Who we are
Next Up staff come from a wide range of backgrounds: public policy, community activism, labour, the non-profit sector, and research. We are all involved in social and environmental justice work. We’ve created this program because we believe that a better world is not just possible, but an imperative.
We believe that good solutions to the biggest issues are out there, and can be realized. We have different approaches to teaching and learning, but we all believe that a new generation of progressive leaders is needed and should be supported.
Kevin Millsip, Co-founder & Director // Next Up
Kevin is the Co-founder and Director of Next Up.
Over the last ten years Kevin has focused on building the capacity of young social change leaders across Canada, food security and climate change work.
Kevin has driven social change both locally and nationally. As the former Director and Co-founder of Check Your Head, he worked with thousands of high school age youth to become involved in global justice issues and through Get Your Vote On – a non-partisan campaign that he co-founded in 2004 - has run campaigns to register thousands of young people to vote in BC elections. He’s dabbled in municipal politics where he served as a Vancouver School Board Trustee. While a Trustee he drafted one of Canada’s strongest policies protecting students from advertising in schools.
Kevin does Sustainability Planning with the Vancouver School Board in the areas of urban food systems and active transportation.
He speaks and leads workshops on social change and public engagement for unions and other progressive organizations across the country.
Other stuff: Kevin is a Dialogue Associate with The Simon Fraser University Centre for Dialogue, a Fellow with the Broadbent Institute and serves as an advisor with Upstream, the Small Change Fund and The Centre for Civic Governance. He currently serves as the Chair of the BC Board of the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives and the board of Theatre for Living.
Mike Byerley, Program Coordinator // Next Up Calgary
Sentiment without Action is the ruin of the Soul
~ Edward Abbey
Sentiment without Action is the ruin of the Soul
~ Edward Abbey
Today the world is wracked in urgent crises. How are these to be faced and still leave space to work for the good of future generations? In Alberta I’m constantly told that the Petrostate economy is “how it is” and we have no alternative system to be a part of. As an Albertan, I can see how changes made through connecting on ideas and values has profound impact. As an educator I see that skills, capacity and collaboration create and empower personal and systemic change. As a community organizer I see that shared purpose, common action and inclusion are successful in building the movement for justice. These are exciting times, sometimes fearful, often hopeful. Lately I'm finding my inspiration in finding other action oriented people and taking the steps to create just solutions to the intersecting climate and social issues we face here in Alberta.
Tracey Mitchell, Program Coordinator // Next Up Saskatchewan
Tracey Mitchell is a settler from Treaty 4 Territory (Moose Jaw), now living in Treaty 6 Territory (Saskatoon). A social justice and environmental activist since the age of 13, Tracey sits on the national board of The Council of Canadians and is a founding member of Bus Riders of Saskatoon. She has written for various publications including Briarpatch Magazine and the book and website Beautiful Trouble: A Toolbox for Revolution.
Tracey ran her own facilitation business from 2009 to 2014 and now works as a Peer Support Mentor at Mental Health and Addiction Services, putting her own lived experience of depression to good use in supporting others. Tracey has also been the Saskatchewan Coordinator for Next Up for five years, supporting the 7-month and 5-day programs. She is taking care of logistics for our time together so she's your contact for questions about food, travel, childcare subsidies, etc.
Hailing from southern Ontario, Sam moved to Ottawa in 2005 to pursue her undergrad at the University of Ottawa. Her major introduction to social movements began on campus, where her disdain for militarism led her to join the Student Coalition Against War. As an anti-war and anti-apartheid organizer, Sam has worked extensively with a variety of community partners to build up public pressure against harmful Canadian foreign policy. She spent several years working in the student movement, most recently as the Membership Coordinator of the Graduate Students' Association at Carleton University, where she organized campaigns.
While pursuing a master’s degree in political economy at Carleton University, Sam worked as Co-Chief Steward of CUPE local 4600, and promoted workers’ rights and labour solidarity among Carleton’s campus community.
Passionate about Indie media, Sam sits on the editorial board of RankandFile.ca, a site committed to providing Canadian labour news and analysis from a critical perspective.
Sam likes hiking, camping, and biking, and is stoked to finally set up shop on the West Coast, where Vancouver makes form some nice mountain gazing and gallivanting. In her down time, she seeks out different musical outlets, including drums, guitar, and ukelele.
Sam first got involved with Next Up as the founding coordinator for Next Up Ottawa. Now she’s looking forward to getting to meet and collaborate with the many networks of progressives and Next Up alumni throughout BC.
Seth Klein, Co-founder & Instructor with Next Up
Seth was hired to open the CCPA’s BC Office in 1996. Under his direction it has become a prominent and widely respected source of public policy research and commentary. Seth’s research deals primarily with tax reform, welfare policy, poverty, inequality and economic security. A social activist for over 30 years and a former teacher, Seth holds a BA in international relations, a BEd from the University of Toronto and an MA in political science from Simon Fraser University. Seth a co-founder of Next Up. He is also co-chair of the BC Poverty Reduction Coalition, an advisory board member for the Columbia Institute’s Centre for Civic Governance, and an advisor to the Living Wage for Families campaign.
Rana Hamadeh, Program Coordinator // Next Up Ottawa
Rana Hamadeh is a Palestinian-Canadian student, activist, artist, and writer. Over the past six years, she has been immersed in community organizing, both locally in Ottawa, and in her second home, the occupied Palestinian West Bank.
While working on her BA in human rights and law at Carleton University, Rana became interested in organizing for students issues, from food poverty to reviving the fight for accessible tuition. On campus, she became a member of Students Against Israeli Apartheid (SAIA) and joined their battle for a socially ethical investment policy at Carleton. She also volunteers with the Ontario Public Interest Research Group (OPIRG), a centre for student organizing on the lines of social, environmental, and economic justice. In Palestine, she worked as an independent journalist and within local direct-action activism collectives.
Rana will always contend that change is possible if we push the right buttons. She is all about expanding practical understandings and building useful skills. Rana’s passion for work with oppressed and marginalized peoples is informed by her experiences: arriving in Canada as a settler and a refugee; growing up in the Palestinian diaspora, and resisting exile as an adult; and living in Canada as a woman of colour. She is interested in creating spaces where oppression and colonization can be addressed and deconstructed, for the betterment of our movements and ourselves.
Laura Collison, Program Coordinator // Next Up Edmonton
Laura Collison is a white Settler living in Amiskwaciwâskahikan (Edmonton) under Treaty 6. Laura was a participant in the 2010/11 Next Up Edmonton cohort and has served on Next Up Edmonton’s Advisory Committee.
Growing up surrounded by Albertans in border towns in BC and Saskatchewan led to a fascination with Alberta’s political culture. This drew her to study Sociology and Political Science at the University of Alberta’s Augustana Faculty. She learned that politics in Alberta is often frustrating, but never boring and the progressive community she found here helped her decide to make the province her home.
Laura is passionate about creating change through popular education and has developed workshops on feminism in community organizing, ending gender-based violence and sexual assault, and prison abolition. She also has experience in feminist community radio, youth leadership, volunteer engagement, public legal education, social marketing, and political campaigning. Laura has been a volunteer at the the federal prison for women in the Prairie region since 2008. She also sits on the board of The Landing, a non-profit service at the University of Alberta that offers support for gender and sexual diversity.
You can often find Laura knocking doors during elections; riding her bike to a meeting; hiking in the woods; or curling in Edmonton's LGBTQ curling league with her team, the Button Bangers.
♥ Keep loving, keep fighting ♥
Sanjana Vijayann is an immigrant from India who lives and studies in Winnipeg. She started volunteering very early on and has since been part of the social movement toward an equitable world. Sanjana believes that one's civic duties go beyond casting a vote and involves speaking to decision makers about change they want to see in their community and country. Through her advocacy, she strives for principle in politics, achieving health equity, and a world free of extreme poverty. She trusts that progress of science and policy are driven by advocacy.
Sanjana's voice has been heard at the local level, national level and at the International level where she has advocated at the World Bank, the International Monetary Fund, and other global organizations to prioritize eradicating extreme poverty. She has lived in Tanzania and worked to help start and scale a social business that focused on getting essentials like rehydration salts, water purification salts, solar lights, menstrual management products etc to the hardest to reach and therefore the most vulnerable populations.
Sanjana continues to be a bad Swahili student but is determined to learn the lovely language. Among other things, fair trade coffee options and cake are very important to her. She enjoys poetry, latte art, and believes that above all, we need to stay kind.
Next Up is a project of our host and founding organization, genius (the global youth education network society). genius is the art of non-habitual thinking, and that’s how we approach social change work. genius is a charitable not-for-profit that works in four areas: leadership, civic engagement, project incubation and cross generational collaboration.
Next Up’s staff are supported by region-specific Advisory Committees, made up of great people from the public sectors, not-for-profits, community organizations and trade unions. Advisory Committee members volunteer their time to support the program's design and delivery and connect Next Up with local communities. We also partner with organizations in each region where we have a program. The regional partners help us with fundraising, local content design and overall program development.
In BC, Next Up partners with the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives (CCPA)– BC Office. The Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives is an independent, non-partisan research institute focused on social and economic justice. It is one of Canada’s leading progressive voices in public policy debates.
In Alberta, we partner with Parkland Institute. Parkland Institute is an Alberta-wide, non-partisan research centre situated within the Faculty of Arts at the University of Alberta. Parkland Institute studies economic, social, cultural and political issues facing Albertans and Canadians, using the perspective of political economy.
In Calgary we also partner with the Arusha Centre. The Arusha Centre inspires and supports communities to connect, gather, and create a socially, economically, and environmentally just future.
In Saskatchewan, we partner with the CCPA – Saskatchewan office.
In Ontario, we partner with the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives – National Office.