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.
Deborah Baker, Squamish Nation Member, is the Executive Director of the Aboriginal Mother Centre Society in Vancouver. Deborah serves on the board with the All Nations Outreach Society and other organizations in the Vancouver area
Deborah is passionate about working with Indigenous People world wide especially in networking and public relations.
Deborah is a mother of five adult children and grandmother to one granddaughter.
Deborah has resided on the North Shore for many years with exception of brief relocation to the Prairies then returned to BC and has remained in BC for decades.
Deborah enjoys local, regional and national travels to help connect others through networking with a focus on healing and wellness as a residential survivor and a firm believer in reconciliation with the public and private sector of our international opportunities in economic development. Deborah supports healing and wellness for Survivors of Trauma in all forms and believes in breaking the cycle of abuse and dependency.
Diane is currently the Global Asset and Wealth Management Chief Experience Officer for BlueShore Financial. Previously, she held the position of Managing Director, Financial Services Lead – Western Canada for Ernst & Young Canada, and the Senior Strategic Advisor with the Promerita Group. A senior advisor in the Canadian financial services industry, she has worked with banks, credit unions, wealth management firms, and capital management companies.
She is a leader who is passionate about making a positive impact in the lives of people and overall health of communities. She has served on the Boards of Directors of several organizations across technology start-ups, financial services, real estate, business associations, healthcare, and non-profit sectors.
Diane holds an Institute of Corporate Directors Designation (ICD.D), an MBA in Global Asset and Wealth Management, and a BSc in Computer Science.
Sheri Hundseth is Métis and was raised in the Wood Buffalo and Lac la Biche Region of Northern Alberta. She recently became the Director, Indigenous Relations & Community Engagement at St. Paul’s Hospital (Providence Health Care).
Prior she spent six years with Covenant Health Canada as Manager Learning & Development and Organization Development Consultant/Change Management Specialist – Project Lead. She is an organizational development professional, specializing in training, relationship building, coaching, and leadership development. Her focus is to improve Indigenous cultural safety and to amplify Indigenous perspectives to improve health outcomes for people who are First Nations, Métis, and Inuit.
Sheri holds an MBA and a Bachelor of Education.
Deb is honoured to be the recipient of numerous awards over the years for her community work and environmental activism.
She is a 1965 Arts graduate of McGill University, and was a Probation Officer in B.C. for 36.5 years, 22 as a local manager.
She has been involved in a wide variety of volunteer positions over the years both connected to her work, the Board of YM/YWCA in Victoria and various positions including Presidency of the B.C. Corrections Association; and in the community as a parent and later a general member of the community, often serving in an executive capacity.
Deb has served on Atira's Board since 1995, stepping down and returning three times in compliance with Atira’s bylaws. Since 2005 she has served as the Vice-President of White Rock/Surrey Naturalists and since 2004, as President of Surrey Environmental Partners.
Deb is affiliated with a number of organizations that focus on retired persons and seniors' issues. She is grandmother and brings that perspective to her commitment to contribute to the community.
Elva Kim is the Chief Operating Officer of Anthem Properties Group and the President of Anthem Realty. A core member of Anthem’s executive team, she is responsible for big picture decisions and advisory for all aspects related to the Anthem experience. Driven by a passion for excellence, she ensures Anthem’s character, voice and values are accurately reflected across all areas of the business, contributing to the qualitative and quantitative growth of the organization.
As President of Anthem Realty, she oversees a dedicated team of 100+ sales, marketing and homeowner care professionals, who bring Anthem’s extensive portfolio of residential and land communities through their project life cycles. Elva has more than 21 years of real estate experience and has been involved in sales, marketing, community and product positioning, development, communications, closing services, retail and design of thousands of homes across British Columbia, Alberta and California.
She is passionate about her community and has served on the Board of Directors for Atira Women’s Resource Society for more than 4 years, most recently as Chair of the Board.
Elva holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Psychology, and her real estate education is from the Sauder School of Business at the University of British Columbia.
Sandra is a Client Executive within the Real Estate Division of BFL CANADA Vancouver and provides insurance expertise to the strata and property management industry.
She is also responsible for promoting education, professional development and industry awareness within the strata segment. Sandra has been in the Insurance industry for many years contributing her experience and knowledge in various products starting in Jamaica and continued her passion in Canada.
She completed a Supervisory Management certification, holds the Canadian Accredited Insurance Broker and Canadian Risk Management designations and previously a Registered Insurance Broker in Ontario.
Sandra is an Associate Member (Alternate) and volunteer on several committees at PAMA (Professional Association of Managing Agents), offering her expertise and decision-making skills. She is passionate and committed to the insurance industry, education and client service, and to giving back to the community. She is particularly dedicated to Atira’s Mission, Vision and Values, which are close to her heart.
Amy is the Corporate Secretary at BC Hydro and has also held roles at BC Hydro as Senior Strategic Policy Advisor and Senior Relationship Manager, Indigenous Relations.
Amy has a Juris Doctor, Law from the University of Calgary and has served on the Executive Committee of the Lower Mainland Section of the Young Lawyers, Canadian Bar Association.
Audrey is the Executive Vice President at Paperny Entertainment where she produced and directed television and films specializing in social issues documentaries and factual television.
She holds a BA, Communications from the University of Santa Barbara and a Masters, Communications, from the University of Pennsylvania. In addition to her role at Atira, she sits the board at Vancouver Talmud Torah, the Canadian Jewish Congress and the Jewish Federation of Greater Vancouver, as is a past board member the Dr. Peter AIDS Foundation.
Taha is currently the Senior Strategic Business Advisor, Office of the Chief Financial Officer for BC Hydro. As a senior advisor, her focus is on understanding and distilling multifaceted, complex issues and building consensus with key stakeholders to drive decisions. She brings a strong background in strategic management, finance and process improvement.
Taha is passionate about making a positive impact to our communities, environment and climate.
Taha is a Chartered Professional Accountant, and holds an MBA specialized in Strategic Management and Finance from UBC.
Kay first became a member of the Atira Board in 2000 and has stepped down twice and returned, in accordance with Atira’s bylaws.
She works for a public sector union and is a strong supporter of the role that social programs play in making our society more equal and just. Kay is a strong advocate for women's rights, human rights and the union movement. She brings experience in governance and labour relations.
Miriam lives on the shared traditional lands of the Katzie, Semiahmoo, Kwantlen and other Coast Salish peoples and has been an active supporter of Atira for almost 30 years and has served as a member of the board of directors for several terms. Her pronouns are she/her.
Active in BC’s union movement, she has been the Director of Communications and Member Organizing at the Health Sciences Association of BC for the past 20 years, and has a background in government communications and as an editor and reporter in community newspapers.
She serves on the BC and Canadian boards of the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives, and participates in community sports, including as a rugby match official.
Ava is an Executive Director at the George Derby Centre in Burnaby and is a past recipient of the Neighbourhood House, Good Neighbour award.
Previously, she was a Manager, Home Health with the Fraser Health Authority and brought a clinical perspective to the role in an effort to support an understanding how our leadership decisions affect patients. Having worked in a team based environment for many years, she understands the significance of how a team needs to function to meet organizational goals and patient needs. Ava is a past member of the South Burnaby Neighbourhood House where she served on the Board for three years then as Chair for 10 years. She is also a past Board member of the BC Care Providers Association.
Michelle Yung is a partner at Bennett Jones LLP. Her practice is focused on commercial real estate.
Michelle has extensive experience in commercial leasing transactions and regularly advises landlords, tenants and property managers on commercial leasing matters in the shopping centre, retail, office, mixed-use and industrial space leasing sectors. Michelle also advises clients on the financing, acquisition and disposition of real estate assets, and on the re-zoning, subdivision, development and building permit processes.
In the community, Michelle serves on the board of directors of The Greater Vancouver International Film Festival Society, a not-for-profit cultural organization operating the Vancouver International Film Festival (VIFF). Michelle regularly volunteers as a clinician for Access Pro Bono Society of BC and has served on the board of directors of Commercial Real Estate Women Vancouver (CREW Vancouver), a non-profit association seeking to advance the achievements of women in the industry. She also served for a number of years on the organizing committee for Arts Umbrella's annual fundraising gala.
Michelle holds a Bachelor of Arts in History and Political Science from the University of British Columbia and a Juris Doctor from the Schulich School of Law at Dalhousie University.
Chief Executive Officer
Janice Abbott has been the CEO of Atira Women's Resource Society since 1992. She has lead the Society through its incredible growth from a single transition house located in South Surrey with a staff of seven to a large multi-service agency with two, for-profit subsidiaries, a development arm and more than 1400 staff.
She has headed up numerous innovative capital projects including Canada’s first multi-unit recycled shipping container housing development, which was completed in August 2013. Throughout Atira’s herstory, Janice has championed barrier-free and low-barrier access to programs and services for women, ensuring Atira’s programs are accessible to all women affected by violence including women who have traditionally been marginalized by mainstream society. She developed and works to honour in her daily practice and in her life Atira’s anti-oppression framework.
Janice is a Governor in Council appointee to the Board of Directors of Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation, where she chairs the Housing & Capital Projects Committee, sits on the Housing Affordability Committee, and is acting chair of the Governance & Nominations Committees. Janice holds an ICD.D Designation through the Institute of Corporate Directors. She received her Canadian Housing Professional designation through the Chartered Institute of Housing (CIH) Western Founders Program. Janice is active in Housing Partnership Canada, and she has co-authored six publications.
Janice won an Influential Women in Business Award from Business in Vancouver for 2019. In 2018, Janice was named Diversity & Inclusion Champion by the Open Door Group, she was honoured with a Civic Merit Award by a unanimous Vancouver City Council, and was named to the Power 50 list by Vancouver Magazine in 2017, 2018, 2019, 2020, and 2021.
She is also the recipient of numerous other awards including the 2013 BC Non-Profit Housing Association’s Denise LaBlond Award, recognizing her dedication and vision in affordable housing in BC; and the Ernst & Young 2010 Social Entrepreneur of the Year award.
Senior Executive Director, Finance
Ashley holds a Bachelor of Commerce in Accounting from the University of British Columbia, and is licensed as a CPA (Chartered Professional Accountants of Canada).
After a few years of balancing her career between private businesses and not-for-profit sector, she joined Atira Women’s Resource Society in 2015 as a Comptroller. She later co-managed the accounting team at AWRS as Director, Finance until 2019, Controller with Atira Property Management Inc., and accepted the role of Senior Executive Director, Finance in 2022.
Responsible for all aspects of financial management for Atira’s group of societies and companies. Ashley’s core strength is continuous process improvement and change management, with a focus to create values for program participants and clients, employees, and all other stakeholders of Atira.
Ashley is currently serving as a Board of Director at Rose of Sharon Foundation, an operator of a senior care home in Greater Vancouver Area. She is also an active member of the CPA community, providing mentorship to students and young professionals and entrepreneurs.
Executive Director, Human Resources
Niki’s expansive front-line and management experience enables her to understand the needs of the women and children who access Atira’s programs and services as well as Atira’s more than 400 staff and 35 volunteers..
Niki has worked for Atira Women’s Resource Society since 1992, starting as a front-line support worker and moving into program management in 1997. In her capacity as program manager, Niki was responsible for all aspects of program and property management at those sites she was responsible for including Koomseh Second-Stage Transition Housing program in Surrey and Bridge Housing for Women, a seven-storey development in Vancouver's Downtown Eastside. In 2004, Niki took on the role of Director, Human Resources and lead Atira’s human resources department through prodigious growth. She was the Executive Director, Operations from 2010 to the end of 2018, and brought her vast knowledge of Atira and the sector as well as her expertise to that position. Since returning as Executive Director, Human Resources in January 2019, Niki restructured the HR team and more than doubled the number of HR staff.
Niki holds a Bachelor of Arts degree, a Certificate in Human Resources and a rental property manager license (since expired). Her love of learning continues to expand her understanding of the world, especially through online university courses.
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, Communications & Fund Development
Caithlin began volunteering at Atira Women’s Resource Society at age 13 providing after-school childcare for moms accessing services at one of Atira’s second-stage housing programs, as well as in the administration office filing and cleaning.
She gained part-time employment at age 15 and continued to work on a part-time basis until 2003 when, after finishing a professional pastry program at the Art Institute of Vancouver, she started work as the children’s community kitchen coordinator, a job she adored. When funding was cut for that program a few a years later, she went to work assisting Atira's then fundraiser and over the next seven years and after completing the Fundraising Management Certificate Program at BCIT, grew into her current role as the Director,Communications, Development, Fundraising. Working in an environment that promotes equality for women has always been her passion and she continues to work every day in the struggle to end violence against women and children.
In 2014 Caithlin was accepted into the Canadian Women’s Foundation Leadership program, run by the Coady International Institute at St. Francis Xavier University in Nova Scotia. The year-long program is an exclusive and exciting opportunity to build on leadership skills, develop relationships with other women working in similar organizations across the country and to learn new skills in community economic development. In 2015 Caithlin participated along with eight other women leaders from across Canada in the United States Department of State Bureau of Education and Cultural Affairs - International Visitor Leadership Program on Preventing Violence Against Women.
Executive Director, Finance
Bella Sun has worked for Atira since 2017, starting as the Senior Manager, Finance. She accepted a promotion to Director, Finance in 2018. Bella co-manages the accounting team with Doreen Mutwiri. She is a professional accountant, and has more than ten years of progressive accounting and supervision experience.
Prior to joining Atira, she worked at the Canadian Mental Health Association, and brings with her compassion for people struggling with mental wellness.
Director, Supportive Housing
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, 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.
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.
Director, People & Culture
Anne moved to from Kenya to Canada in 2003 to pursue a Bachelor’s in Human Ecology, majoring in Family Violence & Conflict Resolution and Child & Adolescent Development at the University of Manitoba. After graduating, she worked at a number of agencies in progressively more responsible roles. Anne joined Atira in 2014 as the Manager, Non-Residential Programs, and was soon promoted to Director, Non-Residential Programs as Atira expanded.
She was supporting staff throughout the Lower Mainland, and when Atira restructured its leadership team in 2018, she accepted the role of Director, Non-Residential Programs (Vancouver). This change to specifically Vancouver programs has allowed her to better support staff in the non-residential programs such as legal advocacy, stopping the violence counselling, housing outreach, women’s health and safety, women-only safe consumption site, etc. to better provide services to women in the community.
In 2018, Anne represented Atira at a South African social housing movement as it implemented its Gender Equality Strategy as part of the Rooftops Canada “Equal Spaces Project” in partnership with Global Affairs Canada.
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: