ASI Team

Rebecca Black

Ali H. Kazmi

Research Assistant

Ali is an accessibility advocate and inclusive design researcher who strives to keep his professional contributions connected to EDDI principles and advocacy to better serve communities on the margins. A graduate from the University of Toronto St. George with a double bachelors in History and Political Science, he first developed research experience in a wildly divergent field; through OCAD’s Inclusive Design Research Centre, he facilitated the development of an accessible and robust online learning platform, with an emphasis on micro-credentialling, industry alignment, and formal accreditation. This produced online learning badges for the IDRC’s We Count project, which enables earners to showcase their proficiency in the growing fields of AI, data systems, and inclusive data practices. Ali enjoys being active in his professional community, and has presented on behalf of eCampus Ontario and the University of Toronto on topics ranging from micro-credentials and open education tools to accommodations disclosure in the workplace.

Learn more about Ali here!


Rebecca Black

Aryn Guthrie

Marketing & Communications Manager

As a marketing and communications professional with extensive non-profit experience, Aryn is passionate about collaborating with purpose-driven organizations and has a knack for building strong personal connections. Aryn prides herself on being able to adapt communications to a variety of audiences and is a fan of colourful spreadsheets, a lover of all things chocolate and a strong advocate for a functional (and pocketful) fanny pack.

 Aryn comes to ASI with experience amplifying brand awareness for organizations rooted in sustainability. This includes working as the Marketing and Membership Manager for Decentralised Energy Canada to support the transition to a sustainable, resilient and affordable energy future. Aryn also worked as Project Manager for Critical Path Group to support entrepreneur development through venture capital conferences in the technology commercialization sector.

 Aryn holds a Bachelor of Communication, Journalism from Mount Royal University and volunteers her time as Vice President for the Kamloops Bike Riders Association. Outside of work, you’ll find her mountain biking with friends or babysitting many doodle dogs.

Learn more about Aryn here!


Ed Whittingham headshot

Ed Whittingham

Co-Founder & Strategic Advisor
Former Executive Director,
Pembina Institute

Ed Whittingham is a passionate, results-oriented environmental professional. His background in climate change, energy policy and corporate sustainability has been developed through 20 years of working collaboratively with companies, governments, universities and non-governmental organizations in Canada and internationally. He is the former executive director of the Pembina Institute, Canada’s widely respected energy/environment NGO.

Learn more about Ed here!


Nadine Gudz

Nadine Gudz

VP, Research & Programs

A seasoned sustainability leader and Clean50 honouree, Nadine led corporate sustainability strategy, partnership development and employee engagement initiatives for sustainable business pioneer, Interface Inc. for over ten years. Currently completing her Ph.D. in sustainability education and organizational change, she’s Faculty for the Graduate Certificate program in Corporate Social Responsibility and Sustainability at St. Michael’s College, University of Toronto.

Nadine is a LEED accredited professional who has served on the Boards of the National Zero Waste Council, US Green Building Council Education Advisory Committee and Canadian Business for Social Responsibility.

Learn more about Nadine here!


Rebecca Black

Taylor Stimpson

Program Manager

Taylor is a passionate problem-solver and environmentalist who works to drive systems change toward a more climate-positive, equitable, and socially-just future that is sustainable for people and the planet. She brings over 6 years of experience researching & developing sustainable materials from renewable resources, from both an academic and private start-up lens. With more than 5 sustainability related micro-credentials, Taylor believes in lifelong learning. Taking inspiration from biology in her approach to solving challenges, she demonstrates that nature is our greatest teacher. As a McMaster alumna, holding a B.Eng & Society and M.A.Sc in Chemical Engineering, Taylor brings new perspectives to the way we design and engineer our future, one that works with the planet, and not against it.

Learn more about Taylor here!


Tamara Connell

Chief Executive Officer

Tamara is a strong, creative, and entrepreneurial leader with extensive experience across the sustainability and social innovation spheres. She has 20+ years of adult education experience and has designed and delivered courses, programs, and other custom engagements all around the world. Tamara’s previous roles include Program Director in the Master’s of Strategic Leadership towards Sustainability program at BTH in Sweden, Director of Sustainability Learning Programs at The Natural Step Canada, and Associate Director of Education & Training at RADIUS SFU. She has also run her own successful consulting company for the past 10+ years, focused on facilitation, stakeholder engagement, and strategic planning.

Tamara holds a BSc in Environmental Planning, and a Masters in Strategic Leadership towards Sustainability. She is also a certified Associate Coach with Integral Coaching Canada, and a certified LEGO® SERIOUS PLAY® methods facilitator.

Learn more about Tamara here!


Rebecca Black

Zahra Qureshi


Zahra Qureshi works with changemakers and founders to support their passion for a positive impact on people, communities and the planet. A Chartered Professional Accountant committed to doing business with heart, she launched Optinum Professional Corporation with a mission to reduce the overwhelm and stress caused by accounting systems, finance concepts and impact planning tools. As a coach and consultant, Zahra brings 12+ years of experience in the field of finance to help entrepreneurs and changemakers build confidence and strategic clarity for achieving financial sustainability, powerful growth, and positive social change. Optinum’s support includes outsourced services for finance/accounting and social impact management, strategic coaching for building these processes internally, financial analysis for growth-oriented organizations, and securing and managing grant and investor funding. Optinum is proud to serve a client portfolio working on 10 of the 17 United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals and promote financial literacy for individuals and organizations. In 2020, Zahra also founded Social Venture Circuit with the vision to build a community of social enterprises that could grow and learn together and serves as a Treasurer on the board of directors for Common Approach to Impact Measurement. 

Zahra shares her passion and knowledge through workshops and mentorship at 15+ entrepreneurship programs across Canada, covering topics such as accounting basics for new founders, financial empowerment, getting funding, the power of budgeting, and creating an impact blueprint.

Learn more about Zahra here!


Board of Directors


Anamika Mukherjee

Board Member
Partner at BDC Capital’s Industrial Clean Energy Technology Fund

Anamika Mukherjee is a recognized decarbonization and energy transition thought leader in Canada. She’s a Partner at BDC Capital’s Industrial Clean Energy Technology Fund, where she enables Canadian entrepreneurs with bold ideas around sustainability to build global companies. Before this, she was the head of technology & innovation at Cenovus Energy and chaired the Net-Zero Planning Committee at the Oil sands Pathways to Net Zero Alliance. Anamika has a uniquely diverse career background. In 2018-2019, Anamika was seconded to the Canadian Federal Government where she worked as Chief of Staff to the Resources of the Future Economic Strategy Table, where she coordinated governments and resource sectors CEOs across Canada to land on policy recommendations to the federal government to boost Canada’s economic competitiveness. In 2016, Anamika operationalized a Cenovus-Suncor-BC Cleantech CEO Alliance cleantech venture partnership, Evok Innovations, and subsequently became part of the fund’s investment committee. She’s led the Canadian oil and gas industry in various multi-stakeholder, provincial and federal environmental policy negotiations. She has significant experience in process engineering design, commissioning & start-up activities, and operational troubleshooting from her years at Jacobs Engineering and Suncor Energy. In 2015, Anamika was recognized by the Young Women in Energy Award for climate change innovation. In 2016, she was recognized by the Alberta Oil Magazine for her efforts to enable oil to be a part of a clean energy future. In 2017,  she was featured by Natural Resources Canada’s Generation Energy for forging the path to clean energy. In 2018, Anamika received two Deputy Minister’s Awards from Innovation, Science and Economic Development Canada for her outstanding contribution to the Economic Strategy Tables. Most recently, in 2022, she was featured by the Canada West Foundation as being a thought leader in decarbonization and energy transition. Anamika has been a keynote speaker and has participated on several panels on technology, energy transition, sustainability, and women in leadership.



Fiona Jones

The Banff Canmore Community Foundation

Fiona is a sustainability professional with 40 years of experience in private industry in the financial and energy sectors. A graduate of the University of the Witwatersrand in South Africa, she has held roles in financial risk management and governance, compliance and ethics, climate change and energy policy, climate risk disclosure, and, most recently, led the Sustainability team for a large integrated oil company. She believes that, at its core, organizational sustainability is about the ability to understand, respond, and adapt to a changing external environment and in doing so remain relevant, and generate value, regardless of which version of the future unfolds A systems thinker that thrives on complex issues, non-linear concepts and “wicked” challenges, she has participated in multiple alliances and other engagement with ENGO’s and civil society to advance progressive policy and social change. She also currently serves on the Board of The Banff Canmore Community Foundation.


Maxime Lakat

Maxime Lakat

Board Member
Executive Director at

Maxime Lakat is the Founder and Executive Director of Re_Generation, Canada’s largest organization dedicated to advancing sustainable business by amplifying youth perspectives and providing youth with skills-building and career resources. Re_Generation aims to re_imagine schools, re_purpose careers, and re_model companies to be aligned with regenerative principles. In 2021, their “Our Future, Our Business” Manifesto campaign became Canada’s largest youth-led movement to change the way business is done and taught. Re_Generation is currently building a wide youth & civil society campaign to support the recently proposed Climate-aligned Finance Act (by Senator Rosa Galvez). Prior to this role, Maxime was the Co-President of the Desautels Sustainability Network (DSN) at McGill University. DSN helped co-organize the Montreal Youth Summit on Sustainable Business and many other events that reached thousands of students. DSN also worked at the academic level to improve McGill’s business curricula and mainstream sustainability across all programs including by creating the first sustainable finance course.

Maxime graduated from McGill University in 2021 with a Bachelor of Commerce in Sustainable Business Management & Social Entrepreneurship.


Matt McCulloch

Board Chair
Director, ESG & Decarbonization,
Norda Stelo

Matt is the Director of ESG and Decarbonization for Norda Stelo where he provides technology and investment decision making support to clients from all sectors, guides the engineering of industry and business to net zero as quickly as possible while helping understand their ESG impacts, and informs the development of infrastructure to be resilient against climate impacts while also enabling the energy transition. Prior to Norda, Matt held several roles including as Vice President New Energy Technologies at Exergy Solutions where led a corporate technology strategy group and advanced low carbon technologies through the combination of agile engineering and additive manufacturing. He was the Director of the Greenhouse Gas Priority Area at COSIA supporting the oil sands industry alliance members in accelerating the pace of greenhouse gas technology innovation and deployment through collaboration. Prior to joining COSIA Matt helped build and lead the consulting arm of the Pembina Institute, a Canadian non-profit environmental organization, working with Canadian businesses of all sizes and sectors to improve their environmental and financial performance by integrating sustainability solutions, innovation, and clean energy technology into their strategies and operations.

Matt is a team member of the Low Carbon Value Added Products theme for the Clean Resource Innovation Network, board member of Foresight, and chair of the board for the Academy for Sustainable Innovation.


Jess Lax

Board Chair
Founder & CEO
The Ember Circle

Jess Lax is a nature-inspired leadership coach who supports changemakers in doing the inner work that leads to outer change.

She is the Founder of the Ember Circle where she brings together changemakers who want to feel more connected, aligned, and resilient as they build a world where all beings can thrive. She has twenty years of experience as a social impact leader and has spent her career focused on preparing changemakers to lead in a time of complexity.

She trained as an ecologist in her undergraduate education, and completed her MBA as a Skoll Scholar at Oxford University.

Learn more about Jess here!