Meet The Team
The small but mighty team at Rise Calgary is there to help Calgarians when they need it most.
We are a diverse team, that believes in equity and providing supportive, resident centered, compassionate, and trusted service to our community members.
As a long time collaborator and friend of one of our founding organizations, Sunrise Community Link, Salimah has a great respect and admiration for the people and the work of our vital and vibrant organization. Her career has been committed to finding solutions that work to solve the complex and persistent problem of poverty in our communities and she couldn't be more excited to work with the Rise Calgary team and volunteer community so that together we can design and create a better day-to-day reality for Calgarians living on low incomes.
With a highly empathetic, resourceful and driven leadership style, she's determined to make meaningful impacts on the people and systems in Calgary. Bringing a bright vision to execute strategy, galvanize resources, track results, and make lasting shifts in society. With a Masters’ in Public Policy from the University of Calgary she strives to utilize her background has a subject matter expert in policy development, asset-building, poverty reduction, social housing, community economic development and behavioral economics.
As Manager of the Financial Empowerment Network for Untied Way Calgary and Area, she acted as a key player in launching, building and executing Calgary’s poverty reduction plan and Canada’s national financial empowerment movement. Prior to joining United Way, Salimah spent five years working for Momentum, Community Economic Development, partnering with individuals and families experiencing living on a low income to create positive financial change in their lives.
Outside of her working life, she also sits as the President of the Board at Downstage Theatre, and as a board member with Cornerstone Youth Centres, and often volunteers with the Ismaili Muslim community. This all builds a deep appreciation for the role art plays in solving complex social issues.
If you would like to connect over a coffee, please feel free to reach out to Salimah and help us to build a community where everyone moves forward.
A grandmother to 4 beautiful grandchildren, Darlene works as the Team Manager at Rise Calgary. She transitioned into this role from the Financial Empowerment Manager back in July 2021. She's been with us for 2 years now and is responsible for Human Resources, Fund Development, Occupational Health and Safety, and Practicum Placement and Supervision.
Darlene isn't just passionate about photography, although she is a wiz behind the lens, she's also passionate about all of the work we do here at Rise Calgary. She's particularly passionate about our team and supporting them and about enhancing our existing programs and services. From keeping us all safe, to ensuring we're all learning and growing in our time with Rise Calgary, to focusing on program improvement with our residents in mind!
Darlene has an educational and professional background in the social services sector, coming to us with a wealth of knowledge in financial empowerment, and supporting people experiencing homelessness, mental health challenges, addictions, and persons with disabilities. These skills show up in her volunteerism too, being the Canadian Ambassador for Pay It Forward International for the last 15 years now!
Her accomplishments since moving to Rise Calgary include the leadership of the Taxation and Benefits Community of Practice, transitioning this work from in-person to online and improving access, to the new Talking Taxes pilot project to support Treaty 7 Nations and bring Indigenous volunteers and tax clinics into their communities, enhancing access to benefits and supports.
With previous experience working in the social services field, a passion for building resiliency in communities through empowering others to see their strengths and skills, Julia was a natural fit for our empowerment manager position.
Initially she connected with Rise Calgary to volunteer and give back to her community, and now she oversees our Empowerment Programming, including our tax filing and benefits navigation work, our Earn and Learn matched savings program, financial coaching for our community members, supporting our practicum students, and overseeing our network of tax volunteers. With all that running around, it's a good thing she's fast, with a personal best of 1:52 in the Vancouver half marathon.
A big music lover, with over 150 concerts under her belt, Julia believes that everyone has something to offer this world to make it a better place. She counts one of her biggest achievements as leading a North American presentation about Mental Health and Burnout during the festive season, helping with research and developing accessible actions to combat it.
Strategy and Fundraising
With a tireless work ethic, Salwa works to ensure that all Calgarians are supported and achieving their goals. As the lead for our Mobility Coaching Pilot, she's diving into the world of social economics to see if we can create lasting change in people's lives through a combination of coaching, goal settings, and creating slack through incentives.
Meranda brings a wealth of experience in payroll and book keeping to Rise Calgary and always has a great story up her sleeve to keep everyone entertained and laughing. She's often zipping around our various office locations, and supporting volunteer relationships with organizations like the Lions Club, when she doesn't have her head buried in QuickBooks.
Originally hailing from Auckland, New Zealand, Chris came to Canada in 2016 to take a holiday and get some snowboarding in. After spending 6 months living in Banff he fell in love with the country and the people and decided to stay.
Chris heard about Sunrise from a friend who used to volunteer in the food room, before it merged with BowWest to create Rise Calgary, and thought it sounded like a great place, doing amazing work in the community that he wanted to support, so when the opportunity to interview for the Operations position came up, he jumped at it.
With a creative flair, he's passionate about using his skills and experience in technology, marketing, and communications, to support people who are navigating difficult experiences in their lives. While going to school part time, studying a Bachelor of Computer Science, he loves the creative aspects of this work, overseeing our website, developing content for our social media channels, and working on marketing and communications projects.
Advocate, Community Engagement
Jessica comes to us with a background in journalism and a real passion for story telling, communications, and community engagement. You'll often find her out connecting with different community partners to build relationships that our customers truly value, when she's not hitting the slopes on her snowboard that is.
Jessica oversees our Ripples program, supporting community initiatives in Bowness, Montgomery, and Greewood Village and you'll more often than not find her working out of our office location at the Bowness Community Association.
Advocate, Community Hubs
After completing her Bachelors Degree in Psychology and starting down her journey of a Masters in Counselling, Lauren joined the Rise Calgary team as a Canada Summer Jobs placement back in July 2021. After working in a few different roles supporting children, families, and seniors at different organizations, she made quite the impression on us, accepting an offer to join us full time in September 2021 as the Community Hubs Advocate.
As our Hubs Advocate, Lauren will be engaging with many partners and community members around Calgary, getting the opportunity to start her days in different locations and try to catch Calgary's beautiful sunrises and sunsets with her camera.
Recently discovering a love of bird watching, Lauren is always trying to push herself personally, whether it's at the gym, by reading more books, or through tackling difficult violin music.
She loves working with people and anyone who has had the privilege of meeting her can see the value she places in her interactions with community members, taking real joy in her daily conversations that she finds insightful, illuminating, and inspiring. Discussing philosophy and spirituality is a real passion, so we're sure everyone will also come away with fresh outlook after speaking with Lauren.