Director Biographies

Sheila Regehr (Chairperson): Sheila 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.

Pierre Stevens (Treasurer): Pierre 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, PhD (Executive member): Jenna recently obtained a PhD at the University of California Los Angeles and is currently a Postdoctoral Fellow at the University of British Columbia in Vancouver, BC. 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.

Stephen Brown (Secretary): Steve is a Partner in Deloitte’s Consulting Practice and leads the Consumer Industry Practice. He was recently the Chair of the Board of Youth Challenge International, a Canadian-based NGO focused on global youth development. In both his paid and volunteer work he has increasingly come up against the topic of Basic Income and the opportunities and challenges brought about by automation, disruption and concentration of income/wealth. He recently addressed the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Industry, Science and Technology regarding the future of Manufacturing in Canada and he serves clients who are confronted by choices regarding robotics, artificial intelligence, wages, employee retention and workforce development on a daily basis. He hopes to help bring the voice of business to the discussions of Basic Income and act as an ambassador for the topic back into the business community. 

Stéphane Boisvert (Executive member): Stéphane Boisvert is a French-Canadian international speaker who works as Principal Engineer for the Canadian Digital Service. He was formerly Director of Technology for VIP. Stéphane has been involved in politics, working for the Office of the Leader of the Opposition under Michael Ignatieff, Bob Rae and Justin Trudeau. One subject close to Stéphane’s heart is mental health and he has spoken on this subject on various occasions. His lived experiences have pushed him to advocates for both a national pharmacare plan and a guaranteed minimum income program. Stéphane grew up in Ste-Anne, Manitoba and now lives with his partner in Ottawa.

Karen Monnon Dempsey: Karen has been volunteering with women’s advocacy organizations for 30 years, 20 at the national level. She is a Past President and Hon. Life Member of the National Council of Women of Canada (NCWC), an NGO founded in 1893.  As President she represented NCWC at the Executive Committee of the International Council of Women Meeting/International Conference in Taiwan, in 2016.  In 2006 she was a delegate to the ICW Triennial in Ukraine.  For the NCWC Karen has written over 20 briefs to Government including Policy, Special, and Pre-Budget Consultation Briefs, met with MPs, and appeared as a Witness before various House of Commons Committees - in all cases, bringing issues of importance to the attention of the government. These included the need for national water and energy strategies, and a national, comprehensive child care program; reform of the EI system, poverty and housing, and the need for a basic income guarantee.

Tara Kainer: Tara Kainer has lived experience of poverty as a single mom of three sons and has been advocating for rights and services for people living with low incomes for more than 25 years. Organizer/Educator with the Justice, Peace & Integrity of Creation (JPIC ) Office of the Sisters of Providence of St. Vincent de Paul in Kingston, Ontario, she works on projects and campaigns to eliminate poverty, improve food security, create affordable housing, and advance income security for all. She has been a member of the Kingston Action Group for a Basic Income Guarantee since it was established in November 2013.

John Mills: John has been active in social justice areas for a number of years. He has lived all over Western Canada and has made Hamilton his home since 2011. His lived experience of poverty prompted him to become involved in working on behalf of the underprivileged in his community. He is an active volunteer serving on the Hamilton Basic Income Group, Chair of the Governance Committee for the Board of Directors of the Hamilton Legal Clinic, as President of Mood Menders Support Services, with the Hamilton Roundtable for Poverty Reduction's ‘Speak Now' Speakers Bureau, as a coordinator of LivingProof (BI recipients speakers group in Hamilton), and the Campaign for Adequate Welfare and Disability Benefits. He speaks about the effects resulting from poverty including social isolation, mental health problems, housing precarity, transportation difficulties, and costs to society. He is also able to address all aspects of basic income as partial solutions to poverty.

Sameer Nurmohamed: The roots of Sameer’s interest in basic income emerged from his eduction in economics at both Cornell University and the University of Toronto, especially an interest in the capacity for economics to facilitate equity. In law school, this led him to tax law and tax policy as a vehicle for prosperity and equality. He made a presentation on a UBI-FIT funding model to the North American Basic Income Congress (NABIG) in 2018 and has continued to dialogue, learn about various schools of thought and collaborate with others working to help develop policy designs and influence Canadian decision-makers to consider basic income as effective and desirable economic and tax policy.  In addition to his role as a director with BICN, Sameer is also the co-chair of Basic Income Toronto.  

Teresa Park: Teresa is a JD candidate at Osgoode Hall Law School (2022) and a youth advocate for basic income, believing that having the opportunity to reach one’s full potential without debilitating fiscal burdens is a human right. Her experience includes time as president of both HanVoice at York University and the Coalitions for Income Security at York (CISY). She was the founder of CISY, working to normalize the discourse of basic income at post secondary institutions, and inform students and faculty. She has spoken at lectures and annual teacher meetings and worked on other projects as part of her efforts to get basic income included in various course curriculums. Teresa also works on youth issues with the Ontario Basic Income Network. 

John Rook, PhD: John is founding director of the Canadian Poverty Institute at Ambrose University in Calgary and currently is President of John Rook Consulting. 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, CEO of The Salvation Army Community Services and Director of Programs & Strategic Initiatives at The Mustard Seed. 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).

Paul Vallée: Paul is the CEO and founder of Tehama, the leading SaaS platform for building a secure, virtual global workforce, and Pythian, a global data consulting and managed services company with 400 employees worldwide. In 2011, Paul received the prestigious OBJ Forty Under 40 award, and the Trudeau Medal in 2014, the highest honour that's given by the Telfer School of Management to its University of Ottawa alumni. The Trudeau Medal represents leadership, initiative, and contributions to the business world, the community, and the recipient's alma mater. 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. In addition to social equity, Paul's other community interests include gender equity and immigration.