March 25, 2022

FASS News, Alumni

Emerging leader Claire Adams brings creativity and passion to her grassroots community work


Urban Studies master’s student Claire Adams is dedicated to helping transform the way self-identified women experience urban spaces and participate in civic processes, and she has been recognized for this work with the Urban Studies Alumni Award for Community Engagement.

The award recognizes and supports graduate students in SFU’s Urban Studies Program who have an established record of, and future promise in, urban leadership, while maintaining an excellent academic record.

Adams certainly fits the bill. As a student, “Claire is exceptional,” says Tiffany Muller-Myrdahl, Senior Lecturer in Gender, Environment, and Urban Communities. “She is a creative and generous thinker and urbanist. Her ‘learning with’ approach encourages working collaboratively to build more inclusive urban futures."

Claire exemplifies the qualities of both an excellent student and a thoughtful community leader.

Adams has been involved with an impressive array of organizations in urban settings, including WISH Drop-In Centre Society, the City of Vancouver Homeless Count, and Carnegie Community Centre. She is a community gardener in the City of Vancouver Green Streets program, planting species that support and sustain wild pollinators. Adams says, “especially plants that are native to the Musqueam, Squamish and Tsleil-Waututh land that we live on that were abundant before colonization”.

Notably, Adams has been involved with Women Transforming Cities (WTC), a Vancouver-based grassroots non-profit that is dedicated to building cities where all self-identified women and girls can live safe and fulfilled lives and participate in civic processes.

“Claire has generously contributed her passion, skills and time to the vision of WTC,” expresses Ash Peplow Ball, Managing Director of Women Transforming Cities.

At WTC, Adams is a volunteer leader for the Women Friendly Cities Challenge, an online database of policies, programs, and practices for women. Adams researches and writes material for the Challenge and shows phenomenal leadership skills in mentoring and supporting new volunteers joining the Challenge team.

“Claire is always the first to put her hand up for new tasks and opportunities,” Ball says as she describes Adams’ contributions to one of WTC’s projects: a toolkit called An Intersectional Feminist Recovery Toolkit for Municipalities. This resource guide is designed for women’s groups across Canada to create a local political environment more conducive to effective female community leadership.

Adams also supported WTC’s Hot Pink Paper Campaign, a project that amplifies the voices of communities who are otherwise not heard in the election process. While the Hot Pink Paper Campaign was launched and ran in Vancouver, Adams notes that the resources she helped build were compiled with the idea that they could be applicable to civic engagement initiative in other cities as well.

“In spite of the difficulties of remote work and the COVID-19 pandemic,” says Meg Holden, professor in Urban Studies and Resources and Environmental Management, “Claire has wasted no time in engaging full-force in the gamut of opportunities offered in Urban Studies and our cognate communities.”

In particular, Adams successfully competed for a SSHRC Canada Graduate Scholarships Master’s program award based upon her master's research proposal, which tackles challenging questions of tenure in the housing affordability puzzle. Adams independently analyzed the efforts and outcomes of an SFU-City of Vancouver engagement partnership intended to promote deeper understanding and commitment to the possibilities of a new long-range city plan. She has also published a series of urban-themed book reviews and, as noted above, is an active volunteer for many Vancouver-based institutions.

What’s next for Claire Adams? More of the same excellent, urban-community actions. In Adams’ words, “To leverage my training and volunteer experience to engage with and amplify the voices of communities who are frequently excluded or alienated from urban planning processes in Vancouver.”

Keep in touch by following Adams on Twitter and LinkedIn