Welcome Naomi! ABSI Connect's new facilitator

We are thrilled to announce the appointment of Naomi Mahaffy as the new Facilitator of Alberta Social Innovation (ABSI) Connect. Naomi will guide, lead, inspire, deepen and grow the next phase of this Alberta-wide social innovation initiative. 


Following the close of the second cohort of Fellows — including Aleeya Velji (Edmonton), Annand Ollivierre (Edmonton), Tori D'Avella (Calgary), and Melissa Herman (Treaty 8 — the Regional Municipality of Wood Buffalo) — ABSI Connect shifted into our 3rd iteration as a collaborative experiment addressing the question: “How can we do better at solving complex social and environmental problems in our province?”

From 2015-2017, SiG National served as the backbone administrator of ABSI Connect, facilitated by Kelsey Spitz, then Senior Associate at SiG. With the sunset of the SiG National initiative in December 2017, the backbone administration formally shifted to Mount Royal University Institute for Community Prosperity and the community fuelling ABSI Connect collectively envisioned a role for a full-time, Alberta-based facilitator to guide the next iteration of ABSI Connect. 

"I am so deeply thrilled that Naomi will joining the ABSI journey to guide, facilitate and energize this ongoing experiment and our vision to collectively strive to address social and environmental problems at their root - stopping them from existing in the first place. It's been an honour to walk this journey with a community and alliance of cross-sector organizations and individuals. I believe deeply in this initiative, this movement, and the tenacious and holistic work of the Fellows to date. What I learned from the Fellows and the social innovation ecosystem in Alberta left a beautiful, indelible impact on how I approach social and environment change"

— Kelsey Spitz-Dietrich, alumni facilitator.



Naomi is a connector, communicator, and inquisitive learner with deep ties to Edmonton, Calgary, and Fort McMurray. Born and raised in Edmonton, and now living in Fort McMurray, she has been engaged in local environmental and social initiatives from a young age.

After completing her graduate studies at McMaster University and spending a few years in Ontario (where she taught undergraduate courses, managed social media for a UN sanitation campaign, and coordinated volunteers for a local environmental organization), Naomi returned to Alberta in 2014. In her four years at the Calgary-based Centre for Affordable Water and Sanitation Technology (CAWST), Naomi advised and worked along-side partner organizations in Cambodia and Ethiopia. She developed education and training materials, and she supported the teams she partnered with to create effective programs and develop their competencies as trainers. Always excited to bridge disciplines and cultures, Naomi also facilitated opportunities for organizations and individuals to learn from one another’s work.

Naomi spends her free time in Fort McMurray tinkering with her hydroponic vegetable garden, hiking, volunteering, and trying at least one new thing per month.

As part of Naomi’s stewardship of ABSI Connect, she will…

  • Support and enhance the existing strengths of, and momentum around, social innovation in Alberta.

  • Amplify and help connect the voices of the people, social impact organizations, businesses, government, philanthropy, and academia that are tackling complex challenges in Alberta.

  • Foster an enabling environment for a culture of innovation where Albertan social impact initiatives have the capacity to ignite, test and implement innovative solutions together.

  • Position Alberta as a social impact leader in Canada and abroad.

Naomi will work principally out of Fort McMurray.  She will be travelling the province extensively over the coming weeks and months, meeting and engaging with people in many communities. 

Please join us in welcoming Naomi to her new role! 

You may reach out to her at naomi@absiconnect.ca

With thanks,

The ABSI Connect Hiring Committee

Aleeya Velji, Annand Ollivierre, Jill Andres, Kelsey Spitz-Dietrich and James Stauch

Alberta Social Innovation (ABSI) Connect is a collaborative experiment crafted in response to cross-sector provincial interest in social innovation. Started in 2015, ABSI Connect strengthens, connects and accelerates social innovation in the province by addressing the question: “How can we do better at solving complex social and environmental problems in our province?” In pursuit of the answer, ABSI Connect seeks to bridge and amplify social, economic and ecological impact initiatives that are (a) successfully shifting the status quo in Alberta and (b) transforming how we develop solutions to our province’s most complex challenges.

To catch-up on ABSI Connect's Journey to date check-out: 

Tools and findings, including the original 2016 report

The evolution (ABSI Blog post) 

Integrating social innovation into organizations (ABSI Blog post) 

The Critical Role of Traditional Knowledge in Social Innovation (SSIR article)