Our Trainers

Alynn Gausvic

Alynn was the Manager for the Homeless Outreach Program at the Progressive Housing Society in Burnaby. Her primary task was to manage the program, the staff and to build community partnerships in order to help clients find and maintain permanent housing.  Over the years, Alynn has helped to house hundreds of people coming out of homelessness.  She also worked as the supervisor for the Floating Outreach Program at Inn from the Cold in Calgary after finishing her Master’s Degree in Social work.

Currently, Alynn is in Los Angeles, one of the few places in the world with a higher cost of living than Vancouver, where she is the director for LA Family Housing

Amanda Thiessen

Amanda specializes in helping individuals and organizations manage workplace stresses and make positive changes.

As a ‘Stress Strategist,’ Amanda works with individuals through the process of inquiry to support people in gaining clarity and finding solutions to challenges. She offers a range of workshops to organizations to facilitate the creation of safe, supportive, and positive work environments.

Having worked for over 15 years in the non-profit world, she has firsthand knowledge of the kinds of experiences that exemplify working in front-line capacities. Her experience includes working in the areas of addiction, victim services, mental health and developmental disabilities.

Although Amanda has a BA in Psychology, a Bachelors of Social Work and a MA in Theology, her greatest accomplishments remain being a loving partner, a devoted mother, and a good friend.

Andrew Sakamoto

Andrew started at TRAC in 2010, ED of TRAC since 2013, on the Vancouver Renters Advisory Committee and a PovNet board of director and serves on the Residential Tenancy Branch Operational Stakeholders Committee.  Has always worked in the non-profit sector.  SFU grad with a communication degree.  Big sports fan.



Darcie Bennett, PhD, CEC

Since completing her PhD in sociology at UBC, Darcie has worked at the intersection of non-profit management, legal advocacy, and social science research. In 2006, Darcie joined Pivot Legal Society as a community-based researcher and went on to hold several positions including Child Welfare Campaigner, Campaigns Director, and Interim Executive Director. She also spent two years as Director of Marketing and Communications for Ecojustice Canada.  In 2018, Darcie completed a graduate certificate in executive coaching from Royal Roads University.  Today, as a certified executive coach and consultant, Darcie supports individuals, teams and organizations to live their values sustainably and achieve their goals.



Dave Manley

Dave works and lives his life in the tiny, isolated community of Consul, in the SW corner of the Province of Saskatchewan.  He likes to tell people that Consul is centrally located; 5 hrs from Calgary, 5 hrs from Saskatoon and 5 hrs from Great Falls, Montana.  He is a career pastor, presently serving for the past twenty–two years at the Church of God in Consul.  Dave has a number of roles in his community. Volunteer firefighter, ambulance attendant and emergency medical responder, critical incident stress debriefing, board of directors and founder of Living Hope Ranch (helping at risk teenage girls facing life controlling issues). Seven years ago, Dave and his wife Vicki built a bakery in the tiny town, as an experiment in community development.  The bakery has since added a restaurant, and today boasts as having the best burgers and cinnamon buns in the world!  Dave likes rural life, wood fired pizza, grandchildren and humans!


DJ Larkin

DJ Larkin is a lawyer and campaigner with the Pivot Legal Society, a human rights organization grounded in Vancouver’s Downtown East-side that works on behalf of marginalized communities to create a just, fair and equal society through litigation, law reform, research and legal education.

DJ’s work focuses on litigating and researching the criminalization of homelessness, systems of housing that infringe on the human rights of low-income renters, and housing policies and practices that put marginalized tenants at risk. She recently represented the BC/Yukon Association of Drug War Survivors against the City of Abbotsford in Abbotsford v Shantz, the Supreme Court of B.C. trial that recognized the rights of vulnerable homeless people to take shelter in public spaces in the absence of safe alternatives.


Jodi Sturge

Jodi is the Director of Non-Market Operations with the City of Vancouver. She has diverse experience developing, implementing and evaluating homelessness initiatives in the non-profit, government and academic sectors. Prior to coming to the City of Vancouver, Jodi was the Deputy Executive Director of Lookout Emergency Aid Society.



Julia Riddle

Julia has been a clinician with the ID Project since May 2018. She has also helped clients navigate the challenges of identification-related barriers with the general legal clinic at UBC (the Law Students’ Legal Advice Program). A student in her final year at UBC Law, Julia is interested in combating the ways law acts to create homelessness and other forms of marginalization, and in making the legal system more accessible to non-lawyers.



Katherine Aubrey

Katherine Aubrey has over 20 years of experience working with people who have faced trauma, addictions, homelessness and/or mental illness.   Her varied, front-line work experience ranges from in-reach prison work, group therapy, parole supervision and addictions and mental health counseling.  She also has experience working with both victims and perpetrators of violence.  Some of her past and current employers include Correctional Service Canada, Long-term Inmates Now in the Community, Aurora Centre/Residential Addictions Treatment for Women, KlaHowEya, Metis Nation and numerous non-profit organizations.  She has a Bachelor of Arts degree in Criminology and Psychology and a Master of Arts in Clinical Psychology with specialization in Mental Health Counseling.  She also completed a Cross-Cultural Facilitation Skills Intensive for Diversity Trainers in Berkley, California


Kevin Barlow

Kevin Barlow is Mi’kmaq from Indian Island First Nation in New Brunswick. He now resides in Vancouver and is Chief Executive Officer of both the Metro Vancouver Aboriginal Executive
Council (MVAEC) which is described as a Think and Lead Organization and the newly formed Metro Vancouver Indigenous Services Society (MVISS). MVAEC currently has 23 urban
Indigenous member agencies which make up a majority of Indigenous groups serving an estimated 70,000 urban Indigenous population in Metro Vancouver.
Barlow has worked at the local, regional, national and international levels. A large portion of his career has been in the health sector and all of his career has been working for and with
Indigenous people. He has also operated his own consulting firm for the last twenty-years supporting the Indigenous non-profit sector to build capacity. He has held over $3M in community-based research grants, delving into areas of residential schooling, sexual violence, HIV and Indigenous women; substance use in the Indigenous community; cultural competency, and more. He has developed policies and strategies in a broad range of areas. For over 16 years Kevin has held senior executive posts, including Chief Administrative Officer in his home community where he reduced the number of people on social assistance from about 40 to 11 in under four years through community economic development. One project he developed was an aquaculture (oyster) farm which now employs 6 full-time seasonal workers and generates over $100K a year for the First Nation.

Mario Govorchin

Mario Govorchin is a dynamic, energetic and entertaining speaker and trainer. Much of his training work with organizations focuses on leadership, team development, change management, workplace harassment prevention, communication and conflict resolution. He is well-regarded in his work as an interventionist for organizations experiencing high internal conflict. Mario has particular strengths in individual performance and behavioural coaching and in mediating complex multi-party disputes.

Mario has significant experience working with individuals and teams in a coaching context; helping them to see and understand collective and individual behaviours and processes in new ways. He has worked with numerous organizations in a coaching capacity to support succession management, team and company performance enhancement and cohesion, and individual performance and behaviour modification.

Mario is very well-known and recognized for his comprehensive training in the areas of high anger, crisis and violence management for corporate, government and non-profit organizations. He is an acknowledged expert in the area of workplace violence prevention.

Mario is also very committed to Social Services agencies throughout BC as both a Trainer and Facilitator and has developed and delivered programs such as Managing the Hostile Individual, Dealing with Challenging Behaviours and Violence in the Workplace Prevention. He regularly provides services to Portland Hotel Society, the Salvation Army, Canadian Mental Health Association and many others. Mario also maintains an active Senior Trainer role at the Justice Institute of BC.

Mark Friesen

Mark Friesen is the Director of Capacity Development at Vantage Point, where he assists not-for-profit organizations throughout BC with strategic planning, governance, and capacity building. Mark excels at assessing governance structures and finding democratic solutions to organizational challenges. At Vantage Point, Mark can be found facilitating new and seasoned not-for-profits at various stages in their organizational life cycle. Mark received his Masters’ in Urban Studies at SFU, where he received a Graduate Fellowship in 2012, the Doug Drummond Research Fellowship in 2013, and graduated with the Dean of Graduate Studies Convocation Medal in 2015 for his research into governance at the scale of the city-region. Mark has served as a volunteer, association founder, and an executive director, and has led fundraising, strategic planning and program development efforts in the sector for over 15 years. He currently sits on the Board of the Ripple Coast Society and Columbia College.

Mark has a unique perspective on the role that not-for-profits have in supporting a democratic society, which you can explore here:


Marsha Goldford

Marsha Goldford is a chartered professional in Human resources, currently employed with Developmental Disabilities Association (DDA) as their Director of Training and Development. Marsha has a Master’s in Public Administration from Queen’s University, and a Graduate Certificate in Human Resource Management from Royal Roads University.

Marsha is also an active community volunteer serving as a director on housing boards and as a mentor with the BC Human Resources Management Association and Dress for Success Professional Women’s Group



The Provincial Overdose Mobile Response Team (MRT) offers psycho social support, education, and training to organizations and agencies working within British Columbia’s overdose public health emergency. This includes people impacted by critical incidents such as overdoses and/or deaths during the course of their work. The MRT was created with support from the BC Ministry of Health and BC Ministry of Mental Health and Addictions in recognition of the psycho-social impact of the overdose public health emergency on first responders, front-line workers and people with lived experience/peers.

Pakka Liu is passionate about ending violence against women and all forms of oppression. Having worked frontline in a transition house, a rape crisis centre and women’s centre, the diversity of her experience provides her with an understanding of the challenges that women face and their resistance.  Pakka is a strong believer in creating social changes through information, education and collaboration.  Pakka is currently the Training Coordinator at the BC Society of Transition Houses (BCSTH) in Vancouver, BC

Reid Johnson

Reid started his career as a certified family therapist and was the Clinical Coordinator of Social Work at Shaughnessy Hospital before moving to the BC Centre of Ability. Reid has provided leadership throughout the sector, most recently as the President of the Health Sciences Association of BC, a union of more than 18,000 health and social services professionals.

HSA is affiliated with the National Union of Public and General Employees. With 340,000 members across the country, it is one of the largest labour organizations in Canada. In the words of NUPGE, “His leadership has transformed HSABC (Health Sciences Association of BC)/NUPGE into a strong voice for health professionals across B.C. and a solid defender of public services, even under enormous pressures.”

Reid earned his Master of Social Work from UBC and continues to provide leadership within his community and businesses.

Peter Fedos

Peter Fedos has worked in co-ed emergency residential services for 35 years. He started working in the Emergency Shelter sector in 1984. He has experience working with people in emergency shelters serving infants 48 hours old, teens that were wards of the state and seniors 90+. Peter gained knowledge working front line in shelters and as a program supervisor. Peter worked emergency residential services in BC and Australia. He also managed a street youth outreach team in the St Kilda area of Melbourne, Australia.  Peter began working working with an adult homeless population  in 1993. For the past 28 years he has worked as a Emergency Shelter program manager. Peter manages two shelters (35 beds and 10 beds), 20 transitional housing units and a mobile street outreach team.  Peter has a Bachelor’s of Adult Education from the University of Fraser Valley (UFV). He is working on a combined Master’s of Adult Education and Community Development from St Francis Xavier University,(STFX) NS


Peter Ramsay

Peter Ramsay graduated from UBC as a Registered Nurse in 2009. He has dual specialties in emergency nursing and critical care nursing (BCIT – 2010 and 2015 respectively) and is at Lions Gate Hospital, previously in the Emergency Department and the Intensive Care Unit (ICU).  Now he is the Patient Care Supervisor for the hospital.




Ronnie Grigg

Ronnie is the manager at the Overdose Prevention Society an outdoor safe inhalation site in Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside. The society provides low-barrier care and harm reduction supplies, with peer staff members working tirelessly to save lives and respond to overdoses during the crisis.

Shari McKenzie-Ramsay

Shari McKenzie-Ramsay graduated from UBC as a Registered Nurse in 2015. She works at Lions Gate Hospital as an emergency nurse. Prior to this she was working in Mental Health and Addictions at the Hope Centre (acute psychiatry) and Magnolia House, a mental health transition house. She recently completed a Forensic Nurse Examiner course in Trauma in Health Care through BCIT and is a Take Home Naloxown program educator.

Shari is co-owner of Spiritus Wilderness Medical Training, since 2001, and has been teaching injury prevention since 1992. Shari is passionate about trauma informed care in health care and in a community setting.


Vikki Reynolds

Vikki’s experience includes consulting, training and clinical supervision with refugees and survivors of torture, mental health and substance abuse counsellors, rape crisis counsellors, frontline and housing workers and transgender and queer communities. She has developed curriculum and taught Group Work, Trauma, and Diversity courses at Vancouver Community CollegeAdler University and the University of British Columbia. She received the Dean’s Award for Distinguished Instructor from City University where she has taught for more than ten years. Vikki has presented her work internationally in Australia, New Zealand, Hungary, Britain, Belgium, Sweden and Ireland, working in solidarity with numerous local organizations.