LEDlab Project Manager Hired!
We’re pleased to welcome Ara Beittoei as the new Project Manager!
Ara is passionate about sustainability, social innovation, and empowering groups to take collactive action in addressing complex challenges. Ara’s diverse educational journey led him from studying mechanical engineering in undergrad at UBC to environmental studies and sustainability science in graduate school at Lund University, Sweden.
He has worked at the United Nations University’s International Human Dimensions Programme (UNU-IHDP) on assessing the natural resource wealth of various countries, as well as the UBC Centre for Community Engaged Learning (CCEL) where he collaborated with community partners, staff, and faculty to design and incorporate community-based experiential learning projects into curriculum. These experiences have provided him with a systemic and interdisciplinary view on complex problems.
Ara is delighted to be joining the Local Economic Development Lab team as a Project Manager and is particularly interested in how social entrepreneurship and university-community partnerships can be leveraged for community development in DTES.
A Brief Q&A with Ara
Tell us one thing about yourself, Ara, that isn’t immediately obvious!
I’m a huge soccer fan, so when I have time I’ll be catching up on scores, highlights, and analysis from different leagues and cups from Europe and North America. One of my favourite activities is playing soccer with friends and catching up over food and drinks afterwards.
What’s one lesson that you learned at UBC’s Centre for Community Engaged Learning that you think will inform your work with LEDlab?
Real world projects don’t always go according to the initial plan, which can be quite surprising and uncomfortable for students if they had specific expectations entering their working relationship. Successful experiences will depend on supporting students early on to take a curious and adaptive mindset, and to have them appreciate the iterative and sometimes messy process of arriving at a place where they can create value for their community partners.
What makes you excited about the work of LEDlab and our partners?
Building an inclusive economy in the DTES can be a difficult task given the different challenges faced by the community. But I’m quite impressed with the initiatives and progress made by the LEDlab and the many partners in a short period of time, and in particular, by the creation of new collaborations that previously many thought were not possible.
How will you navigate the challenge of being new to the Downtown Eastside community?
I recognize that I have a lot to learn from the local residents about what’s important to them, as well as the challenges and opportunities that they face. Since I’m in a completely new context, I will need to be in observation mode, be curious, and stay humble. I will also draw on the knowledge and experiences of my colleagues and partners as I’m processing my own observations and experiences.
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