“Paola is not only a current leader in health promotion in Canada, but she is destined to be a future one as well.” Health Promotion Canada, National Mid-Career Award, Dec 2017.
Paola Ardiles is a public health advocate, an educator and a social entrepreneur. Throughout her career she has led various collaborative and innovative approaches in research, policy and practice, to enable a broader understanding of our collective role in promoting health and well-being for all.
Paola came to Canada as a refugee child in the mid-seventies and formed part of the Chilean diaspora who established itself in Toronto during the military dictatorship. Since then Paola has been driven to create social change by sharing knowledge and creating space for people’s voices to be heard. Today, she serves as a bridge or a “knowledge broker” through her roles as a professor, mentor, advocate, researcher, policy analyst, entrepreneur, advisor, facilitator and public speaker. In 2017, Paola was recognized as one of TD Bank’s 10th Most Influential Hispanic Canadians.
Paola graduated with a Bachelor of Science (Psychology Specialist) and Master of Health Science (Health Promotion) at the University of Toronto gave her the initial tools to explore the complex systems, structures and understandings of health and wellbeing. In 2008, she went on to study health policy and obtained the Investment for Health: Integrating Health in All Policies Diploma, from the University of Padova Medical School and WHO European Office for Investment for Health and Development; Venice, Italy. Paola’s passion to promote global health led her to pursue the Global Health Diplomacy, Summer Executive Diploma from the prestigious Graduate Institute of International and Development Studies; Geneva, Switzerland. She is currently completing her Master of Business Administration (MBA) at the Beedie School of Business, Simon Fraser University (SFU), British Columbia, Canada.
Paola continues to be involved in academia and is currently a Lecturer with the Faculty of Health Sciences at SFU. She teaches and mentors undergraduate and graduate students interested in pursuing a career in Health Promotion and Social Innovation. In 2016 she co-developed Health Change Lab a new undergraduate interdisciplinary curriculum on social innovation and health, working in collaboration with the City of Surrey and Fraser Health Authority. Paola recently received Surrey Board of Trade’s Women in Business-Social Trailblazer award in recognition of her efforts to strengthen community-academic partnerships in Surrey, BC.
Paola was the founding manager for Canada’s first provincial multi-sectoral health literacy network in the area of mental health and substance use, and has led and supported the development of various health education campaigns and health promotion capacity building efforts over the years. She has participated in the planning and development of local, provincial and national workshops, conferences and community events. She has over 15 years of facilitation experience engaging with diverse audiences.
In September 2012, Paola was honoured to receive the Dr. Nancy Hall Public Policy Leadership Award of Distinction. Paola has worked throughout her career to promote a shift in the way mental health is conceptualized. She has had impact at local, provincial and national levels. She co-authored Towards Flourishing for All —which was an early contribution to Canada’s first national mental health strategy. Canadian Mental Health Association, BC Division.
Paola’s various professional roles as a change-agent and her lived experiences allows her to facilitate the exchange of knowledge between researchers, policy-makers, health & social service providers, educators, businesses and community members. This exchange promotes dialogue and the co-production of new knowledge, which can foster the development of relevant, practical and creative solutions to tackle complex health and social issues. Paola has been an active volunteer and board member of the Public Health Association of British Columbia, a provincial non-for-profit volunteer based organization for the last few years and in November 2015 she was elected as President of PHABC. She now serves as the immediate Past President on the board.
Paola founded Bridge for Health network in February 2013, as she was inspired by many colleagues, family and friends, who taught her over the years that together we are stronger. In this day in age, she thinks we have the capacity and technology to breakdown silos and create a space that brings people together from all walks of life, to find innovative solutions to our most complex issues we are facing today. Paola strongly believes that collectively we have the knowledge we need to flourish, if we were able to connect with compassion and share our resources responsibly. She has dedicated Bridge for Health to her mother and the Chilean women who came before her as role models of powerful & compassionate champions of social change.
Bilingual in Spanish/English, and advanced French, intermediate Portuguese.
For more information on Paola including publications please visit: