First Call Staff
Adrienne Montani, Executive Director
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Adrienne has lived, worked and been a social justice activist in Vancouver since 1976. She joined First Call in 2000 and became the provincial coordinator in 2005. Prior to working with First Call, she served as the child and youth advocate for the City of Vancouver, and as the chairperson of the Vancouver School Board for three of her six years as an elected school trustee. Some of her earlier leadership positions included serving as the executive director of Surrey Delta Immigrant Services Society and of Big Sisters of BC Lower Mainland.
Adrienne has a long-standing interest in the issues of cross-cultural awareness and racism, women’s rights and the impacts of social exclusion on children and youth in low-income families. Her academic background is in Asian studies and adult education.
Adrienne’s work for BC’s children and youth has been acknowledged by a number of organizations:
- In 2019, Adrienne was awarded the British Columbia Medal of Good Citizenship which recognizes individuals for their exceptional long-term service, and contributions to their communities without expectation of remuneration or reward.
- In 2018, Adrienne received the Bill McFarland Award for the Excellence in the Advancement of Child Welfare from the Parent Support Services Society of BC. The award is named after Bill McFarland, who was an advocate for children throughout his life and social work career.
- In 2012, Adrienne received the Above and Beyond Award from the Federation of BC Youth in Care Networks. The Above and Beyond award is given to a supportive adult who has gone above and beyond to support and improve the lives of young people in and from government care in BC.
- In 2010, Adrienne received the MOSAIC Human Rights Award, which is awarded based on an individual’s activities, altruism, personal risk and significant contribution in the field of human rights and ethnic relations.
- In 2009, Adrienne received the United Way’s Excellence in Action for Early Childhood Development Award and was also nominated for a YWCA Women of Distinction Award in the community-building category.
- In 2008, Adrienne received an Award of Excellence from the Federation of Community Social Services.
Bonnie Koehn (she/her), Research Coordinator, Making Ends Meet
Bonnie is passionate about child and youth advocacy and social justice in both her personal and professional life. She believes that social and community support, secure housing, quality childcare, access to healthy food, and socioeconomic opportunity are imperative to the well-being of families. Bonnie has an experiential understanding of the challenges many families face in navigating medical, mental health, legal, and social systems, and this fuels her motivation to create positive change. Bonnie’s background is in library services, family childcare, and freelance writing. She is currently completing her Masters’ degree in Clinical Counselling, with a focus on trauma and resilience.
Helesia Luke, Communications and Development Manager
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Helesia has over twenty years of communications and community organizing experience on some of the most pressing public interest issues in Canada, including climate change, poverty, homelessness, child labour and public education. Helesia was a founder of the BC Society for Public Education and led a number of research projects including the Secondary School Tracking Survey modeled on the work of People for Education in Ontario.
Prior to joining the First Call team, Helesia worked at the Columbia Institute. Her career includes public interest consulting as an owner of Ethos Strategy Group and at the Institute for Media, Policy and Civil Society (IMPACS). She has served as a volunteer board member at CCEC Credit Union for over twenty years.
Barb McEachern, Office Administrator
Barb is our most recent staff member, joining First Call in January 2022. She brings over 30 years of experience working in the non-profit sector and has focused the last 20+ years on providing operational support while embracing and advocating for the purpose, mission and values of the organizations where she has worked and volunteered. As a creative and organized administrator, she appreciates the opportunity to support and develop both human and organizational excellence, including building inclusive, respectful and effective relationships with team members, stakeholders and community members. With a long and diverse history in social activism, Barb continues to enjoy listening and engaging with people, supporting connections and collaborating to create brighter futures. Barb is grateful to be joining this dynamic, visionary and compassionate team to support the goals of First Call Child and Youth Advocacy Society.
First Call Child and Youth Advocacy Society Board Members
Gyda Chud – Director and Secretary
Gyda has a lifelong commitment to children and youth and is honoured to work with First Call in taking leadership for child and youth advocacy.
She has taught in the early childhood education (ECE) programs at Langara and Douglas colleges, and at Vancouver Community College, where she served as the ECE program coordinator and later as the dean of continuing studies. Gyda is very much involved with the national sector, given her role as chair of the Child Care Human Resource Sector Council and the Early Childhood Education Faculty Forum. In addition to her faculty responsibilities, she has also presented at a number of conferences locally, provincially and nationally.
With a passion for community work and volunteerism, Gyda sits on the board of the Westcoast Child Care Resource Centre, the Coalition of Child Care Advocates of BC and the Community Legal Assistance Society.
Dylan Falconer – Board Chair
After completing a psychology degree at Simon Fraser University, Dylan worked for two years in group homes with Hollyburn Family Services. Following time as an alternate school youth worker for PLEA Community Services Society of BC, Dylan became a residential services coordinator in PLEA’s U-Turn program supporting family caregivers to provide specialized placements for children and youth. He is now a program manager for U-Turn.
One lesson that has guided Dylan throughout his career is the knowledge that if children and youth are provided adequate supports—especially at an early age—many will continue to be successful and overcome the barriers they face.
Emily Gawlick – Director
Emily is a licensed early childhood educator and has been in the field for over 20 years with certification in both special needs and First Nations perspectives in early childhood settings. Throughout her career she has been engaged at the community and provincial level in a number of different projects and events highlighting the specialty of the ECE sector. In May 2010, Emily accepted the position of executive director of the Early Childhood Educators of BC (ECEBC) and relocated her two teenage boys to Vancouver from the small coastal community of Prince Rupert.
Since that time, Emily has been engaged in strengthening and building connections and educating the community regarding the value of early care and learning. She has also expanded current ECEBC programs, such as Let’s Talk about Touching and Best Choices: An Ethical Journey, to ensure provision of education opportunities for the ECE sector. Emily is actively engaged with the Coalition of Child Care Advocates of BC (CCCABC) and ECEBC on the joint project, A Community Plan for a Public System of Integrated Early Care and Learning in BC, or better known as the $10 A Day Child Care Plan. This plan is the potential solution to the child care crisis in BC.
Heather Lynch – Director
Cheryl Mixon – Director
Cheryl has dedicated 43 years to improving the lives of children, youth and their families. She has always been and will remain committed to social justice and passionate about the delivery of quality service.
For 26 years she was a manager and director of both youth and family services for Family Services of Greater Vancouver, prior to that she worked for both MCFD and the YWCA. She has a degree in social work and has many hours training in the area of counseling, assessment and leadership. Cheryl has served on community center, day care and NGO boards. She remains involved with the PACE society, First Call and is an active volunteer in the community. She enjoys spending as much time as possible with her three wonderful grandchildren, her sons, husband and the elders in her family.