Staff Biographies

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Administrative Office (Victoriaville, QC)

Winnipeg Office


Ontario Office

Mike Toye

Executive Director

Mike Toye"It is at the community level where the failures of fragmented development approaches are most keenly felt. Community economic development integrates social, economic and environmental concerns into inclusive strategies which are not only more effective and sustainable, but improve the well-being of all citizens. CCEDNet is an inspiring and rapidly growing movement of people who recognize this reality, and are committed to a healthy, vibrant and more just future."

Michael Toye became Executive Director of CCEDNet in August of 2008, bringing a deep background in community economic development (CED) to the Director's chair. Upon earning his Master of Social Work at McGill, Michael helped set up two worker co-operatives that provide research, consulting and training services related to CED and the social economy.

Michael's involvement with CCEDNet dates back to 2000 when he helped organize CCEDNet's National Policy Forum while serving as a coordinator with the Coopérative de consultation en développement La Clé. In 2003 he joined CCEDNet officially as Community Learning Program Director.

As CCEDNet's program director from 2003 to 2006, Michael coordinated a 3-year action-research project exploring the links between social inclusion and CED. In addition, he led the coordination of CCEDNet's annual national conferences, which attract hundreds of CED experts and practitioners from across the country each year.  Subsequently, Michael deepened his knowledge of Canadian social policy and parliamentary process by serving as a policy analyst at the Library of Parliament in Ottawa, while teaching courses on CED and social enterprise at Concordia University.

Michael has written a number of articles and other publications on CED and the social economy, including co-editing the book, Community Economic Development: Building for Social Change.

Contact Mike:
(819) 795-3056 ext 222  |  mtoye at


Guylaine Simard

Director of FinanceGuylaine Simard

Guylaine has 15 years experience in financial management and administration in the non-profit and private sectors. She has worked in women’s organizations in Montréal, in accounting firms and as an independent consultant in the Beauce and Centre-du-Québec regions of southern Québec.

She has been active on the Board and as a volunteer with several community organizations, including cooperant placements in Africa and Latin America with Canadian Crossroads International and Oxfam-Québec.

Contact Guylaine:
(819) 795-3056 ext 223  |  gsimard at


Melissa Lessard

Melissa LessardAdministrative Coordinator

Melissa joined the CCEDNet team in December 2014. She is a graduate from Cégep de Drummondville and has been working in accounting in the private sector for 9 years within the Centre-du-Québec.  Melissa has also worked in construction and as an independent consultant.

Being part of the Canadian CED network is important for Melissa. She is inspired by and proud to be working with people who are helping to create a positive future through improving the social and economic welfare of communities across Canada.

Contact Melissa:
(819) 795-3056 ext 0  |  m.lessard at


Sarah Leeson-Klym

Manitoba Regional Director

Sarah Leeson-KlymSarah believes that communities are the experts of their lived experience and that CED provides great approaches for them to develop creative and grounded solutions to the biggest challenges we collectively face. She first obtained an Arts and Cultural Management certificate from MacEwan University, then worked and volunteered in a range of capacity building programs before graduating with a BA (Honours) degree in Social Justice Theory and Practice from the University of Winnipeg in 2012.

Starting in 2011, her previous position as Learning and Engagement Coordinator focused on engaging CCEDNet’s Manitoba members, creating learning programs, coordinating The Manitoba Gathering, and the Enterprising Non-Profits program for social enterprise development. Sarah is active in her neighbourhood as a board member of the Daniel McIntyre St. Matthews Community Association. She is also a dedicated board member of the growing Rainbow Trout Music Festival and a regular volunteer for the LITE Wild Blueberry Pancake Breakfast.

Contact Sarah:
(204) 943-0547  |  sleesonklym at


Darcy Penner

Social Enterprise Policy Manager

Darcy PennerDarcy has been working in community economic development since graduating from the University of Winnipeg with a BA (Honours) degree in Politics. Starting at CCEDNet in 2013, his role has seen him work with member-organizations to pursue a broad policy agenda through workshops, presentations, budget submissions, policy papers and community-organizing, while specializing in supportive social enterprise policy and research – including being the Project Manager for the the Manitoba Social Enterprise Strategy being co-produced with the Province of Manitoba, and coordinating the Manitoba Social Enterprise Sector Survey. 

Contact Darcy:
(204) 943-0547  |  d.penner at


Frank Atnikov

Frank AtnikovSocial Enterprise Program Manager

Frank likes to help take care of business!

He combines his extensive business background, experience in not-for-profit management and a personal passion for social justice to help the charitable community solve problems, build capacity and do more for the common good.

With support and coaching on everything from social enterprise and strategic planning, to marketing, finance and operations, Frank helps expand ability to do good in the community without sacrificing the value-based essence that makes an organization who they are. He provides insight from the best of both worlds, helping take social missions further.

An ever-increasing resource squeeze and demand that outpaces capacity is leading many organizations to acknowledge the divide between big dreams and practical reality. Frank helps clients bridge the gap between business best practice and the greater good.

Contact Frank:
(204) 943-0547  |  f.atnikov at


Jenna Drabble

Events and Engagement Coordinator

Jenna Drabble

Over the last 10 years, Jenna has worked in different areas of community-based programming, including youth recreation, youth and adult literacy, food security and housing. This diversity of experience has given her an appreciation for the many different ways to approach and understand community economic development. She is thrilled to now be a part of the CCEDNet team.

Jenna holds a BA in International Development Studies from the University of Winnipeg and an MA in Geography from the University of Manitoba. In her research and work at the community level, she prioritizes building relationships, working collaboratively and facilitating meaningful engagement. In her spare time, she is a beekeeper and is working on starting up a small honey business.

Contact Jenna:
(204) 943-0547  |  jdrabble at


Kirsten Bernas

Kirsten Bernas

Researcher & Policy Manager

"I am commited to the promotion of CED because I believe that its participatory nature empowers the most disadvantaged citizens to take action in pursuing the type of social and economic justice they hope to achieve in their communities."

Kirsten received a BA (Honours) in Economics from the University of Manitoba as well as an MA from the Norman Paterson School of International Affairs at Carleton University in Ottawa. Her experience in non-profit organizations as well as in federal and provincial governments has contributed to her interest in community economic development theory and practice. Kirsten represents CCEDNet on the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternative's Alternative Federal Budget Steering Committee, Make Poverty History Canada's Steering Committee, and the Right to Housing Coalition's Provincial Committee.

Contact Kirsten:
(204) 943-0547  |  kbernas at


Gathering Coordinator

Gathering Coordinator

(204) 943-0547  |  gathering at


Geoff Ripat

Spark Program ManagerGeoff Ripat

Geoff is a graduate of the Master of Social Work program at the University of Manitoba, where he did a thesis on the community kitchen movement. Prior to joining the CCEDNet team he worked for 5 years in Bolivia as a cooperant with CUSO International, strengthening the capacity of a large non-profit and their projects with children and families. Geoff has worked and volunteered in community development and CED initiatives in Winnipeg for almost 15 years, and is excited to continue to contribute to their successes, and engage others in doing the same.

Contact Geoff:
(204) 837-7275 (or 83-SPARK)  |  geoffspark at


Lindsey McBain

Lindsey McBainSpark Recruitment Co-ordinator

"We need to work toward more sustainable livelihoods through greater engagement with our neighborhoods and our democracy."

Lindsey McBain is a graduate of the University of Manitoba and has worked in both local and international development. His work in CED has re-rooted him in his own city, connecting him to people and ideas that bring inspiration and determination to the work of CED. He contends that CED's emphasis on capacity building and participation offer a solid proposition for the long-term stability of struggling communities.

Contact Lindsey:
(204) 837-7275 (or 83-SPARK)  |  lmcbain at


Katie Derksen

Katie ScheweSpark Recruitment Co-ordinator

Katie Derksen is a graduate of Canadian Mennonite Bible College and the University of Winnipeg. Through her experience working in the financial service industry and communications, Katie brings a unique perspective to community collaboration, and motivating volunteer engagement to support the work of local organizations. She has a passion for community and the great things people can do when they work and learn together. Katie particularly enjoys networking to inspire new connections, matches and partnerships. 

Contact Katie:
(204) 837-7275 (or 83-SPARK)  |  katiespark at


Paul Chamberlain

Ontario Regional Director

Paul Chamberlain"I work in CED because CED provides a path to economic justice for many who are marginalized in our society."

Before joining CCEDNet, Paul spent 18 years working as a department director with Dixon Hall, a multi-service neighbourhood centre in downtown east Toronto. Working to improve social and economic outcomes in one of Toronto’s most challenged communities; he focused on social enterprise and community economic development as well as self-employment and employment training. Paul also initiated and chaired the Downtown East Community Development Collaborative in Toronto, which created an inclusive, integrated and comprehensive model for the delivery of employment services.

Since being with CCEDNET his work on national projects has focussed on demonstrating the effects of CED on poverty, youth peer mentoring and immigrant social enterprise. He also supports the development of the Ontario Network and our work with the Ontario Social Economy Roundtable. Paul is committed to issues of equity and inclusion, is an avid cyclist and enjoys being an active grandfather.

Contact Paul:
(416) 760-2554  |  pchamberlain at


Matthew Thompson

Communications Manager

"I work in CED because it realizes that healthy communities are those that are economically, ecologically, and socially vibrant and that everyone has important contributions to make in building this kind of society."

Matthew ThompsonMatthew holds a Bachelor of Philosophy from the University of New Brunswick's Renaissance College, where he studied leadership skills and public policy. His volunteer and work life has carried him to Jamaica, Italy, and France in diverse capacities from organic farming to building community with people with developmental disabilities to community organizing.

Matthew has been working with the Canadian CED Network since 2007 in various capacities particularly in the areas of research and knowledge mobilization, event organizing, and the coordination of the national internship program, CreateAction. Matthew also co-authored Assembling Understandings: Findings from the Canadian Social Economy Research Partnerships, 2005-2011 a thematic summary of close to 400 research products on the Social Economy in Canada.

Contact Matthew:
(416) 760-2577  |  mthompson at


Tom Jakop

Communications Assistant

Tom JakopTom will be working alongside Matthew in assisting with CCEDNet’s overall communications plan through the website, social media and national newsletters. He brings his web development and analysis experience with him to help increase the strength of our network.

Tom graduated with a BA Degree in International Commerce and Global Development and hopes to continue working in the field of economic development. He has previous experience working for the non-profit Niagara Sustainability Initiative as their events and marketing coordinator and will also be helping prepare CCEDNet for our 2016 National Conference.

Contact Tom:
(416) 760-2577  |  tjakop at