Alumni non-profit leaders

John Beale with local partners in Africa
Village Reach improves access to healthcare in the most inaccessible and isolated last mile communities.

Leaders in the Non-profit Sector

Check out the profiles below of Social Sciences alumni who are fulfilling their calling to 'be the change' in our world. These alumni not only explain what they do, but also why they do it and what keeps them motivated. 

John Beale — Director of Strategic Development, Village Reach — BA 1987 (Economics)

John Beale

John works for Village Reach as Director of Strategic Development & Group Lead, Social Business, with responsibility for private enterprise creation and development in the energy, transportation and information technology sectors.

He has lived and worked in Africa, Asia, Europe and Latin America and the US. Prior to focusing on global development in 2009, he had a 20-year carrier in the private sector, working primarily in the wireless industry, first at the technology company, QUALCOMM, as vice president of marketing for its semiconductor division, and then as head of marketing with a venture-backed wireless software company based in the UK.

John's 'Why?':

"In global development it’s possible to buy results – if you throw enough money at a problem a fix often materializes. Sustaining that impact by developing local capacity is the real challenge. The aid development community is at the same time eager to attain new innovations but often reluctant to embrace those that could disrupt established practices. But we’ll never be able to make significant improvements in people’s lives without significant disruptive innovation. So designing and getting adoption for new ways to help the underserved requires both a long-term perspective on the needs of their communities, and an impatient, optimistic view of what can be done."

Isobel Mackenzie — CEO, Beacon Community Services — BA 1987 (Political Science)

Isobel Mackenzie

Isobel Mackenzie is CEO of Beacon Community Services - a position she’s held with pride for 18 years.  As an avid volunteer she began her community work as student council president, organizing blood drives and charitable activities, while today she continues this passion by serving on a number of volunteer boards and community initiatives.  She completed her BA and MBA degrees from the University of Victoria, and was recognized in 2012 as BC’s Top CEO of the Year for the not-for-profit sector by Business in Vancouver and Mackay CEO forums.  It’s what she can give back, however, that’s most important to her.

Isobel's 'Why?':

"I’ve had this desire to do public service from the start, and to work tirelessly to serve our community. In these trying times there are many people who need a hand, and I come to work knowing that I’m part of an organization which makes a difference in someone’s life every day – that’s the biggest motivator for my job.”

Ross McMillan — President and CEO, Tides Canada — BA 1985 (Anthropology)

Ross McMillan

Ross is the President and Chief Executive Office of Tides Canada. He has worked in association with Tides Canada over the past thirteen years, advising donors and clients on a range of issues concerning social and environmental philanthropy and identifying opportunities to bring philanthropy, civil society, business, and government together in the pursuit of social change. Ross was a principal architect of the $120 million conservation financing deal in 2007 that helped secure the protection of British Columbia’s Great Bear Rainforest.

Ross's 'Why?':

"I love my job in the non-profit sector because it allows me to apply the diverse tools of philanthropy and investment to help address some of the most intractable social and environmental issues we face in Canada today. The non-profit world can be nimble and entrepreneurial, filling gaps, building bridges, and solving problems that the public and private sectors are not always well poised to address. My work in the non-profit sector allows me to engage with many of the most creative, passionate, and inspirational Canadian change-makers who are striving to make the world a better place."

Ashli Akins — Executive Director, Mosqoy — BA 2009 (Environmental Studies/Latin American Studies)


Ashli recently graduated from the University of Oxford with a master's in international human rights law. She is the Executive Director of Mosqoy, an international charity that provides economic opportunities for marginalized highland communities of the Peruvian Andes, while nurturing their threatened indigenous culture.

Ashli's 'Why?':

"Working in international human rights is one of the most challenging lines of work; it is exhausting and overwhelming to continually witness injustice. However, it is also one of the most rewarding. Though I have struggled financially and in health, I have never had to question the 'why'. Every day, I see that my work has meaning. To make a direct positive impact in the life of another human being is invaluable. And it is, I believe, our responsibility as global citizens, to do what we can to make a small but positive footprint to the world in which we call home. "He who has a why to live can bear almost any how." (Nietzsche)"

There are so many exceptional and inspiring Social Sciences alumni. Want to read about others? Explore other themes:

You can also check out our Careers in the Social Sciences website. If you would like to feature on our profiles page or careers website, please , Alumni Relations Coordinator.

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