Shauna Sylvester


Pronouns: she/her

I'm a graduate of McGill University and Simon Fraser University and until recently, I served as the Executive Director of the SFU Morris J. Wosk Centre for Dialogue. Currently I am Professor of Professional Practice at SFU Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences and in September I’m delighted to be moving into a new role as Executive Director of Urban Sustainability Directors’ Network for the US and Canada.

I love teaching and I have taught courses on Democracy and Urban Energy Systems within the SFU Semester in Dialogue and I'm currently co-designing a course on rethinking philanthropy which I will co-teach in the spring of 2022. I also train and mentor new practitioners in facilitation, engagement, governance, fundraising and non-profit management.

I have a long-standing passion for democracy and bringing citizens’ voices into local and global issues. I'm especially proud when I see our Canadian federal, provincial and municipal governments respond to our climate crisis with concrete action to reduce GHGs and I see them prioritize reconciliation with indigenous peoples.

I have co-founded and led five initiatives: the SFU Public Square, Carbon Talks, Renewable Cities, Canada’s World, and IMPACS – the Institute for Media, Policy and Civil Society and I've worked with colleagues in launching consortiums like Moving in a Livable Region and Canadian Cities + COP26. I have years of working globally, in conflict and post-conflict zones, with incredible women's initiatives, media groups, multilateral processes and civil society organizations.

In the early 1980s and 90s, I was active with HIV/AIDS, disability, peace and environment organizations. I worked at IDERA – the International Development Education Research Association, CUSO, Community Living Society and Canada World Youth. I co-chaired SPARC BC's first Community Development Institute, the Civicus World Assembly, led the Canadian forestry working group for the EarthSummit, organized the Canadian meeting for the Beijing Women’s conference in 1994 and participated in three COP processes. I have published widely in mainstream newspapers, provided commentary to national and local TV and radio and authored my own climate blog.

I love volunteering and board governance. I've served on many boards including Vancity, Vancity Capital Corp, MEC (when it was a vibrant coop), BC Assessment Authority and I currently Chair the Tamarack Institute. Each of these experiences have taught me the power of what people can do when they work together. 

Selected Media & Publications

How do we drive change together as a community? (Nov 23 | REN21 Keynote speech, Collective Leadership)

Leadership & Innovation (Nov 6, 2020 | Tamarack Institute Board of Directors Webinar Series)

Moderator: The 2020 Provincial Election All Candidates’ Forum on Mobility & Land Use (Oct 23, 2020 | YouTube)

Dealing with the Present (Oct 9, 2020 | Creative Mornings)

Day of Democracy: Building Resilient and Relevant Public Institutions (Sept 16, 2020 | Massey Dialogue)

Shauna Sylvester: Building a Life by Exchanging Ideas and Dialogue (Dec 24, 2019 | Careers That Matter)

Is Canada’s Democracy in Trouble? (Oct 18, 2019 | Conversations that Matter)

How is nativism and the appeal of populism shaping democracy in Canada? (Aug 28, 2019)

Strengthening Canadian Democracy: What Works, When and Why? (May 17, 2019)

COP 21 in Paris (Dec 4, 2015)

Making Cities Renewable (Sept 19, 2015 | Conversations that Matter)

Moderator: Vancouver’s Story Renewable Cities Global Learning Forum (July 7, 2015)

Plenary, Renewable Cities Powered by PechaKucha (July 7, 2015)

Bright Green Summer Launch Event (June 30, 2015)

From Local to Global Challenges, What Needs to Be Done for a Successful COP21 in Paris? (Mar 31, 2015)

Beyond Harold Innis (2014, The Walrus Talks Energy)

Beyond the Politics: The Benefits of Moving in a Livable Region – Vancouver (Mar 21, 2014)

From Debate to Dialogue (Sept 16, 2013 | Walrus Talk, Victoria BC)

Shauna Sylvester and Edwin Rutsch: How to Build a Culture of Empathy (Aug 29, 2013)

SFU Alumni Annual Gathering (May 30, 2012)

Canada's World: Democracy In The Making (Oct 23, 2007)

Phone: 778.782.7895