About Us

Board of Directors

PIRS > About Us > Board of Directors

Participation on the Board of Directors provides an opportunity to connect with community-based programs, gain familiarity on issues facing immigrant and refugee women and make a difference in their lives.

2017/2018 Board of Directors

Johanna Whalley Joanna Whalley, Board Chair

Joanna is a Certified Human Resources Professional with over 20 years of experience. She has built best practice systems and award winning strategies that centre around creating great places to work, engagement and collaboration to achieve results, and mentoring, development and leadership to bring out the very best in people. Joanna holds a Bachelor’s degree from the University of Victoria and a Graduate Certificate in HR Management from Royal Roads University. As well as sitting on the Board for PIRS, she is a volunteer with Vantage Point and provides governance, strategic planning and HR consulting to a variety of organizations.

Jan Littler-Finseth – Vice Chair

Jan Littler-Finseth is the Manager of Sales & Marketing in North America for an innovative building products manufacturer as well as an independent consultant on the use of New Media in marketing.   She brings to PIRS two decades of experience advancing strategic partnerships and has a strong commitment to inclusive community development.  In the past, she has acted as a Board Member for Eastside Family Place and for Musica Intima. At home Jan likes to write, paint and spend time with her family.

Gyda Chud Gyda Chud, Past Chair and Secretary

Gyda Chud has a long history with PIRS, dating back over 25 years, and is delighted to return to the Board. She has extensive experience in the non-profit, community sector both locally and nationally. Gyda’s professional world has focussed primarily in Early Childhood Education, where she served as Faculty, Program Coordinator, and Dean of Continuing Studies at Vancouver Community College.  She chaired the Child Care Human Resource Sector Council, and the Association of Canadian Community College Affinity Forum, and has co-authored several books related to Honouring Diversity. Gyda is inspired by the mission, vision and values of PIRS, and the outstanding women  ̶ past and present ̶  who represent us in the broader community.

Suzanne Saatchi – Co-Treasurer

Suzanne is an Operations and Project Specialist with 18 years of experience working in the healthcare, education and software sectors. She has worked extensively in the areas of operational planning, process improvement, change management, performance management and P3 contract management. Suzanne has an MBA in Strategy from Sauder School of Business and a CMA-CPA accounting designation. Suzanne’s family immigrated to Canada from Iran when she was a child and she started her early career teaching immigrants English as an ELSA instructor. She has seen first-hand the crucial role women play to adapting and acculturating to life in Canada in their families. She is passionate about helping women and children to get the support they need to get a strong start in in their new life in Canada.

Michelle Chen – Co-Treasurer

Michelle is a first generation immigrant to Canada and is currently pursuing her MBA at UBC. She has been involved with various not-for-profit organizations, aiding with tax returns for low income individuals, crisis lines, and ELSA volunteer coordinator at DIVERSEcity. Michelle also is a highly motivated and enthusiastic Chartered Accountant with eight years of progressive experience in accounting and auditing roles for diversified companies and industries. She brings her accounting and financial expertise to PIRS with the goal of supporting women with young children to grow and flourish. In her spare time, she enjoys spending time with her family and friends, and playing Chinese music instrument, zither (guzheng).

Cherese Reemaul Cherese Reemaul

Cherese is a newcomer to Canada, and has worked with vulnerable women and children in many countries over the past decade. After working with newcomers in other parts of Canada, Cherese moved to the Lower Mainland to serve the community here (the core of her commitment to PIRS). She did her PhD. research in gender and development and is currently the supervisor for the largest supported housing facility for vulnerable women and children in B.C.

Audrey Wong

Audrey was born and raised in Vancouver, BC. She completed her BA and JD at the University of British Columbia where she volunteered for the Westcoast Domestic Workers’ Association and the UBC First Nations Legal Clinic providing legal services to under-served and vulnerable groups. Audrey worked at a well-regarded regional law firm before moving to her current position as Executive Director, Corporate Strategic Services at the BC Liquor Distribution Branch where she oversees the organization’s corporate strategy, project management, policy and communications, and records management.

Kathy Price

Kathy is a first generation Canadian who is returning to PIRS from many years in the postsecondary field of Early Childhood Education.  She is an avid supporter of PIRS and has been inspired by the passion and commitment of those involved in its programs for immigrant and refugee children and their families.  Currently, she also volunteers on the Publications and International Outreach Committees of the Association for Early Childhood International. She completed a Masters in Education in Curriculum and Instruction and graduate studies at the University of British Columbia and her current interests follow global and education diplomacy.

Jes Simkin

Jes is passionate about building community and social change. As a first generation Canadian from Argentina, she’s grateful for the opportunity to contribute to PIRS’ mission. Having worked and volunteered for several nonprofit organizations, Jes brings a range of nonprofit and operations experience to PIRS. When she’s not at her laptop, Jes can be found on her bicycle in search of the best grilled cheese sandwich.

To contact PIRS Board of Directors please email info@pirs.bc.ca