Sign up for our Newsletter!

Staff and board

A small but dedicated team of individuals committed to positive social change leads the Centre.

Staff Team

Tonya Surman, CEO

Raised by hippies, Tonya Surman has been making peace signs and raising a ruckus since the day she was born. Her most recent ruckus is the Centre for Social Innovation. As founding CEO, Tonya imagines the Centre as a space that sparks creativity, connectedness, and fun. Before this, she channeled her overzealous optimism into a national coalition of organizations working on children's environmental health, a social enterprise offering e-mail to activists, and an edgy online news hub for Canadian progressives. Between these experiments in social entrepreneurship, Tonya has found the time to create a coop daycare, host chaotic street parties, and create community gardens. She is also the mother of two wonderful boys which, in the end, is what matters most. Tonya is available for consulting and speaking engagements... Full bio

To reach Tonya, drop her an email.

Eli Malinsky, Executive Director CSI Starrett-Lehigh, NYC

Eli prefers the cause of helping other people’s causes, which he supposes has now become his own cause. He started thinking this way in his mid-twenties when he gave up his lavish lifestyle to toil away in the research program at Imagine Canada. This was followed by a return to school where Eli was reunited with his first love – receiving A’s from approving teachers. Eli used his time at school to explore how networks of activists and nonprofits use technology to work together. When he graduated, he found a perfect home at the Centre for Social Innovation, where he oversees programs and strategy, and where Tonya indulges him with quarterly report cards. Eli is both a dog and cat person and isn’t sure why it’s always one or the other. Eli is available for consulting and speaking engagements.

To reach Eli, drop him an email.

Mike Brcic, Dean of Social Entrepreneurship

Mike Brcic

After moving to the Rockies at the age of 24 and getting fired from his first two post-university jobs, Mike decided to venture out on the first of many limbs and opened up a mountain bike tour company called Fernie Fat-Tire Adventures with his first $10,000 loan. One paying client (his only paying client in his 1st year) was all it took to convince him he was on to something, and 17 years later that company, now called Sacred Rides, offers over 50 adventures in fifteen destinations worldwide and has been rated the “#1 Mountain Bike Tour Company on Earth” by National Geographic Adventure magazine. With annual revenues over $1M and a growth rate of 60%, he’s happy to report that he’s been able to find a few more clients along the way. When not running his company and travelling around the world in search of the perfect adventure, Mike runs social entrepreneurship classes at CSI, consults with world-changing entrepreneurs, plays guitar in a band, and tries in vain to keep up with his three energetic children.

Have a question about social entrepreneurship? Drop Mike an email.

Adil Dhalla, Director of Culture

Adil DhallaAdil Dhalla is the ukulele playing, bow tie wearing, Director of Culture at the Centre for Social Innovation. His story, as he describes it, has been "one helluva adventure", which includes community organizing for the Obama campaign in Brooklyn, helping Tanzanian farmers leverage technology to improve their efforts and most recently, being among the pioneers in the mobile video space with his acclaimed brainchild - My City Lives. Adil has long been enamoured with CSI and the potential of its community to create a social innovation movement. He strongly believes that it's up to each of us to change the world, and accordingly, his energy is spent animating the community by instilling a shared sense of purpose, elevating happiness levels through awesome service and evangelizing the many stories of systems change and social innovation.  Adil is available for both consulting and speaking engagements.

To reach Adil, drop him an email.

Ben Marans, Director of Shared Spaces

Ben MaransBen Marans has been described by friends and colleagues as a fervent (if not obsessive) cyclist, preferring to commute, ideate, and even hold meetings while enjoying the city on two wheels. After four eye-opening years of studying anthropology and biology, Ben moved to China, following in the footsteps of his grandparents who lived there in the 1940s. Upon returning to Canada, Ben pursued a career in the non-profit sector. Highlights included coordinating a multicultural storytelling festival in St. James Town, leading an award-winning community sustainability initiative in the St. Lawrence neighbourhood, and six years managing the grants and transportation programs for Toronto’s leading-edge, innovative climate agency, the Toronto Atmospheric Fund. All of these experiences have taught Ben how best to engage, animate, and support the creative talent embodied within neighbourhoods and civil society. Ben has worked hard to hone his skills in partnership development, cross-sectoral collaborations, and saying ‘yes’ to tackling the toughest of challenges. With a solid mix of operational nerdery and community animation under his belt, Ben is thrilled to be a part of the CSI team as the Director of Shared Spaces. Working with an incredibly talented and dedicated team, Ben will ensure that CSI provides the best space for social innovators to work, learn, connect, play, and change the world.

To reach Ben, drop him an email.

Karine Jaouich, Director of Operations 

Karine's ideal holiday involves mucking around with 600 farm animals. She tolerates, and even enjoys, being surrounded by manure because of her passion for food and sustainable farming issues. Through her work in the food sector (FoodShare, Local Food Plus, Everdale and other social enterprises) she learned the importance of community-building to fostering successful social movements. And this is, of course, what brought her to CSI, where she is currently the Director of Finance. Karine led the purchasing and development of the CSI Annex and of the future CSI Spadina building (192 Spadina Ave.) using CSI's innovation is social finance, the Community Bond. She's also supported the operations and finances of CSI's third and fourth locations in Toronto's Regent Park and in New York City. She has a Bachelor's Degree in Environmental Science from the University of Guelph.

To reach Karine, drop her an email.

Jane Zhang, Director of Online Services

Jane Zhang Born in the jungles of Sothern China, Jane’s first exposure to technology was the telegraph machine, from that point on, she was hooked. Jane has spent the last 20 years working in technology and helping to build relationships between the voluntary, public, and private sectors to make technology more accessible for charity and nonprofits. She has extensive experience in the IT field, as well as the nonprofit sector; in particular she's both founded and acted in a leadership role aimed at helping to bridge the digital divide. As the Director of Online Services, Jane’s role is to help social innovators all over the world to connect with each other and assisting them in achieving their goals. Jane is looking forward to helping CSI optimize its current IT infrastructure to better serve its members and looking at the development of new platforms/services to support social innovation. Jane is also currently the Executive Director of TechSoup Canada, a project of CSI aimed at growing the technology capacity of the Canadian nonprofit sector. In her free time, you can find Jane playing video games, running half marathons, and hanging out with her cats.

To reach Jane, drop her an email.

Timna Ben-Ari, Executive Assistant

Timna has always been “that-person-taking-notes” in class, at home and even at the gym. Even as a child, she was a diligent note-taker, although her initial writing process was mirror image and upside-down—really, ask her kindergarten teacher about it. Now, with the invention of the computer, she is perpetually the one taking notes and then re-typing them. As a lefty, Timna has never been quite normal—she takes her own path and takes as many people down it with her as possible. Described by those who love her as charmingly neurotic, and by others as just neurotic, Timna has always been a creative problem solver. A hypochondriac at heart (is that a heart murmur?), Timna always provides an understanding shoulder to lean on and has empathy up the ying yang! Her interests include dancing (awkwardly, but with passion), playing trumpet (loudly, but with passion) and eating (often and with passion). Her dislikes are members of the onion family—white onions, red onions, green onions and leeks, to name a few— and the inconsiderate (i.e., those who put onions in everything). She studied Film and English at The University of Manitoba, which led her towards various administrative roles (don’t be sad—she loves administrative work!). In this regard, she had the opportunity to work for many years as a Personal Assistant to iconic filmmaker, Guy Maddin. The majority of her experience has been in Production Management in film and theatre, where she honed her skills and her love for organizing the world. CSI is the community Timna has been searching for her whole life—a community of those interested in helping others and doing it through an organized system of efficiency! With a notebook and pen in hand, she is happy to be home.

To reach Timna, drop her an email

Brian Chang, Building Coordinator, 192 Spadina

Brian Chang

Brian is a silly fella. Equal parts Harry Potter and Olaf, he'll cast a spell and hug you, probably both at the same time. A super-diverse environmental policy analyst by trade, his past projects and work have included community development, HIV/AIDS education and prevention, the Olivia Chow Campaign, and now the adventure of property management with our newest CSI building - 192 Spadina! A firm believer in developing and fostering social capital, Brian is equally at home networking with some wine (gluten allergy!), performing on stage, singing his lungs out, talking about the Wizard world, analyzing the mechanics of policy implementation, developing collaborative theatre, and speaking to dogs in a baby voice. Brian doesn't fit into a box, but he's okay if you call him a community building specialist for social capital development. Come give him a hug!
To contact Brian, send him an email.

Chris DePaul, Communications Animator

Chris DePaul

One of Chris’ favourite things to do is team up with people that make him go “Woah, how did your mind come up with that idea?” and then offer his skills to elevate their projects. He strives to bring their work to wider audiences, to discover ways for them to access more money, and most importantly, to create a community of support in their lives. This attitude has brought him down many unique paths —theatre production, advocacy, music, journalism— and he couldn’t be happier. Chris is constantly in pursuit of people and organizations that conceive and develop impressive things or ideas. From stand-up comics, playwrights, advocacy groups, crowdfunders to entrepreneurs, he has found himself surrounded by people who are striving for exceptional heights. Chris brings his interest in photography, graphic design, and writing to CSI to assist with elevating its success and that of its members. Chris is also a producer for a Toronto-based theatre company called Theatre Brouhaha, putting on original shows across Toronto.

To reach Chris, send him an email

Brittney Drysdale, Community Animator, CSI Annex

Brittney was raised on a farm in rural, northern Alberta. She can drive a tractor. You probably could too though, it’s not that hard. Or maybe you've got your own interesting skills - why don't you stop by and tell her about them sometime? After the farm chores were done, she moved to Montreal to study Political Science and Humanistic Studies at McGill University. Brittney has recently returned to Canada following a two year sojurn in South Korea where she taught English to impossibly cute children. Along the way she had a chance to travel throughout Asia, but kind of missed the snow back home. Kind of. Brittney is excited to call Toronto home now, and even more excited to start her journey with CSI!

To reach Brittney, drop her an email

Maylene Earle, Community Animator, CSI Annex

Maylene EarleOver the past year, Maylene has been on a quest to simplify her life, which has included digitizing documents, decluttering and donating roughly 30% of her worldly possessions to friends, thrift stores and the church.  Nowadays, when she comes across something new, she evaluates it to decide if it's a good fit for the simple lifestyle she wants to lead. She welcomes all to join her on her less-stuff-more-happiness journey. Maylene grew up in the Georgian Bay area, participating in as many activates as possible including student council, sport teams and air cadets just to name a few. She then relocated to Kingston to study applied science at Queen's University.  Following graduation, she worked in the environmental consulting industry where she developed her project management, personnel management and environmental management skills. Her interests include historical research, environmental assessments, renewable energy, green buildings, recycling, simple living, natural foods and transportation.  Her long term goal is to reside in an off the grid home.

To reach Maylene, fire her an email

Shona Fulcher, CSI Spadina Manager

Shona has long had a softspot for the reluctant hero who, when faced with a wrong they can right, quietly pulls up their socks and changes the world.  This early fascination led her to a degree in Peace & Conflict studies and a career in the social services sector with the Ontario Child Welfare Training system. After a brief detour through the world of private sector finance, Shona returned to the social mission sector as one the CSI's inaugural Agents of Change interns. Now Shona excitedly returns to the real business of changing the world here at CSI & has high hopes to become her very own reluctant hero someday.

To reach Shona send her an email.

Barnabe Geis, Communications Architect

Barnabe GeisBarnabe Geis didn’t learn to speak conventional languages until after he was three years old. Before that, he spoke his own unintelligible dialect, which his parents painstakingly transcribed into a dictionary for his Parisian grandmother. When he learned French in preschool, he forgot all of his English save for a few choice expletives in Jamaican Patois he had picked up from his nanny. So a career in communications was a no-brainer. As a teenager, inspired by the stories of botanists and explorers, he wandered through Latin America in search of shamans. A few reality-defying experiences later, he resigned himself to higher education and completed a B.A. in Political Science “With Distinction.” He moved to the West Bank and founded a tourism company, guiding people behind the headlines of the Middle East. He travelled through the region over land, and then took a position as a communications officer and Middle East policy analyst back in Canada. Always an avid writer, he moved to New York and did his Master’s in Journalism at Columbia University. He once met a half-crazy, toothless taxi driver in Iraq who told him “politicians don’t fix problems, neighbours do.” Barnabe thought it was a pretty succinct way of saying that systems-change most often starts at the grassroots level with a few dedicated individuals. He wishes he could tell that taxi driver where he now works. Find him on LinkedIn.

To reach Barnabe send him an email.

Matt Guthrie, Facilities Manager

Matt GuthrieMatt is a self-declared jack-of-all-trades who is easily fascinated by obscure trivia. After spending four years studying Political Science and History, he went completely in the opposite direction and entered the trades. His experience includes general contracting, landscaping and tinkering with stuff until it works (or doesn’t). Matt is also a trained machinist and toolmaker, and will gloat as he shows off the tools he made WITH HIS BARE HANDS (and the help of mills and lathes). He’s a newcomer to Toronto and is completely in love with the city. As CSI’s Facilities Manager he’ll be the one called when you plug up the toilet and swear that you found it like that. Guys, don’t flush paper towels. Or baby wipes. Seriously.

To reach Matt, send him an email.

Stefan Hostetter, Community Animator, CSI Spadina

Stefan is probably best described as someone who doesn’t stop moving, whether that’s a positive thing is harder to discern. Ever since the first year dorms of the University of Toronto he’s been obsessed with the power of community and the impact they can play on our lives. This obsession along with a belief in the need for a healthy planet has lead him to creating a variety of projects all centred around the environment, culture, media, and the oxford comma. While not a world traveller by any stretch of the imagination he was born and raised in Scarborough (which is pretty far) and tries to bring some of the wonder that comes from travelling here to the city through co-organizing fundraising concerts, story telling events and even a game show. He’s infinitely curious and always happy to chat about whatever’s on your mind.

To reach Stefan, send him an email.

Orysia Jones, Community Animator, CSI Regent Park

In your childhood, did you ever find yourself picking your grandparents’ brain, interrogation style with a tape recorder, a list of questions and a notepad ready to be filled? Yes, she was that kid. Orysia has always found herself overly fascinated about the concept of ‘identity’ and the ways in which people share, transform, create and identify with ‘culture’. Researching and mapping out her own family genealogy has been a life-long personal interest. Inspired by the effects of globalization, the beauty in diversity and advocating for agency, Orysia obtained an Honours B.A. in Anthropology and Race, Ethnicity & Indigeneity from York University. After graduating and taking off to explore life out West, Orysia is back home in Ontario and eager to embark on an adventure with CSI by assisting our groundbreaking social innovators.

To reach Orysia, send her an email.

Erin Kang, Events Coordinator

Erin Kang

Erin's eccentricity can be noted in her writing, taste in music and literature, line of handmade accessories, and ability to crush you in a Pokemon battle. In her travels to places like Morocco, Costa Rica, Germany, and Prague she's noticed one commonality - the power that storytelling holds in bringing people together and creating the conditions for social change. She aims to harness this power in as many ways as possible, through organizing storytelling events to discuss social issues, working with hundreds of social mission organizations to host great events that tell the stories of their work to the world, working with youth to create meaningful dialogue through the arts, and any other ways she can find. Erin is the co-founder of Turnout Toronto, a civic engagement fair designed to showcase the work of dozens of opportunities for civic engagement and participation, and founder of CSI Pop Up Markets that showcase the work of Toronto's artists, entrepreneurs, and social enterprises. Her passions include community development, youth empowerment, serial idea-creation, and wacky food combinations. At CSI she hopes to continue to help lay down narratives for meaningful action through the power of events and storytelling.

To reach Erin, send her an email.

Shilbee Kim, CSI Regent Park Manager

Sylvia KimShilbee Kim was born in Sydney, grew up in Busan, and moved to Toronto when she was eight. Learning from South Korea's transformation from its war-torn and poverty-stricken state to a leading OECD country, Shilbee committed herself to understanding how societies undergo change. On her quest to become a “button pusher”--- knowing which buttons to push, when and how-- she finds herself in fun (but often awkward) places where seemingly divergent motivations can align, unlocking systemic change. She has dabbled in Ontario politics job-shadowing MPPs from different stripes, founded a charity fashion show in Montreal, and has worked on two early-stage social enterprises, one to empower Aboriginal women and another to support eco-friendly stores. Her other passions include food, dancing, and more food. One of her proudest moments was to outeat her friends at a buffet while maintaining her style and grace on her 11th plate. Shilbee's dream is to combine these two passions and go travelling to learn eclectic dance styles and recipes.

To reach Shilbee, send her an email.

Sacha Kumar, CSI Annex Manager

Although he was born and raised in Oakville, Sacha has always been a Torontonian at heart. As a child, he would express his devotion to the city by attending as many Blue Jays games as possible. He once caught a home run ball (from Devon White) and appeared on the Jumbotron in the same game marking what was easily one of the greatest days of his entire childhood. As the son of an Indian father and Irish/French mother, Sacha has fallen in love with the diversity and vibrance in Toronto. His ethnic background instilled a keen interest in culture that has taken him on adventures overseas including a trip through the Middle East and , more recently, a trip to Karnataka, India where he worked as a Global Fellow for the Deshpande Centre for Social Entrepreneurship, training and mentoring youth social entrepreneurs. He is also a Co-Founder of BizInc, an on-campus business incubator for undergraduate student entrepreneurs at the University of Western Ontario that he started with a few friends after completing a Political Science degree. Now that he calls Toronto a permanent home, he is looking forward to making a splash in the Social Enterprise scene in the course of his career. While he isn't working at CSI, he volunteers his time with the ACCESS Community Capital Fund and Endeavour Volunteer Consulting.

To reach Sacha, send him an email

Sharon Lovett, Business Analyst

Sharon LovettHelping people be as awesome as they can be is a passion for Sharon. She enjoys seeing how work is done and wonders how it can be made easier, more effective and hopefully more fun. Her primary interests are a love of the natural environment and a fascination with what technology can do to help make our lives more sustainable (and fulfilling). As chair (and/or co-chair) of the High Park Stewards, who help restore its rare Black Oak Savannah, she describes herself as a “plant cheerleader”, doing what is necessary to encourage volunteers to become involved in assisting the city with planting, seed collecting and invasive species removal. A lover of photography, mystery novels, and cooking, she approaches her CSI projects as revealing the hidden structure that guides us, putting it all together to come up with solutions to problems and creating recipes for success for everyone.

To reach Sharon, shoot her an email

Farah Malik, Manager Accounts

Feels like a fish, swimming without boundaries, in the peace and serenity of a social change ocean. Farah was born and raised in Kuwait. Deep down in Farah's heart the fire of wanting to make a difference has always burned brightly. In Pakistan, Farah joined the Insan Foundation- an NGO working for child rights and peace. First as an accounts volunteer and later as Program Manager. Then she found CSI and decided it was the best place to feed and sustain her fire; the fun and innovative place of social innovators where a numbers job is anything but boring. She is now working on her CMA.

To reach Farah, drop her an email

Liz Phillips, Leasing Coordinator

After more than a decade of freelance writing/editing/project coordination for a variety of organizations – most notably Gender at Work,, Web Networks, and Queen’s School of Business – Liz is thrilled to bring her passion for communication, organization, and people to the Leasing Coordinator position at CSI. Her experience as a volunteer in the Desk Exchange Program for over a year at the Annex honed her skill in artfully, wittily, and respectfully slapping wrists for dirty dishes. She plans to evolve those skills as she welcomes new members to participate fully in the incredible community that is CSI.

To reach Liz, send her an email

Leah Pollock, Partnership Manager

Leah PollockWith a professional background in social enterprise, partnerships and entrepreneurship, Leah has found a home at the Centre for Social Innovation — a coworking space, community, and launchpad for people who are changing the world. Leah develops microfinance and business development programs that accelerate the success of CSI’s members and manages key partnerships that advance the work of CSI. Drawing on knowledge gained from the entrepreneurship community at CSI, she currently sits on the Social Services Advisory Board at George Brown College to help shape the school’s growing social enterprise program. Leah is also the co-founder of Turnout Toronto, a civic engagement fair created to showcase opportunities for civic engagement and participation in the GTA.  

To reach Leah, send her an email

Eve Rotstein, Program Manager

Eve RotsteinEve Rotstein was born with an insatiable wanderlust and fascination with other cultures and languages. At three, her father was surprised when she announced she was half Spanish. At five, she declared she wanted to learn Mandarin. Working in International Development was a natural next step. After earning degrees in Anthropology and Political Science and a Masters in International Development, Eve lived and worked in Europe, the Middle East and South Asia, including doing tsunami relief work for the United Nations in Indonesia. When she returned to Toronto, Eve joined the Stephen Lewis Foundation as the manager of community outreach. She then worked for the provincial government, most recently as a senior policy advisor with the Office for Social Enterprise.

As the lead analyst developing one of Canada's first Social Impact Bonds, she realized that the time is ripe for the private sector, the public sector and the nonprofit sector to join forces in putting people and planet first. This work introduced Eve to CSI and she's been on fire about the model ever since. She's thrilled to join CSI to continue exploring and developing new social finance frameworks and tools to benefit the social enterprise sector.

To reach Eve, send her an email

Kyle Shantz, Community and Communications Animator

Kyle Shantz

Kyle's a self-described jack-of-all-trades and master of fun. He grew up on an isolated farm in rural Ontario where he spent most days wandering through corn fields with only his imagination, a tractor-tire inner-tube serving as a make-shift Batman cape (yes, it was very heavy), and muddy golden lab named Lucky to keep him company. His family eventually moved to Oakville by the early 90's, where his father founded a charity serving at-risk youth through free summer camps and after school drop-ins. Kyle moved to Toronto in 2001 to attend Ryerson and pursue a BA in Economics, which led him to Bay Street and soul-crushing misery. He quit Bay Street after three years and formed a punk-country band, which proved to be wildly unpopular. In 2012 he combined his banking skills with his social conscience and founded Canada's first nonprofit mortgage brokerage, which provided subsidized interest rate mortgages to people working in the nonprofit sector. It was then he joined CSI as a member, and fell in love with Social Innovation. Kyle now splits his time using the imagination he crafted in cornfields to support the Communications team with creative and innovative design and marketing assets, and is CSI’s Community Membership animator.

To reach Kyle, shoot him an email

Kirtan Shrestha, Assistant Accounts Manager

Kirtan loves numbers so accounting was an obvious career choice. He is passionate about football and cricket, and his accounting background comes in handy keeping track of scores and player stats. He also loves sketching and photography, and is honing his guitar skills in the hopes of one day delighting his family and friends. It may take a while… He graduated in business management, and is currently pursuing a CGA program. Kirtan, who strongly believes in supporting social causes, began his professional journey with Shanti Griha—an NGO in rural Nepal working for the empowerment of underprivileged and marginalized ethnic communities. He worked as an accountant, and also contributed to initiatives such as mobilizing local youth for community development. Settling in Canada in 2010 was a big transition for Kirtan, who, while adjusting to a new life, still desired to serve those in need and help build community. Kirtan is thrilled to have the opportunity to combine his love of numbers with his desire to support social causes at CSI.

To reach Kirtan, send him an email

Alison Thomson, Community Animator, CSI Spadina

Alison has been involved in community spaces since spending her teens as a young anarchist punk, squatting abandoned buildings in The Netherlands and turning them into communal homes, libraries and kitchens. She’s since lost her crowbar skills, but continues to diligently maintain her passion for community involvement since moving to Toronto to pursue a degree in Diaspora and Transnational Studies. In Toronto, Alison has been involved in a multitude of projects, including sitting on the board of directors for the Ontario Public Interest Research Group, and volunteering as a crisis counsellor for the Toronto Rape Crisis Centre. She's delighted to continue her adventures in community building as one of CSI Spadina’s Community Animators. 

To reach Alison, send her an email

Fatemeh Tizhoosh, Community Animator, CSI Regent Park

Fatemeh is a go-getter, always ready to help others. She's an active community member and volunteers in various programs such as Second Harvest. Her dream is to build a community without limitations, a place where every individual is important, and where new ideas are encouraged. She loves reading quotes and one of her favourites is “Only a life lived for others is a life worthwhile,” by Albert Einstein.

To reach Fatemeh, send her an email

Hamid Yusufi, Accounts Assistant 

Hamid YusufiHamid hails from the mountainous landlocked country at the heart of Asia and an ancient focal point of the Silk Road, Afghanistan. Hamid has worked in capacity building projects in Afghanistan, and has now taken his very first steps in Canada at CSI. He shares CSI’s goal to change the world with the power of innovation. He finds hockey interesting, though it’s certainly not as exciting as Buzkashi, the Afghan national sport played on horseback using a headless goat instead of a puck. Hamid likes taking long walks to discover the city. He doesn’t quite get the jogging craze. When he finds spare time, he grabs his pencil, finds a photo of a person he likes, and draws it.

To reach Hamid, send him an email


Board of Directors

Jeb Brugmann

Jeb Brugmann, Managing Partner of The Next Practice, is a strategist and innovation expert in the fields of sustainability, business and urban development. He is best known for leading roles in the international establishment of the fields of urban sustainability planning, ‘base of the pyramid’ business development, and urban greenhouse gas mitigation planning. In 1990, he founded ICLEI-Local Governments for Sustainability, an international association of 1,200 cities and towns that are advancing practices in local sustainable development. He served as ICLEI Secretary General from 1991-2000. He co-founded The Next Practice with Prof. C.K. Prahalad in 2004, managing market analytics, product development, and business model innovation to customize clients’ solutions to local conditions.  Jeb is a speaker to business, government, civic and academic audiences worldwide, and has received a variety of distinctions and awards for his international initiatives and publications. He is a Senior Associate with the University of Cambridge Programme for Sustainability Leadership. His latest book is Welcome to the Urban Revolution: How Cities Are Changing the World

Brian Iler, Board Secretary

Brian brings valuable skills and experience to our board. As a commercial lawyer for the past 35(!) years, he's advised many of Toronto's (and Ontario's) co-operative, charitable, and non-profit organizations on  a wide range of issues and transactions. He's been the creative legal mind behind many of our innovative social enterprises. He's learned and applied the business skills required to build his law firm - Iler Campbell - to its current twenty staff, including seven lawyers. And he's a committed community activist, as a member of Ontario Non-profit Network's Expert Working Group on corporate law reform; a long-time advocate for reforms to Ontario's Co-operative Corporations Act; a founder of Toronto Renewable Energy Co-operative that erected the wind turbine at Exhibition Place; a founding director of the Community Power Fund, established to finance community-based renewable energy projects; a member of the management committee for the hugely successful Green Energy Act campaign; chair and spokesperson for CommunityAIR that campaigns to rid Toronto's waterfront of the scourge that is the Island Airport.

Thursdays all summer, he'll be out racing his sailboat Indefatigable on Humber Bay.

Marie Moliner, Board Chair

Marie Moliner identifies as a public sector entrepreneur, and sometime as an undercover fed, apt labels to describe her 25 +years of proud public service. Tri-lingual and raised in Sherbrooke, Quebec, Marie attributes her resilience, humour and do-it-yourself style to immigrant parents who met in Montreal and begat 4 children. As the eldest child she is bossy by nature and chose a career in law with the lofty goal of changing the system. In her fifties now, she concedes that she has made fewer inroads towards the revolution… but still aspires to it. Based in Toronto, she is the Ontario Regional Executive Director for the Department of Canadian Heritage where she focuses her work on building strong cultural and social infrastructure so Ontarians can actively participate in their communities.

Alice Klein

Named in 2000 as one of the 100 Graduates Who Shaped the Century by the University of Toronto Alumnae Association, Alice Klein is co-founder of Toronto's news and entertainment weekly, NOW magazine and its editor/CEO. Launched in 1981, it boasts a weekly readership of 325,000. As a frequent writer, Klein draws on her experience in politics, business and psychology to focus on issues related to world evolution, the environment and the global economy. Klein is also a documentary producer, director and writer (2007's Call of the Hummingbird). She's a founding member of Green Enterprise Toronto (GET), one of the co-creators of and on the Board of the Toronto Arts Council (TAC) and Canadian Journalists for Free Expression (CJFE) as well as the Centre for Social Innovation.

Bernie Li, Treasurer

Bernie brings his passion for entrepreneurship and innovation to the Board of the Centre for Social Innovation. He is a Co-Founder of Pure Energies, a company that created an innovative program for Ontario homeowners to earn money while producing clean energy for the province.  Before that, he had the opportunity to invest in and work alongside many amazing entrepreneurs, as a team member of the venture capital funds iNovia Capital and Carrot Capital.   During that time he founded and led the Emerging Partners, a not-for-profit organization to catalyze and foster the relationships between private equity professionals across North America. Bernie is an avid music fan and readily accepts suggestions for new bands/artists to listen to. 

Mary Rowe

Mary W. Rowe is currently Vice President & Managing Director of the Municipal Art Society of New York City (, a century-old advocacy organization working to promote the livability and resilience of New York City.  She recently returned to the northeast United States after several years working in the philanthropy, most recently coordinating the New Orleans Institute for Resilience and Innovation, a loose alliance of initiatives that emerged in response to the systemic collapses of 2005. Previous positions include: a fellowship and subsequent staff position as Vice President, Urban Programs with the blue moon fund of Charlottesville, Virginia, to focus on self-organization in cities as the underpinning of urban and regional social, economic and environmental resilience; President of Ideas that Matter, a convening and publishing program based on the work of Jane Jacobs based in Toronto. She is a contributor to several volumes on urban life, with a particular interest in self-organization. She served on the founding Board of the Centre for Social Innovation.

André Sorensen

André Sorensen is Associate Professor of Urban Geography in the Department of Social Science, University of Toronto Scarborough. He has published extensively on urbanisation, land development, and urban policy processes.  His current research examines processes and institutions generative of urban space, and the engagement of civil society actors and networks in urban conversations and city-building. A particular focus is on non-market spaces and practices in cities. His most recent book, co-edited with Professor J. Okata, titled Megacities: Urban Form, Governance and Sustainability was published by Springer in January 2011. His book ‘The Making of Urban Japan: Cities and Planning from Edo to the 21st Century’ (Routledge 2002) won the book prize of the International Planning History Association in 2004.


Past Board Members

Jacline Nyman

For more than fifteen years, Jacline Nyman has built an impressive track record in the fields of marketing higher education and business strategy. As a management consultant, Jacline works with social mission organizations on strategic business planning, in addition to pursuing doctoral studies at the Schulich School of Business, York University. Prior to this, Jacline was vice-president of fundraising and donor relations with the York University Foundation (2002-04) and director of external relations for the Haskayne School of Business, University of Calgary (1999-04). Jacline has also held the following positions: Director of Development with the University of Calgary (1997-99); Director of Advancement Services (1994-97) and Manager of Student Recruitment, both with the University of Ottawa (1992-94).
Board Member 2005 - 2008

Sandy Crawley

Sandy Crawley is a lifelong Arts Activist and, as the erstwhile Executive Director of the Documentary Organisation of Canada/ Documentaristes du Canada, he was also the first tenant of the CSI. Among his many roles, Sandy has been President of the Alliance of Canadian Radio and Television Artists (ACTRA), director of the Canadian Conference of the Arts for Film and Broadcasting, Chair of the Cultural Human Resources Council, delegate to UNESCO Conference on the Status of the Artist, 1996, Executive Director of Canadian Screen Training Centre, and a Board member of the Great Canadian Theatre Company and Word-On-The-Street Ottawa. Behind it all, Sandy has been self-employed as an actor, composer, musician, writer, teacher and director for over 35 years.
Founding Board Member 2004 - 2008

Margaret Zeidler

Margaret Zeidler is president and creator of 401 Richmond Limited, a vibrant urban community of diverse artists and entrepreneurs, located in the old garment district in the Spadina and Richmond area of downtown Toronto. Margie was formally trained as an architect at the University of Toronto and the University of Westminster, and subsequently worked for a number of years with the African Medical and Research Foundation (AMREF), raising money and monitoring projects in eastern Africa. Margie has served on the Board of Artscape and is a current board member of Foodshare/Field to Table. Margie is currently the President of Urbanspace Property Group... Read about Margie's many incredible contributions to CSI.
Co-Founder and Founding Board Member – 2004 - 2010

Jini Stolk

Jini Stolk is founding Executive Director of Creative Trust, a $6.4 million program to improve the financial health and sustainability of Toronto's creative performing arts organizations. Before that, she was Managing Director of Toronto Dance Theatre and Executive Director of the Toronto Theatre Alliance/ Dora Mavor Moore Awards; at the TTA she acquired and revitalized Toronto's half-price ticket booth, T.O. TIX. She was also Associate Director of the Association of Canadian Publishers and General Manager of Open Studio. She is Vice-President of the Toronto Arts Council, a director of the Centre for Social Innovation and on the steering committee of the Ontario Nonprofit Network; and is Past-President of Toronto Artscape, Hum dansoundart and Six Stages Theatre Festival.
Board Member 2004 - 2014

Eric Meerkamper, Board Chair

Eric is the President of The RIWI Corporation, which creates real-time global market intelligence ( Over the past 12 years, Eric has been actively involved in facilitating the interaction between "space" and "creativity". In addition to being a Co-Founder of the Centre for Social Innovation, he was the Founder and President of the Spadina Bus business association, and was on the Leadership Team for Toronto's "Strategies for a Creative Cites Project". Eric is the past Chair of the Daily Bread Food Bank and holds an MBA from the Ivey School of Business and an Honours BA in International Political Science from the University of Western Ontario. Co-Founder and Board Member 2004 - 2014