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OUR TEAM

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CONTACT: board@pacificautismfamily.com
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Sergio Cocchia O.B.C. LL.D. (Hon)

Board Chair / President

@sergiococchia

Sergio-PR-portraitSergio Cocchia is the President of Crew Group of Companies, a hotel, spa and property management company. Mr. Cocchia oversees a varied business venture with his partner and wife Wendy Lisogar-Cocchia. 

Mr. Cocchia is proud to have served for 12 years as President of the Board of Directors of the Mediated Learning Academy and the Variety Learning Center, an independent school serving special children with a variety of diagnosis and learning problems. 

Mr. Cocchia also serves as President of the Pacific Autism Center Foundation, a family led initiative to establish an “Autism Spectrum Disorder Knowledge center” for the Province of British Columbia.  As proponents of this project the Cocchia’s have secured a $20 million grant from the provincial government towards the completion of this $35 million initiative.  The “Hub and Spoke” provincial centre is scheduled for completion winter 2015.

In 2010, Cocchia’s were thrilled to be honoured with a Doctor of Laws (Hon.) from the Justice Institute of B.C. in recognition of their accomplishments and contributions to the province of British Columbia, in particular their shared vision in establishing the Pacific Autism Family Centre.  Mr. Cocchia received the B.C. Community Achievement Award in 2012; the “Doorman of the Year” from the C.H.I.L.D. Foundation, the Queen Elizabeth Diamond Jubilee Medal and in 2013 was made a member of the Order of British Columbia.

Wendy Lisogar-Cocchia O.B.C., LL.D. (Hon)

Founder / Co-Chair of Fundraising Committee

@absolute_wendy

W-2011Wendy Lisogar-Cocchia is the Chief Executive Officer of the Century Plaza Hotel & Spa, Absolute Spa Group and Soluzione Spa Products.

As Chair of The Vancouver Board of Trade 2011-2012, Lisogar-Cocchia is honoured to be the 5th and youngest female chair in the organization’s 124-year history. She is the first female trustee on the Vancouver Police Foundation, a current fellow at Royal Roads University and has served on the boards of Tourism Vancouver, Destination B.C and currently BCLC.

Since 1987, Lisogar-Cocchia’s Women’s Media Golf Classic, has raised millions of dollars towards;  Variety The Children’s Charity, the Vancouver Oral Centre for Hearing Impaired Children, the Children’s Foundation, the Down Syndrome Resource Centre, Mediated Learning Academy and most recently, the Pacific Autism Family Centre a parent-led initiative to establish a “knowledge centre for ASD” for the Province of British Columbia.  As proponents of this project the Cocchia’s have secured a $20 million grant from the provincial government towards the completion of this $35 million initiative.  The “Hub and Spoke” provincial centre is scheduled for completion winter 2015.

Lisogar-Cocchia has a long list of local and national accomplishments; the Variety Club – International Corporate Fundraiser of the Year & Angel Award, Sales and Marketing Executive of the Year, Leading Spas of Canada’s the Lifetime Achievement Industry Award, Business in Vancouver’s Top 40 under 40. Lisogar-Cocchia’s an honorary doctorate (Honoris Causa) from the Justice Institute of British Columbia, the British Columbia Community Achievement Award and the C.H.I.L.D Foundations Honorary Doorman of the Year and in 2013 was honored with the Queen Elizabeth Diamond Jubilee Medal. In 2015 Wendy was inducted into the Order of British Columbia our province’s highest civilian honour.

Jack McGee

Board Treasurer

Jack McGee HeadshotJack McGee recently retired as President of the Justice Institute of British Columbia (JIBC) after serving in the Canadian Forces, and in post-secondary education as a Dean (George Brown College) and President (St. Clair College) in Ontario. As Squadron and Mission Commander he flew the Royal Family (including Their Majesties Queen Elizabeth II and the Queen Mother) and commanded CFB Comox prior to his roles in educational leadership.

In 2012 he was recognized by the Premier and Minister of Justice of British Columbia for his accomplishments in public safety and post- secondary education and for “giving back” to the community on charity and community boards. Jack remains active on community and professional boards and in public speaking. He holds a Bachelor of Arts (St. Mary’s), a Master of Public Administration (Auburn), completed doctoral courses in International Relations (York) and was presented an Honorary Doctor of Laws (Windsor) for his work in education and the community.

He currently serves on the Boards of the West Vancouver Police, E-Comm 911 Emergency Communications, the Sovereign Order of St John (supporting Hospice) and the Pacific Autism Family Centre Foundation. He was awarded the Canadian Forces Decoration, the Special Service Medal (NATO), and the Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Medal for service to Canada.

David Patchell-Evans

Board Member

David Patchell-Evans, known as ‘Patch’, is the founder and CEO of GoodLife Fitness, with 375 clubs and 1.3 million members across Canada. Patch’s unwavering purpose is “to give all Canadians the opportunity to live a fit and healthy good life.” When his three-year old daughter, Kilee, was diagnosed with autism, Patch worked tirelessly to help other families find answers. He served as President of Autism Canada. Patch’s GoodLife Kids Foundation introduced physical activity grants for children with special needs. He co-founded with Dr. Derrick MacFabe at Western University, the Kilee Patchell-Evans Autism Research Group. The group was recognized by NSERC as one of the Top 50 Scientific Discoveries in Canada and in 2017 will present at the Nobel Forum, Stockholm. In 2007, Patch’s received the Canadian Medical Association Medal of Honour. Patch has pledged $5Million to the PAFN to help build the GoodLife Fitness Autism Family Hub in Richmond, B.C.

Sue Doi

Board Member

Sue Doi HeadshotSue Doi has over 14 years of experience as in-house counsel to a variety of corporations, from credit unions to ski resorts to telecommunications to creative consultancies, and was named a Lexpert Leading Lawyer under 40 in November 2013.  Sue has also been both a participant and a leader in the Governor General’s Canadian Leadership Conference, a national, intensive leadership development program that aims to bring Canada’s leaders from business, labour, First Nations and community sectors to understand each others’ perspectives and the reach and intersections of their spheres of influence.

She is also a member of several boards, and has been a part of the leadership of both transformative and start up experiences in that capacity.  Sue holds a Bachelor of Social Sciences and a Bachelor of Laws from the University of Ottawa.

Sue is motivated to constantly improve both herself and the organizations around her.  She particularly loves asking questions that create opportunities for those around her to see things from a different perspective.

Grayden R. Hayward, FCPA, FCA

Board Member

Grayden Hayward HeadshotGrayden R. Hayward is the President of Grayhawk Management Inc. a Vancouver based company providing executive level management services. From 2009 to 2013 Grayden was assigned to the Vancouver Board of Trade as Senior Advisor and as Interim CEO in 2010/11. Previously he was President of SEASSET Management Inc.; CEO of the Carrera Group of companies, Executive Vice President and CFO of Bentall Corporation and Vice President of Trans Mountain Pipeline Company Ltd. His distinguished public sector career included terms as BC Deputy Minister of Municipal Affairs and Tourism, Recreation and Culture; Assistant Deputy Minister of Alberta Transportation; and City Administrator in Kamloops and Nanaimo, BC.

Throughout his career he has been active in many community organizations including several years as a Director and Chair of the Finance Committee of the Vancouver International Airport Authority, Director and Secretary Treasurer of The Vancouver Board of Trade, and Chair of the Vancouver Symphony Society.  In 2002, he received the Queen’s Golden Jubilee Medal, and in 2006 was elected a Fellow of the Institute of Chartered Accountants of BC. In 2014 he was awarded Honourary Lifetime Membership of the Vancouver Board of Trade. In addition to his service at Pacific Autism Family Centre, Mr. Hayward is currently a Director of The Vancouver Board of Trade Foundation; and Corporate Secretary of the Rix Center for Corporate Citizenship & Engaged Leadership.

Dennis Skulsky

Board Member

dennisskulskyDennis Skulsky is the President and CEO of the BC Lions Football Club. He is currently in his seventh season as the club’s 29th president and CEO, and is one of the most accomplished and successful head executives that the BC Lions have ever had. In addition to his role with the Lions he is also a member of the league’s Board of Governors and sits on numerous CFL committees.

Strategically cultivating the strengths of the organization’s business operations since 2010, Dennis has a well-earned reputation as a driving force behind many of the league’s innovative initiatives.

As a key strategist among his peers in the now-renowned Waterboys group, Dennis helped the Lions regain a foothold in the local sports community. He also played a key role as chairman in helping stage one of the most successful Grey Cup Festivals in the history of CFL in 2005; an event which created a benchmark for future festivals across Canada.

Skulsky honed his business acumen as a very successful media executive spending six years as the President and Publisher of Canwest Publishing heading up the BC daily newspapers – The Vancouver Sun and The Province. During that time, Dennis was also responsible for a number of community newspapers and Global television stations throughout British Columbia. In Skulsky’s final years in the media industry, he was the President and CEO leading the Canwest publishing assets across Canada from 2005 to 2010.

Arriving in BC in 1996, Skulsky has become immersed in the community and is currently involved on local boards such as the Pacific Autism Family Centre, the BC Football Hall of Fame and the Richmond Olympic Oval.

For his community involvement Skulsky has received significant recognition and numerous awards including; The British Columbia Community Achievement Award in 2005, the Harold J. Merilees Award in 2006 presented by Tourism Vancouver, Community Service Leader of the Year Award in 2004 presented by the Vancouver Junior Board of Trade and the Volunteer Vancouver Leadership Award in 2004.

Peter Webster

Board Member

Peter WebsterPeter Webster is active in corporate and non-profit governance in his home province of British Columbia, nationally and internationally. He serves on various corporate boards, a number of which he chairs. His business interests are diverse and span industrial products manufacturing, parking, real estate and technology.

He has a long history of community service and governance in the philanthropic sector. He currently chairs the board of the R. Howard Webster Foundation and is a director on the boards of the Peter Cundill Foundation, the Pacific Autism Family Centre Foundation, the BC Paraplegic Foundation, the Canadian Ski Hall of Fame and Museum and he chairs the Investment Committee of the Terry Fox Foundation.

Mr. Webster’s past community service includes serving as the Chair and as a director of the Boys and Girls Clubs of Canada Foundation, serving as Chair and as a director of the  University of British Columbia Investment Management Trust (IMANT), as the Chair of the Board of the South Coast British Columbia Transportation Authority Police Service, as a member of the Vancouver Police Board, and as director on the Board of the Vancouver International Airport Authority.

He is a past Executive Director of the British Columbia Sports Hall of Fame and Museum and is  an inductee in the Hall of Fame as an honoured member who contributed to the growth and development of sport in British Columbia. He is a former director of the Vancouver Canucks and the Vancouver Whitecaps soccer club.

Mr. Webster has received numerous official recognitions, including the Queen’s Golden Jubilee Medal, the the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee Medal, the federal government’s International Year of the Volunteer Medal and the Variety Club’s Show of Hearts Award. Mr. Webster was also granted an honourary doctorate by the Justice Institute of British Columbia.

Art Willms

Board Member

Art, an educator, economist and businessman with forty years of experience in related fields, taught mathematics in public school, lectured in economics in university and spent thirty years in the global energy business with a Vancouver-based firm before joining the board. Throughout his career, Art served in many capacities on dozens of boards in across the public, private and non-profit sectors. A passionate supporter of education, arts and cultural institutions, through his work on the board, Art is pleased to be playing a key role supporting individuals and families affected by autism.

Dr. Gabe Kalmar

President & CEO || gkalmar@pacificautismfamily.com

In 2004, Dr. Kalmar joined Genome BC as Executive Director of Operations, established the Sector Development group and with it many collaborations and partnerships with academia, and the public and private sectors in various economic sectors. In 2015 he took the reins as the Vice President Entrepreneurship and Commercialization. Prior to joining Genome BC, Dr. Kalmar engaged in strategic consulting activities with several early stage bio-pharmaceutical companies which included overseeing operations, implementing technology development and providing merger and acquisition planning. From 1996 to 2002, Dr. Kalmar held senior management positions with Kinetek Pharmaceuticals Inc., a privately held Vancouver-based biopharmaceutical company that was acquired by QLT in 2004. During this time Dr. Kalmar established and managed multiple external collaborations with academics and clinicians in the areas of signal transduction, preclinical studies and technology access. Dr. Kalmar obtained his undergraduate science degree and M.Sc. from the University of British Columbia and his Ph.D. in biology from Simon Fraser University. (Read more about Dr. Kalmar joining the PAFN team here.)


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Dr. Suzanne Lewis

Chief Medical Officer & Vice President of Research || slewis@pacificautismfamily.com

Upon obtaining her MD training, a certification in Paediatrics and accreditation in Medical Genetics, Dr. Lewis joined BC Children’s and Women’s Hospital where she is a Senior Clinician Investigator with the BC Children’s Hospital Research Institute, and a Clinical Professor in the Department of Medical Genetics, UBC Faculty of Medicine. Over the past 25 years, as a clinician and investigator, Dr. Lewis has provided clinical care to thousands of individuals living with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) and all related disorders. Dr. Lewis’ leadership in research is well illustrated by having authored over 340 publications, including 135 peer-reviewed papers describing new autism subgroups, syndromes, genes or causative mechanisms for these conditions. She also co-developed a joint Developmental Genetics Clinic at Children’s and Sunnyhill Hospitals, and is a partner in TIDE (the Treatment for Intellectual Disability Endeavour), both of which have demonstrated the need and effectiveness of “one-stop” interdisciplinary assessment and treatment opportunities for individuals and their families living with ASD and related disorders.


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Amanda Boutros

Director, Finance || amanda@pacificautismfamily.com

As Director of Finance, Amanda leads all the Foundation’s financial activities including, the preparation of timely and accurate financial information and analysis for the Board of Directors and external agencies. She also oversees all payroll functions and aids in the development of fiscal and human resource policies.

Amanda has nearly a decade of accounting experience in varying industries, including property management, food & dining, and investment and banking. In the fall of 2013, she discovered her passion for the non-profit sector when she worked as the accountant for Joe’s Table, a café offering meaningful employment to people with autism. From Joe’s she joined PAFC in fall 2015.

Amanda has a Bachelor’s of business administration from Douglas College with a major in accounting and will soon achieve designation as a Chartered Professional Accountant. She has a track record of volunteering her accounting knowledge and related expertise to a range of organizations and programs serving people with special needs, including the City of Coquitlam’s various accessibility initiatives and, most recently, to improve access to therapy dogs to children in need.


Jenna Christianson-Barker

Director, Adult Programming || jenna@pacificautismfamily.com

Passionate about empowering individuals from marginalized populations, Jenna is excited to be working with Pacific Autism Family Centre leading their employment initiatives and related programming. Having spent the bulk of her career within the non-profit sector she has worked with various innovative organizations, most recently leading an inclusive café seeking to create meaningful employment. Jenna believes in the power of the social enterprise model and strives for analytics and financial metrics to accompany the story of a well implemented mission.

She is an alumnus of Pepperdine University’s political science program and has an MBA from Loyola University, New Orleans. In her free time, Jenna enjoys exploring the beautiful outdoors of BC with her husband and two boys.


Stacey Freeman

Regional Autism Manager || stacey@pacificautismfamily.com

Stacey is a graduate of Carleton University with a Bachelor’s Degree in Public Affairs and Policy Management and has a Masters of Arts from the University of British Columbia.  Driven and passionate about accessibility, Stacey joins the PAFC team with over ten years of experience in the non-profit sector including BC Children’s Hospital and BC Women’s Hospital & Health Centre. She has worked on a broad range of outreach campaigns, policy initiatives, and revenue development projects throughout her career. Excited to be working with PAFC in the delivery of Ready, Willing and Able, Stacey’s role is to advocate for inclusive employment from a business perspective. readywillingable.ca – to read more about the RWA employment initiative. In her spare time she studies web programming, and volunteers in her community.


Anjela Godber

Autism Outreach Manager || anjela@pacificautismfamily.com

Anjela has worked in the community outreach sector for over 20 years, including working with families in the Downtown Eastside, and individuals with ASD.   Her education in Urban Planning and Sustainable Community Development has been a strong asset in leading innovative projects, analyzing gaps in services, and collaborating with diverse organizations.  Anjela’s past work with marginalized populations continues to inspire her to think outside the box and develop unique solutions to challenging issues.  Anjela will be putting her experience and unique skill set to work in the delivery of Ready, Willing and Able; her role focuses on connecting individuals, families and service providers to employment opportunities. readywillingable.ca – to read more about the RWA employment initiative.

In her spare time, Anjela fosters rescue dogs with the help of her teenage daughter, and loves to take them on adventures in the great outdoors.


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Brooke Straith

Program Coordinator, EmploymentWorks Canada || brooke@pacificautismfamily.com

Brooke, originally from Nelson BC, has a Bachelor of Science in Psychology and Neuroscience and a Master’s in Developmental and Educational Psychology. Brooke’s professional life has evolved from supporting children with learning disabilities as an Orton Gillingham (OG) instructor to various consulting positions for non-profit and government organizations. In 2012, Brooke consulted for Autism Ontario, assessing the effectiveness of the Program for the Enrichment and Education of Relational Skills (PEERS).

Similarly, Brooke provided consulting to the Canadian Society for Social Development/Make a Change Canada, and helped develop a self-employment program for individuals with disabilities.  She has enjoyed supporting individuals with diverse abilities obtain meaningful employment and learn the social and communicative skills that are so essential to succeeding in the workplace. Brooke is excited to join the PAFC team as the Program Coordinator for EmploymentWorks Canada. To learn more about the initiative, check out worktopia.ca/employment-works. In her spare time, Brooke enjoys skiing and hiking with her friends and family. She and her husband Simon have a busy toddler who always keeps them smiling and on their toes.


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SF Walker

Facilitator, EmploymentWorks Canada || sf@pacificautismfamily.com

SF, who is originally from Toronto, joins the PAFC team as a Facilitator for the EmploymentWorks Canada program. She has a Bachelor of Science in Special Education and Teaching from Missouri State University. SF is the Co-Founder of Coach Family Services, a volunteer based information sharing network whose projects include support groups, public speaking events, and disability/family support. SF proudly identifies as having Asperger Syndrome. When she is not working and advocating for the autism community, she is likely playing her guitar as music is her life outside of work.


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Kate Campbell

Facilitator, EmploymentWorks Canada || kate@pacificautismfamily.com

Kate, originally from Western Australia, is part of our EmploymentWorks Canada team. She previously worked at the Autism Association of Western Australia in their supported employment program. Kate has a certification in mental health and a passion for working with individuals on the Autism Spectrum, particularly in employment as she has seen how much they can contribute to a workplace. In her spare time she loves exploring the city and swing dancing.


Heather Linka

Employment Specialist || heather.linka@pacificautismfamily.com

Heather is a graduate from McMaster University where she specialized in Cognitive Science of Language, and followed with a Communicative Disorders Assistant (CDA) diploma from Georgian College in Barrie, Ontario. Heather has held a wide variety of CDA jobs and since developed a true passion for working with people to overcome difficulties of all kinds. Heather is excited to work as an Employment Specialist at PAFC to help people with Autism and related disorders gain relevant vocational skills and tangible work experience, thereby increasing independence and overall life satisfaction. In her spare time, Heather enjoys yoga, playing music, and exploring the Vancouver food scene.


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Lauren Crum

Executive Assistant to the President and CEO & Project Coordinator || lauren@pacificautismfamily.com

Lauren has a heart for helping her community. Originally coming from Delta, Lauren studied Therapeutic Recreation and had a successful and rewarding career in geriatrics. Lauren has a keen interest in continuous learning and growth in the area of recreation and leisure for all people. Lauren is extremely excited to work with such a dedicated and talented team at the Pacific Autism Family Centre Foundation. When not at her desk Lauren enjoys spending time with her two beautiful children.


Taylor Shannik

Fundraising and Administrative Coordinator || taylor@pacificautismfamily.com

Taylor Shannik fills a new role for the Pacific Autism Family Centre as Fundraising and Administrative Coordinator.  Taylor has been at UBC, prior to her joining the PAFC, completing her Bachelor degree in Psychology and taking a leadership role on the UBC Varsity Soccer team that won the National Championship this 2015/2016 season. Taylor wants to make a difference and is passionate about supporting our team. We are thrilled to have attracted such an energetic, resourceful and delightful individual to our organization.

Her role as Fundraising and Administrative Coordinator with PAFCF will include supporting both Terry Mackay, Project Director, and Fundraising staff as we work toward the realization and completion of our Richmond Hub and Regional spokes.