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. Her latest book Bones of Belonging: Finding Wholeness in a White World (now available for pre-order) is a set of poignant, humorous and timely stories translating everyday racism to ordinary life.
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.
James Beaton, Operations Manager
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.
Emma Lind, Senior Educator
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.
Rebecca D’Souza, Senior 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, Senior Educator
Amy is an artist, facilitator and a lifelong learner who enjoys examining the complexities of being human. Understanding what supports authenticity, connection and health within systems is what compels Amy’s curiosity. During their BFA studies at Concordia University, they were first introduced to Queer and Feminist theory where they began to explore the intersections of their own identity. Having spent over a decade facilitating group processes in business and community spaces, Amy weaves together her praxis in attachment and trauma recovery (TCTSY, SE) with their commitment to queer reproductive justice. Amy is deeply connected to her Irish roots and understanding their white settler identity in Canada. They are an avid gardener, more than a little obsessed with flowers, their happy days are spent in the sun listening to podcasts and audiobooks.
Lilian Jones, Executive Assistant
Always a wearer of multiple hats with many tools in her belt for administration and coordination, Lilian is a strong organizer with a keen attention for detail, big-picture vision and a knack for Kaizen – continuous improvement.
Their passion for equity and justice work took root through the intergenerational impacts of the Cambodian genocide and diaspora, combined with curiosity and empathy for the experiences and intersectional identities of themself and those around them. They are continuously seeking to understand how the web of relationships within ourselves, one another, our communities, society and the world can become a playground for meaningful change and profound transformation while embracing all of who we each are individually and together, just as we are.
She enjoys volunteering, facilitating, spending time with and engaging in deep dialogue with family and friends, practicing Shoshin— beginner’s mind—while playing and engaging with their daughter, partner, and others. Where she can find a spare moment, she’ll immerse herself in a book or a show.
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. Jasmine 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).
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.
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.