21 Youth Reshaping Governance 2019
Future of Good is excited to present the 2019 list of 21 Youth Reshaping Governance.
While Canadian youth aged 18-30 are actively involved in volunteering, youth representation on governance boards remains low. Drawing from more than 125 nominations from across the country, the list recognizes young leaders who are making a unique and significant contribution as non-profit board directors.
Featuring entrepreneurs, public servants, academics, activists, and professionals who are passionate about gender equality, homelessness, mental health, climate change, and more, the list includes some well-known faces but we also spotlight those quietly transforming non-profit governance through their perspectives, expertise, voice, and action.
These young leaders are ones to watch, who will continue to transform the world of impact for the 21st century.
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Vancouver, British Columbia
Driven by a deep commitment to decolonizing himself and the world around him, Alexander channels his energy into initiatives that recentre, renew and reimagine. Alexander sees serving on boards as a way of contributing to the causes he is most passionate about while working alongside leaders that inspire him from coast to coast to coast.
Ambika says she was drawn to being a board member because of the opportunity to shape policy and operations, which is an effective way to make change. “Being a board director has also given me more appreciation for what might be considered boring governance work such as financial decisions, policy, strategic planning. These… can be quite fascinating,” she says. Ambika consults for the United Nations Development Programme in Cambodia.
“[Being on boards has] given me the courage in myself and confidence in my ability to vote against a motion, particularly in situations where there is a power imbalance,” Anna says. Outside of her governance roles, she is the co-founder of Fresh Routes, a social enterprise working to bring food security to Calgary’s underserved communities. Anna also works at Mount Royal University’s Institute for Community Prosperity.
Ashley is a proud Indigenous woman and community leader who works to create brighter futures for Indigenous people across Canada. She strives to follow in the footsteps of her grandmother, Mary Richard, a well-known leader in Winnipeg’s Aboriginal community. Ashley’s remarkable personal story of overcoming homelessness, abuse, and assault, was featured in Maclean’s magazine. Ashley works for TakingITGlobal, a network of young people tackling global challenges. In her spare time, she keeps busy with community event planning, attending comedy shows, and spin class.
Serving on boards has been a practical way for Cameron to translate his educational background in business and governance into real outcomes for community organizations. He was interested in governance at an early age and joined a board for the first time at age 18.
While she is typically energetic and quick to act, serving on boards has helped Devon see the benefits of being patient. “Governance systems and processes operate on extended time horizons. Learning to slow down and listen has been essential for me to support intentional and prudent decision making,” she says. It has also helped strengthen her leadership capacity and ability to make strategic decisions, which has had a ripple effect on her professional life. Devon is a senior project manager at an international economic development organization.
Dominique says she was driven to governance roles because of her love of learning and to take opportunities to contribute her skills to building organizations who are already doing important work. As a self-declared climate nerd, she is passionate about engaging young people in climate action. She is the Co-Founder and Executive Director of Youth Climate Lab, a non-profit that supports youth-led climate initiatives.
Fateha focuses on food security, community development, and city building. She is committed to equity, leading with empathy, and amplifying the voices of marginalized communities. She says serving in governance roles has helped her understand power relationships, continue to buy into allyship, and support individuals and organizations that align with her passions and professional interests.
Hannah Marazzi is driven by her belief in community building and human rights. Through her involvement in Matthew House Ottawa, she is inspired by the resilience, kindness, and wisdom of newcomers to Canada. “I would love for the non-profit sector to develop some sort of standardized deep listening practices across our industry,” she shares. Serving as a board member has helped her communicate in a nimble way, plan for the long term, and evaluate organizational health.
Jacqueline is self-declared policy wonk, who has worked as a policy analyst and strategist for governments and universities. Passionate about seeing women win in all sectors, Jacqueline volunteers her policy expertise as a director for the Women’s Enterprise Centre of Manitoba.
Jen is a proud Newfoundlander who believes in empowering people and their ideas. Through her involvement in Happy City St. John’s, she founded the Happy City Radio podcast focused on civil issues and municipal engagement. “Being on a board of directors has challenged me to listen with the intention of understanding rather than replying,” she says, which helps her better represent the interests of her community. Jen is also the co-founder of Pollen, a network that matches local experts with speaking opportunities.
Serving on boards since he was 14 years old, Jordan has over a decade of governance experience, and is the acting president of three community organizations in a small Nova Scotian community of 500 residents. “During my time serving on boards, I learned the value of patience. I used to strive to get things done as quickly and efficiently as possible. Now I realize… [it’s important to] take your time,” he reflects. Jordan volunteers more than 40 hours per week.
Kevin Vuong is the proud son of refugees and serves in the Royal Canadian Navy. In recognition of his impact, he has been named Her Majesty The Queen's Young Leader for Canada, one of Canada's Top 30 Under 30, and a Fellow of The Aspen Institute and CivicAction DiverseCity Fellow.
Serving on the board of YWCA Moncton— a women’s resource centre committed to social justice with a focus on gender equity — has given Lindsay perspective on the intersectionality of barriers. “So many [people] are challenged with difficult circumstances that make it more complicated to get ahead in life,” she says, adding that we need to level the playing field. Lindsay is a communications professional for Atlantic Lottery and takes great pride in working for a company that returns 100% of profits back to the four Atlantic provinces each year.
Matthew is a long-time mental health advocate who has governance roles in several service-based organizations. “Serving as a director has taught me that the unique viewpoints youth can bring to boards go a long way in making organizations more resilient, open-minded, and inclusive,” he says. Matthew is deeply interested in public policy, economics, and climate advocacy.
Nabil is the Director of Programs at the International Development and Relief Foundation, where he leads a portfolio of emergency response and development programs across several continents. He says his involvement in boards, particularly at Licensed to Learn, has enabled him to work with diverse professionals, learn from their experiences, and develop relationships with people he now considers mentors.
Nicole has served as the Fundraising Coordinator for the Pavlychenko Folklorique Ensemble (where she continues to dance semi-professionally) and volunteers as a mentor with the Saskatoon Open Door Society. She is regularly invited to mentor, advise, and consult boards through transition periods. Nicole spends her free time volunteering in her community and Ukrainian dancing. This year, Nicole was presented with the UCC National Youth Leadership Award of Excellence.
“Becoming a board director… was the first time I had access to a senior leadership position in a professional setting and allowed me to see myself as capable, skilled, and respected as a leader, even though I was the youngest person at the table,” Sydney says. She has shared her work at the Commission on the Status of Women, Women Deliver, and RightsCon. She co-founded the University of Toronto’s Intersectional Feminist Collective. Sydney is the Director, Programs and Projects at YWCA Canada.
Tiernan is a recent high school graduate, who feels her perspectives are sometimes disregarded because of her age. Regardless, she insists youth need to have a say on boards. “I can guarantee youth can do anything we put our minds to and more!” As the lead for volunteer coordination at Volunteer Airdrie, she manages over 500 volunteers. Tiernan has been an active member of the Girl Guides of Canada for nearly a decade, and has spent half of that time volunteering as a Junior Leader and Unit Guider.
Varun volunteered at the Dugout Drop-In Centre — a soup kitchen and community space in Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside neighbourhood — for six years before joining the board. Varun also volunteers weekly at a supervised injection site, and previously served on the City of Vancouver’s Disability Advisory Committee. Varun works as an auditor in the healthcare sector and has a keen interest in local history and wine management.
Veronika is the Co-Founder and Executive Director of CityHive, a not-for-profit on a mission to transform the way that young people are engaged in civic processes. She is passionate about creating more sustainable, liveable cities and amplifying the meaningful engagement of citizens, particularly youth, in addressing urban challenges. She was awarded as a Top 25 Under 25 Environmentalist in Canada in 2015, has delivered a TEDxYouth talk on Urban Sustainability and was a RADIUS Fellow.