About the OPV

Forging Community
Connections

#preventviolence

#preventviolence

Who We Are

An international best practice model of countering violent extremism built on the foundations of trusting and authentic community partnerships.

The OPV is a diverse group of professionals with experience in CVE and other forms of violence and risk reduction. As an organization, the OPV brings community, academic and practitioner knowledge to bear on the problem of radicalization to violence.

Within its mission and vision statements the OPV acknowledges that effective CVE programing must recognize and include the concerns, inputs and leadership of impacted communities. In addition, the OPV recognizes that programs to counter violent extremism (CVE) are most effective when they engender a multi-sectoral response that includes impacted community groups and professionals.

The OPV has created connections with community and non-government organizations across Alberta. It has developed partnerships and working relationships with the Edmonton Police Service (EPS), Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP), Government of Alberta, City of Edmonton and REACH Edmonton. It has forged relationships with leading national and international research networks that are engaged with areas related to R2V and CVE.

Our Mission

Together we work to prevent radicalization and challenge extremist world views through awareness, psycho-social interventions and an evidence driven approach to countering violent extremism.

Team

Executive Director

John McCoy

Director of Research

Michael King

Manager of Applied Research

David Jones

Consultant

Navaid Aziz

Caseworker

Laura Stolte

Consulting Social Worker

Peter Smyth

Consulting Psychologist

Farzad Zare-Bawani

Consultant

Bradley Galloway

Researcher

Nadira Barre

Finance Coordinator

Julie Amundson

Research Associate

Zoe Hastings

Research Intern

Oriya Baraness

Executive Director

John McCoy

Dr. John McCoy is the Executive Director of the OPV. In addition to this role, he is an Adjunct Professor at the University of Alberta and a Senior Research Affiliate at the Canadian Network for Research on Terrorism, Security & Society (TSAS). McCoy has worked as a consultant in the Middle East, North America, Europe and the Caribbean and with the Royal Canadian Mounted Police’s Integrated National Security Enforcement Team (RCMP-INSET), specifically as an instructor on the Counter-Terrorism Information Officer (CTIO) course.  McCoy has represented Canada and the OPV at the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe, G20 and the General Assembly of the United Nations. He has more than forty publications on the subjects of violent extremism, and integration, including op-eds, policy papers, academic articles and books.

Director of Research

Michael King

Dr. Michael King is the OPV’s Director of Research. He is also an adjunct professor in the Department of Political Science at the University of Toronto. He held several positions in the field of counterterrorism within the Government of Canada; most recently as Senior Research Advisor at the Canada Centre for Community Engagement and the Prevention of Violence, housed within Public Safety Canada. Previously, Mike has done contract work for community-based NGOs, think tanks, and Canada’s Department of Defence and Ministry of Public Safety. He completed a PhD in social psychology from McGill University, where he researched how individuals legitimize the use of terrorism.

Manager of Applied Research

David Jones

David is the Manager of Applied Research at the OPV and a research affiliate at the Canadian Network for Research on Terrorism, Security and Society (TSAS). His work has been funded by Public Safety Canada, TSAS, NATO and the Department of National Defence. He has delivered training and lectures before diverse audiences including the Brookings Institution, Oxford University’s Department of Politics and Canadian Joint Operations Command (CJOC). He also regularly instructs on the RCMP’s Counterterrorism Information Officer Course. In addition to research, David works with some of the clients in the OPV’s intervention program. He is a graduate of the University of Alberta

Consultant

Navaid Aziz

Navaid Aziz is a Canadian Muslim public figure with a diverse academic and social background, who supports the OPV’s intervention, engagement and research activities. He is currently focused on the education and integration of Muslim youth, with the hopes of eradicating radicalization. He was raised in Montreal, Quebec where he completed a diplome d’etudes collegiales in commerce and social sciences from Champlain College (2000) before heading to the Islamic University of Madinah where he completed an Associates Degree in Arabic Language and Literature (2003) and a Bachelors in Islamic Law (2008).

 

Upon returning home to Canada, Navaid began teaching for Al-Maghrib Institute. He has since transitioned to their Director of Public Relations and Student Affairs. During this period, he volunteered as the Islamic Editor for Little Explorers Magazine and began his work as a youth and family counselor. It was also during this time that he established himself as a sought after public speaker. He has lectured across four continents and eighteen countries thus far.

 

In 2012 Navaid moved to Calgary, Alberta to become the Director of Religious and Social Services for the Islamic Information Society of Calgary, a position he currently holds. In Calgary his youth counseling work extended further to include helping in the mitigation of criminal radicalization. This included the implementation of civic engagement opportunities for Muslim youth. Among the programs started were youth groups, volunteer programs at the local shelters, community cleanups, and tree planting days. In 2015 Navaid became the first ever Muslim chaplain with the Calgary Police Services. Through his involvement with CPS he consulted in the development of their  renowned ReDirect program.

Caseworker

Laura Stolte

Laura is a caseworker with the OPV and is working on completing her master’s degree in Clinical Social Work at the University of Calgary. Laura has worked with children, youth, and families since 2011, focusing primarily on adolescents struggling with homelessness, addictions, and mental health challenges. Working from a strengths-based and relationship-centered approach, Laura aims to meet people where they are currently at, and aims to empower individuals and families in accomplishing their self-defined goals.

Consulting Social Worker

Peter Smyth

Peter Smyth, MSW works with the OPV as a Consulting Social Worker and currently oversees the High-Risk Youth Services with Alberta Children’s Services in the Edmonton region. From 2005 to 2012 he was the supervisor of the High-Risk Youth Unit. Peter has been a social worker for almost 30 years and has developed a practice framework that incorporates non-traditional intervention methods. He provides consultation, training and workshops on engaging and working with youth, and understanding youth through an attachment, trauma and brain development lens. Peter is a co-founder of the Old Strathcona Youth Society in Edmonton and instructor at the University of Calgary, Faculty of Social Work, Central and Northern Alberta Region and MacEwan University. He has authored a number of book chapters and articles, and in 2017, he published his book High Risk Youth: A Relationship-Based Practice Framework.

Consulting Psychologist

Farzad Zare-Bawani

Dr. Zare-Bawani is a practicing Forensic Psychologist who works as a consultant with the OPV. Since 2014, he has taught as an Associate Professor of Psychology at Concordia University of Edmonton where he chairs the interdisciplinary research cluster on youth mental health and leads forensic psychology training and research. Dr. Zare-Bawani has served as a forensic psychologist with Federal and Provincial Governments for more than a decade, working in maximum security institutions, with gang members and violent, dangerous offenders. In this role he managed the process of reintegration of offenders with parole and law enforcement agencies. In his career as a forensic expert, clinician, researcher, and educator, he has focused on promoting public safety by building bridges with communities from north African and Middle Eastern communities, and indigenous peoples of Alberta and Saskatchewan.

Consultant

Bradley Galloway

Brad was a fixture in the North American right-wing extremist movement for 13 years and was the president of a racist skinhead gang for five of those years. It is these lived experiences that play a role in his work in combating violent extremism. Now he is a research and intervention consultant at the OPV.

Brad is also a Intervention Specialist with Life After Hate and is a fourth-year undergraduate student in Criminology and Criminal Justice at the University of the Fraser Valley (UFV). He also provides research assistance on a number of projects that are funded by Public Safety Canada and the Canadian Network for Research on Terrorism, Security and Society (TSAS). Brad has also served as a consultant for Google, Moonshot CVE, and the Institute for Strategic Dialogue (ISD), among others. His primary research interests include right-wing extremism and terrorism, preventing and countering violent extremism, and the roles of former extremists in combating violent extremism.

Researcher

Nadira Barre

Finance Coordinator

Julie Amundson

Julie is the OPV’s Finance Manager and a graduate of Macewan University.

Research Associate

Zoe Hastings

Zoe is a Research Fellow at the Organization for the Prevention of Violence and a law student at the University of Calgary.

Research Intern

Oriya Baraness

Oriya is a research intern at the OPV, and is in the final year of her undergraduate degree at the University of Alberta.

Board

Board Member and Interim Chair

Mr. Brian Simpson

Board Member and Academic Advisor

Dr. Andy Knight

Board Member

Mr. Michael Solowan

Board Member

Dr. Anna Kirova

Board Member

Dr. Bob Murray

Board Member

Mr. Khalid Tarrabain

Board Member

Supt. Stacey Talbot

Board Member

Dr. Mahamud Ugas

Board Member

Jane McCoy

Board Member and Interim Chair

Mr. Brian Simpson

Board Member and Academic Advisor

Dr. Andy Knight

Dr. Andy Knight is a Professor in the Department of Political Science at the University of Alberta.

Over the past 30 years his research has focused on multilateral security, the United Nations, and global governance. As a PhD student at York University in the late 1980s he worked closely with the York Centre for International Security Studies, under the directorship of Professor David Dewitt. It was there that he received his early introduction to the issue of political violence and how to develop policy to counter such violence. After his PhD dissertation, which focused on the reform of the United Nations system, Dr Knight taught courses on International Relations and War and Peace at Bishop’s University in Quebec for five years before moving to the University of Alberta. It was at the University of Alberta that his research on Child Soldiers and the Impact of War on Children really took off. He received several large grants from SSHRC, CIDA, IDRC, the UNU, CIIPS (and its offshoot) and the Worldwide Universities Network to study political violence, children and war and xenoracism and countering home-grown terrorism.

Board Member

Mr. Michael Solowan

Michael Solowan is a partner at Brownlee LLP in Edmonton. He practises municipal, education and administrative law working for public sector clients including the provincial government, municipalities, school boards and public agencies. Born in Edmonton, Michael grew up in Alberta and B.C. He earned a Bachelor of Arts degree with a major in communications from Trinity Western University in 1997, and a law degree (LL.B. with distinction) from the University of Alberta in 2005. Michael articled at Brownlee and was called to the bar in Alberta (2006) and Saskatchewan (2016).

Board Member

Dr. Anna Kirova

Dr. Anna Kirova is Professor of Early Childhood Education in the Faculty of Education at the University of Alberta. Her credentials include a PhD in Early Childhood Education from the University of Sofia, Bulgaria (1987), and a PhD in Elementary Education with an early childhood specialization from the University of Alberta, Edmonton (1996). Prior to her appointment at the University of Alberta in 2000, she was a faculty member in the Department of Human Development and Child Studies at Oakland University, Michigan, USA (1996-2000).

Board Member

Dr. Bob Murray

Dr. Bob Murray is the President & CEO of Grande Prairie Regional College (GPRC). Prior to leading GPRC, Dr. Murray was the managing director of the government practice group at Dentons Canada LLP, the world’s largest law firm. In that role, he counseled public-sector and private-sector organizations from a wide range of industries on strategic development and planning, organizational change, crisis and issues management, policy analysis and development, risk analysis and mitigation, governance and government affairs within Canada and globally.

 

He has held executive-level positions in the professional and business advisory services, economic development, think tank, and education sectors, and has advised extensively on municipal, provincial, federal and international policy issues. He consults on policy and political matters, both nationally and internationally, and has shared his extensive knowledge as a faculty member at the University of Alberta and Brock University.

 

Dr. Murray holds a PhD in Political Science from the University of Alberta, a Master of Arts in Political Science and a Bachelor of Arts (Hons.) in History from Brock University and has an extensive international academic publication record.

Board Member

Mr. Khalid Tarrabain

Mr. Khalid Tarrabain was born in Lala, Lebanon and came to Canada in 1986 after finishing high school. Khalid is related to one of Canada’s early Muslim pioneers, Ali Tarrabain, who arrived in Canada in 1901. Khalid attended NAIT and studied telecommunications. He had a computer business until 1999 and today he works in the area of land development.

 

Mr. Tarrabain has been extremely active over the years in Edmonton’s Muslim community. He was elected President of the Canadian Islamic Centre for the first time in 1993. Khalid has been re-elected to that position up to the present year without interruption.

 

From 1987 to 1991, he was a youth director at the Canadian Islamic Centre. In 1991 he became a board member of the Centre for a two year term. Khalid then became the Chairman of the Social and Religious Committee and was responsible for such activities as hiring Imams, Islamic classes, visits of churches to the Centre and interfaith dialogues and conferences. In addition, he became the Vice-Chairman of the Education Committee.

 

As President of the Canadian Islamic Centre, Khalid’s responsibilities have been numerous. He was the Chair of the Board of Trustees of the Edmonton Islamic School where he reformed the operations of the school and set its strategic plans. Khalid has been involved with the Islamic Funeral Society, which looks after all aspects of Islamic burials and the Inter-Mosque Council that served as a co-coordinating body between mosques in Edmonton. Khalid was also a co-founder of the Edmonton Council of Muslim Communities. This council lobbies on behalf of Muslims and represents them in areas such as public policy, education, media and interfaith activities. Khalid has been involved in developing liaison committees between the Muslim community and the Royal Canadian Mounted Police and the Edmonton City Police.Khalid also serves as a member of Majlis Ashoora (Board of Directors) of the Islamic Society of North America and has been Chairman of the Canadian Islamic Trust Foundation from 2009 to the present time.These are only some of the many activities that Khalid has been involved in.

Board Member

Supt. Stacey Talbot

Board Member

Dr. Mahamud Ugas

Board Member

Jane McCoy