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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.

Salimah Kassam

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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.

Darlene Doskoch

Managing Director
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A grandmother to 5 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.

Julia Nicholls

Financial Empowerment Manager

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.

Melody Lemay

Community Advocate - Volunteer Coordinator

Melody believes that small changes today can have big impacts in the future. Melody is an enthusiastic social worker who practices through the lens of Strength-Based Anti-Oppressive Approach. She believes that everyone has strengths and the potential to succeed.   


Melody first came to Rise as a practicum student. During her practicum, she discovered how she can apply her education and passion for helping others in a meaningful way at Rise Calgary. She came back as a Community Advocate, Volunteer Coordinator, with the goal of enhancing the life of our city’s most vulnerable population. As a lifelong learner, Melody is currently completing her Bachelor of Social Work at the University of Calgary, with plans and openness to continue her graduate education in social work in the future.   


Melody finds peace in nature; she enjoys going to the mountains and having long scenic road trips with her family. During her free time, she spends numerous hours volunteering with seniors in the community: helping them with shopping trips and companionship.

Jessica Gergely

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.

Shelby Clarke

Advocate, Referrals
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Shelby is a social worker whose former primary experience spanned throughout the realm of frontline harm reduction work and crisis intervention. She came to Rise first as a practicum student, and then as an employee, and swiftly fell in love with the intersectional levels within which Rise Calgary works to bridge the gaps in our community in a lasting way.

Her role as a Community Advocate brings her skills in networking and trauma-informed practice to the forefront. Shelby is passionate about fostering equity and dignity for all marginalized people.

As a member of the Métis Nation of Alberta, she is always willing to discuss decolonization and intergenerational healing.

An avid writer and reader in her free time, Shelby loves stories of all kinds and believes that the sharing of our own stories with one another is the greatest gift of all.

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