Groundswell is made up of a volunteer board of 11 trustees who make the decisions for the fund. Board members sit for a two year term and can serve two consecutive terms. Board members come from a variety of different social justice organizing backgrounds and do the work of running the fund.
Maria Antelo has worked in various capacities with refugees, newcomers, the unemployed and with vulnerable populations as a social service and community worker. Since 2010, she works for the Hamilton Community Legal Clinic as the Community Developer, leading social justice and law reform projects, including the successful effort in 2014 to make Hamilton a “Sanctuary City.” Maria also works in tenant organizing, and bringing Hamiltonians together to speak on issues impacting the city like, for example, the rise of hate. In addition to her professional work, she is an active volunteer with many committees and grassroots initiatives, through which she persists in building awareness and relations between Indigenous and non-Indigenous peoples.
Donna Ashamock has been a Eeyou/Inninew (Cree) community organizer for over twenty years, and contributed to the development of Indigenous governance with a self-defined Indigenous community—MoCreebec—in Moosonee and Moose Factory in northeastern Ontario. Donna is a member of the Cree Nation and affiliated with Fort Albany First Nation. Grounded in Cree-centred processes and worldview, she collaborated with fellow MoCreebec citizens to organize innovative community initiatives to support their collective governance and economic self-reliance, such as the Cree Village Ecolodge, Community Education and Empowerment Project, and the MoCreebec Constitution. She is auntie and stepmom, and an advocate for family, community and land protection. Along with her late partner, Randy Kapashesit, they actively raised their family by modelling Cree principles in life and homeschooling. As a practitioner and community educator, Donna facilitated numerous employability and leadership programs for young Indigenous leaders through Northern College and MoCreebec non-profit programs. She has worked with non-profit organizations in community development and is currently a contract facilitator/writer in education, and employed full-time with a provincial-territorial organization, Nishnawbe Aski Nation. Her goal is to continue to build upon knowledge and capacity among inter-Indigenous networks in the north.
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 in the legal clinic system, 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 being involved 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, and television producer, among other things. Based in Toronto for over a decade, she now lives in southern France.
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.
Sean Lee-Popham has been involved in movements to create positive change for most of his adult life. Growing up going to ban the bomb and free Nelson Mandela demo’s morphed into joining Anti Racist Action in high school, student politics during the early years of Harris’ rule in Ontario and anti-poverty and anti-globalization work. He worked with a variety of groups on prisoner’s rights and abolition issues in the Toronto area. For the past 5 years he has worked as a Registered Nurse in rural Ontario, enjoying being outside, growing food, and getting involved in local harm reduction organizing.
Abeer Majeed is a cis woman and first generation immigrant settler from South Asia, currently living on the territories of the Huron-Wendat, Anishinaabe, Haudenosaunee, and Mississauga of the New Credit, Turtle Island. She has been involved in community-based grassroots organizing in support of migrant justice, anti-racist, anti-colonial, anti-capitalist, intersectional feminist, and Indigenous sovereignty movements for 20 years. She works as a primary care physician in community health centres in Toronto.
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!