Meet the Team

Meet the team

Conference co-chairs:

Dr.Michelle Nilson

Assistant Professor, SFU Faculty of Education

Michelle Nilson is a process-oriented connector of ideas, people, and organizations who began teaching in the Detroit in K-12 schools in the late 1990s. She now makes these connections explicit in the university classroom at Simon Fraser University, where she is an associate professor in Educational Leadership and community partnership based researcher.

Dr. Stephen Dooley

Executive Director, SFU's Surrey Campus

Stephen Dooley became the executive director of the SFU Surrey campus on November 1st, 2013. Prior to joining the team at SFU, he worked at Kwantlen Polytechnic University for more than 20 years, where he was the founder of The Centre For Interdisciplinary Research: Community Learning and Engagement (CIR:CLE). Steve has a strong commitment to the development of community-campus partnerships.

The Secretariat:

Navinder Chima

Director, SFU Community Programs and Partnerships

Nav supports a broad range of the university’s strategic community engagements in and around the city of Surrey, BC; ranging from initiatives that connects SFU with the local South Asian diaspora to refugee settlement and integration research. He has previously lived in India, the UK, and now calls Surrey his home.

Am Johal

Director, SFU's Vancity Office of Community Engagement

Am Johal is Director of SFU's Vancity Office of Community Engagement where he has overseen the 5 year start-up period of the office. He has degrees from UBC, Royal Roads University, the Institute for Social and European Studies and the European Graduate School where he studied media philosophy. He has previously worked as a community organizer, political advisor and community developer. In his current role, he oversees an office that is involved with over 200 public events at the intersections of arts and culture, social justice, sustainability and critical urbanism. Additionally, the office has been involved in developing over 20 community partnerships. He is on the Steering Committee of SFU's Centre for Dialogue and is an Associate of SFU's Institute for the Humanities.

Dr.Robert M.Gordan

Professor and Associate Dean, SFU Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences

Dr Robert M. Gordon is a Professor of Criminology in the School of Criminology at SFU and an Associate Dean of Arts and Social Sciences.  He is the Director of SFU's Applied Legal Studies Program and a Distinguished Fellow at the Canadian Centre for Elder Law at UBC.

Matthew Grant

Director, Community Engagement and Outreach, Simon Fraser University

Matthew is Director, Community Engagement and Outreach at Simon Fraser University.  He provides leadership for the growth, development, and enhancement of faculty, campus, and institutional level community engagement and outreach programs and services, including several signature initiatives designed to expand the reach of community engagement through mutually beneficial community-university partnership, community engaged experiential learning and service, and community based research.

City of Surrey City Councilor Vera LeFranc

Vera LeFranc

 City Councilor, City of Surrey

Vera LeFranc, City Councilor with the City of Surrey, since 2014, spent the majority of her career working in the non-profit sector, focusing on anti-violence, employment, poverty reduction, crime prevention, housing and homelessness, and community economic development.

Vera lives in Guildford with her partner Jen, and they are parents to two grown children and grandparents to five. 

With a degree in Business and Liberal Studies from Simon Fraser University, Vera brings a solid mix of business sense and a passion for social justice to her community work. 

Dr.Sean Markey

Associate Professor, SFU School of Resource and Environmental Management

Sean is an Associate Professor with Resource and Environmental Management at SFU. His research concerns issues of local and regional economic development, rural and small-town development, community sustainability, and sustainable infrastructure. He serves on the Board of Directors with the Vancity Community Foundation, and the Canadian Rural Revitalization Foundation.

Dr.Peter Ruben

Associate Dean, Research and Advancement, SFU Faculty of Science

Peter Ruben is a Burnaby Mountain Professor in the Department of Biomedical Physiology and Kinesiology. He is also the Associate Dean for Graduate Studies, Research, and Advancement in the Faculty of Science. Dr. Ruben teaches courses in physiology and has an active research laboratory, studying cardiac physiology.

Assistant Professor Faculty of Education Amy Parent

Amy Parent

Assistant Professor, SFU Faculty of Education

Amy Parent is an assistant professor in the Faculty of Education at Simon Fraser University where she seeks to build reciprocal relations between the university and Aboriginal communities. Her research and teaching interests include: Indigenous higher education; Indigenous knowledge systems and methodologies; Aboriginal youth studies; and integrating Indigenous content into teacher education.

Leyton Schnellert

Assistant Professor, UBC Faculty of Education

Leyton Schnellert is an Assistant Professor in the Faculty of Education at The University of British Columbia - Okanagan. Leyton’s research attends to how educators can draw from students’ funds of knowledge to build participatory and collaborative learning communities. Leyton is the Pedagogy and Participation research cluster lead in UBCO’s Institute for Community Engaged Research and co-chair of British Columbia’s Rural Education Advisory.

Professor of Professional Practice Shauna Sylvester

Shauna Sylvester

Professor of Professional Practice, SFU Faculty of Arts and Social Science

Shauna Sylvester is a Professor of Professional Practice in the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences at Simon Fraser University, the Director of the SFU Centre for Dialogue and the Executive Director of the SFU Public Square. Shauna is one of Canada’s leading engagement specialists. Her commitment to bringing diverse groups together to address pressing social, economic and environment issues spans 30 years and dozens of countries.

SFU Public Square Program Director Janet Webber

Janet Webber

Program Director, SFU Public Square

Janet Webber is the Program Director of SFU Public Square, a signature initiative of SFU's President, designed to spark, nurture and restore community connections. By creating capacity for authentic community engagement, SFU Public Square helps to establish Simon Fraser University as the go-to convener of serious and productive conversations about issues of public concern. A graduate of SFU's Undergraduate Semester in Dialogue, and a 2016 EMBA Candidate, Janet brings years of experience working at the intersections of government, non-profit, public policy and education. Before joining SFU Public Square, Janet worked with Action Canada, a national fellowship program for emerging Canadian leaders. She has convened dialogues and events in multiple fields.

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