Staff - The Samara Centre for Democracy

Staff



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Jane Hilderman

Executive Director

Jane works to bring Samara’s mission to life. She frequently discusses Samara’s work in the media and with Canadians across the country. Her previous roles at Samara include Research Director, where she shaped Samara’s groundbreaking research that explores Canadians’ participation in democracy, how Members of Parliament do their jobs, and citizen perceptions of politics.

Jane joined Samara after working on Parliament Hill for both government and opposition MPs through the longstanding Parliamentary Internship Programme, a prestigious program for young professionals. She holds degrees from the School of Public Policy & Governance at the University of Toronto (MPP) and Queen’s University (BAH). Jane is also a Fellow of the Royal Canadian Geographical Society, which seeks “to make Canada better known to Canadians and the world.”

Originally from Camrose, Alberta, where she grew up on a family farm, Jane uses her marathon training to explore her new home, Toronto.

Jane holds a special place in her heart for the very first report she worked on at Samara – The Real Outsiders. Released in 2011, but still timely, this report features the voices of Canadians who feel disempowered by politics. Fortunately, Samara is working to change that.



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Kendall Anderson

Managing Director

Kendall oversees all the programming and internal work of Samara, 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 Samara 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 Samara 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's thrilled to lead Samara's program of democracy-boosting research and to contribute 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, Samara’s study of heckling in the House of Commons, because he’s trying to keep it civil.



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Adelina Petit-Vouriot

Research Analyst

Adelina helps produce Samara’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 Samara’s blog post "I Marched. Now What?".



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Paul EJ 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 Samara 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” (UBC Press, 2017). In addition, Paul teaches at Carleton University, where he is an Adjunct Research Professor with the 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.



Yvonne Su

Yvonne Su

Program Manager

At Samara, 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 Samara, 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 Samara, Jose is responsible for producing and supervising a wide range of communications materials and activities. 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 get started, he invites you to glance through Samara’s 50 Ways to Redesign Parliament.

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Elizabeth Hawksworth

Elizabeth Hawksworth

Digital Communications Coordinator

Elizabeth comes to Samara 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, Elizabeth 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, Elizabeth 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.

Elizabeth 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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Rosemary McManus

Executive Assistant and Development Coordinator

Born and raised in Washington, D.C., Rosemary had a front-row seat from which to view the theatre of American politics, but is relatively new to the Canadian political system. She studied literature and religion at George Washington University, but always kept a keen eye on foreign affairs. During university she volunteered and worked in writing, editing and administrative roles for non-profits like the Sierra Club, where she wrote and edited for their political team and canvassed Congressional offices. After a year teaching English in Thailand, she moved to Toronto to complete a master's degree at the University of Toronto in literature. Following another short stint of teaching and freelance writing, she's excited to re-enter the non-profit world and is particularly enthused to be at Samara, helping strengthen Canadian democracy and in turn shore up democracy in her home country.

As a new Canadian, Rosemary recommends Lost in Translation or Just Lost? for a helpful primer (or refresher!) on how the House of Commons works, and how well Canadians’ interests are represented.


Co-founders

 

Alison Loat

Co-founder

Alison Loat is the co-founder of Samara and was the executive director from 2008-2015. She is also the co-author of the #1 best-selling book Tragedy in the Commons. Samara’s 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 Samara Canada which is a charity that is dedicated to reconnecting citizens to politics.

In 2011, Michael co-founded and is CEO of Blue Ant Media, a Canadian-based media company with operations in Canada, USA, New Zealand and the UK.

In 1978, Michael MacMillan 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-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, and is currently involved with Open Roof Films, Human Rights Watch, Civix, and Community Food Centres Canada, amongst other organizations. He is a Senior Fellow at Massey College and co-author of the book Tragedy in the Commons.

  • Thursday, November 01, 2018

    Discover The Real House Lives Today

    Using the stories of former MPs, The Real House Lives report provides an inside look at how partisanship is both helping and hindering the work of parliamentarians.
  • Wednesday, September 26, 2018

    Read the 2018 MP Survey

    Learn about the Samara Centre's latest MP Survey, which aims to capture MPs’ personal evaluation of the House of Commons and their level of support for a dozen different reform ideas.
  • Thursday, September 06, 2018

    Ontario's Bill 5

    This continually updated blog post keeps readers up-to-speed on an increasingly controversial issue: Ontario’s Bill 5 and what it means for Toronto’s upcoming municipal election.