Annahid Dashtgard, Chief Executive Officer & Co-Founder
As a seasoned change-maker and non-fiction author, Annahid gets juiced by figuring out what makes people and systems tick, and how to move them from survive to thrive. Over the last two decades she has worked with hundreds of organizations and leaders to create more just and equitable futures. She’s a first generation immigrant woman of colour whose inaugural book—Breaking the Ocean: A Memoir of Race, Rebellion and Reconciliation— honestly and vulnerably documents her journey identifying and healing from racial trauma.
Annahid has a Masters in Adult Education and has trained in various psychological modalities (Process work, Somatic Experiencing trauma training, mindfulness and Chinese medicine) to understand the root of systems change in human consciousness. Besides consulting, educating, coaching and writing on JEDI (Justice, Equity, Diversity and Inclusion) issues for over two decades across both public and private sectors, she has carefully cultivated her love of reading, usually on the couch with a glass of wine in hand trying to tune out the voices of her little ones.
Shakil Choudhury, Chief Visionary Officer & Co-Founder
Shakil is an award-winning educator, consultant and author with more than 25-years experience in the field of racial justice, diversity, equity and inclusion. He’s the author of Deep Diversity: A Compassionate, Scientific Approach to Racial Justice Deep Diversity. Written in an accessible, storytelling manner, many have called it a “breakthrough” book on issues of systemic racial discrimination due to its non-judgmental approach that integrates human psychology with critical race perspectives.
He coaches executive teams and has worked with thousands of leaders across sectors in Canada and the United States to help improve their diversity, inclusion and equity outcomes. He also specializes in designing and facilitating dialogue processes to resolve inter-group conflict, having led projects internationally as well as with organizations locally. As a South Asian-Canadian who immigrated from Pakistan as a young child, much of his passion for justice and overcoming polarization stems from his family’s civil war history. Shakil is also father to two high-spirited children, and regularly runs the trails near his home in Toronto as a way of clearing his head.
Jasmine Ball, JEDI (Justice, Equity, Diversity and Inclusion) Educator
As someone who has studied literature, philosophy and sociology, Jasmine is a strong supporter of initiatives that promote equity, strengthen community and enhance quality of life. She has spent most of her career in the non-profit sector, with experience ranging from communications and workshop facilitation to administration and project management. She is drawn to equity work largely due to her family history. She is a mixed-race cis woman of colour, raised at the intersection of many lived experiences; one side of her family has overcome a history of slavery and racial discrimination and the other faced adversity as French Canadians and immigrants plagued by poverty. She also grew up influenced by her sister’s family, whose Indigenous lineage shaped her understanding of settler and First Nations relations in Canada. Witnessing the ways all these identities were impacted by societal barriers sensitized her to unexamined inequities, and also helped her to serve as a bridge between people with very different lives. Outside of work, she is a lover of books, bicycles and jazz standards (and strives to sing like Ella).
James Beaton, Director of Research and Special Projects
As a sociologist, James has always had an interest in social processes and the relationship between individual/group actions and larger social systems. His graduate work (including an unfinished PhD from York University) focused on the ways in which policies can lead to or amplify inequality as it relates to education. He is one of those people who enjoys looking at statistics and data and finding some useful conclusions that can make the world more equitable and inclusive. Over the last fifteen years with Anima Leadership, James has led numerous data collection and audit processes with clients from various sectors. Other than research, James is passionate about wildlife photography and travelling the city with his trusty bicycle. His three cats are furry companions for his day-to-day work and help him relax at the end of the day.
Rebecca D’Souza, JEDI (Justice, Equity, Diversity and Inclusion) Educator
Rebecca is a life-long learner and educator with a passion for creating healthy communities. As a first-generation immigrant and cis woman of colour, she wants to understand how our identities engage with each other and with the world around us, and to create spaces where people of all identities can thrive. With an undergraduate degree in Psychology & Philosophy (St. Andrews, 2011), and a Master’s in Comparative Social Policy (Oxford, 2017), she has spent the last 10 years in non-traditional educational settings developing and facilitating harm reduction, community engagement and JEDI work. Away from her desk, she spends her time investing in houseplants, losing sleep over horror movies, and appeasing the demands of her cats.
Amy Hoare Nassar, Interim Administrative Coordinator
Amy is an artist and student of life. Understanding what drives and motivates and what gets in the way of deeper connection is of endless interest. Amy weaves together her study in attachment theory and trauma recovery (TCTSY, SE ) with her commitment to queer reproductive justice to support the inner child in all of us. With a trauma informed lens, capacity to hold the big picture and an eye for detail, Amy brings over a decade of experience working with educators and Human Resource professionals to her community work. When not answering emails Amy can be found obsessing over flowers, organizing her extensive book collection by colour or listening to podcasts.
Emma Lind, Director of Training and Development
Emma is a scholar-practitioner with a stubborn interest in how identity plays out in our relationships with others, and with ourselves. She’s moved by what we can learn about ourselves and the organizations we build by exploring what goes unsaid, unnoticed, unseen and unaddressed. Emma has spent the better part of the last twenty years teaching and researching whiteness as a way of being and knowing, but it wasn’t until moving into fat activism that she really found the heartbeat in JEDI work. Her PhD (Carleton, 2021) focused on whiteness, settler colonial identity, and urban life, and her current teaching and writing is primarily on weight stigma in health care. She’s a queer white low-femme cis-woman with a secret love for Taylor Swift and exceptionally good espresso. And also, a proud single mom by choice to the most fabulous kid.
Rhobyn James M. Lagman, JEDI (Justice, Equity, Diversity and Inclusion) Educator
Creating inclusive, supportive and equitable spaces for racialized communities to explore their identities and the impact of all the “isms” is what Rhobyn James aims to do through leadership and facilitation. He has spent his career creating, facilitating and evaluating programs in employment, HIV prevention, youth homelessness and sexual and reproductive health, all through the lens of justice, equity, diversity and inclusion. As an openly gay, cis-man and person of colour with many intersectional identities, he brings extensive lived and professional experiences to his work and likes to use them to connect with audiences. He’s got a unique sense of humour, a love of all things art, design and fashion and his favourite colours are leopard print and camouflage.
Karine Jaouich, Chief Operations Officer
Systems and processes have always been what Karine naturally gravitates to – with curiosity and an interest for how these affect people. She has been applying this passion over the last 20 years by working with numerous non profit organizations and social enterprises. Karine is always looking to strengthen an organization’s foundation to enable them to thrive and to fulfill and accelerate their mission work. Her love of systems developed while doing a B.Sc in Environmental Sciences at the University of Guelph. During that time she became more aware of the injustices in the world and as such, realized for the first time her privilege as a white, heterosexual cis woman. This only deepened her desire to create change for a more equitable world. When not contemplating the interconnectedness of everything, she enjoys being in the moment with her kids and in nature (or trying to be!).
Husayn Symonds, Anti-Black Racism and Equity Educator
Husayn is an educator, leader and writer with over 10 years experience creating and developing ideas to advance cultural knowledge, policies, and environments within organizations across 3 continents. Born in Bermuda, he considers himself a world citizen. Husayn completed his undergraduate degree in Film, yet it was the period volunteering in Haifa, Israel that lit a fire for justice and inspired him to move into law. He graduated with an LLB from the University of Kent (UK), before entering the field of social justice, previously working with Next Gen Men and Halton Women’s Place as an educator, particularly around the intersections of gender and race. He enjoys creating opportunities for discovery and helping to broaden the vision of those he words with. Over the past five years, he has undergone intensive training in emotional regulation and empathy as the father of incredible twins. He couldn’t ask for better teacher’s assistants!
Parker Johnson (B.A., M.Ed.), Anti-racist Educator and Consultant
Parker Johnson is a group facilitator, mediator, intercultural educator, and organizational change specialist who is committed to building just, equitable, diverse and inclusive organizations. With his diverse array of interests, skills and experiences, he brings deep-level understanding of intersectionality. Parker studied administration, planning and social policy at the Harvard University Graduate School of Education, and rounds out his education with practical application in mediation, coaching, intercultural communication and anti-oppression work. He worked for the City of Vancouver for 10 years in the Equal Employment Opportunity Office delivering inclusive and respectful workplace workshops, conflict mediation and investigations, along with employment outreach to diverse communities. His specialty is post-secondary educational institutions where he counsels on both staff and leadership development as well curriculum revisions. As a workshop facilitator, he is a master at bringing concepts alive through the power of storytelling.
Eddy Nason (B.Sc, M.Phil), Senior Consultant, Research and Evaluation
Eddy Nason is a leading researcher, analyst, evaluator and manager with a decade of experience in research and public policy from think tanks, universities and private non-profit corporations. Eddy is well-versed in a wide variety of public policy issues and contexts in Canada, the UK, the US and Europe, and an acknowledged international expert in research evaluation. In his work over the years, Eddy has provided evaluation and policy research, support and advice on equity issues including youth justice, disability and independent living, accessibility and equity in the workplace. A dynamic thinker able to combine complex issues from varying disciplines to provide effective policy solutions, Eddy is committed to providing an evidence-base for equity and diversity issues. Eddy is currently the Assistant Director at the Ontario SPOR Support Unit, working to create a more patient-oriented approach to health research in Ontario.
Vanessa Reid (B.A., M.A., M.Arch.), Facilitator and Systems Change Specialist
Vanessa Reid is co-founder of the Living Wholeness Institute which works with citizens, teams, organizations and social movements around the globe on initiatives that are transforming broken systems and creating new, deeply sustainable social realities. She has a Masters in Architecture (McGill) and a Masters in Process-Oriented Psychology and Conflict Studies (PWI) and 25 years experience in systems transformation, leadership development and building practice grounds for participatory change processes locally and internationally; including co-intiating The Art of Hosting – Athens as a result of Greece’s economic and political crisis. She combines a living systems worldview with deep democracy to discover collective ways forward while tending to trauma, diversity and relationship issues and unprocessed history.
Vanessa creates cultures – personal, organizational, societal – that are alive and deeply aligned with all of life; this includes working generatively with disruption and transitions, and hospicing endings. Vanessa is a former executive director of Montreal’s Santropol Roulant, a vibrant non-profit founded by young people where innovations with food, urban sustainability and intergenerational relationships act as catalysts for social change. A writer, and former executive publisher of Canada’s Utne award-winning ascent magazine, she brings reflective practice to develop the inner diversity and world of leaders and change agents. She is currently working on her book, The Wild Life of Dying. Her Tedx talk Conscious Closure and the Wild Life of Dying is one to watch.
Dan Bashaw (B.A. Information Systems), Online Learning
Dan focuses on helping organizations use web, post-web, and social technologies effectively as tools for global learning and collaboration. He is an active member of the Web of Change community, an annual conference which connects thinkers and do-ers in social media, technology, and social change, and a former Dreamfish Labs Fellow, where he facilitated a globally distributed team of designers, developers, artists and entrepreneurs involved in innovative projects promoting the ‘reinvention of human work in a globalized world’. His consulting work with Anima includes e-learning course development and the management of the Anima online learning and web environments.
Annie Liew (B.A., Multimedia Design), Creative Consultant
Annie is responsible for helping Anima Leadership authentically communicate their brand values and voice through public-facing media. An avid traveller who has lived on four continents, she has worked with a diverse range of people in varied environments; from large corporations and small businesses to agencies, start-ups and entrepreneurs. She loves the creative process of starting with an idea, asking questions to distil it down to core important elements, refining it and bringing it to life. She’s happiest when she’s creating, learning, exploring and thinking about how to make things better and solving problems. Annie values the importance of community and is active in both the tech and design spaces. For more about Annie.