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Catherine Hamel

Catherine Hamel’s interests lie in the active principles of design as instruments of change. Born in Beirut, Lebanon, Hamel’s themes investigated to date include identity and estrangement in the context of post-war reconstruction and exile; memory in the scarred body and the voicing of political experiences in public space. She is an associate professor of architecture in the Faculty of Environmental Design at University of Calgary. With students, she is currently exploring restorative development and the ability to activate space and its inhabitants towards a more just society. What agitates her is not the sides people take, but the lines they draw in order to be able to take them.

Richard Milgrom


Richard Milgrom is an Associate Professor and Head of the Department of City Planning at the University of Manitoba. His background is in activist planning and design practice, in particular, participatory processes that address social equity in urban environments.  His research has is about the social impacts of development patterns, and in recent years this has focused on the production of age-friendly communities. He has engaged with activist planning organizations including Planners Network and the International Network for Urban Research and Action. And he is a dedicated (fair-weather) cycle commuter who, despite best intentions, cannot face winter cycling in Winnipeg.


Gerry Post

Gerry is the first Executive Director of the NS Accessibility Directorate. He’s is an urban planner who has worked and lived around the world. Six years ago Gerry became disabled and began to advocate for accessibility improvements. He became the spokesperson for the Bill 59 Community Alliance, a group of advocates that helped the Province draft the NS Accessibility Act. It resulted in the Alliance receiving the NS Human Rights Award. In his professional life, Gerry has received numerous awards including the World Leadership Award in Town Planning and Urban Governance for his work in the Middle East.

Leticia Smillie

Leticia Smillie is a senior planner with the Halifax Regional Municipality. Her role as a senior planner has focused on implementing the culture, heritage and healthy community objectives of the 2014 Regional Plan. Leticia has been heavily involved in the development of the Halifax Green Network Plan, the Culture and Heritage Priorities Plan and an increased municipal role in the promotion of food security. Leticia graduated from Dalhousie with a Master of Urban and Rural Planning and her thesis work focused on community engagement in planning practice.


Geri Musqua-LeBlanc

Geri is a proud Nakawe woman. She is Bear Clan and is a residential school survivor. Geri is a mother, grandmother and great grandmother. She is a pipe carrier and a Women’s Traditional dancer. Geri is a recipient of the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee Medal recognizing her work in social justice and employment equity.


Since retiring from the Federal Government, she has volunteered with many organizations and has campaigned for clean drinking water for First Nation communities. In 2015, Geri took on the role of Coordinator of the Elders in Residence program at Dalhousie University. The Elders provide cultural, spiritual and emotional support to Indigenous students. They offer encouragement and in particular, we offer hugs from grandmothers and grandfathers

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Mike Savage

Mike Savage was first elected Mayor of Halifax Regional Municipality on October 20, 2012, with a mandate to make Halifax the most liveable, entrepreneurial and inclusive city in Canada, principles that continue to shape his work at City Hall and in the community. Now in his second term, Mayor Savage continues his work to make the Halifax region a place where residents can live, belong and thrive. As an active member of the Federation of Canadian Municipalities (FCM) Big City Mayors’ Caucus, Mayor Savage is a strong local and national voice in support of local economic development, immigration, social equity, and infrastructure investment.


Alan Howell

Alan Howell is a planner with HRM focused on affordable housing. His role is to assist with the adoption of policies that support affordable housing. Prior to working for HRM Alan spent several years working for the Province of Nova Scotia in areas as diverse as ocean energy to agricultural protection.

Alan holds a Masters in Planning from the University of Waterloo. He is also in the unique crowd of individuals with two undergraduate degrees, one in Urban Planning from Concordia University and another in Comparative Religion from the University of King’s College. He is a full CIP member and a Licensed Professional Planner.


Crystal John

Crystal John is a social worker with a passion for community development, especially in Halifax’ North End. Crystal currently works as Executive Director of the Mulgrave Park Caring and Learning Centre where she highlights and advocates for equitable access to resources and programs. Crystal supports families and advocates for choice in her work as a volunteer doula. Crystal is the current President of the ABSW (Association of Black Social Workers) which helps to support, educate, and members and community about the importance of Afrocentricity as a fabric of our social dialogue and inclusion in social spaces.


DeRico Symonds

DeRico Symonds is employed full time with Halifax Regional Municipality as a Program Manager of the Youth Advocate Program and part-time with Mount Saint Vincent University as a Black Student Support Coordinator. In 2013, DeRico received the Queens diamond Jubilee Century of Service Award; he received the Irving & Ruth Pink award for youth development and social justice in 2016, and the Dr. Burnley “Rocky” Jones Human Rights Award from the Nova Scotia Human Rights Commission in 2018. DeRico has tirelessly advocated for communities across HRM for issues including but not limited to: Poverty, Unemployment, Affordable Housing, Marginalization, and Community Violence. DeRico holds an undergraduate degree in Child & Youth Study (2012), and completed a MEd in Counselling through Acadia University (2018) and is currently completing his CCC certification (Canadian Certified Counsellor Certification.


Emma Beukema

Emma Beukema is the Director, Entrepreneurship at the Black Business Initiative and has over 15 years of experience working with small and medium-size enterprises (SMEs). In addition to a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science and International Development Studies from Saint Mary’s University, Emma has diverse work experience in program design, business and international trade. Emma is passionate about entrepreneurship, supplier diversity, citizen-engagement and advocacy for causes she believes in such as women and girls’ empowerment. She currently serves on the board of Queenpins. A proud Canadian who immigrated to Canada with her family over 20 years ago, Emma, is a wife and mother of two.


Eric Jonosson

Eric Jonsson has worked in the field of housing and homelessness for the past 8 years for many different organizations. His current position is the Street Outreach Navigator for the downtown Halifax and Spring Garden Road Business commissions. Eric also has volunteered with the Out of The Cold Winter Shelter for the past few seasons. Outside of his work, Eric's interests include keeping urban chickens and tending his garden. He completed his Bachelor of Social Work from Dalhousie University in 2017.


Lindell Smith

Lindell Smith is a lifelong resident of the North End Halifax. Co-founder of Center Line Studio, a non-profit recording studio for youth. Lindell is also a member of “The One North End Project”, made up of community leaders from around HRM whose aim is to ensure that all residents benefit from the rapid growth by encouraging new hiring practices for local businesses and holding community engagement sessions. In 2016, Lindell was elected as City Councillor for District 8 Halifax Peninsula North.


Lisa Roberts

Lisa Roberts was elected as the MLA for Halifax Needham in August 2016 and re-elected in 2017. Her electoral district largely encompasses the diverse and vibrant neighborhood known as the North End. Lisa has worked actively to strengthen community ties in Halifax Needham by collaborating with neighbors, faith communities, schools, non-profit organizations, and municipal councilors. She previously served as the Executive Director of Veith House and facilitator of the North End Community Circle. She is currently the NDP spokesperson on Housing. Lisa has a Masters in Development Economics and a BA in International Development Studies, both from Dalhousie University.  She and her partner, Andrew, have two children and live in Halifax Needham.

Nanci Lee

Nanci is a bi-racial poet, adult educator, and analyst from K'jipuktuk (Halifax) originally from Port Colborne, Ontario. If Nanci graduated from high school today she wouldn’t have been able to afford to go to university. This has made her passionate about fairness especially around the gendered nature of economic opportunities and “agency.” She has worked on alternative economic models, cooperatives, feminist economics based on relationships, accountability, and justice. Connections between voice, choice and bodily integrity. Between smaller groups and broader organizing and alliance building. She believes deeply in sharing our stories and dialogue. These are key to bridging, changing norms and narratives, healing. These are issues of consciousness and connection as much as, even more than the technical.


Ren Thomas

Ren Thomas is an Assistant Professor at Dalhousie University’s School of Planning and teaches the Shift Conference Course. Dr. Thomas conducts research in housing policy, transportation policy and planning, and immigration. She is particularly interested in case studies, which allow her and her students to conduct in-depth analysis of policies and programs, comparisons across policies, and meta-analysis to determine more generalizable trends. She holds a Master of Arts and a PhD in Community and Regional Planning from the University of British Columbia.


Patricia Cuttell Busby

Patricia Cuttell Busby is a planner, strategist, collaborator, and community builder. In her current role as Executive Director of the North End Business Association, she is applying her skills toward fostering a vibrant and inclusive north end. Prior to working with the business association Patricia was a partner with Burst Transformational Solutions, where she co-lead several strategic plans and change management strategies, including the10 Year Strategy for Halifax Regional Police. Patricia has been a band employee with Membertou First Nation and is an Adjunct Professor at Dalhousie University. With two kids and a bossy dog, she believes every interaction is an opportunity to create positive change — which can only be achieved by working together.

Angela Henderson

Angela Henderson is a Canadian artist and designer based in Halifax, Nova Scotia, working and living in unceded Mi’kmaq territories. Her practice is situated within the built environment, where she explores fallow spaces that emerge over time at the intersections of human
and non-human life. Through her work, Henderson embodies absence as a generative condition, speculating on notions of spatial value that refuse market-based designations. Angela has exhibited work and participated in residencies across Canada, Italy, Austria
and Berlin. Her current, SSHRC-funded research investigates the vital role of play in urban design processes where children and designers are engaged in continuous reflexive design practice.


Lisa Berglund

Lisa Berglund is an assistant professor in the School of Planning at Dalhousie University. Her research focuses on community development in the context of post-crisis and post-disaster cities, and the historically demonstrated potential for race and class disparity to be reproduced in cities rebuilding due to economic, social and/or political crises.


Eliza Jackson

Eliza is dedicated to creating more opportunities for people to walk and cycle as part of their daily lives. In August 2018, she took her dream job with Halifax Regional Municipality as an active transportation planner. Before joining HRM, Eliza worked at the Ecology Action Centre promoting sustainable transportation policy and served as the Chair of the Halifax Cycling Coalition and HRM’s Active Transportation Advisory Committee. Outside of her active transportation work, Eliza is an avid knitter and sewist, and plays saxophone in a jazz band. She believes that practicing creativity in small ways every day helps us to better imagine and create the world we want to live in.

Meghan Doucette

Meghan Doucette is a planning professional who is passionate about equity and urban issues. A deep commitment to challenging inequitable structures in our society influences her work. Meghan holds a Bachelor of Management from Dalhousie University and is currently completing her final semester in the Master of Urban Planning program at McGill University, focusing her research and coursework on affordable housing and gentrification in Canadian cities. In Meghan’s role as the Chair of the Ecology Action Centre’s Sustainable Transportation Action Committee, she advocates for safer infrastructure for people who use active modes of transportation and more equitable use of our public right-of-ways.