The Board of Directors

All directors are members of the Council and are elected to the board at the Annual General Meeting. Directors can serve a maximum of three consecutive 2-year terms.

All ESPC members are welcome to attend monthly board meetings. Please call the ESPC office at 780-423-2031 for meeting dates and times.

 Click here to view Board Minutes.

  Click here to view by-laws. (123 KB)

Click a name for more information on the individual Board of Director for the term 2020-2021.

How to become a Board Member

ESPC is governed by a volunteer Board of Directors

A volunteer Board of Directors is responsible for the governance of the Edmonton Social Planning Council. The Board is comprised of individuals who are passionate about equitable social policy and making a difference in their community.

All board members are required to be:

  • Committed to supporting the ESPC and its mission to address and research social issues, inform public discussion, and influence social policy
  • Current members of the Edmonton Social Planning Council in good standing

The Board of Directors consists of 8 to 12 members drawn from various segments of the community. A variety of backgrounds, skill sets and perspectives are valued. The term of office is 2 years, and board members are eligible to serve a maximum of 3 consecutive terms.

Board meetings are held monthly (excluding July and August), usually every second Tuesday. Board members also participate in board committees and are involved in periodic strategic planning sessions.

Appointment Process

Applications to be board members are typically accepted around February and March each year for consideration at our Annual General Meeting. A formal nomination form is available at that time for completion by the candidate.

During the rest of the year interested board members can fill out our Volunteer application form and your name will be forwarded to the nomination committee and you will be informed when the formal application is available for completion and submission.

The volunteer form is not a formal application for board membership and we cannot guarantee that all submissions will be tracked. It is still in your best interest to complete the nomination form during the formal recruit period.

Current Board Members

Click on a name to view biography.

Peter Schalk (President)

Peter has served on the board of the Edmonton Social Planning Council since 2016 and is the current Board President. In addition to the ESPC, Peter also volunteers his time with the Sombrilla International Development Society, an Edmonton-based, volunteer-run international development organization that works in Latin America. Peter was recognized for his contributions to community and global development by being selected a Top 30 Under 30 by the Alberta Council for Global Cooperation in 2017.

His educational background includes a Master of Arts in History from the University of Ottawa and Masters of Public Administration from the University of Victoria.

When he does find some spare time outside of volunteering, he enjoys travelling, rowing, cycling and curling. Professionally, Peter is a policy wonk with a keen interest in social policy and currently works for the provincial government.

Vanessa Zembal

Vanessa Zembal has a Master’s Degree in Human Ecology from the University of Alberta. Vanessa is an active volunteer, working with organizations such as the Human Ecology Graduates Students’ Association, Homeward Trust, and as a previous volunteer research writer with the Council.

Vanessa has served on the Board of the Edmonton Social Planning Council since 2018 in order to learn about and contribute to conversations about the Edmonton community, our history, and what the Edmonton of the future might look like. She is also excited to learn more about how research is communicated to the public and applied directly to communities.

Bill Howe

Bill is passionate about issues of citizenship, belonging and social justice. After a year in Nicaragua and seeing the relationship between youth and change, he left a career in engineering to become an English teacher to engage with youth in service to learning and community. Throughout his career he has been involved as a supervisor for numerous student-led social action groups and has worked on the boards of several organizations. In his spare time he is pursuing a doctorate in Education. After 27 years in the classroom, though he still teaches English periodically, he currently works in consulting, splitting his time working for the Edmonton Public School Board between Research for Student Learning and Comprehensive School Health and Diversity. In both roles, he has been involved in numerous projects researching and supporting engaged citizenship, marginalized student populations and belonging, striving as much as possible to support education of, by and for compassion, relationships, and appreciation of difference. Outside of work and volunteering, Bill is a strong advocate for and patron of all the arts available in our community.

Paula Kirman

Paula Kirman is an award-winning writer, photographer, filmmaker, musician, and activist. She has documented Edmonton’s activist scene for over a decade at her blog; produced the community access program From the Ground Up which aired on Shaw TV for three years, and her photography was part of a three-person exhibit at Visual Arts Alberta called “Art + Activism” during the latter part of 2016. Paula has been the editor of Boyle McCauley News, an inner-city community newspaper, since 2006 and works with numerous non-profit groups as a social media and website consultant. Paula co-organized the Edmonton Women’s March in 2017, which saw 4,000 people attend. She is the former Secretary of the Edmonton Interfaith Centre for Education and Action, President of Project Ploughshares Edmonton, and an organizer with the Edmonton Coalition Against War & Racism. In May 2018, she received the Social Justice Advocacy Award from the ESPC, and in December 2016, she received the Human Rights Champion Award from the John Humphrey Centre for Peace and Human Rights for being a pioneering media artist and community organizer.

Charlotte Bennie

Charlotte began her postsecondary education at the University of Alberta, with a major in Sociology and a minor in psychology. There, Charlotte volunteered as President of the Sociology Undergraduate Association and facilitated students for reading for the hearing impaired program. Charlotte continued her studies at the University of Athabasca and obtained a Bachelor of General Studies. Charlotte obtained an LLB at the University of Edinburgh in Edinburgh, Scotland.

Charlotte’s volunteer activities in the community have included being a Youth Justice Committee Panel Member where she met with youth diverted from the court system. As part of this, Charlotte developed contracts for these youth to make amends for their actions, which included repair/replacement cost of property, or in personal or written apologies. Charlotte also volunteered with Arbutus, where she mentored a child once a week for year and created a “life book” for a child that had been involved with various foster families. Through her employer, Charlotte has volunteered at the Heart and Stroke Foundation, Meals on Wheels, the Hope Mission and the Edmonton Food Bank.

Charlotte now works in the access and privacy field which involved weighing access and privacy issues while facilitating information requests, and handing access and privacy complaints regarding an individual’s personal information. Charlotte holds an IAAP designation through the University of Alberta faculty of Extension.

Charlotte is member of the Cosmopolitan Music Society and enjoys Edmonton’s outdoor festivals and our hockey team!

Katherine Weaver

Katherine Weaver has been involved in social justice and access to justice work for many years, both in her career and as a volunteer.  Her work with low-income persons and communities has included policy and research, advocacy, service development, public education and direct client service delivery.  

Katherine holds graduate degrees in both Public Management (M.P.M.- Alberta) and Law (LL.M.- Osgoode Hall), as well as Certificates in Adult and Continuing Education, in Arbitration and in Tribunal Administrative Justice.  A mediator, social policy advocate, lawyer and adult educator, she is currently a Hearing Chair with the Appeals Commission for Alberta Workers’ Compensation.  Her term ends June 30, 2020.

For the past ten years, Katherine has taught the Low-income Individuals and the Law seminar course at the University of Alberta’s Faculty of Law.  The seminar is part of a full-year, nine-credit clinical placement course of which she is co-developer and co-teacher.  Previously, Katherine had been a sessional lecturer in Poverty Law and a guest lecturer in the areas of residential tenancies and alternative dispute resolution. 

Katherine was executive director of the Edmonton Landlord and Tenant Advisory Board for eight years before becoming the City’s Manager of Boards.  Following that, she held a number of positions at Legal Aid Alberta, including vice-president of its policy and research division.

Katherine has been a board member with non-profit organizations, including social planning councils in Ontario and Alberta, and the Alberta Food Bank Network Association.  She was a founding Board member of the Edmonton Community Adult Learning Association, the Edmonton Community Loan Fund, and Niagara North Community Legal Assistance.  She was also a member of the Steering Committee which developed and obtained funding for the pilot project which ultimately became the Edmonton Community Legal Centre.

Ashley Baxter

Ashley Baxter has a bachelor’s degree in Social Work which was obtained through the University of Victoria. Ashley is a lifelong learner seeking information on how to be innovative in program creation to meet the needs of the people versus the people meeting the needs of the system. Ashley is proud to call Edmonton home and she believes in the power of community. Ashley has spent the last decade working in the inner city of Edmonton alongside passionate individuals who desire social policy change. Ashley has experience working within housing first, managing stakeholder relationships, advocating for harm reduction practices and has an acute knowledge of prevention and intervention of Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder (FASD).

Thomas Grenier

Originally from Calgary, Thomas and his partner Devonn now thrilled to part of the Edmonton community. They have a covid fur-baby named Niskimin (Gooseberry in Cree) who is a welcomed addition to their life, even if she is one high-energy child.

Thomas completed a Bachelor of Science (honors) in biology and a master’s degree in bio-medical technology. He also completed a several minors in chemistry and philosophy. It is safe to say that Thomas is a scientifically oriented person and has a passion for earth and human sciences. During those two degrees, Thomas also spent several years living/traveling abroad, including spending 5-months in Uganda working with youth (code for a live-in nanny), 4-months in Australia working in youth camps, and 9-months in the southern horn of South-America; WHOOFFing on farms, learning Spanish (trying at least) and volunteering with the occasional non-profit.

However unconventional, Thomas’ movement from sciences to social activism materialized out of a desire to see something good come out of the work he did. The looming Anthropocene, the movements of Black Lives Matter, Idle No More and Standing Rock, and the sense of coming from a [very] modest upbringing all began to instill a sense of resistance to business as usual. To this end, Thomas decided that at the conclusion of his masters he would go in a different direction: starting a tiny home company. His work in building this company focused on creating an affordable tiny/micro home eco-village in Treaty 7 (Okotoks). A four-year endeavor culminated in a tiny “show” home that he carted around and a formal municipal approval from the Town-Council to proceed with the building of 42 homes, a year-round greenhouse, community garden, village hall, group share vehicle and solar array. This project also developed a funding partnership with the CMHC’s Innovation Fund. Unfortunately, due to an overwhelming NIMBY response, a petition eventually clawed back this development. This both ended the development and as well as the business.

Thomas now works for the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC) as a multi-unit affordable house specialist. He is thrilled to play a part in bringing affordable housing online, albeit in a different way than anticipated, but good and maybe better, nevertheless.

Rhea Kachroo

Rhea Kachroo is a young professional focused on bringing community change. She works as the Solutions Lab Lead for the Affordable Housing Solutions Lab where she brings diverse groups together to develop solutions that will catalyze the expansion of affordable housing in Edmonton. She is also working with a team at the University of Calgary focused on bringing promising research from faculties to communities that could benefit. She is actively involved in her community through her work and volunteer activities. She loves Edmonton and exploring the river valley with her husband and dog, Scout.

As Solutions Lab Lead for the Affordable Housing Solutions Lab, Rhea brings diverse groups together to develop solutions that will catalyze the expansion of affordable housing in Edmonton. She is excited about working with the community to design unique solutions and supports for diverse individuals and families. Rhea graduated from the University of Alberta with a Bachelor of Science, Psychology Major.

Denise Kirk

Denise’s talent lies within seeing an organization and its people as part of an ornate puzzle – finding the right spot for each piece is her specialty. Never afraid to ask the hard questions, she is upfront and concise, and above all, understanding how the human element can take an organization to unimaginable heights of success.

A background in finance coupled with a passion for structure, processes, and the human resources, gives her a unique overall perspective into businesses. With over 30 years of experience and education within the financial and business industry, and owing successful businesses herself, she has an innate ability to merge the entrepreneur’s dreams and the businesses operations together with profitable results, in any industry sector.

Denise is the co-founder and CFO of GBV Resource Collective, a social enterprise organization bridging the gaps in gender-based violence in Canada through targeted resources, education, and advocacy. She is also the founder of Business in a Box Ltd – a full-service accounting business.

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