Meet our staff, mentors, educators, advisors, and board. 

The people of Groundswell are our most valuable asset. This amazing team of entrepreneurs and creative doers all believe there's a better way of doing things, and we are grateful for their dedication to our vision and our student's dreams. Get the support of 300+ years of collective experience with a team that's founded over 50 ventures and organizations as a participant in our programs.

We like to say that it takes a village to build a social venture. Please meet the architects, planners, builders, caretakers and cheerleaders who will take you there:

(Click on image for full profile)


Gilad Babchuk

Executive Director, Co-founder, Mentor

With over 25 years experience establishing, developing and running various progressive businesses and organizations, Gilad has founded numerous alternative schools, social enterprises and NGOs.  

Former Executive Director, Institute for Democratic Education

Paola Qualizza

Managing Director, Co-founder

Mastering the art and science of weaving ideas and people into social ecosystems that are greater than the sum of their parts, Paola brings her interests in new economic models, permaculture, and community planning to building the Groundswell community.

Co-founder, Seedstock Community Currency

Emily Chow

Lead Educator, Build Program; Mentor

A marketing strategist by trade and an innovative, out-of-the-box thinker by nature, Emily helps purpose-driven organizations drive change, streamline business processes, and turn casual customers into loyal communities.

Principle, Chow Communications 

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Cass King

Operations Manager

Writer, performer and business operations nerd bringing her love of words and numbers to the job.  As a Groundswell alum, Cass is excited to work with and learn from the Groundswell team.

Founder, Mojo Emporium

Jim Barker

Co-founder, Mentor, Director

A serial entrepreneur with over 30 years of experience and an international portfolio and that includes employment training and recruitment, travel management, bars, restaurants and computer software/financial services.

Founder, Conferma Ltd.; Founder, The Metropolitain Pub

Ran Kohavi

Mentor, Director

Technology entrepreneur passionate about starting new businesses and helping them grow. 15 years of experience in tech, early stage product and market validation, product management and quantitative finance. 

Founder and CEO, Kidaro (acquired by Microsoft, 2008); Founder, Kashya (acquired by EMC, 2006)

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David Kohler

Educator, Explore program

Pushing people out of their comfort zones comfortably, and revolutionizing education.

Co-founder, Hydra Labs

Mark Dance

Director, Advisor, Mentor

Strategic and investment planning, product development.

Former President, COO, CFO and Board Member of Creo Inc. BEng.

Madeleine Shaw

Advisor, Mentor

Brings over 25 years of experience as a social entrepreneur interested in product development, progressive business practices and reimagining work-life balance. 

Co-founder, Lunapads; Founder, Nestworks


Catherine Ludgate


A dedicated co-operator transforming complex tools into accessible and relevant ones for the social benefit sector in service of social change.

Manager, Vancity Community Investments

David LePage


David provides direct support, consulting, coaching and strategic advice to the emerging blended value business and social finance sectors and works to influence the related public policy environment.

Principal, Accelerating Social Impact CCC; Managing Director, Buy Social Canada; Executive Director, Community Impact Real Estate Society


Sanja Simic

 Advisor, Director

Building capacity and introducing innovation to non-profits and charities, finance and philanthropy. 

Executive Director, Robert L. Conconi Foundation


John Kay

Mentor, Director

Supporting impact-driven businesses with development and strategy with over 20 years of experience building and growing successful organizations that blend purpose and profit.

CEO, Realize Strategies

Melanie Matining


Pinay activist and community leader interested in social justice,  and specifically queer, interracial and indigenous issues. 

Co-Founder, Denim Vest


Cole Nakatani

Educator, Explore program

An education hacker helping people thrive professionally and personally through innovative course design and delivery. 

Principal, Ideahack Creative; Co-founder, Hydra Labs


Tiffany Shen

Mentor, Instructor

Food entrepreneur with marketing, design and web expertise.

Founder, KAPOW NOW!

Curtis Rattray


Indigenous youth leadership educator, backcountry guide and entrepreneur. 

Founder, Edziza Trails; Former President, Tahltan Central Council

Irina McKenzie


Social entrepreneur and an avid advocate of the Circular Economy and sustainability in the fashion industry.

Founder, FABCYCLE and frameworq

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Patrick Nangle

Patrick joined Modo Co-operative as its CEO in mid-2016, with the intent to keep the purpose-driven, member-owned co-operative relevant in a rapidly changing market for personal mobility.

When not working, he’s an active mentor through Futurpreneur, an avid skier and cyclist and, with his wife Carmelita, a newly minted urban beekeeper.

CEO, Modo Co-operative

Get in touch and connect with the team:

Name *

A big heartfelt thank you to all the staff who have helped create Groundswell over the years.

Matt Hern - cofounder
Isaiah Baldissera
Sarah Kristi Lone
Amanda Kai
Dima Alansari
Maia Gibb
Wes Regan
Andrea Fiscal-Woodhouse
Emily Huynh
Tiffany Shen
Rebecca Barker
Amanda Yogendran
Alice Park
Uffe Lembo
Reilly Yeo
Gerald Dragomir