Staff - The Samara Centre for Democracy



Michael Morden

Interim Executive Director and Research Director

Mike joined the Samara Centre in 2017 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. He loves producing new evidence, and linking knowledge to concrete action.  Mike holds a PhD in political science from the University of Toronto.  He lives in Guelph, ON, and aspires to one day have a small cabin in the woods.

Mike recommends Real House Lives, the Samara Centre’s most recent book, which makes the case for a new kind of public leadership. 


Adelina Petit-Vouriot

Research Associate

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 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?"


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.

José Ramón Martí
José Ramón Mart


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.



Alison Loat


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).


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.

  • Wednesday, October 28, 2020

    New Report: Temperature Check

    Released this morning, our new report uses national public opinion data to examine how the COVID-19 pandemic has altered Canadians’ views toward their democratic system, public institutions, political leaders, and fellow citizens. Read it today!
  • Friday, October 09, 2020

    How Incivility Harms Politics

    While complaints about incivility online can be used to censor or drown out critical voices, it is also true that disrespect, rudeness, harassment, and abuse online have real costs for our democracy. Find out why!
  • Tuesday, September 22, 2020

    Representation in Isolation

    With tomorrow’s Throne Speech set to usher in a new parliamentary session, Members of Parliament are still struggling to agree on how the House of Commons should return to work. Our new report charts a way forward.