Our Team

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Michael is a leader in the area of open data and non-profits. He has been working in community and public-interest technology since 1999. In 2003, he founded Île Sans Fil, a community wireless group now operating over 1,000 public hotspots in the Montreal area . Working in open data since 2005, he has co-founded national, provincial and municipal lobbying groups as well as coordinated numerous hackathons on issues such as sustainability, corruption and municipal services. He is a frequent collaborator on academic-community partnerships and he serves on several non-profit boards and advisory groups related to technology, democracy, and civil-society.



Jesse has a diverse background in technology that includes tech support, QA, interface integration, user experience, business analysis, and software project management. However, his current focus is on helping organizations use technology to improve their business processes. His specialty is understanding organization’s problem obtaining or sharing data, and then working with them to design and implement a plan with the right mix of commercial, open source, and custom solutions to meet their immediate and long-term needs.

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Vanessa Parlette, Program Director, Data policy coalition

Vanessa has diverse experience leading complex strategic initiatives within community, academic, and public sector settings including: co-founding a neighbourhood-based planning network to empower resident-led decision-making; translating policy into tools for grassroots community action; convening diverse partners to transform the system of care by integrating health and community services. Core to all of her work, is a drive to empower communities to achieve transformative change by working with and for those most impacted. She does this by working across multiple levels and sectors to build collective commitment while simultaneously creating opportunities and pathways for all partners and stakeholders to find a place to engage, take action, and see progress toward long-term goals.

Our Advisors

Lucy Bernholz, Senior Fellow, Center for Philanthropy and Civil Society, Stanford University

Lucy Bernholz is a visiting scholar at the Stanford University Center on Philanthropy and Civil Society and at the David and Lucile Packard Foundation. She is also a fellow with the Hybrid Reality Institute and former fellow of the New America Foundation. Lucy serves on advisory boards to several national and international research centers and is a frequent speaker and media source on philanthropy and social innovation.

David Eaves, Open Innovation Expert

A public policy entrepreneur, open government activist and negotiation expert, David is retained by several governments to advise on open government and open data, and advises businesses and nonprofits on open source strategies and community management. He is an affiliate with the Berkman Centre for Internet and Society at Harvard University, where he is looking at issues surrounding the politics of data, as well as how negotiation theory can help improve online community management.

Hilary Pearson, CEO, Philanthropic Foundations Canada

Hilary Pearson has been President of Philanthropic Foundations Canada, a national member association for family, independent and corporate grantmakers in Canada since 2001. Her career has spanned the public, private and not-for-profit sectors. She spent over 12 years in the Canadian federal government in central agencies such as the Department of Finance and the Privy Council Office. Ms. Pearson has been a director and member of several nonprofit boards, including Imagine Canada, the Stratford Shakespeare Festival of Canada, Centraide of Montreal and CARE Canada. She also serves on the Advisory Board of the Coady Institute at St Francis Xavier University. Ms. Pearson holds a BA and an MA in Political Economy from the University of Toronto and honourary doctorates from Carleton University and the University of New Brunswick.

Brian Walsh, Head of Corporate Impact, Liquidnet for Good

Brian Walsh oversees corporate impact for Liquidnet, a New York-based global financial services company that uses technology to make capital markets more efficient. As Executive Director of Liquidnet For Good, Brian’s responsible for leveraging the full spectrum of company resources – technology, human capital, creative capital, and financial capital – to have a positive social impact. Beyond support for an innovative youth village for orphans in Rwanda and efforts to engage employees in their local communities, Liquidnet has been applying its understanding of technology and capital markets to help accelerate the practice of impact investing and make the practice of philanthropy more effective. Through Markets for Good, Liquidnet is collaborating with others, including the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, to help build a social sector powered by information. A regular speaker about philanthropy, impact investing, and corporate impact, Brian graduated from Georgetown University and previously consulted philanthropic organizations.

Heather Laird, Chief of Strategic Partnerships, Treasury Board of Canada Secretariat, Digital Collaboration Division

Whether working at the grassroots or the government, Heather connects people to policy. She is currently the Chief of Strategic Partnerships at Treasury Board of Canada Secretariat's Digital Collaboration Division.  She has previously worked as Foresight Strategist at the Government of Alberta, and at the Ontario Nonprofit Network as Policy Lead, organizing with sector leaders to make policy and systems change to strengthen nonprofits. Prior to that she supported lawyers and social workers to connect across the Middle East. She co-founded Connect the Sector, bringing together all generations in the nonprofit sector. Heather has completed an honour's BA at McGill University and a masters' diploma in social innovation from the University of Waterloo.

Our Collaborators

Greg Bloom, Technical Partner - Human Service Directories (i.e. 2-1-1)

Greg Bloom has worked to organize communities in various ways for over a decade — ranging from GOTV to municipal budget battles to locally-owned broadband networks. Greg was the Communications Guy at Bread for the City, the District of Columbia’s premier hub of health, human, and social services. He is now the Chief Organizing Officer of Open Referral, an initiative sponsored by Code for America.

Susan Phillips, Academic Partner - Director, School of Public Policy and Administration, Carleton University

Susan Phillips is a Research Fellow of the Carleton Centre for Community Innovation (3CI), and is centrally involved with the Regulatory Governance Initiative (RGI) and the Centre for Women in Politics and Public Leadership. She is a board member of the International Research Society for Public Management, a member of the Policy Advisory Boards of Imagine Canada and Volunteer Canada, and Past Fellow of the Wellesley Institute and the Canada School of Public Service. Her research focuses on the evolving relationship between government and civil society – in policy development, service delivery and promotion of citizenship. In particular, her work concentrates on comparative analysis of the policy, regulatory and financing frameworks that enable (or constrain) the work of civil society organizations and philanthropy, and the implications for public management. With colleagues at the Centre for Charitable Giving and Philanthropy (CGAP), Cass Business School, City University London, she is currently co-editing the Routledge Companion to Philanthropy,the first international handbook on philanthropy (to be published in 2013). With CGAP colleagues, she is also in the early stages of a multi-year study of place-based philanthropy, examining the community leadership roles played by community foundations.