The women who make up Atira’s staff and Board are diverse, engaged, and committed to the work of ending violence against women. They are wildly talented and it shows.
The Board of Directors develops goals and plans for the Society and is accountable for all legal and financial activities.
While the Board makes policy decisions and guides management activities, the day-to-day operations are left to the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) and a team of inspiring women.
Senior Executive Director, Operations
Born to parents from Guangdong Province, China and Edinburgh, Scotland, Sarah grew up in east Vancouver and joined Atira more than 12 years ago, after already working eight years in both front line and leadership positions in the not for profit sector, supporting women and children impacted by violence. Atira is where Sarah feels her lived experience and education are best aligned.
Sarah has been the Program Manager at Sereena’s, Maxxine Wright Place and has held three Director positions since 2015, including Operational Excellence, ensuring organization standards and procedures are followed; Early Years & Family Well Being and most recently the Director responsible for Transitional Housing. Through her experience as a Director with Atira, Sarah has been able to be involved in the development of programs from conception through to operation. Sarah has also been active in raising awareness of the women’s anti-violence sector and homelessness in her own community, and has served on the boards of various municipal and not-for-profit organizations. Sarah enjoys reading, yoga and running with her rescue dog, Echo.
Executive Director, Operational Excellence
Hajar grew up on the Gaza Strip (part of the Occupied Palestinian Territory) where she earned a B.Sc. in Civil Engineering at the Islamic University of Gaza. She spent three years as a project manager before moving into the world of international aid where she spent nine years doing project design, monitoring and evaluation in countries as diverse as Palestine, Jordan and Somaliland.
Two years ago, Hajar moved to California where she earned a Masters’ degree in International Policy and Development, with a Monitoring and Evaluation Specialization. Hajar has a young family and is just recently moved to Canada.
Executive Director, Finance
Bella Sun has taken on the executive financial leadership at Atira Women’s Resource Society in June 2022.
She is a Chartered Professional Accountant, and has more than ten years of financial leadership, planning and reporting experience in various sectors.
Bella joined Atira’s Finance management team in 2018. Prior to joining Atira, she worked at the Canadian Mental Health Association, and brings with her understanding for and connection to people struggling with mental health issues.
Director, Non Residential Programs
Arita first started with Atira in 2002 as a support worker and was the first Program Manager at Sereena’s Housing for Women when it opened in 2006. Arita left Atira in 2009 to pursue education, earning a Bachelor in Child and Youth Care and a Master of Science in Social Development. In the past ten years she has worked and studied in London, Kenya, India and Seattle.
Arita has a passion for travelling, is an outdoor enthusiast born and raised in Squamish, and a vegetarian committed to environmental and social justice issues both locally and globally. She is thrilled to be back at Atira! She hopped and skipped around the world and returned where she started! Fun fact: her name is easy to remember – its Atira spelt backwards ;).
Director, Health Programs
Samreen is an internationally graduated Pharmacist and holds Doctor of Pharmacy and Masters in Pharmacology degree. She has more than ten years of extensive health care experience working and serving diversified populations.
She is responsible for ensuring health related programs that are specifically designed and delivered in accordance with Atira mission and goals, to meet the needs of the vulnerable community including My Safe, safe supplies, overdose prevention, harm reduction, vaccine hesitancy, etc. She works closely with Program Managers to implement health initiatives to improve the health and quality services to the community.
Director, Operational Analytics
Jeenu holds a Diploma in Recreation Leadership from Langara College and a Bachelor of Commerce from Royal Roads University.
She came to Atira as a Director of Special Projects in January 2021 to help with operational project work. Soon after she accepted the role of Director, Operational Analytics. She comes with over 10 years of experience in business and leadership roles, with the last six years in the non-profit sector. She also comes with years of experience working with family programming; and women’s anti-violence work. Jeenu currently has oversight responsibility for the overall Early Care and Learning Centre portfolio and supports Atira in improving operational strategies through analysis and strategic planning.
Director, Payroll & Benefits
Shirley secured her CGA in 2013, followed by her CPM in 2014. She holds a Bachelor’s of Business Administration majoring in finance and accounting from Simon Fraser University, and has more than 10 years’ experience in finance, accounting and payroll. She is an experienced team player and leader who believes in team work and collaboration to accomplish objectives. She is also passionate about helping others find solutions, supporting business process improvements with reporting and analytics and creating efficiencies. She takes ownership of details and thrives on challenging situations.
In her free time, Shirley likes to play badminton and volunteer. She was the Education and Recruitment Committee Director for the CPABC Richmond/South Delta chapter for three years as she believes in giving back to the community is important.
Director, Transitional Housing
Kagowa has a keen interest in law and social justice. Before qualifying as a lawyer, Kagowa worked with numerous societies and organizations to provide resources and access workshops to help fight poverty. As a lawyer, Kagowa participated in pro bono legal clinics offering housing, family, commercial, and employment law advice. Kagowa left law to focus more on addressing societal wrongs by advocating for marginalized communities.
She is delighted to be part of Atira and is looking forward to growing and learning with the organization. During her free time, Kagowa likes to push her culinary skills by trying out different recipes from around the world. When she has the time to travel, she enjoys visiting heritage sites in other countries, exploring architecture or planning adventure packed getaways. When she can, she also likes to squeeze in a wine tasting or two.
Languages We Speak
Atira hires women who represent the diversity of people living in the Lower Mainland and more specifically, women who represent the women accessing our programs.
We believe that having a representative staff is the most import action an agency can take to make its services accessible.
At present we speak 35 languages and dialects among our staff including: