turned her focus to ensuring that these two opportunities were realized.

Melody Barnes worked side by side with Barack Obama in the White House as Director of the White House Domestic Policy Council. Melody left the White House to chair the prestigious Aspen Institute Forum for Community Solutions, including the Opportunity Youth Incentive Fund that has supported more than 1 million youth to realize opportunities and build better futures.

Melody is co-director for policy and public affairs for the Democracy Initiative, interdisciplinary teaching, research, and engagement effort led by the College and Graduate School of Arts & Sciences at the University of Virginia. She is the Dorothy Danforth Compton Professor, a professor of practice at the Miller Center of Public Affairs, and a distinguished fellow at the UVA School of Law. A co-founder of the domestic strategy firm MB2 Solutions LLC, Barnes has spent more than 25 years crafting public policy on a wide range of domestic issues.

During the administration of President Barack Obama, Melody was assistant to the president and director of the White House Domestic Policy Council. Prior to that, she was executive vice president for policy at the Center for American Progress and chief counsel to the late Senator Edward M. Kennedy on the Senate Judiciary Committee. Her experience includes an appointment as director of legislative affairs for the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission and assistant counsel to the House Judiciary Subcommittee on Civil and Constitutional Rights. Barnes began her career as an attorney with Shearman & Sterling in New York City.

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Mayor Naheed Nenshi

Mayor, City of Calgary

Naheed Nenshi, A’paistootsiipsii, was sworn in as Calgary's 36th mayor on October 25, 2010, and was re-elected in 2013 and 2017.

In 2013, after his stewardship of the community during devastating flooding, Maclean’s magazine called him the second-most influential person in Canada, after the Prime Minister. He was also awarded the 2014 World Mayor Prize by the UK-based City Mayor’s Foundation as the best mayor in the world.

In 2014, Mayor Nenshi was honoured by Elder Pete Standing Alone with the Blackfoot name A’paistootsiipsii, which means "Clan Leader" or "He who moves camp and the others follow". In 2016, Elder Bruce Starlight of the Tsuu T'ina First Nation honoured him with the name Iitiya: "Always Ready". Mayor Nenshi holds a Bachelor of Commerce (with distinction) from the University of Calgary, where he was President of the Students' Union, and a Master in Public Policy from the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University, where he studied as a Kennedy Fellow.

The Honourable Bardish Chagger

The Honourable Bardish Chagger

Federal Minister, Diversity, Inclusion and Youth 

The Honourable Bardish Chagger is the Federal Minister of Diversity and Inclusion and Youth. Previously, she was the Leader of the Government in the House of Commons and the Minister of Small Business and Tourism. Minister Chagger was first elected as a Liberal member of the House of Commons of Canada in the 2015 Canadian election. She has supported elections and has been involved in the democratic process since she was 13 years old.

Minister Chagger is devoted to inclusion and community building. Previously, she worked with the Kitchener-Waterloo Multicultural Centre to foster diversity within the community and provide opportunities for social and economic engagement. She considers herself part of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms generation and has participated in policy conferences on many issues, including the advancement of same-sex marriage rights and a national manufacturing strategy.

Minister Chagger graduated from the University of Waterloo with a Bachelor of Science. In 2012, she was recognized as one of the “40 under 40” who would lead the Region of Waterloo into the future.

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Ana Gonzalez Guerrero

Co-Founder and Managing Director, Youth Climate Lab

Ana is the co-founder and Managing Director of Youth Climate Lab, a youth-for-youth lab dedicated to creating innovative projects for more ambitious climate action, and a member of Tamarack's board of directors.

Driven by the need to create a more just and inclusive transition towards a sustainable future, Ana has been working on climate change issues for over 15 years, focusing on sustainable local economic development and the empowerment of diverse actors such as young people, women and girls.

Prior to her role, she led an Innovation Fund through the Federation of Canadian Municipalities’ Partnership for Municipal Innovation in Local Economic Development, a small-scale granting mechanism for innovative solutions that benefit communities, with a focus on women and youth, across six countries. Ana has also worked closely with local-level actors through the Municipalities for Climate Innovation Program, supporting over 340 local governments in their efforts to take action on climate across Canada.

Scott MacAfee

Scott MacAfee

Chairperson, National Advisory Council on Poverty

Scott is Chairperson for Canada's National Advisory Council on Poverty. A student of life, he works from a strength-based approach, where all people have something to contribute.

Scott has spent the last 19 years with the Government of New Brunswick, working to reduce poverty through the department of Social Development and the Economic and Social Inclusion Corporation. He supported the creation and evolution of the Community Inclusion Networks and has helped with the development of over 500 community projects. Scott is a longstanding member and contributor of Cities Reducing Poverty.

Scott has chaired OMISTA Credit Union, Falls Brook Centre, New Brunswick Food Security Action Network and The Fredericton Loyalists Rugby Club. He has also sat on the boards of the Atlantic Summer Institute, The Healthy Eating Physical Activity Coalition and Team Rural NB. 


Atiq Rahman

Assistant Deputy Minister, The Learning Branch at Employment and Social Development Canada

Atiq Rahman is the Assistant Deputy Minister of the Learning Branch at Employment and Social Development Canada (ESDC), which consists of the Canada Education Savings Program, the Canada Student Loans Program, the Support for Student Learning Program and Canada Service Corps. Through these programs, the Government of Canada provides youth and students with financial and non-financial support to pursue post-secondary education and service opportunities. Previously, Atiq held a number of positions in the Canada Student Loans Program including the Director of Policy and the Senior Director, before serving as the Director-General of program.

Atiq has an MBA and a Ph.D. in Business Administration from McGill University where he was a Commonwealth Scholar.

Dee Ann Benard Headshot

Dee Ann Benard

Executive Director, Rural Development Network 

Dee Ann is the Rural Development Network’s inaugural Executive Director. She has over 17 years of experience as an Executive Director and has spent over 25 years working in rural Alberta. With this experience, Dee Ann leads RDN in helping communities navigate the landscape of rural development through RDN’s initiatives such as affordable housing, homelessness, addictions, transportation, immigration and community sustainability. RDN has a vested interest in seeing communities thrive, not just survive, and is well-positioned to assist them through complicated processes.

Dee Ann holds a B.Sc. and an M.Sc. from Simon Fraser University.  Since she moved to Alberta in 1994, she has held leadership positions with government, private industry and non-profits, and has served on numerous boards.



The Honourable Nicholas Simons

B.C.’s Minister of Social Development and Poverty Reduction

Nicholas Simons was first elected MLA for Powell River-Sunshine Coast in 2005. He has previously served as Chair of the Standing Committee on Children and Youth and on the Select Standing Committee on Finance and Government Services.

Nicholas worked in the areas of health, justice, social services and child welfare. He served as the director of health and social development for the Sechelt Nation from 1997 to 2005. As a director with the Sechelt Nation, he negotiated funding for innovative preventative health and social services, which led to a dramatic reduction in adversarial child welfare intervention and improved health outcomes in all age groups.

He has also worked as a child-protection social worker for the Ministry for Children and Families in Sechelt and North Vancouver. His 2004 review of the death of a Port Alberni toddler and the controversy surrounding the report led to the Hughes Report and significant changes in the child welfare system in British Columbia.

Nicholas has taught criminology, in which he has a bachelor’s degree from the University of Ottawa and a master’s from SFU. He has worked as a researcher and consultant for the federal, Northwest Territories, British Columbia and First Nations governments.

As a musician, Nicholas is active in the arts community, playing with local, national and international ensembles and has two gold records. He is a former president of the Sunshine Coast Arts Council.

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The Honourable Julie Green

Minister, Health and Social Services

Julie Green was re-elected to the 19th Northwest Territories Legislative Assembly representing the constituency of Yellowknife Centre. She became Minister of Health and Social Services in September 2020 and has ministerial responsibility for seniors and persons with disabilities. She was first elected to the 18th Assembly in 2015 and was the Chair of Caucus as well as the Chair of the Special Committee to Increase the Representation of Women in the Legislative Assembly.
Ms. Green arrived in Yellowknife in 2000 to continue her career as a reporter for CBC, focusing on non-renewable resource development. She left CBC in 2009 to focus on advocating and fundraising for services centred on women, families and children in need at YWCA Yellowknife. Working with representatives from the GNWT, Indigenous governments, municipal government and the business sector, she helped create the anti-poverty strategy, Building on the Strengths of Northerners, completed in 2013 and the first of the subsequent action plans, Working Together, in 2015
Ms. Green holds a Bachelor of Arts (Honours) from the University of Saskatchewan, a Master of Arts in History from the University of Calgary, and a Master of Arts in Journalism from the University of Western Ontario.

Mayor Clement

Mayor Mairesse Bernadette Clement

Mayor, City of Cornwall

Bernadette was born in Montreal, where her father and mother, sister and brother, as well as her nieces and nephews still live. She is very proud of the fact that her mother grew up in Manitoba as a francophone and her father in Trinidad, and as a result, she reflects both Canada’s diversity as well as its English and French linguistic duality. She was educated at le Collège Stanislas in Montréal, and thereafter attended law school at the University of Ottawa. She has been a lawyer with the Legal Clinic in Cornwall for the last 27 years and now serves as the Executive Director of what is now the Clinique juridique Roy McMurtry Legal Clinic, renamed in honour of one of Ontario’s and Canada’s greatest jurists. In this role, she has been an ardent advocate for those less privileged in society.

She is currently a Board Member of the Kinsmen Community Residence, and she has been involved with a number of other community agencies. She was elected to City Council in November of 2006, re-elected in 2010, and again in 2014, as the first choice of voters on all three occasions. She decided to offer herself as a candidate for Mayor in 2018, and received a strong mandate, becoming the first woman to hold this position in the 235-year history of Cornwall, a medium-size community on the shores of the Saint-Lawrence River. She is also the first black woman to ever hold the position of Mayor of any municipality in Ontario.

Fred Eisenberger

Mayor Fred Eisenberger

Mayor, City of Hamilton

Mayor Fred Eisenberger was born in Amsterdam and came to Canada with his family when he was eight years old, settling in Hamilton.

Fred is currently serving his third four-year term as mayor. Previously, he served as a member of the Hamilton council, as chair of the Hamilton Port Authority, and as president and chief executive of the Canadian Urban Institute, where he was involved in the development of leading-edge, progressive urban policy.

During Fred’s tenure as mayor, Hamilton was named by the Conference Board of Canada for having Canada’s most diversified economy and in both 2018 and 2020, the Intelligent Community Forum named Hamilton one of the World’s Top7 Intelligent communities. Hamilton’s transformation has been notable. A national advanced manufacturing hub, with burgeoning life sciences and food processing sectors; strong education and research institutions; and creative industries that are attracting new economic investment and vitality to the city.

Fred is focused on achieving continued growth and prosperity as well as protecting our environment. He was instrumental in declaring a climate emergency in Hamilton, ensuring Syrian refugees were welcomed and settled in the city, and putting forward a $50-million proposal to improve affordable housing and reduce poverty.

Elizabeth McIsaac

Elizabeth McIsaac

President, Maytree

Elizabeth is leading Maytree in shaping the discussion around poverty and human rights in Canada. She is a dedicated builder and champion for the non-profit sector, with extensive experience in research, teaching and direct service provision. Elizabeth has a deep history with Maytree; she previously served as the Director of Policy and was the executive director of one of Maytree’s signature ideas: the Toronto Region Immigrant Employment Council (TRIEC). Most recently, Elizabeth established and led Mowat NFP (Not-for-Profit Policy) at the Mowat Centre, where she conducted and directed research analyzing the challenges facing the non-profit sector today. Elizabeth holds an MA in Sociology in Education from the University of Toronto – Ontario Institute for Studies in Education.

Brock Carlton

Brock Carlton

Senior Advisor, Federation of Canadian Municipalities

Brock is the former CEO and former Senior Advisor to the Federation of Canadian Municipalities (FCM). Under his tenure, the municipal sector in Canada has seen dramatic increases in federal investments, as well as recognition for the vital role it plays in our national interest. FCM is now recognized as one of the most influential organizations in Canada.

Brock is the Vice-Chair of Tamarack's Board of Directors. He has been very active in Cities Reducing Poverty (CRP), having co-written TEN: A Guide for Cities Reducing Poverty and hosted a number of CRP conferences over the last five years.

Brock is a dynamic and passionate speaker on municipal issues and federal-municipal relations. He believes that strong nations engage their municipal governments as true partners in nation-building and that they invest in their cities and communities as a means of solving local and national challenges, including poverty.


Adaoma Patterson

Adaoma Patterson

Manager, Poverty Reduction and Community Engagement, Region of Peel

Adaoma has more than twenty-five years of progressive experience in the not-for-profit and public sectors. She is currently the Manager of Poverty Reduction and Community Engagement in the Human Services Department at the Region of Peel, where she leads the implementation of a 10-year poverty reduction strategy and supports initiatives that increase community safety and well-being for residents in Brampton, Mississauga and Caledon.

Adaoma is passionate about systems change and was instrumental in the development of Peel’s 10-year 2018-2028 poverty reduction strategy, which is co-chaired by the Region of Peel and United Way of Peel Region. Here, she made strategic connections to various stakeholders and sectors within the Peel Region and the GTHA and developed and managed new and existing relationships with local leaders and residents to raise awareness of poverty and ensure that all voices were heard.

Adaoma is a long-standing member of Cities Reducing Poverty and a member of Tamarack's Board of Directors. She was a 2010 DiverseCity Fellow and member of the CivicAction Steering Committee. She has also served on the board of directors for the Jamaican Canadian Association, a 50-year-old social services and membership organization, and for the Horace Patterson Foundation, which awards scholarships to African-Canadian students in Manitoba.

Tim Richter

Tim Richter

Founder, President & CEO, Canadian Alliance to End Homelessness (CAEH)

Tim Richter is the Founder, President & CEO of the Canadian Alliance to End Homelessness (CAEH). The CAEH leads a national movement of individuals, organizations and communities working together to end homelessness in Canada.

Under his leadership, the CAEH has: helped shape federal, provincial and local homelessness action and policy including the implementation of Housing First; hosted four highly successful National Conferences on Ending Homelessness; co-authored three State of Homelessness in Canada reports in 2013, 2014 and 2016; launched Funders Together to End Homelessness Canada as an affiliate network of Funders Together to End Homelessness from the United States; launched a national Training and Technical Assistance program as a mission-based, non-profit training and technical assistance program to provide on the ground training and support to communities and front line workers working to end homelessness; launched the 20,000 Homes Campaign – a national movement of communities working together to house 20,000 of Canada’s most vulnerable homeless people; and, supported the creation of the Institute of Global Homelessness

Prior to joining the CAEH, Tim was President & CEO of the Calgary Homeless Foundation charged with leading the implementation of Calgary’s 10 Year Plan to End Homelessness – the first plan of its kind in Canada. In the first four years of Calgary’s 10 Year Plan more than 4,000 homeless men, women and children were housed, 3,582 units of affordable housing were funded, and homelessness went down for the first time in 20 years of counting. Tim received a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science and History as well as a Bachelor of Applied Communications. He lives in Calgary, Alberta with his wife and three children.

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Shauna Sylvester

Professor, Professional Practice & Executive Director of Simon Fraser University’s Centre for Dialogue.

Shauna Sylvester is a Professor of Professional Practice and the Executive Director of Simon Fraser University’s Centre for Dialogue. She is an award-winning social entrepreneur, facilitator, and commentator. She was the Co-founder and Executive Director of five initiatives – the SFU Public Square, Renewable Cities, Carbon Talks, Canada's World and IMPACS - the Institute for Media, Policy and Civil Society.

Shauna is Chair of Tamarack's Board of Directors and has served on the boards of Vancity, Vancity Capital, Mountain Equipment Cooperative, the BC Assessment Authority and several non-profit boards. She is committed to excellence in public engagement and hosting difficult conversations.

For over 30 years, Shauna has served as a facilitator and host to hundreds of community and stakeholder dialogues related to sustainability, poverty reduction, democracy, urban planning, transportation and climate change. She has a passion for cities and has served as the lead facilitator for the Mayor’s Task Force on Affordable Housing in Burnaby and Vancouver and the convener of Moving in a Livable Region - a consortium of transportation and land use planning leaders in Metro Vancouver.

Kerry Nolan

Kerry Nolan

Coordinator & Outreach Worker, Yukon Anti-Poverty Coalition

Kerry’s personal and professional expertise have prepared her to recognize and take action on disconnects and inequalities that exist within her community and beyond. She promotes equity and equality and is committed to supporting individuals, families, and communities to tell their own stories and to ensure that their voices are heard.

Kerry has carried forward personal reflections on her own history and her spirit of resilience to her current role as Community Coordinator & Outreach Worker with the Yukon Anti-Poverty Coalition (YAPC). Within her role, Kerry applies her lived expertise relating to homelessness, poverty, food insecurity, social injustice and social exclusion, to supporting her community’s most vulnerable.

Kerry is also a member of Tamarack's Board of Directors.

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Liz Weaver

Co-CEO & Consulting Director, Collaborative Leadership, Tamarack Institute

Liz Weaver is the Co-CEO of Tamarack Institute where she leads the Tamarack Learning Centre to advance community change efforts. She is well-known for her thought leadership on Collaborative Leadership and Collective Impact and is the author of several popular and academic papers.

Liz is passionate about the power and potential of communities getting to impact on complex issues. For many years, she supported Vibrant Communities' place-based collaborative tables to develop frameworks for change, to advance their projects from idea to impact. 

Liz is a co-catalyst partner with the Collective Impact Forum and leads a collective impact capacity building strategy with the Ontario Trillium Foundation. 

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Paul Born

Co-CEO, Tamarack Institute, Vibrant Communities

Paul is the Co-founder and Co-CEO of the Tamarack Institute, and the Founder and Director of Vibrant Communities. He is the author of four books, including two Canadian best sellers. Paul 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. He is also a member of the Order of Canada.

Paul is a global leader and an award-winning author on issues of the 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.

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Sheila Regehr

Co-Chair, Basic Income Canada Network

Sheila is a founding member of the Basic Income Canada Network and former Executive Director of the National Council of Welfare. Her 29 years of federal public service spanned front-line work, policy analysis and development, international relations and senior management, with a focus on improving fairness and equality, and on gender and race in particular.

Sheila has policy expertise in areas of income security and taxation, such as child tax benefits, child support, maternity/parental benefits, pensions and social assistance. Her insight also comes from experiencing poverty as a young parent.

Sheila is grateful, in her retirement, to have resources, time and health to do volunteer work and help care for her twin grandsons.

John Stapleton

John Stapleton

Social Policy Consultant, Open Policy Ontario 

John Stapleton worked for the Ontario Government in the Ministry of Community and Social Services for 28 years in the areas of social assistance policy and operations. A leader in the field of income security, he teaches public policy and has served as a senior policy advisor to the Social Assistance Review Committee and worked on implementation of the National Child Benefit.

John sat on federal Minister Duclos’ advisory committee on poverty reduction, the Minister of Community and Social Services advisory group on social assistance reform, and Toronto’s advisory group on poverty reduction. He was Research Director for the Task Force on Modernizing Income Security for Working-Age Adults in Toronto and was the co-chair of the working group associated with this project.

John has written articles and studies for Ideas that Matter, the University of Toronto, the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives, the Caledon Institute, the Metcalf Foundation, Employment and Social Development Canada, and many more.

Fannie Dagenais

Fannie Dagenais

Director of l’Observatoire des tout-petits,

Fannie Dagenais is director of l’Observatoire des tout-petits, a project of the Fondation Lucie et André Chagnon. In this capacity, she manages communication campaigns geared to decision-makers, influential stakeholders, and the general public, in an effort to raise the stakes of early childhood issues in the media as well as among the priorities of governments and institutions. Having worked in the social and health sectors for 14 years, she has a wealth of experience in communications, marketing and management. She holds a master's degree in Nutrition (Marketing and Consumer Behaviours) from the Université de Montréal. 

Fannie Dagenais, M.Sc. nutrition, est directrice de l’Observatoire des tout-petits, un projet de la Fondation Lucie et André Chagnon. Dans le cadre de ses fonctions, elle orchestre des campagnes de communication ciblant les décideurs, les acteurs d’influence et le grand public, afin que la petite enfance occupe une place plus importante, tant dans l’espace médiatique que dans les priorités gouvernementales et institutionnelles. Travaillant depuis 14 ans dans le domaine social et de la santé, elle possède une riche expérience tant en communication, qu’en marketing social et en gestion.

Rebecca Pauls

Rebecca Pauls

Executive Director, Planned Lifetime Advocacy Network (PLAN)

Rebecca Pauls is an enthusiastic leader and creative facilitator with a broad range of experiences in community development and collaboration with people who have disabilities.  She is passionate about seeing the unique gifts each of person has, and is convinced that our communities will be stronger, safer and more resilient when each of us is contributing and recognized for our gifts.

As a mother to four children, Rebecca also has a deep appreciation for the roles that family and friends play in our lives, and is committed to connecting people with other people and places around them.

Rebecca is the Executive Director of Planned Lifetime Advocacy Network (PLAN), a Vancouver-based social enterprise that partners with families and people facing social isolation to secure their future by mobilizing relationships and leveraging community assets. Since joining PLAN six years ago, Rebecca has led a complete re-design of programming to integrate principles of person-centred planning, ABCD, narrative therapy and independent facilitation. After demonstrating the strength and flexibility of this community approach, Rebecca is regularly invited to consult with organizations about how it can be scaled and applied to population groups across North America.

In a career that’s taken her to communities across Canada and internationally to places such as Ethiopia, Zimbabwe and Guatemala, Rebecca has chosen to settle in Vancouver, British Columbia. She and her partner currently reside in the Gastown neighbourhood, a community known as a hub of social innovation and for its immense diversity.


Stay tuned! We will be updating this page regularly as our diverse list of speakers is confirmed.