Grand Challenges Canada

Grand Challenges Canada is excited to welcome two experienced leaders to lead the Indigenous Innovation Initiative (I3) team. Julie Williams was appointed as the Director of I3 and Kathryn Manners joined as the Deputy Director.

Julie Williams, Director of the Indigenous Innovation Initiative

Julie is Ojibway from Rama/Mnjikaning First Nation and is a member of the Muskellunge clan. As an enthusiastic lifelong learner, she has enjoyed a balance of formal institutional learning and traditional learning on the land and in storytelling. After years of studying and working abroad, she returned to Turtle Island to take up work in service to Indigenous Peoples.

Holistic health and well-being for communities have been a driving factor in Julie’s career. Julie has experience working at the Wabano Centre for Aboriginal Health, where she supported the development of culturally relevant and trauma-informed programs, and with the Assembly of First Nations, where she led national policy strategies in First Nations K-12 and post-secondary education, resulting in transformational policy and investments.

Julie’s experience has prompted her to reflect on the nature of true transformation and begin to work in Indigenous governance. In recent years, Julie has worked with the Centre for First Nations Governance and the Rebuilding First Nations Governance Project in developing policy, legal and knowledge transfer supports for First Nations who seek to self-determine through self-governance. Her community and culturally centred work inspired her to take on a historical research project on the traditional governance of her own home territories of the Chippewa Tri-Council, known today as the lands extending from Holland Landing north to Dorset. In her spare time, Julie enjoys quiet Sunday puzzles, after-work runs, traditional beading, and outdriving her partner and father on the golf course.

Kathryn (Kathy) Manners, Deputy Director of the Indigenous Innovation Initiative

Kathy is a results-oriented, values-based community leader and entrepreneur with a passion for innovation. She has worked in both the private sector at 3M Canada and public sector with the Ontario Public Service, along with contributing extensively in the non-profit environment. Kathy’s experience in the corporate, public, and social sectors is an invaluable asset.

Kathy takes a human-centered design approach to all her work. She was the key researcher, facilitator, and author of “Voices of Lived Experience with Poverty,” a report that highlighted a strength-based approach to understanding poverty in Simcoe County. She has been involved in projects focusing on understanding and addressing homelessness in rural areas, following the latest trends and initiatives. Kathy is one of a handful of Canadians who have completed graduate work in Social Innovation and is driven to change the way we change the world. In her spare time, Kathy loves spending time with her family and is an avid cyclist!

Julie and Kathryn both began working alongside the I3 team at the beginning of January.