The Drawing Board is what you come back to when you need to refresh and enliven.
Owner, Editor-in-Chief, Head Writer/Researcher
Nakita Valerio is an award-winning writer, academic, and community organizer based in Edmonton, Canada. She completed graduate studies and work as a research assistant in History and Islamic-Jewish Studies at the University of Alberta in 2017, as well as a research fellowship on Islamophobia and anti-Semitism for The Tessellate Institute in 2018. She is currently working on a national study of the challenges facing Muslim youth in Canada as a research fellow with the Institute for Religious and Socio-Political Studies (I-RSS). Nakita serves her community as an advisor for the Chester Ronning Center for the Study of Religion and Public Life, and as a member of the Executive Fundraising Board for the YIWCL Cree Women’s Camp. She is the former Vice President of External Affairs with Alberta Muslim Public Affairs Council (AMPAC). Nakita is the co-founder of Bassma Primary School in El Attaouia, Morocco and is currently working on a novel memoir weaving her experiences abroad with her community work and research.
Elisabeth Hill is an Edmonton-based writer and researcher. She currently works as Curatorial Assistant at the Art Gallery of Alberta. She has worked as a contracted writer and researcher for the Government of Alberta Heritage Resource Management Branch and as a Research Assistant at the University of Alberta. Elisabeth holds a Master’s degree in History from the University of Alberta and a Bachelor of Arts in Art History from the University of Victoria. She is a recipient of the Joseph-Armand Bombardier Canada Graduate Scholarship from the Social Science and Humanities Research Council of Canada. In addition to The Drawing Board, Elisabeth’s writing has appeared on The Wanderer and she contributed a forthcoming entry to the De Gruyter’s Encyclopedia of the Bible and its Reception.
Erin Newman is a therapist by day, and a writer by night. She is also a parent, student, advocate, artist, and teacher. Erin has a Bachelors of Arts degree from MacEwan University, and a Masters of Education in Counselling Psychology from the University of Alberta, and is a PhD hopeful. As a registered provisional psychologist, she is a strong advocate for mental health, in particular the well being of children, youth, Indigenous people, and those who have barriers to accessing mental health services. Erin’s writing, teaching, and practice is grounded in attachment theory, and she firmly believes that relationships form the basis for human development. In her spare time, Erin can be found spending time with her active 4 year old, gardening, dancing with her arts group, and attempting to strike the crucial balance between the excitement of life’s offerings and the necessity of relaxation and rest.
Olga Ivanova is an Edmonton-based communications professional and writer with a knack for storytelling. She has worked with science and engineering students and academics, industry professionals, and consultants to develop external and internal facing content. While completing her Master of Arts degree in Medial and Cultural Studies at the University of Alberta, Olga worked as a writer, writing advisor, principal instructor, and researcher. She is currently a communications specialist with a consulting firm in Edmonton. Olga is experienced in writing branded content, editing and proofreading, communications planning, and teaching. If not wordsmithing, Olga can be found hiking in the Rockies or running in the Edmonton’s River Valley.
Wati Rahmat is an Edmonton-based communications specialist. Originally from Singapore, she has worked in public relations and communications for a wide range of businesses from the music industry to faith-based organisations, non-profits, and regulatory / governmental institutions. She is passionate about social justice and has been involved in community organising in Edmonton, Montreal and Singapore. She actively participates in a number of causes including inter-faith bridge building, anti-racism initiatives and women’s advocacy. She is a former Director of External Affairs with Alberta Muslim Public Affairs Council (AMPAC) and is a Member-at-Large for the Shaama Center for Seniors and Women. She also volunteers with Hate Free YEG and is involved in efforts to open Nisa Homes in Edmonton – a transitional home for women and children fleeing domestic violence. She blogs occasionally and has written articles for Diversity magazine and MuslimLink.
Rachael Heffernan has recently completed a Master’s Degree in Religious Studies at the University of Alberta. In the course of her academic career, she has received a number of scholarships and awards, including the Harrison Prize in Religion and The Queen Elizabeth II Graduate Scholarship. During her undergraduate degree, Rachael was published twice in The Codex: Bishop University’s Journal of Philosophy, Religion, Classics, and Liberal Arts for her work on Hittite divination and magic and philosophy of religion. Rachael has also had the opportunity to participate in an archaeological dig in Israel, and has spoken at a conference on Secularism at the University of Alberta on the Christian nature of contemporary Western healthcare. Her wide-ranging interests in scholarship are complemented by her eclectic extra-curricular interests: she is a personal safety instructor and lifelong martial artist who has been recognized for her leadership with a Nepean Community Sports Hero Award. She is an enthusiastic reader, writer, and learner of all things, a tireless athlete, and a passionate teacher.
After completing her Bachelor Degree in Secondary Education at The University of Alberta in 2010, Emily Mattingsley has spent the last 8 years travelling and teaching in a variety of settings. She previously used her vivacious speaking and leadership skills working as a mountain trek guide in New Zealand, but has since then discovered her passion for social advocacy. She liaised with community and government during her time as a Youth Program Coordinator for City of Edmonton, specialized herself as a French as a Second Language teacher at Edmonton Public Schools, and now finds herself teaching and event planning for The American Language and Cultural Center in Morocco. She’s passionate about recognizing, understanding and deconstructing social systems that marginalized certain peoples, and truly believes that high-quality public education is the key to social improvement. If she’s not too busy working, you can find Emily gallivanting somewhere unheard of, where she is likely learning a local dialect, expanding her understanding of intersectional feminism, and surfing in the sun.
Maddie Laberge is the mastermind behind The Wicked Step-Mom – a 30-something year old woman who has been a Certified Holistic Nutritionist for nearly ten years (more recently a Certified Herbalist), and a full time step-mom for over three. So what does a woman who chased a career do once three kids get handed to her? She shifts gears and begins a new journey. Her blog is about life and how she gets through her days by holding on to the values of eating good food and living a simple life.