Social Innovation Summit to tackle opioid crisis, housing and other regional issues

Surrey announces experts, keynotes and panel sessions for September 6 Summit


Linda Hepner
Photo by Vinnie Combow

WITH a focus on how to get “from thought to action” to tackle the region’s most pressing regional issues, the Surrey Social Innovation Summit is bringing nearly 50 local and national experts to City Hall on Thursday, September 6 to share their ideas and insights on how people and organizations are using social innovation to build better cities.

Presented by Century Group, the theme of the 2018 Summit is Social Innovation Leadership: From Thought to Action. Based on the notion that innovative ideas alone are not enough to make the kind of progressive change that builds a better city, the Summit’s keynote addresses, panel sessions, workshops and speakers announced today will focus on how to move those great ideas from the drawing board to reality. The list of presenters includes guest speakers from Winnipeg, Edmonton and Portland (see full summit agenda for session descriptions).

“As a growing city of half-a-million people, with 1,000 more arriving every month, finding solutions that connect individuals, neighbourhoods, and businesses are critical to moving forward with a completely engaged community,” said Surrey Mayor Linda Hepner. “The summit and the inaugural Surrey Social Innovation Awards will showcase the tremendous creative talents, experience and contributions that local individuals, businesses and neighbourhoods are making in our city.”

With only one week until the summit, the event appears to be on its way to selling out again this year, with $99 tickets for the summit and $39 tickets for individual workshops selling fast.

“The popularity of the summit and the talented roster of local and national speakers who have agreed to share their expertise with us speak volumes about Surrey’s commitment to collaboration and innovation to identify and resolve significant community issues,” added Councillor and Summit Chair Vera LeFranc. “This year, we have expanded the summit to feature more speakers, sessions and workshops, because, when it comes to addressing Indigenous reconciliation, housing, social inclusion, mental health and other key issues, every voice matters.”

The summit’s complete list of speakers, panelists and moderators includes:

  • Sarah Blyth, Founder, Overdose Prevention Society
  • Jessica Bolduc, Executive Director, 4Rs Youth Movement
  • Frances Bula, Freelance Journalist, Urban Issues and City Politics
  • Valentina Branada, Senior Service Designer, InWithForward
  • Kathleen Burke, Senior Lecturer, Beedie School of Business SFU, Envision Financial CLIC
  • Robert Byers, President and CEO, Namerind Housing Corporation
  • Curtis Carter, Peer Support Worker, Lookout Housing and Health Society
  • Darryl Condon, Managing Principal, HCMA Architecture + Design
  • Sean Condon, Managing Principal, Vancity Community Foundation
  • Joanne Curry, Vice-President, External Relations, Simon Fraser University
  • Marsha D’Angelo, Faculty, School of Business, Kwantlen Polytechnic University
  • Dr. Lyn Daniels (Cree), Director of Instruction, Aboriginal Learning Surrey Schools
  • Bruce Dewar, President and CEO, LIFT Philanthropy Partners
  • Camille Dumond, Program Manager, Refugee Livelihood Lab, RADIUS SFU
  • Brenda Fernie, Vice-President, Seyem Qwantlen Business Group
  • Michael Geller, Architect and Property Developer, The Geller Group
  • Daljit Gill-Badesha, Manager of Healthy Communities, City of Surrey
  • Michael Heeney, President and CEO, Surrey City Centre Development Corporation (SCDC)
  • Claudia Hepburn, CEO, Immigrant Access Fund (IAF)
  • David Hutniak, CEO, LandlordBC
  • Dr. Rajiv Jhangiani, Special Advisor to the Provost on Open Education & Psychology Instructor, Kwantlen Polytechnic University
  • Am Johal, Director, Simon Fraser University ’s Vancity Office of Community Engagement
  • Dan Kershaw, Executive Director, Furniture Bank
  • Hanieh Khataee, Strategy Consultant
  • David Lanphear, President, Envision Financial
  • Victoria Lee, Vice-President Population Health and Chief Medical Health Officer, Fraser Health Authority
  • Vera LeFranc, City Councillor, City of Surrey
  • Keir Macdonald, Deputy Executive Director, Lookout Housing and Health Society
  • Patrick Meehan, Director of Policy and Campaigns, Capilano Students’ Union
  • Shilpa Narayan, Mental Health and Social Justice Activist
  • Michelle Ninow, M.C.P. and Principal, M. Ninow Consulting
  • Steve Patty, Ph.D., Dialogues in Action
  • Jody Rechenmacher, Community Catalyst, Urban Matters CCC
  • Diane Roussin, Project Director, The Winnipeg Boldness Project
  • Cheryl Rose, Associate Director, Social Innovation Residency
  • David Sadoway, Instructor, Department of Geography & The Environment, Kwantlen Polytechnic University (Surrey)
  • Neelam Sahota, CEO, DIVERSEcity Community Resources Society
  • Mary Ellen Schaafsma, Director, Social Innovation and Research, Social Purpose Institute at United Way
  • Jeska Slater, Indigenous Youth Coordinator, Fraser Health Region Aboriginal Friendship Centre Association (FRAFCA)
  • Karine Smith, COO, Inspire Nunavut
  • Angela Sterritt, Reporter and Guest Host, CBC Vancouver from the Gitxsan Nation
  • Danica Straith, Director, Venture and Strategic Partnerships, Ashoka Canada
  • Tina Strehlke, CEO, Minerva BC
  • Katheren Szabo, Grassroots Leadership, People Placemaking, Friends of the Grove
  • Sheldon Tetreault, Lead Consultant, Surrey Urban Indigenous Leadership Committee (SUILC)
  • Kim van der Woerd, Principal, Reciprocal Consulting
  • Steve Veinot, Director, Supply Management Vancouver Airport Authority
  • Ben Weinlick, Senior Leader of Research and Social Innovation, Action Lab and Think Jar Collective
  • Dr. Fiona Whittington-Walsh, Chair, Department of Sociology, Kwantlen Polytechnic University and President, Inclusion BC


This year’s summit keynote addresses, breakout sessions and workshops include:

Keynote addresses

  • Reconcile This: The Power of Story, Indigenous Voice and the Truth
  • Leading to Develop People

Breakout Sessions

  • Social Innovation Leadership: The Changemaker’s Journey
  • Social Enterprises: Economic Strategies for Social Good
  • Suburbanization and the Compounding of the Housing Challenge
  • Social Innovation: Beyond the Buzz
  • Designing for Social Inclusion: Purposeful Cities
  • Nurturing and Building Social Innovation Leadership
  • Innovating Through Crisis: Challenging the Opioid Epidemic
  • Thinking Inside the Circle: 10,000 Years of Indigenous Innovation
  • Social Innovation Labs: From Drawing Board to Reality
  • Creating A Culture of Commitment

Workshop Sessions

  • The Practice of Social Innovation Labs
  • Getting to What Matters: How to Evaluate and Communicate your Impact
  • How a Struggle Became a Journey: The Importance of Connection & Conversation for Youth and Mental Wellness
  • ‘Afterschool for All’: A Shift in Planning, Policy, and Leadership Potential

For more information about the Surrey Social Innovation Summit, visit