Board of Directors
PIRS is constituted under the Societies Act of the Province of British Columbia (Societies Act BC). The Board acts in a position of trust for the community and represents the interests of the community serving as a link between the community and the Society.
The PIRS volunteer Board of Directors (Board) is responsible for making high-level leadership decisions based on PIRS’ vision, mission, values, strategic direction, and the best interest of the Society.
The Board of Directors is elected by the PIRS membership at the Annual General Meeting. We welcome community members to consider joining the PIRS Board.
Interested in joining the Board? Please email email@example.com.
Meet our Board of Directors
Fatima Ahmed, Chair
Scientist & Research Professional. International experience in academia, the biotech industry & NGOs. Research Manager at AbCellera Biologics Canada.
Fatima is a lifelong learner who seeks to understand the interplay between individuals and systems and how this can be harnessed, harmonized and leveraged to bring about positive, impactful change in an increasingly globalized world. She has nearly two decades of experience spanning multiple countries and blending academia, the biotech industry and NGOs, and has built an interdisciplinary career in support of improving human health. She is passionate about finding ways to build equity in healthcare through technology, supporting marginalized communities, and seeking out ways to be an instrument of change. A third-culture-kid who grew up on stories of cousins and community, she seeks to build home wherever she goes, and is most happy when discussing ideas and planning solutions over drawn-out meals with brilliant souls.
Renuka Seru, Vice Chair
PhD in Educational Psychology and certified in several therapy modalities, including EMDR, DBT, and EQ-I, Renu has decades of experience as a passionate and dedicated counselor and educator in the post-secondary environment. Renu brings a wealth of knowledge and experience related to leadership, problem-solving, skills, and issues related to equity, diversity, and inclusion (EDI).
Renu has decades of experience as a passionate and dedicated counsellor and educator in the post-secondary environment. She holds a PhD in Educational Psychology and is certified in several therapies modalities. When Renu immigrated to Canada from India she faced many challenges trying to integrate into Canadian society, both professionally and socioemotionally. She has real experience of the challenges immigrant women face. She is passionate about helping immigrant women and youth with their mental health, wellness and personal growth. In 1990s Renu participated in the Building Bridges program of PIRS which helped her to gain confidence and was successful to market her skills. Now she has some time to give back to the society. Renu brings a wealth of knowledge and experience related to leadership, problem solving skills and issues related to equity, diversity and inclusion, (EDI). In her spare time, Renu enjoys painting, pottery, and gardening.
Kathy Price, Past Chair
Masters in Education in Curriculum and Instruction. Instructor in Early Childhood Education for many years in the post-secondary field.
Kathy is an avid supporter of PIRS and has been inspired by the passion and commitment of those involved in programs supporting immigrant and refugee children and their families. 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.
Sonam Swarup, Treasurer
Community & Member Specialist, Vancity Community Foundation. Long working experience with various social impact organizations including 312 Main, The Wellbeing Project, The Discourse, and The Urban Worker Project. Co-founded a social venture focusing on settling immigrant women in their transition to Canada. Received multiple awards from HSBC Women Leader of Tomorrow for Western Canada and AMEX Emerging Innovator.
Sonam’s (pronouns: she/her) passions lie in the intersection of community economic development, equitable design and story-telling. She has spent the last 10 years working with various social impact organizations. Previously, she co-founded a social venture that focused on engaging immigrant women and their transition to the Canadian workforce through cultural cooking classes. She earned her BA from Simon Fraser University and has studied internationally at Maastricht University in the Netherlands. She has received multiple awards for her work including HSBC Women Leader of Tomorrow for Western Canada and an AMEX Emerging Innovator.
Coral Gonzalez, Secretary
Coral is a researcher whose lifelong passion is to understand individual choices, their relationships, their impacts on one another, and how we can make a better world for ourselves and future generations, in particular for women and children. In her professional life as an economist, she works with the public and private sectors. She holds a PhD in Economics from UBC where she specialized in development economics and gender.
Coral is a proud Mexican who immigrated to Canada in 2011, and has since become a mom; as such, she understands the difficulties that a newcomer (and mom) might encounter navigating this new life. One of her passions is to empower women to help them advance their personal and economic well being, and build up communities that lift each other. When Coral is not parenting or working she is most happy enjoying friends and family at the beach or over a good meal.
Angela Heino, Member
Education Program Manager at PAIN BC. Registered Nurse and educator in healthcare & post-secondary settings. Volunteered overseas at NGOs and as a Researcher.
Angela Heino (she/her) has been a Registered Nurse for over 18 years, and she has over a decade of training and experience as an educator in both health care and post- secondary settings. She has worked in three Canadian provinces across various clinical areas and spent several months volunteering overseas with a community development NGO in eastern Uganda. She holds a BA in Psychology from Simon Fraser University and a BNSc from Queen’s University. She completed her MSN at UBC in 2018 under the supervision of Dr. Colleen Varcoe and Dr. Annette Browne. The focus of her graduate research work was the exploration of women’s pain experiences in relation to pressing health concerns, and the need for creating culturally safe environments for clients, families, and health care providers alike. Currently, she works as BSN Faculty at BCIT. In her spare time, she enjoys kickboxing, running, reading, and spending time in nature with her family. Angela joined the PIRS Board in Fall 2019 and she is honoured to help support the organization’s mission, vision, and values.
Prerna Thaker, Member
Currently a PhD student, also a researcher by training, with experience in working with immigrants and refugees internationally with the World Health Organization. Experienced in working with Downtown Eastside single mothers and homeless women.
A researcher by training, I have experience working with immigrants and refugees in Germany and Switzerland as part of World Health Organization. In Canada, I work with vulnerable populations by providing community services. I am working with single mothers and homeless women in the Downtown Eastside. An avid horse rider and swimmer.
Shams Alibhai, Member
Shams is an international development practitioner and change leader. She brings Canadian and overseas leadership experience and competencies. Recently, she led a skills development program targeted at young people with the Aga Khan Foundation Egypt and funded by Global Affairs Canada and within the framework of Canada’s feminization policy. She embraces challenges and works in diverse and complex contexts that also include the education sector in Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan. In Canada, she was the Executive Director for the BC Council for International Cooperation and worked in communities across the province. She has a passion for community development and cross-cultural communication. This interest has recently led her to the refugee, immigrants, and settlement sector. She is a keen learner and is eager to transfer her skills in this sector.
Shams holds two Master of Arts degrees: one in leadership from Royal Roads and the second in Islamic Studies from McGill University; her undergraduate degree is in Business Administration from Simon Fraser University. She enjoys speaking basic Arabic, Farsi, French, Gujarati, and Hindi. Her hobbies include playing pickle ball, running, and cooking.
Ella Laure Hipolito, Member
Named BC Business’ Top 30 under 30 for her leadership in equitable recruitment, Ella is an executive search professional specializing in the social impact sector. With a track record of successful appointments in not-for-profit healthcare, higher education, and related organizations, she supports executives and boards in securing exceptional leadership. Ella brings deep and current knowledge of HR practices nationally.
Committed to helping organizations navigate the challenging world of recruiting and hiring, Ella is a sought-after speaker for her expertise in building inclusive workplaces that advance equity and reconciliation.
A second generation Filipino-Canadian with parents that immigrated to Vancouver from the Philippines via France, Ella witnessed the sacrifice and experiences that many face as newcomers to Canada. She has been outspoken about her endless gratitude to her parents and family members for their resilience, unwavering hope, and unconditional love that have allowed her to live the life she has today. They have taught her to embrace change, overcome challenges, and know that no matter what their struggles, there is always space to lend a helping hand and build up the community around you.
Jessica Forman, Member
My pronouns are: she/her
Jessica is originally from Southern California where she attended law school and practiced as a commercial litigator in a large U.S firm for several years. She relocated to Richmond, B.C. over 10 years ago with her husband and three kids and worked for a large regional firm in Vancouver for several years before deciding to focus her practice on employment law. Jessica is an experienced workplace investigator and the head of Forte Workplace Law’s investigations practice group. Over her years of experience as an investigator, Jessica has conducted traditional workplace investigations related to bullying and harassment and sexual harassment, environmental scans and workplace assessments for public and private companies, as well as for several Indigenous organizations.
When she is not working, Jessica spends a great deal of her time on the soccer pitch watching all three of her children play soccer in Richmond. She loves traveling all over B.C. with her family, especially over to Tofino and all parts of Vancouver Island. She is also grateful to give back to the community previously on the Board of Jewish Federation of Greater Vancouver, and as a volunteer with Mamas for Mamas, a local organization which supports mothers and families in need.