Who We Are

Marianne Alto

Marianne is a facilitator who has been active in Victoria community affairs for over 2 decades.

Since 1996, Marianne has been the principal in Azimuth Research and Consulting, a firm specializing in outcome-based organizational change, facilitation, strategic planning, project management and research. Her clients include business, community and government interests. Azimuth is a member of the Greater Victoria Chamber of Commerce.

Marianne’s specialty is organizational change, public involvement and community development. She has designed, organized and facilitated a broad range of unique, client-centred initiatives. Her approach balances competing interests, acknowledging the need to practically weigh limited resources against realistic outcomes that serve all parties. She is an inclusive team-builder.

Marianne has worked with community organizations working in interest-based advocacy, and government organizations working in the fields of health, small business, and Aboriginal issues. She has managed provincial government stakeholder consultations, provided advice to Premiers, Cabinet and government MLAs while designing and executing local, regional and province-wide public involvement strategies. She has devised, coordinated, implemented and nurtured new relationships, programs and policies, creating greater opportunities for citizens to participate in government operations, policy development and decision-making.

She motivated and expanded harm reduction strategies for government and non-profits, and directed communications for the BC Children’s Commission. Her work in government-community consultation and political advocacy resulted in the establishment of Canada’s first provincial strategy for coordinating disability issues.

She was the primary facilitator in the three year construction of British Columbia’s first provincial AIDS strategy, and was part of the team that negotiated the first government contract for funding British Columbia’s registered midwives.

In addition to her law degree (Dalhousie), Marianne has a Bachelor of Science in Geography (Natural Resource Management) from the University of Victoria.

Beyond her work at Azimuth, Marianne is a longtime host-parent for international students at Lester Pearson College. She has been a director of the Oaklands Community Association, Sundance Elementary PAC, Greater Victoria Confederation of PACs, Victoria Conservatory of Music, Everywomans Books, and hosted news and music programming on CFUV Community Radio. She is currently a Director on the Leadership Council of the Greater Victoria Coalition to End Homelessness, and a Victoria City Councillor. Marianne is the proud mom of sons Benjamin and Pasha, and in 2003 married her partner of 16 years.


Doug Balson

Doug has worked as a project manager in the field of survey research since 1988 giving him over twenty years of experience using quantitative and qualitative research methods in private and public sector settings. Doug’s main work experience has been as a project manager helping organizations obtain feedback from their clients, employees and the public to inform strategic planning, public relations and performance improvement activities.

Doug’s curriculum vita (available on request) provides an overview of his professional experience including projects and clients. Doug is team-oriented, with excellent problem-solving, team-building, and planning skills.

With the exception of two periods as an employee Doug has worked as a contract consultant since 1988. Doug started his career as contract employee for Image West Marketing Group (1988 to 1992) managing market, employee and public opinion research for Image West clients. Clients included: National Sport Mart, Weyerhaeuser Canada, Far West Industries, Newspapers and local area government. From 1998 through 2000 projects included a one-year contract as a senior consultant for BC Public Affairs Division of the Angus Reid Group. Since 2004 Doug has been working as an independent consultant including working as a contract employee for BC STATS (2004-2009).

From 2001 to 2004 Doug was Client Relations Advisor for Vancouver Island Health Authority (VIHA). Doug’s role was to promote and support the organization's patient satisfaction measurement mandate across the organization including providing project management services to VIHA staff conducting patient surveys. Doug was seconded from VIHA to the BC Ministry of Health in 2003 to develop a province-wide patient satisfaction survey program.

From 1992 to 1997 Doug was a Research Analyst for the BC Provincial Government with responsibility for supporting cross-ministry survey research projects. He worked in close and continual contact with senior managers undertaking program and policy research, providing strategic advice on all aspects of projects. Project responsibilities included assisting in developing terms of reference for research, negotiation of supplier contracts, analysis and reporting of results. Research topics covered economic, health and social policy, as well as strategic issue management involving priority issues.

Doug is also the President of Dialogue Research, a firm that obtains feedback for clients using automated telephone, forms, and Internet technology. Dialogue Research uses Telephone Interactive Voice Recognition (IVR) and Telephone Town-Hall technology to obtain both quantitative and qualitative feedback. More traditional methods such as mail, call-centers and face-to-face methods are also available.

Patricia Stockton

Patricia is a facilitator, project and organizational change manager with more than 20 years experience in all facets of Human Resource management, at the practitioner and senior executive levels. In government and the private sector, she has led large, complex regulatory programs through downsizing, budget cuts and significant change in mandates.

As a consultant she provides general management and advisory services, including executive recruitment and selection, negotiations and facilitation, change management, organization trouble shooting, and leadership, coaching, capacity building and mentoring services. She has worked in the fields of health, economics, labour management, and First Nations community development.