Meet our team!

This has been one of the most amazing experiences of my life. Thank you, Groundswell team! :)
— from 2015-16 cohort member

A passionate team of people work at Groundswell.   Watch the video to discover the paths they took to work in this unique, creative, community based "business school".  All different shades of entrepreneurs, what unites this team and inspires their action towards change is a commitment to the power of collaboration and community, and that gut feeling of knowing that we have to do things truly differently than business-as-usual to create vibrant communities and meaningful livelihoods.

 Watch the video and meet the team  ▶︎

Team Bios

Gilad Babchuk

Co-founder, Director, Instructor, Facilitator, Mentor
Gilad is a luminary of social innovation who will put your ideas "through the washing machine" and wow you with creative metaphors to explain complex theories around learning (alternative education) and doing (entrepreneurship).  Gilad has extensive experience establishing, developing and running a whole range of enterprises: from businesses to non-profits to social enterprises. He have founded numerous schools and educational institutions.  Both an educator and social entrepreneur, he was named one of the 50 most influential people in the field of education in Israel (Ha’aretz, 2009). He consults several international companies in the fields of E-Learning and progressive education (in India, Germany, Singapore, Argentina and Israel).  Before moving to Canada in 2011 he was Executive Director of the Institute for Democratic Education, an organization that supports and advises administrators and educators in hundreds of public and independent schools across Israel. Gilad was a strategic adviser for several mayors in Israel and head of the teacher training program in Kibbutzim College of Education Technology & Arts and successfully led a principals training program. He holds an MA in Political Science from Tel Aviv University.  Gilad received the UBC Neighborhood Association (UNA) grant of 2012 for multicultural youth project in the Acadia neighborhood.  

He lives in Vancouver with his partner Lilach and their five children, and always wins the best hummus competition at our potlucks. 

Paola Qualizza

Managing Director, Facilitator and Mentor
Paola is a strong believer in the power of relocalization and entrepreneurial spirit (aka creativity and action) to create a regenerative, people-first economy.  She is an alumni of the Semester in Dialogue program and achieved a BA Hons in the faculty of environment (Human Geography with Environmental Specialty) at Simon Fraser University and wrote her honours thesis on the local scale application of ecological economics.  She is a student of permaculture, has co-founded a Vancouver community currency called Seedstock, and brought the second annual Living the New Economy Convergence to Vancouver in 2013.  Paola is used to wearing many, sometimes funny looking hats at the same time and engaging people with the possibilities of alternative economies - and the better world we can create with them.   She is always ready to lend an attentive ear to your thoughts and big (or small!) crazy ideas.  

David LePage

Instructor, Facilitator and Mentor
David is the founder of Accelerating Social Impact CCC, Ltd., one of Canada’s first incorporated social purpose corporations. Through ASI 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. To promote the demand side of the social enterprise market place David is a co-founder and director of Buy Social Canada. He is a Principal in the Social Enterprise Institute and a Program Adjunct and Professional Advisory Committee, Sandermoen School of Business MBA in Social Enterprise Leadership.

David has shared his knowledge and experience across private, public and community sectors, in rural and urban communities and across multiple cultures. Groundswell is another step in his incessant learning crusade - he's looking forward to discovering together how we build a community economy, creating businesses that blend trade with social values, create opportunities, and contribute to a healthy and sustainable community.

Davids teaching has been just fantastic. Every time he’s talking he’s dropping pure gold. Love that guy.
— from 2015-16 cohort member

Iona Fresnoza

Communications and Community Builder
Iona is a fair trade advocate, a Groundswell adventurer, social media coordinator and community builder. Having been in various strategic communication & digital media roles, she continues to marvel at the power of story as a catalyst for change; believing in channeling it for good: to build community, speak hope, and spark joy.
She co-founded Coffee AID Philippines, a non-profit promoting ethical sourcing, empowerment for coffee growers, and love for one’s roots — an advocacy she’s bringing to Vancouver.  

A Community Management student & a relentless learner, Iona thrives on collaboration, enjoys diverse projects, & finds it hard to keep still. Perhaps it's because she drinks 6 cups of coffee everyday.

Read more about Iona the coffee-obsessed community builder on the blog.

Jim Barker

Co-founder and Mentor
Jim is a co-founder and director of Groundswell.  He sees the world in a unique way that puts his heart at the front of every business decision...and he's had years of experience to share doing just that!  Jim is a serial entrepreneur having created successful businesses over the past 25 years. He has a diverse portfolio including employment training and recruitment, travel management, bars, restaurants and computer software/financial services. Highlights include: with funding from the British Government he created the first industry-specific "job club" helping over 1000 long- term unemployed people get back into work, for which he received a National training award.

He created NIS Europe, a Travel Management company, employing over 130 people with a turnover of $60m; he has built a chain of wine bars in the northwest of England and created and still owns The Metropolitan, one of the most successful pubs in Britain, employing over 60 people, with numerous awards to its name. He is a founder and Director of Conferma Ltd, a global technology business which offers virtual payment solutions.

Jim moved from Manchester, UK to Vancouver in 2012 with his wife and five children and all are smitten with the west coast.   Except when he can't get a proper cup o' tea.  

Andrea Fiscal  

Facilitator, Instructor and Mentor
Andrea is passionate about the relationship between personal development and sustainability.  She co-facilitates the Personal and Professional Development course and Stream.  Andrea participated in the inaugural Groundswell cohort shortly after immigrating to Canada from Mexico, and through it found community in her new city.  She runs her own small business providing intuitive life coaching and also works to promote social entrepreneurship and a new economy.   She is pursuing a MSc in Sustainability Science and Environmental Studies at Lund University and has an incredible collection of bright and beautiful jewelry - Mexico direct!

Chris Nichols

Chris is a philosopher, carpenter and facilitator of the Ethics and Contemporary Capitalism course. Chris is a Groundswell alumni who dropped his PhD studies to pursue a livelihood that has him working with his hands.  He is now building both upcycled wood furniture and alternative economic systems simultaneously as a founding worker-owner of the Wood Shop Workers Co-op.

Ran Kohavi

Mentor and Instructor
Ran is a technology entrepreneur at heart. He is passionate about starting new businesses and helping them grow. Ran was the founder and CEO of Kidaro (acquired by Microsoft, 2008). Prior to Kidaro, he was on the founding team and served as director of product management for Kashya (acquired by EMC, 2006). Lately, Ran enjoys building a portfolio of technology companies he incubates. He also serves on various advisory roles for technology startups, investors and founders. Ran was born in Israel, and moved from Seattle to Vancouver three years ago with his family. He enjoys hiking, sailing, snowboarding and quantitative finance as hobbies.

Rebecca Barker

Social and Program Assistance
Rebecca has extensive experience in the field of adult mental health as a UK registered Chartered Clinical Psychologist for over 25 years. Her experience includes working with individuals and groups using a range of psychological therapies, supervision and training, working in multidisciplinary teams and teaching. She is a firm believer that the majority of people thrive in communities where they feel valued, connected, and purposeful. She therefore has a strong interest in systemic issues and working in community. 
Rebecca moved with her family to Canada in 2012 and loves living in Vancouver. To broaden her skill set she embarked on the University of British Columbia’s Organizational Coaching training course. Having completed her certificate in 2015, she is able to offer her coaching skills and psychological knowledge to Groundswell’s participants and staff.


Thanks to everyone who played a part as a co-creator in Groundswell's journey thus far:

  • Matt Hern (Co-Founder)
  • Maia Gibb
  • Amanda Kai
  • Dima Alansari
  • Emily Huynn
  • Wes Regan
  • Tiffany Shen
  • Reilly Yeo
  • Gerald Dragomir
  • Uffe Lembo
  • Alice Park
  • Amanda Yogendran