Aftab Erfan


Areas of Focus:
Pronouns: she/her

Dr. Aftab Erfan (she|her) is Executive Director of SFU Centre for Dialogue and Associate Member at SFU School of Public Policy.

Previously, she served as the City of Vancouver’s inaugural Chief Equity Officer, and Director of Dialogue and Conflict Engagement at UBC. She holds a PhD in planning from UBC, a Masters in planning from McGill University, and a BSc in environmental sciences from UBC. Aftab has extensive experience as a process designer and facilitator, specializing in hosting dialogues on contentious issues with warmth and creativity. Her experience spans 15 years and five continents. She holds numerous honours, including BC500 most influential business leaders in BC (Business in Vancouver), Research for a Better Life: The Storytellers Challenge (Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council), and Best Published Paper Award Shortlist (Association of European Schools of Planning).

What is your role at the Centre for Dialogue?

Executive Director aka. Chief Conversation Officer

What does dialogue mean to you?

One of my favourite definitions is dialogue as a process for making a system visible to itself. We are in dialogue when we speak to be understood, and then get quiet enough to catch glimpses of the realities of others, and the entanglement of those realities with our own. Well-designed dialogic processes build on this collective ability to see the wholeness of systems, to then co-create interventions and solutions that move the system in the direction of health and sanity.

What is a common assumption you'd like to demystify?

Sometimes people refer to me as Erfan as if it was my first name. Erfan is actually my last name. Sometimes people mistake me for another slightly dark-skinned woman who works at the same place. That’s actually not me. Sometimes people think the first part of the meeting, when we cover introductions and framing, is not all that important and they can come in late. Actually, introduction and framing are the most important segments of any meeting, except for the meetings that could have been an email.

Highlights and Achievements