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Pictured (from left to right): Kristen Needham, Anthony Everett, Eda Koot, Stacey Toews and Christian Van Buskirk (not pictured: David Miller). Photo credit: Alex Berthin

 

The Centre for Social and Sustainable Innovation (CSSI) recently announced its advisory board. The Board will help CSSI with its new strategic vision – to be a leading research centre for regenerative sustai­­­nability. Gustavson caught up with each member to learn more about them.

David Miller

David MillerTell me a bit about yourself and your business.
I am the director of the C40 Centre for urban climate policy and economy, a think tank which exists to help the mayors of the world’s major cities become equipped with the scientific and economic arguments they need to succeed in their mission of using their voices and actions to help the world avoid climate breakdown. My background is in politics and law, with a particular interest in the successful leadership by mayors and the implementation of actions by major cities.

Why did you decide to join CSSI’s Advisory Board?
We cannot achieve our global and local environmental goals without leadership of business. Young people are demanding, correctly, that all our institutions respond to our environmental crises – CSSI gives Gustavson a strong ability to lead this conversation locally, nationally and globally.

How do you see your partnership with CSSI contributing to your organization’s sustainability goals?
Our mayors work with businesses on a daily basis to achieve their city’s sustainability goals. I hope to help them access leading thinking, ideas and practices so they can move faster and farther.

How do you hope to contribute to CSSI’s goals?
I will bring an urban lens to CSSI – how can we create models of regenerative sustainability in cities? What are the best ideas that we can bring to Gustavson? How do we create real-world collaborations beyond the ring road?

What about this partnership is most exciting for you?
Its relevance and its potential. Gustavson and UVic are ideally placed to lead conversations about sustainability – and they do not need to be limited to our local area. The potential ideas considered by and work of CSSI will be powerful and global in potential scope if we build from local success thoughtfully and strategically.

Anthony Everett

Anthony EverettTell me a bit about yourself and your business.
I am president and CEO of 4VI, a social enterprise formed to ensure that travel is a force for good for Vancouver Island – forever. We transitioned from a destination management organization, previously known as Tourism Vancouver Island, in April 2022. We recognized that the pandemic has forever changed the tourism industry, and our organization needs to move forward in a completely new way.

I have served as CEO of the organization since 2018, having spent more than 30 years in the tourism industry in British Columbia, including leadership positions with Northern BC Tourism and Tartan PR (now tartanbond).

Why did you decide to join CSSI’s Advisory Board?
I am honoured to join the CSSI Advisory Board as the work that is being studied and conducted through this organization mirrors the work that 4VI is doing in the sustainability in the travel industry. I am eager to learn more about how our two organizations can work together toward common goals.

How do you see your partnership with CSSI contributing to your organization’s sustainability goals?
There is a lot of alignment between our two organizations. As we adopt and implement the Responsible Tourism Institute Biosphere certification for Vancouver Island and our commitment to the Glasgow Declaration, we will often be engaged with CSSI for insights and inspiration.

How do you hope to contribute to CSSI’s goals?
I hope that we can bring our learnings from the work that we are doing to help CSSI achieve their goals. I also hope that we can work directly with CSSI on research projects with staff and students.

What about this partnership is most exciting for you?
When we changed to 4VI as a social enterprise, I made it clear that we didn’t want to sit around a boardroom table and simply talk about responsible travel and sustainability. Instead, we want to put expertise into action. What excites me most is the opportunity to learn and expand on the expertise that we bring to the travel industry.

Christian Van Buskirk

Christian Van BuskirkTell me a bit about yourself and your business.
I am an assistant teaching professor here at Gustavson, and I joined the team in 2014, focusing on marketing and management topics from first-year BCom students through to the MBA level.

I also run a consulting business focusing on customer experience management and helping organizations maximize opportunities around service strategy, experience design and delivery.

Why did you decide to join CSSI’s Advisory Board?
First, my work on sustainable tourism that resulted in me becoming the Gustavson representative for the Global Sustainable Tourism Council (GSTC). This is where I began to see a great opportunity to engage our students and faculty, via CSSI, in the world of sustainable tourism and its tremendous impact.

Second, the work I am doing with Principles of Responsible Management in Education (PRME). The synergies between what PRME is trying to create and how CSSI approaches research and learning for students and faculty seem strong, so I feel I can engage with CSSI to seize future opportunities.

How do you see your partnership with CSSI contributing to your organization’s sustainability goals?
In my mind, the way we integrate the research done by Gustavson faculty into our classrooms for our students is incredibly important. Just as important is how we connect industry, both globally and locally, into our classrooms and to our students with real-world examples of sustainability. I see a lot of potential to fulfil my teaching goals around incorporating more sustainability issues and more Indigenous ways of knowing and doing into course planning and delivery.

How do you hope to contribute to CSSI’s goals?
To promote regenerative sustainability in our classrooms and communities. Collaboration with stakeholders is a critical component of CSSI’s success, so anything I can do to facilitate those collaborations will be a priority in my role.

What about this partnership is most exciting for you?
The ability to connect with our local community partners and our fellow board members. The lens they bring to the table is critically important to both the direction of CSSI and for me personally as an educator in this school. Their perspectives help me understand how to bridge the transition between what we are doing in the classroom in preparation for student workplace successes and how their success in the workplace impacts how they transition back to the classroom.

Kristen Needham

Kristen NeedhamTell me a bit about yourself and your business.
I am the founder and owner-operator of Sea Cider Farm & Ciderhouse, a cider-centric, community-minded business rooted in farming that exists to create exceptional cider experiences while supporting local food security, providing a safe and fulfilling work environment for staff, and operating as a value-driven business.

Why did you decide to join CSSI’s Advisory Board?
I believe in CSSI’s mission and think it’s important for agriculture to be at the table to listen, learn and contribute a perspective of a farm-based business. I also think CSSI offers an exciting model for engagement, learning and dissemination of ideas.

How do you see your partnership with CSSI contributing to your organization’s sustainability goals?
As one example, I look forward to sharing ideas on how to measure progress towards sustainability.

How do you hope to contribute to CSSI’s goals?
I hope to take CSSI’s research findings as they relate to regenerative sustainability, for example, and share them with my farming and cider communities.

What about this partnership is most exciting for you?
I think the paradigm shift to regenerative sustainability is exciting (and daunting!)

Stacey Toews

­­­­Stacey ToewsTell me a bit about yourself and your business.
I love being active and spending time with others. I enjoy hearing about struggles that people encounter and the learning that results. I believe that being healthy physically, relationally and mentally is critical to achieving my life purpose of inspiring and educating others. Level Ground has pioneered Fair Trade and sustainable practices from our onset. We want to collaborate more, stay curious and always improve.

Why did you decide to join CSSI’s Advisory Board?
While our business regularly hires Gustavson students for co-ops, and I mentor students from the school, I believe that joining the CSSI advisory board is an added opportunity to stretch myself through new learning and contribution. I crave company that is values-aligned and passionate about sustainability. It’s my desire to learn from thought leaders – knowing and sharing more – in order to effect broader change in my own business and networking.

How do you see your partnership with CSSI contributing to your organization’s sustainability goals?
I’m confident that greater exposure to the sustainability initiatives of other businesses, plus the research being done at Gustavson, will have a powerful impact on Level Ground. It’s our aim to always improve in our own practices both internally and with the small-scale farming cooperatives with which we partner globally.

How do you hope to contribute to CSSI’s goals?
Within the CSSI’s priorities, I can contribute in the areas of education and community focused on regenerative sustainability. I believe thoughtful social impact in communities influences positive environmental outcomes. My 25 years experience in business has shown me the power of long-term relationships to bring sustained improvement.

What about this partnership is most exciting for you?
There’s lots to be excited about! Level Ground will have greater access to research and culture-shaping behaviour while I will expand my network alongside amazing business and thought leaders.

­­­Eda Koot

Edat KootTell me a bit about yourself and your business.
I am a career hotelier and have worked in several beautiful locations in our province. I am currently the general manager at the Inn at Laurel Point, which has been carbon neutral since 2009 and has had stewardship as one of our core values for over 10 years.

Why did you decide to join CSSI’s Advisory Board?
I think the opportunity to work together with CSSI from a hospitality perspective is wonderful. We have a lot of information to share as we all continue the journey toward regenerative tourism.

How do you see your partnership with CSSI contributing to your organization’s sustainability goals?
We have the opportunity to represent our stakeholders and guests, which range from those coming internationally and locally for a leisure weekend or attending a conference. The information we can gain and the opportunity to educate guests from these various sectors can only benefit us all.

How do you hope to contribute to CSSI’s goals?
I am open to learn and to share from our hotel and the industry’s perspective. I believe so many individuals and businesses want to do the right thing and just need to understand their role, and I think we can assist in that process.

What about this partnership is most exciting for you?
I believe everything we do can be impactful. Often making that first step is the most difficult, and together we can make progress that will affect visitors and locals alike. It’s exciting!