Mark has played various roles over the years in the community services sector, either as a CEO, senior staff, or consultant. A deep passion of his is to end poverty and homelessness in Edmonton. Mark took the executive director’s position after serving two years as a Senior Director at Tamarack Institute where he headed up Tamarack’s Vibrant Communities division. Prior to working at Tamarack, he was identified by the Institute as a national thought leader.
Mark was the CEO of Bissell Centre for five years, leading the organization through a significant expansion of its work to house the homeless. He led the development of the Community Bridge, an innovative eviction program that was later identified as a key strategy in End Poverty Edmonton’s strategic plan. During his time at Bissell, he was a member of the Mayor’s Task Force to End Poverty and served as its co-chair of a working group on Housing and Transportation.
As a consultant he helped non-profits build a variety of social housing facilities, authored two social housing management models, and worked with non-profits, civic intuitions, and government agencies in the areas of organizational change and strategy. While the executive director of Operation Friendship he led the development of its current multi-purpose centre, which includes a 40-unit rooming house for hard to house seniors.
Mark has spoken around the country and into the United States on such topics as Upside Down Thinking, Disruptive Innovation, Community Engagement, Collaborative Leadership, and Socio-Economic Trends. He is a voracious blogger and has authored numerous white papers on studies. His personal blog is at markholmgren.com.
Director of Neighbourhood Development
For over 20 years, Karen’s passionate involvement in community economic development has taken her across the province. Her business degree has proven helpful as she coached micro-enterprise during her time as loan program manager with Alberta Women’s Enterprise and as coach in the WEBSS business incubator.
Karen has provided business coaching to immigrant led microenterprises at the Edmonton Mennonite Centre for Newcomers and a diverse group of micro entrepreneurs as executive director at Edmonton Community Loan Fund.
At ECLF, she led the creation of individual development accounts, a matched savings account and financial literacy program, a Laurel Award winning program and the first of its kind in Alberta. Later, through a collaboration with the City of Edmonton and Another Way Consulting, she was involved in the development and delivery of workshops and coaching aimed at helping non profits determine readiness for social enterprise.
As executive director at Vibrant Communities Edmonton, she led the creation of Make Tax Time Pay, and furthered the financial literacy program through various collaborations. She has since been involved in providing coaching to food processors across the province and after moving to Lac La Biche County to tend to her father, she became the executive of the Lac La Biche Community Futures Development Corporation, supporting small businesses who would not otherwise secure financing through mainstream banking.
Eventually she led the economic development department and managed planning and development for the municipality. More recently, she was the executive director of a large nonprofit with several social enterprises in southern Alberta. As director of neighbourhood development for the Edmonton Community Development Company, her wide range of experience lends itself directly to the multi-faceted work of community economic development.