Staff - About Us - Samara



Jane Hilderman

Executive Director

Jane works to bring Samara’s mission--to reconnect citizens to politics--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


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.


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?".


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 developing and coordinating a variety of communications materials and activities. In his spare time, he provides strategic support to his local community land trust and throws parties for charity.

José is interested in all the ways we can make our democracy better. For a good place to get started, he recommends checking out Samara’s 50 Ways to Redesign Parliament.

José Ramón Martí
José Ramón Mart


Sameen Zehra

Program and Communications Coordinator

Sameen led the 2017 Everyday Political Citizen contest and currently assists with Samara's communications and educational programming. Having recently completed her bachelor’s degree in Peace, Conflict and Justice studies at the University of Toronto, Sameen spent the last four years researching global politics and volunteering as a community leader in areas of refugee aid and accessible youth education. Being a first-generation immigrant and working hand-in-hand with diverse groups in Toronto has taught her the importance of connecting various viewpoints to engage honestly with issues that affect Canada’s most marginalized populations. Her experiences doing political canvassing, shadowing an MP, and interning at the U.S. Consulate have shown her that healthy democracies require inclusive systems of representation.

Interested in how political parties engage with young people in Canada? Sameen suggests checking out How Parties Mobilize Youth to learn more about how Canadian strategies compare to those of similar countries, including the U.S. and U.K.


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.



Alison Loat


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).


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.

  • Friday, June 15, 2018

    Samara at Status of Women Committee

    On June 12th, Samara's Executive Director appeared before the Standing Committee on the Status of Women to speak about the barriers faced by women hoping to enter politics. Read her full remarks.
  • Tuesday, June 12, 2018

    Introducing "Flip the Script"

    Flip the Script is the first in a series of three reports that makes a case for MPs who are independent and empowered, thoughtful and engaged in three environments: Parliament, the constituency, and the party.
  • Friday, June 08, 2018

    Samara on Bill C-76

    On June 7th, Samara's Research Director appeared before the Standing Committee on Procedure and House Affairs (PROC) to speak on Bill C-76 – an effort to comprehensively refresh our election laws. Read his full remarks.