Chris Friesen, Chair and Founder
Chris Friesen has been the Director of Settlement Services at ISSofBC one of Canada’s largest multicultural immigrant serving agencies for over twenty years. He is a frequent speaker on a wide range of immigrant and refugee settlement related topics both in Canada and abroad. Among his many community leadership roles, Chris is currently the Chair and a founding member of the Canadian Immigrant Settlement Sector Alliance (CISSA-ACSEI) as well as co-chair of the National Settlement Council.
Fariborz Birjandian, Vice Chair
Since his arrival in Canada as a refugee over 25 years ago, Fariborz has been ardently involved in issues related to immigration, diversity, equal rights and the cultural arts. For over twenty years, he has been the Executive Director of the Calgary Catholic Immigration Society (CCIS), the largest provider of programs and services for immigrants and refugees in the Prairie region. His current volunteer involvements includes: Chair of Alberta Association of Immigrant Serving Agencies (AAISA), Vice Chair CISSA-ACSEI, member of Deputy Minister’s Advisory Committee, and member of National Settlement Counsel. For his exemplary commitment to promoting diversity and supporting newcomers to Canada, he has received several awards and recognitions including the Government of Canada’s Citation for Citizenship, the Alberta Centennial Medal, the Queen’s Gold Jubilee and the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee.
Jean McRae, Treasurer
Jean McRae, B.A., C.P.Ed, M.B.A., has been Chief Executive Officer of the Inter-Cultural Association of Greater Victoria (ICA) for over sixteen years and has worked in the field of immigrant and refugee services since 1982, in BC and Central America. She has worked as an English language teacher, employment counselor, settlement worker and manager of various services including multicultural arts and education. Jean serves on various national, provincial and local boards and committees concerned with issues of immigrant integration. Along with serving as the treasurer for CISSA-ACSEI, she is also the President of AMSSA.
Katie Rosenberger, Secretary
Katie Rosenberger is the Executive Director of AMSSA, a British Columbia provincial association that strengthens over 70 member agencies as well as hundreds of community stakeholder agencies who serve immigrants and newcomers. Along with her background in the settlement and integration sector and not-for-profit management, Katie brings an expertise in children, family, and women’s issues. She has led cohesive collaborative teams as well as built and maintained effective relationships with funders, organizations, institutions, and community partners. Katie holds a Bachelor of Arts in Sociology and a Masters of Business Administration.
Alice Colak, Board Member
Alice Colak is the Vice President for Immigration and Settlement Service of Catholic Social Services, a not-for-profit social agency offering services for Albertans in Edmonton and Central Alberta. Alice has held a variety of front line, management and executive leadership positions with Catholic Social Services and currently has responsibility for more than twenty resettlement/settlement, educational, language assessment, employment, counselling and community outreach programs that support immigrants, refugees and temporary foreign workers in Edmonton and Red Deer. Alice’s educational background includes degrees from the University of Alberta and the University of Calgary.
Gerry Mills, Board Member
Biography coming soon.
Getachew Woldyesus, Board Member
Getachew Woldyesus is the Manager of Settlement and Family Services at the Regina Open Door Society and a Board Member of Saskatchewan Association of Settlement and Integration Agencies (SAISIA). Getachew is an accredited Settlement Practitioner in the province of Saskatchewan and Alberta. He also holds a Bachelor of Social Work Degree (BSW) and Masters of Social Work Degree (MSW) from the University of Regina. As part of his studies, he conducted several research projects in the area of immigration including: Temporary Workers Program, Canada Seasonal Agricultural Program, and Refugee Protection in Canada. Getachew is a former refugee from Ethiopia. He also provided cross-cultural presentations to organizations, employers, and other members of the Regina Community.
Megan Morris, Board Member
Megan Morris has worked in the immigrant settlement sector for over fifteen years and is currently the Executive Director of the Association for New Canadians, a community-based, non-profit settlement agency that serves immigrants arriving in Newfoundland and Labrador. She is a graduate of Memorial University, with degrees in both Arts and Education, and also studied French as a Second Language at the University of Ottawa. Prior to joining the ANC, Megan worked with various federal government departments, and served as a political aide to a former Cabinet Minister. With a long interest in immigrant and refugee issues, she has served on various Boards, Committees and Working Groups including, for example, the Coordinating Committee on Newcomer Integration, the Atlantic Region Association of Immigrant Serving Agencies, the Atlantic Metropolis, the Performance Measurement Advisory Group and the Professional Development & Sector Coordination Working Group.
Laurie Sawatsky, Board Member
Laurie Sawatzky is the president of the Manitoba Association of Newcomer Serving Organizations (MANSO) and the Executive Director of South Central Immigrant Services (SCIS). Laurie has worked in the settlement sector for over thirteen years, first as Program Coordinator for English language training, then as Executive Director for South Central Immigrant Services (SCIS), a non-profit organization serving immigrants arriving to Southern Manitoba, with head office in the City of Winkler.
Darlene Doerksen, Board Member
Darlene Doerksen is the founder & CEO of the Multicultural Centre of the Yukon. With a long term career, which focused on service to individuals, Ms. Doerksen brings this experience to the settlement & integration of immigrants in the Yukon. She serves on a number of boards and committees, both locally and nationally. Her background with standards and certification, curriculum development, business creation and strategic planning, best practices, LMI, board governance, labour market strategies, intercultural relations, FQR related work, project management and community development, further enhance the settlement sector in the Yukon.