About Mark

Mark Holmgren

Director, Vibrant Communities

Contact Details:
e. mark@tamarackcommunity.ca
p. 780-299-0780

Remote Office: Edmonton, Alberta

About Mark

At an early age, Mark was introduced to music and singing by his mother, an in-demand administrator, and the importance of social justice work by his father, a theologian and writer. Both influences have enabled Mark to blend together the creativity and innovative disposition of an artist with the rigor and discipline of serving community as a change-leader and practitioner.

Mark is driven by the desire to change community conditions that cause and perpetuate poverty and the marginalization of the vulnerable and disadvantaged. A proven leader of poverty reduction efforts, Mark is known for his ability to converge big picture thinking with on the ground implementation.

As the Director of Vibrant Communities Canada, Mark leads Tamarack’s engagement of more than 55 member communities leading local poverty reduction efforts and works with his team to develop learning opportunities and resources that add value to this Pan-Canadian network.

Prior to joining Tamarack, Mark was one of the Institute’s national thought leaders for three years. Previous roles and positions include leading a team of 120 staff as the CEO of Bissell Centre in Edmonton, a multi-service organization dedicated to ending poverty; serving as an executive staff for the United Way; and providing an array of organizational change and social housing development consulting services for nearly 20 years to social services agencies, educational institutions, health organizations, as well as local governments.

In addition to his ability to facilitate groups of all sizes around strategy development and solution-building, Mark has built and delivered curriculum related to collective impact, community innovation, strategic planning, and non-profit leadership.  Mark is a provocative speaker who challenges the status quo and fosters new and innovative ways of seeing and addressing social issues.

Mark is a poet, singer-song writer and digital artist and his creative side is often evident in the work he does with others. He frequently performs original songs and spoken word at Tamarack Learning Events. His work has appeared in dozens of literary magazines, on CBC Radio, and other publications. A highlight of his musical life was performing at the Edmonton Folk Music Festival.

Area of Expertise
  • Upside Down Thinking
  • Community Innovation
  • Poverty Reduction Strategy and Evaluation
  • Community Engagement
  • Collaborative Leadership
Recent Publications

Current/Recent Custom Engagements

  • Facilitation and consulting services to the Kahnawá:ke Mohawk Territory’s Collective Impact Initiative, Montreal, Quebec
  • Collective Impact facilitator to the Housing and Homelessness Partnership, Halifax, Nova Scotia
  • Key note speaker on Upside Down Thinking at the 11th Annual Poverty Symposium: Turning It Upside Down, Kitchener-Waterloo
  • Consulting, facilitation and coaching services to develop a poverty reduction roundtable and strategy as well as leading learning events on Upside Down Thinking, Grande Prairie, AB.
  • Key note speaker, “The Socio-Economics of Poverty,” Revelstoke, BC.

Seminars and Workshops

  • Upside Down Thinking and Disruptive Innovation
  • Game-changer Approach to Poverty Reduction Strategy and Evaluation
  • Developing a Strategic Touchstone for Organizations and Collaborations
  • Collective Impact 3.0
  • Friend-raising and Resource Development
  • Social Media Strategy Development
  • Community Engagement
  • Using Trends to Inform Strategic Thinking
  • Exploring and Using Journey and Empathy Maps

Connect with Mark



The Latest From Mark

Developing Collective Impact Strategies

Those of us engaged in the work of Collective Impact (CI) know that, having this clear and comprehensive framework, is an essential roadmap for effectively tackling complex issues.  However,...Read More

Ending Precarious Employment – A Game-Changer Strategy

Precarious Employment is the jargon people like me use to describe the employment conditions and experiences of a growing number of workers in our country. Here is what that jargon means: Read More

Mandatory Winter Tires and Poverty

Yes, perhaps an odd title for a posting. I was on my way back home from meeting downtown with Alberta Government colleagues who also work in the poverty reduction arena and I heard this call-in...Read More

More about the Game-Changer Approach to Poverty Reduction

As some of you know, I have written about and I am continuing to work on what I call a Game-Changer Approach to Poverty Reduction Strategy and Evaluation. You can read my initial paper HERE. And a...Read More

Watch Out for the Solution Bias

Solutions are exciting, especially those you are a part of creating; but even if the ideas behind them were not your own, implementing a new solution is an intellectual turn-on. Sometimes there is...Read More

Consulting ServicesRegister for the 2017 Community Change Institute

Join us for the 2017 Community Change Institute - Cities of the Future: Co-Creating Tomorrow taking place in beautiful Vancouver, BC. Learn through inspiring keynote speakers, peer discussion, design labs, arts and creativity, community tours, and over 30 workshops.

 Learn more about this workshop