Salima Ebrahim

Top 40 Under 40 2016

Photography Curtis Comeau

Age: 39

Job Title: Executive Director, Banff Forum

Why She’s Top 40:¬†She’s one of the top public-policy thinkers in Canada, and is breaking down barriers.

Unexpected Hobby: “I love watching political dramas. House of Cards, The Good Wife, you name it!”

When Salima Ebrahim became the executive director of the Banff Forum, a national public policy organization that’s in the same political big leagues as the Broadbent Institute and the Trudeau Foundation, she set some records.

For starters, she’s currently the only female executive director of a think tank of that magnitude. And with Ebrahim being from Edmonton, it marked the first time the Forum moved to western Canada, given that the organization bases itself in a municipality where the executive director resides – despite its Banff name.

But Ebrahim has loftier goals, such as looking to advance the leadership potential of First Nations, Mtis and Inuit youth as well as attracting a younger crowd to become engaged in the world of public policy.

“We have a fairly strong focus on trying to get more individuals under the age of 40 involved in the public-policy process,” she says, “And we have a strong belief that if you bring together people from different backgrounds, it actually leads to better public policy.”

It’s a big task for Ebrahim who earned a Master’s degree in Science, Public Policy and Administration at the London School of Economics and earned a fellowship with the United Nations Office of High Commissioner for Human Rights in Geneva. Locally, she was part of the Mayor’s Advisory Panel on Metro Edmonton’s Future and is currently the chair of Anthology, part of the Friends of Edmonton Public Library Foundation. Despite those credentials, Ebrahim stresses that the key to the future of this city and country is in engaging more youth to pick up the reins.

“It’s a generation that says ‘We’re here, we’re ready, we’re senior leaders already in the private sector and the not-for-profit sector,'” she says. “So that’s going to have to be the case in the political sector as well.”

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