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Creating space for transformative conversations

Professional Staff

“Thoughtful, respectful and intelligent facilitating.” —Catherine Clement, former VP Public Engagement, Vancouver Foundation

Our team of seasoned professionals offer decades of experience using dialogue, deliberation and engage­ment to create the right conditions for collaborative, informed decision-making and collective action.

Program Leads and Senior Professionals:

Shauna Sylvester
Director, SFU Centre for Dialogue


Shauna Sylvester is an award-winning social entrepreneur, facilitator, policy analyst and engagement practitioner with over thirty years of experience. Her accomplishments include founding five national and international initiatives including Carbon Talks, Renewable Cities, Canada’s World and the Institute for Media, Policy and Civil Society (IMPACS).

Laurie Anderson
Executive Director, SFU Vancouver

Dr. Laurie Anderson has 30 years of facilitation and process design experience in myriad roles and contexts. His recent work includes facilitating the Mayor’s Task Force on Affordable Housing (City of Vancouver), co-developing and teaching in SFU's Faculty of Education Masters Program in Contemplative Approaches and Inquiry in Education, and facilitating educational and leadership seminars in Chile, China and Qatar.

Robert Daum
Fellow, Diversity and Innovation


Dr. Robert A. Daum (PhD, UC Berkeley) is a Fellow in Diversity & Innovation at Simon Fraser University’s Centre for Dialogue. A researcher and practitioner, he regularly consults on government, community and university-based initiatives focused on strategic and operational complexities of diversity engagement, intercultural dialogue, interdisciplinary collaboration, and organizational innovation.

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Deb Harford
Executive Director, Adaptation to Climate Change Team (ACT)


Deborah Harford is Executive Director of ACT (the Adaptation to Climate Change Team), based at SFU's School of Public Policy. A lifelong environmentalist and passionate communicator, Deborah has years of experience presenting and facilitating discussions on climate change issues and responses. Deborah was appointed a Climate Solutions Fellow.

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Robin Prest
Program Director, Civic Engage


Robin Prest is the Program Director for Civic Engage, where he works with senior decision makers to improve the clarity and impact of public engagement. With over ten years’ consulting experience, Robin has helped governments and citizens to collaborate on topics including land use decisions, transportation, reconciliation and strategic planning.

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Michael Small
Executive Director, Renewable Cities


Michael Small leads Renewable Cities and Carbon Talks, working with municipalities and other public and private sector organizations to engage stakeholders in the challenges of making the transition to a low carbon economy. He has a thirty-three year career as a diplomat and senior executive in the Canadian foreign service, including serving as Canada’s High Commissioner to Australia.

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Merran Smith
Executive Director, Clean Energy Canada


Merran Smith leads a team that is working to transform Canada’s energy systems to reduce fossil fuel dependence and the risks of climate disruption. A former environmental and human-rights activist, she now regularly meets with and convenes private, public, and civil society leaders from Bay Street, to the nation’s provincial capitals, to the House of Commons.

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Janet Webber
Program Director, SFU Public Square


Janet is the Program Director of SFU Public Square, a signature initiative of SFU's President designed to spark, nurture and restore community connections and civic life. Janet has years of experience fostering effective ideas exchange, and has convened innovative and impactful dialogues and events locally and internationally. Janet holds a BA in Psychology and an Executive MBA.

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Mark Winston
Professor and Senior Fellow, SFU Centre for Dialogue


Mark L. Winston has had a distinguished career researching, teaching, writing and commenting on bees and agriculture, environmental issues, and science policy. More recently, he has utilized dialogue in classrooms, corporations, non-profit organizations, government, and community settings to develop leadership and communication skills, conduct strategic planning, inspire organizational change, and thoughtfully engage public audiences with controversial issues.

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Professional Staff:

Keane Gruending
Communications Manager, Renewable Cities


Keane Gruending has professional skills in project management, strategic and digital communications, engagement, and policy analysis. He has worked previously with the United Nations Environment Program and the University of Saskatchewan’s Office of Sustainability. Keane holds a M.Sc. in Environment and International Development from the University of East Anglia.

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Sebastian Merz
Dialogue and Engagement Analyst, Civic Engage


Sebastian Merz has recently worked on a range of policy and decision-making processes addressing urban planning, transportation, sustainability and other issues. Sebastian’s approach is inspired by his background in peace research, conflict resolution and the study of democracies. He holds an M.A. in Political Science from Freiburg University and a Certificate in Dialogue and Civic Engagement from SFU.

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Angela Paley
Program Assistant, Renewable Cities


Angela has professional skills in event coordination, project management, and communications in the environmental sector. She has previously worked with the Recycling Council of British Columbia and SFU Public Square’s Re-Imagine Downtown Vancouver campaign. Angela holds a BA in International Relations from the University of British Columbia.

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Kathryn Sheps
Operations Manager & Dialogue Convenor, Renewable Cities


Kathryn is a dialogue convener and operational and logistics whiz. She has a background in marine science and a record of success and innovation in academic, business and non-profit environments in Canada and internationally.

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To learn more about how the SFU Centre for Dialogue can assist your organization, contact us for a free consultation.