Barbara Coates – Executive Director
Barbara accepted the position of Executive Director at Dan’s Legacy in September, 2016, after four years with the Marketing and Communications team at Variety – The Children’s Charity of BC. Barbara brings a 33-year background in broadcasting and communications to her role, as well as marketing, public relations and fundraising for clients in the health, not-for-profit and government sectors. She is an active and long-time volunteer, serving on numerous business, sports, educational, charitable and government committees and boards in her community of Delta. Barbara is passionate about children’s and mental health issues, and is a past Director with the Canadian Mental Health Association (Delta). She has mentored many young broadcast and communications professionals throughout her career, is a Director on the Board of the CBC 20 Year Association and member of the Surrey Board of Trade Social Policy Committee. Barbara holds a Diploma in Broadcast Communications and a Certificate in Marketing Management/Public Relations (Distinction) from BCIT.
Tom Littlewood – Program Director
Tom was first brought in as a consultant with Dan’s Legacy, and, after working with the foundation’s board for four months, was hired to be their Director of Programs and senior counsellor. Tom graduated from Simon Fraser University with B.A. in Psychology in 1985. Over the next six years he completed his Masters in Psychology as well as two years of specialized counselling programs in various universities in Canada and the USA. He developed one of the first diversion programs for at-risk youth while working as a police counsellor and established the original affinity card campaign while being the founding Executive Director for the Selkirk College Foundation. Tom was the founder and Executive Director of the Sanctuary Foundation that for fifteen years provided work and life skills programs, counselling and the first jobs for thousands of at-risk youth in Metro Vancouver. During his last five years with the Sanctuary Foundation he worked with the Cuban Ministry of Education setting up an apprenticeship program in bike mechanics for at-risk Cuban youth. Tom has also worked as a community counsellor for a local First Nation community and as a family support worker and counsellor for a local alternative high school. For the last fifteen years he has managed and volunteered at a local surplus food cooperative.
Amy Mildenberger – Manager, Administration & Special Events
Amy first got involved with Dan’s Legacy as a volunteer while completing her studies at BCIT in Non-profit Management and Business Management. With a background in office and administration support, fundraising and special events, her various experience has made a significant impact in her work. Amy is an active member of the event industry and has worked as an events consultant for various charitable organizations, refining her skills and gaining valuable experience in all aspects of event planning and management. She believes in giving back to the community through volunteering, and is passionate about being involved with an organization that makes a difference in the lives of others.
Kathryn Priest-Peries, M.S.W., Ph.D.(cand.), R.C.C., R.S.W (Program Manager/Therapist)
Kathryn has a Master’s of Social Work from UBC and is currently working towards her PhD in Cognitive Neuro-psychology with Capella University in Minneapolis, Minnesota. She has over 23 years’ experience working as a therapist in private practice, as well as with the BC Ministry for Children and Family Development and with Vancouver Aboriginal Child and Family Services. Her dissertation research is The Assessment and Treatment of Autism using Brain-Wave Bio-Feedback.
Maryanne Kotylak, B.Ed, M.Ed. C.C.C (in progress), CCPA member (Outreach Team Lead/Therapist)
Maryanne has her Master’s of Education specializing in Educational Psychology from the University of Regina. She has spent the last 30 years working with youth and their families as a teacher, principal and consultant with various school divisions in Saskatchewan. Maryanne brings knowledge and experience in emotional, behavioural, sensory, achievement and cognitive screening and assessment. She has provided individual and small group support for youth and their families in dealing with trauma, sensory regulation, addictions, and learning needs. Maryanne uses Mindfulness, Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT), and sensory regulation techniques in her therapy and believes in a very individualized client centred approach.
Kelsey Wright, M.S.W., R.S.W, (Therapist)
Kelsey has a Master’s of Social Work in Children and Families with a Collaborative Specialization in Addictions from the University of Toronto. She has been working with youth and young adults with mental health and substance use concerns for the past ten years. Kelsey frequently uses Mindfulness, CBT, DBT, and Motivational Interviewing techniques in therapy. She believes strongly in a trauma-informed and client-centred approach to care.
Juan C. Prat, M.A., R.C.C. (Therapist)
Juan has a Master’s Degree in Family Therapy from Centro de Estudios e Investigación Sobre la Familia, IFAC (IFAC Center for Family Studies and Research) in Mexico City, Mexico, and has experience working as a family therapist and clinical counsellor. Since coming to Canada in 2020 with his husband and two dogs, he has worked with youth, families and the LGBTQ2S+ community. Juan believes that intergenerational trauma healing is one of the most important factors in his work.
Deepak Nijjer, M.A., R.C.C. (Therapist)
Deepak completed his Master’s of Applied Psychology with a specialization in Child & Family development from Adler University. Deepak brings over 5 years of experience in supporting youth and young adults struggling with anxiety, depression, trauma, addiction, relationships, conflict management and emotion regulation. Deepak’s approach to counselling includes cognitive behavioural therapy, emotion focused therapy, mindfulness and trauma-informed therapy.
CJ Fehr, M.A., C.C.C. (Therapist)
CJ has worked for over 10 years supporting children, youth, and families in various roles including as a program director, support worker, outreach worker, and clinical counsellor. She holds a Master’s Degree in Counselling Psychology from Trinity Western University, and is currently a registered counsellor with the Canadian Counselling and Psychotherapy Association. Working as a clinical counsellor over the past 4 years, she has gained experience through Child and Youth Mental Health Services, different community agencies and universities providing individual and group therapy to a variety of individuals and families. Through a collaborative, trauma-informed approach, CJ combines talk therapy with evidence-based practices to build a safe, trusting relationship with her clients. Currently, she is working on becoming certified in Sensorimotor Therapy and integrating somatic awareness into her work with clients to help increase self-awareness of thoughts and feelings.
Nita Agustin, M.A., C.C.C. (in progress) (Therapist)
Nita is a graduate of the Master’s of Counselling Psychology program at Trinity Western University. She brings over 5 years’ experience as clinical counsellor and youth support worker working with families and youth with significant barriers. She has experience facilitating individual and group counselling for youth on a wide array of issues, including living in-between cultures, interpersonal relationship concerns, healthy relationships, anxiety and depression, and existential issues (grief and loss, finding meaning and purpose in life). Nita is passionate about working with those whose voices have been silenced and oppressed. As a counsellor, she approaches her work from a person-centered, strength-based, and trauma-informed perspective. Her counseling style is warm, compassionate, and collaborative because she believes that we all have inherent capacities for healing and discovering our authentic self. She grounds her work on attachment theory, affective neuroscience, and body-focused therapy. Currently, Nita is working towards obtaining Accelerated Experiential Dynamic Psychotherapy (AEDP) certification.
Osato Obaseki, B.S.W, R.S.W (in progress) (Social Worker)
Osato recently graduated with a Bachelor of Social Work degree from the University of Calgary, where he focused his studies on youth at risk and immigrant families. Osato has 10 years of experience working with youth in East Vancouver challenged by mental health issues, low socioeconomic factors, addiction, and trauma. He strongly values anti-oppressive, trauma-informed, culturally sensitive, and client-centered approaches in his practice.
Rouj Zora, (Outreach Worker)
Rouj has a Bachelor of Arts degree in Sociology and Political Science from Concordia University in Montreal, and has been working with marginalized and at-risk populations for fifteen years. She is a qualified Behaviour Specialist specializing in Behaviour Modification, and has worked with clients ranging from children to seniors. Most recently, Rouj spent the past two years working with Indigenous men and women (adult and youth) in a remote northern community as head of the Health and Wellness Department in the Kitikmeot region of Nunavut. She worked closely with staff and members of the community struggling with intergenerational trauma and systemic violence. Rouj is an advocate for youth to receive a fair chance at success in social society regardless of their neurological make-up, sexual orientation, gender, or ethnicity.
Dan’s Warehouse Staff
Andrew Wong, Project Manager
Andrew brings nearly 30 years of business experience to the Dan’s Legacy team. He has owned and operated restaurants in the Lower Mainland including the critically acclaimed Wild Rice. A first of its kind in modern dining and an award-winning eatery, this business allowed Andrew to sharpen his skills in the restaurant industry. Over the years, Andrew has trained many young people who entered his doors to work in the kitchen or in the front house of the restaurants. A number of these young people have thrived in the industry, and have become leaders or opened their own restaurants. Andrew’s approach to business is hands-on and generous. He inserts himself into every aspect of the business while providing others with the tools necessary to be successful. Being passionate about the environment, Andrew was on the ground level of the sustainable initiatives Ocean Wise Vancouver and the Green Table Network. During his career, Andrew has gathered a wealth of knowledge, and continues to maintain invaluable business connections.
Paul Martin, Lead Instructor
Working as a student ski tour operator inspired Paul to follow a Hospitality & Business education at Ryerson in Toronto. After five years working as a wine steward, bar manager and then junior partner/manager at Barberian’s Steak House, Paul enrolled at George Brown College to study culinary arts. Seeking to explore Canada’s burgeoning food scene Paul ventured west, and was part of the team at Blackcomb Mountain which hired and trained more than 500 foodservice employees each year. Seeking a ubiquitous European experience, Paul created the successful Barbacoa de Sevilla at the 1992 World’s Fair in Seville, Spain. Following a 25-year career in the wine importing and distribution business (Peacock & Martin Imports Ltd.), Paul is thrilled to give back to the hospitality community in BC by helping to train young adults for a career in the culinary arts.
Michael Spears, Chef Instructor
After graduating high school in 2005 and receiving Professional Cook 1, Michael decided to test his hand at Art Theory and Game Design. While attending the Art Institute of Vancouver, he rekindled his love of food while working as a dishwasher at Savory Coast in Vancouver. Michael went on to discover the world of banquets and weddings while working his way up to Sous Chef and taking on an apprenticeship at Il Centro Vancouver. He then moved into private catering for weddings and events across the Lower Mainland for companies including Omni Group, Chevron, Electronic Arts and BMW. After working as Sous Chef at Burnaby’s Hart House, Michael was introduced to Dan’s Legacy’s “Intro to Cook” Program Manager Andrew Wong, and knew that the instructor position was something he was passionate about. He has always believed in giving back and is a firm believer in roots and teaching the right way from the beginning – beliefs that he will pass on to his students in the Intro to Cook program.
Dan Derpak, BA, MEd, Recruitment & Placement Coordinator
Dan Derpak, B.A., M.Ed., is a respected educational leader with extensive public school administrative experience at both the school and District levels. Dan’s responsibilities over the years included career program development and supervision, student support services, and special education. The experiences Dan brings to Dan’s Legacy will enable positive program development, enhance much needed client support, and facilitate successful work placement opportunities.
Dave Derpak, Recruitment & Placement Coordinator
David brings 39 years of education experience to the team, including his work in public and private colleges, as well as past work in international marketing of educational programs. He has served as a teacher, Principal, Vice President, Executive Director and was Head of Education at several local colleges. David has visited many international schools in his work, and has a deep passion for helping students succeed. With many years’ experience in inner city school administration, David has always been willing to help those in need, and has a drive to do so. A graduate of UBC with a Masters degree from Gonzaga University, David brings experience and energy to make a difference with a strong sense of team. He is also a committed family man and an outdoor enthusiast.
Dan’s Legacy Foundation Board of Directors
Peter Buxton, Q.C. – President
Peter Buxton, Q.C. – President Peter is a trial lawyer and mediator. He graduated from UBC in 1980 and is a partner at Panorama Legal LLP. He has served as a Director of Baseball Canada and the President of Baseball BC, the BC Minor Baseball Association and North Delta Baseball. Peter was a Parks and Recreation Commissioner in Delta for 13 years, a former Director of the Fraser Patient Care Quality Review Board and the Delta Police Board. He lives in North Delta with his wife, and they raised three sons who currently live in the Lower Mainland.
Baltej Singh Dhillon – Vice-President
Baltej recently retired from a distinguished 29 year career with the RCMP with a meritorious record of service. Prior to his retirement he was the Officer in Charge of Emergency Preparedness for the RCMP in B.C. and is now heading the Crime, Guns, Intelligence and Investigative Group of the Combined Forces Enforcement Unit. Baltej is known for his resolve, in the face of unprecedented media attention and personal death threats, in encouraging the RCMP to change its policy allowing Sikh Officers to wear turbans, which the Government of Canada formally announced in 1990. Throughout his career he was involved in a number of high-profile cases including the Air India Crash, Pickton Serial Killer case and numerous other serious crime investigations. Service to family, community and country have always been a proud tradition in the Sikh community. Baltej has offered his support as a volunteer to countless organizations, including: youth camps as a counsellor and mentor; South Asian Advisory Committee for United Way; Past-Chair of the Kwantlen Polytechnic University Alumni Association; and as a yoga instructor to participants at the Welcome Home Society who struggle with drug addiction. He currently serves as a Director on the Board of WorkSafeBC, holds an Honorary Doctorate from KPU for his contributions to the community, and is a recipient of the Queen Elizabeth II Golden Jubilee Medal and Diamond Jubilee Medal for Community & Youth Service.
Roberta McArthur – Treasurer
Roberta’s key focus is on team transformation and organizational management. With 30 plus years in various roles across diverse sectors, she has worked across borders with international partners to create harmonious intercontinental partnerships that achieve results. Currently in her work with Deloitte Canada, she is responsible for client engagement, employee engagement activities, leading projects and event management. She is also an inaugural member of Deloitte Vancouver’s Impact Committee, which supported Dan’s Legacy through a year-long project on strategic plan development. Roberta has extensive experience as a community as a volunteer with the Adoptive Families Association, BC Children’s Hospital Foundation, World Police & Fire Games, and the City of Vancouver’s Neighbourhood Emergency Assistance Team (NEAT). Roberta is deeply committed to Dan’s Legacy, and wants to ensure it is recognized as being a leader in the non-profit sector focusing on mental health.
Darin Froese – Secretary
Darin has been working in the social services and housing field since 2001 at a senior management level, and is currently the CEO of the New Vista Society. His experience includes Executive Director positions at BC Housing and Income Assistance, managing portfolios in annual funding of over $400M. Darin attended Simon Fraser University and holds a Bachelor of Business degree (Finance). He has also attended the Executive Program in Public Sector Leadership at Royal Roads University, and has been involved in a number of community-based task forces and projects. He has been a Director/Treasurer on three non- profit boards. Darin resides in Maple Ridge with his wife, two daughters and a dog.
Wayne Cousins – Director
Wayne’s advocacy for youth began at the age of 15 when volunteering for the Canadian Red Cross. He went on to represent Canada at international youth congresses, exchanges and summits. Moving on to a lengthy career with BC Hydro, Wayne managed the Crown Corporation’s K-12 Education Sector, responsible for business relationships with 54 school districts and over 2,100 schools across the province. His business management experience with BC Hydro includes corporate communications, external and indigenous relations, media and public relations, strategic planning, and business process improvement. Wayne’s resume also includes CBC television and radio reporting/hosting, video production and narration. His volunteer experience includes serving at Salvation Army’s Belkin House, Harbour Light and Camp Sunrise; The Canadian Cancer Society’s Camp Goodtimes; YWCA’s Crabtree Corner; The Union Gospel Mission; The Greater Vancouver Food Bank; The Lower Mainland Christmas Bureau; Canuck Place Children’s Hospice; and Dan’s Legacy’s Sunday Haven Dinner.
Kyle Demes – Director
Kyle has built a successful career as a researcher and research administrator in BC. After studying human impacts on BC coastal ecosystems, he joined the Hakai Institute, where he worked to develop collaborative research partnerships spanning multiple universities, governments, First Nations, industry, and non-profits. Kyle is now a Research Intelligence Consultant for Elsevier, helping Canadian Universities use data to inform their research development strategies. He has received international recognition for his work in identifying and removing barriers to collaborative research and has a reputation for building bridges between people and across institutions to work together on shared challenges. As both a scientist and active member of the LGBTQ2S+ community, Kyle advocates for decision-making and provision of services that are informed by both scientific evidence and diverse perspectives. Robust evidence suggests that trauma-informed services are critical for youth to achieve their full potential in society and he is keen to leverage his connections, knowledge, and experience to advance the mission of Dan’s Legacy.
Shannon Elliott – Director
Shannon is a public health nurse with 35 years’ experience working primarily with children and families, focusing on health promotion through education and providing access to resources and other supports. As part of this work she is familiar with trauma-informed practice, and as an instructor with the undergraduate nursing program at BCIT, has focused much of her efforts on social justice issues. Shannon co-created an Indigenous health course and a Global health course that are mandatory for students in the nursing program. She is impressed by Dan’s Legacy’s outreach work, especially the practical ways in which the therapists meet the youth where they are. Shannon is eager to continue her work in social justice issues as well as be an ally to reconciliation, which she believes are strong assets that she brings to the Board of Directors.
Kelso Kennedy – Director
Born in Nanaimo, Kelso moved to Burnaby as a preschooler so that his mother could pursue an education at Simon Fraser University. At the age of 8 he started his entrepreneurial journey with a door-to-door car wash service and eventually cornered the local lemonade stand market. At 14 he built his first real business that was an immediate success but meant dropping out of high school to manage. Kelso went on to engineer websites for projects including Oscar-winning movies and Grammy-winning artists. At the age of 18 Kelso and his mother established a first-of-its-kind peer-to-peer non-profit organization in the Downtown Eastside. In 2012 he founded Redstamp agency which was recognized by Small Business BC as one of the top 10 places to work, and by the city of Port Moody as the 2019 Business of the Year. Kelso was also honoured as the 2020 Tri-Cities Chamber of Commerce Young Professional of the Year. Having left school early to focus on his first business, in 2014 he attended Harvard University to fill any knowledge gaps. He’s also continued to help build non-profit organizations, working with Brands for Better and spending the past 18 months as a Director on the board of the Tri-Cities Chamber of Commerce, which included establishing the Diversity and Inclusion Committee.
Zafira Nanji, MBA: HRM, CPHR, SHRM-SCP – Director
Zafira brings 17+ years of experience leading global talent acquisition, development & management programs, and as a leadership coach in the Human Resources sector. She has a proven track record as a resource on equity, diversity and inclusion with a focus on mindful strategies and programs and is recognized for her expertise in building strong partnerships and teams, while influencing change. Fluent in six languages (English, French, Gujarati, Kutchi, Hindi and Urdu), Zafira is also a long-time volunteer committed to contributing to community partnerships. As an adoptive mother of a child with special needs, she brings a unique perspective to working with the BC Ministry of Children & Family Development and the realities of foster care and adoption. Zafira currently sits on the Advisory Council for the Immigrant Employment Council of British Columbia and actively volunteers within the Ismaili Community and Adoptive Families Association of BC & the Yukon. Zafira holds a Masters of Business Administration in Human Resources Management from the University of Phoenix and a Bachelor of Arts in Sociology from the University of Ottawa. She has both her Certified Professional Human Resources (CPHR) and Senior Certified Professional with the Society for Human Resource Management (SCP-SHRM) designations.