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Staff Bios

Derek Gent

Executive Director

Derek proudly leads Vancity Community Foundation, an arms-length public charity associated with the members of Vancity Credit Union in BC. Over the past 25 years, the Foundation has grown to more than $50MM, including 120+ Donor Advised Funds and a core endowment, modelling a progressive approach to investing the assets, making grants and directly delivering collaborative programs with a focus on sustainable development rather than aid. Building on the values, tradition and capacity of the relationship to a $20 billion, 500,000 member financial cooperative, VCF has pioneered a number of innovations in Canadian philanthropy and impact investing, with a particular strength in supporting social enterprises and community owned real estate initiatives in our region.

Before joining the Foundation in 2008, Derek helped build and manage an investment portfolio of non-profit social enterprises, co-ops, aboriginal ventures and green businesses as part of the venture capital arm of Vancity and served as the first manager of Social Responsibility at Coast Capital Savings, where he initially started as front line staff at a branch. He has an MBA from Queen's, and has worked in management consulting, also gaining international experience in Bangladesh, Brazil, and northern Italy. Derek currently serves on the Board of Imagine Canada, an important umbrella organization representing the interests of charities and nonprofits across the country, as well as the serving on Cooperators Foundation, Responsible Investment Association and as City Co-Chair for Aga Khan Foundation Canada. He lives in East Van with his wife and partner of 27 years and their 3 children.

Contact Derek Gent

Telephone: 604.877.7553

Nancy Melo

Manager, Administration

Contact Nancy Melo

Telephone: 604.877.6580

Pearl Wu

Office Coordinator

Pearl joined Vancity in 1986 and was employed in various branches and departments until she became the Office Coordinator at VCF in 2005. In this capacity, she oversees facilitating the day-to-day administration of the Foundation offices. This position also provides administrative support to facilitate efficient tracking, reporting, funding, and distribution of Foundation and enp grants.

Contact Pearl Wu

Telephone: 604.877.7647

Cherlyn Itakura


Cherlyn joined VCF in 2011 as our Accountant, after having worked in Accounts Payable and Accounting in Vancity's Finance Division since 2007. As our accounting consultant, Cherlyn is responsible for providing financial systems advice and support while maintaining accounting records. Cherlyn has a Bachelor of Arts in Sociology from UBC and a Diploma of Technology from BCIT in the Professional Accounting program and received her CGA designation in August 2011.

Contact Cherlyn Itakura

Telephone: 604.877.7612

Irene Gannitsos

Manager, Strategic Programs

Irene re-joined the VCF Team in 2015, having previously worked with the foundation from 2000 -- 2012 in a variety of roles, starting as the original coordinator for ENP and leading much of the early social enterprise work. 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.

Contact Irene Gannitsos

Telephone: 604.871.5373

Bryn Sadownik

Program Manager, Evaluation & Community Impact

Bryn works to enhance the capacity of VCF, Vancity Credit Union and community-based organizations to strategically plan, manage and communicate the value of their work, and in particular the measurement of social and environmental impact. 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.

Contact Bryn Sadownik

Telephone: 604.877.7646

Michelle Eggli

Program Manager, Communication & Engagement

Bio to come!

Contact Michelle Eggli

Telephone: 604.877.8268

Vera LeFranc

Manager, Community Projects

Vera holds a B.A. in Liberal and Business Studies and has been working with community organizations for over 20 years, primarily in program design and development, women's programs, employability programs, and poverty reduction. For the past three and a half years she has assisted with the management of the Surrey Homelessness and Housing Fund, working with the Surrey Homelessness and Housing Society board to grow and distribute the fund, develop and launch a granting program, and lead community initiatives aimed at reducing homelessness and increasing access to housing. In her role as Manager, Community Projects, Vera will supervise our various community programs and partnerships.

Contact Vera LeFranc

Telephone: 604.340.2839

Sandra Yip

Specialist Housing, Surrey Homelessness & Housing Fund (on maternity leave)

Sandra joined VCF in 2009 as Philanthropic Services Coordinator of the Donor Advised Funds Program and is now the Housing Coordinator for the Surrey Homelessness and Housing Fund, which grants to projects that make a difference in the lives of peoples who are homeless or at-risk of homelessness in Surrey. Before joining VCF, Sandra worked as a mortgage lender at the Vancity Member Services Centre. She graduated from UBC in English, Fine Arts, and Education.

Contact Sandra Yip

Telephone: 604.708.2809

Jennifer McCaffrey

Specialist Housing, Surrey Homelessness & Housing Fund

Jennifer has just joined the VCF team so her bio is coming soon!

Contact Jennifer McCaffrey

Telephone: 604.709.6912

Allison Felker

Manager, Donor Engagement & Fund Development

Allison joined the VCF team in June 2014 to lead our efforts in developing and implementing strategies that deepen relationships with donors and funding partners in order to expand the resources available to support local organizations in our community. She has worked in the areas of donor engagement, fund development and leadership development for twenty years through roles at Canada World Youth, Vancouver Foundation, Vantage Point and most recently at the Justice Institute of BC's Centre for Leadership. Her volunteer work includes serving on the Board of Directors of BC Council for International Cooperation, Association of Fundraising Professionals Vancouver Chapter and WISH Drop-In Centre Society. She also served on our Foundation board over a decade ago. Allison holds a Master's Degree in Adult
Education and a Bachelor's Degree in Social Work.

Contact Allison Felker

Telephone: 604.877.7241

Jacqueline Dagg

Specialist, Philanthropic Services

Jackie graduated from the University of Guelph with a Bachelor of Applied Science. After a year teaching English in South Korea, she set roots in Vancouver and in 1998, started working at Vancity, joining the VCF team three years later. She attended the CAGP Banff course on Gift Planning, successfully completed BCIT's Essentials of Fundraising and Simon Fraser University's certificate in Community Economic Development. In addition to being responsible for providing support to the current donor advised fund portfolio, she manages internal and external communications for the Foundation.

Contact Jacqueline Dagg

Telephone: 604.877.6584

Amrita Gill

Coordinator, Philanthropic Services

Amrita joined VCF in 2011 as our Philanthropic Services Coordinator, responsible for coordinating and developing the administrative support systems of the Donor Advised Funds' growing program. Amrita has worked with Vancity since 2006 so she brings internal knowledge and understanding to the team. Amrita has previous fundraising experience working with Canadian Red Cross and BC Children's Hospital Foundation and obtained an education in Sociology and Psychology from SFU.

Contact Amrita Gill

Telephone: 604.877.7669

JC Macmillan

Administrator, Philanthropic Services

JC brings a vast knowledge of the Vancity systems and internal connections having worked with Vancity since 2008. JC joined VCF in 2013 as our Administrator, Philanthropic Services and is responsible for coordinating and developing the administrative support systems of the Donor Advised Funds' growing program.

Coming from the Maritimes, JC has a home-grown sense of social responsibility with a need to be connected to the community. JC has a background that merges creativity and business having grandparents and parents who are entrepreneurs in tourism, hospitality and food/beverage products. Over the years he has gained experience in developing, designing and managing these various interests and holds a degree in Business Administration from Acadia University and a Minor in Economics from U.P.E.I.

Contact JC Macmillan

Telephone: 604.877.7505

Lisa Ross

Team Manager, Homelessness Partnering Strategy

Lisa is the Team Manager for the Homelessness Partnering Strategy (HPS) project which is a partnership between VCF and Metro Vancouver that will provide funding to agencies addressing homelessness in the 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.

Contact Lisa Ross

Telephone: 604.877.4527

Shauna Robertson

Project Officer, Homelessness Partnering Strategy (on maternity leave)

Shauna has just joined the VCF team so her bio is coming soon!

Contact Shauna Robertson

Telephone: 604.877.8441

Letizia Romei

Project Officer, Homelessness Partnering Strategy

Letizia's bio is coming soon!

Contact Letizia Romei

Telephone: 604.648.5632