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Home2022 Dismantling Inequities Speaker Bio
2022 Virtual Dismantling Inequities in Volunteerism: Beyond the 101 Speaker Biographies
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Femina Ajayi-Hackworth, director of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion at Be The Match, combines deep affirmative action, EEO and ADA knowledge with experience guiding organizations in government and private sector to elevate diversity and inclusion as key contributors to achieving organizational success. She is an experienced leader who uses evidence-based practices to strategically integrate the principles of equity, diversity, and inclusion into complex, multi-layered systems. Femina excels at utilizing best practices and maintaining extensive knowledge of diversity demographics, complaints, and retention issues. She is a Certified Affirmative Action Professional, CAAP level.

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Jeremie Ballinger currently serves as Director, Organizational Development for Special Olympics North America. In this role he coordinates leadership and professional development initiatives for more than 70 Special Olympics Programs throughout the United States, Canada, and the Caribbean, in addition to working with Programs on topics such as strategic planning, onboarding, volunteer management, financial management, and board development. Jeremie has more than fifteen years of experience as a nonprofit executive, including executive positions with the American Red Cross, Kansas City Corporate Challenge, Down Syndrome Association of Greater St. Louis and Special Olympics Missouri. He holds an MBA in Entrepreneurship from the University of Missouri system, as well as a Bachelor of Science in Business Management.  Outside of work, Jeremie volunteers and coaches with several organizations including Special Olympics, Cub Scouts, and his church. He resides in Kansas City's Northland with his wife, three children, and two very spoiled dogs.

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Katenka Bollenbeck is a Recent Research Fellow with Critical Disabilities Studies Collective working on Refusing Disposability through intersections of race, class, gender and sexuality in disability studies. Katenka’s main interests fall in dismantling colonized minds and ways of being. She is passionate about learning and creating new ways of operating together in a world free of racism, sexism, poverty, homophobia, and ableism. She graduated from the University of Minnesota with a master’s degree in Social Work, focusing on community practice and global social work. Katenka serviced a year with AmeriCorps-ClearCorp in her twenties working with the Sustainable Research Center to end childhood lead poisoning and other environmental pollution. She loves spending time with her teenage son, Murphy, kayaking, and the colors the Gulf of Mexico. 

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Karmit Bulman is MAVA’s Executive Director. She has extensive experience running nonprofit organizations and has a strong background of leadership in international, national and statewide coalition building. In the past Karmit has served as an attorney and as executive director for nonprofits. Her roles have involved financial management, program development, public and community relations, fundraising and oversight of organizational operations. She has a particular passion for facilitation of collaborative processes, conflict assessment, coalition building, executive coaching and consulting, new business development, organizational turnaround, and revenue expansion. Karmit oversees strategic planning, board development, financial management, fundraising, program development and day to day programming at MAVA.

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Donte Curtis is the Owner/Leader of Catch Your Dream Consulting where he inspires and trains individuals and teams, nationwide, on leadership, racial equity, anti-racism, and making change. Donte brings his 14 years of facilitation and speaking experience with an expectation of getting you energized, you taking practical action and finding hope for a better tomorrow. He is currently a Co-Chair on the Board of Directors at Social Enterprise Alliance MSP, which supports the purpose driven economy. Donte lives a life that is dedicated to leadership, social justice and liberation and is probably one of the most energetic people you will ever meet. Donte resides in Saint Paul, Minnesota with his wife, Rachel, and two dogs, King and Moose.

Janet DavisonCVA, PMP, has worked in the nonprofit sector for nearly 15 years. She started her career with Volunteer Fairfax (Fairfax, VA) working with court-ordered volunteers, corporate volunteers, and managing the Retired Senior Volunteer Program (RSVP). Since 2019, Janet has been the Volunteer Program Manager with CRi, a regional nonprofit that supports a network of 45 group homes with mental health needs and developmental disabilities in the Mid-Atlantic region. Janet has an undergrad degree in International Relations from James Madison University (Harrisonburg, VA) in 2008 and a master’s degree in International Affairs from George Mason University (Fairfax, VA) in 2012. She became a Certified Volunteer Administrator (CVA) in 2020 and just earned her Project Management Professional (PMP) accreditation in 2022. In her free time, Janet enjoys spending time with her dog, Shellie, and running.

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Breauna Dorelus is the Founder and Chief Cause Consultant at Connecting the Cause, a consultancy dedicated to dismantling harmful volunteer practices implemented by nonprofits and volunteers specifically towards Black and brown communities. Breauna started her career as an AmeriCorps member and spent 10+ years in various volunteer management roles in humanitarian aid efforts, refugee resettlement and ministry. Breauna believes in community inclusion in all aspects of the volunteer process and has dedicated her work to ensuring that service is centered around co-dreaming and not harmful charity. She believes that best practices may not be the best for all, that we must look at service through the lens of community-centered support in order to create a more just future. She received her bachelor’s degree in International Studies from Georgia Southern University, and her master’s degree in Public Administration with a concentration in Nonprofit Management from Georgia State University (Summa Cum Laude). She has two littles, Arteese who is 2 and Canaan who is 8 months and loves a good cup of hot chocolate.

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Nada Dualeh is a 4th year pre-medical student at the University of Minnesota studying Health and Wellbeing Sciences with a minor in Leadership. She hopes to become a physician to serve her community and work to dismantle healthcare disparities. Her long term goals include opening a private practice focused on low-income racial and ethnic minorities. Being a part of MAVA has helped her gain more knowledge of volunteerism while actively being a part of a community that helps disseminate knowledge through education and advocacy.

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Liza J Dyer, CVA (she/her) has been involved in the nonprofit and public sectors for over 20 years and currently lives in Portland, Oregon, USA. She is a Volunteer Engagement Specialist at Multnomah County Library where she supports volunteerism throughout the public library system’s 19 public locations and many outreach programs. She spends her days connecting people with information, collaborating with staff and volunteers to create better access to volunteer experiences, and finding ways to use technology as a tool for good. Outside of work, Liza is never far from knitting needles and yarn, an e-book or audiobook, and her family. She volunteers with Engage, an online journal for leaders of volunteers, and the Council for Certification in Volunteer Administration. Liza is proud to be an AmeriCorps alum and Certified in Volunteer Administration (CVA).

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Idelle Erickson is the Project Manager and Executive Assistant to the CEO and COO at Girl Scouts River Valleys in St. Paul, providing mission-driven project, executive, and nonprofit governance management, and leadership in the development and management of policies and procedures and diversity, equity, inclusion, access, and racial justice efforts at Girl Scouts River Valleys. Idelle loves solving problems and creating elegant systems that are easy to use and understand. Idelle has significant professional experience and a personal passion for contributing to strategies that drive DEIA + RJ work. She serves as a member of the Girl Scouts River Valleys DEI Strategy Team and is a Qualified Administrator of the Intercultural Development Inventory.

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Amelia Foard serves as both a U.S. Chapter Concierge, as well as the Scouts Troop Coordinator for Hope worldwide. Prior to her employment with HOPE worldwide, she served for 10 years as a local volunteer HOPEww Chapter Director in Lawrence, KS. Her Chapter Director role earned her an invitation to join HOPE worldwide’s National Chapter Advisory Board on which she has served since 2019. Her 15-year career in education fuels her passion for family-based volunteerism and raising young community engagement leaders. She holds a B.A. from the University of Kansas and currently resides in Denver, CO with her husband, 3 children, and 2 dogs.

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Sandra Garcia is a Marketing and Branding strategist and Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Consultant. Her corporate experience includes organizations such as Clear Channel Outdoor, Time Warner Cable Media, PEOPLE.com and CNNMoney.com developing marketing strategies and compelling sales programs. Sandra has strategized for brands such as Toyota, L'Oreal, Estee Lauder, Apple, Verizon Wireless, Sephora, Pepsi, and American Express to name a few. She is now the founder of Encounter Your Potential where she develops and executes strategies that use marketing as a pillar for achieving business goals and driving revenue. As a full-time entrepreneur, Sandra's growing list of businesses served includes Google, JP Morgan Chase, HSBC Bank Toronto, Vevo, The Howard University School of Divinity, and Capco Consulting. For 4 years she managed her own event planning company, POSH Agency LLC. In 2012, she launched Afro-LatinaBeauty.com, an online destination for stories of Afro-Latinas sharing the same intercultural experience. She served as the NY Chapter President of the National Association of Multi-ethnicity in Communities (N.A.M.I.C) for 2 years where she was awarded Chapter of The Year and Chapter Leadership Team of the Year. She now sits on the Board of Directors of both N.A.M.I.C and Digital Diversity Network (DDN). Sandra was awarded 2018 Innovation & Inclusion Culture Catalyst by the Digital Diversity Network, Forbes 30 Under 30 2016 nominee, and was awarded by Latino Leaders Magazine, a Top 25 Future Latino Leader (ages 25-35) in 2012. As a speaker, Sandra has spoken and moderated discussions at Google, Microsoft, Buzzfeed, General Assembly, Young and Rubicam and at institutions including New York University, Pace University, Dickinson College, Baruch College, and Howard University to name a few.

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Jillian Gross Fortgang (she/her) is a coach, consultant, and facilitator rooted in racial equity and justice. Identifying as a white, queer, cis-gendered woman, she brings a body-centered approach to her practice that supports individuals and groups to align their actions with their values. Throughout her multifaceted 20+ year career as an educator, nonprofit professional, researcher, and collaborative consultant, she remains dedicated to nurturing relationships and courageously connecting in community with curiosity, empathy, and humility. Jillian is the founder of yes, and…journeys, which focuses on supporting white folks to do the messy work of practicing antiracist living and collective liberations. She is also a certified professional leadership coach and yoga instructor, and a student of the Embodied Social Justice program through Transformative Change. Her more formal credentials include a PhD in Higher Education with a concentration in organizational behavior and management and a Master of Nonprofit Leadership. Currently she lives in Minneapolis with her spouse and delightful rescue dog, Lettuce. She loves to share the story behind their dog’s name, so be sure to ask!

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Nilla Hebert is a passionate and thoughtful community engagement professional who has worked with nonprofit organizations for more than 15 years. She carries a zest for developing collective strategies to increase community access, wealth, and opportunities, and is highly skilled in creating partnerships and connections through innovative and equitable practices. Niila is a certified volunteer administrator, a trained intercultural development practitioner, a member of the CCVA Exam Committee and has served on the MAVA Board of Directors for 5 years. Niila is a graduate of California State University of Long Beach, majoring in Communications and Black Studies.

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Jaylani Hussein is currently the executive director of the Minnesota chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR-MN). Hussein worked as the Community Liaison Officer at Metro State University and as a Planner for the Minnesota Department of Agriculture. In 2013, he created Zeila Consultants to develop and offer cross-cultural training workshops on East African cultures. Hussein has presented on the Somali Culture to diverse public and private organizations across the US. He specializes in the areas of urban planning, community development, youth development (with over 8 years’ experience in working in juvenile treatment centers for court adjudicated youth), legal and civil rights. Hussein has been active with various community organizations in Minnesota, including the Islamic Cultural Center of Minnesota Board of Directors, Wilder Foundation Advisory Board, Muslim Youth of Minnesota Advisory Board, Islamic Resource Group Speakers Bureau, and ARAHA Board of Directors. He has traveled to the Horn of Africa twice on behalf of ARAHA, to open a regional field office and oversee large-scale humanitarian projects during the Somali Famine of 2011. Hussein received the 2015 the Minnesota Council of Nonprofits (MCN) annual "Visionary Leader” Award. Hussein received the Immigrant of Distinction Award from the Minnesota/Dakotas Chapter of the American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA). He was also named the 2016 Ten Outstanding Young Minnesotans by JCI. In 2016, Hussein was appointed to the Minnesota Governor’s Council on Law Enforcement and Community Relations. He received the 2017 Twin Cities International Citizen Awards for Social Justice. In 2018, Jaylani was named by Minneapolis/St. Paul Business Journal’s 2018 40 Under 40 list of among the emerging business and community leaders. Hussein appears regularly on Minnesota's local television and radio stations. He has also appeared national and international outlets including ABC News, CNN, FOX BUSINESS, NPR, BBC among other outlets. Hussein's family emigrated from Somalia to Minnesota in 1993 and he is trilingual (English, Somali, Arabic). Hussein holds degrees in Community Development and City Planning from St. Cloud State University and Political Science from North Dakota State University.

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Matt Lewellyn-Otten (he/him and they/them) joined the OutFront team in the fall of 2021 as the Religious Organizer. Before joining the team, Matt has spent most of their career in Youth Ministry working in United Church of Christ, Episcopal, and Presbyterian churches. As the Religious Organizer, Matt will be working with faith communities across the state to bring them along in the advocacy and inclusion of queer people in all faith practices. Matt is a Minnesota transplant originally from South Carolina where he attended Erskine College and studied Bible and Religion. Later, Matt earned their Master of Public Administration degree from the College of Charleston and their Master of Divinity from Boston University School of Theology. In his studies and career, Matt has sought ways to build better understanding across faith communities and create spaces of connection and growth. In his free time, you’ll find Matt in a coffee shop or a bookstore, walking his dog, Cooper, around one of the many Twin City lakes, or enjoying a beer at a local brewery.

Terri Loso directs HOPE worldwide’s work in the US. She and her team provide inspiration, support and training to HOPE worldwide’s 150+ volunteer-led Chapters and programs across the US. Annually, the US team mobilizes over 10,000 volunteers in increasingly relational, strength-based and justice-informed service to their local communities. She has facilitated dozens of classes and workshops on respectful, relational, strength-based volunteerism and other topics to thousands of volunteers throughout the US and Canada. She holds a bachelor’s degree in Community & Human Services from the State University of New York and lives in Northern Connecticut with her husband, Darren.

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Brianna Miller (she/her) is MAVA’s Training & DEI Director. In this role, she ensures relevant training is updated and available to MAVA members and anyone interested in learning about volunteer best-practices, volunteer engagement professional support and other content related to innovation in the volunteer sector. In addition, she researches and creates content for DEI training and initiatives. Brianna is a nonprofit executive with over two decades of experience in fundraising, organization development and operations, board governance, training design and delivery, program development and evaluation, and DEI. She has also worked closely within the foster care and adoption systems, as well as mental and chemical health administration. Brianna is an Ontological Coach providing support to other professionals, organizations, and individuals to reach their highest level of achievement. She has a bachelor’s degree in Ontological Development & Advancement and a minor in Industrial and Personnel Psychology from Metropolitan State University. She is currently working to complete her master’s degree in Nonprofit Leadership. She completed the Mini MBA for Nonprofit Organizations and the Fundraising Certificate Series at the University of St. Thomas.

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Sarah Philippe (she/her) is passionate about volunteerism, accessibility, history, and ice cream. She has been a leader of volunteers at several different nonprofits throughout the Minnesota Twin Cities area. She earned her Certification in Volunteer Administration in 2021 and completed certificates in Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion in the Workplace and Ethical and Inclusive, Leadership, both from the University of South Florida Muma College of Business. In her free time, she likes spending time with her cat, eating ice cream, and playing with her nieces and nephews.

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Channel Powe has been a champion for communities, public schools, families and children for over a decade. She stands in the gap of racial inequities by using her experience, knowledge and influence to create equitable policies and strategy. Ms. Powe’s work as an equity activist began as a child advocate in Detroit, Michigan which led to the City of Phoenix and Maricopa County appointments to boards and commissions in her adult years. She served seven and a half years on the Balsz Elementary School District Governing Board with her term ending in December 2020. During her tenure as a school board member, she has led the adoption of ten equity-based Board Resolutions and policies that include Recognizing Heritage months, Balsz ESD Commitment to Black Students and Black Lives, A City of Phoenix Civilian Oversight Board, Anti-Tobacco, Trauma Responsive, and Anti-Hate. Furthermore, she championed a districtwide divestment from a prison industry vendor. In 2015, the Arizona School Board Association named Channel Powe Advocate of the Year. Currently Ms. Powe is an education, political and equity consultant. She's a keynote speaker, Progressive Governance Academy Trainer and Desert Botanical Garden Monarch Council member. In her role as Balsz ESD Board President, Ms. Powe led the Board in a national search for a new superintendent during a global pandemic and America's racial reckoning. Serendipitously, the district appointed the first African American woman to serve in that position on Juneteenth 2020. That same year Powe led the board in the adoption of an equity-based five-year strategic plan and forged a partnership between Balsz ESD and 1619 Project Advocates of Arizona to offer The 1619 Project as supplemental curriculum in classrooms while training teachers to present the lessons. Channel Powe’s vision and expertise in empowering and training those who seek systemic, universal change. 


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Susan Sanow, CVA, is the Senior Manager for Special Projects and Training at Volunteer Fairfax (Fairfax, Virginia). She leads the volunteer management educational programming including webinars, roundtables and a new 9-month community engagement cohort discussion group. Susan is an experienced meeting facilitator and trainer in nonprofit management and volunteer management. She has presented educational programs in the local area, statewide conferences and at national meetings. Susan holds a B.S. in Consumer-Community Services from Michigan State University. She became a Certified Volunteer Administrator (CVA) in 2020 and joined the board of the Northern Virginia Association of Volunteer Administrators in 2021.

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Brandon Schorsch [pronounced: Sh-or-shh] (he/him) joined JCA in January 2020 after several years of working in progressive issues and electoral politics in the Twin Cities. Having seen multiple childhood friends become radicalized online, Brandon has been researching hate for many years prior to working on JCA's Combating Antisemitism and White Nationalism campaign. Since 2020, much of Brandon's work has been focused on the Communities Combating Hate coalition, an effort of 16+ organizations pushing for non-carceral policy solutions to address hate. Outside of the coalition he has developed/co-developed numerous trainings examining contemporary antisemitism's origins, mechanisms, motivations and intersections with other forms of marginalization and oppression.

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Nicole Smith is a Panamanian-American, workforce development specialist, published author of Game On! Relentlessly Pursue Your Dreams and the 101 Note-taking Affirmation Journal Series, world renowned motivational speaker, blogger podcast host of From The Suggestion Box; Navigating Feedback The Good The Bad and the Say Whaaatttt??? and dancer. She earned her bachelor’s degree via a Division I full ride track scholarship and after graduating, she founded Step It Up! Inc., a non-profit dance organization that allowed her to perform for audiences nationwide and used dance to teach teamwork to kids in after school programs. Her experience in sports entertainment, radio, TV, the performing arts, and social services has spanned nearly 20 years covering the Chicago, Houston, Ft. Lauderdale/Miami, and Orlando markets. She has danced and cheered for four Professional and Semi-Professional sports teams, has prepared more than 800 interns to enter the workforce and has inspired crowds upwards of 2000. She has been a proud mentor for the Tessitura Network’s Early Career Development program for the past three years which is a free program dedicated to diversifying arts leadership. She mentors young arts professionals of Latino, Black and Asian decent to help them not only find their voice but express it in the board rooms in arts organizations. She was a contributing writer for The Life of a Single Mom for two years and has been published in several industry journals including The Volunteer Management ReportHuman Capital Leadership Magazine and Chronicle Philanthropy Magazine. As a nod to her belief in continuous education, in 2021 she earned her certification in Diversity, Equity and Inclusion in the Workplace from the USF Muma College of Business. She has received several accolades to include being named in the Marquis Who's Who for professionals, receiving an Emerging Leader Award from Alive Impact Awards for Volunteer Engagement Professionals, awarded the Amplifying Voices Award from United Latinas, being listed as one of WLRN’s “Local Women Who Inspire You” and being selected as one of Legacy Miami’s Most Prominent and Influential Black Women In Business and Industry of 2019. She is passionate about giving back to her community, and does so by sitting on the Boards of the Association for Leaders In Volunteer Engagement and Ageless CHIC Magazine, and is a former Board Member of the Arts and Business Council of Miami.

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Penelope Specker is a junior at the University of Minnesota studying Strategic Communications and minoring in Business Law and Leadership. She has been collaborating with MAVA through the leadership minor to learn about DEI, training development and execution, professional skills, and public speaking skills. In her free time, she likes to go for runs and enjoys the outdoors. 

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Jen Thorson is the Chief Operating Officer for Girl Scouts River Valleys, which serves 20,000 girls and 10,000 adults. In this role, Jen is responsible for program and mission delivery; girl recruitment; volunteer recruitment, training, and management; customer service; marketing and communications; and the iconic Girl Scout Cookie Program. Jen serves on the boards of Minnesota Alliance for Volunteer Advancement and Leaders of Today and Tomorrow. She also serves on the City of St. Paul Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission. Jen has two sons and lives in St. Paul.

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Dr. Anton Treuer (pronounced troy-er) is Professor of Ojibwe at Bemidji State University and author of 19 books. He has a B.A. from Princeton University and a M.A. and Ph.D. from the University of Minnesota. He is Editor of the Oshkaabewis (pronounces o-shkaah-bay-wis) Native Journal, the only academic journal of the Ojibwe language. Dr. Treuer has presented all over the U.S. and Canada and in several foreign countries on Everything You Wanted to Know About Indians But Were Afraid to Ask, Cultural Competence & Equity, Strategies for Addressing the “Achievement” Gap, and Tribal Sovereignty, History, Language, and Culture. He has sat on many organizational boards and has received more than 40 prestigious awards and fellowships, including ones from the American Philosophical Society, the National Endowment for the Humanities, the National Science Foundation, the MacArthur Foundation, the Bush Foundation, and the Josh Simon Guggenheim Foundation. His published works include Everything You Wanted to Know About Indians But Were Afraid to AskThe Language Warrior’s Manifesto: How to Keep Our Languages Alive No Matter the OddsWarrior Nation: A History of the Red Lake Ojibwe (Winner Caroline Bancroft History Prize and the American Association of State and Local History Award of Merit), Ojibwe in Minnesota (“Minnesota’s Best Read for 2010” by The Center for the Book in the Library of Congress), The Assassination of Hole in the Day (Award of Merit Winner from the American Association for State and Local History), Atlas of Indian NationsThe Indian Wars: Battles, Bloodshedand the Fight for Freedom on the American Frontier, and Awesiinyensag (“Minnesota’s Best Read for 2011” by The Center for the Book in the Library of Congress). Treuer is on the governing board for the Minnesota State Historical Society. In 2018, he was named Guardian of Culture and Lifeways and recipient of the Pathfinder Award by the Association of Tribal Archives, Libraries, and Museums.

Faiza Venzant, CVA, is the Executive Director with the Council for Certification in Volunteer Administration and an active member and volunteer with Association for Leaders in Volunteer Engagement (AL!VE). From a young age, Faiza's parents instilled a strong sense of volunteerism in herself and her two older brothers. They, as immigrants to Canada from Uganda in the early 70s, made a successful transition into Canadian life with the help of many generous volunteers. A volunteer herself from a very young age, she has been an advocate for volunteer engagement and excellence in volunteer management for the last 22 years. As a facilitator for the Community Action Poverty Simulation, Faiza is passionate about equity and access amongst volunteers and leaders of volunteers. In 2018, Faiza published her first children's book entitled, My Mamma Wants to Eat Me Up!. As a mother of two young boys, she has not actually eaten any of her children.