Director Biographies

Sheila Regehr, Chairperson

Sheila Regehr is a founding member of the Basic Income Canada Network and former Executive Director of the National Council of Welfare. Her 29 years of federal public service spanned front-line work, policy analysis and development, international relations and senior management, with a focus on improving fairness and equality, and on gender and race in particular. She has policy expertise in areas of income security and taxation, such as child tax benefits, child support, maternity/parental benefits, pensions and social assistance. Her insight also comes from experiencing poverty as a young parent. Sheila is grateful, in her retirement, to have resources, time and health to do volunteer work and help care for twin grandsons.


James Mulvale, Vice Chairperson

Dr. James Mulvale is Dean of Social Work at the University of Manitoba. He is a founding member of the Basic Income Canada Network, and is active with the Basic Income Network of Manitoba and the Winnipeg Poverty Reduction Council. Jim’s research interests include basic income and the theoretical foundations of Social Work. He teaches Canadian social welfare history, and has an interest in the use of distance and distributed learning to enhance teaching effectiveness and equity in post-secondary education. He has professional social work experience in community development in the fields of developmental disability and mental health. Jim has also been an Executive Committee Member of the Basic Income Earth Network and co-editor of Basic Income Studies.


Pierre Stevens, Treasurer

Pierre Stevens grew up in the Netherlands where he benefitted from a government-funded post-secondary education that would not have been possible otherwise. In Canada since 1973, he taught for 33 years, primarily as a Senior Instructor in the Department of Mathematics and Statistics at Dalhousie University. He has been active in the Faculty Association, serving as an executive member, as treasurer and on the negotiation team. Pierre is guided by his belief that every human being has the right to a fair standard of living, and that as a society, as a community, we have an obligation to make this possible for all. As treasurer, he wants to support the Basic Income Canada Network in achieving its goals, especially eradicating poverty and securing fair income redistribution.


Jenna van Draanen, Secretary

 Jenna van Draanen is pursuing a PhD at the University of California Los Angeles, and is a Research Coordinator at the Evaluation Centre for Complex Health Interventions at St. Michael’s Hospital in Toronto. Most of her research and evaluation interest and experience are in the fields of mental health, addiction, and homelessness. Jenna became interested in the concept of basic income during her master’s degree and continues to advocate in both a personal and professional role for the alleviation of poverty and income security for all. Jenna has worked extensively on research projects with people who have lived experience of poverty, and is personally dedicated to creating a truly inclusive society.


Eleni Bakopanos

The Honourable Eleni Bakopanos has over 40 years experience in public service, including as a Member of Parliament (1993-2006), serving as Parliamentary Secretary for Justice and social economy portfolios and as Assistant Deputy Speaker of the House of Commons. She is presently President of the Women’s Commission of the Liberal Party of Canada (Q), promoting policies such as social cohesion and inclusion, a guaranteed basic income, immigrant and women’s rights. She served as senior policy advisor to Quebec’s Premier and the Minister of Immigration and Cultural Communities. Eleni recently held the position of Senior Director for Government Relations at her Alma mater, McGill University, where she is currently President of the Women’s Alumnae Association. Her extensive community activism began in the 1980's as a volunteer on several Boards, including Centraide Montreal (Executive member), the Montreal Council of Women (VP) and the Shield of Athena Family Services (President; Chair of fundraising) which assists women and children facing conjugal violence.


James Hughes

James Hughes has spent most of a lifetime fighting poverty through non-governmental, governmental and philanthropic work and brings considerable strategic insight to BICN. He is President of the Graham Boeckh Foundation, a leading philanthropic organization in the mental health sector.  He was an appointed board member of the National Council of Welfare for several years, and has participated on many other national boards, including Prosper Canada, Raising the Roof and Portage.  In his career he has been a practicing lawyer, the Director General of the Old Brewery Mission, Quebec’s largest homeless shelter for men and women, and Deputy Minister of New Brunswick’s Department of Social Development. He is the author of a book called “Early Intervention” (Lorimer 2015) and believes a basic income may be one of the key missing early interventions to renew our welfare state.


Alanna Makinson

Alanna Makinson has been involved in movement building, organizing, and political advocacy from inside and outside government for the last eight years.  Currently working in government, as parliamentary staff, she is also on the advisory board of Next Up, a progressive leadership development program, where she helps fundraise, coordinate a coaching program in Ottawa, and contribute to establishing Next Up Winnipeg. Alanna was raised in a small rural community by a single mother, has lived in east, west and central parts of Canada, identifies as a queer womyn and is the first person in her family to obtain a university degree.  In addition, she has been an executive member of the University of Manitoba Students’ Union and chair of of the Canadian Federation of Students in Manitoba, representing her province on the national body.  She believes in people oriented policy.


Debbie McGraw

Debbie D. McGraw has been an advocate/activist focusing on homelessness, poverty, and women’s issues for the last 20 years, working in her community, as well as provincially and nationally. She holds a Bachelor Degree in Indian Social Work and presently works in a homeless shelter for women and children. She has lived experience of poverty and has worked with several nonprofit organizations in many different capacities, including as: co-founder of the Saskatoon Anti-Poverty Coalition; co-founder of the Lived Experience Advisory Council, a national group aiming to get first voice participants to the tables of organizations, boards, and policy makers; board member and President of Canada Without Poverty; and head advocate at  Equal Justice for All in Saskatoon, providing leadership in training, making presentations, and meeting with government officials. Debbie wants to continue to work towards positive policy changes that will benefit people from all walks of life.


Dan Meades

Dan Meades is originally from St John’s Newfoundland where he studied English and Business at Memorial University before starting his career in community development and poverty reduction. Dan’s work has led him throughout Canada, Europe, the United States and West Africa; all the while his focus has been on community change and civic empowerment. For nearly four years Dan served as the Executive Director of Vibrant Communities Calgary, is a non-profit organization that works collaboratively, with various stakeholders and partners, seeking to engage Calgarians and to advocate for long-term strategies that address the root causes of poverty in Calgary. Currently Dan serves as Provincial Coordinator for the Transition House Association of Newfoundland and Labrador.


John Rook

Dr. John Rook is founding director of the Canadian Poverty Institute at Ambrose University in Calgary and currently Director of Programs & Strategic Initiatives at The Mustard Seed. He is past President and CEO of the Calgary Homeless Foundation, was previously CEO of Potential Place, Co-Executive Director of The Alex Community Health Centre, and CEO of The Salvation Army Community Services. John was an Associate Professor at McMaster, holds an adjunct faculty position at the University of Calgary, and lectures primarily in areas of poverty, mental illness and homelessness. He brought this experience and knowledge to his role as Chair of the National Council of Welfare (2007-2012) and the Alberta Interagency Council on Homelessness (2013-2014). 


Celina Symmonds

Celina Symmonds has worked in not-for-profit (Social Profit) organizations her entire career, enabling her to clearly see the holes in government systems that have lead to the inequality of supports and services for individuals living in poverty. She is the co-executive director of the Medicine Hat & district food bank, has served on several boards, and has worked extensively as a front line worker with the Housing First and mat shelter initiative as well as becoming team lead in Housing First, consulting with front line agencies on best practice and approach. As a city councilor for the City of Medicine Hat, Celina brings knowledge and experience of government and political process, as well as understanding of the patience and perseverance needed to reach an important goal like a basic income.


Paul Vallée

Paul Vallée is a highly successful entrepreneur and a fluently bilingual Francophone. Paul began his career as a data scientist and systems architect, and then in 1997 founded Pythian which has become a global leader in data consulting and managed services, with 400 employees across offices in North America, Europe, and Asia. Paul is Pythian’s Chairman and Chief Executive Officer. Through his work in the IT sector, Paul is witnessing first-hand the phenomenon of technological unemployment, which has led him to the cause of basic income. Paul’s business acumen was recognized in 2011 with an Ottawa Forty Under 40 award and, in 2014, the Trudeau Medal: this medal is the highest honour given by the Telfer School of Management to its University of Ottawa alumni, recognizing leadership, initiative and contributions to the business world, the community and the recipient’s alma mater. In addition to social equity, Paul’s other community interests include gender equity and immigration.



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