Organizer Bios

Andi Heffernan – Conference Founder & Program Planner

  • Bachelor of Business Administration, Cape Breton University
  • Youth Representative – Cape Breton Centre Liberal Association
  • Vice President Communications – Nova Scotia Young Liberals

Andi is a passionate advocate for engaging youth in politics, particularly young women. From a young age, Andi has considered politics to be a vital aspect of her life, and this is reflected in her current work with the Nova Scotia Liberal Party. As the founder of this conference, she hopes young people will be inspired by the powerful women before them, encouraged to participate in government decision-making, and leave knowing that adding women to politics is the first step in making real change. Andi plans to be a driving force in both politics and the business work–her goal is to one day run a not-for-profit organization that empowers young women reach their potential.

 

Kenya Thompson – Conference Co-Founder & Policy Lead

  • Bachelor of Arts in Public Policy Studies, Mount Saint Vincent University
  • Executive Director of Policy – Young Liberals of Canada (Nova Scotia)
  • President & Communications Officer – MSVU Young Liberals
  • Elections Coordinator – Mount Saint Vincent University Students’ Union

Kenya is a full-time student passionate about engaging young people, empowering young women, and all things policy. As the youngest woman on the Halifax West Liberal Policy Committee and through her role in her university’s Students’ Union, and her various roles with the Liberal Party and the Young Liberals of Canada, she has empowered young people to be engaged in the politics around them, advocated for their interests and ideas, and worked on policies addressing issues such as gender equity and mental health. As Policy Lead, Kenya is excited to organize panels and workshops for this conference that will both inspire and empower. She looking forward to hearing everyone’s experiences and ideas, and ensuring they are heard by all levels of government.

 

Maria Keselj – Conference Coordinator

  • Youth Representative – Nova Scotia Liberal Women’s Commission
  • Youth Representative – Halifax West Liberal Association
  • Federal Director – Nova Scotia Young Liberals

Maria is a motivated and outspoken high school student from Bedford, dedicated to engaging high school students in politics and activism. Her passion is evident in her work within the Liberal Party at both the federal and provincial levels, and her support for policies on gender equality, climate change action, and scientific research. In addition to her political engagement, Maria is a basketball coach, rugby player, advanced pianist, and aspiring physicist. Through this conference, Maria hopes to empower local youth to become involved in politics and have their voices heard.

 

Kathleen Arsenault – VIP Coordinator

  • Bachelor of Gerontology, Mount Saint Vincent University

Originally from Kingston, New Brunswick, Kathleen is passionate about helping others and especially elevating the voices of women. Her career goals include working as a Clinical Care Practitioner as well as becoming a Reverend, so she can help terminal patients in their dying process. Kathleen has also been playing the guitar for 14 years, and loves her pets (she has both a cat and a snake!) and laughing at her own jokes. Her role as VIP Coordinator includes working with the female leaders joining us to ensure they have an amazing experience at the conference.

 

 

Kristan Belanger – Panel Moderator & Event Advisor

  • Bachelor of Arts in Political Science, Dalhousie University
  • Events Coordinator – Dalhousie University Chinese Society

Kristan is a full-time student in her third year at Dalhousie University, an engaged social activist, and an outspoken advocate for intersectional feminism. As a bisexual woman, she has worked alongside her local LGBTQ+ advocacy groups and communities since high school while actively participating in student politics. Kristan is a member of Glooscap First Nation, a serial protest attendee and a devoted cat mom. She is an aspiring human rights lawyer, seeking to advocate for Indigenous voices at home and abroad. As a Political Science student, Kristan is eager to advise the organizing committee and moderate this panel.

 

Nikki Jamieson – Logistics Lead

  • Bachelor of Arts in Politics, Mount Saint Vincent University
  • Vice President Advocacy & President Elect – Mount Saint Vincent University Students’ Union
  • Deputy Chairperson Elect – Canadian Federation of Students’ Nova Scotia

Nikki is a full-time student, activist, and student politician. While studying at Mount Saint Vincent University, she has been active in on-campus leadership and in various roles in the MSVU Students’ Union and the Canadian Federation of Students at both the national and provincial levels. She has extensive experience organizing and collaborating with folks on a grassroots level to create large and small scale events, meetings, demonstrations, workshops, and more. Beyond activism and advocating, Nikki enjoys listening to obnoxiously loud music, is always on the go, and her greatest contribution to society is undoubtedly her role as a mother to a very special little boy.

 

Sabrina Di Mattia – Logistics Assistant

  • Bachelor of Arts in Communication Studies, Mount Saint Vincent University

Sabrina is a full-time student in her second year at the Mount. While working two jobs and studying full-time, she still finds ways to volunteer and connect to the community. Sabrina’s background is diverse–with Italian, Acadian, and Mi’kmaq roots, she brings an intersectional approach to her studies and volunteer work. She has worked with a number of community organizations advocating for women, Indigenous peoples, and students such as the Mi’kmaq Friendship Centre, the Canadian Federation of Students, and the Students’ Union and International Education Centre at MSVU. On top of all this, Sabrina is a great friend and advocate to many in the Mount community. Her role in the conference is to inspire and empower the young volunteers who will help make this conference a success.

 

Liz Duff – Conference Media and Communications Director

  • Bachelor of Public Relations, Mount Saint Vincent University

Liz Duff has an extensive history of creating conference experiences for young, engaged audiences. She has worked with the Nova Scotia Secondary Students’ Association (NSSSA), Mount Saint Vincent University Student Recruitment, Mount Saint Vincent University Students’ Union, the Diocese of Antigonish and more to create inspirational and inclusive educational experiences. As a Public Relations student, Liz is excited to bring her communications and conference-planning expertise to the organizing committee.

 

 

 

Kenzi Donnelly – Conference Assistant Media and Communications Director

  • Bachelor of Arts in Political Science and International Development, Saint Mary’s University
  • Communications – Dartmouth East Progressive Conservative Association
  • Communications Director – Nova Scotia Young Progressive Conservatives
  • Vice President – Saint Mary’s Young Progressive Conservatives

Kenzi is a fierce young leader and a tireless advocate for youth civic engagement, mental health, and women’s rights. As the founder of Students for Teachers, which advocates for better education and mental health resources in Nova Scotia schools, she has met with elected officials from all Parties, engaged thousands of students in politics, and spearheaded one of the largest student protests in Nova Scotia’s history. Kenzi has also been a powerful force on 5 successful election campaigns of all levels of government, the most recent of which saw her former teacher and longtime role model elected MLA in her riding. She has also taken part in the Forum for Young Canadians program and CIVIX Canada campaigns. She is looking forward to seeing women from all walks of life come together for this event, and hopes it encourages more to become involved.

 

Rev. Jenn Kang/J. Jayke Wellan – Conference Liason & Community Outreach Officer

  • Teen Program Staff, Kentville Library
  • Green Party Candidate, 2017 Nova Scotia Provincial Election

Jenn/Jayke is a lifelong learner and compassionate listener who loves to sing, yearns for Universal Design, appreciates the Oxford comma, aspires to be our country’s Prime Minister, and enjoys walking in the woods with dogs. This polyamorous, pansexual and pangendrous-identifying human is a first-generation Colombian and East Indian Canadian with a long history of community involvement, pastoral care, and local activism in the many rural areas they’ve called home.

 

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