Architect. Activist. Systemic Transformer. Vanessa is co-founder of the Living Wholeness Institute (LWI), which supports and co-creates emergent social movements and systemic transformation initiatives across the globe.
Vanessa is a practice leader and pioneer in social innovation who brings 20 years of experience in creating new cultures at the intersection of institutions, artistry and civil society. She works in the Middle East, Europe, and North America, and offers a framework in integrating ‘living systems’ beyond theory and concept and into a living practice. As a global soul, she knows there is a great journey ahead and can’t imagine a better time to be alive.
After working in Canadian politics and international development, Vanessa was executive director of Montreal’s Santropol Roulant, a vibrant award-winning non-profit founded by young people that uses innovative approaches to food, relationships, and sustainability as a catalyst for social change.
Ever since, she has been immersed in creating cultures – personal, core team, organizational, societal – that are alive and deeply aligned with all of life. She loves working with transitions and the natural cycles of life, from the messy creation of the new, to hospicing endings. As a poet, writer and former publisher of award-winning Canadian yoga publication, ascent magazine, Vanessa led a collective practice of organizational conscious closure, and brings with her a depth of spiritual, reflective, body and awareness practices.
As an architect, she combines her foundation in organizational development with process design, to co-create and host participatory spaces or learning ecologies for transformative change at personal, collective and systemic scales. Most recently, Vanessa has been based in Jerusalem, living and learning conflict transformation and partnering on radically new systemic transformation initiatives related to our economic and democratic crises. These include the Finance Innovation Lab, Tasting the Future-UK and The SIZ (Systemic Innovation Zone, Greece) – as well as institutional transformation within European Union institutions through participatory leadership and multi-stakeholder strategy.
At a more intimate level, she and the LWI host and curate bespoke trainings and gatherings such as the Art of Participatory Leadership, as well as their signature Immersions, Learning Journeys, Apprenticeships and Collective Inquiries. These are often hosted at Axladitsa, a 24-acre organic olive farm in Greece which is the home place, inspiration for – and a teacher of – the practices of living wholeness. (and includes good food, storytelling, hospitality and a kind of soulful re-wilding…)
Vanessa has a Masters in Architecture from McGill University, is the founder of the studio of the extraordinary, the Conscious Kitchen, and a former steward of the translocal learning network, the Berkana Exchange.
People, Potential and the Powers of Place