Local 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. 

Ottawa - Gatineau ACORN

Maria 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 Britannia 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.

 

 

 

Blaine Cameron
Chair of the Central Ottawa Chapter

Blaine joined ACORN after an organizer knocked on his door in 2012. Living in a substandard housing unit in Vanier, he’s become a leader on the frontlines for landlord licensing and other citywide to national campaigns - from affordable housing to internet for all!

 

 

 

Andrea Terry
Acting Chair of the Carlington Chapter

Andrea has been organizing with ACORN since its inception in Ottawa 15 years ago. Andrea is a fierce advocate for the safety and wellbeing of her Ottawa Community Housing community and fights to change the issues that matter most to the tenants and families that live there, including raising social assistance rates and improving the state of housing.

 

 

 

Peel ACORN

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.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Toronto ACORN

 

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 at an ACORN eventDonna 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 BurnettMarva 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.

 

 

 

 

 

Kemba Robison

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.

 

 

 

Bob Murphy sitting with an ACORN member at  an information tableBob Murphy

Chair of the Weston Chapter

 

Bob has been the chair of Weston ACORN since 2019, and you’ll often see him at actions across the city as well as down at city hall meeting councillors or making deputations about the need for REAL affordable housing. Bob is an ODSP recipient and always makes sure to view and speak about ACORN’s campaigns through that lens.

 

 

 

 

Marcia Stone speaking into a microphoneMarcia 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.

 

 

 

 

 

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.

 

 

 

Hamilton ACORN

Mike Wood

Chair of the Downtown Chapter

 

Mike is a fierce champion of housing rights in Hamilton. Joining ACORN in 2017, he helped organize the revival of ACORN in Hamilton, and has been leading the fight for local legislation to protect Hamilton tenants from substandard housing and the practice of renovictions.

 

 

 

Terry Williton 

Secretary of the Downtown Chapter

Terry became an ACORN member in 2018. Inspired by his experience advocating for low income families with local Hamilton community groups, Terry has been a strong voice advocating to raise social assistance rates and justice for tenants. 

 

 

 

 

Keith Alarie 

Downtown Co - Chair
 

Keith is a founding member of Hamilton’s downtown chapter. He became involved with ACORN in 2017 and has been an active voice in the Hamilton media calling for more affordable housing and increased local legislation to protect tenants from poor housing conditions.

 

 

Chantel Potter 

Chair East Hamilton

 

Chantel was roused to become an ACORN member in 2018. Inspired by an ACORN civics workshop in downtown Hamilton, she is committed to fighting for the issues ACORN champions and bringing action for justice in her community. Chantel is currently studying to become a paralegal at Mohawk College. 

 

 

 

 

Raven Bridges
East Hamilton Co-Chair

Raven attended an ODSP rally in 2018, and was motivated to become an ACORN member shortly after. Raven can often be found behind a megaphone, moving and coordinating direct actions. Raven is passionate about fighting for low income tenants in Hamilton’s east end.

 

 

 

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.  
 

 

 

 

Rebecca Guzzo-Hockridge
Mountain Hamilton Secretary / Treasurer 

Rebecca Guzzo-Hockridge joined ACORN during the COVID19 pandemic after reaching out with concerns about renoviction in Hamilton. Rebecca is passionate, caring, and willing to go above and beyond for the wellbeing of others. Having struggled with episodic homelessness, Rebecca is passionate about issues surrounding women’s homelessness and tenant displacement. She plans to use her skills and experience studying social work.

 

 

BC ACORN

Noel Ouellette 

Chair New Westminster ACORN and National Board Representative

 

Noel joined ACORN in 2005 while pushing for community safety in New Westminster BC. Since then, Noel has been active on numerous ground breaking campaigns such as the New West Living Wage Campaign in 2010 and the End the Child Support Clawback campaign in 2015. Noel is currently the Chair of New West ACORN and a member of the ACORN Canada National Board. 

 

 

 

Melanie Campbell 

Co-Chair New Westminster ACORN

 

Melanie has been an active BC ACORN member for a decade. Her campaign work has focused on stopping predatory lending in British Columbia. She has also worked on disability rights and ending the digital divide campaigns. In addition to being Co-Chair, Melanie is also the former Chair of New Westminster ACORN  

 

 

 

 

 

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.

 

 

 

 

Murray Martin 

Acting Chair of 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. 

 

 

 

 

Bryn Smith

Acting Chair of Guildford-Surrey ACORN

 

Bryn is a newly elected Acting Chair of Guildford-Surrey ACORN. Leading campaigns in Guildford-Surrey since 2019, Bryn has been actively participating in various events, including the ACORN’s recent COVID-19 Campaigns.