Citizens’ Assemblies are complex projects intended to provide clear and detailed direction to government. Supported by an Assembly and Facilitation team, the Citizens’ Assembly on the Grandview-Woodland Community Plan will involve more than 4,000 hours of deliberation by its 48 members over the course of eight months, as well as numerous public meetings and calls for public submissions.
In order to ensure the impartiality of the process, the City of Vancouver has commissioned an outside firm, MASS LBP, to house and host the Assembly process.
Since 2007, MASS LBP has become one of Canada’s leading authorities in the design of deliberative public programs. In that time, MASS has worked in British Columbia, Alberta and Ontario to deliver innovative and impartial public processes to address complex policy issues.
The MASS West team, based in Vancouver, is led by Dr. Rachel Magnusson, and supported by dialogue practitioner Susanna Haas Lyons and long-time journalist and editor Charles Campbell.
Meet the Assembly Team
Dr. Rachel Magnusson, Assembly Chair
Rachel Magnusson is the Director of MASS West and has been a Senior Facilitator with MASS LBP in both BC and Ontario since 2008. As chair, Rachel is responsible for the integrity and impartiality of the Citizens’ Assembly, and will lead each of the Assembly’s meetings.
Rachel grew up in Victoria and is a resident of Vancouver. She has a PhD in Political Science from York University, and her academic research focuses on democratic engagement. Rachel is a former researcher at the Centre for the Study of Democracy at Queen’s University and for the Centre for the Study of Developing Societies in Delhi, India.
In addition to her academic training, Rachel’s work with MASS draws on her extensive experience as an educator. She has taught high school in inner city Toronto, worked as an educator and facilitator for the YMCA, and designed and taught courses as an adjunct professor at the School of Environmental Studies at the University of Victoria. Rachel has also been extensively involved in community work over the past 15 years—as a support worker for a crisis phone line, a disability advocate, and as a literacy tutor for street-involved youth.
Susanna Haas Lyons, Senior Project Advisor
Susanna Haas Lyons, M.A., is a public engagement specialist who develops strategy and provides training for better conversations between the public and decision-makers. Bridging online and face-to-face methods, Susanna has worked on some of North America’s largest and most complex citizen engagement projects, including electoral reform in British Columbia, rebuilding post-Hurricane Katrina New Orleans, electronic health records for the US federal government, and the City of Vancouver’s transportation future.
Susanna is also an Instructor of digital and in-person engagement skills for international post-secondary institutions, governments and other organizations. Susanna is certified by the International Association for Public Participation.
Susanna is responsible for interweaving the Citizens’ Assembly with other community activities and planning workshops. She will support and guide the Assembly at every stage to ensure it is both transparent and responsive to the community.
Charles Campbell, Lead Writer
Charles Campbell is a veteran journalist who has worked as an editor and writer with the Georgia Straight, the Vancouver Sun, and The Tyee. He has written public policy reports on the Agricultural Land Reserve for the David Suzuki Foundation and Downtown Eastside health care for the Vancouver Coastal Health Authority. He currently teaches at Capilano University and works as a freelance writer and editor. He has lived in Cedar Cottage since 1989.
Charles’s role is to collect, interview, record and present the contributions of community members and the deliberations of Assembly members.
Peter MacLeod, Principal, MASS LBP
Peter MacLeod is a recognized authority on the changing relationship between citizens and government. Since founding MASS in 2007, he has led some of Canada’s most original and ambitious efforts to engage citizens in tackling tough policy options while pioneering the use of Civic Lotteries and Citizen Reference Panels on behalf of a wide array of clients.
As Principal, Peter leads many of MASS’s Citizens’ Reference Panels — abbreviated versions of larger Citizens’ Assemblies — and also contributes heavily to the company’s strategy, governance, and research practice. He acts as the senior liaison to clients, and works regularly with leaders across the public, private and non-profit sectors. Peter writes and speaks frequently about the future of responsible government and the citizen’s experience of the state.
Alex Way, Curriculum and Program
Alex Way comes to MASS LBP from Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government, where he studied with field leaders in public leadership, deliberative democracy, negotiations, public management, and stakeholder engagement. His policy specialties are urban poverty and indigenous governance. He has worked as a community organizer in a low-income Toronto neighbourhood, as a support worker in Northern First Nations communities, and as a strategy and communications specialist with the Metcalf Foundation.
Christopher Ellis, Civic Lottery Coordinator
Christopher Ellis has a broad range of management and systems skills experience, with a special focus on communicating and marketing to large audiences. Christopher came to MASS LBP after five years of working at The Walrus magazine as Director of Marketing and Circulation, where he was responsible for the promotion, sales, strategic communications, and overall management of over 60,000 readers.
Christopher uses his expertise to support MASS LBP’s project work, particularly with the design and implementation of Civic Lottery process for clients like the Region of Halton, The Ottawa Hospital, Toronto Community Housing, the Ontario Ministry of Consumer Services, and the BC Ministry of Technology Innovation and Citizen Services.
Project Support and Logistics
Danielle Johnston joins MASS LBP with a background in project management. She has coordinated advocacy campaigns in Zambia, planned and implemented educational programs in rural Indonesia, and helped organize local and national public consultation events across Canada.
Danielle is responsible for managing and supporting our project work. With a sharp eye for detail, she helps design and implement successful citizen-centred processes.
Small group discussions are a core feature of the Citizens’ Assembly. Trained table facilitators support Assembly members to explore the issues, understand one another’s views, and work together to develop recommendations. Each table has a facilitator and he or she is available throughout the meetings to ensure members have what they need to do their work.
Our table facilitators are:
- Afsoun Afsahi
- Edana Beauvais
- Katrina Chapelas
- Camille Desmares
- Jenna Dunsby
- Agustin Goenaga
- Sean Gray
- Jason Tockman
- Kelsey Wrightson
Advisory Committee for the Citizens’ Assembly
The Assembly Team is supported by an Advisory Committee made up of local experts in urban planning and dialogue. The Committee will work to support the Assembly Team and help to ensure that the learning program is impartial and informative, and that the deliberations of the Assembly are consistent with good democratic practice.