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

Co-founder, Mentor, Director

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

Paola Qualizza

Managing Director, Facilitator

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.

Isaiah Baldissera

Lead Educator, Build Program; Mentor

A social entrepreneur who has devoted himself to empowering young people through education technology. Expertise in UI/UX design, education technology, digital marketing.


Leila Fraser

Operations Coordinator

A public health and human rights advocate, Leila brings her experience in fundraising and front line social sector work to Groundswell's community to build and run our systems and program logistics.

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

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)


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, CPA, CMA, MBA


Sanja Simic

 Advisor, Director

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

Executive Director, Robert L. Conconi Foundation

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, Community Investments at Vancity

Melanie Matining


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

Former Community Development Manager, Heartwood Cafe; Co-Founder, Denim Vest

Mark Dance

Director, Advisor

Strategic and investment planning, product development.

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



Curtis Rattray


Indigenous youth leadership educator, backcountry guide and entrepreneur. 

Founder, Edziza Trails; Former President, Tahltan Central Council

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.

Irina McKenzie


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

Founder, FABCYCLE and frameworq

Get in touch and connect with the team:

Name *