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Speaker Bios

Jim Diers has a passion for getting people engaged with their communities and in the decisions that affect their lives. His work in the Seattle Department of Neighborhoods was recognized with an Innovations Award from the Kennedy School of Government. He was appointed the first director of Seattle's Department of Neighborhoods in 1988 where he served under three mayors over the next 14 years creating what some would say is a miracle of neighbors where he put his passion to work for a direct-action neighborhood association, a community development corporation, a community foundation, and the nation's largest health care cooperative. He teaches courses at the University of Washington and serves on the faculty of the Asset-Based Community Development Institute. Jim travels internationally to deliver speeches and presents workshops on neighbors and neighborhoods. His book, Neighbor Power: Building Community the Seattle Way, is available in English and Chinese.

Dr. Karen Wilk has been an ABCD practitioner and thought leader for over two decades. Living in the City of Edmonton's neighborhood of Laurier Heights, she has been central to the development of the "Neighborhood Connector" role with Abundant Community Edmonton. Karen has just become the “Past-President” of her neighborhood's "Community League" after serving as President through some difficult challenges since March, 2015. The Community League system in Edmonton is a 100-year-old innovation that has brought hyper-local governance to Edmonton neighbourhoods. Professionally Karen works as a neighborhood consultant across North America.

Zachary Stevens is an experienced relationship builder, community developer, and lover of the outdoors! In his role as Neighborhood Liaison with the Community Development Office of the City of Kitchener he works with residents to bring their neighborhood building and placemaking initiatives to life through the #LoveMyHood program. In this role he 

facilitates the planning and implementation of resident-led, city-supported neighborhood projects, programs, events, and initiatives, all while providing project management leadership. Zach is the City's primary point of contact for neighborhood groups, providing information and guidance in navigating municipal processes and procedures.

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