Researchers & Staff


Click on the drop down feature for information on each member of Staff.

Robert Cervelli

Cervelli-LP3-minRobert Cervelli, Executive Director– Robert has been a life science tech start-up entrepreneur for over 25 years, and understands the issues related to new business creation and the health of resilient local economies.   He has founded, or co-founded, biotechnology companies developing diagnostics, cancer therapy, vaccine enhancement technologies, neurological drug discovery and consumer health products. He has become particularly knowledgeable in the commercial develop of botanical extracts and natural active compounds.

Robert has been an active volunteer in community building for over 35 years. He is a co-founder and Chair of Transition Bay St. Margarets Bay (, one of the first Transition Initiatives in the Maritimes. He is advising other rural Maritime communities on the process of building Transition Initiatives in order to draw out the skills, processes and projects inherent in local cultures to build resilience and adaptability to global change.

Robert has corresponded widely and tracked the international development of new tools and initiatives bringing a solid ‘projects-first’ perspective to revitalization. He has been a member of the E.F. Schumacher Society for over 25 years, has corresponded internationally and attended key international events on alternative economics. A particular area of interest is in projects implementing innovative new tools for rebuilding economic resilience at the local and regional levels. His local currency projects include the ‘Bluenotes’ (1993, coupon note issued by 10 Halifax businesses), the “Maritime Hour’ (1994-98, local currency accepted by over 300 businesses), and the ‘Carat’ (2012-present, redeemable currency issued by local Nova Scotia farmers).  Robert also sits on the Board of the St Margarets Bay Stewardship Association and several green technology companies.

As an experienced botanist and horticulturalist, Robert manages a one-acre vegetable farm at his home in St. Margarets Bay. He holds a B.Sc. degree (Forestry) from Purdue University and a M.Sc. (Botany) from the University of Wisconsin.

Andrea Vandenboer

Andrea Vandenboer, Project Manager / Administrator – Andrea has what you want in a project or event coordinator, a videographer, and an award winning sound editor – a background of international travel, music, theatre and digital arts that has led her (and her company The Visual Blueprint Productions) to become a visual story-telling force to be reckoned with. Her quick sense of humour, clarity and fiercely compassionate nature will find you wanting to see your own event come to life under her skillful guidance or your own story told through the lens of her camera.

Andrea continues to work on independent film projects with screenings both at a local level and globally, with official selections for International Film Festivals. She has coordinated live events and festivals, and also produced, edited and shot for a number of independent documentaries, live events, promotional videos and research projects.

A passion for organic gardening and a deep awareness of sustainable living guides many of her project choices.

Katie Harris

Katie Harris, MA,profile croppe Research Assistant – Katie is a phd candidate in Social Anthropology at Dalhousie University in Halifax, Canada. Born and raised in Prince Edward Island, she is passionate about working and offering a positive contribution to the Atlantic region. Most especially, Katie is interested in using social policy to support locally oriented, driven, and rooted forms of social and economic development.

For the past decade, Katie has participated in various aspects of this process ranging from policy analysis to social justice advocacy to supporting grass roots organizations including citizens groups, a co-operative, and programming for disaffected youth. Most recently, Katie has been involved in running program evaluation in interdisciplinary health-care teams as well as her academic department at Dalhousie.

She is also completing a dissertation examining the practical impact that austerity programming is having on the ability of working class Irish families to ‘get by’ on a day to day basis. Here, she offers a grounded account of the complications of the austerity model and innovative solutions that affected persons are developing to endure it.

Research Associates

Click on the drop down feature for information on each researcher who is assisting the Centre in its important work.

Karen Foster

image002Dr. Karen Foster, Principal Investigator – Karen Foster is Canada Research Chair in Sustainable Rural Futures for Atlantic Canada. She is Assistant Professor in the Department of Sociology and Social Anthropology at Dalhousie University, where she teaches about work, economy and gender. Her research spans economic sociology, the sociology of work, and the history of economic thought.

Her forthcoming book, Productivity and Prosperity (University of Toronto Press, 2016), examines the meaning and measurement of “productivity” in Canada. She is a founding member of Basic Income Nova Scotia, an avid cyclist, partner to Brian Foster and mother to 2-year-old Alice.

Michael Shuman

headshot_MShuman_110wMichael Shuman, Expert Consultant – Michael is an economist, attorney, author, and entrepreneur, and one of the world’s leading experts on community economics and local investment ( Shuman has authored or coauthored eight books. His latest book is entitled The Local Economy Solution: How Innovative, Self-Financing “Pollinator” Enterprises Can Grow Jobs and Prosperity.

Michael has also written Local Dollars, Local Sense: How To Move Your Money From Wall Street to Main Street & Achieve Real Prosperity highlights a broad range of local tools for funding enterprise. He’s a founding board member of the Business Alliance for Local Living Economies (BALLE). He is also an adjunct instructor in community economic development for Simon Fraser University in Vancouver.