Our Team of Consultants

Our Team

Laureen Whyte

Laureen is a social performance professional with over 25 years of experience as a senior practitioner, project manager, and strategist.

She supports our clients’ success in Indigenous, stakeholder, and government engagement, regulatory processes, land use/land and resource management, negotiating agreements, Indigenous capacity building, policy, and cultural and participatory research.

Working primarily with First Nations and in the natural resources, infrastructure, non-profit, and transportation sectors, Laureen has worked in several regulatory jurisdictions and in collaboration with teams of multi-disciplinary consultants (social science, engineering, environmental, legal) on major projects in north, west and central Canada, the eastern United States, and South America.

Laureen was formerly Vice President, Sustainability at the Association for Mineral Exploration BC, where she was responsible for developing and advancing initiatives in corporate social responsibility, Indigenous and community engagement, consultation and economic development, land use planning, environmental assessment and public policy.

Laureen is a Director on the Board of the Canadian Executive Services Organization, which builds capacity in Indigenous communities in Canada, and in other communities around the world. She was founder and Chair of the BC Aboriginal Mine Training Association, and led the creation of an Aboriginal women’s leadership and mentoring program “Combining our Strength” for Minerva Foundation for BC Women. Laureen created Northern Opportunities, an educational articulated (secondary and post-secondary) partnership among three School Districts, two colleges and community partners in north eastern BC.

Hilary Farson

Hilary is a communication and stakeholder engagement expert. She is a multi-award-winning strategist, with a knack for designing thought-provoking and accessible programs. Hilary has worked on projects with WAVAW, the Vancouver School Board, Conseil Scolaire Francophone de la Colombie-Britannique and Care Canada. For the last five years, she has worked on a number of major infrastructure and use planning projects, including:

  • BC Ferries’ Sunshine Coast and Bowen Island On Time communication and engagement program
  • Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure’s Central Okanagan Planning Study
  • Mobility Pricing Independent Commission’s It’s Time nationally- and internationally-award-winning, communication and engagement program
  • City of Calgary’s 46-km GreenLine light rail transit communication and engagement project

Hilary was previously a Vice President at a national engagement and communication agency, where she travelled throughout Western Canada working on high-profile projects. In addition to the projects listed above, she has also worked with the Vancouver Fraser Port Authority, City of Vancouver, the City of Edmonton, the BC Ministry of Mental Health and Addictions and the BC Ministry of Health. 

Hilary co-founded Turn Up YVR, aimed to increase voter turnout in Vancouver for those under 35 by combining traditional get-out-the-vote techniques, voting psychology research, and music. She also served on the board of the Vancouver Cherry Blossom Festival.

Ash Amlani

Ashraf (Ash) is an experienced engagement and mobilization expert with a strong track record of working with communities and stakeholders to advance public policy. With 15 articles published in peer-reviewed journals, Ash weaves together research skills with insights from her considerable public policy experience at all levels of government. She brings the principles of community organizing into her work in public health, resetting the power dynamics so vulnerable populations can meaningfully engage and advocate for their public policy interests. Ash is a recognized knowledge broker and communicator with a credible voice.

Ash is committed to building healthy communities and uses data-driven approaches to guide her work. As the epidemiologist at the BC Centre for Disease Control, Ash played a critical role in facilitating the expansion of the BC Take Home Naloxone program from a small pilot project to a national program in the face of the opioid overdose epidemic. In her role as the West Coast Policy Advisor to the Minister of Fisheries, Oceans and the Canadian Coast Guard, Ash engaged heavily with Indigenous People as well as industry, academic and environmental groups around resource management (fish stocks and aquaculture) and national energy projects (Pacific Northwest LNG, Site C dam, Transmountain Pipeline).

As a Pakistani-born immigrant, Ash recognizes the value and effort it takes to build a pluralistic society and is deeply committed to improving the participation of women and people of colour in leadership roles. Ash was recently appointed to the Board of Governors of Capilano University, where she serves on the Finance and Audit, and Governance Committees.

Laura Murphy

Laura is a social consultant with over 10 years of experience working with diverse proponents in the natural resource sector to support the development of resource projects in line with regulatory and legislative requirements and industry best practice. Most recently, Laura has specialized in the undertaking of social impact assessments; the development and implementation of Indigenous and public strategic engagement and consultation strategies; negotiation and implementation of project benefit agreements; and relationship building at the government and local levels. Laura has also worked with natural resource proponents to develop tailored community investment strategies.

  • Agreement Negotiations & Implementation
  • Project Consultation & Engagement
  • Risk Mitigation & Strategic Planning
  • Legislative & Regulatory Compliance

Laura has a MSc. in International Humanitarian Action from the University College of Dublin, Ireland & Rijksuniversiteit Groningen, Netherlands; and a B.A. Sociology with Social Justice Concentration from the University of Victoria.


On Common Ground is an international consulting company specializing in enhancing social performance and socially sustainable outcomes for the global resource sector.

On Common Ground offers a comprehensive range of services supporting social performance and socially sustainable development in the global resource sector. Our clients come to us because we are innovators and leaders in strategic analysis and program design, from policy development and corporate due diligence, through to new approaches that continuously improve socially responsible business practices.

Our approach is rooted in the belief that resource development can and should provide shared benefits to both companies and their stakeholders.

On Common Ground is comprised of a core network of highly experienced practitioners offering:

  • Strategic social assistance & due diligence
  • Social performance support
  • Training & capacity building

Pangaea Indigenous Relations provides services and support to companies, governments and other organizations seeking to build respectful, lasting relationships with Indigenous communities in Canada to facilitate project development or other objectives. With over 15 years of experience managing Indigenous relations on complex projects, Pangaea can provide strategic advice, plan and carry-out engagement, resolve issues or conflicts, meet regulatory requirements for consultation, lead impact-benefit negotiations and implement agreements.

Ursus Wildlands Consulting
Guiding principled and ethical stewardship.

Ursus Wildlands is a boutique environmental consulting firm, focused on advocacy for the ethical stewardship of natural resources. Our approach to sustainability is grounded in ecological and traditional knowledge principles. We believe that the conservation of natural systems, communities and economies require strategic approaches to land and water use and the reconciliation of differing world views.

cobalt strategy group
Public Engagement l Digital Strategy l Media Relations l Government Relations

Cobalt Strategy Group is a consulting firm in Vancouver, BC created to help organizations, businesses, and individuals improve the effectiveness of their work through creative and robust policy development, responsive and engaging public relations, and smarter networking with lawmakers and public service professionals

Cobalt works with clients to improve their public presence, frame messaging, improve content, and obtain meaningful data to improve effectiveness. Whether it’s a social post, public speech, news release, press statement, web content, etc. we are here to help you succeed. We also specialize in the strategic communications around issues management and responses to public perception.

For years, we have closely worked with lawmakers, their staff, and different members of the public service at the various levels of government throughout Canada. It takes experience, carefully curated relationships, and know-how to meaningfully advocate for a cause and/or organization. Our firm has a large and growing network.