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)


Gilad Babchuk

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.  

Paola Qualizza

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.


Elena Yugai

Director of Development

Elena YugaiElena 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.

CassKing 300x450.jpeg

Cass King

Operations Manager

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


Vidya Crawley

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 Manhas

Communications Coordinator

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


Jim Barker

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.

Founder, Conferma Ltd.; Founder, The Metropolitain Pub


Cole Nakatani

Educator, Explore program

An education hacker helping people thrive professionally and personally through innovative course design and delivery. 

Principal, Ideahack Creative; Co-founder, Hydra Labs

Ran Kohavi

Mentor, Director

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)


Madeleine Shaw

Advisor, Mentor

Brings over 25 years of experience as a social entrepreneur interested in product development, progressive business practices and reimagining work-life balance. 

Co-founder, Lunapads; Founder, Nestworks

Catherine Ludgate


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 LePage


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.

Principal, Accelerating Social Impact CCC; Managing Director, Buy Social Canada; Executive Director, Community Impact Real Estate Society


Sanja Simic

 Advisor, Director

Building capacity and introducing innovation to non-profits and charities, finance and philanthropy. 

Executive Director, Robert L. Conconi Foundation

Mark Dance

Director, Advisor, Mentor

Strategic and investment planning, product development.

Former President, COO, CFO and Board Member of Creo Inc. BEng.

Melanie Matining


Pinay activist and community leader interested in social justice,  and specifically queer, interracial and indigenous issues. 

Co-Founder, Denim Vest


John Kay

Mentor, Director

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

Tiffany Shen

Mentor, Instructor

Food entrepreneur with marketing, design and web expertise.

Founder, KAPOW NOW!

Curtis Rattray


Indigenous youth leadership educator, backcountry guide and entrepreneur. 

Founder, Edziza Trails; Former President, Tahltan Central Council


Irina McKenzie


Social entrepreneur and an avid advocate of the Circular Economy and sustainability in the fashion industry.

Founder, FABCYCLE and frameworq

Patrick Nangle

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 Reid

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.

Founder, Jackets for Jasper; former Director of Sales, ResponseTek.

A big heartfelt thank you to all the people who have helped create Groundswell over the years, including:

Matt Hern - cofounder
Leila Fraser
Isaiah Baldissera
Sarah Kristi Lone
Amanda Kai
Dima Alansari
Maia Gibb
Wes Regan
Andrea Fiscal-Woodhouse
Emily Huynh
Tiffany Shen
Rebecca Barker
Amanda Yogendran
Alice Park
Uffe Lembo
Reilly Yeo
Gerald Dragomir

Get in touch and connect with the team:

Name *