Expert local change-makers – meet the 2019 PPI grads

Congratulations to the class of 2019! 

Twenty-one changemakers from the non-profit sector in B.C. have all just graduated from this year’s United Way Public Policy Institute (PPI). The Institute is a professional development program designed to help leaders from the non-profit sector create lasting social change. Through PPI participants to deepen their understanding of public policy and increase their capacity to change it for the better.  

It’s where local leaders learn how to hone their advocacy, with professionalism, skills and high-impact strategies. It’s local love in action.

graduation caps in the air

PPI 2019 graduates with the program faculty.

Diverse projects, deep impact

Participants this year included leaders from a variety of diverse organizations, including: 

  • charities like Covenant House, YWCA Metro Vancouver and YMCA Regional Development Centre;  
  • small-but-mighty local non-profits, such as Gordon Neigbhourhod House, Westcoast Family Centres, Seniors Come Share Society, Umbrella Society, and the Pioneer Community Living Association;  
  • Fraser Valley justice organizations, like the Chilliwack Restorative Justice Association and the Yarrow Inter-generational Society for Justice 
  • region-wide movements and coalitions, including Better Environmentally Sound Transportation or BEST, the Community Action Initiative, the Metro Vancouver Alliance, and Starfish Canada; 
  • civic groups, including Women Transforming Cities and CityHive; 
  • groups focused on children’s well-being, such as the Hudson Out of School Care Society and Fresh Air Learning; 
  • student groups, the B.C. Federation of Students and Douglas Students’ Union; 
  • and last but not least, our very own United Way of the Lower Mainland. 

Participants’ projects explored important issues facing our communities, including: restorative justice at the local level, community isolation and engagement, solutions to period poverty and access to nature and the outdoors for residents of all ages.  

How it works

The Public Policy Institute runs between January and June every year in monthly two-day sessions. Participants explore policy options, making your case with compelling evidence, engaging the right people in your campaign, and implementing your strategies to affect change. Participants also learn from experts and present their final projects to Institute faculty.  

What’s the Public Policy Institute all about? Click play to find out.  

The calibre of the Public Policy Institute is beyond compare. Our dedicated faculty returned in 2019 for their eighth year:  Mike Harcourt, former premier of British Columbia was joined by Brenda Eaton, Elizabeth Cull, Ida Goodreau and Liz Whynot. Together they bring a wealth of real-life public policy experience to the program, complemented by an impressive and diverse array of panelists and guest speakers. 

“I’m always impressed with the passion and creative solutions being championed by these engaged citizens and local changemakers,” said Michael McKnight, President & CEO, United Way of the Lower Mainland.  

“When social services are paired with skilled social advocacy, we can create lasting solutions to local challenges.” 

Partners make it possible

Special thanks to the Institute’s Premier Sponsor, Vancity. For the last five years PPI participants have benefited from both Vancity’s program support and their expertise. Vancity has recommended many of PPI’s participants to the program over the years.  

Vancity has made the high-quality training of the Public Policy Institute, accessible to advocates and activists.

Vancity has also lent its expertise to the program by providing guest speakers. Just last month, Andrea Harris, Director of Member and Community Insights for Vancity along with Maggie Karpilovsky, Evaluations and Strategic Initiatives Manager for United Way of the Lower Mainland, co-presented a session on policy leaders making an impact. They also shared their personal experiences on the subject with participants. 

UBC Robson Square has also been a valued sponsor of the Institute. Since the Institute’s inception UBC Robson Square has hosted each PPI cohort providing full-service support and access to meeting and classroom facilities. 

From all of us at United Way, thank you to our sponsors for helping make positive social change possible in our local communities.  


Interested in public policy? Want to learn how to hone your skills? Connect with the Public Policy Institute, here.