The BC Bereavement Helpline Board of Directors is composed of community volunteers who come from a wide cross-section of professional backgrounds. They are rich in experience and have an active interest in supporting the BC Bereavement Helpline to realize its vision that bereavement support is an essential service. Board appointments are for two-year terms and Directors can serve up to three terms.
Our Board of Directors is responsible for strategic planning and overseeing the organization’s financial management while actively fundraising and supporting the sustainability and growth of our services., We are always looking for new Board members to join our dynamic team. If you are interested in joining our Board of Directors, please contact us at 604-738-9950, or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
President, Jim Cessford is the former Chief of Police with the Delta Police Department. He previously served in the Edmonton Police Service and has been a police officer for 47 years. He is a member of the Network to Eliminate Violence in Relationships (NEVR) and Delta Opposes Violence Everywhere (DOVE). He is a coach and mentor for many sporting teams and for high school students who are graduating and moving on to the next phase of their lives. Jim is a member of the Order of Merit for Policing (MOM). In 2009, he was named Delta's Citizen of the Year in recognition of his professional achievements and community service contributions. He was a former member of the homicide and major crimes investigation team with the Edmonton Police Service. He has a wealth of experience in dealing with homicide investigations and in working with Police Victim Services and next of kin notifications and support.
Past President, Marlyn Ferguson is retired as the Arborcare Coordinator at Valley View Funeral Home, Surrey B.C. where for over fourteen years she supported people grieving the loss of a loved one. Marlyn was instrumental in developing support groups for homicide and suicide loss and has facilitated groups for the past nine years. Following the death of her 27-year-old son Graeme in 2005 to murder, she quickly realized that survivors of crime have unique needs that may not be met by friends, family, or existing social services. She “Took Action” and started the first Homicide Support Group in B.C. at Valley View Funeral Home. She facilitates two – eight-week groups per year and follows up with bi-monthly Pot Luck Dinners for members and their families. Marlyn was also a member of the Advisory Committee with BC Victims of Homicide and has trained support group facilitators throughout the province.
Vice President, Brad Martin is a practising Registered Therapeutic Counsellor in good standing with the Association of Cooperative Counselling Therapists of Canada and the Association of Counselling Therapists of Alberta. He graduated from Clearmind International Training Institute in 2017 with a diploma in Transpersonal Therapeutic Counselling. In addition to Board duties, he is also a BCBH Homicide/Suicide Support Group Facilitator. Brad is a full-time employee of a Vancouver based software company where he has worked in the Investigations Unit since 2006. Prior to that Brad enjoyed a 25-year career with the Calgary Police Service in many different tasks including Crime Scenes Investigations, Major Crimes Investigations and Organized Crimes Investigations. Brad assists the BCBH with his broad experience from the policing world, and his therapeutic understanding of the process of sadness and grief.
Treasurer, Bharat Ahuja is a Chartered Accountant (India) and has over 12 years of experience in Finance operations and strategy consulting specializing in process improvement. He has provided consulting to various not for profits in Vancouver to streamline their finance processes including but not limited to budgeting, accounts payable, accounting and reporting. Bharat was greatly moved by the mission of BC Bereavement Helpline and wants to leverage his professional experience and knowledge to support the organization.
Secretary, Dr. Alana Abramson is currently on the faculty in the Department of Criminology for Kwantlen Polytechnic University. She bridges the community with education, providing opportunities for her students to be in the criminal justice field and learn from those who have directly experienced it. Alana uses experiential and transformative learning techniques, storytelling and guest speakers to engage students. She is grateful for the opportunity to be a part of the BC Bereavement Helpline. Alana is passionate about enhancing access to and education about victim-sensitive restorative justice practices. She has been an advocate, trainer, and researcher with respect to restorative justice since 2000. Alana currently resides in Kamloops and loves vegan food, yoga, hiking and being in nature, her two cats, and travelling with her partner.
Director, Preet B. is a Chartered Professional Accountant, Certified General Accountant and has been providing strategic financial advice in the federal public service for over 15 years. She is passionate about anti-gang education initiatives and volunteers her time in organizing learning events for youth to promote community development. Preet is a former participant of a Homicide Support Group following the murder of her 22-year-old brother in 2018. Through listening and sharing her experience with others who “get it”, Preet says she discovered how critical bereavement resources are in helping families affected by homicide cope with shock and trauma. Preet is grateful for the support she received from the BC Bereavement Helpline and would like to pay it forward to help others. It is her way of honouring the life of her beloved brother Harvey.
Director, Michael (Mike) Johanson is the Manager of the Avalon Surrey Funeral Home. Mike attended Humber College and was licensed in 1979. He began his career in Thunder Bay, Ontario where he continued to work until 1996 and has spent time since then working in Bermuda and England as a Funeral Director Manager. Mike joined Arbor in February 2011 and is a graduate of the National Management Training Program. Mike has a very strong commitment to serving and being involved in the community where he works. He serves on the Surrey Board of Trade Social Policy Committee and the Golf Networking Committee. He also serves on the Surrey Downtown Business Improvement Association and Whalley Crime Prevention. Mike is a member of the Knights of Columbus and has also served Arbor as part of the Arbor Foundation Distribution Committee. He and his wife Sarah reside in Abbotsford, B.C. and enjoy hiking and family life with grown kids Larry, Trish and Rosie.
Director, Sandy Pringle is originally from Toronto, ONT and now calls Terrace, BC her home. Sandy graduated from Coast Mountain College in 2012 with an Associate Degree in Social Work and is working on her Bachelor’s Degree at UNBC. She enjoyed a twenty-year career in Justice and is currently the Community Outreach Worker Family and Friends Caregiver Support in the Northwest and the Community Liaison for the Terrace Hospice Society. Sandy’s goal is to bring an adapted a version of the Family Caregivers of BC program to unpaid Caregivers in this under-resourced area. This will be done through specially trained Volunteer Peer Supporters and Group Facilitations.
Director, Rolf Skala contributes advertising agency, in-house and start-up marketing, and communications experience. He brings over 20 years strategic insight working with leading communications agencies likes McCann Erickson and DDB in Europe and North America. His experience includes facilitating award winning brand narratives for food and beverage brands like Nestlé and Nulo to helping to ignite economic development by working closely with the indigenous Kitasoo and Xai’xais community. Rolf engages with key stakeholders to envision, inspire, and identify the key insights which articulates the role of a company, service, or brand. He was driven to support BCBH due to the extremely valuable, but often unrecognized, work they undertake in supporting those left behind. Many years ago, Rolf was impacted by the suicide of a close friend he attended school with. The sense of loss, and what 'could have been said or done' still rests with him. Rolf has a master’s degree in History & Sociology from The University of Edinburgh, Scotland, was born in Norway, has a Venezuelan mother, a German father, lived in Zambia when little and was educated in Norway, England, and Scotland.
Director, Lisa Woolgar is a Registered Psychotherapist (CRPO) in private practice who specializes in Grief Counselling. Lisa is a member of the Canadian Counselling and Psychotherapy Association, BC Association of Clinical Counsellors, and the Association of Death Education and Counselling. She is also sessional instructor who developed and teaches "Grief Therapy with Couples and Families" with the University of Guelph's Advanced Certificate in Couple and Family Therapy Studies. Through her Masters in Counselling from OISE/University of Toronto (2005), advanced post-graduate training in Grief Counselling with Dr. Robert Neimeyer's Portland Institute of Loss and Transition (2012 - ongoing), over the decade that she's been counselling in private practice, and a lifetime of walking her own path of healing, she's come to specialize in a body-focused approach that helps people navigate the emotional challenges they're facing. As a griever and survivor of breast cancer, she brings a deep understanding of the primary importance of nurturing self-care in our daily work and lives. She is also a musician, rock climber and community volunteer with a special interest in social justice and environmental issues. She is deeply committed to anti-oppression approaches to mental health and to supporting racialized and marginalised populations in creating systemic change.