Board of Directors

Board of Directors

Michael MacMillan, Co-founder and Chair

In 2007, Michael MacMillan co-founded the Samara Centre for Democracy, an educational charity that is dedicated to reconnecting citizens to politics.

In 2011, Michael co-founded and is CEO of Blue Ant Media, a company that produces, distributes, and broadcasts television programming internationally.

In 1978, Michael co-founded Atlantis Films Limited with fellow Queen’s grads Seaton McLean and Janice Platt. He was Chairman and CEO of Atlantis (which later became Alliance Atlantis) for almost 30 years.

Michael is also the co-founder and co-owner of Closson Chase Vineyard and Winery in Prince Edward County, Ontario.

A member of the Order of Canada, Michael has volunteered with numerous community and industry organizations over many years. He is a Senior Fellow at Massey College and co-author of the book Tragedy in the Commons

Liban Abokor

Liban Abokor is the Executive Director of Youth LEAPS, a non-profit organization dedicated to improving educational and employment outcomes for Black youth in Toronto. Liban was a founding member of Ontario's Premier's Council on Youth Opportunities, which guided the development of Ontario's Youth Action Plan and Youth Opportunities Fund.

Liban is a dedicated volunteer who has served on the boards of the Laidlaw Foundation, Central Neighbourhood House, and the Catherine Donnelly Foundation. He is now sitting on the board of Shoot For Peace and is a member of the City of Toronto's Economic Development and Culture Division's Program Advisory Committee.

He is also a co-author of the UNFUNDED report and a co-founder of the Foundation for Black Communities, Canada's first-ever philanthropic foundation dedicated to investing directly in Black communities by supporting Black-led, serving and focused non-profits and charities. 

Leen Al Zaibak

Leen Al Zaibak is a leader in supporting the success of Syrian refugees resettled in Canada and abroad, as both co-Founder and Director of Jusoor, an international NGO that helps Syrian youth continue their education through scholarships and mentorship. Leen currently serves on the board of Lifeline Syria, an initiative to help sponsor and settle 1,000 Syrian refugees in the Greater Toronto Area. She also sits on the Telus Toronto Community Board. She currently serves as a Senior Policy Advisor in the Office of International Relations and Protocol for the Government of Ontario.

Leen holds an Honors Bachelor of Arts from the University of Toronto, Trinity College, and a Master degree in International Relations from the University of Manchester. She is an advocate for arts and culture in the city serving as Chair of the Emerging Leaders for Toronto Arts Foundation and is on the executive committee for the Royal Ontario Museum’s Young Patron Circle. In 2015, she was named a Torontonian of the year, and in 2016 she was named one of RBC’s Immigrants of the Year. She has appeared on television, including appearances on CBC and Breakfast Television, and has been interviewed by The Globe and Mail, Toronto Life and featured in Reader’s Digest

Kris Archie 

Kris Archie is the Chief Executive Officer of The Circle on Philanthropy and Aboriginal Peoples in Canada (The Circle). A Secwepemc and Seme7 woman from Ts’qescen, a mother, aunty and engaged community member.

Kris is passionate about heart-based community work and facilitating positive change. In all of her roles, Kris works to transform philanthropy and contribute to positive change by creating spaces of shared learning, relationship-building and centering Indigenous wisdom.

She is a PLACES Fellow Alum of 2015 with The Funders Network, a board member with Environment Funders Canada and JUMP! Canada and a newly appointed Dialogue Fellow with Simon Fraser University focused on Indigenous ways of knowing and Philanthropy. 

Alejandra Bravo

Alejandra Bravo is Director of Leadership and Training at the Broadbent Institute. Previously a Manager of Leadership and Learning at Maytree, for a decade she designed and delivered innovative political and civic training for emerging and diverse leaders. 

Alejandra’s work promotes and demystifies democratic engagement and participation, supporting leaders and organizations to map public processes and influence decision-makers. She is a facilitator, trainer, mentor, coach and strategist specializing in cross-organizational collaboration. 

Alejandra has a 25-year history of leadership with civil society organizations, including extensive governance experience with boards ranging in sectors from the community arts to the Toronto Board of Health. She has worked as community organizer, political staff and has been a municipal and a federal candidate in Toronto. She is a graduate of the University of Toronto and the Ontario Institute for Studies in Education.   

Ruth Ostrower

Ruth Ostrower is an executive assistant supporting Michael MacMillan across both his business and philanthropic endeavours. Previously, she served as the executive assistant to Michael when he was the chairman and CEO of Alliance Atlantis. Prior to joining Alliance Atlantis (then Atlantis Communications), she worked for 12 years in the finance industry, primarily in Human Resources. She is the past president of the Toronto Kiwanis Music Festival, where she has volunteered for many years, and is also an active supporter of theatre and dance. 

Chad Rogers

Chad Rogers is a strategist, entrepreneur and founding partner at Crestview Strategy, a public affairs agency. Chad helps leaders, companies, and industry associations face crisis head on, make their case, and get things approved.

The Hill Times magazine named Chad one of the ‘Top 100 Lobbyists’ in Canada. A sought-after media commentator, he’s been a member of the ‘Power Panel’ on CBC Television’s Power & Politics. A recipient of the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee Medal for public service, Chad serves as Honourary Consul of the Republic of Kosovo in Canada.

As a Country Director with the Washington, DC-based National Democratic Institute under chair Secretary of State Madeleine Albright, he’s worked with governments and political leaders around the world. He has advised leaders Armenia, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Cayman Islands, Croatia, Georgia, Iraq, Jordan, Kosovo, Kyrgyzstan, Macedonia, Moldova, Pakistan, Serbia, Trinidad & Tobago, and Ukraine.

Chad is an active board member of Action Against Hunger, True Patriot Love Foundation, the Samara Centre for Democracy, and Journalists for Human Rights.

Originally from Prince Edward Island, Chad resides in Toronto with his partner Mark.

Zain Velji

As Partner and VP Strategy for Northweather, Zain Velji brings a decade of experience in political, business, and non-profit communications, as well as marketing and engagement. Zain is also a frequent public speaker and regular political commentator who appears weekly on CBC radio and television and appearing federal election coverage for CTV and Bell Media.

Zain chairs the board of The Canadian Children’s Book Centre, and serves on the boards of the YMCA Calgary, Samara Centre for Democracy, and Pillar 9. His consulting and political experience has allowed him to work for companies and non-profits as well as notable political campaigns, serving as campaign manager for Calgary Mayor Naheed Nenshi in 2017.

Zain is also the host of the award-winning podcast The Strategists, where he dissects political strategy and public affairs issues of the day and the host of the Zain Velji show on Newstalk 1010. He was named one of Calgary’s Top 40 under 40 by Avenue and was awarded the Horizon Alumni Award by the University of Alberta.

Zain has a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science from the University of Alberta.