Events & Communications Coordinator
Sara Carbone is the Events and Communications Coordinator for High Ground 2024 and related events. She grew up in southern California but is now Vancouver-based. Sara enjoys communications, design, and event-planning work, and is passionate about humanitarianism and environmental conservation.
Judy Phipps (pronouns She/Her), comes to us as a member of Component 7 (Local 703) and a BCGEU member for over two decades. She was elected to her first term as Executive Vice-President at the 2021 Constitutional Convention. While serving as EVP, Judy’s priority will be assisting the membership, and encourages you to reach out to her. Open door policy!
Prior to becoming an EVP, Judy’s 40 year work history has encompassed working within a variety of marginalized environments. Most recently, Judy worked as Support Staff in the Broadcast and Media Communications department at BCIT’s Burnaby Campus where she served as a Steward, fervently advocating for her co-workers. She was also a member of BCIT’s Anti-Racism Working Group, assembled to create change and policy at BCIT, which ensures education, raising awareness and ensuring an inclusive learning environment for all.
Judy is deeply passionate about equity, human rights, anti-racism and the treatment of people. This motivated her to produce the video “Moving Forward: Let’s Talk Anti-Racism”, which featured two high profile BCIT Alumni sharing their unique lived experiences as IBPOC folks. For her years of service and dedication in this regard, she received the BCIT Inclusivity Award.
Judy is also a member of the BCGEU’s Roundtable for Workers of Colour, and resides on the unceded traditional territories of Qayqayt First Nation (New Westminster).
Hermender Singh Kailley was elected BCFED Secretary Treasurer in 2022. Hermender’s first involvement with the labour movement began when he helped organize his fellow Vancouver Fringe Festival workers with IATSE Local 118. After a career change in 2004, he became a member of ILWU Local 502, joining the executive board in 2018 and becoming secretary-treasurer in 2019. A first-generation Canadian born to Punjabi parents, Hermender also serves on the executive board of the New Westminster and District Labour Council.
Senior Program Officer
Isabella joined the Columbia Institute as an Associate in 2021, coordinating High Ground and other virtual and in-person programming. She holds a Masters of Environmental Sustainability from the University of Ottawa, and prior to starting with the Columbia Institute, worked for Ocean Wise and the Council on International Educational Exchange.
Ela Esra Gunad is a long-time advocate for social justice and human rights. She created award-winning education programs and has run advocacy campaigns that transformed government policies and practices and informed institutional changes on issues relating to human rights, women’s empowerment, minorities, migrant justice, and democratic governance. Recently, Ela started the #LostVotes Campaign with young leaders advocating for permanent residents to vote in municipal elections in BC. She is the Diversity, Equity, Inclusion Officer at Hospital Employees’ Union. Ela studied international relations, global advocacy, public relations and holds a Master’s degree in Human Rights Law.
Kevin works as the Executive Director of the BC Libraries Cooperative where he is developing a project to support libraries engagement in helping tackle the climate crisis. He also works on a climate leadership program in Alberta. He co-founded Check Your Head and Next Up, has served as an elected Vancouver School Board (VSB) Trustee and subsequently worked for the VSB as their first Sustainability Coordinator. He serves on the boards of the BC Civil Liberties Association, the Wilderness Committee, and Upstream.net.
Ken Melamed is a former mayor of Whistler in BC. He is a businessman, conservationist and former Green Party of Canada candidate in West Vancouver-Sunshine Coast-Sea to Sky Country. Ken Melamed was first elected to the Whistler council in 1996, serving as a councillor until 2005. He was elected as mayor in 2005 and served in that position until 2011.
Seth is the BC Director of the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives, a public policy research institute committed to social and economic justice. Seth holds a BA in international relations and a B.Ed from the University of Toronto, and an MA in political science from Simon Fraser University. He has been a social activist for over twenty-five years.
A former teacher, Seth is co-chair of the BC Poverty Reduction Coalition, a board member of the Canada Without Poverty Advocacy Network, and an advisor and instructor for Next Up, a leadership program for young people committed to social and environmental justice. He is a frequent media commentator and public speaker on public policy issues. He lives with his wife and daughter in East Vancouver.
Cheeying is the Executive Director of the Whistler Centre for Sustainability. She has worked in the non-profit sector in policy, planning and education on transportation, land use and smart growth for over 10 years. Cheeying was the Executive Director of Smart Growth B.C. – a province-wide non-governmental organization promoting sustainable land use and development and Executive Director of BEST (Better Environmentally Sound Transportation).
Cheeying is a former high school and college teacher of science and mathematics. She served as a member of the Prime Minister’s External Advisory Committee on Cities and Communities, as well as a term on the Board of Vancity Credit Union and currently sits on a number of other advisory boards and committees including the Mayor of Vancouver’s Greenest City Action Team.
Michael writes, teaches, and works in the fields of adult education, community development, and social planning. He currently works as a private consultant and as a community volunteer. In the past, he has served as Director of the Carnegie Community Centre, Director of Programs for SPARC BC, Executive Director of SPARC BC, and as Executive Director of the Community Council of Greater Victoria.
Michael is the recipient of several notable awards, including the Lifetime Achievement Award from the Canadian Council on Social Development and the Thakore Foundation Award for Service to the Carnegie Community Centre and Vancouver Eastside presented by SFU. He has taught courses and workshops at UBC, SFU, Langara, and through SPARC’s Community Development Institute.
Michael is an active community member, having founded the Downtown Eastside Community Arts Network, and is currently the President of the Carold Institute for the Study of Citizenship in Social Change.
David Levi currently serves on the Board of Directors of the Columbia Institute.
Outside volunteering his time to the non-profit, David is the President & CEO of Working Enterprises Ltd. In 1992, he founded the Working Opportunity Fund (WOF), BC’s original labour-sponsored investment fund, and was CEO until 2016. WOF has invested $600 million in more than 130 growth-oriented, entrepreneurial BC companies.
GrowthWorks was founded by David in January 1999 and grew to be a leading venture capital fund manager, having five offices and nine venture capital funds under management which have made investments in over 200 companies across the country David has grown assets under management to $800 million for GrowthWorks, the second largest manager of labour-sponsored investment funds in Canada. Today, he serves as Executive Vice President.
In addition to his entrepreneurship and strategic leadership, David has over 10 years of investment management experience and an in-depth knowledge of the brokerage community, having previously been chair of VanCity Credit Union and Vice-President of Broker Services at C.M. Oliver.
David has provided strategic direction to many portfolio companies and currently serves on the boards of Avcorp Industries and Xantrex Technology. He also chairs Verite, an independent, non-profit social auditing and research organization and is involved in a numDirectorber of community organizations.
Contact David via email.