Faith & the Common Good has been operating successfully for almost 20 years thanks to the passion, hard work, and talent of its terrific team of staff, board members, and volunteers in many cities and regions. We are pleased to introduce you to members of our team. We hope these brief intros provide a snapshot of the heart and soul behind our mission!
MLSM Canada Coordinator
Agnes received training from both Hon. Al Gore’s Climate Reality Project and the Global Catholic Climate Movement as a Laudato Si’ Animator. With a team of lay partners and the office for Discipleship and Parish Life, Agnes planned and implemented a series of workshops called “Change Starts with Us” for the Catholic Diocese of Hamilton. With the Lighthouse Pilot Project steering committee, Agnes worked closely with Greening Sacred Spaces staff in Hamilton and CREW (Community Resilience to Extreme Weather) to develop Extreme Weather Resilience Hubs in Hamilton, ON. She was Chairpersonship of the St. Patrick’s, Caledonia, ON Syrian Refugee Committee and helped successfully settle a Syrian family of six.
Aleyxa Gates Julien
Faithful Footprints PR/Communications Coordinator
Currently pursuing a Bachelor’s of Environmental Studies in Resource Sustainability at the University of Waterloo, Aleyxa integrates both her faith and passion for the environment through sharing the importance of stewarding God’s Creation. Aleyxa brings considerable knowledge in the field of energy efficiency and resource conservation, alongside previous experience in communications, community outreach, and environmental education. She will be working closely with our Faithful Footprints team and UCC across the country.
Azim has over 6 years’ experience at the Intercultural Dialogue Institute advancing diversity and social cohesion in the Greater Toronto Area. He implemented several initiatives to build dialogue and partnership between various ethno-cultural and faith communities. He also coordinated the Creative Minds Youth Contest, a collaborative program with local school boards that prepares youth to be empathetic and responsible citizens of their communities. Throughout his career, Azim took active roles in volunteer committees such as the National Muslim Christian Liaison Committee and the Parliament of the World's Religions’ Academic Outreach Committee. He currently serves on the East (Ontario and the Atlantic Provinces) Advisory Board of OMNI TV Canada and the Advisory Board of Heart to Heart. Azim holds a Bachelor’s degree in regional economics from the National University of Uzbekistan, a Master of Science in Environmental Science from the University of Manchester and Ph.D. in Environmental Science and Policy from Central European University. Azim also has a keen interest in data analytics. He has a data science professional certificate from IBM and postgraduate diploma in data science and application from the Metro College of Technology.
Hamilton, Ontario-based Beatrice Ekoko is unafraid to test boundaries in order to make a difference. Her breadth of experience as a community animator, educator, capacity builder, and motivator adds huge value to the entire FCG team's efforts. Beatrice is famous in our network for helping us to "think out of the box." We often turn to her when we want to test out new ideas on how to encourage faith communities to embrace sustainable change. By encouraging new types of partnerships, Beatrice brings originality, efficiency and enthusiasm to whatever work she does. She is an invaluable source of fresh ideas to invigorate and strengthen our interfaith sustainability mission. Thanks Beatrice for your hard work and innovation!
FCG Co-Founder & Board Member
FCG co-founder and Board member, Bill Phipps was Moderator of the United Church from 1997 to 2000. During that time he initiated the “Moderator’s Consultation of Faith and the Economy”, out of which grew Faith & the Common Good.
With degrees in both Theology and Law, he practiced poverty law in Toronto, and served United Church congregations in Toronto and Calgary. Throughout his working life he was involved in social justice, relations with First Nations, poverty, and grass roots community organizing. Bill represented the United Church in many places including Southern Sudan, Guatemala, El Salvador, Israel, Palestine, Congo, Philippines, and East Timor. He gave theme presentations and workshops on Climate Change, Economic justice, Living into Right Relations with First Nations, and believed that at the core of issues facing Mother Earth and humankind are deep spiritual realities and issues.
After he retired from ministry with the United Church of Canada, Bill continued to advocate for Indigenous rights, climate justice and more. His legacy lives on in our network and we are honoured to continue his work in our own small way.
Bill Phipps lives on in the hearts of those who loved him, especially his partner, Carolyn Pogue, their children and grandchildren.
Brenda Doner has worked for over 40 years in the community benefit sector. She has managed theatre companies and led poverty reduction, food security, and community development projects across Canada, in Africa, and in Southeast Asia. Past employers include CUSO, the Mennonite Central Committee, IMPACS, Canada Volunteerism Initiative, Food Secure Canada, and Tamarack. In her consulting practice, she led many cross-sectoral initiatives and trained on planning and evaluation, communities of practice, fundraising, and communications. She now works with Community Legal Education Ontario (CLEO) on a nonprofit law project and on support for workers who help people with law-related problems. She is semi-retired, remaining involved as a volunteer with many causes from her home in Guelph, Ontario.
Faithful Footprints Western Coordinator
Cari Kilmartin is Faithful Footprints' Western Canada Regional Support Centre (RSC) coordinator representing Newo, a non-profit social enterprise based in Alberta. She recently graduated from the University of Alberta’s Augustana campus, where she majored in both English and history. Now on Newo’s communications team, Cari is interested in exploring how language and storytelling can be used to enact meaningful cultural shifts in how we relate to our environment, resources, those around us, and our own selves. As a pastor’s daughter, Cari grew up in the church and is eager to connect with United Church communities. And supported by those at Newo more technically-minded than her, she is excited to be a part of ushering in a just and green economy.
Energy & Clean Technology Coordinator, Ottawa
Charlie Scromeda is one of our Program Coordinators in Ottawa. While achieving a BA in Early Modern Studies and German at the University of King’s College, Charlie worked as a summer student for Faith & the Common Good, writing case studies for the Regeneration Works program in 2015. Since then, they have worked with both youth and adults as director of Country Fun Nature Camp, an eco-Christian summer camp; and as interim faith formation leader at Kitchissippi United Church. Charlie is thrilled to be back on the team to help with the GSS Energy Benchmarking Program, where they will be focusing on internship training/mentorship and outreach to United Church congregations. They are passionate about the intersections of spirituality, care for Creation, and lifelong learning.
Faithful Footprints' Atlantic Coordinator
Chris Benjamin has worked in many locations in many varied capacities, mostly having to do with sustainability and communications. His graduate studies focused on environmental communication among stakeholders in Indonesia. In Ghana he was a columnist focused on sustainable development. In Toronto he worked to mobilize volunteers from around the world working on food programs, geoscience, urban planning, citizen science and on transportation issues. And in Nova Scotia, he led a coalition that worked to achieve a ban on cosmetic lawn pesticides. He is also an author, including of Eco-Innovators: Sustainability in Atlantic Canada.
Board Member (Vice-Chair)
Christopher Hrynkow earned a Ph.D. in Peace and Conflict Studies from the Mauro Centre for Peace and Justice, St. Paul’s College, University of Manitoba and a Th.D. in Christian Ethics, specializing in Ecological Ethics, awarded jointly by the University of Toronto, the University of St. Michael’s College, and the Toronto School of Theology. He is currently an associate professor in the Department of Religion and Culture at St. Thomas More College, University of Saskatchewan where he teaches courses in Religious Studies, Catholic Studies, and Critical Perspectives on Social Justice and the Common Good. Hrynkow has been researching and teaching about Christianity’s relationship to ecological thought and praxis since 2001. He is the proud father of three boys: Samuel, Jacob, and Gavin.
Faithful Footprints Advisor
Rev. Christine Boyle is the Faithful Footprints' climate action advisor. Councillor Boyle was elected to Vancouver City Council in 2018. Christine is a community organizer, climate justice activist, and United Church Minister, born and raised on unceded Coast Salish territory in Vancouver, BC. She is passionate about tackling inequality, contributing to climate solutions, and deepening democratic engagement. Christine has an BSc in Urban Agriculture and First Nations Studies from UBC, and an MA in Religious Leadership for Social Change from the Graduate Theological Union in Berkeley, California.
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David Patterson is Faith & the Common Good’s energy coordinator. He is a no-nonsense, pragmatist when it comes to greening faith buildings. This is why faith property managers and green team leaders throughout our network hold him in such high regard. An expert on renewable energy and energy efficiency, his main message to faith communities: you can’t change what you don’t measure.
David has been consulting through his company, Proterra Sustainable Solutions Inc. since 2007. He has performed over 60 audits of faith buildings for Greening Sacred Spaces’ Green Audit and Solar Audit programs and has also planned and coordinated the installation of multiple geothermal, wind and solar systems on private dwellings including a 9.6 kW ground mounted solar tracking unit for the microFIT program in Haliburton County. Prior to working in the green arena, David spent 5 years as systems and project manager at CIBC Wood Gundy’s head office in Toronto. David and his wife and son live in Thornhill, Ontario.
Energy Benchmarking Project Manager and Toronto Animator
Donna is the Toronto Coordinator for Greening Sacred Spaces, where she has helped over 200 faith communities in Toronto go green. She brings an entrepreneurial spirit and business sensibility to her work with Toronto area faith communities, which comes in handy when she is persuading faith based property managers and trustees of the financial and community benefits of energy efficient retrofits. Most recently, she has taken on the project lead role for Faith & the Common Good’s work promoting the role of diverse faith communities in helping their neighborhoods adapt to climate induced extreme weather events.
Prior to Greening Sacred Spaces, she was a Senior Vice President at Forum Research Inc. for 10 years, where her area of practice was Customer Relationship Marketing and Measurement. She has been in the environmental not-for-profit sector for 5 years and has worked with Evergreen, Environmental Defence and Faith & the Common Good. She has Bachelor of Arts in French and Journalism from Carleton University.
Elyse Brazel (She/Her)
In everything she does, Elyse Brazel values people’s stories, believes that faith can be a force for good in the world and that ultimately, we are better together. She is FCG’s Network Coordinator; passionate about bringing diverse people together to learn from each other and to work together for the common good. Elyse is a creative person with a love for community; she holds BFa in Visual Art and Design from the University of Alberta. She received her graduate degree in Public and Pastoral Leadership (MAPPL) focused on Indigenous and Inter-religious Studies from the Vancouver School of Theology. She also received her Ecumenical and Inter-religious Studies Diploma from The Pontifical University of St. Thomas Aquinas in Rome as a member of the Russell Berrie Fellowship in Interreligious Studies (2016). She has also been a Faiths Act Fellow (2009-10), a KAICIID International Fellow (2017), and an IFYC Interfaith Innovation Fellow (2021). Elyse has experience living in interfaith intentional communities focused on radical-hospitality, social/ecological justice and nonviolence. She has also led interfaith dialogues and facilitated interreligious experiential learning opportunities on several higher education institutions across Canada. She currently lives in Calgary, Alberta.
Hannah Morgan was the Program Lead for Greening Sacred Spaces Energy Benchmarking Program in Ottawa. She is a graduate from Carleton University with a B.Sc. in Earth Science and Physical Geography - with a concentration on groundwater studies/soils. Hannah joined our team as a digital intern in August 2020 and helped develop our communications outreach through various geo-visualizations, such as creating Network Dashboards and Story Maps. In the past, Hannah was also the junior youth leader and mission outreach coordinator for Winchester Baptist Church, located south of Ottawa. She enjoys working with youth groups and likes to encourage collaborations to increase community involvement between faith communities and their surrounding neighbourhoods. She continues to volunteer with GSS Ottawa.
York Region Coordinator
Harry is the Program Manager for the ClimateWise Business Network at the Windfall Ecology Centre. In the areas of sustainability and climate change action, Harry specializes in facilitating collaborative solutions focused on enhancing community well being and improving business productivity. Harry draws from a wealth of experiences in the public, private and not for profit sectors. He was an Assistant Deputy Minister in the Ontario government , a Vice President of Planning in at the York Region based, national consulting firm Marshall Macklin Monaghan , Director Community Power Services Group at the Ontario Sustainable Energy Association and a Research Director at the Conference Board of Canada.
Juliet Dhanraj deems herself a “cultural chameleon” with a deep appreciation for the many nuances of diversity. With her diverse ethno–cultural and religious heritage and lifelong experience of multiculturalism, Juliet has been able to foster respectful cross–cultural relationships with people from all walks of life, diverse faith traditions, and ethno–cultural settings. At present, Juliet works as a Field Programming Coordinator/Placement and Career Specialist in the Green Economy Bridging Program at the G. Raymond Chang School of Continuing Education at Ryerson University where she interacts with Internationally–Educated Professionals from 6 continents and over 150 countries. By incorporating a systems–thinking approach and an Anti–Racism Anti–Oppression (ARAO) Framework she helps highly skilled immigrants and refugees overcome systemic barriers to employment, social isolation, feelings of hopelessness, and marginalization. The client service she provides is a vital post–arrival service for newcomers who are looking to adjust to their new life in Canada, access jobs in the green economy sector, and transition smoothly into fields commensurate with their experience and education.
Karen Van Loon
‘Cultivating Care for Our Common Home’ Coordinator
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Karen Van Loon (kvanloon [at] faithcommongood.org) joined Faith & the Common Good in 2018 to lead the new Cultivating Care for Our Common Home program. Karen was the Coordinator of Scarboro Missions’ Justice, Peace and Integrity of Creation (JPIC) Office where she became involved in the initial years of Faith & the Common Good. From 2007 to 2017 the JPIC Office emphasized faith-based education and advocacy around climate change as well as promoting ecologically sustainable practices at Scarboro Missions and beyond. Karen joined Scarboro Missions in 1994 and worked four years in northern Brazil after which she returned to Canada to begin in the JPIC Office. In Brazil she trained local leaders and helped develop a local leadership and formation team as part of the Brazilian Catholic church’s community health ministry for children in poverty.
Prior to this Karen had worked as a nurse in two northern Cree and Inuit communities as well as director of a residential summer camp for people with developmental disabilities. She has a Bachelor of Science in Nursing and a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology from the University of Ottawa. Karen enjoys gardening and seed saving.
Kristina Inrig is a sustainability entrepreneur extraordinaire. A former program director at Greening Sacred Spaces, she is currently advising Faith & the Common Good on the strategic development of its Ottawa Chapter and brings important skills in green social enterprise to the endeavor.
Kristina has provided extensive consultation services in the environmental non-profit sector. She is the past Executive Director of Tucker House Renewal Centre and her main non-profit roles have included networking, partnership development, fundraising, NGO management, and governance. Kristina was the founding Coordinator of the National Capital Environmental Non-profit Network (NCENN) and the Community Energy Network of Eastern Ontario which are two collaborations of Sustainable Eastern Ontario (www.sustainableeasternontario.ca) , a local hub for sustainability across the region.
Kristina has recently launched a new financial services business with a focus on promoting “Sustainable Financial Solutions for families”. She is the President & Board Chair of Sustainable Foundations Inc. (www.sustainablefoundations.ca), a green real estate firm and environmental consulting company. SFI develops green rental properties across Eastern Ontario.
Laura has worked in community development and adult literacy for the federal and provincial governments for the past 38 years. For the last 14 yeas, Laura has been an active member of Kitchener Food Not Bombs, a collective that recovers food that would otherwise be discarded, and shares it outdoors at Kitchener City Hall every Saturday as a way of protesting waste, war, and poverty.
In 2013 Laura, along with Nicole Langlois, Tanya Schmah, and Judy Paul, formed Divest Waterloo, a grassroots organization committed to climate justice. Divest Waterloo works in solidarity with local and national Indigenous land defenders to create awareness and action on climate change by initiating and supporting divestment (from fossil fuels) campaigns across Waterloo Region. Over the last four years Divest Waterloo has organized over twenty public education events, often in partnership with other environmental and justice groups to build capacity and create the political will for bold action to address the climate crisis.
Laura is presently working to establish a community co-operative kitchen in downtown Kitchener.
Toronto Resilience Animator
Lidia is the former Executive Director of FutureWatch Environment and Development Education Partners, a leading organization in community based environmental and capacity building initiatives of the City of Toronto. Lidia trained in Argentina for seven years to become an architect and urban planner and came to Toronto from Paraguay in 1999. Since 2000, she has used her ability to engage with Toronto’s multicultural communities to form bridges with mainstream institutions. She has led projects related to urban naturalization, environmental protection, revitalization and community capacity building. She is known for bringing diversity and leadership to Canada’s environmental movement. After only four years of working in Toronto, her skills and talent were recognized when she received the Vital People Award, from the prestigious Toronto Foundation, for her outstanding community work.
Lucy Cummings (she/her) is a Senior Advisor and former Executive Director at Faith & the Common Good. She has designed numerous religious institutional carbon reduction programs and has extensive experience building and funding collaborative climate action initiatives with unconventional partners. Prior to Faith & the Common Good, Lucy co-founded the UK volunteer affiliate of Seacology (purpose: island biodiversity protection) and taught global politics at the University of Hong Kong. She is a Director of the United Property Resource Corporation (purpose: transforming surplus faith properties into green, affordable housing) and a member of the Parliament of the World’s Religions’ Climate Action Task Force. Lucy holds a BA in economics from University of Virginia, a MA in religious ethics from Yale, and a Ph.D. in global politics from Johns Hopkins University.
Memona Hossain is a mother, community-based collaborator, and PhD candidate in Applied Ecopsychology & Eco-Art Therapy Certification. She resides in the area that is part of the Treaty Lands and Territory of the Mississaugas of the Credit. She is a lecturer through the School of Environment at the University of Toronto and teaches community-based courses in Ecopsychology. Memona is often involved in eco-diverse conversations pertaining to climate action. She also serves on the Board of Directors for the Muslim Association of Canada and the Guelph Film Festival. She focuses on grassroots initiatives that nurture relationship-building to create collaborative impact and improve collective well-being. Memona believes that the narratives and frameworks that help nurture connections to the Earth inspire deep and meaningful action and restoration for both the Earth as well as humanity.
Rev. Michelle Singh
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Born into an interfaith family, Rev. Michelle Singh has a deep understanding and appreciation for the world’s rich spiritual and cultural diversity. In 2008, she became an ordained Interfaith Minister from The New Seminary, New York. Since then, she has been actively engaged in Canada’s interfaith movement, including vice-chairing the award winning World Interfaith Harmony Week Steering Committee and co-founding a multi-faith Spiritual Dialogue Circle. Notably, Michelle was a Board member and Steering Committee Co-Chair for the 2018 Parliament of the World’s Religions — overseeing the worlds largest interfaith gathering, featuring over 1000 diverse spiritual programs, attended by over 8500 persons. Prior to becoming an Interfaith Minister, Michelle spent more than 30 years in the I.T. and Communications sectors leading teams in challenging, goal-oriented environments. She is an officiant, well known for intuitive listening and her ability to create safe and sacred spaces for processing and dialogue. Michelle excels in bringing diverse groups of people together to achieve a common goal.
Board Member (Chair)
Paige is passionate about building inclusive, compassionate,
and sustainable communities. In addition to her professional career, she facilitates workshops on caring for creation, peace and non-violence, social justice, leadership, and faith formation.
Her professional career has focused on serving the “least of these,” whether as a community builder, director, communications strategist, fundraiser, or executive director. She has been blessed to work in prison ministry, with people living with mental health challenges, and with men and women living in poverty.
Paige’s professional career has included the private, public, and non-profit spheres spanning the community development, education, and information technology sectors. She is currently the Manager of Annual Giving at the Anglican Diocese of Toronto. Immediately prior to that position, she was the Education Program Coordinator in the Justice, Peace and Care for Creation Office at Scarboro Foreign Missions.
Paige holds a BA in urban planning and an MA political science. She has also studied theology at Wycliffe and St. Michael’s colleges at the University of Toronto. The focus of her studies has been peace theology and eco-theology.
Paige resides in Toronto with her husband and three children. In her quiet moments she writes and gardens.
Resilience Project Manager
Sheila Murray is a writer, documentary filmmaker, sound editor and communications specialist. She has led the Toronto based organization, Community Resilience to Extreme Weather (CREW), since 2014. CREW explores the various ways in which community resilience is developed at the grassroots level. It encourages and supports the local relationships and networks that prove to be crucial in the first few days of an emergency. Her 2009 - 2013 research, communications and outreach for the Omega Foundation’s community-based project, SmartSaver, contributed to reaching thousands of Toronto community workers and families and creating successful partnerships and networks. She has a BAA in Journalism and MA in Immigration and Settlement Studies where her research focused on climate change refugees.(www.crewtoronto.ca)
Building Audit Manager
Stephen Collette is the Building Audit Manager for Faith & the Common Good. Stephen created the Green Audit after seeing an opportunity to improve the connections between faith, buildings, and the existing passion of people to want to do the right thing within their faith community. The Green Audit has been delivered across Canada to rave reviews. Recently, Stephen has expanded the types of building audits available to faith communities.
Stephen owns his own company, Your Healthy House, which carries out indoor environmental building inspections and consulting. Stephen is a Certified Building Biology Environmental Consultant, a Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design Accredited Professional and a Building Science Specialist. Stephen lives in Lakefield, ON with his wife and daughters.
Sukhvinder Kaur Vinning
Sukhvinder Kaur Vinning joins us from Vancouver, British Columbia. She is a Decolonization Consultant. She works with decision makers in corporations, organizations and government to build cultures of equity and respect with diverse colleagues, staff, clients and stakeholders.
Sukhvinder is passionate about de-colonizing societal systems and is working on developing non-colonial systems and relationships with Indigenous communities.
Her perspective on how to respond to climate change in a non-colonial way and create measurable change is a highly valued asset to our interfaith network.
A practical-minded, hands-on type of gal, you’ll find Sukvinder deep in work that uplifts community wellbeing. Some examples include the Lytton fire evacuations and helping the evacuees, working with the 22 teams she developed to rescue food and keep it out of the landfills, and engaging with the Sikh perspective on the climate crisis.
Sukvinder does all this while continuing to build her business to teach organizations how to transform tokenism when it comes to token activism, token climate change, token politics and token diversity.
With an extensive interfaith background, Sukhvinder brings connections to Ahmadiyya Muslims, Hindus, Ismaili Muslims, Jews, Latter-day Saints, Presbyterians, Sikhs, Sunni Muslims, United Church Christians, Unitarians and Indigenous Nations.
Tanhum Yoreh is an Assistant Professor at the School of Environment at the University of Toronto. His research focuses on religion and environment, faith-based environmentalism, faith-based environmental ethics, and religious legal approaches to environmental protection. He is particularly interested in the themes of wastefulness, consumption, and simplicity. Dr. Yoreh is currently researching environmental engagement in faith communities in Canada, the United States, and Israel. He is the author of Waste Not: A Jewish Environmental Ethic (2019).
Tom Urbaniak, Ph.D., is former Chair of Political Science at Cape Breton University, where he now heads the Tompkins Institute. In addition to Political Science, he teaches in the MBA program in Community Economic Development.
Tom is the Past Chair of the Board of Governors of the National Trust for Canada, the national charity for historic places and community regeneration. He helped to develop and champion a new strategic plan for the Trust focused on local impact and public engagement. In 2016-2017, as past chair, Tom headed the Trust’s Working Group on Mission-Based Investing.
From 2012 to 2017, Tom chaired the parish council of St. Mary’s Polish Catholic Church in Sydney, Nova Scotia, where he is an active member. Tom led a process of renewal, drawing on the wisdom, dedication, talents, and ideas of all members of the parish and many members of the broader community. He also helped the community to rebuild following the devastating loss of the historic church building in a fire.
Tom has chaired or served on the board of several non-profit organizations (related to affordable housing, public libraries, child welfare, crime prevention, and a cultural hall) and is often called on to facilitate planning exercises, including for faith communities that are looking for new opportunities, new confidence, and new partnerships. Tom brings a positive, energetic, and inclusive approach to leadership. He works in the English, French, and Polish languages.
Tom is the author of four books, including Action, Accommodation, Accountability: Rules of Order for Canadian Organizations and Her Worship: Hazel McCallion and the Development of Mississauga. He has a forthcoming student textbook: Dignity, Democracy, Development: A Citizen’s Reader. He is a strong supporter of impact learning, facilitating many student projects in rural and urban communities.