Meet Paola Qualizza, Groundswell's mama bear

Paola brings her experience and interests in new economic models, permaculture, and public space together to build the vibrant ecosystem that is Groundswell’s community.  As our Managing Director, Paola is involved across all aspects of Groundswell's programming and community, hosting our events, coordinating cohorts and supporting the big vision of Groundswell.  She oversees the complex weaving of Groundswell's work, making sure things are running smoothly and that people feel happy and at home at Groundswell.

 Paola has always sought to push the realm of possibilities and is driven by values of common good and equity. She co-founded a Vancouver community currency called Seedstock in 2012, and was co-director of the second annual Living the New Economy Convergence in 2013.  She is a regular panelist and speaker on topics of economic change and community building in the city.  

Paola has been Chair of the Vancouver Public Space Network since 2015 and sits on several City of Vancouver Civic Committees where she advocates for social justice, inclusivity, and a more fun urban experience.  

Group mentorship session 

Group mentorship session 

Paola is a strong believer in the power of relocalization and an entrepreneurial spirit (aka creativity and action) to create a regenerative, people-first economy.  She has a BA Hons from Simon Fraser University in Human Geography and is dedicated to continue her education on the ground and outside of the traditional ivory tower.

Paola loves her job because she loves working side by side with people who are mobilizing the possibilities of alternative economies and building the better world we all know is possible.     

Meet Gilad Babchuk, Groundswell co-founder & educator

Gilad Babchuk has extensive experience establishing, developing and running various organizations, and has founded or co-founded over 15 social enterprises, academic programs, and NGOs both as an educator and social entrepreneur. He was named one of the 50 most influential people in the field of education in Israel (Ha’aretz, 2009). Gilad consults several international companies and institutions in the fields of e-learning and progressive education, and does business development consulting for a multi-national bio-tech company.


Gilad shares the vision and philosophy of Groundswell in this talk from the Ashoka Changemaker Showcase on Emerging Alternatives.

 In 2012 Gilad co-founded the innovative alternative business school Groundswell, and serves as its Executive Director. Groundswell pioneers a new way to support aspiring entrepreneurs and individuals who want to develop their ideas into sustainable social enterprises, taking a holistic approach to education by incubating the individual, not just the business idea, within an ecosystem of support.

 Groundswell has supported the launch and growth of nearly 100 social ventures.

 Among his other roles, Gilad currently sits on the Board of CCEC Credit Union, and the Vancouver Fix-It Collective, a zero-waste textiles venture in Vancouver.  He serves on the Advisory Committee for the First Nations Technology Council, the Advisory Board of  Diversity in Tech,  and Youth Rites of Passage.

 Before moving to Canada in 2011, he was Executive Director of the Institute for Democratic Education, an organization that supports and advises administrators and educators in public and independent schools across Israel. Gilad was a Strategic Adviser for several mayors in Israel, the head of the teacher training program in Kibbutzim College of Education, Technology & Arts, and the creator of a school principals training program with the Ministry of Education.

 He lives in Vancouver with his partner Lilach and their five children.