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Reaching for Power – Committee

Reaching for Power Committee Members

Influencing leadership for marginalized women and non-binary persons in municipal politics

Annabelle Headshot

Anabelle Ragsag (she/her) is a community innovator, book author, and social policy researcher. She was born and raised in the Philippines. Before Canada, she built a career in international development and policy work across Australia, Egypt, Germany and Indonesia. Mothering and migrating to Canada were the impetus for her to pause her career because of the challenges she faced navigating these two new brave worlds. That is why she is also a champion of mothers going back to the world of work after a hiatus of stay-at-home moms and newcomers scaling the walls of deprofessionalization, having experienced all of these. In the past few years, she co-founded the Filipinas of HamOnt and co-convened the Hamilton Asian Alliance to build capacities of celebration and change. Anabelle was educated at the University of the Philippines and Carleton University. She is currently taking up a PhD in Social Work at McMaster University and a Data Science certificate program at the University of Guelph.

Jessica Vinluan Headshot

Jessica Vinluan (she/her) is an educator, artist, and life-long learner. Born and raised in Hamilton, she fell in love with arts. She is currently teaching Visual Arts at HWDSB and was previously Hamilton Arts Council’s Project Coordinator for The Arty Crowd, a digital hub for arts lovers, artists, and arts organizations in the Greater Hamilton Area. In 2020, she was a participant in YWCA Reaching For Power Series, where she co-founded Filipinas Of HamOnt with Anabelle Ragsag, a a grassroots, intersectional feminist, equity-seeking, and anti-racist initative; mobilizing and connecting women and femme-identified Filipino/a/x in Hamilton through dynamic programming, relationship building, and community alliance. She was also a 2020 YWCA Young Women of Distinction Nominee.

Jessica is currently completing a software engineering course, striving towards reimagining a more inclusive tech world that centres creativity, dialogue, and reclaiming collective agency.”

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Originally from Ottawa, Jyssika Russell (They\She) has been an active member of Hamilton’s 2SLGBTQIA+ communities since they came out ten years ago. After the closure of all 2SLGBTQIA+ spaces in Hamilton in 2015, they founded speqtrum Hamilton, a youth-led and focused 2SLGBTQIA+ community organization in 2017. As a community organizer, Jyssika has advocated for 2SLGBTQIA+ inclusion and youth voice in multiple spheres, including the Hamilton-Wentworth District School Board, the City of Hamilton, and as Chair of the Queer and Trans Youth Collaborative, a collection of queer and trans youth-serving agencies and organizations in Hamilton. They are currently serving as the Manager of Public Affairs and Communications at the Enchante Network, Canada’s national network for 2 Spirit and LGBTQ+ community organizations.

Kusum Headshot

Kusum Bhatta (she/her) is a Ph.D. student in the School of Social Work at McMaster University. She has her Master’s in Gender Studies and Feminist Research from McMaster and a Bachelor of Arts in Social Work (BASW) from St. Xavier’s college in Nepal. She represents the Department of Social Sciences in the senate as a student representative at McMaster University. She is also a governing council member of the Hamilton Centre For Civic Inclusion (HCCI), a non-profit organization in Hamilton. Her research, practice experience, and advocacy have been in recognition equity and social justice for ageing women of colour and LGBTQ+ individuals, specifically from South Asia, who continue to face gender-based violence, occupational segregation, and racism.

Renata Headshot

Renata (she/her) lives all things social justice! With an educational background in Psychology and Biology from Dalhousie University and Social Work from McMaster University, Renata looks to shake the room through her love of building community connections, challenging the status quo, and amplifying the voices of the margins. Seasoned in racialized peer support, counselling and teaching through McMaster University, housing and homelessness support with the YWCA Hamilton, as well as food equity and community network building through her grassroots initiative StreetEatzHamOnt, Renata brings passion and a sharp Black Feminist and Critical Race lens to every conversation and every table. As she is comfortably situated in the education and policy sector, Renata looks to bring a liberating, empowering, and critically conscious force to the Hamilton Community at large.

Violetta Headshot

Violetta Nikolskaya (she/her) is a Senior Analyst for YWCA Hamilton. She joined the movement in 2017 as the Manager of Transitional Housing. Violetta has experience in front-line shelter service, management of shelter, housing and support programs for individuals experiencing homelessness, and program design.

Violetta serves her community as the Vice-Chair for both the LGBTQ Advisory Committee for the City of Hamilton and the Housing and Homelessness Advisory Committee for the City of Hamilton. When she is not focusing her time on social justice, gender equity and social work – Violetta sits as a Director for the Ontario Student Debating Union’s Board of Directors. She has been a competitive debater and adjudicator since 2008. Her work with the Board won her the McLeese Award for Leadership.

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