Biographies of the members of the Advisory Committee on Poverty

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Chosen from over 400 nominations from across Canada and internationally, the Committee members will provide valuable advice and input to the Minister on a range of poverty-related issues that will in turn inform the Canadian Poverty Reduction Strategy. As part of its role, the Committee will act a forum for information sharing and independent discussion on poverty and poverty reduction. The Committee brings together a diverse group of 17 leaders, academic experts and practitioners working in the field of poverty reduction, and individuals who have experienced poverty first-hand, to provide expert advice on poverty-related issues.

Bee Lee Soh (Scarborough North, Ontario)

Bee Lee moved to Canada in 1980 from Malaysia. Bee Lee lives in Scarborough North and is active with a number of community organizations including Steeles L'Amoreaux Strength in Partnership, Birchmount Bluffs Neighbourhood Centre, the Scarborough Civic Action Network, TTC Riders, Scarborough Transit Action, Voices of Scarborough, 15 and Fairness and the Toronto Newcomer Council. Since coming to Canada, Bee Lee has completed a degree and then subsequent training courses and found a good job. Because of high rent prices, Bee Lee was homeless while trying to maintain her job, which caused stress and sleeplessness and led to her ultimately losing her job. Since then, Bee Lee has had difficulty rejoining the workforce and used up all her savings and borrowed money to pay her rent. She then applied for Ontario Works. This has made her a keen advocate for affordable housing and employment supports, especially for people over 50. Bee Lee has advocated for good affordable housing, transit equity and the importance of accessible and affordable transit at Toronto City Hall. This is especially important for those looking for work or housing, because it is instrumental in helping people get back on their feet. Bee Lee has mobilized and coached others on how to be advocates for their rights. She is committed to improving housing in the city high market rents and long waiting lists for social housing as key issues. She sees the importance of working with, and between, the three levels of government as extremely important because of the way budgets are handled and the ways in which transit and housing are planned. Bee Lee is a strong advocate for food security and food access and has been active as a Community Food Champion with the Toronto Food Policy Council working with city councillors to bring a market garden for the community to a nearby hydro corridor. She was also instrumental in bringing FoodShare's Good Food Box program to Toronto Community Housing buildings in two Toronto wards, providing access to fresh, healthy and affordable produce to communities that need it. Bee Lee is a member of the Toronto Poverty Reduction Strategy Lived Experience Advisory Group and is very happy to be an advocate for people experiencing poverty in these forums.

Brenda Murphy (Grand Bay-Westfield, New Brunswick)

Brenda is a social justice advocate with the SJ Women’s Empowerment Network working to support women on their journey out of poverty. Brenda is passionate about ending poverty, family violence and advancing women’s equality. She believes that effective change will happen when we work collectively to address systemic barriers, and support one another in this challenging work. Brenda was involved from the outset in the development of the poverty reduction plan for New Brunswick in 2009 and was a director of the original board for the Economic and Social Inclusion Network. She has volunteered with a variety of organizations, including Hestia House shelter for women, the SJ Legal Centre, the Coverdale Centre for Women and the New Brunswick Advisory Council on the Status of Women, and served for three terms as a municipal Councillor for the Town of Grand Bay-Westfield. Brenda was also a member of the national working group on housing for women.

Brock Carlton (Ottawa, Ontario)

Since joining the Federation of Canadian Municipalities (FCM) more than 20 years ago, Brock Carlton has established himself as a leading voice on municipal issues, both domestically and internationally. As CEO, Mr. Carlton leads a strong team of FCM staff and a united membership in advancing municipal interests by influencing both federal government decisions and national debates on issues critical to communities. He has built partnerships with private sector interests, professional associations, not-for-profit organizations and the academic community in order to speak as one united voice about the priorities of municipal government. Under Mr. Carlton’s tenure, the municipal sector in Canada has seen dramatic increases in federal investments, as well as recognition for the vital role it plays in our national interest. Prior to becoming CEO, Mr. Carlton was Director of FCM’s international programming, FCMI, which focuses on strengthening local governance in developing and emerging countries. There, he managed ideas, resources and opportunities to enhance local sustainability abroad. In addition to his FCM work, Mr. Carlton is a founding board member of the Canadian Alliance to End Homelessness. He also served on the leadership team that brought a bike share program (Right Bike) to Ottawa West. While pursuing his undergraduate degree, Mr. Carlton was captain of the men’s intercollegiate basketball team at the University of Western Ontario in London, Ontario. He has lived and worked in Kenya, China and Namibia, and has a master’s degree in International Affairs from the Norman Paterson School at Carleton University in Ottawa. Mr. Carlton and his wife Susan have three adult children.

Catherine Ludgate (Vancouver, British Columbia)

Catherine Ludgate is a manager of community investment at Vancity. She has accountability for the delivery of the credit union’s microfinance programs as tools for poverty reduction and financial inclusion, including financial literacy and microcredit. She supports partnerships related to facing poverty in our communities, including the BC Poverty Reduction Coalition and the Living Wage for Families campaign, and she spends a good amount of time talking to other employers about joining the Living Wage campaign. She is the developer of the award-winning “Each One, Teach One” financial literacy program, which has been shared with credit unions across Canada. More than 80 credit unions are now using this platform to mobilize their own staff in support of community financial literacy. Catherine works on a range of inclusive banking projects, from supports to refugees to banking services for community living members. She is committed to Principle 5 of co-operation (the importance of member education and training), and holds a master’s degree in the management of co-ops and credit unions.

Carole Richer (Dolbeau-Mistassini, Quebec)

Carole Richer is a social development advisor for the Maria-Chapdelaine Regional County Municipality in the Saguenay-Lac-Saint-Jean region of Quebec. She has worked with rural areas for more than 20 years. She coordinates a group of 12 local agents who handle the provision of local services and the quality of life in the villages and towns in the Regional County Municipality. Over the last few years, she has coordinated the implementation of the local anti-poverty plan and was actively involved in the creation of a fund to support vulnerable groups. She also coordinated the development and ensured the implementation of the Regional County Municipality’s social development policy and the family and seniors policies of the 13 communities in the area. She has a university education in administration and a master’s degree in organization management, and has taken part in several lifelong learning seminars in local development and new technologies. She has proven expertise in strategic planning, social and solidarity economy and project management. Currently, she is involved in the work to improve public transportation that is adapted for the living environment, and in a strategy for a workforce that is inclusive, ambitious and innovative in order to counter the loss of vitality of her community.

Carlos Beals (Dartmouth, Nova Scotia)

Carlos Beals, a lifelong resident of Dartmouth North, is an established community leader and strong anti-poverty activist with a deep-rooted passion that stems from his own lived experience. Beals completed his undergraduate degree in Criminal Justice in Toronto, Ontario, before returning to his community in Dartmouth to pay it forward. With more than a decade of experience in outreach, Beals has been actively involved in strengthening marginalized communities. Presently, Beals is a Case Work Manager with Ceasefire Halifax, an anti-gun violence organization that uses a public health approach to address the issue of street violence amongst at-risk youth. Beals is committed to challenging the systems, policies and structures that hold too many people back. With a vision for healthy communities, Beals works to eliminate barriers and break the cycle for those trapped in poverty, ensuring no one is left behind. Beals is a Commissionaire on the Board of Police Commissioners for the city of Halifax, and is the youngest serving Commissioner on a Canadian police governance board. He was the recipient of the 2017 Minister’s Award for Leadership in Crime Prevention presented by the Nova Scotia Minister of Justice and Attorney General for his exemplary leadership, dedication and commitment.

Céline Bellot (Montréal, Quebec)

Céline Bellot is a legal expert, criminologist and the Director of the School of Social Work at the Université de Montréal. For several years, her research has focused on vulnerable groups (e.g. the homeless population, Indigenous and radicalized population, drug users, youth at risk, transgender youth). Her research interests revolve around two topics: prosecution of poverty and interventions involving affected people. She has conducted numerous studies on the prosecution of poverty in various cities in Quebec and elsewhere in Canada, and has taken part in studies on parole conditions for people in Vancouver and Montréal. Celine Bellot has also conducted studies on peer intervention, community action of drug users and the evaluation of interventions aimed at the participation of people. Most of her studies are done through partnership with the practice environment or the participation of the affected people. Céline is also the Director of the Observatoire sur les profilages, which brings together researchers and community and institutional rights defence organizations. In addition, since 2014, Céline Bellot has chaired the steering committee of the Centre d’étude sur la pauvreté et l’exclusion sociale. She also takes part in several government and community committees on subjects such as homelessness, alternatives to prosecution, poverty and social inclusion, the implications of systemic discrimination and profiling, STI prevention policies and the issues around the right to housing. Finally, she offers various types of training to police officers, judges, social workers and correctional service personnel.

Derek Cook (Calgary, Alberta)

Derek Cook serves as the Director of the Canadian Poverty Institute at Ambrose University, a national institute that provides teaching, research and public education on issues of poverty. Prior to assuming the leadership of the Canadian Poverty Institute, Derek served as the Executive Director of the Calgary Poverty Reduction Initiative, leading the Mayor of Calgary’s task force on poverty reduction. Derek’s work also includes extensive experience in social research and policy development as a Social Planner at the City of Calgary, particularly in the areas of poverty and inequality, diversity and sustainability. In this role, he was instrumental in developing the City’s Triple Bottom Line (TBL) sustainability policy, ethical procurement policy and living wage policy. Derek also spearheaded the organizing of the advocacy group Poverty Talks which empowers low-income people to engage in the political process. Prior to his work with The City of Calgary, Derek worked as a community development worker with various organizations across Canada in the fields of adult literacy, immigrant settlement and employment development. Derek serves on the board of Canada Without Poverty, a national anti-poverty organization, as well as on the Commission on Justice and Peace of the Canadian Council of Churches. Derek holds a B.A. in Political Studies from McGill University, an M.Sc. in Rural Planning and Development from the University of Guelph, and is a registered social worker in the province of Alberta.

Éric Lapointe (Québec, Quebec)

Éric Lapointe is a resident of Québec. He is a board member of the Corporation de développement économique communautaire de Québec and the Association pour la défense des droits sociaux du Québec métropolitain. Previously, he spent four years as a board member of the Comité d’action des personnes vivant en situation de handicap. Éric is also active in a number of organizations that support people with disabilities, including the Institut universitaire de réadaptation en déficience physique de Québec, Épilepsie Section de Québec and committees working in the field of food security. His work to improve the lives of people in need was inspired by his own experience of living as a person with a disability and in poverty.

Indivar Dutta-Gupta (Washington, DC)

Indivar Dutta-Gupta is Co-Executive Director at the Georgetown Center on Poverty and Inequality, where he leads work to develop and advance ideas for reducing poverty and economic inequality, with particular attention to gender and racial equity. Indivar also serves on the National Academy of Social Insurance's (NASI) board of directors and is a member of the Poverty, Employment and Self-Sufficiency Network, funded by the US Department of Health and Human Services. Previously, Indivar was Project Director at Freedman Consulting, LLC, leading strategic initiatives for major philanthropies, children’s groups and workers’ organizations. Indivar served as Senior Policy Advisor at the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, focusing on budget and tax policies and cross-cutting low-income issues. Earlier, he focused on safety net, tax and social insurance programs and policies as US House of Representatives Ways and Means Committee Professional Staff. As an Emerson National Hunger Fellow, Indivar worked for DC Hunger Solutions and the Center for American Progress. Indivar has been named a First Focus Campaign for Children Champion for Children and was awarded the Congressional Hunger Center Alumni Leadership Award (2016). He was named one of Washington Life magazine’s most Influential 40-And-Under Leaders (2013) and Rising Stars 40 and Under (2016). Indivar is an honours graduate of the University of Chicago and a Harry S. Truman Scholar.

John Stapleton (Scarborough, Ontario)

John Stapleton worked for the Ontario government in the Ministry of Community and Social Services and its predecessors for 28 years in the areas of social assistance policy and operations. During his early career, John was Senior Policy Advisor to the Social Assistance Review Committee and the Minister’s Advisory Group on New Legislation. His more recent government work concerned the implementation of the National Child Benefit. He is a Commissioner with the Ontario Soldiers’ Aid Commission and is a volunteer with West Neighbourhood House and WoodGreen Community Services of Toronto. John was Research Director for the Task Force on Modernizing Income Security for Working-Age Adults in Toronto and was the co-chair of the working group associated with this project. He teaches public policy and is a member of the 25 in 5 anti-poverty group. He sits on the Minister of Community and Social Services’ advisory group on social assistance reform and Toronto’s advisory group on poverty reduction. John has published op-eds in the Globe & Mail, National Post and Toronto Star. He has written reviews for the Literary Review of Canada and written articles and studies for Ideas that Matter, the University of Toronto, the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives, the C.D. Howe Institute, Realize, the Caledon Institute, The Toronto Dominion Financial Group, the Mowat Centre, the Metcalf Foundation, the Ontario Provincial Advocate for Children and Youth, Employment and Social Development Canada, Indian and Northern Affairs, Civic Action and many others. John is an Innovation Fellow with the Metcalf Foundation and works with the West Scarborough Community Legal Services, and is a member of the Council on Aging of Ottawa’s Expert Panel on Income Security. He also conducts a popular seminar on low-income retirement.

Joseph J. Amos (Inuvik, Northwest Territories)

Joseph J. Amos was born and raised in the town of Inuvik, Northwest Territories to Inuvialuit parents. He is the father of four daughters and was educated at Aurora College in Inuvik. Joseph was taught how to harvest traditionally for wild game by his parents and grand-parents, along with his older brother. He has been the Manager for the Inuvik Emergency Warming Centre since November 2015 and this Society supports the population of homeless and those struggling with addictions in the town of Inuvik through the John Wayne Kiktorak Centre. He gained experience working with the homeless sector by being employed for Hope Mission in Edmonton for 10 years, starting off at the frontlines, and he left the Hope Mission as Manager of shelters. In his capacity at various levels with Hope Mission, he facilitated recovery group sessions in 12 step programs and was a recovery coach and case manager for men in treatment.

Lanna Many Grey Horses (Vancouver, British Columbia)

Lanna is Blackfoot from the Kainai Nation/Blood Tribe. Her Blackfoot name is Aaikaikiitsta aakii—Many Offering Woman. Lanna was raised in East Vancouver (unceded Coast Salish Territories) and maintains connected to her home community in Treaty 7 territory. She is the Manager of Women and Children’s Services for The Bloom Group Community Services Society—an agency that operates a variety of support services, primarily in the Downtown Eastside, including Powell Place and Springhouse Emergency Shelters for Women and Women-led Families. As the manager for both shelters, she is committed to ensuring services are culturally relevant, meaningful and are directed by the women who access the services. Lanna’s lived experience of poverty informs her passion and drive for providing respectful and empowering services. She holds an undergraduate degree in Political Philosophy with a minor in Women Studies. She is currently working towards her master’s degree in Public Administration. Lanna has participated in several regional, national and international working groups, taskforces and committees in areas relating to ending violence against women and ending homelessness.

Louise Simbandumwe (Winnipeg, Manitoba)

Louise Simbandumwe is Co-Director of Supporting Employment and Economic Development (SEED) Winnipeg. She has two decades of experience working to address poverty through community economic development initiatives and cross-sectoral collaboration. Louise played a lead role in working with partner organizations to develop SEED’s financial empowerment programs. These innovative programs have been replicated by other community-based organizations in Manitoba, Alberta, Ontario and British Columbia. SEED has been actively engaged in building a broader community of practice focused on reducing poverty through expanding the scope and scale of financial empowerment initiatives. Louise is a founding member and Co-Chair of the Manitoba Financial Empowerment Network and a founding member of the national Asset Building Learning Exchange Steering Committee. Louise has welcomed opportunities to engage with other stakeholders on broader poverty reduction initiatives. United Way Winnipeg invited Louise to become a founding member of the Winnipeg Poverty Reduction Council in 2007, and she was appointed as a community representative on the Province of Manitoba’s Poverty Reduction and Social Inclusion Committee from 2012 to 2016. A former refugee, Louise is passionate about human rights and social justice. Her extensive volunteer commitments include Amnesty International, the Refugee Claimant Public Awareness Working Group, Immigration Partnership Winnipeg, Make Poverty History and the Stop Violence Against Aboriginal Women and Girls Action Group. In 2012, she was presented with the Human Rights Commitment Award of Manitoba. Louise has a bachelor’s degree in Commerce from the University of Saskatchewan and a master’s degree in Comparative Social Research from Oxford University, where she studied as a Rhodes Scholar.

Munir Sheikh (Ottawa, Ontario)

Munir Sheikh is a former Chief Statistician of Canada and, before that, served as the Deputy Minister of Labour, Deputy Secretary to Cabinet, Associate Deputy Minister, first at Health Canada and then at Finance Canada, and Senior Assistant Deputy Minister, Tax Policy. He also served as a co-Commissioner of Ontario’s Social Assistance Review. He is currently an Adjunct Research Professor at Carleton University and teaches public policy. He holds a Ph.D. in Economics from the University of Western Ontario and has published extensively. His work has been widely quoted and reproduced in textbooks and included in books of collected readings. He also taught at Queen’s University and the University of Ottawa for many years. He has a wide range of diverse experiences on public policy issues, including those directly related to poverty. He has considerable knowledge related to the measurement and definitional challenges related to poverty. His work as co-Commissioner studying social assistance in Ontario, including first-hand experiences of working with those living in poverty and those dealing with poverty, have given him a social perspective on poverty. His many years working on economic, health and tax issues have given him a lens on poverty from an economic and health perspective, and the role the tax system plays in poverty outcomes.

Nahid Aboumansour (Montréal, Quebec)

Nahid Aboumansour is the executive director of Petites-Mains, an organization she co-founded in 1995 with Sister Denise Arsenault of the Sainte-Croix Congregation. Originally from Lebanon, she came to Quebec in 1989. After experiencing difficulty having her architecture diploma recognized, she took on a new mission: volunteering with disadvantaged immigrant women using a food bank in Côte-des-Neiges. The extreme poverty of these people was in part due to the trouble they had finding a job, and also to the lack of tools and resources for their integration upon arriving in Canada (for example no recognition of their work experience, language barriers and difficulties with integration, which lead to being confined to the community). In light of this sad situation, Nahid and Sister Denise Arsenault thought of concrete solutions to help them, and quickly came to the conclusion that through learning a trade and individual support, these people can integrate into society and live with dignity. Various meetings took place with women, market research was conducted to determine employability needs and a sewing program was chosen as the first project. The food bank closed and the Petites-Mains organization was started. Based on the growing demand for this first program and the effectiveness of this approach, the project was formalized and shortly thereafter, was recognized by Emploi Québec. Following this, all their projects were developed with the same approach: evaluating needs, finding solutions, partnerships with government, community and private entities and then putting the project into action. Today, thanks to fruitful partnerships with various government entities, Petites-Mains helps its clients get sustainable jobs through learning French, social and professional training in industrial sewing, restaurant services and office technology and gaining work experience. The next project will be a daycare to help women start a program at Petites-Main, while supporting children in their own integration into society. Since the organization was founded, thousands of people have benefitted from its services or programs, and have become active citizens who are proud to be a part of Canada, and contribute to the development of society. Nahid Aboumansour’s expertise is sought after by university researches, roundtables, social entrepreneurs looking to develop similar projects abroad and journalists looking to promote Petites-Mains projects as a concrete response to issues of poverty and job insecurity. She has received recognition and several prizes for her exemplary work, her achievements and her community involvement, including being named a Knight of the Ordre national du Québec in June 2017.

Richard Reeves (Washington, DC)

Richard V. Reeves is a senior fellow in Economic Studies and co-director of the Center on Children and Families at Brookings Institute in the United States. His research focuses on social mobility, inequality and family change. Prior to joining Brookings, he was director of strategy to the U.K.’s Deputy Prime Minister.

Richard’s publications for Brookings include his latest book, Dream Hoarders: How the American Upper Middle Class Is Leaving Everyone Else in the Dust, Why That Is a Problem, and What to Do about It (2017), as well as his earlier publications, Time for justice: Tackling race inequalities in health and housing (2017); Ulysses goes to Washington: Political myopia and policy commitment devices (2015); Saving Horatio Alger: Equality, Opportunity, and the American Dream (2014); Character and Opportunity (2014); and The Parenting Gap (2014). He is also a contributor to The Atlantic, National Affairs, Democracy Journal, the Wall Street Journal and the New York Times. Richard is also the author of John Stuart Mill – Victorian Firebrand, an intellectual biography of the British liberal philosopher and politician.

His previous roles include director of Demos, the London-based political think-tank; director of futures at the Work Foundation; principal policy advisor to the U.K.’s Minister for Welfare Reform; research fellow at the Institute for Public Policy Research; and researcher at the Institute of Psychiatry, University of London. He is also a former European Business Speaker of the Year.

Richard earned a B.A. from Oxford University and a Ph.D. from Warwick University.

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