Carold Institute - Alan Thomas Fellows

The Alan Thomas Fellowship to Promote Civil Society and Voluntary Action was established in 2007 by the Carold Institute to develop better public understanding of the importance of volunteerism and to strengthen nonprofit leadership.

In 2017, the Carold Institute marked the tenth year of the fellowship by inviting all the fellows to participate in a three-day retreat at the Coady Institute in Antigonish, Nova Scotia. Together, they worked intensively to reflect on a wide range of questions growing out of their fellowship experience, including:

  • how to make this opportunity accessible to more community advocates and activists;

  • how to frame and organize the program to attract a greater diversity of fellows;

  • how to enable the fellows to collaborate across regions and sectors to share their knowledge and to have a collective impact on social policy in Canada.

The resulting report — “What Time Is It? A Dialogue Among Carold Fellows”— shares the reflections and outcomes from this powerful retreat.

In addition, the Fellows in attendance offered brief video reflections on their individual experiences of the fellowship:

About the Alan Thomas Fellowship (summary video)

Alex Draper

Kim Pate

Paula Carr

Peggy Edwards

Luc Gaudet

Penny Goldsmith

Vincent Greason


About Alan thomas

Alan Thomas was one of Canada's most influential adult educators and integral to the creation of the Carold Institute. He also authored many books in the field and was a member of the Order of Canada.

What’s next for fellowships?

The Carold Institute's values of reflection, learning, and social change continues to inform the design and development of CKX’s suite of programs.   

The Alan Thomas Fellows

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alexa conradi, 2016 fellow

Alexa Conradi is an award-winning author, speaker, trainer and feminist activist. She is the author of Fear, Love and Liberation in Contemporary Québec: A Feminist Reflexion, to be published in 2019 by Between the Lines. From 2009-2015, she was president of Canada’s largest feminist organization, the Fédération des femmes du Québec. From 2006-2009, she served as the first elected president of the political party Québec solidaire.

After years of swimming against the current, Alexa used her fellowship to write Les angles morts: Perspectives sur le Québec actuel about the blind spots facing Quebec society regarding feminism, relations with indigenous people, systemic racism, violence against women and rising inequalities.


Frances Waithe, 2015 fellow

Frances Waithe is the co-founder and executive director of the Dare Every Soul to Achieve (DESTA) Black Youth Network, a community-based organization serving marginalized youth. She has spent the past 25 years working to improve the lives of the people in her neighbourhood of Little Burgundy in Montréal.

Frances used her fellowship to reflect on her experience and to distill the future direction for DESTA’s programming and for herself as an agent of change in her community.


Luc Gaudet, 2014 fellow

Luc Gaudet is the founder and artistic director of Mise au jeu, a participatory intervention theatre company. Luc’s research on the use of games and theatre as a tool for personal and social development has taken him throughout Quebec and around the world.

During his fellowship, Luc reflected on his social interventions through Mise au jeu and established a model of the stages in turning the public into actor. In particular, he focussed on the power of play in the process.


kim pate, 2013 fellow

Kim Pate is mother to Michael and Madison and a lawyer and teacher by training. Prior to her appointment to the Senate of Canada, she was the executive director of the Canadian Association of Elizabeth Fry Societies (CAEFS), a federation of societies which work with and on behalf of marginalized, victimized, criminalized and institutionalized women and girls.

Kim’s fellowship allowed her to develop strategies to advance human rights advocacy with and for a population who represent the fastest growing prison population. She trained law students in prison law and human rights; community support workers in identifying and addressing reintegration needs of women in and from prison; and criminalized women in addressing human rights and women’s reintegration needs.

In her initial Senate address she signaled her intention to continue her advocacy work.


nicole rycroft, 2012 fellow

Nicole Rycroft is the founder of Canopy, a nonprofit that works with the forest industry to develop business solutions that protect ancient and endangered forests.

Nicole’s fellowship project asked how successful nonprofits can most effectively scale their impact to provide positive models of change in other communities and other regions of the world. She studied for-profit franchises and licensing among numerous models to evaluate how charities could best scale their influence and effectiveness across jurisdictions, without developing large and unwieldy structures.


john cox, 2011 fellow

John Cox is a community development worker living in Halifax, Nova Scotia. He has a long history of advocating for people with disabilities, working with the Nova Scotia chapter of People First, the oldest self-advocacy organization for people who have been labeled intellectually disabled.

During his fellowship, John examined the advocacy work of people labeled as having intellectual disabilities, and the influence and impact their mobilization has had on Canadian policies of inclusion. He documented the history of the People First movement in Nova Scotia and in Canada.

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Paula carr, 2010 fellow

For more than 40 years, Paula Carr has worked in the community services sector and with municipal and provincial departments, supporting leadership within local organizations in Saskatchewan and British Columbia. She is currently a health care system development agent with the Doctors of B.C.

In her fellowship, Paula analyzed the community development practices of Collingwood Neighbourhood House in a culturally diverse Vancouver neighbourhood. She examined its methodologies for creating socially inclusive environments and developing intercultural leadership to inform work in similar contexts.

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michel venne, 2010 fellow

A former journalist, in 2002 Michel Venne founded the Institut du Nouveau Monde (INM), a non-partisan organization which promotes citizen participation. He is now a policy analyst and adviser.

For his fellowship project, he studied the role of citizen participation in the creation and implementation of social innovations, with a particular focus on the work of INM, its citizenship schools and its citizen forums. He developed many resources to illustrate the tools used to engage citizens and to generate social innovation.


peggy edwards, 2009 fellow

Peggy Edwards is a health promotion consultant, policy analyst and writer based in Ottawa specializing in issues related to aging, social justice, voluntarism and gender. She is a leader in the Grandmothers to Grandmothers Campaign, which supports African grandmothers who are raising AIDS orphans.

Peggy’s fellowship project looked at the Grandmothers to Grandmothers Campaign, which is associated with the Stephen Lewis Foundation, in order to answer the question: “How do we engage, nurture and sustain older women advocates in civil society?”


vincent greason, 2009 fellow

Vincent Greason is an adult educator who has been actively involved in grassroots community and labour organizations in Quebec and Ontario. On the board of the Ligue des droits et libertés since 2006, Vincent works at the Table ronde des OVEP de l'Outaouais, a popular education coalition in Western Québec. In 2017, he was awarded the Prix Émile-Ollivier for his lifetime achievement in advancing adult education.

During his fellowship, Vincent examined the role that Quebec’s community-based organizations have played, and continue to play, in the collective life of Quebec’s community movement, focusing particularly on activist groups involved in the defence and promotion of collective rights.

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penny goldsmith, 2008 fellow

Penny Goldsmith is a BC social justice activist who for eighteen years was the coordinator of PovNet, an online communication network and teaching tool for anti-poverty frontline workers, community advocates and poor and marginalized people.

During her fellowship, Penny wrote and subsequently published a graphic story entitled "Storming the Digital Divide: the PovNet Story" with artist Kara Sievewright.

Penny has since become involved with a mental health choir. She also sings with Solidarity Notes, a choir which performs for social justice causes.