About Us

We are EWB.
We don’t accept the status quo.

We combine passion and pragmatism. We challenge and invest in each other to learn continuously, because that’s what is needed to create change together.
We are outraged and hopeful.
Our fellow human beings continue to live in extreme poverty, with dramatically diminished choices and opportunities; a mother who can’t feed her family, her husband telling their son that he can’t pay for school. This is an affront to our beliefs about what is right. Her hopes are our hopes. His drive is our drive. We serve their dreams to allow all of us to truly prosper.
We create systemic change wherever it's needed to accelerate Africa's development and unlock the potential of its people.
We incubate systemic innovations – investing rigorously, proving what works by having the courage to fail, and transforming the way people and organizations behave. This ensures the change we create is meaningful and lasting.
To do this, we invest in people who will lead systemic change.
They do whatever it takes, working tirelessly to learn and grow and transform how people think and how things are done. These exceptional leaders are able to act in the face of ambiguity and drive change together with all EWBers.
Our History 
2000
"Engineers Without Borders helps people in developing countries use technology to improve their lives."
Engineers Without Borders Canada and their first mission statement was founded in 2000 by CEOs, George Roter and Parker Mitchell on a napkin in a coffee shop. With a dream of an organization that would enable engineers to contribute something other than another bridge or another electrical grid, they started off with biweekly meetings in George’s parents’ living room. By the end of 2000, over 1000 members had joined and a handful of chapters were starting. And in January 2001, EWB’s first volunteer left for a four month internship in India.
2002
"Westerners who travel overseas should just shut up and listen."
Bunker Roy, founder of the Barefoot Colleges gave EWBers a strong dose of humility at EWB’s first ever National Conference in Montreal. Speaking about “unlearning”, he helped EWB come to the realization that their approach needed to be less focused on engineering technology and more focused on what was needed in the communities they were working in. “We realized that we needed to flip this assumption on its head. We needed to begin by asking not “What do we bring?” but instead “What do communities need?” It was only through answering this second question that we could begin to understand our role.”
2003
"At the end of the day, all the work we do is for her."
At the 2nd National Conference, held in Waterloo, Parker Mitchell introduced EWB to the concept of “Dorothy". By telling the story of his “Dorothy”, an HIV/AIDS worker from Zambia, EWBers began to use the concept of Dorothy as a reminder of who EWB is working for – our most important stakeholder. It’s a personal source of motivation for EWBers: when asked “Who’s your Dorothy?”, individual responses ring out of women, men, parents, and future children. “By talking about Dorothy, we don’t mean to oversimplify. There are 900 million people in sub-Saharan Africa, and we aren’t working with all of them, and there isn’t one person who represents all of them. But we wanted to have a person to remind us of who we are working for. Someone to remind us that EWB doesn’t exist to work for our members’ interests – we work in the service of something – someone – else.”
2003
"Let me tell you something about voice. You can change the world with your voice. Let me repeat that. You can change the world with your voice."
At that same National Conference in Waterloo, James Orbinski offered EWBers a reality check. While many other speakers spent time patting EWB on the back, Orbinski took EWB seriously enough to give them the feedback and guidance they needed to hear: “What is your vision? What is your action? What is your voice? If you are doing your job right, you will face these questions and you will see them as dilemmas.” Since then, a substantial part of EWB’s work and culture has been to embrace dilemmas, debate them, and develop our voice. EWB has strived to create a culture where debate and feedback is encouraged when it can help us clarify the action and direction of the organization.
2008
"Whether you change or not, EWB is going to make it happen. We will untie Canada’s aid. And it’s not a matter of if . . . it’s a matter of when."
In 2004, EWB began a 4-year campaign lobbying the Canadian government to untie Canada's development aid. Tied aid required the recipients of Canada's foreign aid to purchase exclusively Canadian goods and services – ultimately benefitting Canadian companies, and wasting aid money. Between 2004 and 2008, hundreds of EWBers took part in campaigning efforts such as asking the Minister of International Cooperation about tied aid, taking to the streets of Montreal for outreach events, and signing cards that were sent to every MP across Canada. In September 2008, after four years of campaigning, the Canadian government announced that it will completely untie all of Canada’s aid by 2012. Through this campaign, EWB learned the power of the individual, and even more so, the sheer force of many. Since 2008, EWB's advocacy work has been using the power of many and working with EWB’s network across Canada, to lobby the government for better aid reform and transparency, and leadership towards responsible mining in Africa.
2010
"Probably the single most prevalent claim advanced by the proponents of a new paradigm is that they can solve the problems that have led the old one to a crisis."
Over the first decade of EWB’s work, EWB became more aware of how our volunteers could have lasting impact in their partner organizations. EWB changed their pre-departure training, began focusing on how to work with their African partners to build organizational capacity, began hiring local staff for our overseas teams, and in January 2010 EWB began its Kumvana Program. The Kumvana Program offers 10-15 of EWB’s African professional partners the opportunity to build management and leadership skills through a four month tailored program, including a one month stay in Canada consisting of EWB’s National Conference, work placements, leadership training and home-stays. Since 2010, EWB has been taking massive strides in hiring local staff and Venture Leaders, and creating an African talent pipeline and network. To date, 37 African Leaders have participated in the Kumvana Program, with 17 African Leaders pre-selected for January 2014.
2012
"Success means recognizing that solutions don’t emerge immediately or without many iterations. And some may fail entirely. But those that gain traction have proven results and have the potential to “change the game” in systems that can affect a few million people."
With the creation of EWB’s 2020 Vision, EWB’s work expanded to include systems change. EWB saw that many of the barriers to development are higher up in the system: they’re happening with donor funding requirements, with international trade policies, with rich countries’ aid restrictions and broken commitments. Within EWB’s Venture and Incubator model, EWB focuses on innovations that impact systems – economic, political, social and cultural. EWB proves what works, shifts incentives and power dynamics, and transforms the way people and organizations behave. In doing so, EWB ensures change is meaningful and lasting – systemic innovation for systemic impact.
Our Board 
EWB’s Board of Directors is made up of today’s top thinkers in systemic innovation and international development. The Board of Directors directly oversee the Executive team, and approve EWB’s strategic and operational plans, annual budgets and financial reports. They participate in establishing EWB’s strategic direction and priorities, and recommend matters requiring consideration to EWB General Members at our Annual General Meeting each January.
Catherine Karakatsanis

Catherine Karakatsanis

Canada

Tim Brodhead

Tim Brodhead

Board Member | Not Retired - Rewired.

Canada

Louis Dorval

Louis Dorval

Board Member | Co-Founder, VOTO Mobile | Director, Meltwater Labs

USA

Shayne Smith

Shayne Smith

Chair, EWB Canada Board of Directors | Corporate Leadership Council, EWB-USA | VP Government and International Relations, Tetra Tech

Canada

Rob Ironside

Rob Ironside

Board Member

Canada

Joshua Monk Vanwyck

Joshua Monk Vanwyck

Board Member | Green Building Engineer, Transsolar

Germany

Miriam Hird-Younger

Miriam Hird-Younger

Board Member

Toronto

Our Staff 

We believe in the power of individuals to change the world. We give our team members the time, space, and resources to imagine, develop and refine their ideas. Although our team is spread across the globe, they work tirelessly to learn and grow and transform how people think, and how things are done. Below are the people who happen to work for us full-time, but they are only part of what makes us great. Want to join the team? Learn about current opportunities here.

Paul Cescon

Paul Cescon

Partnerships Manager

Canada

Alex Conliffe

Alex Conliffe

VP Operations

Canada

James Haga

James Haga

Vice President, Strategy & Investment

Toronto

Boris Martin

Boris Martin

CEO

Canada

Meet Our Team
Contact Us 
International Office
Engineers Without Borders Canada
312 Adelaide St. W., Suite 302
Toronto, ON M5V 1R2
Canada
General Inquiries
1 (866) 481 3696
info@ewb.ca
Invested Partners & Corporate Giving
Paul Cescon
(416) 642 9165
paulcescon@ewb.ca