Introducing the BCCIC Delegation to the United Nations 64th Session of Commission on the Status of Women

BCCIC Delegates to the UN 64th Session of the Commission on the Status of Women (CSW)

BCCIC is excited to announce the delegation of women who will attend the 64th session of the Commission on the Status of Women this March in New York, United States. All delegates but one were selected from BCCIC’s membership, and represent BCCIC staff and board, as well as organizational and individual members. One youth delegate was selected by the BCCIC to represent British Columbia on the Inter-Council Network (ICN) youth delegation.

This year’s conference will review the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action and the outcomes of the 23rd special session of the General Assembly. The review will include an assessment of challenges and achievements in relation to the achievement of gender equality, the empowerment of women, and contributions toward the full realization of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. 

For media or general inquiries, please contact

You can view last year’s CSW63 Impact Report here.

ICN CSW64 Youth Delegation 2020

Chesa Abma
ICN Youth Delegate to CSW64

Chesa Abma was selected by the BCCIC to represent British Columbia’s youth as part of the ICN’s youth delegation to CSW64. Chesa is a proud member of Xwsepsum (Esquimalt Nation). She carries Frisian ancestry on her mother’s side and Lekwungen, Interior Salish, and mixed European ancestry on her father’s side. Spending the majority of her life on Vancouver Island, she has a deep love for her home territory and community. 

For over five years, Chesa has had the honour of working with children and youth in the Lekwungen and W̱SÁNEĆ territories and Aotearoa (New Zealand). Through her personal experiences as an Indigenous youth and the work she has done, Chesa has developed a strong desire to uplift future generations so they can flourish.

Currently, Chesa is working as an Intern with the Indigenous Youth Internship Program. Her placement is with the Ministry of the Attorney General, and she is working with the British Columbia Prosecution Service as an Indigenous research and policy analyst.

On her educational journey thus far, thanks to the support of her nation, Chesa has achieved a certificate in Indigenous family support and a diploma in Indigenous studies from Camosun College. Chesa continued her studies at Royal Roads University where she obtained a Bachelor of Arts degree in professional communication. Her educational aspirations for the future are to pursue Indigenous law with the intent to gain knowledge that can be applied to addressing the needs of her people. 

In her spare time, Chesa loves being with her friends and family, cooking and eating delicious food. Additionally she loves dancing and spending time outdoors running, hiking, and fishing. 

BCCIC CSW64 Delegation 2020

Ariel Mishkin
BCCIC Delegate to CSW64

Ariel is currently a member of the BCCIC’s Board of Directors who is working towards ending violence against women, fostering economic empowerment and promoting political representation for those marginalized. She has been involved in the BCCIC’s programming as their Youth Representative at Women Deliver 2019,  a member of their delegation to the UN’s 63 session of the Commission on the Status of Women, a committee member of the BCCIC’s Longhouse Dialogues and a participant in the BCCIC’s Youth Bootcamp. Ariel has demonstrated BCCIC values as she continuously advocates for inclusive political representation of Canadian Youth and Indigenous Women in the development sector.

Ariel is currently volunteering with CUSO International to support Indigenous women’s climate justice work in Laos as a Research and Communications Advisor. Previously she worked as an Event Planner for the First Nations Health Authority where she managed the implementation of conferences and workshops on sexual health, tuberculosis, harm reduction, HIV, and immunizations with an Indigenous lens across British Columbia.

Previously Ariel worked in Mongolia and India where she supported grassroots development projects. She graduated with a Bachelor of Commerce from the University of Victoria in 2016.

Amar Nijhawan
BCCIC Delegate to CSW64

Amar Nijhawan is a Program Manager and Gender Equality Lead at the Canadian International Resources Development Institute (CIRDI), an independent center of expertise in natural resource-led development based at the University of British Columbia.  Prior to joining CIRDI, Amar worked at the Asia Pacific Foundation of Canada and led an Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation initiative that focused on innovation policy and entrepreneurship in Vietnam, the Philippines, Indonesia, and Peru. Amar has also worked in the nonprofit world in India, specifically with homeless communities and women survivors of state violence in New Delhi. Amar holds a MSc from the Gender Institute at the London School of Economics and Political Science, and a B.A in Political Science and International Development Studies from McGill University.

Anu Pala
BCCIC Delegate to CSW64

Anu has worked in the non-profit sector for over twenty years in the areas of education, career development, program coordination, vision loss rehabilitation, technology training, project management, and event coordination. Anu has also participated in media and public relations initiatives including radio broadcasting, freelance writing, public speaking, and media coordination for fund raising events. Much of Anu’s career has focused on inspiring and empowering women through education and coaching to help them realize their potential and meet their personal and professional goals. Currently, Anu offers services through her small business, A-Nu Vision Coaching & Consulting. In addition, Anu works with the Surrey Women’s Centre and is a board member for SIETRBC     

In 1991, Anu lost her vision due to a retinal detachment. Despite this setback, she has not allowed it to define her, but rather uses it to fuel her towards meaningful work-to inspire, motivate and empower others to maximize their potential and opportunities and work towards living a positive and meaningful life. 

Through her personal and professional experiences, Anu has helped individuals from all backgrounds and walks of life realize their potential, connect to community resources, and obtain employment. As an ethnic woman living with vision loss, Anu values diversity, inclusion, and equality for all.  In April of this year, Anu completed her undergraduate degree in professional communications at Royal Roads University and was the recipient of the founders award. Anu’s philosophy is to experience life with enthusiasm, positivity and a glass half-full attitude.

When Anu is away from the computer, she enjoys baking, spending quality time with family and friends, and travelling.

June Francis
BCCIC Delegate to CSW64

In 2019, June was recognized by the Province of British Columbia and the National Congress of Black Women as a Trailblazer. The City of Vancouver also recognized her for her contributions to education and to the City. June’s visibility as a socially-engaged scholar who is deeply committed to gender and racial inclusion both locally and internationally and who works to bridge research and practice, resulted in her receiving the Beedie School of Business 2019 Service Award for contribution to the community. 

June is the Co-Chair of The Hogan’s Alley Society’s Board, an organization whose mission is to advance the social, political, economic and cultural well-being of people of African-descent through the delivery of housing, built spaces and programming. She led an effort to, among other initiatives, create Nora Hendrix Place, a home that prioritizes racialized people who are affected by homelessness. Gender inclusion has been a significant priority of this work. 

June’s work as a development practitioner and academic has also focused on gender and racial inclusion and its relationship to sustainable development. She is a co-founder of The Co-Laboratorio Project (Co-Lab), based in the Beedie School, that implemented a $1.3 million development project in Peru and continues to work to strengthen collaboration, learning and innovation for more diverse and gender inclusive resilient and sustainable solutions in governance, policies and industry practice here in Canada as well. 

June’s academic work focuses on gender and racial inclusion in community decision making, economic opportunities, board and governance participation and educating young people as change markers for a more inclusive future. Co-lab AQP, a program she co-designed, implemented and embedded at Universidad Católica de San Pablo in Arequipa Peru, connected undergraduate students with stakeholders to address the sustainable development goals.

Dina Vivona
BCCIC Delegate to CSW64

Dina currently resides in Toronto, Ontario. She has been a development practitioner over the last few years, though fairly new to the Gender Development stream. 

In 2014, Dina graduated from York University with an Hon. BA in Political Science, and Human Rights & Equity Studies. She then went on to pursue two post graduate degrees. In 2015, she earned an MA in International Law & Human Rights from the UN mandated University for Peace in Costa Rica. Afterwards, she received an MA in Project Management for Sustainable Development from the University of Turin (ITC-ILO) in Italy. Additionally, Dina holds two specialist certificates from the Human Rights Education Association in Business & Human Rights, and Advanced Approaches to Gender Mainstreaming; as well as an advanced MEAL DPro Certificate. 

Upon graduating, Dina completed two UN internships; firstly at the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) in Geneva where she supported the Secretariat of two UN Voluntary Funds; and secondly at the UN Global Compact Office in New York City where she assisted the Dept. of Social Sustainability & Decent Work. 

Most recently, Dina completed a one year placement as a Cuso International volunteer in Laos where she worked as a Project Management Advisor for three organizations across separate development sectors; the Lao Federation of Trade Unions, the Gender Development Association, and the Cuso International Country Program Office. Although her specialized expertise has typically been in social protection, corporate social responsibility, and women’s economic empowerment, it was throughout her time at the Gender Development Association (a grassroots organization supporting the development of rural and remote ethnic women), that she began to feel truly passionate about gender development and Indigenous Peoples rights. Before concluding her contract, she had the opportunity to accompany the Director of GDA as she presented as a panelist at the 35th Pre-Session of the UPR of Lao PDR in Geneva. This marked the first time a Lao-based CSO directly participated in the Universal Periodic Review process and an international human rights reporting forum. 

On a more personal note, Dina spends most of her free time being active and enjoying the outdoors. She looks for any excuse to travel and has a deep love for all things food-related. She is very grateful to the BCCIC for the opportunity to join this year’s delegation of talented individuals attending CSW. She is eager to meet the team and offer her experiences in supporting the BCCIC’s advocacy objectives. 

Janet Ray
BCCIC Delegate to CSW64

Janet has broad health care experience in leadership roles including administration project management, professional practice, education and more recently leading a policy team with a provincial regulatory body. She is now retired from a rewarding career and launching herself into new endeavours, SDGs included! Gender equality and empowerment were continuous themes in her health care leadership. She held senior leadership responsibility for service delivery to marginalized populations people with multiple chronic health problems, First Nations people off reserve, older adults the majority of whom are women and newcomers to Canada formerly refugees or asylum seekers. In the case of the latter, specialized clinics served many women whose sexual and reproductive health needs played prominently in their forced migration and resettlement journeys. In project leadership, Janet led crossfunctional teams to remove barriers and resolve gaps to enhance equitable access to quality care particularly for disadvantaged people and marginalized groups. Their inclusion in the change process contributed to better health outcomes and improved system function

Nursing, a predominantly female occupation, continues to grapple with a history of power imbalances and systemic structures that reinforce traditional gendered roles. Empowerment in the profession has not been a linear process and although it has yet to be fully satisfied, weve gained ground. Throughout her career Janet has supported nurses to challenge our historical legacy, attain personal and professional agency then optimize interdisciplinary team function in the interest of the patients, clients and residents we served

Although Janet is retired, she is not finished professionally. Janet is pursuing generative opportunities that offer a combination of learning and service. The CSW64 Delegation experience appeals to her because of its policy focus on gender equality, equity and empowerment, issues of compelling importance to her as a woman, a person of privilege and a global citizen. She believes that she has a responsibility to give back to society, she has resources to offer and wants to make a concrete contribution to making a better world. Janet is excited to be part of the CSW Delegation, to join the synergies of people committed to the SDG Agenda 2030. Let no one be left behind

Kaila Borrelli
BCCIC Delegate to CSW64

Kaila Borrelli is a Program Manager in the telecommunication industry where she managers and oversees construction projects across Western Canada. She currently serves on the Board of Directors of the British Columbia Council for International Cooperation as their treasurer. Previously Kaila has attended the Women Deliver Conference in 2019, and was a youth delegate at the High Level Political Forum on the Sustainable Development Goals in 2018, where she advocated for meaningful  youth involvement and inclusion of marginalized communities in the Canadian Government’s initiatives within the SDG framework. 

In University, Kaila studied International Business and Environmental Studies, where she learned about the intersection between the fields, and developed a passion for Corporate Sustainability. Having worked in a male dominated industry throughout her career, Kaila strives to increase the percentage of women in the upper management levels in business and create a culture that supports gender equality in the workplace. 

Kristin Agnello
BCCIC Delegate to CSW64

Kristin Agnello, RPP, MCIP is a scholar-practitioner with a background in architecture, urban design, and international development.  Based out of Victoria, BC, Kristin is the founder and Director of Plassurban, an intersectional urban planning and design practice dedicated to addressing inequity in the built environment. 

Kristin is a Registered Professional Planner with the Canadian Institute of Planners and a member of the Planning Institute of British Columbia. She is the Regional Coordinator for the South Vancouver Island Chapter of the British Columbia Council for International Cooperation, Vice President (Canada) of the Commonwealth Association of Planners, Chair of the Commonwealth Women in Planning Network, and a TeachSDG Ambassador. 

Kristin has twice represented the Commonwealth Association of Planners at the World Design Summits in Montreal and Saint Etienne, France, where she participated in deliberating and ratifying the Montreal Design Declaration.  Kristin authored the unprecedented Women in Planning Manifesto, which has been endorsed by the Commonwealth Association of Planners, Canadian Institute of Planners, Royal Town Planning Institute (UK), Ghana Institute of Planners, Barbados Town Planning Institute, New Zealand Planning Institute, and others. In 2018, Kristin was named one of Canada’s Top 25 Women of Influence for her work toward advancing gender equality in the built environment.

Kristin is the author of an award-winning book on planning and designing communities for an aging population and is looking forward to releasing her second book in early 2020.  Kristin is currently a doctoral candidate at Royal Roads University, studying the social impacts of policy as they relate to gender equality, cultural expression, and vulnerability in the built environment.

Margot Sangster
BCCIC Delegate to CSW64

Margot Sangster has over twenty-five years of professional experience in international development, public health, labour force development, refugee/immigrant settlement, etc.  She earned a Master’s Degree in Counselling Psychology and an Administrative Management Diploma, completed the Harvard Global Mental Health Trauma and Recovery Certificate, and is presently completing an International Development Certificate at the University of British Columbia.  Margot currently works in residential addictions treatment and previously worked with Vancouver Coastal Health (e.g. Vancouver Drug Treatment Court, Cross-Cultural Mental Health Program, Whistler Mental Health and Addictions Centre, etc.) In addition, she worked with a private sector cross-cultural consulting firm and the New Westminster School District Community Education Department with income assistance recipients.  Margot worked in Afghanistan on US AID contracts for two years (e.g. Ministry of Labor, Social Affairs, Martyrs and Disabled Kabul Employment Centre; Ministry of Agriculture, Irrigation, Livestock Private Sector Development Directorate; etc.) and on two short-term CIDA contracts in the Philippines. She volunteered with Canadian Crossroads International in Kenya. Margot was appointed to the City of Vancouver’s Women’s Advisory Committee 2017 – 2018.    

Margot lives in Vancouver, Canada where she enjoys going to the gym, walking, cycling, hiking, swimming, dancing, and meditating.  She can be contacted at

Tanya Cowie
BCCIC Delegate to CSW64

Tanya has been an English as an Additional language instructor, teaching English to Adult Immigrants, Refugees and International students for over 25 years. Her interests include English language acquisition, intercultural communication, and women’s issues.

Tanya recently received a certificate in Intercultural studies from UBC and has become an Intercultural Development Inventory Qualified Administrator. She is now a board member of SIETAR BC. (Society for Intercultural Education, Training and Research). Inspired by her students, Tanya is keen to learn more about Intercultural Communication to develop her own comfort with difference, to help her students adjust to life in a new culture, and to support women all over the world. Tanya has also been on the board with the BCTEAL Charitable Foundation which fundraises to provide academic scholarships to  Refugees wanting to continue Post Secondary Education. She also lived and taught English in Japan and was a past participant with Canadian Crossroads, which took her to the Cote d’Ivoire, West Africa. She also volunteered with Oxfam Canada in Victoria, BC.

Vera Radyo
BCCIC Delegate to CSW64

Vera is once again honoured to be part of the BCCIC team attending the UN session on the Status of Women.  Last year, she attended CSW63 and Women Deliver in Vancouver. Vera is the Executive Director of Kenoli Foundation which works in the poorest countries in the Western Hemisphere and also some of the most violent in the world: Honduras, Nicaragua, El Salvador and Guatemala.  Kenoli Foundation works with 25 civil society organizations in these countries to promote social justice through empowering women, building community self-sufficiency, and advancing human rights.

Vera was previously Co-Chair of the Board of BCCIC.  She has worked in a wide range of areas including the settlement of immigrants and refugees, citizenship, and early childhood development. As a student activist, Vera organized the first forum on women’s issues at the University of Alberta and then she was involved in developing the first organization dedicated to improving the status of women in the province.  Vera was chosen for an overseas placement to The Gambia, West Africa with Canadian Crossroads International and later became the first woman to chair the Board of Crossroads. Vera has an MA in Community Development and Bachelor’s of Science.

Staff photo

Rowen Siemens
Communications for the BCCIC Delegation to CSW64

Rowen Siemens is the Communications Officer at the BC Council for International Cooperation, and she is grateful for the opportunity to live, work, and play on the traditional, ancestral, and unceded Indigenous territories of the xʷməθkʷəy̓əm (Musqueam), Selilwitulh (Tsleil-Waututh), and Sḵwx̱wú7mesh (Squamish) peoples. Rowen has a Masters in Human Rights from the London School of Economics and Political Science and a BA in Philosophy from the University of British Columbia. Her graduate research focused on the effects of Canadian legislation on Indigenous rights.

Rowen has worked in communications across a range of sectors, including the private, charitable, and the international non-governmental. Rowen is excited to assist the CSW64 delegation in sharing their stories and the knowledge they gain while at CSW64 with BCCIC’s network and the province at large. For media or general delegation inquiries, please contact

Dr. Zosa De Sas Kropiwnicki-Gruber
Lead for the BCCIC Delegation to CSW64

Dr. Zosa De Sas Kropiwnicki-Gruber is a Senior Policy Analyst & Gender Specialist at BCCIC. She has a doctorate in International Development Studies from the University of Oxford, as well as two Masters degrees in Political Science and Social Policy from Leeds University and Rhodes University, respectively. Zosa has accrued 15 years of experience in research, evaluation, and policy analysis in developing, transitional, and emergency contexts in South East Europe, Central Asia, West Africa, and Southern Africa. Zosa has worked for a wide range of government, non-government, and international non-governmental organizations such as UNICEF, UNDP, UNODC, IOM, Save the Children, Family for Every Child, and others. Her work has centred on human rights, empowerment, and social justice in the child protection, gender, and equity sectors. She has sought to prevent and respond to discrimination, social exclusion, and violence experienced by vulnerable and marginalized women, youth, and children. Using an intergenerational, equity-focused, and gender-sensitive lens, she has conducted in-depth qualitative – and often highly participatory – research on the rights, wellbeing, and agency of women and children survivors of abuse, exploitation, and trafficking; refugee and migrant women and children; children affected by armed conflict and natural disasters; children and adolescents living with disabilities; and families in ethnically marginalized and poverty-stricken communities. Zosa has also designed and taught interdisciplinary university-level courses on monitoring and evaluation, results-based management, gender, youth, and development. Zosa has published numerous peer-reviewed reports, academic articles, and book chapters. Her recent book entitled Exile Identity, Agency and Belonging in South Africa: The Masupatsela Generationpublished by Palgrave-MacMillan, focuses on second-generation refugees in exile.

Zosa lives in North Vancouver with her husband, two children, two dogs, and guinea pig. She spends her free time exploring B.C’s expansive peaks and scenic trails with her motley crew, applying countless bandaids and building impressive, architectural-digest worthy forts for her two- and four-legged troops.