The Speaker Bureau is a group of dedicated volunteers from across Canada that promotes discussion and learning on global issues and inspires Canadians to get involved in international development. Learn more.
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Jo-Anna has chosen to work in global child health because she is passionate about improving maternal and child nutrition and generating new knowledge about how to save lives. She’s had the opportunity to witness good nutrition firsthand during her research projects in Uganda and Bangladesh. These experiences have contributed to her ongoing research in the field. Born and raised in beautiful Victoria, BC, Jo-Anna is currently a PhD Candidate at the University of Toronto in Nutritional Sciences. The focus of her PhD is on improving the nutrition of adolescent girls and young women in rural Pakistan so that they might become healthier and have healthier pregnancies.
The daughter of two teachers, Hilary is passionate about education and lifelong learning. Her introduction to international development took place in a primary school classroom in Kenya, and her international development career began with an Aga Khan Foundation Canada Fellowship to Bangladesh, supporting preschool education in some of Bangladesh’s most disadvantaged communities.
Hilary’s university days saw her attend five universities on three continents in two languages, including earning a Master’s degree in African Studies from Oxford University. A lifelong Girl Guide, Hilary is always prepared with a smile (and a box of cookies to sell!).
Anum’s passion for international development stems from her unexpected, brief, yet impactful encounter with a young girl her age. Having spent most of her childhood and youth in Pakistan, she has always felt connected to the cause of global development, and the need to have sustainable, community-driven development initiatives. Her interest in AKFC came from closely looking at the impact that development projects from the Aga Khan Foundation have made at the grassroots level in Pakistan.
Anum has a Bachelors Degree in Development Economics, and she is currently working as a Donor Development Associate for The Lung Association.
Manolli is a lover of cities and is an international urban development expert. She understands the unique challenges that we face today in planning and organizing our cities. For 2 years, she worked for a non-profit organization in Niger—one of poorest countries in the world. In her work there, she was helping women and youth to improve their lives by empowering them and giving them new opportunities especially in the green economy. She came back to Canada to contribute differently and help to “build bridges” with developing countries. Toronto is the most diverse Canadian city and is facing its own challenges in going green and trying to be a model for other cities. This is something that all countries are keeping a close eye on. She feels that she is exactly where she’s supposed to be!
Tracey Evans (National Capital Region)
Growing up with parents who worked in the airline industry, Tracey spent her childhood boarding planes, exploring new places and growing increasingly curious about the world beyond her own borders. This curiosity led her to work in West and Southern Africa on HIV/AIDS projects and complete an AKFC fellowship working in Bangladesh on economic development projects. In Bangladesh, she faced the healthcare barriers people encounter globally every day when she herself felt ill and no longer had access to Canada’s healthcare system.
Tracey is a graduate from the University of Ottawa’s school of International Development and holds a Master’s degree in Public Policy. Tracey is now a Program Officer at AKFC.
Jennifer truly enjoys engaging with Canadians about international development. Her interest in international development stems from her childhood living in Kenya, Thailand and Jamaica and experience working and volunteering with international development organizations. Her professional career has allowed her to spark ‘global conversations’ while recruiting consultants and volunteers for international placements for over 20 years. Her recent trip to Mozambique and Tanzania, visiting AKFC-sponsored projects, has inspired Jennifer to share the role Canadians can play in giving the people globally a hand- up. An experienced speaker and facilitator, Jennifer will leave you with ideas for what you can do.
Jennifer appreciates the opportunity to share her stories with schools in particular.
With the right resources, people can transform their lives and communities through the power of good food. Growing up in an agricultural community and connecting with farmers in Ghana and Kenya has ignited a passion in Erin for food security and equal access to resources. She has learned valuable lessons from community leaders and women farmers, and she believes in a community-driven approach to global issues.
Erin holds a Masters degree in the Political Economy of International Development from the University of Toronto. She is pursuing a Graduate certificate in Food Security while advocating for improved global health, nutrition, and education outcomes as RESULTS Canada’s Advocacy Officer.
Margaret Huber (National Capital Region)
A former career diplomat, Margaret served as Ambassador in Europe, Asia and the Middle East and was the former Chief of Protocol of Canada (2010-13). In 2014, she was a Harvard Advanced Leadership Fellow. Currently she is active on a variety of boards (including the Harvard University Club of Ottawa) and supports a number of organizations including a non-partisan organization promoting stronger voter and community engagement. She is a graduate of McGill University (BA), the University of Ottawa (MA), and the Harvard Business School Advanced Management Program.
Tazim is an Ottawa-based interior design professional, and the owner of a social enterprise. Her passion extends to being a vehicle to build upon the skills of those less fortunate, through volunteering and enterprise. Tazim works with Aga Khan Foundation Canada on various initiatives, and through osmosis has learned how development empowers and is a solution to many of the world’s struggles.
Asif Pradhan is an enthusiastic professional and volunteer with diverse international work experience in the public and private sectors. He has extensive experience in international development, sustainability, consulting, and training. Asif also has a passion for innovation and technology, and has the pleasure of speaking at various global conferences. When volunteering in the mountainous region of Chitral, he learned how to live among a herd of sheep and various other animals. He was amazed that some children used to walk for two hours to get to school!
Mario is an assistant professor in the department of Civil and Environmental Engineering at Carleton University and a board member with an international council for monuments and sites (ICOMOS). He has actively contributed and coordinated international development projects in Afghanistan, Cambodia, Ecuador, Egypt, India, Jordan, Palestinian Authority, Kazakhstan, Lebanon, Mexico, Morocco, Myanmar, Syria, Peru, Tunisia, Sudan, and the Sultanate of Oman. His main focus is the role of documentation in conservation of cultural heritage places. He has worked with a number of international cultural organizations and institutions including UNESCO, The Getty Conservation Institute, and the UNDP.
Nawida Sidiqi (National Capital Region)
Everyone grows up hearing fairy-tales. For Nawida, these stories told by her father painted a picture of her beautiful home country. These stories gradually replaced her own early childhood memories. It wasn’t until Nawida’s return to her home country that she was awakened to how the impact of war had tarnished the country she’d heard about her whole life. This experience shaped Nawida’s understanding of why her parents had moved the family to Canada and the importance of quality education.
Nawida holds a Bachelor of Arts in Criminology and Sociology from the University of Ottawa. She currently works at Aga Khan Foundation Canada.
Azin Soltani (Greater Toronto Area, ON)
Azin is a Toronto-based communications professional. Her varied background in the public, private and not-for-profit sectors provides a diverse perspective and broad professional proficiency. She is an engaging facilitator and public speaker with a passion for inspiring thoughtful dialogue and empowering a broad range of audiences to think about, and act on, international development and global issues.
Jacqueline Stein (Greater Toronto Area, ON)
Jacqueline holds a Master's Degree in International Communications and Development from City University London and has spent the past several years living and working abroad with a diverse roster of international organizations and start-up enterprises. Her work has taken her throughout Canada, the United States, Brazil, Austria, India, and Zambia, and she has traveled extensively in East, West, and South Africa. Jacqueline's mantra is 'so long as we live in this world, we have a responsibility to it'. She is passionate about human rights issues, particularly as it pertains to the livelihoods of women and children, and stimulating economic growth through responsible business.
Joannes Paulus Yimbesalu (Greater Toronto Area, ON)
Gender equality and education are two issues very close to Joannes' heart. His mother never had the opportunity to continue in school in North Western Cameroon because of the many barriers women faced in her time. Because of this experience, she made sure to instill in her children the importance of quality education. Joannes has harnessed this energy and devoted himself to campaigning for university access to education, speaking at conferences such as the United Nations. In 2014, he was awarded the Youth Courage Award for his leadership in advancing education for marginalized education in rural Cameroon.
Joannes holds an International Development diploma from the University of British Columbia. He is currently working on a World Health Organization project related to the use of smart phones by community health workers in Niger.
This program is made possible with the support from Global Affairs Canada.