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 close to 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 Board of MATCH International Women’s Fund; 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 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.
Finance & Operations Manager
Carol came to WISH in July 2016 as the Administrative Coordinator and is currently the Finance and Operations 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.
Heidi Morgan joined WISH in October 2018 as our Administrative Assistant. In 2007, Heidi risked it all and quit her corporate job without another to go to. She knew she had to do this because she felt in her bones, that she needed to serve folks that need compassion, hope and love. And above all, practical support.
Heidi has since served in Administrative Management and Program Coordination at Lookout Housing and Health Society, First United Community Ministry, AIDS Vancouver and Covenant House.
Heidi has a great love for the Downtown Eastside community and feels she has come full circle in her own healing journey to now be working for an organization that is by and for women!
Outside of work, Heidi loves singing, writing, photography and snuggling her two cats!
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.
Jeanie started her time at WISH as a practicum student in 2015, becoming a volunteer soon after and then joining the drop-in staff. After working a year of overnights as a Program Assistant, Jeanie moved into the role of Shift Lead in November 2017 and was able to regain a normal sleeping schedule. Jeanie is currently the Drop-In Supervisor, and enjoys her time working with both staff and participants while building her YouTube inspired repair skills. Jeanie is a registered Social Worker with a BSW from the University of Victoria. Jeanie feels a deep connection to WISH because of the role it plays in the lives of vulnerable women in Vancouver and is grateful to be able to build relationships and support the women who come to WISH. When Jeanie isn’t at WISH, she enjoys spending time with her baby niece and visiting family in the Gulf Islands. Jeanie loves Game of Thrones, dying her hair, and the BCSPCA kitten adoption page.
Monica came to WISH in May 2018 as a Relief Cook, and has been in her role of Kitchen Manager since August. 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.
After hearing about WISH for many years, Emily joined the team in July 2017 and is currently the Drop-In Coordinator. 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.
Sandra has worked at WISH for over 5.5 years, starting as a Volunteer, then becoming a Drop-In Program Assistant, to Drop-In Supervisor, to her current role as Volunteer Coordinator. Sandra has also worked in the community as a Victim Support worker with Community Based Victim Services as well as a Crisis Response Worker with the Vancouver Police Department, and a volunteer with the Fraser Health Crisis Line. Sandra’s deep belief as an intersectional feminist coupled with her education in criminology and practice in trauma informed care makes her love of WISH a natural fit. Sandra loves working with the women who access WISH, as well as the amazing volunteers who choose to donate their time and energy. Beyond WISH, Sandra enjoys spending time with her niece and nephews, taking weekend trips with friends, and trying new restaurants in Vancouver. Sandra loves dogs and Netflix Original movies, and dreams of someday becoming a competitive eater.
Supportive Employment Program Coordinator
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.
JL is the Inreach worker at WISH, providing one-to-one support to women accessing THE Drop-In and the MAPvan. She joined WISH in 2016 as a support worker on the MAPvan and has previous experience in the community. She has spent time as an education assistant for a kid-run, alternative public school in East van and strongly values meeting people where they are at. A combination of lived experience and a strong belief in de-stigmatizing sex work, harm reduction and sex workers shaping the programs and policies that affect them are all reasons she is happy to be working at WISH. In her spare time she likes to be in the rainy forest, cuddling with her cat companion Mongoose and spending time with her niece and nephew.
Transitions Service Coordinator
As a clinical research assistant in the field of HIV/AIDS, Nivedha began volunteering at WISH in 2016 after reading about its research work investigating the factors affecting the health and safety of sex workers. After some time in the kitchen/make-up room, Nivedha found the unique opportunity to assist with the expansion of the Supportive Employment Program. The strategic program planning and case management aspects of this work excited her, and she was thrilled to apply these skills in her official role as Service Coordinator of the Transitions Program, which she started in June 2018. Nivedha continues to be amazed by the genuine compassion and true grit demonstrated by the participants, staff and volunteers of WISH. In her spare time, Nivedha enjoys weightlifting at the gym and then going to Wendy’s right after (her order: spicy chicken combo, sub the drink with a chocolate frosty)
Mobile Access Project (MAP) Van Interim 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.
Aboriginal Health and Safety Program Coordinator
Kelly is Blackfoot from the Kainai Blood Nation in Southern Alberta. Kelly began her Criminal Justice Studies and Aboriginal Justice Studies at Native Education College to allow to change her career goals from a Certified Carpenter into front line work. She began her journey at WISH in June 1017 as a practicum student. Upon graduation in July of 2017 from NEC, she was hired as a Program Assistant in the WISH Drop-in Center. After some months as a PA her role changed to the full time overnight Shift Lead, a position which she held for 9 months. After a trial period in the Aboriginal Health and Safety program, Kelly began as the full-time AHSP Program Coordinator in November of 2018. Kelly has volunteered in the Downtown Eastside with various organizations for 20 years, supporting community members and gaining valuable insights into the issues around vulnerable women. Along with her lived experience and traditional knowledge, Kelly feels very comfortable and enjoys working one-one one with the women to empower and offer new experiences to build upon. In her spare time, Kelly enjoys cooking dinners for family and friends and long bike rides around the scenic areas of the Lower Mainland. If you can’t find her, try searching the beaches near the water.
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.
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.
Learning Centre Coordinator
Betsy has lived and worked as a community educator in Toronto, Lesotho, South Africa and Vancouver. In 2005 she joined the Community Development and Outreach (CDO) department at Capilano University as an instructor and part of that job is to co-facilitate the Learning Centre at WISH. She also does community education at Carnegie Community Centre and the Squamish Nation’s Eslha7an Learning Centre. Since she first joined WISH as a volunteer in 2003, she has been in awe of the organization’s staff, volunteers and participants. Like CDO, a political understanding and commitment is at the heart of everything WISH does and central to everything that happens in the Learning Centre. Betsy feels privileged to be part of that. She loves the challenge and delight of helping women to search for answers, gain confidence and follow their dreams. In addition to her work at WISH, Betsy loves cooking, cats, choir and community.