Our Team

Ashoka Canada Team


Susan Pigott, Executive in Residence, Ashoka Canada

Susan joins us following six years at CAMH (Centre for Addiction and Mental Health) where she was Vice President of Communications and Community Engagement. Susan is a lifelong changemaker and closely connected to the social change ecosystem in Canada. Having served as a panelist for Ashoka Canada in 2004, and being a close collaborator with many Canadian Ashoka Fellows, ASN members and advisors, Susan is ideally positioned to support our profile-building and fundraising in Canada. Her experience ranges from introducing  introducing beekeeping to the Tari Basin in the Southern Highlands of Papua New Guinea to co-leading an initiative to modernize income security policy for low income families in Ontario

Amy Dalebout, Manager of Operations and Integration, Ashoka Canada

Amy joins us from Ashoka's head office in Arlington, Va., most recently as Operations Manager for the Talent Team. In this role, she managed strategic relationships internally and externally, and collaborated with over 30 offices worldwide to develop new infrastructure tools. Her experiences range from Scotland to Indonesia, from Ghana to Guatemala, where she has launched projects and built infrastructure for and with entrepreneurs. Amy will be managing all internal operations, as well as integrating Canada's work with the global impact of Ashoka.

 

Elisha Muskat, Executive Director, Ashoka Canada (on maternity leave)

Elisha is the Executive Director of Ashoka Canada. She has been with Ashoka since 2009, as a volunteer and a member of the Canada, USA and Changemakers teams. Elisha is drawn to the systemic change approach at the core of Ashoka's work. Elisha has developed new operational systems and financial models within Ashoka, and launched Canada's first country-led Changemakers competition.

Prior to joining Ashoka, Elisha worked primarily in youth development, building and running programs in Toronto, New York City and Syracuse. She has launched youth conflict-resolution and peer-mediation programs and developed a green business advisory for small business owners. Elisha has an MBA from Schulich School of Business at York University and a BA in Psychology from McGill University. 

 

Claudia De Simone, Director of Partnerships, Ashoka Canada (on maternity leave)

Claudia leads fundraising and new partnership development at Ashoka Canada. She previously led the selection of Ashoka Fellows in Canada, Fellowship support, as well as the development of the Ashoka University Program. She began at Ashoka in 2008, after completing her thesis on environmental education initiatives with women community health workers in Sao Paulo, Brazil. In Brazil and Canada, Claudia co-designed and launched environmental workshops with grassroots community groups, the designs and partnerships of which are still vibrant today. Prior to joining Ashoka, Claudia was a senior writer at CBC.ca, a researcher at York University and a teacher with Equitas' International Human Rights Training Program. 

Claudia holds a Masters degree in Environmental Studies, with a diploma in Latin American and Caribbean Studies from York University, and a Bachelor degree of Journalism from Ryerson University.

 

Charles Tsai, Director of Learning Networks, Ashoka Canada

Charles Tsai leads Ashoka's university strategy in Canada and is based in Vancouver. He joined Ashoka in 2008 to oversee global campaigns supporting young social entrepreneurs. A former reporter and producer for CNN, Charles ventured into the social sector in 2005 when he started Global Youth Fund, a charity based in Vancouver. He has educated and mentored hundreds of young changemakers through Global Youth Fund and Ashoka's Youth Venture. Charles writes about social innovation at SocialCreatives.rog and Huffington Post.

He received a B.A. in English Literature and Rhetoric from the University of California at Berkeley and an M.A. in Journalism from Columbia University.

 

Yeleka Barrett, Venture Representative, Ashoka Canada

Yeleka has been with Ashoka Canada since 2011. Beginning first in an administrative capacity, she now leads the search and selection of Ashoka Fellows in Canada. Prior to Ashoka, Yeleka worked for Scotiabank in their wealth management division. Yeleka holds a BA in Kinesiology from the University of Western Ontario, and a BASc in Public Health from Ryerson University. Yeleka has extensive volunteer experience, including spending 2 months in Zanzibar, Tanzania with Youth Challenge International working with local community based organizations on youth employment, peer education, and HIV/AIDS awareness and stigma reduction campaigns. She also completed a CIDA internship as a Capacity Building Officer in Kilimanjaro, Tanzania where she spent 7 months working to integrate and provide support for projects run by the charity Canadian Support of Rural African Initiatives (CSRAI). Yeleka served as a member of the Board of Directors and Project Committee Chair for CSRAI until 2012. She is especially passionate about community health development and innovative solutions to health care.

 

Ana Terrazas, Administration & Finance Associate, Ashoka Canada

Ana joined Ashoka in the spring of 2013 as an intern and quickly moved forward to the Administration and Finance Associate position at the Toronto office. For many years Ana has been working to raise environmental awareness in Canada and around the globe. Her interest for the environment did not only define her academic path but also drove her to move to Canada and work with numerous environmental organizations throughout the years. Merging her passions, Ana is currently completing her M.A. in Disaster and Emergency Management at Royal Roads University and holds a B.A. in Human Environment from Concordia University and an International Development Certificate from the University of British Columbia.

 

Durka Kumarathasan, Manager of Communications & Engagement, Ashoka Canada 

Durka joined Ashoka as an intern in March 2012 after becoming captivated by Ashoka's entrepreneurial approch to systemic social change. While at Ashoka, she has supported the Venture process through research, helped coordinate the Be a Changemaker Challenge and strengthen Ashoka Canada's online communications. Prior to Ashoka, Durka has worked to facilatate violence prevention, conflict resolution and literacy programs for at-risk and newcomer youth in her community. She has also worked as a researcher on corporate citizenship at the University of Toronto and public policies related to the financial sector at the Ontario Ministry of Finance. Durka holds a Bachelor of Business Administration from the University of Toronto.

 

Alex Audet, Ashoka BC Integrator, Ashoka Canada

Alex is currently working as the Ashoka BC Integrator out of Vancouver, catalyzing and collaborating to establish a innovative and strong BC based Chapter. She previously worked with the team in Toronto designing and delivering the Ashoka Forum 2011, developing new partnership and building a dynamic infrastructure of support for Ashoka. Prior to joining Ashoka in 2010, Alex worked facilitating physical education for at-risk youth at inner-city schools, delivered programs for adolescent girls to promote positive self-esteem and education on prevalent health issues. Alex also played college basketball and traveled and worked throughout South America as an English as a Second Language teacher.

Alex has done extensive research in the field of International Sport for Development and holds a Bachelor degree in Human Kinetics from the University of British Columbia. 

Strategic Volunteers

Allen Hirsh

Allen started NextGenLeaders to respond to the pressing need to develop our next generation. Leadership supply hasn’t kept up with demand and we need to invest in individuals who will be ready to fill mission-critical roles and lead our organizations.

NextGenLeaders is a collaborative network of 26 Ontario based management consultants, organization development specialists and coaches. They use an action-based coaching approach to support senior leaders and their ‘rising stars.’ They help leaders improve the quality and speed of execution, and in the process help the organization expand its capabilities in change management, learning, and talent building.

Allen’s purpose and passion is to help clients achieve their business results and personally grow as leaders. He does this by encouraging people to have the courageous and interesting conversations about their “preferred future,” understand their “current reality,” and develop practical actions for closing the gaps.

Prior to starting NextGenLeaders Allen was a partner at the firms of Oliver Wyman, Mercer Delta and Johnston Smith International.  With 33 years of experience as an organization and leadership consultant, he wears a variety of hats: strategist, facilitator, organization designer, coach, team builder, and educator. He uses a collaborative, energetic and creative style, which builds commitment to the change process and leads to innovative problem solving.  He is a Certified Management Consultant (CMC) working with a diverse set of clients in the private, public and social enterprise sectors.

In his volunteer life, Allen has been closely affiliated with Ashoka Canada. He currently leads the Ashoka Fellows Support Network, and helps out on other initiatives.  His other major voluntary role is with Civic Action. He helped bring the DiverseCity Fellows program to life, and has been a strategic advisor and coach to the program over the past 5 years.

Lately Allen has been humming that old folk classic “Kisses Sweeter than Wine” – as he thinks about his wonderful and growing family (3 grandchildren so far). When Allen is not with them, he enjoys working in his studio, bicycling, going on canoe trips, hiking, or obsessing in his vegetable garden.

 

Board Members

Bill Drayton (President)
CEO, Ashoka

Bill Drayton is a social entrepreneur. As a student at Harvard, Oxford and Yale, he founded a number of organizations including Harvard’s Ashoka Table, an interdisciplinary weekly forum in the social sciences, and the Yale Legislative Services to help legislatures across the Northeast.

In 1970, Bill graduated from Yale Law School and began his career at McKinsey and Company in New York. From 1977 to 1981, Mr. Drayton served as Assistant Administrator at the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, where he launched emissions trading (the basis of Kyoto) among other reforms. He has also taught at Stanford Law School and Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government.

In 1981, while working part-time at McKinsey and Company in New York, he launched both Ashoka and Save EPA and its successor, Environmental Safety. After being elected a MacArthur Fellow in 1984, he was able to devote himself fully to his career as a social entrepreneur.

Bill is currently the Chair & Chief Executive Officer of Ashoka: Innovators for the Public. He is also Chair of Youth Venture, Community Greens, and Get America Working! and is a trustee of the Black Rock Forest. He is an Honorary Fellow of Balliol College at Oxford University and also of Pennsylvania Law School, and Polytechnic University gave him an Honorary Doctor of Laws. He is a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, The National Academy of Public Administration, and the Council on Foreign Relations. Yale’s School of Management gave him its Award for Entrepreneurial Excellence and the Law School its Award of Merit.

Bill has won numerous awards and honors throughout his career. In 2005, he was selected one of America’s Best Leaders by US News & World Report and Harvard’s Center for Public Leadership. Other recognitions include The National Public Service Award from the National Academy of Public Administration and the American Society for Public Administration, the Public Service Achievement Award from Common Cause, the Vanguard Award for Achievements in Nonprofit Law from the American Bar Association, the Conservation Achievement Award from the National Wildlife Federation, the 2007 Goi Peace Award (Japan), and the Civil Society Development Award from the World Association of Non-Governmental Organizations. In 2008, he was recognized by Tufts University’s Institute for Global Leadership with the Dr. Jean Mayer Global Citizenship Award, and Americans for Informed Democracy’s Social Innovator in Smart Investing Award. In 2009, he was awarded an Honorary Doctorate of Humane Letters from Yale University.

 

Bill Carter

William Carter (Vice President)
Everyone a Changemaker Leader, Ashoka Africa

Bill Carter was one of Ashoka's founding Board members. After stepping down from the Board of Directors in February 2009, Bill joined Ashoka as it’s Everyone a Changemaker Leader for Africa. In this role he guides Ashoka's overall strategy for our programming in Africa. Before working fulltime with Ashoka, Bill was the CEO of an independent power company, the Long Lake Energy Corporation, that developed hydroelectric, cogeneration and other types of power generation which was sold to public utilities in the US and Canada. He also played a leading role in developing Ashoka's Indonesia program starting in 1981. He spent a number of years in McKinsey & Company's international practice and served at the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, where he was responsible for wide-ranging management reforms.

 

Mary Gordon (Secretary)
Founder/President, Roots of Empathy

Mary Gordon was the first female Canadian Ashoka Fellow. She is recognized internationally as an educator, best-selling author, child advocate and parenting expert who has created programs informed by the power of empathy. In 1996, she founded Roots of Empathy, which now offers programs in Canada, New Zealand, the United States, the Isle of Man, the Republic of Ireland, Northern Ireland and Scotland.

Mary is also the founder of Canada's first and largest school-based Parenting and Family Literacy Centres, which she initiated in 1981. They have become public policy in Ontario, with hundreds of schools involved. They have been used as a best practice model internationally. The Nelson Mandela Children's Foundation brought Ms. Gordon to South Africa to share her parenting expertise.

Mary speaks and consults to governments, educational organizations, and public institutions. She is the recipient of several prestigious awards recognizing her contribution to innovation in education and international social entrepreneurship, including the 2009 Public Education Advocacy Award from the Canadian Teachers' Federation. Her 2005 Canadian bestseller, Roots of Empathy: Changing the World Child by Child, was ranked as one of the Top 100 Books of the Year by the Globe and Mail, Canada's national newspaper. She was a recipient of the Queen’s Golden Jubilee medal for her outstanding commitment to education.

Mary has presented on early childhood development to conferences organized by the Organization of Economic Cooperation and Development, the World Health Organization, and the United States government, among others. She worked with the World Health Organization's Commission on the Social Determinants of Health's Knowledge Network for Early Childhood Development for their report Total Environment Assessment Model for Early Childhood Development.

In 2005, Mary founded the Seeds of Empathy program.

Mary has twice had dialogues with His Holiness the Dalai Lama: First in 2006, at the Vancouver Dialogues, and then in 2008, in Seattle, Washington, as part of the Seeds of Compassion event. The Dalai Lama expressed that programs like Roots of Empathy will build world peace.

In 2008, Roots of Empathy was one of three winners to win an international competition from Changemakers for programs that help youth at risk.

Also in 2008, National Chief Phil Fontaine and the Assembly of First Nations passed a resolution to support Roots of Empathy and Seeds of Empathy in First Nations schools across Canada. Mary is committed to making her program available to Aboriginal communities.

She is a member of the Executive Board of Directors of Ashoka and a member of the Order of Canada.

In September 2010, Mary was invited to speak about emotional literacy at the United Nations International Literacy Day Celebration in New York. This marked the first time that emotional literacy was included in the event.

 

Toby Heaps 
CEO, Corporate Knights

Toby is the CEO of Corporate Knights Inc. He spearheaded the first global ranking of corporate sustainability leaders in 2005. Toby sits on the Sustainability Accounting Standards Advisory Board and the University of Toronto’s Environment and Finance Committee. He also is a Director at the Natural Step Canada. Toby has been published in the Financial Times, Wall Street Journal and the Globe and Mail, and is a regular guest speaker on CBC. In 1998, he played centrefield for the Yugoslav National Baseball Team.

 

Ed Waitzer

Edward J. Waitzer (Former Treasurer)
Senior Partner, Stikeman Elliott

Ed Waitzer is the Jarislowsky Dimma Mooney Chair in Corporate Governance and is Director of the Hennick Centre for Business and Law at Osgoode Hall and the Schulich School of Business at York University. He was Chair of Stikeman Elliott from 1999 to 2006 and is a senior partner whose practice has focused on complex business transactions. He also advises on a range of public policy and governance matters. He has served (1993-1996) as Chair of the Ontario Securities Commission (and of the Technical Committee of the International Organization of Securities Commissions) and (until 1981) as Vice-President of The Toronto Stock Exchange. He has written and spoken extensively on a variety of legal and public policy issues and serves or has served as director of a number of corporations, foundations, community organizations, editorial boards and advisory groups. Ed is the former Falconbridge Professor of Law at Osgoode Hall Law School and earned his LL.B. (1976) and LL.M. (1981) from the Faculty of Law, University of Toronto. Called to the Ontario (1978) and the New York (1985) Bars.