Board of Directors

Learn more about the organization, our people, and history.

Next Upcoming Event

80th Annual General Meeting

16 July 2020
- Online Meeting
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Local Date: Jul 16 2020 |
Local Time: 7:30 pm - 8:45 pm

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 below for more information on the individual 2018/2019 Board of Directors.

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.


» Visit our Volunteer page «

Current Board Members

Click on a name to view biography.

Gwen Feeny (President)

Gwen is a researcher and lawyer dedicated to the advancement of social justice. She holds a Bachelor of Arts (with Distinction) in Political Science from the University of Alberta, a Juris Doctor from Queen’s University and a Certificate in International Public Law from the Bader International Study Centre in the United Kingdom. She also studied in Mexico and the Netherlands and taught English in Taiwan prior to law school.

Gwen previously worked as a corporate lawyer in the Calgary offices of two international law firms and in political and policy research and communications for the Alberta NDP caucus. She now works for Alberta’s largest union as an economic, political and legal analyst and advisor. Over the years, she has developed particular interest and expertise in social policy, including housing, poverty reduction and disability issues, health policy, access to justice, Indigenous issues, and human rights.

Gwen has extensive volunteer experience with community organizations including Calgary Legal Guidance, the United Way and the Elizabeth Fry Society of Calgary. She formerly held leadership roles and provided strategic direction on major fundraising campaigns for social service organizations and as the President and Vice President of two federal riding associations in Calgary.

Vanessa Zembal (Treasurer)
Bio to come
Naomi Achus
Naomi Achus is originally from Winnipeg and relocated to Edmonton in 1996 prior to the advent of the Red River Flood. Since then, Naomi has obtained a Bachelor of Arts (Hons.) in Political Science with a specialization in Public Policy from York University. She also received a Master of Arts Degree in Political Science from McMaster University, a Certificate in Project Management from Grant MacEwan University and Prosci Change Management Certification. Professionally, Naomi started with the Government of Alberta in 2008 and has held roles across four departments, which include portfolios such as infrastructure, agriculture, health and environment and parks. She currently works in Alberta Environment and Parks as a Legislation Project Manager and as acting Senior Manager, Business Development and Performance. Naomi is also active in her community and helped to found a community league in her neighbourhood of Chappelle as the area develops. She looks forward to volunteering further with the ESPC.
Jalene Anderson-Baron
Jalene Anderson-Baron is a proud Edmontonian with extensive experience in Edmonton’s social sector, including previous roles at the Bissell Centre, the Inner City Health and Wellness Program, and the Addiction and Mental Health Research Lab at the University of Alberta. Presently, she is a Policy and Research Analyst with Capital Region Housing. Jalene completed her MA in 2016, where her research explored the impacts of affordable housing shortages on Housing First programs in Alberta. Her published research has looked at both policy and practice pertaining to homelessness, Housing First, harm reduction and service provision for socially marginalized populations. Her current interests focus on policy and innovation in the Canadian social housing sector. When she isn’t reading or writing, Jalene can be found enjoying Edmonton’s bike paths and bakeries, walking her dog, or spending time with her family.
Danielle Dolgoy
Danielle Dolgoy was born and raised in Edmonton. With an undergraduate degree in Humanities and Art History from Carleton University in Ottawa, and a Graduate Diploma in Communications and Media Studies from Concordia University in Montreal, Danielle has seen how folks live in many other parts of Canada, and along with her Montrealer husband, made the decision to return to Edmonton in 2013. She has worked in areas of ESL and newcomer settlement, career counselling, arts administration, events management, funds development, and organizational operations. Last year she cobbled together her 15 years of non-profit management and received her Project Management Professional (PMP) designation. One of many daughters, Danielle carries on many of the traditional family recipes her mother and grandmothers have shared with her. She is passionate about food security, food literacy, and the importance of eating together.
Zaharo Hassan
Bio to come.
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.

Peter Schalk

Peter Schalk currently works for the Department of Human Services as the lead for enterprise risk management activities. In this role, Peter focuses on ensuring the department can more effectively achieve key strategic priorities and objectives by better understanding and mitigating risk. Peter is a policy wonk with social policy interests in emergency social services, affordable housing, poverty reduction and accessible post-secondary education. Peter also currently serves on the board of Sombrilla International Development Society and the International Association of Emergency Managers’ Canada Council.

Nicole Smith

Nicole Smith is the Director of Research and Community Engagement with Sage Seniors Association (Sage). She has a Master’s degree in Educational Policy Studies, and has experience working in the public, private, and non-profit sectors, including time spent as an adult educator and secondary and post-secondary teacher. In her current role with Sage, Nicole’s research has focused on the role that community-based organizations can play in meeting the needs of a growing, and increasingly diverse, seniors population.

Dave Trautman

Dave Trautman is a veteran of more than 36 years of video production in a variety of working environments. In 1988 he formed a media production consulting firm called EncycloMEDIA Ltd. to provide project management to organizations who undertake interactive training and instructional projects. He developed a project management course for the Digital Media and Information Technology (DMIT) program at the Northern Alberta Institute of Technology. He spent three years providing expertise on video conferencing and collaborative technologies for Alberta Human Services.

Dave has been dedicated to the continuing development of other video producers by serving on advisory boards at NAIT and Grant MacEwan from time to time. Dave was the Faculty of Education’s TV producer for ten years where he was responsible for the production of computer-aided instruction and courseware. Dave went on to serve in the Faculty of Extension’s Academic Technologies for Learning centre for three years offering guidance and mentorship to professors who wanted to enhance their classroom instruction with digital media.

Dave’s expertise in digital and interactive media allowed him to become a consultant to ACCESS Network, SuperChannel, Lateral Communications, The Becker Group, The Provincial Archives Audio-Visual services, the Canadian Armed Forces, Bombardier, General Dynamics, and Alberta Human Services. He has, more recently, taught at both NAIT’s digital media program and theUniversity of Alberta Faculty of Extension’s Local Authority Administration online course.

Dave Trautman is currently his community league president, was the first chairman of the Edmonton Professional Arts Council and was Vice-president of the Film and Video Arts Society. He is a lifetime member of Uncles at Large, the Edmonton Folk Music Festival, the Society of Television Lighting Directors, and has earned awards for innovative programming, production design, and interactive simulations. Dave was also an award-winning community program coordinator for seven years while producing public access television for Shaw Communications.

Dave is currently working to help Edmonton City Council improve its public consultation and engagement process. He has been specifically concerned with the development of a new public engagement policy for the city for the past four years.


Ben Whynot

Ben Whynot has worked in public policy advocacy and research for over seven years, serving in roles with the Alberta Legislature, the University of Alberta’s government relations team, and the Alberta Public Service. He is currently on secondment as a Senior Policy Advisor with Executive Council.

Ben contributes to his community through several organizations and causes. He has served on the Board of the LGBTQ Pride Centre of Edmonton from 2010 to 2016 and was an Adult Tutor with the Centre for Family Literacy for five years. He currently serves on the Edmonton Public Library’s City of Learners Community Steering Committee. Ben is also a retired workshop instructor with Alberta Culture and Tourism’s Board Development Program.

Born and raised in Nova Scotia, Ben relocated to Edmonton for graduate school. Although the original plan was to depart after finishing his degree, Ben has been proud to call Edmonton home for almost nine years.

Theresa Vladicka

Bio to come.

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The strength of our voice is dependent on the support of people and organizations concerned about social issues; people like you! The Edmonton Social Planning Council is a non-profit charitable organization that is funded by personal donations, memberships, and project funders.  If you would like to be more involved please consider a membership, donation or becoming a volunteer.