Meet the Candidates for our Board of Directors

This year, almost all of the seats on our Board of Directors is up for re-election. Of our existing Board members, 1 has a year left on her term; and 4 are re-running. If our bylaw change is approved, increasing our Board members to 9, that leaves us with four empty seats. In this blog post, we introduce the people who are running for our Board of directors for the first time! Check them all out- you will meet them, as well as the incumbents, in person at our AGM!

These paragraphs have been edited for length!

My name is Simon Vinh, I am a service architect and design strategy consultant. I’m passionate about helping teams and organisations decode the complexities of a rapidly changing world and enabling people to create positive change in their organisation. I started my career at the Living Lab of the Society for Arts and Technology (SAT) in Montreal designing interactive experiences for education and healthcare as well as developing collaboration tools and methodologies. Since then, I’ve worked as a designer and strategy consultant with other non-profits as well as organisations from the public sector, corporate and startup ecosystems addressing issues such as youth homelessness, food security and over-indebtedness. Nurturing my love for performance arts, in 2016 I decided to join the board of administrators ParB.L.eux, a contemporary-dance company based in Montreal and performing around the world. Wanting to strengthen my skills as an administrator, I later completed the training program “Réseau des Jeunes Administrateurs” with the “Collège des Administrateurs de Société” through their joint program with La Jeune Chambre de Commerce de Montréal (JCCM).

COCo’s mission is one that truly resonates with me. I believe that education, training and coaching are essential parts of growing together and learning from each other in society. I recognise the importance of COCo’s role in the well being and success of community organisations who seek tools and support in tackling some of society’s greatest challenges. It is precisely the kind of organisation that I would like to support and contribute to with my experience as a strategist, service architect and Administrator.

My name is Jeff Helberg and I am applying to be on the board of Directors at CoCo because I have experienced only high quality workshops and services animated by them in past, and would like to participate in the realization of more programming, maybe looking to expand into the non-profit/cooperative food sector. The food industry is lacking representation in this area, in my opinion. I have been actively involved in the food groups at Concordia since 2015 and currently work as the Food Coordinator at the Hive Cafe Solidarity Cooperative, located within the Hall building at Concordia. In my time at Concordia, I also served on the Board of Directors at the Concordia Food Coalition, whose mandate is to serve as an incubator for any food related projects and initiatives that students might want to see happen. Currently, I live in a housing co-op in Milton Parc (Coop l’Alliance) and am on the Board of Directors as Treasurer, where my mandate will be focussing on increasing communication between the committees and increasing financial literacy of members within the coop.

Flore Milion. J’ai quatre ans au sein du département de levée de fonds d’une organisation internationale – d’abord en tant que recruteuse de donatrices-eurs, ensuite comme coordonnatrice. Un peu plus de deux ans dans le milieu communautaire: en gestion de projets et en mobilisation citoyenne pour un centre d’action bénévole et deux écoquartiers. Depuis bientôt un an: agente de mobilisation chez Oxfam-Québec où je développe des projets favorisant la justice de genre et la participation sociale des jeunes et du grand public.

Pourquoi le COCo?  Parce que malgré notre bonne volonté, nous reproduisons des processus non-inclusifs et de la violence systémique au sein de nos espaces de travail et de nos mouvements militants. Parce que les organismes communautaires jouent un rôle essentiel au sein de la société et auprès des personnes les plus marginalisées. Parce que le COCo leur offre le soutien nécessaire pour fonctionner sainement, efficacement et démocratiquement. Parce que je crois qu’une telle mission peut contribuer à des changements sociétaux positifs. Pourquoi vouloir faire partie de son conseil d’administration? Je souhaite diversifier ma façon de m’impliquer socialement en offrant mon expérience, mes compétences, mon temps et mon énergie au service du bon fonctionnement d’un organisme sans but lucratif dont la mission me tient à coeur et qui rejoint mes valeurs. M’investir au sein d’un conseil d’administration serait pour moi une expérience nouvelle et stimulante. Je serai ravie d’intégrer une équipe de travail cultivant des méthodes de collaboration non-oppressives, pour mon propre bien-être et dans une optique d’apprentissage personnel et professionnel.

Basak Buyukcelen. Mine is a story of activism and resistance, displacement and loss, and an eventual return to strength and focus. Today, I am a new Canadian citizen, a Product Manager for an IT company, and the founder of a non-profit organization that connects immigrants and locals through food. I am proud of the work I do and the support I give others. My journey from Istanbul to Montreal was not an easy one, but because of what it taught me, I am strongly motivated to return value to a society that has given me so much. I looked back at my experience and realized that the toughest thing had been meeting local people. It prompted me to found my non-profit, the Supper Society, which is all about helping newcomers acclimate and integrate into society. We do it one meal at a time. Our board members are all women who have been immigrants themselves, and we used COCo’s guidelines for non-profits for our foundation. Hosted at my house once a month, Supper Society dinners bring together refugees, immigrants, and established residents. We break bread and friendships form. We forget our fights for survival and identity, and we feel secure and welcome, like ourselves again.

This work blends with what I now do for the Rebus Foundation, where we champion open knowledge, open collaboration, and open publishing. The connective potential of online technology is much like the social power of food, and together they drive me forward. I want to turn that energy back into value for COCo and for others who need its support, because it was there for me when I needed guidance myself.

My name is Sara Kendall. I’m originally from New York, and have recently relocated to Montreal. I work primarily as an educator, and have spent the past 10 years working in various roles within the community sector: I’ve been a co-founder of two community organizations, a nonprofit co-director, a grant-writer and fundraiser, and a community organizer. In 2012 I co-founded Kite’s Nest, a center for liberatory education in upstate New York. Kite’s Nest is a nonprofit youth organization. We run programs that nurture the confidence, joy, and collective leadership of children and teens, and build youth-led movements for justice. I’ve worked for several years as one of the organization’s co-directors, overseeing our communications, funding strategy and web development, and facilitating organizational visioning. I also co-lead a 5-week social justice leadership training for teenagers. My work with Kite’s Nest has made me deeply passionate about ways that organizations can support true youth leadership, and can hold space for restorative justice rather than punitive responses to harm and conflict.

Previously I was the founding Station Manager of WGXC, a community radio station in NY state, where I wrote our organization’s first policies, developed the station’s funding strategy, and created trainings for volunteers. At WGXC I became especially interested in non-hierarchical organizational structures and consensus-based decision-making. I helped to found a local chapter of Showing Up for Racial Justice (SURJ), which educates and  organizes white people to show up for racial justice. I’ve worked as a volunteer grant-writer and fundraiser for the SBK Social Justice Center, a Black-led community organization; I’ve been an advisory board member of a food security organization called Long Table Harvest; and I’ve organized with the Columbia County Sanctuary Movement, a migrant justice organization. I’ve also been part of a number of trainings at the Watershed Center, a retreat center that provides trainings and capacity-building to social change organizations around the world.

I’m excited to apply to join COCo’s Board! I’m inspired by how COCo approaches the nuts-and-bolts of organizational work – writing policy, running AGMs, etc. – with imagination, joy, and humor. I’ve also been inspired by COCo’s increased focus on anti-oppression work and its commitment to challenging and supporting its membership to genuinely engage and transform power, privilege and inequity within their organizations and communities. I have a deep interest in how organizations can develop structures and practices that reflect our visions for the world we want to live in, and how, in our day-to-day operations, we connect the dots between personal, organizational, and societal transformation.

Je m’appelle Samuel Raymond. Je travaille présentement comme intervenant communautaire dans une OSBL d’habitation pour ainéEs autonomes. Je suis aussi étudiant au programme de deuxième cycle en Développement Économique Communautaire à Concordia.  Dans les dernières années, je me suis impliqué dans différents milieux d’action sociale : dans le mouvement syndical étudiant, dans un syndicat de travailleur du milieu de la santé, pour la cause altermondialiste par la participation à l’organisation d’un Forum Social Mondial et puis dans le milieu communautaire. Quant à ce dernier point, j’ai par exemple réalisé un stage auprès d’un organisme d’aide aux nouveaux arrivantEs , j’ai facilité la table de concertation des ainéEs de Rosemont et j’ai participé aux projets artistiques d’un organisme de l’est de Montréal.

Le COCo me semble un endroit privilégié pour m’impliquer considérant la vitalité de son réseau, la qualité de réalisation des ressources qu’il crée et son travail quotidien avec des organisations grassroots.  Savoir que je pourrai participer à la co-construction de cette organisation avec tout ceux qui s’y impliquent me motive grandement. Cela que ce soit pour réaliser les tâches administratives ou bien pour participer aux différents processus pour appuyer les activités de l’organisation.