Simon Fraser University

In the place where innovative education, cutting-edge research and community engagement intersect, you'll find Simon Fraser University.  Born in 1965, SFU has become one of Canada's leading comprehensive universities with vibrant campuses in British Columbia's largest municipalities — VancouverBurnaby and Surrey — and deep roots in partner communities throughout the province and around the world.

Participants and sponsors

Dr. Joy Johnson, President and Vice-Chancellor, Simon Fraser University

Joy Johnson

President and Vice-Chancellor

Dr. Joy Johnson, SFU’s 10th president and vice-chancellor, is committed to enhancing student learning experiences, working towards reconciliation, and advancing equity, diversity and inclusion across SFU. Prior to her appointment as president, Joy served as SFU’s vice-president, research and international from 2014 to 2020. She currently leads SFU’s equity, diversity and inclusion initiative.

Joy is a passionate advocate for higher education and its power to transform lives and impact communities. As president, she plans to build upon the outstanding teaching and learning initiatives at SFU and develop new experiential learning opportunities for students. She understands that some of the most important educational experiences happen outside of the classroom, where students engage with communities and confront real world issues. Joy is committed to academic excellence and creating learning environments where everyone thrives and fulfills their potential.

Joy's dedication to academic and research excellence is marked throughout her career by many accomplishments and achievements. She is the co-author of more than 180 peer-reviewed articles and has led several initiatives that mobilized research insights to influence practice and policy. As vice-president, research and international at SFU, Joy enhanced supports and services for SFU’s research community, secured two Canada 150 Chairs, hosted Canada’s most powerful academic supercomputer, launched the cross-cutting big data initiative, and established a unifying innovation strategy. Joy is an elected Fellow of the Canadian Academy of Health Sciences and a Fellow of the Royal Society of Canada.  

Catherine Dauvergne, QC

Vice-President Academic and Provost

Catherine combines an impressive record of scholarship with progressive administrative experience. She most recently finished her five-year term as the Dean of Law at the Peter A. Allard School at UBC. During her term, she implemented an experiential learning curriculum, developed a post-graduation debt-relief pilot program—the first of its kind among law schools in western Canada—and led the implementation of Truth and Reconciliation Commission calls to action within the school.

Catherine also served as the Special Advisor to the UBC President from 2009 to 2011, where she was co-director of the international strategic planning group, led a province-wide working group on university finance, and worked with the inaugural Ombudsperson to support students at the school. Over her career, Dr. Dauvergne has worked in the areas of refugee, immigration, and citizenship law and held a Canada Research Chair in Migration Law for 10 years. Dr. Dauvergne was named a Pierre Elliot Trudeau Foundation Fellow in 2012 in recognition of her contributions to public discourse and appointed to the Queen’s Counsel in 2019. At SFU, Dr. Dauvergne is part of the School for International Studies.

Dr. Catherine Dauvergne, QC, Vice-President Academic and Provost
Dr. Dugan O'Neil, Vice-President Research and International, Simon Fraser University

Dugan O'Neil

Vice-President Research and International

As SFU's Vice-President, Research and International, Dugan leads SFU’s strategic research initiatives and facilitates international opportunities that foster research collaborations and student exchange. His work focuses on facilitating research excellence and helping the university respond to new opportunities. He works with members of SFU’s eight faculties to ensure they have the support and resources required to conduct excellent cutting-edge research in all its forms. Building on his long-standing leadership and research experience, he works with faculty, students and staff to secure research partnerships within the community and industry.

A key element of O'Neil’s role focuses on knowledge mobilization by facilitating opportunities to transfer the results of SFU research to society. This collaborative role allows for an interplay between research and innovation to enhance social, economic and environmental wellbeing.

Joanne Curry

Vice President, External Relations

Joanne Curry has made a career of advancing the cause of higher education locally, provincially, and nationally and connecting the university with business and community. Her leadership in establishing SFU’s Surrey campus and helping to create SFU’s new vision of the engaged university has improved the university’s capacity to enhance the social, economic, and cultural well-being of communities.  

In her role as Vice-President External Relations and member of the University's senior leadership team, Joanne plays a strategic role in engaging with stakeholders and raising the profile of the University. She is accountable for community relations, government relations, communications and marketing. She also has oversight for the management of the Vancouver and Surrey campuses, the SFU Art Galleries and SFU Woodward’s Cultural Unit. 

Joanne is currently a member of several boards and committees including Innovation Boulevard (Board Chair), Burnaby Board of Trade, the Downtown Surrey Business Improvement Association, and the Regional Prosperity Initiative. She has previously served on the Board of Directors of Community Living BC (a BC crown corporation) and the Surrey Board of Trade.  

Joanne holds a Doctorate of Business, Bath University, UK; a Masters of Business Administration from Simon Fraser University; and a Bachelor of Commerce (Honors) with Distinction from the University of Manitoba. She was also awarded an honorary degree from Kwantlen Polytechnic University.


Joanne Curry, Vice President, External Relations, Simon Fraser University
Elizabeth Elle, Vice-Provost and Associate Vice-President, Learning and Teaching, Simon Fraser University

Elizabeth Elle

Vice-Provost and Associate Vice-President, Learning and Teaching

Dr. Elizabeth Elle is the inaugural Vice Provost and Associate Vice President – Learning & Teaching at Simon Fraser University.  She leads university initiatives around learning and teaching, including curriculum reform, encouraging innovation in teaching such as the development of flexible and blended learning approaches, refining practices for the evaluation of teaching and assessment of student learning, and furthering our community-engaged and work-integrated experiential opportunities for students.

More information about Elizabeth’s role as Vice Provost, including links to the five units reporting to her:

Am Johal

Co-chair, SFU's Community Engaged Research Initiative (CERi) and Director, SFU VanCity Office of Community Engagement

Am Johal has been the Director of SFU's Vancity Office of Community Engagement since December 2010. He is an associate with SFU's Centre for DialogueSFU's Institute for the Humanities and he is Co-Director of SFU’s Community Engaged Research Initiative. He serves on the Advisory Committee of SFU Labour Studies and the Steering Committee of Graduate Liberal Studies.

Am has quietly, consistently — with great openness and kindness — built deep and reciprocal relationships between SFU and the community in Vancouver’s urban core. A community organizer with deep roots in Vancouver’s artistic, political, and activist spheres, Am has brought a nuanced understanding of the systemic and intersecting issues that push people to the margins of the city and has been instrumental in articulating and demonstrating what authentic community engagement looks like at SFU. He is the host of SFU's Below the Radar podcast that features interviews with community collaborators, academics and other policymakers. He has served on the boards of the Indian Summer Arts Society221AVancity Community Foundation and the Bloom Group.


Co-chair, SFU's Community Engaged Research Initiative (CERi) and Director, SFU VanCity Office of Community Engagement
Sobhana Jaya Madhavan, Associate Vice-President, External Relations, Simon Fraser University

Sobhana Jaya Madhavan

Associate Vice-President, External Relations

Born in Malaysia and raised in India, Sobhana has an undergraduate degree in Philosophy from Calicut University (Kerala, India) and a postgraduate degree in Social Work from Tata Institute of Social Sciences (Mumbai, India). Sobhana completed her Ph.D. candidacy in Child and Youth Care from the University of Victoria (BC, Canada). Since 1991, Sobhana has worked in the non-profit, public and private sectors in India, Malaysia, and Canada.

After immigrating to Canada in 1995, Sobhana worked in a minimum wage job in a sports arena before joining the British Columbia (BC) Government and serving in various front line and senior management positions (including Executive Director and Acting Assistant Deputy Minister) over two decades. In 2015, Sobhana was nominated for the BC Medal of Good Citizenship award which recognizes individuals who have made outstanding contributions to the well-being of their communities.

From 2015-17, Sobhana worked at NewGen KnowledgeWorks (Chennai, India) as Head HR and Associate Vice President. At NewGen Sobhana championed organizational excellence. In 2017, Sobhana returned to Canada and joined Simon Fraser University (SFU) as Associate Vice President, External Relations. In this senior leadership role, Sobhana engages with all levels of government, international/national/provincial/local organizations, internal/external partners and diverse communities to strengthen strategic relationships, provide strategic advice and work on shared goals. At SFU, Sobhana is also the co-facilitator for the Indigenous reconciliation initiative and the institutional lead for Women Deliver 2019.


Janet Webber

Executive Director, SFU Public Square

Janet has years of experience fostering effective ideas exchange, and has convened innovative and impactful dialogues and events locally and internationally. Previously, Janet worked with Action Canada, a national fellowship program for emerging Canadian leaders. Janet holds a BA in Psychology and an Executive MBA.

Janet Webber, Executive Director, SFU Public Square, Simon Fraser University
Matthew Grant, Director, Community Engagement, Simon Fraser University

Matthew Grant

Director of Community Engagement

Matthew Grant is Director of Community Engagement at Simon Fraser University.  His focus, together with others in SFU's Office of Community Engagement, is to support people, to support partnerships, and to strengthen SFU’s institutional capacity to address pressing societal issues through co-created knowledge, shared purpose and responsive practice that results in meaningful impact.

Mary Holmes

Director, Strategic Projects and Analysis

As Director, Strategic Projects and Analysis, Mary Holmes gives leadership to a variety of university-wide initiatives for the Office of the Vice-President, Academic at Simon Fraser University. She is co-director of a working group supporting SFU’s role as a participant in and presenting partner of the Elective Carnegie Classification Canadian Pilot. Mary is also a doctorate student through the University of Bath with research interests in accessible higher education.

Rachel Nelson, Associate Director, Partnerships and Programs, Simon Fraser University

Rachel Nelson

Associate Director, Partnerships and Programs

Rachel is the Associate Director for Partnerships and Programs at Simon Fraser University in the Office of Community Engagement and has been participating in community capacity building, and engaging students in community-based experiences with the SFU Surrey - TD Community Engagement Centre for the past five years. Rachel holds a BBA from SFU and a Masters of Arts in Community Development from UVIC. Her thesis is focused on developing evaluable principles for community-university partnerships.

Chris Yakimov

Associate Director, Digital Community Engagement

Chris Yakimov has worked as a digital strategist in the private, non-profit and public sectors, and has a BA and MA from UBC in Psychology and Education. Because of his academic and professional interest in the intersection of language, identity and power, Chris has been privileged to work with several organizations to help define and implement organizational values and principles for cohesive action and principled change. Thanks to an engrossing interest in complexity, systems thinking, dialogue and relational pedagogy, he currently co-teaches in SFU’s Semester in Dialogue – Complexity in Wicked Problems.

Chris Yakimov, Associate Director, Digital Community Engagement, Simon Fraser University