Board Biosketches

Sheila Regehr (Chairperson) is a founding member of the Basic Income Canada Network and former Executive Director of the National Council of Welfare. Her 29 years of federal public service spanned front-line work, policy analysis and development, international relations and senior management, with a focus on improving fairness and equality, and on gender and race in particular. She has policy expertise in areas of income security and taxation, such as child tax benefits, child support, maternity/parental benefits, pensions and social assistance. Her insight also comes from experiencing poverty as a young parent. Sheila is grateful, in her retirement, to have resources, time and health to do volunteer work and help care for twin grandsons.

James Mulvale, PhD (Vice Chairperson) is Dean of Social Work at the University of Manitoba. Jim is a founding member of the Basic Income Canada Network, and is active with the Basic Income Network of Manitoba and the Winnipeg Poverty Reduction Council. His research interests include basic income and the theoretical foundations of Social Work. He teaches Canadian social welfare history, and has an interest in the use of distance and distributed learning to enhance teaching effectiveness and equity in post-secondary education. He has professional social work experience in community development in the fields of developmental disability and mental health. Jim has also been an Executive Committee Member of the Basic Income Earth Network and co-editor of Basic Income Studies.

Pierre Stevens (Treasurer) grew up in the Netherlands where he benefited from a government-funded post-secondary education that would not have been possible otherwise. In Canada since 1973, he taught for 33 years, primarily as a Senior Instructor in the Department of Mathematics and Statistics at Dalhousie University. He has been active in the Faculty Association, serving as an executive member, as treasurer and on the negotiation team. Pierre is guided by his belief that every human being has the right to a fair standard of living, and that as a society, as a community, we have an obligation to make this possible for all. As treasurer, he wants to support the Basic Income Canada Network in achieving its goals, especially eradicating poverty and securing fair income redistribution.

Jenna van Draanen (Secretary) is pursuing a PhD at the University of California Los Angeles, and is a Research Coordinator at the Evaluation Centre for Complex Health Interventions at St. Michael’s Hospital in Toronto. Most of her research and evaluation interest and experience are in the fields of mental health, addiction, and homelessness. Jenna became interested in the concept of basic income during her master’s degree and continues to advocate in both a personal and professional role for the alleviation of poverty and income security for all. Jenna has worked extensively on research projects with people who have lived experience of poverty, and is personally dedicated to creating a truly inclusive society.

Hon. Eleni Bakopanos has over 40 years experience in public service, including as a Member of Parliament (1993-2006), serving as Parliamentary Secretary for Justice and social economy portfolios and as Assistant Deputy Speaker of the House of Commons. She is presently President of the Women’s Commission of the Liberal Party of Canada (Q), promoting policies such as social cohesion and inclusion, a guaranteed basic income, immigrant and women’s rights. She served as senior policy advisor to Quebec’s Premier and the Minister of Immigration and Cultural Communities. Eleni recently held the position of Senior Director for Government Relations at her Alma mater, McGill University, where she is currently President of the Women’s Alumnae Association. Her extensive community activism began in the 1980’s as a volunteer on several Boards, including Centraide Montreal (Executive member), the Montreal Council of Women (VP) and the Shield of Athena Family Services (President; Chair of fundraising) which assists women and children facing conjugal violence.

Jurgen De Wispelaere is an occupational therapist turned political philosopher. He is a Research Fellow at the McGill Institute for Health and Social Policy (IHSP) and lectures in Political Science at McGill University. He has taught or held visiting positions at several distinguished universities, including Université de Montréal, Trinity College Dublin, Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona, Oxford University, Université Catholic de Louvain, and the Australian National University. His work on basic income has appeared in many leading academic journals, such as Social Service Review, Policy & Politics, International Social Security Review and Political Studies. Jurgen is a founding editor of the journal Basic Income Studies and has recently co-edited Basic Income: An Anthology of Contemporary Research (Wiley, 2013). He has organized important events on basic income in the UK, Ireland, and Canada, most recently the 2014 BIEN Congress in Montreal.

Dan Meades is originally from St John’s Newfoundland where he studied English and Business at Memorial University before starting his career in community development and poverty reduction. Dan’s work has led him throughout Canada, Europe, the United States and West Africa; all the while his focus has been on community change and civic empowerment. For nearly four years Dan served as the Executive Director of Vibrant Communities Calgary, is a non-profit organization that works collaboratively, with various stakeholders and partners, seeking to engage Calgarians and to advocate for long-term strategies that address the root causes of poverty in Calgary. Currently Dan serves as Provincial Coordinator for the Transition House Association of Newfoundland and Labrador.

Sharon Murphy, with a Masters in Social Work and a 30 plus year career, primarily at a mental health clinic in Nova Scotia, has also been active on boards and committees in her province. These include: the Poverty Action Committee in Amherst, which she chaired; a transition house for battered women; the Cumberland African Nova Scotia Association; the Association of Social Workers; and the Affordable Housing Association. She has received awards for her work, including the provincial volunteer of the year award (2006) and a distinguished service award (2007). She was also active at the national level with Canada Without Poverty and Kairos. In retirement, Sharon continues to work as a community activist. Growing up in a working poor family she is convinced that a basic liveable income is crucial to lifting people out of poverty.

John Rook, PhD, is currently the Director of the Canadian Poverty Institute at Ambrose University in Calgary, Alberta. He is past President and CEO of the Calgary Homeless Foundation, was previously CEO of Potential Place, Co-Executive Director of The Alex Community Health Centre, and CEO of The Salvation Army Community Services. John was an Associate Professor at McMaster, holds an adjunct faculty position at the University of Calgary, and lectures primarily in areas of poverty, mental illness and homelessness. He brought this experience and knowledge to his role as Chair of the National Council of Welfare (2007-2012) and the Alberta Interagency Council on Homelessness (2013-2014).

Paul Vallée is a fluently bilingual Francophone and a highly successful entrepreneur. Paul began his career as a data scientist and systems architect, and then in 1997 founded Pythian which has become a global leader in data consulting and managed services, with 400 employees across offices in North America, Europe, and Asia. Paul is Pythian’s Chairman and Chief Executive Officer. Through his work in the IT sector, Paul is witnessing first-hand the phenomenon of technological unemployment, which has led him to the cause of basic income. Paul’s business acumen was recognized in 2011 with an Ottawa Forty Under 40 award and, in 2014, the Trudeau Medal: this medal is the highest honour given by the Telfer School of Management to its University of Ottawa alumni, recognizing leadership, initiative and contributions to the business world, the community and the recipient’s alma mater. In addition to social equity, Paul’s other community interests include gender equity and immigration.