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OUR TEAM

MEET THE PAFC 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 CocchiaSergio Cocchia is the President of Crew Group of Companies, a hotel and property Management Company. Dr. Cocchia oversees a varied business venture with his partner and wife Wendy Lisogar-Cocchia.

Dr. Cocchia currently serves as President of the Pacific Autism Center Foundation, a family led initiative which established 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 was completed in 2016.

Dr. Cocchia 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.

In 2010, the 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. Dr. 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 C.M., O.B.C., LL.D. (Hon)

Founder / Co-Chair of Fundraising Committee

@absolute_wendy

Wendy CocchiaWendy is the Chief Executive Officer of Century Plaza Hotel. A dedicated wife, mother, and community leader, Wendy’s motivation to drive positive change is evident in every project she leads.

Wendy gives her time to community and provincial boards, where she displays an inexhaustible drive to broker positive relationships and advance economic and social good. Her community involvement includes serving as the Vancouver Board of Trade’s fifth and youngest female chair in its 128 year history, Business Council of British Columbia Governor, Vancouver Police Foundation’s first female Trustee, and a Royal Roads University Fellow. Wendy serves as a Director for the British Columbia Lottery Corporation, was a founding director for Destination British Columbia, and co-founded the Pacific Autism Family Centre Foundation.

Wendy is a serial entrepreneur, specializing in the hospitality industry. She founded the Absolute Spa Group and grew the company from one single spa location into Canada’s largest, independent spa chain. Absolute Spa received over 75 awards for spa excellence, including CNN.com “Top Airport Spas”, London Daily Express “Best of Vancouver Award” and Business of the Year awarded by the West Vancouver Chamber of Commerce.

Wendy has a long list of local, national and international recognitions. At an international level, she has received the Variety Club’s International Corporate Fundraiser of the Year. Most recently, Wendy was honoured with the Order of British Columbia, the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee Medal, and was presented with the Leading Spas of Canada’s most prestigious honor, the Lifetime Achievement Industry Award. Wendy has also received an Honorary Doctorate from the Justice Institute of British Columbia, the British Columbia Community Achievement Award, the CH.I.L.D Foundation Humanitarian Award, Business in Vancouver’s Top 40 Under 40, Canada’s Most Powerful Women: Top 100, and British Columbia’s Most Influential Business Women.

 

Jack McGee

Board Treasurer

Jack McGeeJack 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.

Grayden R. Hayward, FCPA, FCA

Board Member

Grayden 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.

 

David Patchell-Evans

Board Member

PatchDavid 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.

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 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.

 

Pamela Martin

Board Member

Pamela Martin

Pamela Martin is a trail-blazing and renowned veteran for women in news broadcasting in British Columbia. She is an award-winning news anchor and journalist who has touched the lives of millions of people. She became a trusted “friend” bringing the essence of critical issues into the homes of British Columbians and shaping their understanding for over 30 years.

She parlayed her public profile to become a catalyst for change in BC, helping to elect the first woman Premier of British Columbia. As Director of Outreach in the Office of the Premier, Pamela engaged with stakeholders around the province and helped to advance issues in the BC economy for families.

As someone with her pulse on the provincial zeitgeist for over three decades, Pamela has a broad understanding and contextualization of issues that matter to British Columbians. She developed skills to grasp large amounts of information, get to the core of an issue, then to communicate it simply and accurately to the public, providing insight and context.

Over the course of her journalism career, she interviewed numerous newsworthy celebrities including every Canadian Prime Minister, US President Bill Clinton, US Secretary of State Madeline Albright, Cuban President Fidel Castro, feminist Gloria Steinem and actress Jane Fonda.

In addition to her high powered career, Pamela has lent her profile and expertise to many charities and non-profit organizations. As a high-profile communicator, Pamela has assisted in increasing exposure, expanding fund- raising, emceeing events and reaching out to movers and shakers.

Pamela served as co-chair of the United Way Campaign of the Lower Mainland in 2008, one of the largest and most extensive charities in Vancouver. She was Honourary Chair of the Canadian Cancer Society for the BC/Yukon region from 1998 to 2003 and has been actively involved in numerous other community organizations, including the Canadian Breast Cancer Foundation and the Variety Club, for decades. Previously, she served on the boards of the Looking Glass Foundation (for eating disorders) and the Vancouver International Film Festival.

Pamela graduated from the University of Michigan with a Bachelor of Arts Degree and also studied in Mexico City and Florence, Italy.
She is an adoptive mother, including of a disabled adult daughter, and is particularly passionate about helping women and children succeed.

Greg D’Avignon

Board Member

Greg D’AvignonGreg D’Avignon is the President and CEO of the Business Council of BC, a 260-member driven policy and advocacy organization comprised of the province’s leading businesses in every sector of the provincial economy and BC’s post-secondary institutions. Collectively BCBC members employ 25 percent of the province’s labour force.

A fourth generation British Columbian, for 25 years Mr. D’Avignon has held senior private and public sectors leadership positions including serving the Prime Minister of Canada. He is a frequent contributor, facilitator and commentator on business and public policy issues that influence the current and future economy and prosperity of Canada and British Columbia.

Greg is the immediate past-Chair of the BC Cancer Foundation and former Chair of the Canadian Breast Cancer Foundation. Greg is a current member of the Board of the YMCA of Greater Vancouver, the Premier’s Indigenous Business Investment Council and a Board Member of the BC Academic Health Science Network.

In 2013, Greg was a recipient of the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee Medal and has been named one of Vancouver’s Power 50 influencers.

Renée Watters

Board Member

ReneeA leader in Francophone Education, Mrs. Renée Popov Watters has served on various regional, provincial and national committees and boards dedicated to the promotion and delivery of education. In addition to her involvement at the local level in the Greater Vancouver Area, she has been a member of provincial committees dedicated to the improvement of education, was Chair of the Conseil scolaire francophone de la Colombie-Britannique (British Columbia’s Francophone School Board), Vice-President of the Federation of Francophone Parents, Founder of the first Regional Association of Parents in British Columbia, Spokesperson and Co-Founder of the French-language Coalition in British Columbia, represented the province on the National Federation of Francophone School Boards and the National Commission of Francophone Parents and served on British Columbia’s Provincial Council. As president of the Education Committee, she championed inclusiveness and strongly supported policies and practices in education, training and employment for students with disabilities and special educational needs.

In May 2004, the Vancouver Board of Parks and Recreation presented her with the Volunteer of the Year Award in recognition of her outstanding contributions to the Vancouver community. In recognition of her great contributions to the promotion and development of French-language education in Canada, Mrs. Popov Watters received  l’Ordre des francophones d’Amérique. She was also inducted in the order of the Compagnie des Cent-Associés francophones.  In 2014, she was recognized nationally as one of the 100 most remarkable women in French Canada in the past century.

Walter Pela, FCPA, FCA

Board Member

As Regional Managing Partner of KPMG, Walter leads BC’s largest and oldest professional services firm, operating with over 1,200 people in 12 offices across the Province. Walter also serves on KPMG’s National Clients & Markets Committee, overseeing client service and market development across Canada. In his role, Walter leads conversations with clients, business leaders and organizations on business, social and economic issues, including in the area of innovation and business transformation. Walter is also often called upon by clients and industry groups to speak and advise on technical and policy tax issues. Previously, Walter was KPMG’s Partner-in-Charge of Tax in GVA for nine years, and as an active tax partner he continues to provide tax advice to a wide variety of clients across sectors, with a focus on real estate.  Walter was recently recognized as a Fellow of the Chartered Professional Accountants (FCPA), currently sits on the Executive Committee of Business Council of British Columbia, is a past Governor and Executive Committee Member for the Canadian Tax Foundation, and past Board Member and Finance Committee Chair for UNICEF Canada.

Peter Raptis

Board Member

Peter RaptisPeter Raptis is the Principal at Skare Properties and a Managing Partner in his restaurant group that includes The Refinery, The Pawnshop YVR and The Wooden Spoon Brunch and Bistro co.  The Businesses are located from Downtown Vancouver to White Rock BC. He is also the father to two boys Quinn and Mikael. Mikael was diagnosed with Autism at the age of three, and ever since Peter has dedicated his time and energy to advocating for Mikael along with other children who don’t have a voice in the fight. He works to give them all the best opportunity to have an amazing life.

Peter has served on a number of boards and most recently is the Immediate Past Chairman of the Downtown Vancouver Business Improvement Association Board of Directors and still Chairs the Nomination Committee. He also Coaches and offers governance to the local Lacrosse, Baseball and Soccer Associations where he lives with a strong commitment to inclusion for all children with special needs. Peter is also involved with his sons’ school as a member of the PAC executive and a representative of special needs student services at the school district level.

 

 

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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.


Anjela Godber

Program Coordinator, EmploymentWorks || 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 the EmploymentWorks program; her role focuses on coordinating participant registration and managing the program implementation. employment-works.ca – to learn more about the EmploymentWorks 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.


SFW

SF Walker

Manager, Voices of Autism || 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. 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.


Carmen Hamilton

Spoke Manager, Kelowna || carmen@pacificautismfamily.com

Carmen has a wealth of experience, having been in the field of social work for a number of years. She completed work for her Masters in Social Work on “Improving Outcomes for Special Needs Children and Their Families” in the community of Kelowna. She has two young men on the autism spectrum and is very passionate about assisting to improve the lives of people with diversabilities in the community. She is thrilled to be a part of the Pacific Autism team and is certainly well suited to the role. Carmen invites you to contact her or drop into the Spoke soon. She would love to hear from you.