Leadership Faculty Biographies

Our expert faculty members combine theory with practice, and are some of the most respected and experienced educators working in the fields of leadership, coaching, mentoring, training and facilitation. 

Violette Baillargeon (BA, BEd, MEd) is a highly experienced educator specializing in language instruction and teacher development, with a distinguished career spanning over two decades. Currently teaching in Preservice Professional Studies at Simon Fraser University, Violette's impact extends far beyond the classroom. Notably, Violette has been instrumental in shaping the next generation of educators through her teaching and mentorship in her current role as well as a high school and adult educator, where she has taught Modern Languages in a broad range of settings, from inner city schools to International Baccalaureate Programs. Her dedication to fostering a supportive learning environment is evident in her experiences as an internal mediator and peer support teacher for the BC Teachers' Federation, where she adeptly resolves conflicts among colleagues and provides valuable support and resources to fellow educators in need. Moreover, Violette's commitment to professional development is exemplified by her extensive training in Restorative Practices, which she leverages to enhance communication and collaboration within educational settings. Beyond her formal roles, Violette is a seasoned workshop facilitator, having conducted workshops locally and internationally since 2007 on a variety of topics, including the Revised Curriculum and Teacher Professionalism. Her passion for education, coupled with her expertise in language instruction and teacher development, makes her a valued asset in the field of education and leadership.

Chris Carroll, BA (Philosophy and Education), MA (Philosophy) Years ago, Chris started his career working with at-risk youth. Then he taught in both the public and private systems, then worked as a learning consultant with the federal government. Currently Chris teaches at Vancouver Community College and at the Justice Institute of BC and does private consulting with individuals and organizations.  He specializes in helping people to learn and to help others to learn. His philosophy of leadership can be summed up in this paraphrase of Gandhi: “...If we could change ourselves, the tendencies in the world would also change. As a person changes their own nature, so does the attitude of the world change towards them…”  

Clare Connolly, MA (Leadership), PCC, Cert. ConRes is a group facilitator, trainer and professional coach who specializes in leadership development and conflict resolution. Since 2008, she has facilitated leadership development programs, managed her own private practice as a leadership coach, and been active as a conflict resolution coach at the Justice Institute. Her experience includes management and leadership roles, as well as supporting the development of many emerging, new, and experienced leaders who are wanting to lead more effectively, improve their relationships, and make a positive difference. She is dedicated to helping others grow in ways that lead to increased -- even transformational -- personal and interpersonal/team effectiveness and positive impact.

Dr. Jason Cressey, PhD (Psychology) (Oxford University) specializes in interpersonal and communication skills. After several years spent lecturing in university environments, he felt a strong desire to take the ideas from the academic world and apply them in real-world settings. Since 2000, he has been a consultant and workshop facilitator for a wide range of clients - from small non-profits to global corporations - on a variety of leadership-related topics. He has travelled extensively and brings the insights gained from work and research with many different cultures into his teaching style. Ultimately, his main goal is always to provide a safe, nurturing and enjoyable learning environment that encourages people to look inwards and embark on a journey of meaningful self-reflection.

Dr. Michal Fedeles, PhD (Education, UBC) is an education and psychology professor and consultant supporting organizations in creating learning experiences and environments for high performance, meaning, and satisfaction. Michal’s lifelong passion has been facilitating learning and development that is rooted in deep connections, curious exploration, and authentic expression. He collaborates with faculty, trainers and teachers on making online and hybrid learning just as powerful as the best learning in person.

Vanessa Gray, C. Med, B.A, Cert. Con Res., is a conflict resolution and leadership practitioner specializing in mediation, facilitation, coaching, and training.  Vanessa has provided consulting services to both public and private sector organizations, sport at the national and international level, the family courts, Restorative Justice, and school districts throughout the lower mainland.  
She is a national conference speaker on topics including conflict resolution, collaborative communication, leadership, teamwork and workplace harassment.  For over 20 years, Vanessa has mediated and resolved disputes ranging from interpersonal complaints to complex multi-issue conflicts.  Vanessa holds a BA in Psychology from Simon Fraser University and holds a full Certificate of Conflict Resolution from the Justice Institute of BC.  Vanessa is a  Chartered Mediator, and is certified through ADR Canada. 

Balbir Gurm, a fellow of the Canadian Academy of Nursing, is an internationally regarded and experienced educator/leader/researcher, a registered nurse with a Doctorate in Education (Leadership and Policy, UBC) who translates academic knowledge into practice. She has expertise in education, equity across the life span, engagement and change. Balbir is one of the few people in BC who has conducted social audits. She is an international leader, a keynote speaker, and workshop facilitator on equity and student engagement. As a consultant with decades of experience, she has facilitated sessions with the public and non-profit sectors on education, diversity & inclusion, cultural safety, strategic planning & evaluation, and organizational change. As a leader, president, and board member of several organizations and active participant of multiple advisory committees and government quasi-judicial bodies, round tables & summit;, she has contributed to creating equitable safe spaces. For her accomplishments, she is the recipient of several education awards (CRNBC, Shakti), leadership awards (Canadian Cancer Society, Times of Canada) and for several decades of work on equity, two YWCA Women of Distinction Awards, Darpan’s Community Crusader Award, Drishti’s Excellence in Community Engagement Award the Soroptimist Ruby Award and the Association of Nurses and Nurse Practitioners of BC (NNPBC) Excellence in Nursing Innovation Award.

Precious Ile MA, PMP is a Certified Project Management (PMP) with a decade of experience in dialogue, community engagement, human-centered design, participatory action research, leadership and board governance. She is the CEO and Co-Founder of Impact Plus Consulting, a strategy and engagement consulting firm. As a trainer, facilitator, and consultant, she speaks internationally on how putting people at the centre yields better results for navigating change and improving any organization planning process. Among her professional achievements, Precious is a TEDx speaker and appointed a Dialogue Associate with SFU Morris J. Wosk Centre for Dialogue as one of over 90 distinguished practitioners leading the practice of dialogue and engagement in the region. Precious was also nominated for a YWCA Women of Distinction Award for her commitment to service, youth development and economic well-being. She received the national IAP2 Core Value Award for Creativity and Innovation in public engagement. She holds a Master's degree in Community Development from the University of Victoria and a Bachelor's degree in Criminology from Simon Fraser University. She currently serves as a Board Director with IAP2 Canada and was a past director with City Hive Vancouver and the SFU Alumni Association. 

Dr. Shawn Ireland, EdD, MA, MS, is a clinical psychologist by training, with over thirty year's experience as an Industrial and Organizational psychologist. His expertise includes action-learning initiatives in support of personal and organization development including managing change, coaching, management of virtual teams, project leadership and fostering critical thinking. He has worked extensively around the world with a variety of organizations including international Fortune 500 companies, local government bodies, domestic government departments and charitable organizations. He is presently the Program Director and a member of the core faculty for the Masters degrees in Industrial and Organization Psychology at Adler University in Vancouver.


Vanessa Lesperance, GDBA, MA Leadership, is a mixed heritage Metis woman originally from Treaty 1 (Winnipeg). She is a decolonial facilitator who thrives on creating safe and brave spaces in order for folks to feel heard, seen and valued and is on a mission to invoke heart-centered transformation and decolonize business. Vanessa has a masters degree in leadership from Royal Roads University and a graduate degree in business from SFU.  She has 12 years of corporate experience and thrived on creating strong, productive and engaged teams. After leaving the corporate world Vanessa has worked extensively with Indigenous women entrepreneurs with the not-for-profit Indigenous LIFT Collective. Her economic reconciliation work includes advocating for improvements with federal ministers on Indigenous procurement; designing and delivering entrepreneurial and leadership programs; holding online circles; and overseeing the creation of a decolonizing business online course for Southern Alberta Institute of Technology. Vanessa founded The Mindful Managers and Vancity Labyrinth based on her research on workplace spirituality to help guide people to lead in a good way and support teams to connect meaningfully and engage with one another. She has written about leadership and has been published in SAY Magazine, Liisbeth Magazine and the World Federation Association of Teacher's Education journal. She has presented at Fairleigh Dickinson University, the 2020 Kindness Matters Conference, Surrey School District, Royal Roads University, HILTI North America and has hosted “Indigenous Enough” circles for Google and Trent University. 

Sophie Mas has over 20 years’ experience in leading and managing projects in the public sector. Sophie has worked on a number of high profile projects, including the 2010 Winter Olympic and Paralympic Games, the creation of the civilian-led Independent Investigations Office which investigates police in death or serious harm cases, the BC Policing and Community Safety Plan, and the response to the Missing Women Commission of Inquiry. Sophie is currently the Project Director of the Cannabis Legalization and Regulation Secretariat with the BC Ministry of Public Safety and Solicitor General. She is also the co-founder and President of STAND, a non-profit organization that helps vulnerable youth access post-secondary education and skills training in Metro Vancouver. Sophie is a certified PMP (Project Manager Professional) and holds a Master’s in Public Administration from the University of Victoria. She teaches Leading Projects at the JIBC and is one of the Project Management Institute Westcoast Chapter’s PMP exam preparation course instructors. 

Julia Menard, MEd, PCC, Cert. ConRes specializes in helping to transform organizational conflict into a learning gift. She runs her own conflict consulting practice working with teams, leaders and employees in conflict within public and private organizations. Julia is the co-author of Hold On To Yourself: How to Stay Cool in Hot Conversations and the Canadian distributor and workshop creator for Mediator in a Box.

Georganne Oldham, MS Organization Development and Doctoral Candidate in Social Sciences,specializes in leadership and organization learning and development and has dedicated herself to continually researching and honing her knowledge of human behaviour in the workplace. She is a founder and principal with LeadershipMind Consulting. She is engaged in academic and organizational learning environments. Georganne brings a depth of knowledge and range of facilitation experience she has gathered through over 25 years of working with clients in educational, non-profit, corporate and government settings. She is known for the rich, interactive, and dynamic learning environments she creates for in-person and online workshops and events. 

Alan Simpson, MA, HRC, CCR, ALCR, is a facilitator, instructor, and mediator with a rich background in conflict resolution and leadership development. Alan provides exceptional conflict engagement processes and comprehensive training seminars for leaders and their organizations. He has logged over 30 years of experience in developing leaders and organizations in various critical areas such as communication skills, change management, and conflict engagement. Alan has had the privilege of working with a diverse range of clients, including family businesses, school districts, and government organizations. He delivers tailored solutions that address the specific needs of each client. He empowers leaders to unlock their full potential, inspiring them to become effective decision-makers and catalysts for positive change. Alan is also an experienced online and in-person instructor for JIBC for the past 15 years and creates immersive learning experiences that empower participants to acquire practical skills and strategies they can immediately apply in their professional lives. With his strong facilitation and mediation skills, he has become a trusted partner for countless clients, supporting them in overcoming obstacles, fostering effective communication, and building a culture of collaboration.

Dave Smulders (he/him/his) Dave Smulders has been an instructional designer and teacher in a variety of capacities, both in B.C. and abroad, for almost 30 years. He has taught adult education courses in the Department of Educational Studies at the University of British Columbia and was the recipient of the Faculty of Education Sessional and Lecturer Teaching Prize in 2016. He works as a program manager of faculty development at the Justice Institute of British Columbia. Whether teaching or doing instructional design his work involves collaborating with students and faculty to strengthen the connection between teaching and learning.

Leigh-Anne Stitt, CPHR, MA Leadership, has 20+ years’ experience in transforming talent to maximize leadership potential, healthy cultures and organizational performance.  As a consultant, facilitator and coach she is dedicated to supporting the growth of individuals, teams, and organizations in the for profit and not-for-profit sectors. She specializes in both talent and change management, as well as leadership and organizational development.  Passionate about learning and potential, Leigh-Anne is committed to empowering individuals and organizations to achieve the outcomes they desire.