Genesa has built a 25-year career as a community leader and social justice advocate. Over the past five years, Genesa served as President and CEO of the BC Women's Health Foundation, an organization recognized as an effective advocate for women's healthcare policy, research investment and a voice for gender equity and intersectionality in health. Prior to leading BCWHF, Genesa worked in Vancouver's Downtown Eastside on homelessness, poverty, mental health and addiction as Executive Director of the First United Church Community Ministry Society.
In addition, Genesa is a dedicated community volunteer. She sits on the Elizabeth Fry Society of Greater Vancouver’s Board of Directors, co-chairs the Equal Futures Network and serves on the Advisory Board to the Institute of Gender and Health, part of the Canadian Institutes of Health Research.
However, Genesa’s most important title is Mom. She is the proud single mother to her six-year-old boy, Nnamdi. They love reading together and being out in nature. The great outdoors of BC reminds Genesa of where she was born and raised – Newfoundland – and where she also developed her love for community building, storytelling, wind and water.
Bryn has over 15 years experience working in impact assessment and cost-effectiveness analysis. Prior to joining VCF, Bryn worked as a consultant and researcher at SFU, leading numerous projects for government, private sector and non-profit organizations. Bryn holds a B.A. from Carleton University and a Masters of Resource and Environmental Management from Simon Fraser University.
Sean brings 10 years of social enterprise experience to this role, as the founder of Megaphone, a magazine sold on the streets of Vancouver and Victoria by homeless and low-income vendors. Sean helped build Megaphone into an award-winning social enterprise that works with more than 300 marginalized people ever year and puts more than $100,000 annually into the pockets of vendors.
Michelle focused her studies on collaborative e-learning and online communication working for several years as a research assistant in these areas before following her heart into the non-profit sector. Michelle joined the Foundation in January 2005 initially working in philanthropic services before moving over to the Enterprising Non-Profits program to manage the development of a social enterprise focused website, newsletter, podcast series and other engagement activities.
Michelle completed the professional Certificate in Community Economic Development (SFU), furthering her passion for building community and specifically for the potential of social enterprise to create impact. Today, Michelle manages communications and donor services for Vancity Community Foundation.
Beyond the opportunity to work in a field she enjoys, Michelle is both proud and humbled to be part of an organization that is dedicated to using community economic development strategies, partnerships and advocacy to enable community change, capacity building and well-being. She feels fortunate to work with passionate and driven colleagues; and she is inspired daily by the amazing work and impact of community organizations.
Senior Manager, Strategic Initiatives and Investments
During her hiatus from VCF, Irene led the Community Investment division at Affinity Credit Union, an important sister organization to Vancity with a similarly long track record supporting innovative community development and also a fellow member of the Global Alliance for Banking on Values (GABV).
Irene has a broad range of experience supporting and leading different nonprofit organizations, including specific expertise in each of our focus areas of social enterprise, community owned real estate and impact investing. Irene has also worked in microcredit, through international experiences in Bolivia and Guatemala, as well as domestic examples including inner-city Winnipeg, and as the founding Executive Director of the Immigrant Access Fund in Saskatoon. Her university degrees are in Business and in Rural Planning & Development, and she also had a role with the SFU Centre for Sustainable Community Development doing post-graduate research and coordinating a joint program delivered through a Mexican University in Cuernavaca.
She and her husband Rob live in North Vancouver with their 2 young children.
She came to VCF with a breadth of experience across the charitable and small business sector, having previously worked at Pace Accounting (a small firm in East Vancouver specializing in non-profit clients), SPUD.ca, Options for Sexual Health, Atira Women’s Resource Society, and Lunapads International. Marie-Geneviève moved to Vancouver in 2002 to complete a Master’s Degree in Women’s Studies at SFU, then took a sharp turn into a new career a few years later, completing her Diploma of Technology with Distinction in Accounting at BCIT. She currently serves as Treasurer on the Board of her housing co-op, does the books for her partner’s bike shop, and in between managing all those numbers, enjoys walking her dog, lifting weights, and going to see live music.
iris aspires to work, play and live in a society based on equity, free from discrimination, full of compassion and activism. Having spent all of her teenage and adult life working and volunteering within community and non-profit organizing, she has a passion for learning and understanding the complexities of community engagement and mobilization, while fostering her desire to provide accessible and inclusive resources that meet the needs of our diverse communities.
Madison graduated from the University of British Columbia with a major in First Nations and Indigenous Studies and a minor in English Literature in 2016. Before joining the Foundation in 2021, Madi worked for Vancity at several branches in the Vancouver region, and drove the horse drawn carriage tours in Stanley Park. In her spare time, she enjoys embroidery, walking her dog, and enjoying the beautiful outdoors. Madi’s favourite part about her job is getting to work with people who want to make our communities better for everyone.
Hannah is a graduate of the University of British Columbia, where she majored in Political Science and Environment & Sustainability. Before joining the Foundation, she worked in the non-profit sector with a focus on women's health and community building. Hannah brings her passions for environmental sustainability and social equity to this role, and is proud to work for a values-based organization bettering the community. In her free time, you can find Hannah biking along the Seawall, reading at the beach or trying a new local coffee shop.
Landon supports the day-to-day financial operations of the Foundation; reviews and improves financial systems, policies, and procedures; and assists with database management. He has extensive administrative, customer service, and fundraising experience and graduated from the Sustainable Business joint major program at SFU. He is currently working towards a CPA designation, and in his free time enjoys bird watching, tending to his house plants, and exploring the city.
As an Associate, Elyse is responsible for the grantee, borrower and investor relationship management and administration of the Affordable Housing Program and Accelerator Fund at Vancity Community Foundation and the Greater Vancouver Community Assistance Foundation. Elyse brings 5 years of experience in community investment, working as a member of the Vancity Community Investment team from 2018-2022 where she facilitated impact investment opportunities for local economic development initiatives focused on affordable housing, financial inclusion and environmental sustainability. Elyse started in the Vancity branch network in 2012 and earned an undergraduate degree in Health and Community Services from the University of Victoria in 2015. When she's not at work, Elyse loves cooking and sharing meals with friends and family and spending time in and on the ocean!
Program Manager, Surrey Homelessness and Housing Society
The SHHS team works collaboratively with Surrey organizations to address the needs of vulnerable people who are homeless and at risk in Surrey.
Before joining the SHHS team in 2017, Letizia was managing the Homelessness Partnering Strategy (now Reaching Home) team. This team works in partnership with Metro Vancouver and administers federal funding to organizations working to prevent and reduce homelessness in the region. Before this, she held various financial service positions at the Vancity Credit Union community branch level. At the branch is also where she had the privilege of volunteering as a Regional Community Service Representative. Representing her home branch in Kerrisdale, Letizia was part of a larger team that met regularly to discuss strategies for building community partnerships and implementing local Vancity-sponsored events within the region. Letizia holds two BAs from the University of British Columbia in Language and Speech Science, and she has completed a Personal Financial Planning course at BCIT. She feels fortunate to be part of an organization that is dedicated to strengthening community and to be part of a team that connects with non-profit organizations in Surrey on initiatives to end homelessness.
Melissa Giles is the Project Lead with BC Rent Bank, a Vancity Community Foundation project funded by the Province of BC focused on supporting the development of a provincial rent bank system. She has almost 20 years of experience working in the non-profit sector, both domestically and internationally, and is passionate about social justice and housing affordability issues. In 2020, Melissa completed her Master of Arts in Leadership at Royal Roads University. She currently is the co-chair of Wellspring Foundation for Education, an international non-profit committed to quality education in East Africa. Apart from work and study, Melissa enjoys hiking, cycling and enjoying the great outdoors.
Program Manager, Reaching Home: Canada's Homelessness Strategy
Reaching Home provides federal funding to agencies addressing homelessness across Canada. In the Greater Vancouver region, Reaching Home is delivered by Lu'ma Native BCH Housing as the Community Entity. We serve as a partner to help administer the program in that region. We also have a similar partnership with the Community Entity of the City of Abbotsford, which serves that region. Lisa co-manages the Greater Vancouver region with Aimee Oakes and manages the City of Abbotsford region.
Lisa has worked in government and non-profits in a wide variety of areas. She has an educational and professional background in criminology having worked with youth involved with the criminal justice system, women in the downtown eastside dealing with addictions and housing issues and adult offenders in federal and provincial institutions. Prior to joining Vancity Community Foundation, Lisa oversaw a portfolio at Jewish Family Service Agency which included: Financial Assistance/Case Management, Housing assistance and advocacy, a food bank, Mental Health Outreach, The World in Garden urban agriculture project, Special Needs related to families with children living with a disability as well as specialized holiday and prison outreach programs.
Senior Program Officer, Reaching Home: Canada's Homelessness Strategy
Reaching Home is a community-based program aimed at preventing and reducing homelessness in the region. Arminda brings extensive experience in social and affordable housing finance, accounting, property management and real estate asset management, having worked at King County Housing Authority and Bellwether Housing, which has the largest non-profit affordable housing portfolio in the City of Seattle.
Arminda holds a bachelor of arts from Seattle University. She also received a graduate diploma in urban studies from Simon Fraser University, and, along with her family, is proud to call Metro Vancouver home.
Before starting with Reaching Home, Julie joined Vancity Community Foundation in 2014 as part of First Call: BC Child and Youth Advocacy Coalition and the Living Wage for Families Campaign. Through her work at YWCA Metro Vancouver and the Vancouver School Board, Julie has seen first-hand how a safe place to call home can help the most vulnerable citizens move forward. That’s why she’s excited to work at Reaching Home to help prevent the cycle of poverty and create better lives for the homeless or those at risk of homelessness.
Julie has been the editor of the Renfrew-Collingwood Community News since 2007 and previously worked at Raincoast Books and Alive magazine. She holds a bachelor of commerce from the University of B.C. and a certificate in community economic development from Simon Fraser University.
Senior Program Officer, Reaching Home: Canada's Homelessness Strategy
Angie has been working with the Reaching Home team since November 2020. Her work experience includes 17 years of providing program and event coordination, and administrative support in the nonprofit sector for various educational organizations. Angie’s formal education includes Project Management Certification. Outside of work, she has enjoyed volunteering in her sons’ school and sports communities by coordinating provincial tournaments and holding committee leadership and treasurer roles. She also enjoys travelling, baking, and creating various handmade projects.
Program Officer, Reaching Home: Canada's Homelessness Strategy
Karimah joined Vancity Community Foundation after interning with the United Nations Development Program and graduating with a Masters in Development from the University of London, SOAS. Karimah also has four years of experience with Vancity’s Community Member Support department. She enjoyed contributing to Vancity's social impact mission through engaging with her branch's community partners, delegating in the Global Alliance of Banking on Values conference, and participating as a team lead in the organization’s Think Tank - Explore Network.
With over 15 years of marketing, sales, and project consulting within sustainable real estate development and co-operative financial services, Kelly brings a comprehensive and compassionate perspective to her work with the 312 Main team. She is inspired by the project through the core values of coworking – Community, Collaboration, Openness, Accessibility and Sustainability. Born in Victoria and raised in the Lower Mainland, Kelly has lived in and visited most of BC. While she loves to travel, she is always happy to call Vancouver home. She spends her time being an active participant in community events, and enjoying family life with her husband and her son.
As a lifetime resident of Vancouver, Dave, our Building Maintenance Technician has seen the evolution of this vibrant community. With over 10 years of custodial and maintenance experience, as well as 15 years of commercial construction experience, Dave is more than qualified for this role. He brings a quiet determination to make this facility a coworking showcase and an interactive community hub that brings respite and connection to all those who enter.
Florence has studied sciences for the majority of her life. She has always been interested in health sciences specifically because of her passion for caring for and helping people, especially those who are vulnerable. She has an associate degree in Health Sciences and has been volunteering in her local community. She has volunteered with Fraser Health and volunteered with children for over 3 years.
Florence’s self-taught skills in content creation, social media marketing and video editing, as well as her customer service skills from her experience at McDonalds, have helped her to work on various creative projects.
Sonam Swarup (she/her/hers)
Events and Programs Specialist
Sonam is an Events and Programs Specialist at 312 Main.
Sonam is driven by good storytelling, big picture thinking and doing things with a socially conscious mind. She has spent the last 10 years working with various social impact organizations including The Wellbeing Project, The Discourse and The Urban Worker Project. Previously, she co-founded a social venture that focused on engaging immigrant women and their transition to the Canadian workforce through cultural cooking classes. She earned her BA from Simon Fraser University and has studied internationally at Maastricht University in the Netherlands. She has received multiple awards for her work including HSBC Women Leader of Tomorrow for Western Canada and an AMEX Emerging Innovator.
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