Ms. Neelam Sahota,

Neelam is a senior executive in the social impact sector. With more than 25 years of leadership experience primarily in BC’s nonprofit sector, her award-winning work in the social and economic development of Surrey, BC has been based on creating community impact through resource connections, innovative economic drivers and values-based community partnerships. Taking a strategic approach to developing innovative business strategies to maximize collective impact has been the cornerstone of her career.

With prior experience in provincial government and the private sector, Neelam joined DIVERSEcity Community Resources Society as the Chief Executive Officer in 2013 and has enjoyed a fulfilling and rewarding career leading the organization through significant growth to become one of the largest employers in the South Fraser. Under her steady leadership, the organization’s annual budget has tripled, enabling it to scale it’s mandate to reach British Columbians across the province and more than doubling it’s workforce to over 250+ employees. She has a well-established reputation for building and leading high performing teams with transformative business strategies. Neelam is known for her unrelenting focus on quality and efficiency combined with a genuine concern and commitment for all who work with her. As a BIPOC female leader, she uses her voice and champions the advancement of women of all diverse backgrounds using her intersectionality lens to ensure equitable pathways to leadership roles. Neelam has led the development of DIVERSEcity’ s ground-breaking Community Campus, a purpose-built community space where a full continuum of educational, skills training, mental health support services, community navigation and language acquisition services are offered. Neelam has also successfully spearheaded the diversification of revenue sources for DIVERSEcity and has led the development and scaling of DIVERSEcity’ s first social enterprise which generates profits for the organization and provides employment pathways for over 300 individuals. Throughout her tenure at DIVERSEcity, she has gained invaluable experience in strategy, finance, brand identity, capital acquisitions and development, change and operations management, overseeing many different portfolios and initiatives.

Neelam has been appointed to the Fellowship of the Chartered Professional Accountants of British Columbia (FCPA, FCGA) in recognition of her outstanding work of connecting financial strategies to create social impact. She is also an alumna of Simon Fraser University

with a Bachelor of Business Administration. As a committed continuous learner, she has also completed several Executive Development programs across a number of institutions.

Community leadership is a critical component of Neelam’s leadership story. Neelam is a Board Governor of Simon Fraser University where she is the Chair of the Finance and Audit Committee. She is the Co-Chair of the Surrey Local Immigration Partnership, a Director for the Association of Canadian Studies, an Advisory Board Member of Roger’s Sports and Media’s OMNI TV, a Board Director of the Immigrant Employment Council of BC’s Benefits Corporation and an Advisory Board Member for Solid State Industries. She previously served as the Chair of Surrey Libraries, the Treasurer of the Immigrant Employment Council of BC and the Kwantlen Polytechnic University NGO Studies Advisory Board. Neelam also serves as an advisor to the City of Vancouver on diversity and racial equity issues. Neelam has garnered awards for both her community leadership as well as her career. She was awarded the 2022 NonProfit Leader of the Year by BC Business. In addition, the Surrey Local Immigration Partnership which she co-chairs, was awarded the 2022 BC Reconciliation Award by the BC Achievement Foundation. For her tenure as Chair of Surrey Libraries, she was recognized by the provincial BC Libraries Trustees Association’s (BCLTA) with the Trustee of the Year Award. She is also a past recipient of the Surrey Board of Trade’s Nonprofit Leader of the Year award and a past finalist of the YWCA Women of Distinction Awards as well as the Surrey Community Leader of the Year Award.

Neelam is also a sought-after speaker on key social issue, providing essential insights and expertise on exploring multicultural identities and belonging, BIPOC leadership, migration, and enhancing collective capacity of organizations to create systems changes to create a more equitable and sustainable world. She has been featured on a number of national conferences stages in addition to being a keynote speaker recently at the Society of Intercultural Education Training and Research in Japan. Neelam was born in Vancouver and raised in Burnaby. As a first generation Canadian, she has grown up with the challenges inherent with newcomer families. Witnessing first-hand her own family’s struggles in her early years and those around her continues to provide the inspiration behind using her voice and platform to advocate and improve the vitality of our communities and promote people's health, happiness and wellbeing.