Meet the MaRS Centre for Impact Investing Fellows

We took a look at the Top 10 most-read posts of all time on SocialFinance.ca and realized something surprising. Of all of our posts—pieces on the ins and outs of microfinance, deep-dives on social impact bonds and thoughtful analyses on the state of Islamic finance—two of the pieces that made the top ten were job postings; offerings of employment either from the MaRS Centre for Impact Investing or from our friends at SiG

Digging deeper into the top 100 posts, we saw more of the same: high readership for social finance job posts and for pieces about careers in social finance. 

At SocialFinance.ca, we aim to please. 

In this post, we profile the Centre for Impact Investing’s four Fellows, individuals with diverse skills, interests and goals. Throughout the next few months we will profile other members of the social finance and impact investing community, seeking to get to know our community better.

We have a few ideas for future profiles, but we want your input. Who would you like to know more about? Who’s lessons-learned would would you like to hear? Which members of this community haven’t yet received enough attention? Let us know in the Disqus section below and we’ll do our best to accommodate. Until then, we’re pleased to introduce the MaRS Centre for Impact Investing Fellows: 

Ellen Martin: Education and Engagement Fellow 

What she’s up to at the Centre:
In her position as the Education and Engagement Fellow, Ellen is leading the implementation of the Social Finance Awards, an event that celebrates the efforts of leaders and organizations working to mobilize private capital for public good. Throughout her 4-month fellowship, Ellen will also be hard at work creating practitioner-focussed starting point modules—resource guides for education professionals, investors, foundations and fund managers in the world of social finance. Beyond the CII, Ellen is also also supporting the work of the Ontario Social Economy Roundtable (OSER) through the Ontario Non-Profit Network (ONN). 

Where she’s been:
Ellen holds a Bachelor’s degree in International Development and Globalization from the University of Ottawa and has a background in community development both in Canada and abroad. Most recently, she was an intern at a rural development organization in India and has worked at the Parkinson Society of Ottawa and TakingITGlobal. Last year, Ellen hosted and curated the first ever TEDxWomen licensed event in Ottawa, TEDxSandyHillWomen.

Why she’s here: 
In her position as the Education and Engagement Fellow, Ellen hopes to expand the profile of the work that is being done in impact investing in Canada and of the opportunities that exist for more people to engage with the Centre and with impact investing in general. With a background in the not-for-profit sector, she is interested in helping to grow the understanding of impact investing in this sector in particular, and helping to bridge the gap between the not-for-profit and for-profit sectors. 


Aaron Emery: B Corp Communications Fellow

What he’s up to at the Centre: In his position as the B Corp Communications Fellow, Aaron is working to add Canadian businesses to the B Corp community, a brand with increasing global recognition. In this role Aaron engages with potential B Corp businesses both in-person and online. Just last week, Aaron was pleased to announce the first two businesses in Manitoba to be certified by B Lab, right here on socialfinance.ca.  

Where he’s been
Originally from Indiana, Aaron holds a B.A. in Social Wellness & Public Policy (IDIS) from Calvin College in Grand Rapids, Michigan. Prior to his work at MaRS, Aaron has held a variety of positions—in political campaigning, consulting, and in non-profit strategy. He has also worked at a brewery, a drama school, a military base and in an active hurricane recovery zone. 

Why he’s here
Aaron explains it best: “Like any good Millennial, I want to “save the world”—but I don’t care about causes. I care about effects. Yours, mine, for-profit, non-profit, good-guy, bad-guy. For me, the labels are all secondary to the impact. I’m interested in big, bold thinking in pursuit of smart solutions to tough problems. To date, the most exciting platform I’ve found is something called the “B Corp” movement. B Corps believe that the muscle found within healthy businesses bent towards positive impact is the most efficient, sustainable, and scalable kind of social programing we can engineer.”


Katie Gibson: Impact Finance Lab Fellow 

What she’s up to at the Centre
While serving as the Impact Finance Lab fellow, Katie is building out the Impact Finance Lab, which will provide strategic support to systems changing impact investing initiatives and infrastructure projects in Canada. Clients of the Lab will include not-for-profit or for-profit funds, enterprises, and cross-sectoral collaborations solving social or environmental problems. The Centre’s team hopes that this initiative will help fill a needed gap in the market for intermediaries and larger scale capital projects

Where she’s been
Katie recently returned from Cambodia where she ran a consultancy helping local and international non-governmental organisations increase their impact. She has been involved in social change work for over 15 years, including serving as the Deputy Director of an advocacy organisation and on the board of a number of community groups. She has also practiced law and clerked at the Supreme Court of Canada. Katie studied Anthropology at Harvard University and received her law degrees and an M.B.A. from McGill University.

Why she’s here: Through her work building out the Impact Finance Lab, Katie is looking forward to accelerating sustainable, systemic solutions to social and environmental challenges.


Jessica Leifer: Social Impact Bond Fellow

What she’s up to at the Centre:
In her position as the Social Impact Bond Fellow, Jessica is working to advance the development of SIBs in Canada. Though nearly 20 SIBs are presently in operation in three countries, Canada has yet to realize the establishment of its first SIB. Seeking to facilitate the development of Canada’s first SIB, Jessica leads feasibility research and modeling of priority outcomes-finance issues areas, including health, children and families and homelessness. 

Where she’s been
Jessica holds a B.A. in Psychology from University of Pennsylvania, and is currently mid-way through completing a Masters in Public Policy from the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University. Prior to her masters, Jessica worked as the Student Achievement Coordinator at Success Academy Charter Schools, developing a data-driven education management system to improve academic achievement in nine public charter schools in the United States. 

Why she’s here
Jess believes that SIBs have the potential to tackle complex social problems by aligning incentives across sectors and focusing on evidence-based programming. She is eager to contribute to the impact investing movement in Canada and is supported by her background in policy analysis, research, and nonprofit performance monitoring and evaluation.


Now that you’ve seen the newest members of our team, we want to hear from you. Who next should we profile in the social finance community and what should we ask? We look forward to hearing from you and to getting to know our community better!

Editor’s note: A prior version of this article mistakely stated that Katie Gibson was working with the Centre’s team on the establishment of The SVX. In fact, Katie is working to help build out the Impact Finance Lab. 

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