Staff - The Samara Centre for Democracy

Staff


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Kendall Anderson

Executive Director

Kendall became the new Executive Director for the Samara Centre in October 2019. Prior to this, Kendall was Managing Director, and oversaw all the programming and internal work of the Samara Centre, including the production of ground-breaking research reports and educational materials, as well as interactive online engagement projects like the Everyday Political Citizen. Before joining the Samara Centre in 2011, Kendall was an editor for ten years at Random House of Canada where she worked with bestselling authors of both novels and non-fiction. Kendall studied publishing at both Ryerson University and Simon Fraser University, and she has a BSc from the University of Guelph, which she currently only uses to prevent her two young children from contracting food-borne illnesses.

Kendall recommends checking out what Canadians expect from political parties



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Michael Morden

Research Director

Mike joined the Samara Centre from the Mowat Centre, a public policy think tank at the University of Toronto. Previously, he was a SSHRC postdoctoral research fellow in Canadian politics at Western and Wilfrid Laurier Universities, a senior policy advisor in the government of Ontario, and a research associate with the Mosaic Institute. Mike holds a PhD in political science from the University of Toronto. He is responsible for leading the Samara Centre's program of democracy-boosting research and contributing to its mission of asking critical questions, producing new evidence, and linking knowledge to action. Michael is originally from London, ON, and he aspires to one day have a small cabin in the woods.

Mike recommends reading Cheering or Jeering, the Samara Centre’s first study of heckling in the House of Commons, because he’s trying to keep it civil.



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Paul E.J. Thomas

Senior Research Associate

Paul has spent more than a decade working in and researching Canadian politics. Paul’s first experience at the Canadian Parliament was as a participant in the Parliamentary Internship Programme. After the Programme he remained at Parliament as a researcher for Senator Yoine Goldstein, and then relocated to England to work in government relations for Cancer Research UK. Paul returned to Canada to complete a PhD in Political Science at the University of Toronto and was a SSHRC Postdoctoral Fellow at Carleton University prior to joining Samara.

Paul first became involved with the Samara Centre as an Academic Advisor in 2012. He has published numerous articles and book chapters on legislative politics in Canada and the UK, and is co-author of the book Religion and Canadian Party Politics. Paul has taught classes in Political Science and Political Management at Carleton University, and is an Adjunct Research Professor with Carleton’s Clayton H. Riddell Graduate Programme in Political Management. He also is a long-serving Board Member for the Canadian Study of Parliament Group.

Paul recommends reading Flip the Script, a report on how party discipline hinders representation and collaboration at the Canadian Parliament.



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Adelina Petit-Vouriot

Research Analyst

Adelina helps produce the Samara Centre’s illuminating research on politics, parliament, and civic engagement. She is committed to demystifying government and making Canadian politics more inclusive, approachable, and appealing. These broad interests led her to formally study politics in her hometown at the University of Winnipeg and, more recently, at the University of Toronto, where she completed her MA. Since then, she has been involved in Toronto’s non-profit sector, managing and developing civic engagement programming and resources for youth. She has found that participating in politics doesn’t mean knowing all the answers; it's more about asking the right questions. When such questioning occasionally becomes overwhelming, Adelina turns to knitting, boxing, and walking other people’s dogs to refocus her priorities.

If you’re feeling like you could some direction on how to get more involved in your community’s decision-making, Adelina urges you to take a look at the blog post "I Marched. Now What?"



Yvonne Su

Yvonne Su

Program Manager

At the Samara Centre, Yvonne is responsible for developing and running programs and events that seek to support active citizenship and stimulate discussions and solutions on how to build a stronger democracy. Before joining the Samara Centre, Yvonne co-founded the Vote Mobs movement, which inspired 45 vote mobs across Canada in the lead up to the 2011 federal election. She also co-founded the non-profit organization, Vote Savvy, creating a network of over 20 Vote Campuses and launching a series of viral videos that challenged youth to take voting into their own hands in the 2015 federal election. Yvonne is a PhD candidate in Political Science and International Development at the University of Guelph, and holds a Masters from the University of Oxford.

Yvonne recommends reading the report Message Not Delivered. From her years of working with young Canadians, Yvonne can attest that they are not apathetic but more needs to be done to talk to youth about politics, not at them.



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José Ramón Martí

Communications Manager

Raised in London, ON, the son of Mexican immigrants, José has been a strong champion of everyday democracy. His concern for the state of democracy in Canada and abroad led him to study political science and mass communications at Western University, including placements in Toronto, New York City, and Kuala Lumpur. He then completed a master’s degree in public policy at New York University, where he conducted outreach, facilitation, and research into the city's participatory budgeting process. At the Samara Centre, José is responsible for overseeing all external communications and media relations. In his spare time, he volunteers with his local community land trust, throws parties for charity, and takes his dog on long walks through the city.

José is interested in all the ways we can make our democracy better. For a good place to start, he invites you to explore 50 Ways to Redesign Parliament.

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Elizabeth Hawksworth

Elizabeth Hawksworth

Digital Communications Coordinator

Liz joined the Samara Centre from the private sector, only recently dipping her toes into the world of politics and non-profits. The daughter of an English immigrant father and Ojibwe mother, Liz learned firsthand the important role that storytelling plays in Canada. This led her naturally into the Communications field. She graduated with a Journalism Diploma from Niagara College, then moved into the world of Digital Media, where she has worked as a copywriter, social media specialist, and digital analyst. In her spare time, Liz is a freelance writer and has written for many publications, including the Huffington Post, Washington Post, and Indian Country Today. She continues to write on a number of topics, including social justice and Indigenous rights, and enjoys being with friends, family, and her two cats.

Liz believes that digital technology has revolutionized the way we communicate—can it also revolutionize democracy? She suggests checking out the blog post “Is Learning to Code Good for Democracy?” to discover how digital media and technology are bringing more Canadians into the political arena and helping their voices be heard.



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Christine Latimer

Operations Manager

Christine is a senior-level administrator and governance expert with over a decade of experience in the non-profit sector. At Samara, she provides cross-disciplinary strategic support to the staff and Board of Directors. Prior to joining the Samara Centre, Christine held governance and executive support roles with an array of non-profit and public sector institutions, including the Institute for Canadian Citizenship, OCAD University, the Toronto International Film Festival, and the Government of Ontario. She has also served in Board governance executive roles with several non-profit arts organizations. Christine graduated from OCAD University with a double-major in Photography and Integrated Media. She is an internationally recognized visual artist, having exhibited work at over 250 galleries and film festivals across five continents. In her spare time, you can find her making things, fixing broken technologies, and watching movies.

Christine is passionate about active citizenship, and how the arts in particular can generate inclusive, intentional spaces for community building and critical discourse. She recommends reading the report Investing in Canadians' Civic Literacy.


Co-founders

 

Alison Loat

Co-founder

Alison Loat is the co-founder of the Samara Centre for Democracy and was the executive director from 2008 to 2015. She is also the co-author of the #1 best-selling book Tragedy in the Commons. The Samara Centre’s early work was used to develop federal legislation on democratic reform, improve politics curricula, the orientation of newly elected MPs and initiatives to improve citizens’ participation in politics. 

Alison is a member of the Premier of Ontario’s Highly Skilled Workforce Expert Panel and is on the board of the Banff Forum. She was also a fellow and instructor at the University of Toronto from 2007-2014 and served as the past president of the Canadian Club of Toronto, a director of the Toronto Community Foundation and a member of the Harvard Kennedy School’s Alumni Board.

Alison received several awards for her public service leadership, including the Queen’s Gold and Diamond Jubilee Medals. She is a World Economic Forum Young Global Leader, where she co-leads a disability rights initiative, and was named one of the WXN 100 Most Powerful Women in Canada. She has degrees from Queen’s University (BAH) and the Harvard Kennedy School (MPP).

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Michael MacMillan

Co-founder and Chair

In 2007, Michael co-founded the Samara Centre for Democracy and continues to serve as Chair of the Board of Directors.

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

In 1978, he co-founded Atlantis Films Limited with fellow Queen’s University 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.

  • Tuesday, November 05, 2019

    Stronger Democracy Campaign

    Learn about our campaign to strengthen Canadian democracy during the 2019 federal election!
  • Monday, October 21, 2019

    Happy Election Day!

    Not sure how to vote or what you’ll need? Here’s what you need to know!
  • Thursday, October 17, 2019

    Kendall Anderson is Samara's New ED

    We're pleased to announce that Kendall Anderson is our new Executive Director here at the Samara Centre! Our co-founder, Michael MacMillan, pens a letter to say farewell to Jane Hilderman as former Executive Director, and welcome Kendall as the new leader of the organization.