Joanne Benham Rennick
I am the Executive Director of the Schlegel Centre for Entrepreneurship and Social Innovation. I lead the planning and coordination of social entrepreneurship learning opportunities in curricular and co-curricular programming in partnership with others across Laurier and within the region.
I also teach Social Entrepreneurship as an Associate Professor in Laurier’s Global Studies department. Formerly, I taught Research Methods and International Development in the Contemporary Studies program at Laurier's Brantford campus. Prior to joining Laurier, I was Director of the Beyond Borders international service-learning program at St. Jerome’s University at the University of Waterloo where I worked extensively with global partners in South America, South East Asia, Africa and the Caribbean.
Beyond academia, I spent more than a decade in program and project management roles in the field of information technology, both as an employee and a business owner.
As the Associate Director of the Schlegel Centre for Entrepreneurship and Social Innovation, I am passionate about engaging students, staff, faculty and the community in collaborative and interdisciplinary ways. I see social innovation and social entrepreneurship as a valid and valuable response to the complex social issues our world faces. As such, I am always excited when meeting others who are inspired to collaborate in the pursuit of a better world, while contributing their own skills, networks, and capacity.
I have experience developing and facilitating co-curricular and curricular opportunities in community service-learning; student life and engagement; academic success; and career and professional development at the post-secondary level. Beyond this, I have worked and volunteered locally and internationally on a variety of initiatives that educate, engage, and empower youth. I am currently pursuing my MA at Laurier in Social Justice and Community Engagement, focusing my research on how social innovation programs and initiatives can offer transformative and meaningful experiences for post-secondary students.
After completing my PhD in Psychology at Laurier I spent seven years working as a Senior Research Analyst with the Government of Ontario. As part of my role in government, I designed and led a multi-sector innovation initiative across Ontario to develop and test new approaches to delivering child and family services. My research at Laurier builds on my work experience and passion for innovation in the public sector.
In my role with SIVC as Research Associate, I design and lead several research projects. Our first two projects, working with other universities and colleges across Canada, are exploring how social innovation and social entrepreneurship is being taught in Canada and the characteristics of students who participate in social innovation and social entrepreneurship courses, programs and extra-curricular activities. I also design and manage the SIVC website and provide advice on strategic government relationships.
Outside of Laurier, I like to explore new challenges and opportunities. I enjoy sailing and have lived on a sailboat; I also designed and helped build the passive solar home where I currently live. I’m currently pursuing my own social enterprise – starting a plastics recycling facility in a small Caribbean island that will process plastic waste into building materials and outdoor furniture.
I am a Global Studies and Film Studies double major student going into the last year of my undergraduate degree here at Laurier. I am taking on the role as the SIVC Summer Co-op Student this summer, and I am extremely excited to be joining the SIVC team.!
I am passionate about achieving social change and making a difference for individuals not only on both Laurier campuses and within the Kitchener-Waterloo community, but throughout the world at large. As a Global Studies student, I have had the opportunity to increase my understanding of pertinent social issues and think more deeply about how we can do our part as social innovators and entrepreneurs to tackle all kinds of unique social problems. This is a big part of what SIVC is all about, so I am extremely excited to continue learning more about how students here at Laurier can make sustainable and positive social change possible.
I am really looking forward to increasing the Laurier community's awareness about SIVC and the Purpose Lab, and letting students and staff know why they exist on our campus. I want to encourage as many people as possible to engage with SIVC in meaningful ways in order to pursue their passions and think big ideas! I am also looking forward to building relationships with such a wide range of individuals; I love the idea of working alongside a diverse group of passionate people, and where better a place to find such a culture than within a social innovation hub!
Tolulope (Helen) Ojo
I am a graduate student completing my Masters of Arts in Cultural Analysis and Social Theory at Wilfrid Laurier University (Brantford). Thus far, this undertaking has equipped me to develop a theoretical understanding of various cultural and socio-economic inequalities that permeate our contemporary society.
As a Student Facilitator and Liaison in the Schlegel Centre for Entrepreneurship and Social Innovation, I encounter opportunities allowing me to offer resolutions to some of these inequalities. It also enables me to consider creative solutions to address local issues and engage others to think innovatively about similar concerns. With this role specifically, I have the privilege of helping to organize, coordinate, and facilitate a community-based program known as the “Neighborhood Changemakers Program”. The objective of this government-funded project is to introduce individuals with different learning techniques, as well as connect people with the necessary resources to generate a positive impact in their communities.