Leaders

ACORN is owned by its members

 

ACORN Leaders. They direct and guide a group by being out in front. But equally important is creating space for new leaders to emerge! Shared leadership is functional leadership. While good leaders may be totally committed to building rank-and-file participation and ownership, their primary role is to help the group grow, resolve conflict,  lead by example and achieve its goals.  ACORN wins campaigns by having power which means having as many members and leaders as possible!

 

ACORN Organizers. Support members to take the lead, continuously locating new blood to invigorate and democratize the organization.

 

A Leader can be an Organizer, but an Organizer cannot be a Leader

 

Power to the People. ACORN is governed by a national board of its members. The national board is made up of two member elected representatives from each province that has at least three chapters. Each chapter needs to have 10 full dues-paying members to elect a local board.

 

Get to know some of the leaders of local ACORN chapters.

Get to Know our Leaders

Marva Burnett

ACORN Canada President

Marva is the Chair of Scarborough ACORN and the National President of ACORN Canada. Marva is a child care worker, and a mother. She has been passionate leader with ACORN since it first started organizing in Scarborough in 2005 and has led countless campaigns over the years.

Tabitha Naismith

ACORN Canada Secretary

Tabitha has been very active with ACORN since she signed up in 2013, as a champion of anti-poverty issues and both disability rights. Thanks to her tireless advocacy, BC ACORN’s Disability Rights Group won their first major victory on their End the Child Support Clawback Campaign. Tabitha currently lives with her two. children in the community of Newton in Surrey, British Columbia.

Monica Bhandari

ACORN Canada Treasurer

Monica was elected Chair of New West ACORN and sits on the National Board representing BC. Since getting involved with ACORN, Monica helped organise her apartment building into a tenant union that successfully fought to defeat her landlord’s attempt to pass on a million dollars in building repairs to tenants. She now helps lead the fight to increase tenant protections across BC.

Bader Abu Zahra

National Board Representative

Bader is a retired engineer. He immigrated to Canada in the early 70s and since then has been involved in community struggles for social justice. After being encouraged by his daughter to join ACORN, Bader has become a committed member on several campaigns including affordable and livable housing and fair banking. He was an essential part of the push for a mobile COVID19 testing site in the east end of Ottawa. Since June 2023, he became part of the ACORN Canada National Board.

Hannah Wood

National Board Representative

Originally hailing from New Brunswick, Hannah has been a fierce and effective disability advocate and is an urban chicken-keeping enthusiast. Hannah was elected chair of the Halifax-Peninsula Chapter in 2020 and is passionate about tenants rights and fair and affordable housing.

Alejandra Ruiz Vargas

National Board Representative

Alejandra is a housing worker originally from Colombia who has been involved with ACORN since 2015. She has led meetings and actions on issues such as. childcare, remittances, and employment insurance reform but her passion and advocacy on affordable housing, tenant rights and state of good repair issues is her passion.

Lisa Hayhurst

National Board Representative

Lisa brings her experience helping lead Nova Scotia ACORN’s successful Rent Control Now campaign to the ACORN Canada national board, where she sits as a Nova Scotia rep. Lisa is currently focussed on winning a landlord licensing system in the Halifax Regional Municipality and being a thorn in the side of her negligent landlord.

Vanessa Badger

Chair - Calgary East

Vanessa is a Cree/Nakoda First Nations woman who has lived in the East End Calgary neighbourhood of Forest Lawn for 35 years. She is passionate about fighting inequality and racism in Calgary and is active in the community volunteer group Yethka Voices of the Greater Forest Lawn.

Sam Green

Co-Chair - Calgary East

Sam first got involved with ACORN in the UK and upon immigrating to Calgary was instrumental in the formation of Calgary's East End chapter.

Angelica Nightingale

Co-Chair City Centre

Angelica got involved with ACORN so she could get repairs done in her building. Since then she has become a fixture at all Calgary ACORN meetings and actions.

Keegan Colwell

Chair - North West Calgary

Keegan got involved with ACORN after his $400/month rent increase led him to start an ACORN tenant union in his apartment building in Kensington. Keegan is a student at the University of Calgary where he manages the campus literary magazine. He hopes to study architecture for his Masters degree.

Diana Bliss

Co-Chair - North West Calgary

Diana lives in Calgary Community Housing in the NW of Calgary. She got involved in ACORN because every person should have good housing and there are no excuses for the problems happening right now in Calgary, in Alberta, and in Canada.

William Gillies

Secretary - North West Calgary

William lives in the NW of Calgary and got involved because of the massive rent increases happening in AB. He wants to fight for solutions like rent control to address not only his rent increase, but the ones happening all over Alberta.

Maggy Wlodarczyk

Chair - Calgary City Centre

Linda Leger

Co-Chair - Calgary City Centre

Linda has been a low-income renter since she was 16 years old, currently living in Bankview. Linda got involved in ACORN after receiving a 100% rent increase and her involvement has since evolved to fight for effective changes to help all Calgarians facing issues with housing, food and utility payments and much more!

Chance Gillcash

Secretary - Calgary City Centre

Tabitha Naismith

Chair – Newton ACORN and National Board Representative

Tabitha Naismith has been very active with ACORN since she signed up in 2013, as a champion of anti-poverty issues and both disability rights. Thanks to her tireless advocacy, BC ACORN’s Disability Rights Group won their first major victory on their End the Child Support Clawback Campaign. Tabitha currently lives with her two. children in the community of Newton in Surrey, British Columbia.

Leslie MacFarlane

Co-Chair – Newton ACORN

Leslie joined ACORN in 2020 and became a key leader soon after. She is motivated by the belief that no one should be forced out of their home because of negligent landlords or to make room for luxury condos. Leslie has been helping to lead the fight to license landlords and crack down on slumlords in her neighbourhood of Newton and across Surrey.

Rennie Amundsen

Co-Chair – Newton ACORN

Rennie has been fighting with ACORN for over a decade. Elected Co-Chair in early 2022, he’s been involved with the ACORN Political Action Committee, and planning provincial campaigns. Recently, Rennie has been working on outreach and getting more people involved in the campaign for vacancy rent control.

Lori Pederson

Chair – Burnaby

Lori is a longtime member and newly elected Chair of the Burnaby chapter of BC ACORN. Since being elected chair in 2022, Lori has been involved in a diverse range of campaigns, from combatting predatory lenders to cracking down on financialized landlords.

Murray Martin

Co-Chair – Burnaby ACORN

Murray has been involved with stopping Demovictions in Burnaby, since getting involved with BC ACORN in 2013. His ongoing efforts have resulted in the development of Burnaby’s Tenant Assistance Policy which included many of ACORN’s policy proposals. To this day this policy remains the gold standard for municipal tenant policy in Canada.

Monica Bhandari

Chair - New West ACORN and National Board Representative

Monica was elected Chair of New West ACORN and sits on the National Board representing BC. Since getting involved with ACORN, Monica helped organise her apartment building into a tenant union that successfully fought to defeat her landlord’s attempt to pass on a million dollars in building repairs to tenants. She now helps lead the fight to increase tenant protections across BC.

Veronica Gonzalez

Mountain Hamilton Co-Chair

Veronica joined ACORN in 2019 after experiencing health and safety issues in her own apartment and wanting to see improvements in her housing complex on the Mountain. Since getting involved with ACORN, Veronica has fought for tenant justice in her community and at City Hall.

Marnie Schurter

Mountain Hamilton Co-Chair

Marnie joined ACORN during the founding organizing drive of the Mountain Chapter in 2018. Marnie recently retired as a Library Clerk with Hamilton Public Library. She is passionate about building a strong community for tenants living on Hamilton’s Mountain.

Zechariah Hockridge

Mountain Hamilton Secretary / Treasurer

Zechariah Hockridge joined ACORN during the COVID19 pandemic after reaching out with concerns about renoviction in Hamilton. Zechariah is passionate, caring, and willing to go above and beyond for the wellbeing of others. Having experienced episodic homelessness, Zechariah is passionate about preventing homelessness and tenant displacement.

Christine Neale

Downtown Hamilton Chair

Christine joined Acorn in 2022 due to ongoing issues with the owner of the apartment building where she lives. She has had an ongoing LTB claim since 2019 and is still waiting for a decision. Another issue that the tenants of the building were dealing with brought Christine to ACORN. Affordable housing has always been an issue near and dear to Christine's heart. 'Rent or Food?' should not be a question people have to ask. Christine has been retired since 2018 after working at a law firm for 13 years.

Liz Scott

Stoney Creek

Liz joined ACORN in 2021 after an organizer knocked on her door in her Riverdale apartment building. Since joining ACORN she has led Stoney Creek chapter meetings, actions at her building and riding MP and MPP offices. Liz has also been heavily involved in moving forward ACORN's campaign on protecting tenants from extreme heat.

Ted Plastaras

East End Co-Chair

Ted joined ACORN in May 2023 after experiencing landlord harassment in his East End building. He has immediately jumped in headfirst to be part of the push for better conditions for tenants. Ted has led several actions calling for an end to renovictions and for more accountability to tenants from landlords. Ted is passionate about tenant justice and community-wellbeing.

Stewart Klazinga

East End Chair

Stewart Klazinga has been an ACORN member in the East End for several years. After a couple years of advocating for something to be done about extreme heat in apartments they proposed adding a maximum heat bylaw to ACORN Hamilton's citywide campaigns, & has been involved with the campaign at every step along the way. Stewart joined ACORN to fight for tenant rights in Hamilton & beyond, & is passionate about fighting for our most vulnerable neighbours & for the good of all.

Jordan Smith

Chair of the Carling-Stoneybrook Chapter

Jordan first joined ACORN in 2021 when he needed help fighting his own abusive and negligent landlords, but quickly became an active leader in the fight for tenants’ rights across London. Jordan has helped grow London ACORN from the ground up and was elected by fellow members as the city's first neighbourhood chapter chair in Spring 2023.

Nawton Chiles

Co-Chair of the Carling-Stoneybrook ACORN chapter

Nawton has been the co-chair of the Carling-Stoneybrook chapter since June of 2023, and joined in the summer of 2020. Nawton has been active in a variety of ACORN campaigns, but his favourite so far has been London's landlord licensing initiative, to help get tenants the healthy, safe, and secure homes they deserve. Nawton is currently a student of computer systems technology at Fanshawe College.

Nichola Taylor

Chair

Since reaching out to ACORN to get help in fighting a renoviction Nichola has been a positive force to be reckoned with. Since being elected Chair of NB ACORN in June of 2022, Nichola has organized actions and rallies around NB ACORN’s groundbreaking Rent Cap and Renoviction Ban campaigns. She is ACORN’s (and working class tenants) primary spokesperson in New Brunswick.

Peter Jongeneelen

Co-Chair

Peter - along with his partner Vanessa Jones - have not so quietly turned Moncton ACORN into a well oiled machine for building working class tenant power. It’s rare that two weeks go by without Peter organizing an action that lands ACORN on the front pages of New Brunswick’s newspapers.

Glen Harris

Secretary

Glen joined ACORN in 2022 and quickly showed a passion to get things done, in an organized fashion, and was elected secretary months after getting involved!

Hannah Wood

Chair of the Halifax-Peninsula chapter

Originally hailing from New Brunswick, Hannah has been a fierce and effective disability advocate and is an urban chicken-keeping enthusiast. Hannah was elected chair of the Halifax-Peninsula Chapter in 2020 and is passionate about tenants rights and fair and affordable housing.

Janice Pace

Co-Chair of the Halifax-Peninsula Chapter

Janice Pace is from Sackville and has lived in Nova Scotia her whole life. Being low-income and disabled herself, Janice got involved with ACORN in 2016 to help fight for equal rights for other disabled and low-income people in her community. She’s pictured with her daughter and honorary co-co-chair, Angel.

Fabian (Pat) Donovan

Co-Chair of the Halifax-Mainland Chapter

Born in Glace Bay Nova Scotia, Pat grew up in Halifax, where he moved after his father was laid off from the coal mines. His childhood in the 60s and 70s during the civil rights movement and the Vietnam war, as well as the music of the time, helped form the beliefs he holds today. Pat has been fighting for rent control and rights for marginalized people for the last 50 years.

Marjorie Pemberton

Secretary of the Halifax-Mainland Chapter

Marjorie has been a member of ACORN for 4 years, and was inspired to help lead her chapter by the amazing members she has met in her time here. From a young age she has believed in the power of the people, and has dedicated her senior years to fighting for our rights! She believes honesty, hard team work, and a lot of putting one foot in front of the other will bring us justice, and she’s ready to fight for it!

Lisa Hayhurst

Chair of Dartmouth ACORN

Lisa brings her experience helping lead Nova Scotia ACORN’s successful Rent Control Now campaign to the ACORN Canada national board, where she sits as a Nova Scotia rep. Lisa is currently focussed on winning a landlord licensing system in the Halifax Regional Municipality and being a thorn in the side of her negligent landlord.

Tim Allenby

Co-Chair of Dartmouth ACORN

Tim brings his activist knowledge to the table at every meeting and assists Lisa and the other leaders in the HRM in developing strong campaigns for housing justice. Tim was very active in Nova Scotia’s ACORN successful rent control campaign, and continues to help lead up the provincial housing campaigns in the province.

Marie Lourdes Garnier

Chair of the South Ottawa Chapter

Marie is a strong, francophone ACORN leader from Haiti. She has been a fierce campaigner for child care issues. She has passionately led many of ACORN’s campaigns since 2012, on issues such as minimum wage increases and community benefits agreements.

Ginelise Edouard

Chair of the Ottawa West Nepean Chapter

Ginelise has been an Ottawa ACORN member for over a decade. A mother of 11 children, Ginelise has made fighting for her Ottawa Community Housing neighbourhood a priority. She has also organized on other ACORN campaigns, including raising the rates for social assistance recipients.

Norma-Jean Quibell

Co-Chair of the Ottawa West Nepean ACORN Chapter

Norma-Jean joined ACORN in early 2018 after attending the launch of our municipal elections platform – the Agenda for Change. Over the past couple years Norma-Jean has quickly become one of our most active members pushing for justice on issues like the digital divide, low social assistance and MORE! Norma-Jean is currently studying law at Algonquin College.

Pascal Kakule

Co-Chair of the Central Ottawa Chapter

Pascal Kakule has been an extremely active member since joining the organization in December 2020. Pascal is a student and father of five living in Sandy Hill. He first became involved in developing Ottawa ACORN’s new campaign for municipal broadband. Since joining, Pascal has been vocal in fighting for #Internet4All by leading actions, presenting at townhalls and talking to the press! His aim is to influence more francophones to join ACORN.

Bader Abu Zahra

Chair of Ottawa-Vanier ACORN Chapter

Bader is a retired engineer. He immigrated to Canada in the early 70s and since then has been involved in community struggles for social justice. After being encouraged by his daughter to join ACORN, Bader has become a committed member on several campaigns. These include affordable and livable housing, fair banking and he was an essential part of the push for a mobile COVID19 testing site in the east end of Ottawa.

Meagan Wiper

Co-Chair of Ottawa-Vanier ACORN Chapter

Meagan Wiper joined ACORN after being frustrated with her landlord who neglected repairs and his tenants. Meagan quickly became an active member in the fight for healthy homes and has helped grow the organization in many ways – from doing data entry at the office, petitioning, phone outreach to other members to doing media interviews and co-facilitating meetings, Meagan has done it all!

Amanda Teske

Chair of Nepean Chapter - Ottawa

Amanda Teske, an animated and energetic leader, joined ACORN in 2022 during a door-knocking campaign, and within a few weeks was elected Chair of the newly formed Nepean Chapter. With a particular interest in Tenant's Rights and fighting bad landlords, she looks forward to growing with members new and old!

Eddy

Chair of the Central Ottawa Chapter

Eddy was born and raised in Ottawa and has been fighting for social justice since he was 18 years old. He joined ACORN in the late 2010s after seeing the power of grassroots organizing at first hand. He is passionate about climate justice because by building more sustainable communities, we can help not just our neighbours but tenants and workers around the world

Marcia Powell

Chair of Cooksville ACORN

Marcia was elected Chair of Cooksville ACORN in 2017. Since then, Marcia has pushed the City of Mississauga to enact a low-income bus pass and start a pilot program for proactive inspections of apartment buildings.

Alejandra Ruiz Vargas

Chair of the East York Chapter – National Leadership Representative

Alejandra is a housing worker originally from Colombia who has been involved with ACORN since 2015. She has led meetings and actions on issues such as. childcare, remittances, and employment insurance reform but her passion and advocacy on affordable housing, tenant rights and state of good repair issues is her passion.

Donna Borden

Co-Chair of the East York Chapter

Donna works in healthcare and has been involved with ACORN ever since she began fighting back against predatory lenders like CitiFinancial in 2014. Donna is a fair banking warrior, having led many actions against payday and installment lenders. She has also delivered deputations to different levels of government about the different ways the bank system excludes low and moderate income people.

Marva Burnett

Chair of the Scarborough Chapter – National Board Representative, President, ACORN International President.

Marva is the Chair of Scarborough ACORN and the National President of ACORN Canada. Marva is a child care worker, and a mother. She has been passionate leader with ACORN since it first started organizing in Scarborough in 2005 and has led countless campaigns over the years.

Jacquie Mitchell

Chair of York West Chapter

Jacquie was born and raised in Toronto. She joined ACORN because stuff needed changing in her apartment building. She’s come to realize that change can happen with the right people, and that’s certainly the case here. She’s honoured to stand with her ACORN family and make changes happen.

Kemba Robinson

Co-Chair of the York West Chapter

Kemba Robinson lives in the Jane Finch neighbourhood and has been a leader in her chapter since an organizer knocked on her door. Kemba believes that landlords and politicians do not do enough for tenants, and that Toronto needs real affordable housing with proper maintenance. These beliefs have motivated Kemba’s work and drives her to continue to organize with her neighbours.

Marcia Stone

Co-Chair of the Weston Chapter

Marcia joined ACORN in 2019 and has quickly become an active leader in her community and chapter. She believes that your postal code should not determine the quality of your housing and that’s why she continues to fight for healthy homes for all and on other important housing campaigns led by ACORN.

Rikki LaCoste

Chair of the Weston Chapter

A relatively new member of ACORN, Rikki comes with lived experience in most of the issues that we fight for. Not only is he presently a Food Bank and Activities volunteer at the Weston King Neighbourhood Centre, but is also a Committee Member of the Canadian Mental Health Association's Green and Emergency Response committees. His enthusiasm and concern for his neighbourhood in Weston, North York, led Rikki to be elected by his neighbours to be the Weston Chairperson in December, 2022.

Peter D’Gama

Chair of the Etobicoke Chapter

Peter chairs the Etobicoke chapter of ACORN. He has knocked on countless doors in buildings, helping his neighbours fight back against greedy and negligent landlords. His advocacy has centred on the People Over Profit Campaign.

Ria Rinne

Co-Chair of the Etobicoke Chapter

Ria originally joined ACORN Ottawa, but after moving to Toronto she became a member of the Etobicoke chapter. Ria brings years of experience leading meetings and actions in her community. She has been an active voice in the media and has been an invaluable leader helping to organize effective local campaigns.

Rama Fayaz

Chair of Downtown Chapter

Rama lives in Downtown Toronto in St. Jamestown. He has been a member of ACORN and Downtown Chair for years. He has organized outreaches, actions, and tenant rights workshops. Rama has fought on all Toronto ACORN's campaigns and continues to represent the downtown ACORN members in interviews with with reporters, in meetings with city councillors, and more

Cristiano DaSilva

Co Chair of Downtown Chapter

Cristinao originally joined Hamilton ACORN in Hamilton in which he helped organize the Stoney Creek neighbourhood. After moving back to Toronto Cristiano organized his building on the Beat the Heat campaign. Whether he is doorknocking, fliering, or holding the megaphone, Cristiano is passionate about organizing!

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