Staff Biographies

You are here

Administrative Office (Victoriaville, QC)

Manitoba Office (Winnipeg, MB)


National Engagement Office (Toronto, ON)

Mike Toye

Executive DirectorMike 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

Regional Networks DirectorSarah Leeson-Klym

Sarah 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 positions as Manitoba Regional Director and 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. She is a board member of the Social Enterprise Council of Canada, Rainbow Trout Music Festival, and a regular volunteer for the LITE Wild Blueberry Pancake Breakfast.

Contact Sarah:
(204) 943-0547 ext 202  |  sleesonklym at


Michael Barkman 

Manitoba Network ManagerMichael Barkman

Michael is a life-long Winnipegger, based in Treaty 1 Territory. Michael cares deeply about social, economic, and environmental justice, and believes in collective movements and solutions rooted in the knowledge of local communities. At CCEDNet, Michael’s role focuses on membership policy resolution, and taking action to advocate to the provincial and local government for positive policy change. Michael holds a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science from the University of Winnipeg and is the current Chair for the Make Poverty History Manitoba coalition.

He has participated and collaborated on numerous community events and actions for public education, anti-poverty and economic justice, LGBTTQ* rights, and the environment. He served previously as the Chairperson for the Canadian Federation of Students - Manitoba, and the Interim Executive Director of the Manitoba Association for Rights and Liberties, working on wide-ranging policy areas in public policy, human rights, and community development. In his spare time, he is an improviser, sometimes combining his love of the arts with social justice initiatives.

Contact Michael:
(204) 943-0547 ext 203  |  m.barkman 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

Spark Recruitment Co-ordinatorLindsey McBain

"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


Genevieve Dack-Tittley

Spark Recruitment Co-ordinatorLindsey McBain

After graduating from the University of Manitoba with a BA (Honours) in Political Studies, Genevieve has worked in various arts and education based programs both locally and internationally. It was the love of this programming that led her to return to school to earn her certificate in Community Development/Community Economic Development at Red River College.  She is excited to now be part of the CCCEDNet team.

In her spare time Genevieve is an active volunteer in her community. She currently sits on the boards of both One Trunk Theater and Friends of Sherbrook Pool. 

Contact Gen:
(204) 837-7275 (or 83-SPARK)  |  genspark at


Adriana Zylinski

National Membership and Learning Manager

Adriana joined CCEDNet in September 2019.  She has 10+ years of experience working in the non-profit and co-operative sector within membership development and program evaluation, translating value driven organizational goals into solutions-based programming and engaging community events. She is dedicated to continuous learning about developments impacting community health and targeted strategies that increase value.

Photography is her secret weapon to witness the balance that’s needed for our collective sustainability.  This is the place from which her enthusiasm for planet and people emanates.

Contact Adriana:
(416) 760-2577  |  a.zylinski at


Ben Losman

National Communications Manager

Ben is a communications specialist, strategist, and facilitator who has worked with nonprofits around the world for more than a decade. Early in his career, this work took him to India, where he spent several years exploring the connection between youth-led social entrepreneurship and peace building initiatives. Questions about his own whiteness and the role of colonialism in the global social entrepreneurship “scene” led him to complete a masters in social justice education at the Ontario Institute for Studies in Education at the University of Toronto. 

Today, Ben’s work and activism is grounded in the principles of transnational solidarity, anti-colonialism, and anti-oppression. Outside of CCEDNet, Ben facilitates a transformative education program for men convicted of domestic violence charges. 

Ben thinks a lot about stories and the power they have to build thriving, equitable communities. He is thrilled to be part of CCEDNet.

Contact Ben:
(416) 760-2578 |  b.losman at


Matthew Thompson

Director of Engagement

"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 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) 760-2579  | mthompson at


Beatrice Anane-Bediakoh (she/her)

Program and Engagement ManagerBeatrice

At CCEDNet, Beatrice's role focuses on supporting the administration of the CreateAction work experience program whilst providing leadership development opportunities rooted in decolonial frameworks for youths.

Beatrice is a doctoral candidate in the Department of Sociology at York University. She holds a Master of Education in Humanities, Social Science, and Social Justice Education from the University of Toronto (OISE) and earned her Hons. Bachelor of Arts in Sociology from Wilfrid Laurier University. Beatrice’s academic work is motivated by an unwavering commitment to the collective struggle for Black freedom(s) and life forms. With over five years of leadership experience, she has worked in a variety of educational and community settings. With critical stakeholders, she has designed workshops, analyzed organizational policies, developed program evaluations, and implemented equity-oriented projects and research initiatives that reflect the knowledge(s) of BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, People of Colour) folks, proposing practices that reaffirm their lives.

In Beatrice’s ideal community, all forms of exploitation and marginalization are eradicated. The diction, “The humanity in me, can see the humanity in you” will be actualized in a profound and meaningful way where we (as a community) can move through the power of love, respect, and collective reciprocity.  

Beyond her academic work, she is intimately invested in the Black community, where in partnership with Big Brothers Big Sisters of Peel, she participates as a Big Sister/ Mentor. Beatrice also offers affordable individualized tutoring services to low-income families in both Toronto and the Greater Toronto Area. 

Contact Beatrice:
b.anane-bediakoh at


Alexandre Applin

Impact Learning LeadAlexandre Applin

Alexandre is particularly interested in socioeconomic development as a means to design sustainable communities reflecting local aspirations and needs of its members.

For more than 10 years, Alexandre has worked for international NGOs, multilateral organizations and community-based organizations on both international and national projects. He has gained extensive expertise in the design of evaluation systems and in the development of impactful methodologies and tools. Alexandre also has strong competencies in knowledge management and organizational capacity building.

Alexandre holds a Master in International Studies from University of Montreal and a Certificate in Monitoring and Evaluation of Public Programs from l’École Nationale d’Administration Publique (ENAP).

Contact Alexandre:
(613) 565-7437  |  a.applin at​