Staff - The Samara Centre for Democracy

Staff



Sabreena Delhon

Sabreena Delhon

Executive Director

Sabreena Delhon is the Executive Director of the Samara Centre for Democracy, a non-partisan civil society organization that is committed to securing an accessible, responsive, and inclusive democratic culture in Canada. Prior to joining Samara, Sabreena was the Principal of Signal Strategies and managed access to justice initiatives at the Law Society of Ontario. She has directed research studies that examine public perceptions of legal technology and the justice system; results have informed the work of Ontario’s Ministry of the Attorney General and can be found on law school syllabi. She is a Fellow with Simon Fraser University’s Morris J. Wosk Centre for Dialogue and Massey College.



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Abra Rissi

Public Affairs Director

Abra has over a decade of experience in public affairs, community organizing, and in promoting active citizenship. Throughout her career, she has worked alongside government and elected officials, and collaborated with advocacy and community groups. She previously held positions at the office of The Rt. Hon. Adrienne Clarkson where, among many initiatives, she contributed to the creation of 6 Degrees; at TakingITGlobal, which empowers young people to become agents of positive change; and at Massey College, where she focused on outreach and community-building in service to the public good. Abra studied International Relations at York University’s Glendon College and French and History at Paris IV-La Sorbonne. 

Enthusiastic about civic action and a keen observer of Canadian politics, Abra believes in the value of a strong civil society and in the power of inclusive democratic engagement in advancing a more prosperous and equitable society for all.



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Christine Latimer

Operations Director

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 300 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.



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Jennifer Kou

Communications Manager

Jennifer is a storyteller. Throughout her career, Jennifer has sought out opportunities to work with organizations advocating for greater equity and inclusion. Prior to joining the Samara Centre, Jennifer immersed herself in the stories of digital government and civic technology at Code for Canada. There, she led campaigns to recognize the impact of digital projects in government, authored a case study on attracting digital and technical talent to the public service, and implemented a data driven approach to outreach.

As a co-organizer at Civic Tech Toronto, she helps create a space for civic-minded folks in the city to engage in discussion, learn from speakers, and work on projects to benefit the community. Jennifer's previous experience in political advocacy and national politics have made her a firm believer in the importance of civic engagement and the necessity of making democratic participation more accessible for all.



Ann Dickie

Ann Dickie

Research Assistant

Ann is a Masters Candidate in International Relations at the Norman Paterson School of International Affairs. She holds a Bachelors from McGill University in Political Science and History. A strong passion for civic engagement and the democratic establishment led her to start McGill Model Parliament, a place for students to engage with Canadian politics in a non-partisan manner and develop public speaking, bill drafting, and networking skills. She now serves as Research Assistant in a collaborative project between the Samara Centre for Democracy, the Jarislowky Democracy Chair, and the Democratic Engagement Exchange, entitled “Democracy after COVID-19: What Lessons Can Canada offer and Learn?” This project examines whether, how, and why the politics of the pandemic has affected the way democracy works in Canada, and, using other case studies from around the world, aims to share strategies, innovations, and practices that can strengthen democracy. 

Ann recommends reading Party Favours, a report that pries open the “black box” of nomination contests in Canada to examine how political parties select federal election candidates.



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Vijai Kumar

Research Coordinator

Vijai is a public policy enthusiast with a range of research experience at multiple governing levels. He has held research positions at the Indigenomics Institute, Asia Pacific Foundation of Canada and the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD). He has also worked as the Policy Manager for the Bay Area Climate Change Council. Vijai holds a Master in Global Affairs from the Munk School of Global Affairs and Public Policy as well as Bachelor of Arts from the University of Waterloo. 

A proponent of community wealth building, Vijai volunteers to address the crisis of homelessness in the Greater Toronto Area (GTA). He is a proponent of community land trusts (CLTs) and “missing middle” infrastructure, providing research support to community groups and nonprofits around affordable housing solutions. He also enjoys demystifying economic policy for non-economist audiences through his writing.

Having a musical background, Vijai is an advocate for the Arts, currently sitting as an Advisor to The Arts, Culture and Creative Industry Development Agency (ACCIDA) in his hometown of Brampton. He also occasionally freelances for music and culture publications like Exclaim! Magazine.



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Alex MacIsaac

SAMbot Project Coordinator

Alex is the Project Coordinator for the SAMbot initiative, which examines how online toxicity affects civic engagement during Canadian elections. He was drawn to the SAMbot project due to his personal and academic interests on how discourse within Canadian politics has changed during the digital age.

Alex is a recent graduate of McMaster University’s Master of Public Policy in Digital Society program, where his research focused on digital privacy law, digital democracy, and the spread of dis- and misinformation online, all within a Canadian context. He also holds a Bachelor of Arts in Applied Communications, Leadership, and Culture from the University of Prince Edward Island. Through holding previous working roles in research, communications, public affairs, and municipal government, Alex has had experience working within both the non-profit sector and public service.

Beyond online discourse, Alex is passionate about issues surrounding equity within public education, digital literacy, and youth engagement.


Co-founders

 

Alison Loat

Co-founder

Alison is co-founder of the Samara Centre for Democracy, was the executive director from 2008 to 2015, and continues to serve on the Advisory Board. She is 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 Board 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, Michael 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.

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  • Monday, April 11, 2022

    Welcome New Board Members

  • Monday, December 20, 2021

    Welcome New Board Members

    The Samara Centre for Democracy is honoured to welcome three new members to its Board of Directors: Liban Abokor, Kris Archie, and Zain Velji.
  • Wednesday, August 18, 2021

    Tracking #elxn44 toxic tweets

    The Samara Centre and Areto Labs have partnered to deploy the Samara Areto Monitorbot (known as SAMbot or SAM), which will use AI to track toxic tweets received by incumbent candidates and political party leaders on the digital campaign trail.