Alumni: Next Up BC 2007-2008

Meet the Next Up BC group from Year 1 (2007-2008)!

Erin O’Melinn

Erin lives and works towards building a more sustainable city and region and wants more people to have healthier relationships with each other and the planet. She is Executive Director at HUB, providing cycling education and encouragement, and fighting bike lane battles left, right and centre (who knew bikes were so evil?). In her free time, she volunteers with the Vancouver Public Space Network, who have been making their mark through better urban design, art, local food, and engagement in all that and more. She is on the Board of Directors of the Alliance for Biking and Walking – a North American umbrella organization to push forward active transportation. With her Master in Urban Studies, Erin loves geeking out about building massing, dissecting billboard effects, and finding new public gardens around town.


Iglika Ivanova

Iglika’s work investigates issues and trends in health care, education and social programs, and examines the impact of public services on quality of life. She also looks into issues of government finance, taxation and privatization and how they relate to the accessibility and quality of public services. Iglika’s other research interests focus on the Canadian labour market and in particular trends in income inequality, low wage work and the integration of immigrants.

Iglika holds an MA in Economics from the University of British Columbia and a BA in Economics from Simon Fraser University. When she is not in the office, she can often be found swing dancing or sailing the coastal waters of BC.


Luisa Irene Fisher

Luisa’s background includes time as board member/staff person/volunteer at Check Your Head: the Youth Global Education Network, as program facilitator at the Pearson Seminar on Youth Leadership, and much involvement with BC-based student environmental initiatives. Her name has also appeared above many music-related writings. Currently, Luisa is working toward a degree in Literary Studies at the University of Toronto, where she reads slightly more than is humanly possible on a weekly basis. She is concerned with how narratives shape the way we see the world around us — how does the political (broadly speaking) manifest itself in culture? In the longer term, she is on her way to becoming a librarian.


Neal Hicks

I am currently working in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil but am based out of Brooklyn, New York. In Rio, I have been working on community media projects in the Complexo da Mare favela. I was also part of a small team that produced a video advocacy piece in partnership with victims of torture suffered during the military regime in Brazil with the goal of furthering their campaign to open State archives. The video was presented at the Human Rights in Rio de Janeiro conference attended by the State Secretary for Human Rights in Brazil and the State Governor of Rio de Janeiro. In New York, I am completing an MA in International Affairs at the New School University, concentrating at the intersection of media, governance and rights. I have worked with Witness, an international video advocacy NGO and most recently the United Nations, Civil Society Division. My current focus is on media for change.


Rachel Marcuse

Rachel Marcuse is currently a Masters candidate in Organizational Change Management at Milano, The New School for Management and Urban Policy in New York City. She was previously the Executive Director of the Coalition of Progressive Electors (COPE), a major municipal political party in Vancouver, British Columbia. Rachel has successfully managed election campaigns at the municipal and provincial level and was one of the youngest campaign managers in Vancouver history.  In 2006 and 2007, she worked at the Vancouver International Fringe Festival, where she managed operations and a 400-person volunteer program for the largest theatre festival in British Columbia. In addition to her work as a manager, she has nearly ten years of facilitation experience — both freelance and on staff for PeerNet BC and YouthNet Vancouver/Montreal — programming and delivering workshops on facilitation skills, strategic planning, youth engagement, anti-oppression and more for organizations as diverse as the Dialogue Program at Simon Fraser University, the Vancouver Area Cycling Coalition and the British Columbia Ministry of Children and Family Development. In 2007, Rachel spent time in Buenos Aires, Argentina, working in communications and development for La Base, an NGO which gives micro-credit loans to worker cooperatives. Rachel graduated with a BA Hon in sociology from McGill University, where she coordinated an orientation and facilitation training program, and expects to graduate from The New School in December, 2012.


Sahil Dhingra

Sahil did the Next Up program in it’s inaugural year while he was in his first year of law school at UBC. Since then, he has gone on to being involved in numerous initiatives at UBC and in the Vancouver community, including but not limited to: legal aid with the Law Students’ Legal Advice Program, running the UBC chapter of Canadian Lawyers Abroad, being a residence advisor, and coordinating the Student Olympic Collaborative – a unique student group which ran student engagement activities and discussions during the the 2010 Winter Games in Vancouver. After finishing law school in 2010, Sahil is in the process of completing his articling year and hopes to stay connected to the social justice community throughout his career. In his spare time, he is volunteering with Imagine One Day, an NGO working towards educating children in Africa, and training for a half marathon in the spring of 2011.


Sarena Talbot

Sarena is passionate about social justice and creating inclusive communities, both locally and globally. She is currently pursuing this vision in her role as internal chair of the Coalition of Progressive Electors, a progressive municipal political party in Vancouver. She holds degrees in International Studies, Sociology, and Sustainable Community Development from Simon Fraser University. Sarena works with CoDevelopment Canada, a non-profit organisation that works for social change and global education in the Americas, and as a Community Connector with the Planned Lifetime Advocacy Network. A process nerd, she can be found facilitating youth capacity building workshops as well as board visioning and strategic planning processes. She is the Youth Coordinator on the Canadian Board of Servas, an international peace organisation that facilitates relationships between travelers and local folk. While wearing this hat, she also coordinates a program for international Servas youth to come to Canada to learn English and experience Canadian culture. When not in meetings or answering emails, Sarena enjoys spending time with her community of friends, sing-a-longs, sailing, salsa dancing, attempting to garden, playing non-competitive pick-up soccer, and biking around this city she has grown to love.


Sherese Johnson

Sherese Johnson is a MA Candidate in Environmental Education and Communication at Royal Roads University. She works for a small Vancouver-based company, Passion for Action, specializing in developing environmental education programs and tools for engagement. She is interested in the concept of sustainability and sustainable development and wants to contribute to bridging the environmental, social and cultural aspects of sustainability principles. She daydreams about various co-operative businesses and once she is graduated she (Finally!) she will champion the cooperative economy. When things get too intense her daughter often reminds her of the importance of humour and the power it has to spark hope and improve outlook. She loves the outdoors and as circumstances evolve she plans to be taking more of her work outside. She serves on the board of, a cultural organization bridging Latin communities and Latin enthusiasts in the Lower Mainland. Sherese is helping the organization to integrate sustainable practices within its long-term strategic plan. They are helping her to understand what dedication and passion is and that change happens at a personal level to propel larger shifts.

One touch of nature makes the whole world kin.
~ William Shakespeare


Tria Donaldson

Tria is an alumni from Next Up Year 1. When she entered the program she was studying journalism at Thompson Rivers University in Kamloops. AT the end of it, she was working for the BC Government Employees Union, and helping found the BC Campus Climate Network.
Tria brings many years of experience working on climate justice and the environment. She is passionate about dealing with environmental issues in a fair and equitable manner that includes addressing systemic oppression and inequality. She is an active volunteer with several organizations, including the Sierra Youth Coalition, the Canadian Youth Coalition and the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives. Last  year Tria traveled to Copenhagen with the Canadian Youth Delegation for the climate talks, and was the Project Manager for goBeyond, a youth driven climate project that works with 12 post-secondary institutions in BC. Tria currently works for the Wilderness Committee as the Pacific Coast Campaigner, and spends most of her time trying to shut down fish farms and coal mines.


More bios coming soon!