Barnabe Geis, Creator, producer, writer and host

I’m the Communications Architect and a social impact generalist at the Centre for Social Innovation, a coworking space, community and launchpad for people working to make the world a better place. I have a Masters in Journalism from Columbia University and a B.A. in Political Science from Concordia University. I’ve travelled extensively, including in hotspots such as Iraq, Iran, Syria, Gaza and Lebanon, to better understand the realities on the ground. Where you’re born is truly the luck of the draw.

Years ago while living in the Middle East, I worked with locals to organize tours across the West Bank. We operated in a volatile political and military environment and took university students, tourists and documentary filmmakers to meet residents from all walks of life. Seeing people of such different backgrounds talk, open up, share stories and walk away with new, broader perspectives was one of the most rewarding experiences of my life. I created UPLIFT because I want to help reveal our common humanity and boundless potential.

Currently developing the Solutions Media Accelerator at CSI, a groundbreaking one-year program that will support the development of solutions and impact-driven journalists – journalists and storytellers that cover the responses to problems we face rather than just the problems, and/or who design journalism projects strategically for impact – and incubate promising media startups creating innovative tools and platforms for content to reach and engage diverse audiences.

To check out some of my work, visit my page.

Nisha Toomey, Creator, producer, writer and host

I've been working in international development and education for a decade. I spent five years on the Thai-Burma border, teaching, training and managing social entrepreneurship projects. I learned early on that the concept of ‘poverty’ can be heavily flawed; that there is a much deeper, richer side to people’s lives. I'm so lucky to have worked alongside changemakers who channeled their outrage into helping others. I carry their stories with me everywhere I go.

I lived in a Burmese refugee camp for two years, eating rations and sleeping on a reed mat, teaching critical thinking under the shadow of the Burmese dictatorship. That time inspired my Master’s in Education, which looked at how governments use education systems to reward conformity and repress creativity, and the negative repercussions that can have for society as a whole. We should encourage and celebrate out-of-the-box thinking; solving the challenges we face requires new approaches and imagination.

I'm currently working on a PhD in Social Justice Education at the University of Toronto.

2016 Shaw Media Diverse Voices fellow, Hot Docs
2015 Impact Film Lab Emerging Filmmaker, Reelworld
2013 Language and Literacy Research Scholar of Canada award

You can also find me on LinkedIn.

Greg Francis, Filmmaker

I'm a Toronto based documentary filmmaker and cinematographer shooting the pilot of UPLIFT. I have a BFA in Film Studies from Ryerson University, where I also received the Norman Jewison Filmmaker award. Since I was a youngling, I've taken a strong connection to social and environmental issues, so much that I was voted “Most likely to join Greenpeace” at my high school graduation. 

My directorial debut, TAR, was awarded Best Short at Planet in Focus 2013 and has now screened in festivals across the globe. I've also produced works for a number of changemakers and nonprofits, such as the Centre for Social Innovation and the David Suzuki Foundation. Through my filmmaking, I strive to create works that promote positive change and sustainability for our shared ecology.

You can check out my demo reel for examples of my past work.