Meet our staff, mentors, educators, advisors, and board.
The people of Groundswell are our most valuable asset. This amazing team of entrepreneurs and creative doers all believe there's a better way of doing things, and we are grateful for their dedication to our vision and our student's dreams. Get the support of 300+ years of collective experience with a team that's founded over 50 ventures and organizations as a participant in our programs.
We like to say that it takes a village to build a social venture. Please meet the architects, planners, builders, caretakers and cheerleaders who will take you there:
(Click on image for full profile)
Executive Director, Co-founder, Mentor
With over 25 years experience establishing, developing and running various progressive businesses and organizations, Gilad has founded numerous alternative schools, social enterprises and NGOs.
Managing Director, Co-founder
Mastering the art and science of weaving ideas and people into social ecosystems that are greater than the sum of their parts, Paola brings her interests in new economic models, permaculture, and community planning to building the Groundswell community.
Director of Development
Elena is a cultural historian who turned to social entrepreneurship and impact investing to directly affect the social change she believes in. Elena is an advocate for women-led and women-serving businesses, especially immigrant and refugee entrepreneurs.
This business operations nerd brings her love of systems and organization to the job. As a Groundswell alum, Cass is excited to work with and learn from the Groundswell team.
Cass is also a performer, singer, writer, and maker.
Founder, Mojo Emporium
Lead Educator, Build Program; Mentor
Combining human-centred design, lean startup and empathy-based marketing, Vidya is a sought-after advisor for social purpose businesses bringing new products, services and innovations to market. With 15 years of global experience as both intrapreneur and entrepreneur, she coaches changemakers across all industries to transform the status quo.
Founder, Artisan Valley UK
Samita is passionate about using digital tools to build on-line and real-life relationships and communities. Her approach to content creation is interwoven with a desire to create inclusive and accessible experiences. She has built and executed digital engagement strategies with environmental organizations, social justice groups, and small business owners. In particular, her passion for environmental justice has led her to work on community gardens, food share programs, skill share programs and zero waste initiatives including building an online sharing community in New West. Beyond this, she is an award-winning photographer, social justice activist, and an animal lover (aka Vegan Foodie).
Founder, Samita Manhas Photography, Share & Thrive New West
Test Market Coordinator
Daniela brings her passion for community building, radical inclusion, and art for social change to the Test Market. She believes that markets can be catalysts for community, connection and creativity and seeks to nurture this in all the markets she is a part of.
Executive Director, www.wearts.ca
Co-founder, Mentor, Director
A serial entrepreneur with over 30 years of experience and an international portfolio and that includes employment training and recruitment, travel management, bars, restaurants and computer software/financial services.
Mariana Martinez Rubio
Mariana brings her passion for building just and equitable communities through interdisciplinary approaches and a radical empathy lens. She has experience working on a variety of applied research and advisory projects with non-profits, government, and social ventures to increase the support mechanisms available in this ecosystem. Above all, she’s an advocate for women’s sexual and reproductive health and rights (SRHR). Moving forward, she hopes to work within the intersection of SRHR and climate justice to develop resilient and sustainable solutions to this challenge.
Technology entrepreneur passionate about starting new businesses and helping them grow. 15 years of experience in tech, early stage product and market validation, product management and quantitative finance.
Founder and CEO, Kidaro (acquired by Microsoft, 2008); Founder, Kashya (acquired by EMC, 2006)
A dedicated co-operator transforming complex tools into accessible and relevant ones for the social benefit sector in service of social change.
Manager, Vancity Community Investments
David provides direct support, consulting, coaching and strategic advice to the emerging blended value business and social finance sectors and works to influence the related public policy environment.
Director, Advisor, Mentor
Strategic and investment planning, product development.
Former President, COO, CFO and Board Member of Creo Inc. BEng.
Pinay activist and community leader interested in social justice, and specifically queer, interracial and indigenous issues.
Co-Founder, Denim Vest
Supporting impact-driven businesses with development and strategy with over 20 years of experience building and growing successful organizations that blend purpose and profit.
CEO, Realize Strategies
CPA, CMA, MBA
Food entrepreneur with marketing, design and web expertise.
Founder, KAPOW NOW!
Indigenous youth leadership educator, backcountry guide and entrepreneur.
Founder, Edziza Trails; Former President, Tahltan Central Council
Patrick joined Modo Co-operative as its CEO in mid-2016, with the intent to keep the purpose-driven, member-owned co-operative relevant in a rapidly changing market for personal mobility.
When not working, he’s an active mentor through Futurpreneur, an avid skier and cyclist and, with his wife Carmelita, a newly minted urban beekeeper.
CEO, Modo Co-operative
Lenard is an award winning sales and strategy consultant with a focus on making big changes in both small and large companies.
As an entrepreneur, he founded a non-profit that funds education for young girls in Nepal through the manufacturer and sale of Nepali made light weight down jackets and vests. Every jacket sold funds a girl’s education for 1 month in Nepal.
Sangeeta brings to her role 20 years of professional experience in the not-for-profit sector in Canada as well as Asia. This encompasses strategic planning, facilitation, cultural intelligence training, policy development, partnership development, program design and coordination, mentoring, leadership development and civic engagement. Sangeeta holds a Bachelor of Arts Degree from the University of Madras, India, and an MBA from the Indian Institute of Management. Additionally, she has a Certificate in Non-Profit Management and Leadership from the Schulich School of Business, York University.
Stephanie is a marketing / product strategist in Vancouver. She is passionate about building and driving the adoption of meaningful, socially responsible products and services.
Stephanie is passionate about human behaviour and customer discovery. She believes that in order to develop a meaningful, scalable business, we must start by uncovering a real human problem. She is excited to teach the Groundswell Cohort about hypothesis development, problem statements, research methods and interviewing strategies.
A big heartfelt thank you to all the people who have helped create Groundswell over the years, including:
Matt Hern - cofounder
Sarah Kristi Lone