Our Team


Sevaun Palvetzian
Chief Executive Officer
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Follow Sev on Twitter @SevaunP

Sevaun Palvetzian assumed the position of CEO at CivicAction in January of 2014. Before CivicAction, Sevaun held several senior executive roles within the Ontario Government including leading the Ontario Place Revitalization project to transform the flagship site into an iconic, year-round destination. Passionate about youth development, she launched the Youth and New Professional Secretariat – a government-wide strategy to attract, recruit, and retain future generations of leaders, and led the award-winning Learn and Work Program for at-risk youth.

Prior to the province, Sevaun worked at the University of Toronto, the World Bank Group, and Presidential Classroom, a Washington D.C. -based civic education organization. Outside of work, she has been involved in a wide range of civic initiatives serving as Chair of the Board of Directors of Katimavik Youth Services and as a member of the Advisory Board to the University of Toronto’s School of Public Policy and Governance. Sevaun currently sits on the Board of Directors of the Toronto Region Immigrant Employment Council.

She completed the Ivey Executive Program at the Richard Ivey School of Business and has an M.A. in history from the University of Western Ontario.

Linda Weichel
Vice President, Initiatives
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Linda brings 20 years experience at Canada’s largest employee-owned public relations firm, Media Profile, to her position as Vice President, Initiatives, CivicAction.Linda is leading the development of CivicAction’s next Summit in 2015. She also leads CivicAction’s regional transportation initiative that champions a regional transportation system and the means to pay for it. She also oversees CivicAction’s environmental initiative, Greening Greater Toronto, and its projects including the Race to Reduce that is engaging commercial landlords and tenants to reduce energy use by 10% by 2014.

Linda draws on her business leadership, communications expertise and passion for city building as she drives action across sectors to improve the Toronto region’s economic, social and environmental performance. Linda brings to her work knowledge of the financial services and real estate sectors and environmental communications experience with private, public, and non-profit organizations, and has successfully advanced public policy objectives over two decades, particularly at the municipal level. Linda encourages vibrant, walkable neighbourhoods as an advisory committee member of neighbourhood walking tour phenomenon Jane’s Walk.

Tamara Balan
Project Director
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Tamara leads the Private Sector Youth Jobs and Mentoring initiative, focused on increasing economic opportunities for youth facing barriers and meeting the needs in the labour market. Tamara oversees CivicAction’s preeminent leadership programs – the Emerging Leaders Network and DiverseCity Fellows, a network of more than 700 rising civic leaders strong. Working with Maytree, Tamara directs CivicAction’s continued commitment to diversifying the region’s leadership through DiverseCity: The Greater Toronto Leadership Project.

Tamara has been at CivicAction for more than six years. She believes in the collective leadership model to overcome status quo and make the Toronto region better. She’s seen this in action and is inspired by its potential. Tamara holds a Bachelors degree in Urban Studies and Political Science from the University of Toronto and joined CivicAction in 2007. In 2012 Tamara was named a Vital Person by the Toronto Community Foundation.

Nicole Beayni
Project Officer
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Nicole provides support to CivicAction’s Greening Greater Toronto environmental initiative, including the Race to Reduce, a friendly competition that is engaging commercial landlords and tenants to reduce energy use by 10% by 2014. She also assists with outreach for the Your32 campaign. Passionate about cities and the unique challenges and opportunities that they create, Nicole has been exploring urban issues in the Toronto region and globally for over a decade through academic, employment, volunteer and personal experiences. Most recently, she worked with a transportation demand management association, Smart Commute Markham, Richmond Hill, encouraging commuters to reduce single occupant vehicle trips, with the goal to reduce traffic congestion.

Nicole holds a degree in Urban Studies and Sociology from the University of Toronto and a graduate certificate in Project Management from Centennial College. In her free time she can be found paddling on the waterfront with her dragonboat team or travelling to visit friends on the east and west coasts of Canada.

Hilary Best
Project Officer
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Hilary is a Project Officer on our Escalator: Jobs for Youth Facing Barriers initiative and supports our Partnerships and Development team. Prior to joining CivicAction, Hilary served as a consultant to impact investing firm Purpose Capital, where she led the firm’s Impact Measurement practice and helped individuals and organizations with complex social or environmental goals to identify, target, and track progress towards these goals. Prior to joining Purpose Capital, Hilary was the research lead on The Fourth Wall: Transforming City Hall, an exhibit which identified opportunities to improve civic engagement practices in Toronto.

Hilary is an accomplished writer and editor who has published extensively on impact measurement and contributed to publications including Spacing Magazine, Corporate Knights Magazine, and Alternatives Journal. Hilary holds a B.A (Honours) in Geography from McGill University and has recently completed a Master’s of Design in Strategic Foresight and Innovation at OCADU.

Leslie Domenico
Program Manager
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After more than 10 years in the Experiential Marketing industry working on a variety of national and international accounts Leslie decided to put her energy and passion into promoting social and environmental change.  Since then she has been fortunate enough to provide marketing and project management services for a number of notable environmental organizations, including The Climate Group, Green Enterprise Ontario, and The Conservation Council of Ontario. Leslie brings to CivicAction extensive experience in marketing, project & program management, and event management.  She holds a Bachelors of Commerce (Honours) from the University of Guelph and most recently earned her Project Management Professional (PMP) certification.

Sarah Harris
Director, Communications
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Sarah Harris serves as the Director of Communications. In this role, Sarah develops and executes the organization’s strategic communications plan, crafting CivicAction’s narrative and leading all aspects of the organization’s external communications.

Sarah comes from the Ontario government, working in various communications positions over the last 5+ years at the Ministry of Tourism, Culture and Sport. Her work in government focused on strategic communications planning, crisis communications, reputation management and media relations. Sarah has received many accolades for her work including being the recipient of several communications awards within the Ontario Government.

A Toronto native, Sarah is passionate about improving the GTHA, making it a better place to live and work. She draws on her communications and leadership expertise to promote the work of CivicAction and advance the organization’s goals.

Sarah earned her Honours BA in History and Art History at the University of Toronto and her Post Graduate Certificate in Public Relations at Humber College.

Magda Hjartarson
Director, Partnerships and Development
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Magda is a successful development professional with over ten years experience in fundraising and donor relations.

As a Director of Partnerships and Development at CivicAction she will develop and execute a multi-year fundraising plan as well as manage and grow the entire donor portfolio.

Prior to working for CivicAction, she was with the Ontario Liberal Fund where she has earned praise and trust for her capacity in developing and executing innovative and tailored partnership strategies. With a detailed knowledge of government and stakeholder relations, Magda was able to successfully execute fundraising events and brought valuable insight for the entire fundraising team.

Her unique skills are augmented by participation in many provincial election campaigns and events and development work at the University of Toronto.

She is thrilled to be working with like-minded and passionate individuals to tackle some of the GTHA’s toughest social, economic and environmental challenges.

Magda earned her undergraduate degree in Poland and her Post Graduate Certificate in Public Relations at Ryerson University.

Jeff Junke
Communications Intern
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Jeff joins the CivicAction team as a communications intern and is currently a Master of Professional Communication candidate at Ryerson University. He also holds an Honours Bachelor of Arts in History and English from the University of Ottawa.

Before making the move to Toronto, Jeff spent two years as Coordinator, Communications and Social Media at the Council of Canadian Academies, a non-profit, non-partisan research organization that provides evidence-based science advice for public policy development.

Jeff’s belief in the importance of non-partisan civic collaboration to improve our cities and towns is fully realized through his work at CivicAction.

Myra Khan
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Myra provides support for CivicAction’s leadership programs and the Escalator: Jobs for Youth Facing Barriers initiative. Myra recently completed a Master’s degree in Social Policy and Planning from the London School of Economics and holds a BA in Legal Studies & Business from the University of Waterloo.

Myra is interested in public policy related to youth, education and social justice and has a wide-range of professional research experience in non-profit, government and academic settings. Born and raised in Toronto, Myra is a big city lover and has lived and worked in Singapore and London. She is also passionate about international development issues, social enterprise, travelling, reading, and chocolate.

Jelena Lazarevic
Communications Intern
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Jelena Lazarevic comes to CivicAction as a recent graduate from Western University’s Business Management Organizational Studies program specializing in Consumer Behaviour. Currently, she is a Masters of Professional Communication candidate at Ryerson University.

Jelena has spent the past few years involved with UNICEF Western, running a student-run elections blog at Western University, staying active within student politics, and doing freelance graphic design.

She is excited about global development, social innovation, travelling, photography, tweeting, and reading!

Tyler Olsen
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Tyler is happy to be a part of the CivicAction team for the 2014-2015 academic year, joining as an intern through the undergraduate Urban Studies program at the University of Toronto.

He believes in the importance of social concern, involvement and collaborative leadership to build community and make a difference. Practicing these principles, he is also currently serving on the board of directors of Campus Co-operative Residence Inc., a not-for-profit student housing co-operative.

Tyler is originally from Calgary, but he’s found a new home here in the big city and is eager to have a hand in building its future.

Cindy Tan
Project Director
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Cindy is project director for Escalator: Jobs for Youth Facing Barriers. She also leads CivicAction’s DiverseCity Fellows program and Emerging Leaders Network (ELN), two programs that are nurturing the next generation of city-builders and changing the face of our region’s leadership. She has degrees in anthropology, political science and women’s studies from McGill and Queen’s University. Cindy is passionate about supporting others to reach their potential and bring about change in their lives and in their communities.

Jessica Turchet
Project Coordinator, Communications
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Jessica helps coordinate communications across all initiatives and assists the organization’s development and partnerships team.  Jessica holds a BAH in History and Geography, with a focus on environmental management, from the University of Guelph and a Post-Graduate Certificate in Green Business Management from Seneca College. Prior to CivicAction, Jessica acted as Youth Committee Coordinator at Durham Sustain Ability, and was an intern at Plug’n Drive in Toronto.

Jessica’s love of the natural environment and community engagement is clearly expressed through her work at CivicAction.

Siva Vijenthira
Project Officer
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Siva is a Project Officer on our Escalator: Jobs for Youth Facing Barriers initiative, which involves collaboration with a large tent of players – government, private-sector, and not-for-profit – to engage small- and medium-sized businesses, bring job opportunities into the open, close the skills gap, and connect youth with role models. Prior to joining CivicAction, Siva managed city-wide outreach and education initiatives at Cycle Toronto, and worked with newcomer youth at CultureLink Canada. She is also a researcher for the City of Toronto’s Youth Engagement Strategy, which aims to bring more youth into city-building conversations by addressing systemic barriers. Siva holds an interdisciplinary degree in Arts & Science from McMaster University.

Rebecca Wortzman
Executive Assistant to the CEO
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As the Executive Assistant to the CEO at CivicAction, Rebecca supports work across the organization’s initiatives. She holds a BA (Honours) degree in English and Economics from Dalhousie University with a focus in post-colonial literature, and environmental economics.

Prior to joining CivicAction, Rebecca interned at FoodShare Toronto, helping develop an interactive online map and managing the FoodLink Hotline.

Rebecca is passionate about sustainable development, and has volunteered at environmental organizations in Toronto, and Halifax. She is excited to be working to tackle some of the GTHA’s most challenging social, economic, and environmental issues.

Adrianne Yiu
Project Officer
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Adrianne Yiu helps coordinate CivicAction’s leadership programs. She has previously worked at the City of Toronto by providing communications support on a transportation demand management program and local food initiative. In the past, she has volunteered for a number of local community organizations, such as the Toronto Environmental Alliance, CultureLink, and Impact First International. Adrianne holds a degree in Environmental Studies from York University and a post-graduate certificate in Public Administration from Humber College. She is passionate about cooking, baking, eating, and talking about food.