Our Staff

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 500 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. 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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Bruk Melles

Bruk Melles
Executive Director, Operations

Bruk joined Atira in 2019 after working at BC Housing for 11 years, most recently as the Director, Supportive Housing and Programs. Prior to that Bruk was the Operations Manager at the Orange Hall Office in the Downtown Eastside.

Bruk holds a Masters’ Degree in Urban and Rural Planning from Dalhousie University and prior to working at BC Housing, spent some time with Housing Services at the Nova Scotia Department of Community Services.

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Ashley Kim

Ashley Kim
Director, Finance

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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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Anne M’Mithiaru

Anne M’Mithiaru
Director, Non-Residential Programs

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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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 Ashley Kim. 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

Lynda Teskey
Director, Supportive Housing

Lynda Teskey has worked at both Atira Women’s Resource Society and in the Atira Property Management SRO Hotel Portfolio in various capacities for the past eight years. Her roles have included front-line support worker, program manager, and Homeless Outreach Worker/Women’s Health and Safety Liaison.

Along with her considerable work experience, Lynda brings extensive lived expertise to her work as Director, Residential Programs. Lynda is Siksika, from Southern Alberta.

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Amanda
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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Arita
Director, Supportive Housing

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Doreen
Director, Finance

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Hajar
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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Jannel
Director, Early Years & Family Well-being

Jannel first worked with Atira as a consultant on the River Run Early Care & Learning Centre bringing her expertise in early years’ program development. Jannel has worked most of her career with not-for-profit child care centres and most recently held the position of Head of Operations at Vancouver Child Study Centre.

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Kagowa
Acting Director, Non-Residential Programs

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