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Board Bios

Alice Miro


Alice Miro is Project Manager, CLASP Initiative---Built Environment and Health at the Heart and Stroke Foundation of Canada. Prior to this role, she led Smart Growth BC's Healthy Communities initiative and co-authored the guide, "Creating Healthy Communities: Tools and Actions to Foster Environments for Healthy Living."

As The Food Project's Manager of Foundations Relations, in 2005-2007, Alice Miro raised $1.3 M for food security initiatives aiming to promote access to healthy, local food for all. She also worked for several years at the University of BC Sustainability Office, writing project proposals, consulting the public on social, economic and ecological issues, and involving neighbors, businesses, academics and students in the sustainability of our communities.

Gene Blishen


Gene Blishen is currently General Manager at Mt. Lehman Credit Union (in the Fraser Valley) and President of the Credit Union Foundation of BC. He was recently a participant in Vancity's Bologna program, has worked in the Credit Union sector since 1978 (Mt. Lehman since '92, and North Peace CU since '78), and is a passionate advocate for co-ops and co-op values. He is also very active in social media (as a blogger at and has helped implement some innovative technology applications within the small rurally based Credit Union he manages. He has some formal education in business administration, with significant experience working in the CU sector, leading organizations and mentor others. Gene comes recommended through several sources internal to Vancity as an excellent candidate.

Am Johal


Am Johal works at the Vancity Office of Community Engagement in the SFU Woodward's Cultural Unit. He has previously worked on the Vancouver Agreement in urban economic and social development. He was the co-founder of UBC's Humanities 101 program and was Chair of the Impact on Communities Coalition. He has been an advisor to two provincial cabinet ministers representing Transportation and Highways and Community Development, Cooperatives and Volunteers. He has undergraduate degrees in human kinetics (UBC) and commerce (Royal Roads University), an MA in international economic relations from the Institute for Social and European Studies in Hungary and is currently a part-time PhD student in Communication and Media Philosophy at European Graduate School in Switzerland.

Bob Ransford


Bob Ransford, of Counterpoint Communications, is a senior communications consultant and urban designer with a certificate in Urban Design from Simon Fraser University and trained in charrette planning at Harvard University's Graduate School of Design. He Specializes in navigating the complex public processes surrounding urban development issues and complicated land use challenges. Bob has over 25 years experience in business and public relations. His earlier career pursuits were in journalism and public affairs. He continues to write regular bi-weekly column in Vancouver Sun newspaper and is a regular contributor to NUVO Magazine and Montecristo Magazine, writing on a range of topics including architecture, design and urban living.

Bob is a recipient of the Commemorative Medal for the Queen's Diamond Jubilee and the Commemorative Medal for the Queen's Golden Jubilee, both awarded to Canadians who have made significant contributions to their fellow citizens, their community and Canada. Bob has a long record of volunteer service, he is currently serving as a Trustee on the Granville Island Trust, as a Director of Boys and Girls Clubs of Greater Vancouver Foundation, as a BC Director of Portage - a youth substance abuse treatment program and and as a Director of Small Housing BC. He is also a past commissioner on the Vancouver City Planning Commission and the past Chair of the City of Richmond Heritage Commission.

Cam Brewer


Cam is an environmental entrepreneur, green economy consultant, and activist committed to ecological and social sustainability. He has worked with many environmental non-profits including Smart Growth BC, the Canada Green Building Council, the Forest Stewardship Council, the Silva Forest Foundation, and Greenpeace Canada. He founded the Eco-Lumber Co-op, has written and spoken widely about solutions that rest at the nexus of ecological and economic imperatives, and currently consults with private-sector companies, non-profits organizations, and local governments. Cam holds a Masters of Science from the University of Oregon, and a Bachelors in Chartered Accountancy from the University of Waterloo.

Dean Fortin


Dean Fortin, BA, J.D.Law, M.Ed, served as mayor of the City of Victoria from 2008 to 2014. His chief priority was building affordable housing and tackling the complex issue of homelessness. He led city council in delivering smart and sustainable development, enhancing downtown safety and vibrancy, and advancing a green transportation strategy. Prior to becoming mayor, Dean served as a Victoria city councillor for six years.

Dean spent 17 years as Executive Director of the Burnside Gorge Community Centre where he led a team of dedicated staff and community members providing services in one of Victoria's inner city neighbourhoods. Dean enhanced programs for youth at risk, homeless families and vulnerable seniors, and lead the effort to raise $5 million to build a new LEED Gold certified community centre.

Prior to his elected and executive experience, Dean practiced family and criminal law. A trained addictions counselor, he also worked with the Victoria Association for Street Kids (now known as the Youth Empowerment Society). Dean lives in the Oaklands neighbourhood of Victoria with his wife and two daughters. He is a committed commuter cyclist and a volunteer basketball coach.

Jean-Marc Handfield


Jean-Marc is the Vice-President of Community Member Services at Vancity. He is committed to developing a strong branch network that creates impact by increasing member well-being and helping support healthy communities, while retaining and growing our membership. He has held several leadership roles within Vancity including Visa Business and the Member Services Centre over the last 10 years. Along with his professional experience Jean-Marc has an educational background that includes a Bachelor and Master in Law from Laval University in Quebec.

As Vancity continues on its journey of redefining wealth, understanding the development of cooperatives and what we can learn from them is very important. Jean-Marc recently participated in the Bologna Co-operative Studies Program in the Emilia Romagna region of Italy to help him further understand and learn about the roots of the cooperative system.

Karin Kirkpatrick


In early 2014, Karin founded Capercaillie as a boutique consulting firm dealing specifically with boards of governors and governance issues. Previously, as CEO of the Private Career Training Institutions Agency, a provincial crown corporation, Karin was regulator for the private post-secondary sector and worked closely with the Ministry of Advanced Education on increasing quality in higher education. For three years she was CEO of the Real Estate Foundation of BC, and for six years, Karin was Assistant Dean at the Sauder School of Business at the University of British Columbia. She taught Strategic Human Resources in the both the local and China MBA program, and designed and delivered human resource and management executive education programs.

Karin is a provincial appointee to the Judicial Council of British Columbia, and sits on the board of the Vancity Community Foundation. She was previously on the Board of the BC Council for International Education, and the Provincial Degree Quality Assessment Board. She was a recipient of the Queen's Diamond Jubilee award in 2012 and a nominee for the YWCA's Women of Distinction Awards. Karin is a Chartered Professional Accountant (CPA), Certified Management Accountant (CMA), and holds a Master of Business Administration in Human Resources. Karin is committed to post-secondary education and currently completing her Master of Laws at the University of Edinburgh.

Linda Morris


As Senior Vice President of Business Development, Member and Community Engagement at Vancity, Linda has oversight for connecting members with our financial co-operative and our vision to redefine wealth. Thrilled to be a part of an organization that supports its community and is a catalyst for individual and collective well-being, Linda considers Vancity to be a visionary game-changer.

As an active member on the Vancity senior executive team, Linda leads and mentors with an energetic, dynamic and blended approach in the Business Development, Member and Community Engagement division to contribute to Vancity's bold reputation as a community catalyst and best-in-class financial institution. She and her team are responsible for engaging and growing the membership through our member experience, our products and services, and our commitment to the communities where we live and work.

Previously Linda was the CEO of the Canadian Breast Cancer Foundation, BC/Yukon; prior to this was Deputy Minister in the Public Affairs Bureau for the Government of BC, Vice President, Communications & Community Engagement for Vancouver Coastal Health, and Director of Public Affairs for the Vancouver Port Authority.

Linda received her MBA from Royal Roads University, MA in Canadian History from University of Toronto, and BA (Honours) in Canadian History from McGill. She also holds certificates in Executive Management, Public Administration, and Public Relations from U of T, Ryerson and York University respectively.

Deeply committed to giving back and serving the community, Linda has an extensive record of community involvement including key positions with the Vancouver Maritime Museum and the United Way. She is proud to have been part of the team that sought funding to support the PinK (Power in Knowledge) tour, an interactive travelling exhibit bringing information about breast cancer risk reduction and on-the-spot sign-up for mammogram enrolment.

Lynda Gray


Lynda Gray, Tsimshian Nation.

Lynda's work is grounded in a strong belief in community development, youth empowerment, and culture as therapy. She recently left her job as the Executive Director of the Urban Native Youth Association in Vancouver, BC after seven years to pursue other goals. She has an undergraduate degree in Social Work from UBC and released her best selling book First Nations 101 in June, 2011. Lynda is the proud mother of two adult children and an active member of the First Nations community.

Marta Becker


Marta's bio is coming soon... stay tuned!

Sean Markey


Sean Markey is Associate Dean with the Faculty of Environment, and an Associate Professor with the Resource and Environmental Management Department at Simon Fraser University. Sean's research concerns issues of local and regional economic development, community sustainability, rural development, and sustainable infrastructure. He has published widely in academic journals and is the co-author of Investing in Place: Economic Renewal in Northern British Columbia (UBC Press 2012) and Second Growth: Community Economic Development in Rural British Columbia (UBC Press, 2005), and co-editor of The Next Rural Economies: Constructing Rural Place in Global Economies (Cabi Press, 2010).

Sean continues to work with municipalities, non-profit organizations, Aboriginal communities and the business community to promote and develop sustainable forms of community economic development. He serves on the Board of Directors with the Vancity Community Foundation, and is on the Board of the Canadian Rural Revitalization Foundation.

Shushma Datt


Shushma Datt is a pioneer in the broadcasting industry in Canada. This talented woman is credited with being the first Indo-Canadian broadcaster in the country. At a time when ethnic programming was minimal in the 1970s, she became a radio and television host in Vancouver as well as a producer of content for the South Asian community. She is also believed to be the first Canadian women to be granted a radio license from the CRTC.

Born and raised in Kenya, Shushma earned a university degree from the University of New Delhi in India. She began her career in journalism by working as a reporter for the Times of India. Shushma moved to London, England, where she was employed by the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC). Shushma emigrated to Canada in 1972 and settled in Vancouver. She began working as a radio operator for CHQM and a host for Indian programming at CJVB, where she was the first announcer to broadcast in Hindi and Punjabi. By 1976 she began producing programs for the South Asian community and developing her expertise in business. She created i.t. Productions Ltd. in 1984 and starting in 1987 was responsible for broadcasting a 24-hour radio station called the "Rim Jhim" network. This was the first station in the world, outside of India, to produce dedicated programming around the clock for South Asians. Shusham was able to provide Indo Canadian listeners in British Columbia with news as well as entertainment. After a twenty-year process, Shushma received a license from the CRTC in 2005 to establish an AM station in Vancouver: RJ1200. Shushma currently operates Radio Rim Jhim and RJ1200, as well as producing nine television programs on Shaw Cable Television and OMNI TV. These include "Women in Focus".

Shushma strives to be an ambassador for the South Asian community as well as encourage young women in the group to consider non-traditional roles. She also promotes greater understanding between different cultures. In 2007 Shushma received the Influential Women in Business Award (BC) for her many accomplishments in broadcasting and multicultural programming. She has also received the Order of British Columbia, the Queen's Golden Jubilee Commemorative Medal, the YWCA's "Women of Distinction" Award and the Humanitarian Award from the Vancouver Multicultural Society. Shushma is active in the community, serving on the board of the MS Society of Canada as well a director for the Vancouver General Hospital and Mount St. Joseph's Hospital.

Virginia Weiler


Virginia was first elected to the Vancity board in 2007 and served as board chair from 2011 to 2014 and vice-chair of the Citizens Bank board from 2008 to 2011. Through board leadership, she has helped Vancity---on behalf of members---deepen its commitment to democracy, financial inclusion and the environment while building even stronger financial services capability.

Virginia grew up in Toronto, Boston and Vancouver. She first worked in resource industries, including commercial fishing, road construction, industrial first aid, and a Yukon placer gold mine where she was the first woman hired as a heavy-equipment operator. While running a front-end loader, rock truck or bulldozer, she spent time thinking about economic growth and environmental sustainability. Her subsequent career in development finance was rooted in those early experiences. Virginia's connection to Vancity began in 1995 when she sold Vancity a microloan fund that focused on youth, new immigrant and women entrepreneurs. Virginia also helped design Vancity Capital to offer flexible financing to small and medium-sized businesses.

At Ecotrust Canada, she created a loan fund to finance small businesses in coastal BC communities where local economies are dependent on natural resources. In 2000, Virginia relocated to Africa for several years to help structure innovative financing programs to scale up the fight against HIV/AIDS. Back in Canada, she's continued to work as a consultant to local small businesses as well as large international aid projects. Her clients include the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria; Canadian International Development Agency; World Bank; various NGOs and privately-held companies. She volunteers at the local school and advocates for affordable, accessible childcare. She served for six years on the board of Smart Growth BC, an organization dedicated to building sustainable, livable communities. Virginia completed her BA in history at Boston College, an MBA at University of Victoria, and the ICD.D designation from the Institute of Corporate Directors in 2008.

In 2014, Virginia received the Community Legacy PEAK award from the Association of Women in Finance. Virginia, her husband and two young children are Vancity members and they visit the branch at Commercial Drive and First Avenue in East Vancouver where they live.