Impact Stories

Public Policy Institute Class of 2021 – Virtually Connected While Staying the Course

The Public Policy Institute (PPI) Class of 2021 is the first-ever cohort in the program’s history to complete the program fully virtually via online learning (due to social distancing requirements brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic).

The Public Policy Institute Class of 2021

Congratulations to the 2021 graduating class of the Public Policy Institute!

The Public Policy Institute (PPI) Class of 2021 is the first-ever cohort in the program’s history to complete the program fully virtually via online learning (due to social distancing requirements brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic). Despite this, students were able to connect, gain skills and will soon be able to apply their public policy training in the real world as changemakers.

Coming from diverse organizations across the B.C. non-profit sector, the Class of 2021 is comprised of talented emerging leaders who are looking to make an impact as changemakers in their respective organizations and to a larger extent, their sectors and communities. Attending the Public Policy Institute provides students with the tools and training to help strengthen their organization’s capacity to advance public policy positions of strategic interest to them.

Congratulations to the graduating students of changemakers – may you drive positive change in your sectors and strengthen vital connections in the community.

PPI x UBC: Building Future Legislators

Thank you to UBC and UBC Centre for the Study of Democratic Institutions for their support of the Public Policy Institute.

This year’s cohort benefitted from contributions made by experienced individuals and partners, including long-time sponsor, the University of British Columbia (UBC). Students were introduced to UBC’s Institute for Future Legislators (IFL) program, which provides intensive hands-on mentoring and training for individuals interested in learning how to be effective legislators. Two students from the 2021 cohort, Alison Cuffley from The BC Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (BC SPCA) and Angela Sealy from Westcoast Facilitators Group, will be building on their PPI experience by taking two sponsored spots in this year’s IFL program.

Thanks to UBC’s Centre for the Study of Democratic Institutions and their Community Engagement Department for their ongoing support and development of our PPI participants.

Ida Goodreau Alumni Award Winner for 2021 – Sherry Lyn Edmunds-Flett, Executive Director of L.I.N.C.

Sherry’s Ida Goodreau Alumni Award placed closed to a picture of herself and her husband Glen.

Ida Goodreau was a formidable force for the Public Policy Institute as a faculty member and the non-profit sector as a leader. PPI wanted to honour her legacy by naming an award in her honour by establishing the Ida Goodreau Alumni Award. The first winner of this award was announced this past year and was awarded to Jennifer Breakspear, a PPI Class of 2013 alum and the current Executive Director at SARA for Women Society.

This year, PPI is honouring another woman who has blazed a trail and through her work as a non-profit leader has influenced change in the criminal justice system. The 2021 Ida Goodreau Alumni Award is given to Sherry Lyn Edmunds-Flett, Executive Director of L.I.N.C. (Long-term Inmates Now in the Community). L.I.N.C. is an organization that works through a peer-based model with all people impacted by the criminal justice system. Programs and projects are rooted in principles of transformative justice, equity, diversity and consider the needs of the people they serve through an intersectional approach.

Sherry attended the Public Policy Institute in 2014 on behalf of L.I.N.C. and her project focused on the District of Mission’s food strategy. Fast-forward seven years later, L.I.N.C. now manages Emma’s Acres which is a nationally recognized, award-winning agricultural social enterprise. Emma’s Acres provides offenders with employment skills and reintegration supports as they are transitioned out of prison. It also serves as a place of healing for survivors of serious crime and both these groups, work alongside community members. The farm seeks to enhance the food security in the District of Mission by creating a year-round local source of food. But more importantly, the farm is a place of reintegration, restoration and healing.

Since she was a young child, Sherry has stood up against racism and injustice. These values had shaped Sherry in both her academic and professional career, ultimately earning her a MA in African Area Studies from UCLA and a Ph.D. in African-Canadian History from Simon Fraser University and leading to her role as the Executive Director and Co-Founder of L.I.N.C. (Long-term Inmates Now in the Community), which she co-founded with her beloved husband Glen, who passed way in 2019.

At PPI, Sherry learned skills that she has found to be invaluable to her work at L.I.N.C. and Emma’s Acres today. “At PPI, you learn real practical things such as how to meet up with politicians, civil servants and move your agenda forward. It is truly a unique opportunity to learn from those who have lived experiences in the world of public policy – senior political leaders themselves.”

Sherry continues to use the learnings from PPI to advocate for reforms in the Correctional Service of Canada (CSC) system. Her work focuses now on pioneering the use of cultural assessments. The CSC has acknowledged that the assessments they currently use are biased against Indigenous offenders and offenders of African descent. And she is focused on making having those acknowledgements turn into actions of change.

PPI is proud to give Sherry the 2021 Ida Goodreau Alumni Award for her contributions to the non-profit sector and her roles as an advocate and ally as she continues to make meaningful change in the space. To learn more about L.I.N.C. and Emma’s Acres, please visit

A look forward to 2022

PPI is excited to welcome the new cohort for 2022 and will be accepting applicants by aspiring changemakers soon.

There will be new significant changes on the horizon for 2022 as PPI says goodbye to two key longstanding faculty members of PPI – Mike Harcourt and Dr. Liz Whynot, who will be retiring from the program’s faculty this year. The United Way thanks them both for their contributions and dedication to the Public Policy Institute and wish them luck in their future endeavours.