Board

Groundswell is made up of a volunteer board of 13 trustees who make the decisions for the fund. Board members sit for a two year term and can serve consecutive terms.  Board members come from a variety of different social justice organizing backgrounds and do the work of running the fund.

Board members

Donna Ashamock is an Eeyou/Inninew (Cree) community organizer for over twenty-five years. She is currently building inter-Indigenous alliances on sustainability and justice for mining-impacted communities in Treaty 9 and beyond. She is a board member of MiningWatch Canada, Canary Institute, Indigenous Climate Action, and is a current NDN Collective fellow. Donna has contributed to the development of Indigenous governance with fellow MoCreebec citizens. She is auntie and stepmom, and an advocate for family, community and land protection.

Deborah Cowen is an activist, author, and scholar. Deeply committed to social transformation and justice struggles, Deborah has been engaged in research and organizing around the suburbanization of poverty, issues of race and space, the politics of securitization, and queer and labour issues.

Jackie Esmonde has been involved in social justice movements since the global justice movement. She is a lawyer and a member of the Prison Justice Committee of the Law Union of Ontario.

vibhor garg grew up in the Robinson-Huron Treaty in Sudbury, Ontario and currently resides in Toronto. vibhor has been actively employed in the non-profit sector for nearly 20 years, working directly with youth programs focusing on intercultural learning. For the past decade, he has held executive director and other senior management roles in organizations working with youth across Canada. vibhor strives to work through systems to ensure youth from equity-seeking communities are fully included in both programming and key decision-making roles. Much of his past and current work focuses on ensuring young people from Indigenous communities and communities of colour have space to lead and access to resources to engage in social justice movements.

Stefanie Gude learns most of what she knows through involvement in anti-poverty and migrant justice organizing, and in support of the struggle for Indigenous sovereignty. She has worked as a legal assistant, waitress, administrator, television producer, and editor, among other things. Based in Toronto for over a decade, she now lives in southern France.

Mostafa Henaway is a long-time community organizer, activist, radio producer, and writer. He has been a community organizer with the Immigrant Workers Centre (IWC) in Montreal since 2007, organizing with textile and warehouse workers, and other precarious immigrants and migrants for both migrant and labour justice. He has also been active in Palestine solidarity campaigns for many years. Before moving to Montreal, Mostafa was active in anti-poverty, anti-war, and Indigenous sovereignty organizing. Mostafa was a radio producer in Toronto and still is in Montreal. He is also doing a PhD on logistics and warehouse workers.

Yafa Jarrar is a Palestinian-Canadian Human Rights lawyer. Yafa was born in Jerusalem and raised in Ramallah, Palestine. She moved to Canada in 2003 to attend Lester B. Pearson College of the Pacific, in the traditional territory of the Lekwungen/Songhees peoples. Deeply committed to cross-border solidarity and influenced by her own lived-experiences, Yafa has been involved in social justice movements and international solidarity movements. Over the years, she has witnessed the violent arrests of her parents, both of whom were political prisoners in Israeli prisons for many years. Yafa’s mother, Khalida Jarrar, an elected member of the Palestinian Legislative Council and is currently a political prisoner in Damon Israeli prison. Yafa resides in Ottawa, the traditional unceded territory of the Algonquin Anishnaabeg People.

Gerri Nakirigya Lutaaya belongs to the Ngonge clan within the Buganda kingdom. In pursuit of truth and justice, Gerri maintains a spirited zest and commitment to young people because of their potential to spark action, impact and change on society’s most pressing issues. With 8+ years of professional experience, Gerri has gained an in-depth understanding of the nonprofit sector working for internationally recognized charities including Invisible Children, United Nations Association in Canada and the Stephen Lewis Foundation. Gerri has completed a B.A. Hons. in Global Development Studies at Queen’s University and an M.A. of Philanthropy and Nonprofit Leadership (MPNL) from Carleton University. To complement her academic accomplishments, Gerri is grounded in Nelson Mandela’s challenge that “a degree means nothing unless you go out into the community to prove yourself” and most recently recognized as a 2019 Volunteer Toronto Legacy Award Nominee for her outstanding volunteer work. Born in Halifax, raised in Ottawa, and currently residing in Toronto, Gerri is a daughter, sister, singer, and baker working on her laugh lines.

Abigail Moriah is a connector, facilitator and planner specializing in affordable housing. She is committed to an approach that is community-centred, equity-based and builds bridges across practitioners, scholars, and community. Abigail has collaborated on several initiatives to connect, support and create access for BIPOC planners and contribute to knowledge and highlight Black perspectives in planning.

Ramona Nicholas is from Tobique First Nation in New Brunswick. She has over 20 years of experience in archaeology, traditional knowledge and researching. She loves taking archaeological information and traditional knowledge to gain a better understanding of how the ancestors lived. With a Master of Arts with a focus on archaeology, her biggest hope is to change the face of archaeology and that Aboriginal people take back the responsibility of taking care of the ancestors. The responsibility of the taking care of the environment is important to Ramona – she is also involved with a group of Grandmothers who are protecting the land from resource development within her territory. Most important to Ramona is cultural sustainability. Ceremony is an important aspect of her life. Her knowledge has led to her latest endeavor of curating a museum exhibit called the Wabanaki Way at the Fredericton Regional Museum.

Kimalee Phillip is an educator, organizer, consultant, and writer deeply committed to anti-colonial, anti-racist and Black feminist ways of organizing, living, and loving. She has conducted qualitative and participatory research, and created and facilitated various workshops, curricula, and learning spaces across Canada, Ghana, Jamaica, and Grenada. She is currently a forum program associate with the Association of Women’s Rights in Development (AWID) and a senior equality officer (anti-racism) at the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE) National.

Anna Willats has been a Toronto-based social justice activist, organizer and educator for over 30 years. As a professor and project coordinator at George Brown College she helps to prepare women and trans people for employment in a variety of sectors.  She has worked on a wide variety of community development and engagement initiatives, most recently on skills and leadership development with members/participants, staff and management at Toronto area drop-ins. Anna has extensive experience in governance and management of non-profit groups, campaigns and funds.  She is committed to working collectively in a variety of ways for meaningful and progressive socio-economic and political change from the ground up!