Staff & volunteers

Professor Amelia Clarke - Principal Investigator

Amelia Clark Head Shot

Professor Amelia Clarke is the co-creator and principal investigator of the Youth & Innovation Project, associate dean of research for the Faculty of Environment and a full professor at the University of Waterloo. At the age of 23, Amelia founded the Sierra Youth Coalition, a national youth environmental group. She holds a PhD in Management from McGill University, has an active research program on youth engagement with over 25 publications and has made hundreds of presentations to academic and non-academic audiences.

Twitter: @DrAmeliaClarke

Find Dr. Clarke on LinkedIn

Ilona Dougherty - Managing Director

Ilona Dougherty

Ilona is the co-creator and managing director of the Youth & Innovation Project at the University of Waterloo. She is an award winning social innovator and a regular voice in the Canadian media advising business, civil society and government on how they can tap into the value and unique abilities of young people. She has extensive leadership and governance experience having co-founded several successful organizations. In 2004, she co-founded Apathy is Boring, a non-partisan social enterprise that educates Canadian youth about democracy and encourages them to vote. Ilona was named an Ashoka Fellow in 2009, was a recipient of the Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Medal in 2012 and one of the Top 100 Most Powerful Women in Canada by the Women’s Executive Network in 201

Twitter: @ilonadougherty

Find Ilona on LinkedIn

Valentina Castillo Cifuentes ‒ Program Coordinator


Valentina is the Program Coordinator at the Youth & Innovation Project. She is responsible for the design and implementation of the Youth & Innovation Project's research programs. She has worked in the non-profit sector focusing on grant making, and has experience in community engagement through various research projects. She holds a MES in Sustainability Management from the University of Waterloo, and a Sociology degree from the Universidad Diego Portales in Chile.


Find Valentina on LinkedIn

Mariah Jolin – Administrative Assistant

mariah headshot

Mariah is the Youth & Innovation Project’s Administrative Assistant. She is responsible for providing support to the Managing Director and the YouthInn team. Mariah has extensive experience working with children and youth in recreation and school settings. She has also worked for the federal government’s Northern Contaminants Program where she supported the Secretariat and Management Committee. She has a Bachelor of Public Health from the University of Waterloo.

Leah Feor - Research Assistant


Leah Feor is a PhD student in the Sustainability Management program and a recent graduate of the Master of Environment and Business (MEB) program at the University of Waterloo. Leah’s research interests include sustainability accounting, climate action, and systems thinking with an emphasis on municipalities. Before joining the PhD program, Leah taught courses in accounting, ethics, and organizational sustainability at Niagara College. In addition, Leah was part of the Niagara College Global Education and Partnerships team delivering sustainability training to academic institutions in Chile and Colombia. She also has professional experience as a financial auditor and a social entrepreneur.

Find Leah on LinkedIn

Twitter: @LeahFeor

Dr. Odeeth Lara-Morales – Research Assistant

Odeeth Lara

Odeeth is a Nahua Indigenous descendant from Mexico. She holds a Ph.D. in the discipline of sustainable development and tourism from Anglia Ruskin University (UK) and has taught management courses at Lord Ashcroft International Business School (LAIBS) in Cambridge, UK. Her research interests focus on environmental studies such as sustainability and achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Odeeth has a wide range of experience in research, program development, and working with youth and community partners.

Anushka Tadikonda – Volunteer Research Assistant

Anushka Tadikonda headshot

Anushka Tadikonda is a research assistant with the University of Waterloo. Passionate about political science, she has interned with several American political campaigns, including Congressional and Senatorial campaigns, even helping write climate change and gun violence policy briefs. Through her fellowship with AMP Global Scholar, she creates content and materials for their social media presence as well as supports the release of their State of Global Youth report. Besides that, she is co-chairing the Santa Clara County's Youth Task Force and assisting in the development of the Children and Youth Bill of Rights for the county. As a result of her passion for fighting social justice issues, she has also worked with many non-profits, including March For Our Lives San Jose as the Outreach Coordinator.

Previous staff & interns: Elina Qureshi, Aleksandra Spasevski, Cate May Burton, Miha Alam (MDP), Martina Buchal, Yingying (Scarlett) Sheng (BES), and Wen Tian (BES).

Special thanks to Christopher Paré for volunteering his time to support the project through communication advice and editing.