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Professor Jim Torczyner, ICAN Founder and Director

Jim Torczyner, Professor of Social Work

Jim Torczyner joined McGill University in 1973 after obtaining his D.S.W. from the University of California, Berkeley. In 1975, he founded Project Genesis, a community-based grassroots organization that empowers people from diverse backgrounds to advocate for entitlements, to change social policy, and to develop alternative community organizations. In 1990, Professor Torczyner founded the Montreal Consortium for Human Rights Advocacy Training (MCHRAT) which extends multi-disciplinary expertise to groups that have traditionally lacked access and power such as the disabled, members of minority groups, and homeless youth. In 1994, Professor Torczyner refocused his attention primarily on the Middle East and founded The McGill Middle East Program in Civil Society and Peace Building (MMEP), now ICAN, with a belief that the reduction of inequality and the promotion of civil society are intricately related to peace building.
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Professor Torczyner has served as a council member of the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council, is currently an editorial board member of The International Journal of Social Welfare, and leads a four-country study evaluating the impact of the rights-based practice approach established in Israel, Jordan, and Palestine. He is the recipient of numerous awards and medals: most recently, he was awarded the Gold Medal of the Jordan Red Crescent and the Canadian Bureau of International Education Award for extraordinary contributions to the field of international education.

For a full biography please click here.

Program Staff

david [dot] leduc [at] mcgill [dot] ca (David Leduc ) 

Director of Global Operations
David Leduc has been involved in Middle East development projects for over fifteen years. As Oxfam-Quebec’s Representative in Lebanon between 1999 and 2002, David secured substantial funds from various agencies to implement a unique empowerment program connecting Palestinian refugees across the Middle East, two capacity-building centres and a regional conference on self-assessment. His fully sustainable development model was later adopted by programs in Jordan, the West Bank and Gaza...

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Shortly after his return to Canada, David worked as a Community Organiser where he coordinated the launch of Community outreach programs and delivered educational workshops and seminars in the Montreal communities of Parc-Extension, St-Laurent, St-Michel, and Villeray. His extensive work with youth and empowerment brought him to the YMCA to direct one of Canada’s oldest residential camps where he successfully remodelled the leadership programs, recruited and supervised a staff of 75 employees and was responsible for the safety and security of over 800 participants.

In 2004 David joined ICAN. Since then he has managed the International Community Action Network and the ever-growing network of ICAN centres in the Middle East. He oversees the program’s strategic development, all of its regional activities and has worked extensively with regional partners to develop a 10 year organizational strategic plan. David holds a combined Honours Degree in International Development Studies (IDS) and Spanish Language from Dalhousie University and an MBA from McGill University.

jhm [dot] mmep [at] mcgill [dot] ca (Jodi Michaels)

Director of Communications
Jodi has been involved in local and international community development projects in New York, Montreal and the Middle East since 1997. After graduating from Stanford University with a degree in Human Biology, focused on health in the developing world, Jodi spent a year volunteering before studying Fine Arts in New York. While there she continued her focus on community service, teaching environmental science in inner city schools. She then lived and worked in Jerusalem for several years, both as an artist and as communications coordinator at NIF...

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While in Jerusalem, Jodi worked with a broad spectrum of civil society organizations, honing communications strategies. She moved to Montreal in 2003. Drawing on her experience as an artist and in social justice movements she served as coordinator of the Empress Theatre project for three years. She later joined the board of this project to return a local theatre to community use. She has worked with ICAN since 2005, coordinating our fellowship program, on special projects and in her communications role.




International Executive Committee Co-chairs

Gretta Chambers, C.C., O.Q., Chancellor Emerita, McGill University (Co-Chair)
Gretta Chambers, with over 30 years experience in the media, is a columnist and political commentator. Ms. Chambers has served in many public-interest capacities, including Chancellor of McGill University from 1991 to 1999 and Governor of McGill University since 1978 (emeritus since 1988). Ms. Chambers was named a Member of the Order of Canada in 1994. Ms. Chambers is a founding member of ICAN.

The Honorable Herbert Marx (Co-Chair)
The Honorable Herbert Marx, co-chair and one of the founding members of ICAN, started out working in industry. He then returned to school to study law at the age of 32 and was professor at the Université de Montréal for ten years before entering politics. During his term in the Quebec National Assembly he served as Minister of Justice and Attorney General. He then served as a Superior Court Justice for more than seventeen years before his recent retirement. He remains an active member of a variety of non-profit boards beyond ICAN, including Governor of Tel Aviv University, President of the Association for Canadian Studies, and Member of the Board of the Tolerance Foundation.

Read about how Chancellor Emerita Gretta Chambers and the Honourable Herbert Marx helped establish ICAN