Director of Research
Pedram Gholipour-Shahraki is a third year student at the University of Toronto doing a Political Science Specialist with a minor in environmental studies. He is very passionate about issues involving environmental sustainability, food security, and fiscal responsibility, and would like to one day pursue a career in politics to promote un-conventional, but pragmatic means at achieving public policy objectives. Prior to working with CivicSpark, Pedram worked as a teacher, a legal clerk, an office manager, and founded several initiatives in promoting food security in his community. He is also very active with contemporary international political issues, and has authored publications in the Huffington Post and International Policy Digest.
Director of Logistics
Lucy joined Civic Spark in Sept 2017 and now joins the team as the Director of Logistics. Her passions and interests lie in environmental sustainability, community-based placemaking, affordable housing, and participatory research methodologies. Previously Lucy has worked for a range of different organizations, including a live-in environmental research hub, a social innovation think tank, a town planning charity, and a craft beer company. Raised in Vancouver and with roots in Montreal and Edinburgh, she is currently pursuing an MSc in Urban Planning at the University of Toronto and exploring her way around the city.
Natalie Holmes is a third year student studying human geography with two minors in sociology and art history. Last year Natalie joined the CivicSpark team as a research associate, and as someone interested in urban planning and contemporary urban issues, she is excited to be part of the team this year. An interesting fact about Natalie, she is a member of the Canadian Armed Forces, specifically the Naval Reserves as a Marine Technician. During the summer she spends her time on either coast of Canada sailing our warships. During the school year Natalie works at the local division, HMCS York, located in the heart of the city. In her spare time she enjoys swimming and running, cooking, trying to keep up with the world politics, and, walking her two dogs, Lilly and Piper.
Director of Internal Affairs
Natasha is a fifth-year student specializing in political science and majoring in middle-eastern studies. She is passionate about human rights, equality, poverty, and education with a special focus on marginalized communities. Natasha has worked with several non-profit humanitarian organizations in a variety of roles, most recently with Humanity First, a humanitarian relief organization registered in 41 countries across 6 continents, and works on human development projects to alleviate poverty across the globe. Natasha brings with her a steadfast commitment for working with youth, and standing in solidarity with marginalized groups, to ensure a more equitable, non-exploitative, and open-minded community.
Director of External Affairs
Danika Baljak is a third year student at the University of Toronto pursuing a double major in Indigenous Studies and Philosophy with a minor in Spanish. One day she hopes to get into the advocacy side of law with Indigenous Peoples or those who are not criminally liable. She is honored to be Civicspark's Director of External Affairs and hopes to enhance CivicSpark's reach. Danika enjoys working with organizations like CivicSpark to challenge youth to see how they can better the world. Organizations like Civicspark that strive to help youth and young professionals to realize their potential as well as act on it in a realistic way.
Director of Finance
Iris Shao is a third year student at the University of Toronto majoring in Actuarial Science. Before joining Civicspark, she interned in Morneau Shepell as Pension Analyst, and volunteered in Canada Revenue Agency as Income Tax Preparer. On campus, she also helped the Hart House Finance Committee to draft its operating budget. Iris is passionate about all economic related matters, including the inequalities within labor market and the GTA housing policies.
Director of Communications
Hazelmae is super excited to be joining the Civicspark family as the Director of Communications! A self taught graphic designer and public policy student at the University of Toronto, she has merged her two passions and has worked with Elections Ontario, City of Toronto, TEDxUTSC, Kapisanan, ARTSIDEOUT and more. She is interested in creating design for social change, shaping user experiences and influencing citizen engagement. When she is not behind her computer screen obsessing over pixels or scheduling social media posts, you can find her checking out brunch spots, watching films and singing karaoke!
Benson is a fourth-year student double majoring in Criminology & Socio-legal studies and Sociology. He served as an External Affair Associate on last year’s executive team and helped establishing partnerships with other universities. Aside from CivicSpark, Benson is currently the Vice-president of Internal Affair for the UofT Cantonese Drama Society, and the Co-founder of the University of Toronto Hong Kong Student Federation. Inspired by the success last year , he strive to bring this year case-competition in a provincial level, with vision to empower opinion and voices of every undergraduate students in Ontario.
Edwin White Chacon is a city-builder. With a fire in his belly for how to make the city a better place for marginalized communities, Edwin studied poverty reduction at the University of Toronto, and served as Director of Council Relations for the Toronto Youth Cabinet. During his third year Edwin and his friends realized there was no platform for youth to share their ideas on how to improve their communities. In partnership with CivicAction, they formed CivicSpark to give youth the opportunity to share innovative solutions to decision makers from the public, private, and not-for-profit sector. In his free time, he likes to visit new neighbourhoods and play boardgames with his family. Edwin currently works with the Ministry of Advance Education and Skills Development as a Program Policy Assistant and sits on the 2017-18 CivicSpark Advisory Board.