People

Community Action Initiative represents a varied cross-section of interest and experience in mental health/illness and substance use.

Our collective expertise stems from lived experience, research, advocacy, volunteer and work practice. Our members represent community social services, Aboriginal, First Nations and Métis nations and organizations, government, and labour.

Click any staff photo below to access their contact information.


Staff

Melinda Markey

Secretariat Director

Melinda holds a master’s degree in Public Health from Simon Fraser University where her graduate work focused on the contribution mental health promotion can make to social justice as well as the importance of community inclusion for people experiencing homelessness and mental illness. She has considerable experience working in community-based, participatory and peer-led health research as a Program Evaluator with the Collaborating Centre for Prison Health and Education at the University of British Columbia, and as a member of the national qualitative research team with the Mental Health Commission of Canada. Melinda strongly believes that collaboration, innovation and collective impact can make our communities better places to live – where all people have a chance to thrive.

Janine Stevenson

Director of Strategic Initiatives & Special Projects

Janine is from a settler background of Orkney and English descent. She has raised her daughter, worked and played in the unceded and occupied territories of the xʷməθkʷəy̓əm (Musqueam), Sḵwx̱wú7mesh (Squamish) and sel̓íl̓witulh (Tsleil-Waututh) people for the past 28 years.

Janine was with the BCCDC as a street nurse for 16 years throughout British Columbia and in Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside during which she worked with street youth, sex workers and people who struggle with addiction. She has been involved in creating and teaching STI/HIV and community development workshops with BCCDC’s Chee Mamuk program. In 2010, Janine moved to the education program in BCCDC to support and facilitate workshops for public health nurses and healthcare professionals regarding sexual health, harm reduction and addiction. During this time, she continued to work with Chee Mamuk and support programming regarding HIV prevention, testing and sexual health in First Nations communities. Most recently, Janine was at the First Nations Health Authority (FNHA) in the role of the STBBI and Harm Reduction CDC Nurse Specialist, manager of the Indigenous Wellness Team and Lead for the Compassion, Inclusion and Engagement Team (CIE), a FNHA & BCCDC initiative. The teams were part of the FNHA response to the overdose crisis throughout the province.

These days when not at work, during Covid times she and her partner enjoy biking, gardening and spoiling their half person/half cat, Tom.

Mira Farrage

Program Manager - Grants & Community Funding

As the Grants and Community Funding Manager, Mira is responsible for providing analytical data support for CAI’s grant funding, training and capacity building programs to help convey the impact CAI has on a provincial-scale. Mira holds a Bachelor of Science from Simon Fraser University in the public health discipline and is keen on better understanding and reporting on the needs and gaps of individuals and families experiencing mental health and substance use challenges within the community sector.

Kaitlin Atkinson

Manager of Policy and Evaluation

Kaitlin has a strong research background and enjoys working with communities to develop and implement innovation approaches to improve health outcomes. Kaitlin holds a Masters degree in Public Health from Simon Fraser University and an Honours Bachelor of Arts in Health Studies from Queen’s University. Her previous career work included research and evaluation, community engagement, and knowledge translation activities in Vancouver and Kenya. When she is not working, you’ll find her traveling, spending time with family and friends and training for triathlons.

Jennifer Alsop (on mat leave)

Manager of Policy and Evaluation

Jennifer is responsible for leading, planning and implementing research and evaluation projects at CAI. Jennifer brings a background rich in in program evaluation and policy research gained from experience with federal and territorial departments, and non-profit organizations. Born and raised in the Lower Mainland and educated in public policy at the Masters level in Ottawa, Jennifer works to generate knowledge and research about the community sector to help inform CAI’s grant funding, training and capacity building programs. Jennifer is grateful to be working closely with communities in developing unique ideas and creative solutions to local concerns.

Martin Bohdal

Project Manager - OERC

Martin manages grants and initiatives in support of communities’ comprehensive and multisectoral responses to the ongoing overdose public health emergency in BC. Martin has several years of experience in emergency project management from a past career as a wildfire fire-fighter across the province. Prior to joining CAI, he was coordinating sector-building initiatives related to health research and knowledge translation in BC. Martin studied life sciences and public health at the University of British Columbia and maintains unwavering interest in policies for health and human development that are socially just and ecologically sustainable.

Marnie Scow

Indigenous Overdose Response Consultant

Marnie Scow is from the traditional territories of the Kwakiutl and Namgis First Nations that are a part of the Kwakwaka’wakw Peoples on Vancouver Island. She currently resides on the unceded territories of the Katzies First Nations.

Marnie has a Post Secondary Education in Criminology/Restorative Justice. She is returning to University to pursue a Masters in Public Health Science. Marnie identifies as a person with lived experience with substance use and the Criminal Justice system. She has worked in Public & Indigenous Health in a variety of capacities including being the first Peer hire with the Indigenous Wellness Team (IWT) at First Nations Health Authority (FNHA) and the first Indigenous woman to work with the grassroots organization Culture Saves Lives bringing personal connections, stories, with low barrier access to culture for both residents of Vancouver’s downtown east side and BC First Nations Communities. While working with FNHA’s Indigenous Wellness Team Marnie facilitated many dialogues about Indigenous Harm Reduction & Decolonizing Addiction throughout First Nations Communities in British Columbia. Marnie has a passion and often specializes in Indigenizing harm reduction, Housing First, alcohol harm reduction, advocacy for changes in the health care system for Indigenous People & low barrier access to safe supply. Marnie has a love for sports and tacos! One of her true passions is slow pitch and when Marnie isn’t working you can often find her playing baseball or golfing with her boyfriend & spending time with their rescue dog Amelia

Prairie Chiu

Project Manager - OPEN

Prairie is responsible for the management and support of special CAI granting initiatives activating community-based organizations across BC to tackle mental health/substance use issues through collaborative and innovative projects. Prairie earned her Masters of Social Work degree from Smith College in Northampton, MA, and spent 7 plus years providing psychotherapy to diverse clients in community mental health settings. Most recently, Prairie worked in Seattle, WA as Equity and Inclusion Project Manager for a non-profit mental health agency. Prairie is excited to be back in her native Vancouver, and to contribute to local change efforts.

Emily Wagner

Community Grants Manager - Registered Supportive Recovery ALR & Community Wellness Harm Reduction Grants

Emily’s current portfolio includes coordination of two mid-sized projects: a province-wide training bursary program and community of practice for the supportive recovery home sector and a harm reduction granting stream for BC municipalities. She holds a Master of Science degree from SFU and has over 15 years experience working in various health research, education, and advocacy roles in the academic and non-profit sectors. She is passionate about information equity as a path to transformative individual, family, and community health and wellness and grateful to be a part of the CAI team.

Adrienne Yeung

Community Grants Manager - Community Counselling

Adrienne manages a portfolio that increases access to quality, publicly funded, community-based counselling across BC. She comes to CAI with a MPH in Social Inequities and Health from SFU and a BSc. in Neuroscience from the University of Winnipeg. Her diverse background of experiences includes counselling, project management, qualitative research, workshop facilitation, education, entrepreneurship and the arts. Adrienne is excited to do work that highlights the importance of mental health and the inseparability of health equity and social justice.

Anna Harcourt

Project Manager - Alcohol Activation Project

Anna is responsible for the coordination of CAI initiatives offering training, capacity-building and grant opportunities to community-based organizations across the province. Anna has an international background in project coordination in the private and non-profit sectors, and recently completed a Master of Public Health to fulfill a long-standing interest in health promotion and the socio-ecological determinants of health. Anna appreciates having the opportunity in her work to address mental health and substance use challenges in BC.

Naz Kermooglu

Social Media Coordinator - Summer Student

Naz is a volunteer summer student assisting with strengthening CAI’s social media presence across platforms. Her goal is to uphold equity-oriented approaches and form transparent relationships between CAI and the Mental Health/Substance Use sector and community. Naz is completing her Bachelor of Arts in Political Science and Computer Science from McGill University. Prior to joining CAI, she worked at international non-governmental organizations in the development sector and she is passionate about transforming the challenges possessed by the digital age into an advantage to support disadvantageous communities.

Dakota Fayant-McLeod

Communications and Administration Coordinator

Dakota is responsible for CAI’s internal and external communications, including website and social media administration, identity systems and implementing administrative systems and policies. Born and raised in Saskatchewan, her home communities are Peepeekisis First Nation and the Qu’Appelle Métis community. Dakota holds Bachelor of Arts in Women and Gender Studies, and has over a decade of experience working and volunteering in community based non-profits across Canada.

Board of Directors

Shelagh Turner

CAI Co-Chair

Executive Director of CMHA Kelowna Branch

Connie Easton

CAI Co-Chair

Mental Health Consultant/Social Emotional Learning, Richmond School District.  Affiliation with BC School Counsellors Association

View the profile ofJohn Higenbottam

John Higenbottam

CAI Co-Chair

Director & Treasurer of Psychosocial Rehabilitation BC