Meet the Candidates for the COCo Board of Directors!

COCo is looking to fill 2 spots on our Board of Directors this upcoming year, as well as affirming one appointment made since the last Annual General Meeting. As we said in our callout,  we’re especially looking for people who have experience in any of the following areas:

  • Familiarity with anti-oppression frameworks and applying these to organizational settings
  • Communications and outreach skills with non-profits
  • Experience in policy writing
  • Strong familiarity with the francophone community sector

We also feel that it is a priority that COCo have increased representation from people coming from racialized & migrant communities and/or organizations on our Board of Directors, especially as this is a central focus of our mandate.

With that said, here are our awesome candidates!

Myriam Zaidi

Hi everyone! I’m really excited to apply for the COCo Board and to hopefully contribute more to the Quebec community sector!

I was born and grew up in Montreal. Currently, I work as the Communications and National Network Coordinator of the Girls Action Foundation, and I am concurrently completing an MA in Educational Studies at Concordia. My research focuses on social movement learning, popular education and feminist anti-racist pedagogies. My personal identity, as a racialized woman, and my family’s lower/working class background have very much shaped the social causes and movements that I have been involved in and cared for the most. I am personally involved in the anti-racist feminist movement in Quebec. I have been organizing around social justice issues for over a decade and I have always valued (and often fought for) the application of anti-oppression frameworks in the various spaces I navigated through. I found out about COCo because of their anti-oppression training! I also profoundly care about workers’ rights and their working conditions, and COCo has done a lot of work related to making nonprofits better work environments, which is a difficult but very important task.

I have many years of experience in communications, organizing and community outreach from the local to the federal levels. I would love to share my specific skills in regards to public relations, digital communications, network and coalition building, and policy writing to COCo and its member organizations. I am also knowledgeable in fundraising campaigns, and aware of the ethical and political issues the question of money brings up. However, I firmly believe that there is a way of funding social justice work without selling our souls!

I have connections with multiple community organizations in Quebec (francophone and anglophone) and I am always learning about how different organizations are designed. I would gladly contribute my own learnings to COCo! If there is one thing I appreciate the most about our sector it’s that it is always forward thinking. Many social justice workers strive to make their organization a micro version of what they would like to see at the macro level. Not only is this powerful, but it makes community organizations sites of wonderful imagination and crIMG_4728eativity. Having worked with COCo facilitators on different occasions, I found COCo to be an organization with which my values are strongly aligned. With my collaborative working style, as well as my esteem for members’ voice and direction in membership-based organizations and for bottom-up/grassroots
frameworks, I would be a board member who is continuously listening. Thank you for considering me and I hope to be working/organizing/laughing with all of you soon!


Jihane Al Atifi

It is with great enthusiasm that I am applying for a position at The Centre for Community Organizations’ Board of Directors. In this position I am certain I can provide tremendous value to COCo by utilizing my previous experience and education. A true Third Culture Kid, born in Morocco, I grew up at the crossroads of many cultures: I am fluent in five languages (including French, English and Arabic) and have lived, travelled and volunteered in more than thirty countries. These life, work and volunteering experiences have fostered a deeper awareness of the magnitude of the work organizations such as the COCo take on. It is in this vein that I have chosen to devote myself to a social justice and community-oriented career. My spirit for community building, social justice, and results-oriented action, was further harnessed by being a founding member of a award winning organization encouraging inter-religious dialogue; being a founding member of a social impact startup  volunteering in various organizations such as Women’s Action in the Media (WAM – Montreal Chapter); and becoming a mentor at YES Montreal in the context of their Human Library project. Furthermore, I played a crucial and leading role in spearheading communications and media outreach initiatives, digital campaigning, fundraising, providing training, and securing partnership with and for notable organizations such Culture Days, CARE Canada, Moisson Montréal, and many more.

In my current contractual mandate as the national Campaign Coordinator at the Canadian Council for Refugees in collaboration with Amnesty and Amnistie Canada, I create bilingual communications and training materials; and conduct a public awareness campaign with youth, advocacy group and immigrant and refugee serving organizations. More recently, I had the honor of being selected as the Quebec candidate to meet Prime Minister Trudeau and discuss inclusion, immigration, race and multiculturalism matters with him on live national television. The aforementioned achievements and other professional experiences have all allowed me to understand what makes ambitious organizations such as COCo able to succeed in a diverse and challenging environment. I sincerely believe that my experience, knowledge and skills will aid in  implementing communications strategies, increasing membership, strengtheninIMG_4731
g networks and relations that will result in increased visibility, mobilization, engagement and participation. In closing, I would like to say that I am pleased, honored and humbled to have been nominated to be a part of The Centre for Community Organizations’ Board of Directors. By joining the COCo Board of Directors, I would be fulfilling a desire to be a part of an organization catalyzing change through concrete actions.

Remy Attig

As a current interim board member, I’d like to express my interest in becoming a permanent member of COCo’s board to be elected at COCo’s AGM in March. Please accept this letter both as a brief introduction and as an “application” of sorts for the position.

I am, since October, the Operations Manager of Quebec and Atlantic Canada at the David Suzuki Foundation. I joined DSF following a few years in the Montreal community sector, as both the director of Teva Quebec, a small non-profit that strives to bring visibility to environmental concerns and advocate/educate about sustainable options within the Montreal Jewish community. Upon joining Teva Quebec the organization had had a lapse in governance (relying for a while on a “board” of two people) and no major long-term funders on board. Under my guidance the board has been functioning for over a year and funding has stabilized with two major grants making up the majority of the operating budget. The board is working with outside consultants on developing a long-term strategic plan and overall the health of the organization has improved greatly. Simultaneously, I was the administrative coordinator of Project 10, an organization that works to support LGBTQ+ youth from 14-25.

Shortly after joining P10 I noticed that our budget, that was based 85% in one grant, had not increased substantially in any sustainable way for many years, despite articulated growth plans that were passed down to me from the board. It was then that I decided that Fundraising for Social Change (Kim Klein) was the answer to growing the organization. In the first full year after my arrival P10 had raised 5x more in private donations than the previous fiscal year. The framework that I established resulted in a redefinition of the role following my departure, and the fundraising growth has continued through the transition. At the David Suzuki Foundation my primary responsibilities focus on budgeting and process streamlining in tandem with the Foundation’s offices in other cities.

I joined the COCo board as an interim board member in October because I think that COCo’s work in facilitating healthier community organizations while having a larger mandate to work for progressive social change is essential to community health. I’ve worked in community orgs on and off for 14 years in a variety of communities, and COCo is a pretty special group. Since joining, I’ve learned a lot more about the structure of the organization and have identified areas where I can be of particular support. Namely, I helped with the annual board evaluation, am on the governance hub, and I am beginning working with Juniper on the creation of fundraising plans. I am looking forwar
d to working with Juniper, Sabrina and Diana, our treasurer, to ensure that the finance and fundraising work in tandem under the framework of a strong
P1100115annual plan to safeguard the health of the organization going forward. I am also looking forward to making COCo a more accessible organization to the d/Deaf community.

Finally, some of my other passions that I bring to the table are values of anti-oppression, sustainability, food politics, and queer issues. I look forward to continuing my work on COCo’s board.

 Tatiana Crisan

My friend Alexandra Cirgenski has shared her amazing experience with COCo and has encouraged me to apply. We met at McGill, where we’re both pursuing our MBA degree. My presidency for Net Impact, the sustainability club we both belong to, came to an end in February, when we handed over the club to the next generation of MBAs. However, I feel Alie, myself and the rest of the team left them in good hands, with an increased budget, a vision to work towards and many relationships with internal and external organizations.

Recently, I’ve had the pleasure of meeting Brenda Plant who has inspired me to get involved with her web platform that seeks to educate people about responsible investments. It’s a great opportunity to refresh my technical digital marketing skills from my pre-MBA career. I used to work in a London, (UK) start-up, where I loved my work because there was always something new to learn and no two days were ever the same. To thrive in this environment I had to constantly rely on my creativity, intuition and passion for technology. These were skills that I had previously developed as a student of film production at the University of Surrey, where I had the opportunity to direct various artistic projects including a vertical dancing performance on the Cathedral tower at the Guildford Arts Festival. This early leadership position, in which I managed the efforts of fellow students and liaised with other departments, showed me that I had a natural ability to unite people in a common goal. When I began working after university I was quickly promoted from an internship to a management position and given the challenge of managing a team of 6-10 multilingual Blogger Outreach Executives. Together we had outstanding results in the international delivery of marketing campaigns for high-end brands including Samsung, EA, Nike and Universal.

The campaigns that truly inspired me were the ones with a charitable or environmental component, such as Domestos (Unilever) which campaigned to reduce child mortality in Vietnam by educating poor communities about hygiene. This empowered communities to change their habits and protect their children. I believe that society will eventually adopt the principles of sustainable development I want to be a part of bringing about this new perspective, and the change needs to happen at a community level. With my MBA I have now gained the analyti_IGP9829cal skills, confidence and experience to make a difference in the world. The downside of my constant moving is that I now feel slightly uprooted. Once the MBA will come to an end my core community will also dissipate. If my application were to be accepted, I am hoping being part of COCo will tighten my relationship with Montreal by giving me a sense of belonging and community. Thank you for taking the time to read my statement. I look forward to hearing back from you.

Susan Edey

My name is Susan Edey and I am delighted to submit my candidature to join COCo’s Board of Directors. As a former Policy Advisor for the Alberta Government and the current Community Relations Coordinator for Concordia University, I have a diverse set of interests and experiences that draw me to the community sector and the important work that COCo does.

I moved to Montreal in 2010 to complete my MA in Media Studies and was immediately struck by the dynamic and powerful nature of community organizations in this city. I dabbled with different extra-curricular commitments – from campus television to music festivals – before finding my place in the University of the Streets Café community. After a year of enthusiastic volunteering, I went on to coordinate the program for the next three and a half years, organizing over seventy-five community-driven events.

My involvement with University of the Streets Café afforded me the privilege of working collaboratively with a diverse cross-section of community members and groups to host weekly public conversations. Through these non-hierarchical learning environments, we promoted critical thinking, active citizenship and community engagement. As coordinator, whether I was developing nebulous ideas into complex and accessible topics, managing logistics, or promoting our events through various channels, I enhanced my community organizing skills and learned from many fantastic community leaders. I would be thrilled to mobilize these skills and networks to support COCo’s mission of developing healthy organizations and strong communities through education.

Since turning over the reins of University of the Streets Café to my brilliant new colleague, I’ve been immersing myself in my new role in Concordia’s Office of Community Engagement (OCE). As Community Relations Coordinator, I spend my time planning events, serving on committees and nurturing relationships in order to foster a culture that supports community-university partnerships. Through this work, I have demonstrated a commitment to co-creation, reciprocity and social justice. I see many connections between the values and priorities that are core to my work with the OCE and those that drive COCo’s efforts to strengthen Montreal’s community sector.

If elected to COCo’s Board of Directors I would take pride in promoting social _IGP9883justice, active citizenship, democracy, and just socio-economic development. I would promise the COCo staff and my fellow board members two years of dedication, hard work, creativity and joyful collaboration. Finally, it would be an honour to share my experience in community organizing, communications, outreach, and policy writing with such a vital organization.