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About

Our Staff

Administrative Staff

Mebrat Beyene (she/her/hers)

Executive Director

Mebrat is an Eritrean, born in Ethiopia and raised in Montreal. She is a mother, community developer, teacher, and singer known for her passion, enthusiasm, and energy. As executive director of WISH and co-chair of Living in Community, Mebrat supports women and initiatives related to the health and safety of women engaged in street-based sex work. She has worked in social justice, and non-profit management and community development for over twenty years. Mebrat has worked closely with women and women-serving organizations as a Programs Officer with Status of Women Canada; and served as executive director of PeerNetBC. In a volunteer capacity, Mebrat sits on the boards of MATCH International Women’s Fund and Pivot Legal Society; serves on the City of Vancouver’s Black History Month Planning Committee, and also volunteers with the Vancouver Youth Choir. She lives in East Van, doing as much singing, adventuring and plotting with her son…much to their cat’s chagrin.

Jan Hawkins (she/her/hers)

Development Manager

Jan Hawkins has worked for variety of non-profit organizations over the past 15 years, including Canadian Blood Services, the BCIT Foundation, the Looking Glass Foundation for Eating Disorders, and most recently, BC & Alberta Guide Dogs, where she was responsible for all fundraising related activities.

Jan is passionate about inspiring others to support a cause, and especially loves sharing stories with donors about how their support changes lives.

She is a dog lover, runner, cyclist, BC Lions fan, and a cancer survivor. She’s also an election junkie, having worked in the last municipal, provincial and federal elections.

She lives in Delta with her husband Keith, and rescue dogs Maddie and Baxter, who are definitely not Guide Dog material.

Hannah Morgan (she/her/hers)

Development Coordinator

Hannah Morgan is a Japanese-Canadian, Hong Kong native who moved to Vancouver five years ago. She holds a BA in English Literature and Political Science from the University of British Columbia. Hannah started working at WISH in early 2019 as a Program Assistant when she first heard about the organisation at a Doctors Without Borders talk regarding women’s health.  Whilst working as a PA, Hannah worked full-time at UBC as a Program Assistant for Go Global: International Learning Programs.

A passion for feminism, human rights and environmentalism have reigned true throughout her academic and personal pursuits. Hannah has volunteered for organisations such as West Coast Environmental Law, Amnesty International and PERIOD. Additionally, Hannah was a door-to-door fundraiser for organisations such as Oxfam, UNICEF and CNIB.

In her free time, Hannah enjoys trips to the Gulf Islands, cooking Japanese food and playing with her cat Bellini.

Joannye Belanger (she/her/hers)

Human Resources Manager

Joannye is an energetic French-Canadian originally from Quebec who recently moved in the City of Coquitlam. She obtained a Bachelor degree in Industrial Relations in 2009 and is now a member of the Chartered Professionals in Human Resources of BC & Yukon. In her previous HR experience, she was involved in many projects related to Health & Safety, Recruitment, Labour Relations and Training in the Manufacturing and Construction industry. She is not afraid to go out of her comfort zone and wanted to bring her contribution to a meaningful cause. The mission of WISH touches her and she felt challenged by the reality of women who are supported by the organisation. She loves to go for a hike with her partner and their 3 young children, discover new areas and cook. She always has homemade cookies to offer to everyone who comes visit her.

Sukhleen Gill (she/her/hers)

Payroll and Benefits Administrator

Sukhleen’s journey at WISH originally started in the summer of 2018, as an Administrative Assistant through Canada Summer Jobs. Once her contract was up, she continued to pursue her education, whilst working in the Insurance Industry and volunteering in Crisis Support. Finally, with her education coming to an end, she is back at WISH doing what she loves while feeling inspired and empowered by the wonderful community around her! She holds a Public Safety Communications Certificate and will soon obtain her BBA in Human Resources Management; in addition, she is also a member of CPHR BC & Yukon. During her spare time, Sukhleen loves to research and learn about absolutely anything and everything! Most recently, she has taken up the stock market!

Since delving into this area of service, each day Sukhleen is reminded of how eye opening, humbling and rewarding this career is. She is very excited to work with an organization that shares her passions about community building and compassionate care!

Estefania Duran (she/her/hers)

WISH Communications & Media Manager

Estefania Duran was born and raised in Mexico and moved to Vancouver more than 10 years ago. She graduated with honours from BCIT’s Broadcast and Online Journalism program and has a degree in Political Science from Simon Fraser University. She also earned a diploma from the London School of Journalism.

Estefania joined WISH in 2020 after having worked as a journalist for multiple news outlets including CBC, Global News, NEWS 1130, and CKNW. Her journalistic prowess helped her receive multiple awards, including a National RTDNA, a Regional Edward R. Murrow, and a Jack Webster Student Journalism Award.

 

Estefania is passionate about making a positive impact in her community and believes the actions of an individual can make a difference in the world.

Carol Minchinton (she/her/hers)

Finance Manager

Carol came to WISH in July 2016 as the Administrative Coordinator and is currently the Finance Manager. Before coming to WISH, Carol worked in the finance department of Steamworks as well as managing her own trades business on the Sunshine Coast. Carol was drawn to WISH because of the impact WISH has for this community of women. With her skill set in administration and finance, Carol is always a valuable addition to WISH as the Master of Coin and Office DJ. Carol loves working with the WISH team and regularly is part of office hijinks. Carol loves Game of Thrones, listening to music, and her cat Uma. Carol is a great mom to 3 grown children and always has a perfect manicure.

Emily Kydd (she/her/hers)

Operations Manager

After hearing about WISH for many years, Emily joined the team in July 2017 as the Drop-In Supervisor before becoming the Drop-In Manager in November of that year. Emily is now the Operations Manager and gets the pleasure of working with all of the programs! Emily’s past roles include working as the Detox Assistant Manager at Salvation Army Harbour Light, Gender and Youth Advisor for WUSC Canada in the Caribbean, and as a Peace Corps Health Education Volunteer in Kyrgyzstan. Emily loves working at WISH because of the vital role the organization plays in Vancouver and because of the community of women who care about WISH, whether they be participants, staff, volunteers, or donors. Emily believes strongly in the rights and dignity of all women, and knows that WISH plays a crucial role in this work. Outside of WISH, Emily loves to travel, go for very long runs in the park by herself, eat delicious food, and hang out with her cat Michelle Obama.

Jeanie Parkinson (she/her/hers)

Finance and Office Administrator

Jeanie has been with WISH for 5 years, beginning first as a practicum student and then officially joining the team as a Program Assistant in 2016. In early 2020, after nearly 2 years spent as Drop-In Supervisor, Jeanie took some well-earned time off to spend with her partner before moving into the new role of Finance & Office Administrator in July. Jeanie has always had a strong love and attachment to the women of WISH and is grateful for the opportunity to give back to the organization in a new way. Jeanie has a BSW from UVIC and is a registered member of the BC College of Social Workers. When she’s not at WISH, Jeanie spends time with her partner reading, playing video games, honing her handywoman skills, and finally learning how to cook

Programs Staff

Carrie Hill (they/them/their)

Volunteer & Community Resources Manager

Carrie Hill is a queer bi/pan feminist hailing from Vancouver Island, B.C.  She holds an MA from the University of Victoria, specializing in Adult Education and Literacy.

As a practicing kinkster, Carrie has taught various workshops over many years, ranging from consent in D/s (dominance/submission), to Sex Work and Sex Workers’ Rights, to edgy kinky topics such as breath play and decorative piercing. Most recently, she facilitated workshops on Sex Work 101 at SFU on behalf of PACE Society, and taught at ConvergeCon 2019 held here in beautiful Vancouver, B.C.

Carrie is a devout advocate and activist for sex workers’ rights, and is very active on Twitter, helping to fight the good fight against TERFs and SWERFs. Her dream is be part of the force to put an end to whore stigma and the whorearchy, and to see unionized, decriminalized sex work, upheld universally across Canada.

Dana Krementz (they/them/their or she/her/hers)

MAP Van Manager

While originally from the southern US, Dana has called East Vancouver home since 2015. After completing her Masters of Public Health from Simon Fraser University in 2017 she spent two years working as a frontline support worker for WISH’s MAP Van before becoming the program manager of the MAP Van.

Academically and professionally, Dana has maintained a strong focus in gender-based violence, sexual health, and reproductive justice and has applied her training in promoting community-based health equity while working in fields such as youth education, rape crisis, and HIV/AIDS research. She passionately believes that all people have the right to (w)holistic health and wellness and feels privileged to apply her skills to advance the mission of WISH.

Outside of work, Dana spent many years guiding long expedition wilderness canoe trips, is an avid trainer and practitioner of partner acrobatics, and enjoys watching lots and lots of anime.

Lucy Thomas (she/her/hers)

Music Therapist

Lucy is a board certified music therapist working both at WISH, and at St. Vincent’s Langara residential care home.   Lucy has been playing the violin for over 30 years, and has training on guitar, piano, voice and didgeridoo.  She received a Bachelor of Music from the University of Birmingham, UK, and went on to complete a degree in Music Therapy from Capilano University.  As a classically trained violinist, Lucy has traveled and toured extensively, and has developed her violin style to include Australian, Irish and Canadian folk music, and Eastern European gypsy music.  She also has a keen interest in vibrational healing and sound healing, and has been exploring the therapeutic use of the didgeridoo under the guidance of an Australian Aboriginal sound healer.  As a music therapist, she specializes in mental health, palliative care, music and medicine, grief and trauma, and seniors care.  When she is not working Lucy enjoys travelling, exploring new countries and cultures, and spending time with her family.

Jenny Sloman (she/her/hers)

Inreach Worker

Jenny Sloman has worked at WISH since 2018. She began as a Program Assistant in the Drop-In Centre before becoming an Inreach Worker. With WISH’s core values of acceptance, caring, dignity, and respect always at the core of her work, she believes in meeting women where they’re at and working to help support access to opportunities for people to make positive and healthy choices for themselves. In addition to a BA in Criminology and Gender, Sexuality, and Women’s Studies, and a Graduate Degree in Urban Studies from Simon Fraser University, Jenny has also volunteered as an English tutor since 2010. When she isn’t working or volunteering, you can find Jenny baking a variety of desserts or doing absolutely any adventurous outdoor activity.

Julia Freitas (she/her/hers)

Drop-In Manager

After completing a Masters in Biochemisty, Julia decided to move to Vancouver to pursue love, safety and a new career pathway. Julia heard about WISH in the winter of 2017 and totally fell in love with the idea of doing something that could potently impact people’s life. After spending a few months as Program Assistant, she moved on to be Shift Lead and now is the Drop-In Manager. WISH was Julia’s first job in the DTES, but she has spent the last 3 years also providing trauma and violence informed case management in a capacity of an Outreach Worker. Julia has a deep gratitude for WISH because of the amazing relationships she has been able to build with the most resilient people she has ever met.  Julia believes that WISH is a place that nourishes community building and trusted relationships. Outside of work, Julia likes all kinds of dangerous outdoor activities with her close friends.

Tanya Miao (she/her/hers)

Respite And Sanitation Supervisor

Tanya Miao was born and raised in Victoria, BC. She moved to Vancouver after graduating from the University of Victoria with a Bachelor of Social Work degree. She began working as a Program Assistant in the Drop-in Centre in 2018 before moving into the role of Women’s Safe Respite and Sanitation Supervisor. Tanya firmly believes in and advocates for the equal access to resources, employment, services, and opportunities for all. Working the front line  during the COVID-19 crisis, she witnessed its devastating impacts on survival sex workers, such as the lack of health and sanitary services. In Tanya’s new role she is looking forward to ensuring a safe space women are able to access 24 hours a day. She feels privileged to work in an organization that plays an essential part in the health and safety of the women of WISH. In her spare time, Tanya enjoys going on walks along the coast, and hunting for new food spots.

Autumn Gauthier (she/her/hers and they/them/theirs)

Supportive Employment Supervisor

Autumn joined the WISH team in fall 2016, as a Drop-In Program Assistant, with background volunteer experience working on a crisis phone line, OPT Sexual Health Clinic, and at the very beginning of her BSW.  Autumn has strong convictions for the rights and safety of womxn and sex workers, and these beliefs are what led her to to take on a more immersive role at WISH as the Supportive Employment Supervisor. With three and a half years at WISH combined and additional experience within the Downtown Eastside community, Autumn’s hope is to work towards breaking down systemic barriers and being a support to the womxn who access WISH.

Ty Mistry (she/her/hers)

Director of Programs

For 15 years, Ty has strived to foster inclusive environments for individuals engaged in sex work.  She has worked as an outreach coordinator, facilitator, educator, senior director, and social planner to develop health, safety, and anti-stigma strategies alongside sex workers, allies, collectives, and organizations.

At PEERS Vancouver, Ty had the privilege to lead a dedicated team in the delivery of rights-based, sex-worker centered programs and services, designed to aid in self-determined life transitions.

At the City of Vancouver, she was the lead planner responsible for the implementation of The City of Vancouver’s Sex Work Response Guidelines and the installation of The West End Sex Workers’ Memorial.

As the Director of Programs, Ty is honoured to support our mission-driven staff at WISH meet the diverse needs of the women we serve.
Outside of work, her happy place is anywhere in nature with her husband Bob.

Stephanie Dahl-Stonechild (she/her/hers)

Shelter Supervisor

Stephanie is a Nehiyaw from the Piapots First Nation in Saskatchewan. She grew up in Regina and moved to the Okanagan in 2006. Stephanie completed her diploma in Human Service Work from the Okanagan College in Kelowna in 2016 and has been working within the homeless community ever since. Stephanie is dedicated to providing women with service and care that genuinely reflects her belief of their value and belonging in society. Stephanie has spent the last (almost!) year working for WISH and learning about the women in Vancouver’s DTES and the ways she can contribute to ensuring a  compassionate, non judgmental experience while accessing services in our drop in. Stephanie is constantly in awe of their ability to smile, laugh and share with each other and staff in spite of the adversity they face on a daily basis.

You can find Stephanie on the open road when she’s not at work, looking for her next adventure in this beautiful province she calls home. Stephanie almost always has a fresh cup of coffee in hand, a good book on the go and a picture of one of her three children to share.

Cassandra Pynn (she/her/hers)

Shelter Manager

Cassandra (she/her) In 2010 Cassandra completed a dual diploma in Addictions Counselling and Social Service Work from Sir Sandford Fleming College in Ontario. Wanting to better her education in the needs of the most vulnerable, she decided to move to Vancouver to experience the DTES and started working with the Salvation Army Harbour Light. There, she built her foundation working in roles from Addictions Counsellor, Shelter Worker, Caseworker and most recently, Shelters Programs Manager. Cassandra strives to empower others through compassion, kindness and offering boundless opportunities for growth. In college, she headed a group called Friends You Haven’t Met to welcome new students feeling isolated and alone, she completed a practicum with Merry Mount Childrens Center creating programming for low income families, volunteered with Kinark Family Services assisting with supervised family visits, and at The Salvation Army she chaired the Wellness Activities Committee to promote community and self-care. Cassandra is excited to join WISH to be part of the essential role their programs play in creating a safe space for the DTES female community. In her free time you will find Cassandra in the dance studio, at a park enjoying nature or lounging at home with her cat Juice Box.

Danielle LaFrance (she/they)

Learning Centre Coordinator

Danielle LaFrance has worked with and served the committed and compassionate communities of the Downtown Eastside for over a decade. In that time she has learned from community members and partners about autonomous organizing and emancipatory teaching, and always incorporates what she hears on the ground into her approach and practice. She joins Capilano University’s Community Development & Outreach Department and is eager to work with learners in the Learning Centres at WISH and Carnegie Centre. Danielle is also a Community Librarian for Vancouver Public Library, a published poet, and finds time to control her buoyancy while scuba diving.

Mary Shearman (she/her/hers or they/them/their)- On Leave

Knowledge and Values Advisor

Dr. Mary Shearman is now the Sex Work Knowledge and Values Advisor at WISH. Mary started working with WISH as a driver/support worker on the MAP Van in 2010 and went on to become the Coordinator of that project in 2012. Mary first got involved with WISH volunteering in the Drop-In Centre shortly after moving out west to pursue graduate degrees at Simon Fraser University. She completed her doctorate in Gender, Sexuality, and Women’s Studies in 2016 by defending her thesis ‘A Minor League Equivalent to the Eiffel Tower or Empire State Building’: Vancouver’s Penthouse Nightclub’ which focuses on local sex work history and activism. Mary is also a sessional instructor at SFU where she has recently taught classes on Feminist Protest, Queer Femininity, Sex Work and Showgirls. Mary is a recreational astrologer and enjoys dabbling in the occult.

Shelby Vredik (she/her/hers)

Drop-In Supervisor

Hailing from the Okanagan, Shelby has called Vancouver home for the past 10 years. After graduating from UBC with a BA in Psychology and English Literature, she spent some time traveling before returning to Vancouver with the intention to do something useful with herself.  Her dedication to fighting for women’s equal space in society was what brought her to start as a volunteer at WISH.  After a year volunteering, she eventually moved on to be a Program Assistant in the Drop-In for over another year where she developed closer relationships with the women who access WISH and a deeper understanding of Vancouver’s most resilient community. Recently having moved into the role of Supervisor, her aim is to ensure that the space is the best that it can be for everyone. She appreciates the opportunity to help WISH continue to be such a remarkable and life-changing organization. Outside of WISH, Shelby enjoys tinkering around on instruments, sitting in the bath, and cooking to the sounds of country music.

Monica Tosetti (she/her/hers)

Kitchen Supervisor

Monica came to WISH in May 2018 as a Relief Cook, and has been in her role of Kitchen Supervisor since August 2018. Previously Monica worked as a cook for Covenant House Vancouver for 13 years, as well as many other restaurants and catering services.

What Monica loves about working at WISH is the unique and incredibly vital services it provides to Vancouver’s women with loving and compassionate relationships between staff, volunteers and participants. Outside of WISH, Monica loves listening to good music, watching good movies, traveling and spending time with friends and her lovely grandchildren.

Eva Ureta (she/her/hers)

Supportive Employment Program Manager

Eva Ureta has worked at WISH since 2009. Being at WISH for close to a decade, Eva has been the Food Coordinator, Drop-In Centre Coordinator and for more than 6-years has been the Supportive Employment Program Coordinator. With an education in Criminology from Kwantlen Polytechnic University, Eva continually focused on racial injustices across cultures manifested in the lives of women in the Downtown East side. The violence, abuse, neglect and discrimination faced by women and trans-women in the survival sex trade are a result of the gender and economic inequality in Canadian society. Over the past six and a half years, Eva has seen first-hand how the Supportive Employment Program at WISH has made an impact. Women have the opportunity to find their voice and power, to contribute, understand their equity within the labour market and to feel they are stakeholders in society.

Sonya Kim (she/her/hers)

Inreach Worker

Sonya started her stint as a Program Assistant in the Drop-In Centre in 2018, later transitioning into the role of Shift Lead. After paying her dues on the overnight shift for over a year (and complaining about it incessantly), she was able to familiarize herself with WISH’s many programs and services on the morning shift, finally becoming the Inreach Worker. Sonya holds a BA in Political Science and Gender, Race, Sexuality and Social Justice from UBC. She is excited and grateful to be involved with an organization that strives to support its participants without judgement and at every point of their journey. She feels humbled and privileged to know and work for the women of WISH and hopes to build lasting relationships in this vast, resilient community. Outside of WISH, you are likely to find Sonya sitting down or lying down – her two favourite activities. Sometimes that also involves reading things, watching things and making things.

Nicole Payer (she/her/hers)

Transitions Service Coordinator

Nicole comes from a professional background in non-profit community engagement and a personal background of working to enact intersectional inclusion. She joined WISH in 2019, after years of being in awe of the work, and now runs the Transitions Service Program where she provides one-to-one support and weekly group activities for participants. Nicole believes that organizational success comes from the understanding that true equity and empowerment comes from a deep commitment to meeting individuals where they are at and is constantly inspired by the staff and women that engage with WISH. In her spare time, she likes to obsess over photos of dogs (and force everyone else too as well) and learn useless facts and conspiracy theories that have no relevance to her real life.

Dominique Ross – On Leave

Mobile Access Project (MAP) Van Coordinator

Dominique Ross is currently the MAP Van Coordinator. Dominique started as a Support Worker on the van in 2009, initially to get the required experience as a pre-requisite for a counselling program at Douglas College.

After achieving her community counselling certificate at Vancouver Community College, her goal was to become a youth outreach worker, but she fell in love with the women she was working with at WISH and never left! Dominique has not only worked on the van, she has also worked as a Program Assistant in the Drop-In Centre. The energy and compassionate work at WISH makes it a unique environment full of challenges and new experiences. Dominique looks forward to being a part of the WISH family for many more years.

Christina Tsikata (she/her/hers)

Musical Therapist

Christina Tsikata has been a music therapist for 5 years and has been a musician all of her life. She has been working with WISH since June 2018. Christina was drawn to work with WISH because of her love for the downtown eastside community and her strong belief in WISH’s core values that sex worker’s deserve respect, dignity, acceptance and caring. She completed her Bachelor of Music Therapy from Capilano University in 2013. She plays piano, guitar and voice and is an avid songwriter. Her love for music and healing has led her to teach music to children, guide meditations, practice Reiki and Therapeutic Touch and direct a community choir. Her music therapy practice has included working with the Tsleil Waututh Nation, Vancouver Native Health Society and on occasion the St. James Music Academy. Christina also runs her own private music therapy practice Treetop Harmony. When Christina is not working she enjoys spending time with her family.

Lucy Alderson (she/her/hers)

Learning Centre Coordinator

Lucy Alderson is an instructor and program developer with the Community Development and Outreach department at Capilano University. In 1999, she began work at the WISH Learning Centre designing collaborative research with women in the sex trade about learning, leadership and life. This lead to the formation of the Women’s Advisory Group, to curriculum designed by and for women at WISH, and to a broader understanding of the learning as a personal harm reduction strategy in the literacy field. Lucy also works at the Carnegie Learning Centre, Oppenheimer Park, the Hastings Park Learning Centre in the backstretch of the racetrack, and supports and teaches with the Community Leadership and Social Change program at Capilano University. Previous to her work at Capilano University, Lucy worked for the Carnegie Community Centre as a programmer and volunteered for 10 years securing the land and resources to develop Bridge Housing for Women.