For the past two months, we’ve been collaborating with the civic superstars at Synapcity to deliver the 7th edition of Impact Academy, a 3-month immersive and experiential learning program for creative and entrepreneurial change-makers. 

For this special CityMaker edition of the program, we’ve been supporting projects, initiatives, and ventures aligned with three of the City of Ottawa’s priority areas: Environment and Sustainability, Transportation and Mobility and Healthy and Caring Communities.

This year’s cohort is an inspiring group of 13 Ottawans from a range of backgrounds, each motivated to move the needle toward a better City for all. Through workshops, study visits to local civic and community sites, and membership in the Impact Hub Ottawa community, they’re being exposed to the concepts, tools, and people that will help them advance their ideas to the next stage – whatever it may be.

Stay tuned: over the next few weeks, we’ll be shining a light on our participants and the projects they’re developing in order to transform the city for the better!

Babies, Business & Breakfast

Amy Lynch  

Amy Lynch After spending the better part of a decade as a freelance and remote worker in Australia, Ireland, and England, new mom Amy returned to Canada with a newfound motivation to address the isolation she sometimes faced as a working expat and new parent. Determined to maintain a sense of self while looking after her little ones, Amy often sought out networking and professional development opportunities and was surprised by a lack of inclusive spaces with baby change facilities and parent-friendly event times. After moving to Ottawa, Amy set out to make more space for ‘parentpreneurs’ looking to invest in themselves, and Babies, Business & Breakfast is the result. A pilot program for parent-friendly professional development, Amy’s initiative aims to improve parental mental health and accessibility of professional spaces across the city. After hosting a pop-up event and focus group this fall, Amy is continuing to build support for her idea and working toward a future in which parenthood and professional development don’t have to be mutually exclusive.

Follow Amy’s progress via her blog and on TwitterInstagram and Facebook and sign up here for the Babies, Business & Breakfast mailing list.

HUSE – Hand Up Social Enterprise

Indigo Holley  

Indigo HolleyA firm believer that everyone has something to contribute, Indigo is a longtime community builder with a passion for empowering others to reach their potential. HUSE – Hand Up Social Enterprise is a community crafting initiative designed to cultivate citizenship and build leaders among those who may not see themselves as such. Partnering with community organizations, service providers, and shelters across the city, HUSE will organize and host community crafting events at different locations, providing marginalized people with the skills to turn recyclables into goods to be sold at craft fairs, community markets, and pop-ups. In addition to being compensated for their work, participants will benefit from mentorship and soft-skill development that will empower them to be active members of their communities. Indigo hopes to have HUSE up and running in 2019, and looks forward to promoting sustainability while offering others a hand up instead of a handout.

Indigo is still building a social media presence, but for now she can be reached by email.

Timsle, Inc

Quayce Thomas  

Quayce ThomasSix years ago, not long after being diagnosed with bipolar disorder, Quayce came face-to-face with the reality that our daily behaviours – however small – are what shape us. As days and nights of poor eating, minimal sleep, and no exercise turned into months, he found it harder to make the small changes he knew ne needed to improve his health. For Quayce, it was the support of his family, close friends, and partner that helped him to commit to those small steps toward improvement. Together, they started by setting simple goals – like getting out of bed, going outside, eating a nutritious meal – and holding one another accountable to them. It wasn’t easy, but in time Quayce found himself with a system that seemed to work for him and potentially, he thought, for others too. Enter: Timsle, an app designed to help users set and reach their health goals by staying accountable to close friends and family. Through Timsle, Quayce is on a journey to understand and improve population health in Ottawa and beyond. is currently in Beta, but stay tuned for the full launch in late November and reach out to Quayce via email


Mentoring Our Own: Fostering Social Change

Erica Carson-Sami 
Erica 1

Erica is on a mission to change the way that youth with disabilities see their futures and engage with their communities. She knows that for many, making the transition into adulthood can be a challenge – especially without the positive influence of an adult who shares their experience of living with a disability. So, for the past year, Erica has been developing an initiative to help make that transition easier for youth in Ottawa: “Mentoring Our Own: Fostering Social Change” is Erica’s vision for a mentorship program that matches youth and adults with disabilities. Together, the mentor-mentee pair will work together to address a civic issue that impacts the lives of people with disabilities. Mentoring Our Own will provide youth living with disabilities with a fuller sense of the options available to them as adults, while helping them to develop leadership and problem-solving skills that can make those opportunities a reality.

Want to get involved? Contact Erica by email.

Spice! Leadership

Alex Keenan  


Alex is committed to tackling gender disparities in leadership. Socialization and unconscious bias often work to discourage women and girls from stepping up to leadership positions, and after years of witnessing barriers impact upon aspiring women leaders in her life, Alex decided to take action. Spice! Leadership is a training and mentorship program designed to empower future change-makers and bring more diverse groups of women into leadership roles in all sectors. Targeting people who might not otherwise see themselves as leaders or know how to meet their leadership potential, Spice! helps girls and gender-diverse youth to develop their confidence, awareness and leadership skills, while supporting them in building peer networks and providing a safe space for exploration and risk-taking.

Learn more about Spice! Leadership by visiting or finding them on on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram at @SpiceLeadership. Alex can be reached by email.


Shalini Nagrani 


A Canadian immigrant who was born and raised in Zimbabwe, Shalini is applying her background in Business and Mathematics to create a more accessible web experience for all. As the general manager of OpenConcept Consulting, a social enterprise dedicated to open-source web development, Shalini is working to create tech tools that enable more people to use the Internet as a force for good. When it comes to developing accessible tech, the tendency is to focus narrowly on addressing the technology itself – the website, the specific mobile or tablet app – rather than taking a holistic approach that considers the root causes of the inaccessibility. Through her work with OpenConcept, Shalini is hoping to encourage developers to think of accessibility for all not as an afterthought but as an essential component of good web design. Specifically, Shalini aims to support non-developers in creating specific features that can be applied across platforms and devices (websites, mobile or tablet applications) that improve user experience and accessibility.

Learn more about OpenConcept by checking out their website and finding them on Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn.

Indigenous Veterans Work Life Canada

Sharen Bowen  

After years of engaging with Indigenous communities, Sharen came to identify a gap in services available to support Indigenous veterans, many of whom feel disconnected from their roots and communities and, for those who have been medically released from duty, grieve for the loss of their Military family. Sharen hopes to address these challenges by leading the co-creation of Indigenous Veterans Work Life Canada, which will honour the traditions of Indigenous culture and language and weave them into programs to support Indigenous veterans and their families in finding meaningful employment opportunities after their time in service. By connecting Indigenous veterans to the supports they need to find employment or build a social enterprise, Sharen hopes to empower participants to self-determine, build and maintain the life and work they desire. 

To learn more or get involved, please contact Sharen by email.

Top Sixty Over Sixty

Helen Hirsch-Spence & Debra Yearwood  

Logo Top 60 RED LittleHelen and Debra are committed to de-stigmatizing ageing and embracing intergenerational engagement. After coming to the realization that access to professional opportunities wasn’t equal for older adults, and that barriers based on assumptions and myths about older adults were preventing many people from living to their fullest, the pair set out to help older adults recognize their strengths and use them to live – and work – to their full potential. Top Sixty over Sixty provides support, advocacy and a learning community to help older adults embrace their next stage of life with an entrepreneurial mindset. Through events and programming that work to break down barriers and build skills, Helen and Debra are helping employers to see the benefits of older employees and working to change the narrative of ageing from one of decline to one of momentum and possibility.

Learn more about Top Sixty over Sixty by checking out their website and blog and by finding them on Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn.

Gina Babinec

Gina Babinec

Impact Hub Ottawa's Programs Lead