Advisory Committee

Shannon Sampert

Director of the Centre for Public Policy and Knowledge Mobilization Editor-in-Chief,

Shannon Sampert

Shannon is the editor and director of She is the former perspectives and politics editor of the Winnipeg Free Press.

Shannon started as a volunteer radio reporter for a small radio station in Wetaskiwin, Alberta, when she was 15 years old and was hooked from that point on.

She has worked in radio, on television and for a small period of time, wrote stories and sold ads for a rodeo magazine (she still has the cowboy boots to prove it).

At the ripe old age of 32, she made the decision to get a degree, and earned her BA in political science.

Shannon enjoyed that so much, she got her MA in Communications Studies at the University of Calgary and then her PhD at the University of Alberta in Canadian politics.

She has published a number of articles on media, politics, and women — including a collection coedited with Linda Trimble called Mediating Canadian Politics.

She continues to research media depictions of female politicians and in her free time is a dedicated mother to her three fur babies, Norman, Ike and Barry.

Bob Cox

Publisher - Winnipeg Free Press

Bob Cox

Bob Cox is publisher of the Winnipeg Free Press, responsible for the operations of 8 daily and community newspapers in Manitoba owned by FP Canadian Newspapers.

He has worked for 35 years in Canadian journalism. Prior to joining the Winnipeg Free Press, Cox’s previous posts included national editor of the Globe and Mail, city editor of the Edmonton Journal and parliamentary correspondent for the Canadian Press in Ottawa.

He returned to the Free Press in 2005 as editor and was appointed publisher in 2007. He is currently chair of News Media Canada, which represents daily and community newspapers across the country.

He also sits on the boards of Vividata, which measures newspaper and magazine audiences, and the National NewsMedia Council, Canada’s national press council which considers complaints from the public about matters of journalistic practice at member news outlets.

Carolyn Shimmin

Patient and Public Engagement Lead at George and Fay Yee Centre for Healthcare Innovation

Carolyn Shimmin

Carolyn Shimmin is the Patient and Public Engagement Lead at the George and Fay Yee Centre for Healthcare Innovation (CHI). In this role, she leads CHI’s strategy on public involvement in health research (including a patient engagement lunchtime learning series, champions program, blog series and research funding award).

Previous experience includes stakeholder engagement, research, writing and reporting on various health policy issues including mental health, addictions, poverty, food insecurity, trauma and sexual exploitation of youth.

Areas of interest include patient engagement, knowledge translation, trauma-informed approaches, intersectional analysis and postructuralist queer theory.

Carolyn has a Bachelor of Journalism Combined Honours Political Science and a Master of Gender Studies.

Malcolm Bird

Director - MPA Co-Op Program, Department of Political Science, University of Winnipeg

Malcolm Bird

I am fascinated by the evolution of Canadian state-owned enterprises (SOEs). My research explores how these publicly-owned companies manage a host of divergent and oftentimes contradictory demands from the public, various interest groups and their political masters. Their executives must balance a host of commercial, policy and political imperatives all the while being subject to very stringent transparency and accountability criteria as when compared to their private sector counterparts. Many Crowns have transformed both their operations and their governance regimes to become much more efficient and effective providers of goods and services; the “lumbering leviathans” of yesteryear have long since disappeared.

Complimenting this work, I’m also interested in interactions between bureaus and the (P)political sphere to better understand how and why governments make decisions. I’ve found that governments are overwhelmed with urgent demands from all of sectors of society and are deeply constrained in their behavior; path dependencies and pragmatism rule their worlds with ideology and partisanship playing minor roles in how they make decisions, if at all.

My most recent work has focused on cannabis legalization and how the federal government has foisted a monumental set of problems onto provincial and civic governments in order to meet its electoral objectives.

Laurie Monk

Manager, Lighthouses Program/Restorative Justice Program and Policy Analyst, Manitoba Justice

Laurie Monk

Laurie is very pleased to join the Media Advisory Board of theEvidence Network. A career public servant, Laurie’s experiences include stints as a juvenile counselor within youth corrections, a program manager working in the area of crime prevention, and providing high level program and policy advice to senior leadership in the areas of Justice and Status of Women.

A graduate of the Joint Master of Public Administration (UW/UM) and the Public Sector Management Program (Govt of Manitoba/UM), Laurie is a strong supporter of evidence-based decision-making and good policy informed by best practices. This, coupled with a healthy respect for traditional knowledge and ways of knowing, help to ensure the best advice possible is being provided to senior decision-makers.

An avid outdoor enthusiast, summertime Laurie can be found in the water of Macara Lake or working on yet another of the endless projects that come from being a cabin owner. A newly discovered passion for ice hockey has encouraged Laurie to learn how to use skates without a toepick, a skill she hopes to improve upon over the winter.

Jino Distasio

Vice President of Research and Innovation/Professor, Department of Geography, University of Winnipeg

Jino Distasio

Dr. Distasio joined the University of Winnipeg in 1999 as a member of the Department of Geography. For well over a decade, Jino served as Director of the University of Winnipeg’s Institute of Urban Studies where he worked extensively in Winnipeg’s inner city as well as exploring broader Canadian and urban global issues. During this period he has been actively engaged in over 200 projects, publications and community initiatives. Areas of interest include urban revitalization, housing market analysis, urban economic development, mental health, homelessness and local and national urban policy. As well, he serves on numerous committees and boards.

In 2013, he took on an administrative role and is currently the Vice President of Research and Innovation. In this capacity he has helped guide the University’s research enterprise while also supporting the development of a strategic academic and research plan.

At the national level, Jino has led several large, multi-city projects that have examined housing markets, tenancy supports, homelessness and developing of a national index of neighbourhood distress in Canadian cities as well as a toolkit for eviction prevention.

As a faculty member in the Department of Geography, Jino focuses on urban issues. He holds Adjunct Professor status in the departments of Psychiatry, Geography and City Planning at the University of Manitoba where he supports graduate students. He enjoys writing commentary and also provides local and national media comment on issues relating to urban policy, poverty, transportation, inner city renewal and other civic and urban concerns.

Jared Wesley

Associate Professor, Political Science, University of Alberta

Jared Wesley

Dr. Jared Wesley is a pracademic — a practicing political scientist and former public servant — whose career path to the University of Alberta Department of Political Science has included senior management positions in the Alberta Public Service (APS).  While in Alberta’s Executive Council, he gained valuable experience in the development of public policy and intergovernmental strategy.  He also served as Director of Learning and Development in the Alberta Public Service Commission, establishing policies and curriculum to train public servants at all levels of the organization.

He studies and teaches the politics of bureaucracy and the bureaucracy of politics, with a special focus on provincial political culture. He has served as principal investigator of the SSHRC-funded “Comparative Provincial Elections Project”, which studied provincial elections in every jurisdiction between 2011 and 2015. In addition to his books — Code Politics: Campaigns and Cultures on the Canadian Prairies (UBC Press, 2011); Disengaged?: Fixed Date, Democracy, and Understanding the 2011 Manitoba Election (co-edited with Andrea Rounce, University of Regina Press); Big Worlds: Politics and Elections in the Canadian Provinces and Territories (editor, University of Toronto Press, 2015), and Inside Canadian Politics (co-author with Alex Marland, Oxford University Press, 2016) — he has published in the Canadian Journal of Political Science, the Journal of Canadian Studies, Prairie Forum, Policy Options, and several edited volumes.

Jared is a frequent contributor to high-profile media outlets both regionally and nationally.  He is an active member of the Institute of Public Administration of Canada (IPAC), and his team has launched several pracademic initiatives including the Public Sector Graduate Internship Program (which places graduate students in rotating, paid positions with various orders of government) and the award-winning Café Pracademique initiative (which invites scholars and practitioners to bridge the traditional gap between their communities by ‘hacking’ today’s most pressing public policy challenges in real-time).  For more information on Dr. Wesley, please visit:

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