Genius Team

genius staff 

Selena Gignac, executive director

Selena joined genius as Executive Director in July 2018 and is an alumna of the first Calgary Next Up cohort (2010).

As an anglophone, Acadian-settler mother living in Alberta, Selena’s relationship with colonialism is complex. She believes that reconciliation is rooted in both an understanding of self and in collective community experiences. This is critical and personal work as she strives within her own communities to decolonize what it means to be part of the Acadian diaspora.

With almost 15 years experience in the non-profit sector, Selena has coordinated national and international workshops, collaborations, and open spaces that explore responsible ally-ship, grassroots leadership, and youth agency. She is Co-Chair of the Board of Directors of Canadian Roots Exchange, and has been a community facilitator with the 4Rs Youth Movement.

Selena currently lives and works on Treaty 7 lands. She loves board games, animals, and chasing after her vivacious toddler.

You can reach Selena by email at

Austin Neaves, operations manager

Austin joined Next UP in March of 2018. He brings with him experience in non-profit management, fundraising, and a passion for social and economic justice, as well as love for human, environmental, and animal rights. He previously worked at the Vancouver Friends For Life Society.

Born in Iowa, He developed an interest in progressive politics at an early age. Austin graduated from the University of Illinois at Chicago before moving to Vancouver. He loves going on long walks with dogs, reading history books, vegan cooking, and playing board games.

You can reach Austin by email at

Paisley Nahanee, right relations director

Paisley Eva Nahanee is from the Sḵwx̱wú7mesh Nation village of Eslha7an. She was raised by a family of Sḵwx̱wú7mesh Matriachs that for generations have been pioneers of feminism, social justice, and racial equity. They inspired her and taught her to how to advocate for these things at an early age.

In 2017, Paisley started Dame Music Society a non-profit that trains female identifying and gender non-conforming folxs with an emphasis on BIPOC, how to DJ in Vancouver to combat a white male dominated industry. Beyond Dame, Paisley spends time doing outreach in her own communities, doing DJ workshops for Indigenous youth in a hope that they can see themselves not only as a DJ but able to participate in the mainstream in any career path they want.

Her approach to social change is always based in indigeneity and cultural teachings. It’s about sharing knowledge and stories to grow as a society. She does a lot of work in the BC music industry on a grassroots level as well as working with Creative BC and the City of Vancouver to decolonize and diversify. She practices calling in organizations, instead of calling out to include Indigenous people and ideologies in a post-colonial, post-capitalist society.

She’s so excited to be working with Next Up as their Rights Relations Officer and take her background in the music sector and apply it to the non-profit sector. Her joy in this work has always come from seeing actual shifts and decolonizing happen from the work that she does, but also from how much she grows and what she learns from each organization she works with.

Paisley’s passions outside of decolonizing and DJing are spending time with her very large and loud family, thinking about what the next song she’s going to sing at karaoke is, cooking for her friends and learning how to play the drums.

Kevin Millsip, co-founder & advisor

Kevin Milsip

In 1998 Kevin co-founded Check Your Head an organization that has worked with over 40,000 young people to get involved in global justice issues. He served as the Executive Director of CYH until 2009. In 2004 he co-founded Get Your Vote On – a campaign that registered 20,000 new voters for the 2005 provincial election in BC. He served as a Vancouver School Board (VSB) Trustee, where he drafted one of Canada’s strongest policies protecting students from advertising in schools, worked to increase student involvement in the VSB’s processes, and helped develop sustainability related processes.

He worked for 6 years as the Vancouver School Board's first Sustainability Coordinator and moved to working full time with Next UP and the global youth education network in from 2015 to 2017, and now acts as an advisor for genius. Kevin currently works as the Labour Staff Representative at United Way of the Lower Mainland. He lives and works in Vancouver on the shared lands of the xʷməθkʷəy̓əm (Musqueam), Skxwú7mesh (Squamish) & səlil̓wətaʔɬ (Tsleil-Waututh) Coast Salish peoples.



genius board

Katrina Pacey, chair of the board

Katrina Pacey

A month into law school, Katrina was looking for new ways to ground her education (which includes an MA in women’s studies) and contribute to real social change in Vancouver’s downtown eastside. She connected with John Richardson, established Pivot Legal’s sex work and human rights campaign and has been with Pivot ever since.

As Pivot’s litigation director, Katrina brings legal strategy to Pivot’s campaigns and connects Pivot with the broader legal community. Outside the office, Katrina spends her time hanging out with her partner, daughter, and son. She also stays active by jogging regularly and dancing as often as possible.


Seth Klein, co-founder, treasurer

Seth Klein

Seth was hired to open the CCPA’s BC Office in 1996. Under his direction it has become a prominent and widely respected source of public policy research and commentary. Seth’s research deals primarily with tax reform, welfare policy, poverty, inequality, and economic security. A social activist for over 30 years and a former teacher, Seth holds a BA in international relations, a BEd from the University of Toronto, and an MA in political science from Simon Fraser University. Seth is a co-founder of Next Up. He is the former co-chair of the BC Poverty Reduction Coalition, an advisory board member for the Columbia Institute’s Centre for Civic Governance, and an advisor to the Living Wage for Families campaign.

Venai Raniga, vice president

Pic and bio available shortly...