RISE Leadership
When I look inside and see that I am nothing, that is wisdom.  When I look outside and see that I am everything, that is love.  And between these two, my life [and my leadership] turns.
~ Sri Nisargadatta Maharaj


I am a trusted confidential advisor, coach and strategist to progressive leaders.


I provide strategic support to social justice influencers.

Joanna Gislason is a leadership advisor and human rights lawyer who helps progressive leaders be their most skillful, impactful and brave selves as they work to make the world more healthy and just.

As a lawyer, she works in the areas of labour, administrative and human rights law and has fought for her clients in forums ranging from the employment and assistance appeal tribunal to the Supreme Court of Canada.  She is a strong advocate for the rights of individuals as well as a sophisticated strategist to leaders of unions and other progressive organizations.

Joanna is also a skilled mediator (Harvard,  University of California, US Department of Justice), change facilitator and integral coach (New Ventures West).

Joanna's academic studies are in organizational psychology, cultural studies, systems theory and design (Trent University, Antioch University ... and a voracious reading habit) as well as labour, human rights, constitutional and administrative law (Juris Doctorate, University of Victoria, 2005; Masters of Law, Osgoode Law School, 2016 and Certificate in Administrative Tribunal and Board Adjudication). 



Four ways: An integrated approach to leadership and change


Individual development 

It is one thing to have an intention to change and quite another to put that intention into practice.  New developments in the study of adult learning and education provide essential insights into how we can help adults change their minds and behaviours.  Joanna works one-on-one with leaders and key stakeholders to help them move from aspiration to action.

Reliable assessment of facts

Many innovations fail because they are based on an incorrect understanding of the way things are.  We assume we have the information we need or fail to ask all relevant stakeholders to contribute.  Joanna assists decision-makers in grounding their actions in objective and evidence-informed assessments of the problem and its potential solutions.


Reliable legal frameworks

The law can be a tool of oppression or of liberation - depending on how it is used.  It can get in the way of change or it can be the catalyst.  No social transformation work can escape the law's reach. Joanna uses her deep and pragmatic understanding of the law to help progressive leaders use the law as a tool for good.  

Systems theory approach

One of the most well-trodden truths of humanity is our ability to do harm when we mean to do well.  The work of systems theory is to attend to the complexity of the systems within which we act - organizational, cultural, economic, historical, relational, perceived - and to design skillful action which achieves its good aims.



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