Meghan is a quiet explorer and observer of the world, whose days are punctuated by emphatic hand talking. Meghan believes in practicing empathy, and that compassion has the power to be disruptive.
Currently Meghan works at Spark, Calgary's Science Centre, creating experiences that challenge visitors and build skills. They believe in the value of risky play, authentic challenges, and the ability of children to construct their own learning. Meghan believes Spark, and other cultural institutions, have a critical role to play in building empathetic and resilient communities. Meghan is grateful to work in a role that allows them to take creative risks, fail often and brilliantly, and facilitate learning opportunities for others. Sometimes Meghan teaches toddlers how to use knives and teens to use butane torches, and they think this is pretty great.
Meghan grew up in Calgary, and although leaving several times, they’ve always returned. Living and working in B.C, Washington, DC and Nunavut, allowed Meghan challenging and sometimes uncomfortable opportunities to grow. These days Meghan is thankful to be living and learning on Treaty 7 land, underneath the big sky and amongst the prairie grasses, which they have a lot of affection for.
As you read this, Meghan is slightly embarrassed by how earnest this bio is, but not embarrassed enough to actually change it.
Litia is an educator, a lover of birds, and ice cream enthusiast who desires more politically and socially like minded souls in her life. Born and raised in Vancouver, she moved to Calgary a year ago; though she has lived in many cities across Canada, this is her first time living in the Prairies and the geography amazes her on a daily basis. Litia loves to ride her bike and has recently started taking her dog, Maisy, along with her.
Litia completed an undergraduate degree in Sociology and Political Science at St. Thomas University, and a Bachelor’s of Education at UBC. She is interested in identity politics, critical pedagogy, intersectional feminism, and in creating social justice focused curriculum that is accessible to teachers and students of all experience levels. Her idols include bell hooks, Michael Jackson, and her mom – she knows this is an eclectic bunch and draws strength from it.
Lise was born in Calgary, but raised on the other side of the world (literally), on a sheep farm in New Zealand. Her early experiences helped to cultivate a relentless curiosity about the world. While traveling throughout the Global South in particular, Lise became interested in the systemic causes of injustice, and how she could contribute to change in her way. She feels that empathy, determination and self-reflection are the values that drive her to be part of the social and climate justice movements.
Lise is currently studying what she loves: Human Geography and Spanish at the University of Calgary. She is currently part of a collaborative research effort with the Parkland Institute and the Canadian Center for Policy Alternatives that is examining the role played by the oil and gas industry in shaping Alberta’s Climate Leadership Plan. By communicating policy information in a way that is accessible to all citizens, the hope is to encourage more public engagement on climate policy issues. Lise believes conversation surrounding climate change and climate policy needs to be expanded to truly represent a diversity of voices.
In addition to be being a bonafide nerd, Lise cares deeply about helping to minimize the language barriers that can lead to isolation within Calgary’s immigrant community. Building on personal experiences of integrating into foreign cultures, Lise facilitates an English conversation group at the Calgary Catholic Immigration Society. She feels lucky to be able to meet new people every week who share their lives and perspectives with her.
Lise replenishes her soul by breathing mountain air, singing, pulling weeds in her garden, bike rides, or cooking for loved ones while enjoying a giant glass of wine. Her next challenge is to learn Indonesian in preparation for field work in the Spring!
Krystal is a feminist, lover of wild spaces, and Oxford comma enthusiast.
In her current role as Community Development Coordinator at the Women’s Centre of Calgary, Krystal works to organize community-building opportunities, and create capacity-development programs for women at a local level. At the Women's Centre Krystal works to apply a gender lens to community issues, and she is excited to be a part of current projects exploring the intersections between gender, climate change, and sustainability.
Krystal studied communications and political science at Mount Royal University. During her time at Mount Royal, she worked as a contributor for the Calgary Journal, where she explored the ways in which access to transportation, affordable housing and opportunities for political participation impact the lives of women in Calgary. This and other work sparked Krystal’s interest in the ways public policy can be used as a tool to create vibrant communities, and she hopes to play a small role in making Calgary a more equitable place to live.
An avid hiker and amateur skier, Krystal spends as much time as she can outside. She has a long list of things that make her happy, but dark chocolate, strong coffee, off-beat humor, and mountain air are near the top. She recently returned to Calgary after time spent overseas – it was the magnetic pull of the Rockies that brought her back to Alberta, and she is looking forward to sticking around.
Khalil Alomar is a Lebanese Canadian who has lived in Saudi Arabia, Lebanon, The United States and has a background in Early Childhood Development. He brings unique perspectives to community building, social equity, and intersectionality. He engages these passions in a number of community organizations. He is a mentor to Queer identified youth through Camp fYrefly, and is one of the founders of VOICES: a coalition of Queer and Straight People of Color. He aspires to create a community based non-profit dedicated to the education, facilitation, and promotion of LGBTQ and anti-racist initiatives. He is also a critically-acclaimed stained glass artist and a life long Beyonce fan.
Katie was born and raised in Calgary and, after adventures traveling around the world and brief, temporary residencies in other cities, she has chosen to invest in this city as her home. Katie is a graduate of the University of Calgary, holding a Bachelor of Arts with a major in International Relations. Fascinated by the social sciences, human interactions and community development, Katie was drawn to the non-profit sector at the start of her career. As she continued to learn more about social justice in the Calgary context and how she could best contribute her strengths, she was inspired to return to school in pursuit of a Bachelor of Education. As a teacher, Katie feels she will have the platform from which to inspire youth, foster community and take positive action for change. In her spare time, Katie enjoys wearing many hats. She is the co-founder of local food waste prevention initiative Alternate Root YYC, a volleyball coach, live music enthusiast and proud Next Up participant. To survive, Katie runs on yoga, good coffee, mountain air and lots of laughs.
Jacie is a Nihiyaw iskwew, child at heart, and member of Bigstone Cree Nation of Treaty 8 territory. She left home at an early age, attended school in Edmonton where she faced many milestones and rose to meet numerous adversities apart from her family and community. Her personal growths led her to understanding the importance of one’s connection to culture, land and community for success and well-being.
During her Post-Secondary education Jacie began her journey as a mother. Her two daughters further inspired her academic endeavours and reaffirmed her journey toward reconciliation for her people. She attained a Bachelor of Arts in International Indigenous studies with a minor in Geography at the University of Calgary. Her involvement with academia, the Native Centre and the greater student body revealed many truths about history, pedagogies, and her own past. Jacie served as External executive to the student club, the First Nations Students’ Association, Jacie enlarged her personal circles and ventured to the Peruvian Amazon. Introduced to local Indigenous groups, and participate in ceremony, this carved a deeper path on her healing journey toward reconciliation for a more culturally and spiritually based connection to land and people.
Her deepest strengths and inspirations are drawn from being a mother. Her daughters exemplify the importance of kindness, creativity, adaptability and playful nature to face the world in times of change. Combining her academic education, spiritual growth and experience she intends to dig up medicines written in land practices, and rekindle identities through reclaiming our stories, our songs, ceremonies and lifeways to reveal truths. To nourish enduring spiritual and cultural ties to guide understanding, unity and strength for the purpose of moving forward for future generations.
Born and raised in Calgary, Holliston (Holly) is honoured to call Calgary home. Holly is a member of the Metis Nation of Alberta, and has a proud Saulteaux-Scottish heritage. Holly attended the University of Calgary, where after many degree changes she found her passion and graduated with a B.Sc. in Psychology. She continues to be involved in psychology research at the Addictive Behaviours Laboratory at the University of Calgary, where she is currently researching lay epidemiological perspectives of video game addictions.
Currently, Holly works as a Charity Relations Coordinator, Lead at Benevity – a locally founded B-Corporation. As a Charity Relations Coordinator, Holly assists charities world-wide in building relationships with a network of corporate giving, matching, and volunteering programs. She is passionate about supporting the non-profit sector, and has experience working within various non-profits herself, including the Native Ambassador Post-Secondary Initiative (N.A.P.I. Program), and Wellspring Calgary.
In her free time, Holly volunteers with a variety of charitable organizations around Calgary. She currently sits as a member of the Board of Directors at Pathways Community Services Association, and as the Social Media Team Lead for the Firefighter Stairclimb Challenge Committee at Wellspring Calgary. In her down time, you can often find Holly curled up under a blanket watching Netflix and crocheting.
Through Next Up, Holly hopes to explore the many diverse social and environmental issues facing our communities today, and intertwine these learnings into her current community involvements.`
Emily is a social worker and feminist. Right now she works in reproductive and sexual health at an abortion clinic. She is honored to offer compassion and respect to individuals and believes this work is about justice and liberation. She has also worked in areas of mental health, addictions, and pediatrics. Emily tries to find points of connection with others in order to understand their diverse experiences of human suffering and resilience within a justice context.
Emily’s background in feminism and women’s studies anchors her approach to relationships. Emily has experienced privilege, invisibility, and oppression. It has been immensely meaningful to use these experiences to learn and unlearn ways of acting as a white settler on Treaty territory.
Emily has discovered a passion for engaging groups of people around sensitive issues, such as sexual assault public education. It has been humbling to be involved in dialogue about the influence of power systems on our lives and relationships.
Emily enjoys extra long walks with her dog, cycling all over Calgary, film noirs, and trying to understand organized sports.
Arielle’s interests are built around self-education and waste reduction. She dreams of basic income, renewables, gross happiness, open-source tech, and a free world without waste. She supports arts and music by any means necessary, and enjoys acquiring skills that challenge her to learn patience like aerial arts and violin.
From Québec, Arielle explored the frozen and flourishing backwoods of Saguenay and Gaspésie with a little axe as company, until she moved to Beirut, Lebanon, where she graduated high school and learnt about the importance of good governance, diplomacy, compassion, and the many impacts of civil unrest and inequality. She learnt a trace of Arabic and Spanish during this time, and speaks French and English natively.
Subsequently, she spent some years with her nose in countless books and finished a Bachelors in English Literature and Psychology from McGill. After noticing a lack of effective and resilient sustainability initiatives while working as an urban planning researcher and writer, she sought further education and enrolled in a Sustainable Community Development program at Simon Fraser.
She currently works with Green Event Services, a social business dedicated to diverting waste from our landfills, and volunteers with Calgary Can, a grassroots recycling initiative in support of Bottle Pickers. Her efforts are focused on bolstering business practices and developing sustainability efforts to support local communities and the move towards zero waste. Garbage be gone!
She has every intention of enjoying the company of friends, getting a Master’s degree, perfecting groovy dance moves, and exploring the many linkages within sustainability. She’s a special fan of screwball humor, and innovative big-picture thinking.