First Call Staff
Adrienne Montani, Provincial Coordinator
email@example.com | 604-877-4932
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 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.
Download a high resolution photo of Adrienne here
Helesia Luke, Communications and Development Coordinator
firstname.lastname@example.org | 604 709 6970
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. She has served as a volunteer board member at CCEC Credit Union for over fifteen years.
Emily Chan, Office Coordinator
email@example.com | 604-709-6962
Emily Chan is a lifelong resident of Renfrew-Collingwood who has a passion for community development. She spends her time volunteering for organizations such as the Still Moon Arts Society and Renfrew District Girl Guides, among others. She currently works at the Collingwood Neighbourhood House as Community Annex Coordinator and at First Call: BC Child & Youth Advocacy Coalition as Office Coordinator.
She enjoys completing various event and project contracts for community organizations, in order to deeply understand the unique needs and assets of each community.
Dylan Cohen, Youth Organizer
firstname.lastname@example.org | 604-708-7771
Dylan Cohen is a community organizer and Indigenous former youth in care from Treaty One territory. He has worked as a grassroots campaigner for youth aging out of care and comes to our team with experience working with youth in policy advocacy in many settings. Dylan’s work with First Call began in August 2018 to support organizing the October 24 2018 rally and ongoing advocacy of children and youth in care. He’s a graduate of the University of Winnipeg’s Conflict Resolution Studies program and has spoken to dozens of audiences about campaigning and growing up in the system. He’s responsible for our Fostering Change campaign and can be usually found outside when not at work.
Violet-Rose Pharoah, Youth Organizer
email@example.com | (604) 970-4018
Violet-Rose Pharoah currently serves in the role of campaign organizer supporting the work of the Fostering Change initiative. Her career path has included both collaborative and self-directed projects, using creative and arts-based platforms to create dialogue and advocate for change within the child welfare system. Having personally spent 15 years in the foster care system, Violet-Rose offers experience-based knowledge and sensitivity to the unique social landscape navigated by youth in care.
In 2016, Violet-Rose founded The Garbage Challenge, a personal commitment to carrying a garbage bag for 365 days to raise awareness about the lack of luggage provided for children and youth in foster care. With the support of community businesses and members over 100 brand new suitcases were distributed in the Vancouver area.
Violet-Rose was a 2017 SFU Radius Fellow, a social innovation lab and venture incubator. She has pursued studies at Capilano University’s Community Leadership & Social Change program and at Kwantlen Polytechnic University’s Public Relations program.
Halena Seiferling, Living Wage for Families Campaign Organizer
firstname.lastname@example.org | 604-975-3347
Halena Seiferling is passionate about social, economic, and environmental justice. Halena is from Regina, Saskatchewan, and moved to Vancouver in 2014 to obtain a Masters in Public Policy from SFU. Her thesis focused on how to encourage more women to run for office. Halena has worked on issues including electoral reform, Indigenous rights, gender equity, and climate justice and adaptation. She is an experienced project manager, communicator, and analyst who enjoys working with diverse stakeholders to achieve common goals. Halena is excited about the positive impacts of the Living Wage campaign and its future possibilities. When not working, Halena enjoys dancing and empowering women through movement.
First Call Steering Committee
First Call’s work is guided by a steering committee that is comprised of representatives from First Call’s member organizations. The committee seeks diverse representation from members that work in each of the 4 Keys to Success. The committee meets bimonthly and serves as the liaison between the full coalition, which provides the overall direction for the work, and the staff.
Gyda Chud – Coalition of Child Care Advocates of BC
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.
More recently, Gyda has begun to work with several seniors groups, and sees the commonality of issues that prevail to ensure safe, healthy and productive lives for every age.
Dylan Falconer – PLEA
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.
Allison Felker – Interim Executive Director, Vancity Community Foundation
At Vancity Community Foundation, Allison develops and implements strategies that deepen relationships with donors to expand the resources & support available to organizations in our community.
She has worked in the areas of donor engagement, fund development and leadership development for twenty years through roles at Canada World Youth, Vancouver Foundation, Vantage Point and most recently at the Justice Institute of BC’s Centre for Leadership. Her volunteer work includes serving on the Board of Directors of BC Council for International Cooperation, Association of Fundraising Professionals Vancouver Chapter and WISH Drop-In Centre Society. Allison holds a Master’s Degree in Adult Education and a Bachelor’s Degree in Social Work.
Cheryl Mixon, Co-Chair – Retired Social Worker
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.
Emily Gawlick – Early Childhood Educators of BC
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.
Dr. Jean Moore – Canadian Mental Health Association
Katherine Moore – Student
Katherine is an undergraduate student studying psychology at the University of British Columbia and aspires to obtain a PhD in counselling psychology. Katherine first learned about First Call in 2014 when Adrienne Montani attended her social work class as a guest speaker to discuss child poverty. Since then, Katherine has attended as many coalition meetings as her school schedule will allow and recently decided to take her involvement to the next level. As an individual who has struggled with poverty in the past and an advocate dedicated to fostering social conditions that allow families to thrive, Katherine hopes to contribute her experiences and talents to this already incredible team.
Outside of school, Katherine volunteers with Covenant House Vancouver to support homeless youth, gives talks about mental health at high schools and conducts research about positive psychology. In addition to this, Katherine is also working with a team of student leaders for the Canadian Mental Health Association to create a provincial strategy that will empower students to cultivate mentally healthy campuses.
Karen Dickenson Smith – Family Services of Greater Vancouver
Karen brings extensive experience in the public, private, and non-profit sectors. She has worked at multiple levels from front line to senior leadership across health, social services, education, finance, and technology. Her diverse portfolios of up to $23M and 300 employees have spanned the Vancouver Coastal, Vancouver Island, and Fraser regions of BC with provincial touch points. She is currently Director, Specialized Family Supports with Family Services of Greater Vancouver.
Committed to improving health and resiliency for children, youth, families, and communities, Karen’s focus areas have included Infant Child and Youth Health, Clinical Counselling and Family Supports, Public Health, Mental Health and Substance Use, Harm Reduction, Vulnerable Populations, and Clinical Information Systems. She holds master’s degrees in public health and business, and various clinical and management certifications. In her spare time, she enjoys hiking, running, and adventures with her husband, two teenagers, and JJ the wonder hound.