Centre Staff and Cluster Leads

The Live Work Well Research Centre is made up of five intersecting Research Clusters: Sexual and Gender Diversity; Disabilities, Access and Inclusion; “All my Relations” Indigenous Ways of Knowing; Integrating Care and Livelihoods; and, Displacements, Emergence and Change. Below is a directory of the Centre Director, Cluster Leaders and Centre staff. 


Dr. Deborah Stienstra, Director

Dr. Alex Sawatzky, Research and Knowledge Mobilization Manager

Sharon Findlay, Project Manager, Engendering Disability-Inclusive Development

Siobhan Grant, Project Coordinator, Canadian Feminist Disability Coalition

Benedicta Hughes, Administrative Assistant to the Director


Centre Staff

Photo of Deborah Stienstra

Deborah Stienstra, Director

Deborah is a cluster co-lead for the Displacements, Emergence and Change cluster and the Disabilities, Access and Inclusion cluster.

The Director of the Live Work Well Research Centre, Deborah holds the Jarislowsky Chair in Families and Work and is a Professor of Political Science at the University of Guelph. She is the author of About Canada: Disability Rights (Fernwood, 2012). Her research and publications explore the intersections of disabilities, gender, childhood, and Indigenousness, identifying barriers to, as well as possibilities for, engagement and transformative change. Her work also contributes to comparative and trans/international research and theory related to intersectional disability rights.


Over the past fifteen years, she has led or co-led multiple community-engaged research partnerships. Between 2010 and 2016, Jane Stinson, from the Canadian Research Institute for the Advancement of Women (CRIAW), and Deborah Stienstra co-led FemNorthNet or the Feminist Northern Network. FemNorthNet included northern and southern community organizations, Indigenous and settler women, and researchers and community women. Its goals were to examine the consequences of economic restructuring for diverse women in Northern Canadian communities, support these women to engage in decision-making about the changes in their communities brought about by these developments and help to amplify and insert women’s voices into discussions, decision-making and planning processes.


Deborah is engaged in several initiatives across Canada, in Vietnam and with partners in countries including Haiti, South Africa, Ghana, Uganda, Vietnam and Canada.


Email: deborah.stienstra@uoguelph.ca

Phone number: 519-824-4120, extension: 54553

Website: https://www.deborahstienstra.com/

Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/dstienstra

Alex Sawatzky

Alex Sawatzky, Research and Knowledge Mobilization Manager

Alex Sawatzky (she/her) is the Research and Knowledge Mobilization Manager with the Live Work Well Research Centre. Alex is an interdisciplinary researcher and artist, and holds a PhD in Public Health from the University of Guelph.  

Building from her background in community-engaged, place-based research and relationship-building, Alex provides strategic and operational leadership to initiate, develop, manage, and evaluate research and knowledge mobilization plans with and for the Centre and its diverse academic and community partners. She applies collaborative, intersectional approaches to research projects and knowledge mobilization activities to ensure all work connected to the Centre is aligned with its goals and priorities for cultivating and connecting thriving communities and environments. 

Alex can often be found running through trails with her trusty canine sidekick. She is also a passionate home cook who enjoys making and sharing meals with loved ones. 


Contact: asawatzk@uoguelph.ca

Photo of Kate Ducak

Sharon Findlay, Project Manager, Engendering Disability-Inclusive Development

Sharon Findlay is the Project Manager providing leadership and support for the day-to-day activities of the Engendering Disability-Inclusive Development (EDID) partnership, as well as the complementary WAGE-funded Canadian Feminist Disability Coalition. Sharon has a background in project development and international collaborations in secondary and post-secondary education. Her research at the University of Guelph, where she earned her BA and MA in European Studies, centred around connecting people and their stories; her work looks at migration, oral history, individual and collective memory and the concept of home.


With a particular interest in the representations of narratives through art and performance, Sharon has experience managing an international chamber music festival in southern Italy and co-founding Italian Heritage Projects in collaboration with the Italian Studies program at the University of Guelph to collect and curate stores from Italian immigrants to Canada. Additionally, Sharon consults as a freelance grant writer and project developer in the heritage and arts sectors.


When not at work, Sharon can be found hiking with her daughter and dog, biking, exploring areas of natural beauty and spending quality time with friends and loved ones.


Contact: sfindl01@uoguelph.ca

Photo of Kate Ducak

Siobhan Grant, Project Coordinator, Canadian Feminist Disability Coalition

Siobhan Grant joined the Live Work Well Research Centre with a background in Urban Studies (BA Hons.) and International Business Management from York University and Seneca College, respectively. Siobhan is the Project Coordinator for the Canadian Feminist Disability Coalition (CFDC), an exciting and meaningful project to build leadership and advocacy skills of diverse women and girls with disabilities to become agents for their rights in Canada.


In Siobhan’s free time, she enjoys cooking, exploring the city of Toronto and its various points of attraction, and spending time with her loved ones.


Contact: sgrant10@uoguelph.ca

Benedicta Hughes

Benedicta Hughes, Administrative Assistant to the Director

My name is Benedicta and I am the administrative assistant in the Live Work Well Research Centre.  I have a B. Mus from Université Laval, and a M.B.A. from the Ivey Business School at Western University. I am thrilled to have joined U of G, and am really looking forward to learning more about the Centre and all the important research taking place.


You can find me in MacKinnon 501 between 8:30 a.m. and 3 p.m., on Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays. As part of living work well, I am very thankful to have this opportunity to contribute, while taking on the challenge of moving my parents from their house to a seniors’ residence/assisted living, and also taking care of my own family.

Please let me how I can help you, or your research team with administrative support – I look forward to working with you!


Contact: bhughe07@uoguelph.ca

Telephone: 519-824-4120, extension: 54930

Cluster Leads

Photo of Kim Anderson

Kim Anderson, Lead of "All My Relations"

Keywords: Indigenous health and social well-being; Indigenous masculinities; Indigenous feminisms; Indigenous identity; Indigenous youth; Indigenous traditional knowledge; Indigenous environmental knowledge; and urban Indigenous peoples



Telephone: 519-824-4120, extension: 58027 

Photo of Leah Levac

Leah Levac, Co-Lead of Displacements, Emergence and Change

Keywords: intersectionality and citizen participation; northern wellbeing; youth engagement; local politics; global citizenship education; community engaged scholarship



Telephone: 519-824-4120, extension: 56065

Roberta Hawkins

Roberta Hawkins, Co-Lead of Reimagining Care

Keywords: feminist geography; ethical consumption; social justice; international development; slow scholarship; feminist academia



Telephone: 519-824-4120, extension: 58166

Photo of Amy Kipp

Amy Kipp, Co-Lead of Reimagining Care

Keywords:  feminist geography, social practice, public health, critical development studies, ethics of care, social change, community care, and wellbeing


Contact: akipp@uoguelph.ca

Photo of Malissa Bryan

Malissa Bryan, Co-Lead of Sexual and Gender Diversity

Keywords:  women, work, education, race, Black Identity, diversity, culture, LGBTQIA2S+, gender diversity identities, BIPOC experiences of queerness, anti-oppressive practise, ethnicity, social change, marginalization, feminist theory, critical race theory, intersectionality, marxism, mixed methods, and community-based research


Contact: mbryan@uoguelph.ca

Photo of Adam Davies

Adam Davies, Co-Lead of Sexual and Gender Diversity

Keywords: gender and sexual diversity; poststructuralism; queer theory; anti-oppressive practice; disability studies; inclusion; gay masculinities; digital media cultures; power; identity


Contact: adam.davies@uoguelph.ca

Photo of Ruth Neustifter

Ruth Neustifter, Co-Lead of Sexual and Gender Diversity

Keywords: survivors of intimate partner violence in new, non-violent relationships; providing sex-positive, pleasure-based education in shelters; working with sex workers to create new opportunities to share their experiences and knowledge in their own words; educating therapists on kinky and open relationships; experiences of queerness across adulthood; assisting parents with raising children to become sexually healthy adults



Telephone: 519-824-4120, extension: 53975