Our Leadership

Janice Abbott

Janice Abbott
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 and is a member of the Human Resources and 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 and 2020.

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.

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Niki Antonopoulou

Niki Antonopoulou
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.

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Jacqui Evans-Atkinson

Jacqui Evans-Atkinson
Executive Director, Finance & Administration

Jacqui is a Chartered Accountant and a Certified Professional Accountant with more than 30 years of experience. She has a broad base of expertise including financial statement preparation and review, budgeting and forecasting, financial analysis, strategic planning, and improving financial reporting and process control.

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Arita Atwal

Arita Atwal
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 ;).

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Gina Buchanan

Gina Buchanan
Director, Talent Development

Gina brings to her role lived expertise and more than  ten years of her career working in a variety of roles supporting vulnerable children, youth and women before transitioning to work primarily as in independent consultant providing education, training and development services to an array of agencies and organizations. She has served as a faculty at BCIT and the JIBC.

Gina has spent the last twenty years pursing her own education with an interest in creating welcoming, inclusive and transformative learning experiences for adult learners and recently earned her Doctorate in Education from UBC. She hails from New Zealand, is a proud mother to two daughters, begins every morning with a cup of tea, is happiest in on or near the ocean and is still searching for the perfect banana bread recipe!  Gina is in a unique role in that she is not only leading talent development for Atira, but  in partnership with WISH and the Downtown Eastside Women’s Centre, leading talent development at those organizations as well.

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Amanda Germyn

Amanda Germyn
Director, Facilities Maintenance

Amanda joined Atira Property Management in 2008 as a property management assistant and in 2010 moved to Atira Women’s Resource Society as a facilities manager with increased responsibilities. Since then, the portfolio Amanda is responsible for has grown considerably, including adding four new housing projects and nearly 375 new units within one year of her starting in the position. She completed the BCIT Management Certificate in Operations Management, Facilities Management Option, With Distinction, in 2014. In 2019, she was offered and accepted the role as Director, Facilities Management for Atira and supervises facilities staff for the organization.

Amanda is particularly adept at anticipating and dealing with the complexities of setting up newly added housing programs (both new builds and renovations), and ensuring maintenance plans are in place to proactively deal with issues before they arise. Atira Women’s Resource currently operates over 680 units of housing for women in 29 programs, and over 1460 units of housing in the Atira Property Management 21 supportive housing program portfolio.

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Jeenu Kailey

Jeenu Kailey
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.

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Ashley Kim

Ashley Kim
Director, Finance (currently seconded to Atira Property Management)

Ashley holds a Bachelor of Commerce from UBC and a CPA designation. She joined Atira Women’s Resource Society in 2015 as Director, Finance. In 2019, she accepted the role of Controller with Atira Property Management Inc., and Atira Development Society.

Responsible for all aspects of financial management, Ashley oversees financial services for clients, reporting and regulatory compliance, internal control, risk management, and strategic support to business development. Ashley serves on the board of various not-for-profit organizations, and is an active member of the CPA community, providing mentorship to students, entrepreneurs and other not-for-profit organizations. Ashley enjoys volunteering, travelling, Pilates, hiking, and visual and performing arts.

 

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Shirley Ko

Shirley Ko
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.

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Kagowa Kuruneri

Kagowa Kuruneri
Director, Non-Residential Programs

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.

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Sarah Louie

Sarah Louie
Director, Transitional Housing Programs

Sarah Louie joined Atira in 2010 as the Program Manager at Sereena’s Housing for Women, where she worked until 2012 after which she took on the PM role at Maxxine Wright Place. In 2015, she accepted the position of Director, Operational Excellence, ensuring organizational standards and procedures are followed.

When Cadence Housing for Women and the Willow Early Care & Learning Centre opened in 2017, her work became focussed on child care and the well being of moms and their children. She accepted the role of Director, Early Years & Family Well Being in 2018, and supports Atira’s family programs and early care and learning centres. In 2020, Sarah left that position to take on the responsibility of Atira’s transitional housing programs.

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Lara Maestro

Lara Maestro
Director, Records Management and Privacy

Lara joined Atira in 2012 as a Junior Fundraiser and Grant Writer, and enjoyed a number of positions in the Donations, Communications and Fundraising department until 2016, when she accepted the position of Records Manager and later took on the responsibilities of the organization’s Privacy Officer. Lara held the position of Director, Operational Excellence from 2018 to 2019, where her responsibilities grew to her current position in records management and privacy.

Lara holds a Masters in Archival Studies and Library and Information Studies. She actively volunteers with the Filipino community on campus.

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Hajar Masoud

Hajar Masoud
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.

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Anne M’Mithiaru

Anne M’Mithiaru
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.

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Doreen Mutwiri

Doreen Mutwiri
Director, Finance

Doreen joined Atira in 2019 as a Director of Finance. She is originally from Kenya and moved to BC in 2010 from Winnipeg, where she attended the University of Manitoba. She has more than 10 years accounting experience working with organizations as varied as Maple Leaf Foods, the Metis Nation of BC and Abbotsford Community Services.

Doreen’s passion is working for not-for-profit organizations where she can make a difference in her community while also pursuing her career. When she’s not at work and not spending time with her little girl, friends and family, she loves jogging, reading, travelling, watching a good show and listening to people’s life stories.

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Caithlin Scarpelli

Caithlin Scarpelli
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.

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Bella Sun

Bella Sun
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.

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Lynda Teskey
Director, Supportive Housing

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