GECCO Steering Committee

Keneisha, Chapter Coordinator

Keneisha Charles I am currently a student set to graduate in 2019 at Rutland Senior Secondary school in Kelowna. I am an avid volunteer within my school and community and have worked advocating for social issues such as promoting positive mental health, supporting diversity, and educating around substance abuse and violence prevention. As a young person, I am constantly inspired by the capacity for social and environmental change-making I see my peers demonstrate and am passionate about advocating for the inclusion of youth in envisioning a more sustainable world for all. I am thrilled to be taking action in achieving this vision with GECCO.

 

 

 

 


Rosalind, Chair, Steering Committee

Rosalind Warner is a Continuing College Professor in Political Science at Okanagan College in Kelowna.  As an educator, I’m struck every day by the impact that education can have as a means of social change.   In my volunteering, I’m motivated to help groups find solutions to problems, whether that is something small like serving Nanaimo bars at an event or speaking to an audience of 200 about the Global Goals.  In my youth I travelled the globe for 9 months as a part of a travel-study tour and learned an incredible amount about how people everywhere in the world face challenges and hardships that we can all relate to.  In my work, I’ve studied global environmental politics, international development, and Canadian foreign and development policy. I’m seeing more and more how the Sustainable Development Goals are impacted thinking and acting in the world in positive and exciting ways, and I want to be (even a small) part of that movement.

 

 

 


Kusum, Project Coordinator

Kusum Wijesekera  I am an Aerospace Engineer, and my career has been full of exciting challenges! I enjoyed encouraging more females to enter this field that has been historically dominated by males.  I took time from my engineering career to travel and volunteer in other countries such as Sri Lanka, South Korea and Nepal working with the homeless and disadvantaged women and children.

Since 2012 I have been involved with the organization One Billion Stronger whose mandate is to bring awareness around the globe regarding violence against women. As part of an International Photo Campaign, people discuss their thoughts and ideas related to this issue and I post them to a platform (Facebook).

I have served on the Board of Directors for Her International as Director of Programs and also as Vice-President. Her International’s Programs in Nepal and Canada help facilitate community development by empowering women and children through education. I have travelled to Nepal to oversee the International Programs and to work with the field staff to improve programs, reporting and communication.

 


Danielle, Steering Committee Member

Danielle Hofer is a values-driven leader with experience in project development, workshop facilitation, entrepreneurship and marketing.  Her career passions are revolved around women’s empowerment and sustainable development.  In her work, she is the Admin, Client Service and Events (ACE) Coordinator at Women’s Enterprise Centre based at its Kelowna head office. In this role, Danielle helps coordinate events and sponsorships, helps connect women entrepreneurs with the resources they need to succeed in business and plays an active role in the coordination and administration of events/sponsorship for WEC.

Danielle has a business degree from the Okanagan School of Business with a major in Marketing. As a former member of the social entrepreneurship group Enactus, she developed projects to help teach entrepreneurship and micro-lending to K-12 students. She presented at regional and national competitions representing the Okanagan as a progressive and entrepreneurial community.

Danielle sits on the board of JCI Kelowna (Jr. Chamber International) and holds the role of 2018 Training Director. In September 2018 she was named Canada’s National Effective Speaking Champion and will represent Canada in Argentina in 2019.

 


Gill, Steering Committee Member

Gill Drakeford-Lewis I was born in England, but lived in Belfast, Northern Ireland for all of my school years. We moved there 3 months before the conflicts in Northern Ireland started which made life very interesting growing up.

I studied Business Studies at Portsmouth University, England. I have (allegedly) had several ‘big’ jobs in business, such as managing a brewery and an airport, to name a couple. I became increasingly frustrated, as I wanted to put effort into something I felt was worthwhile. A major accident and subsequent spinal injury gave me some much-needed perspective and helped me to focus on what was truly important to me.

My husband, Chris, and I gave up the rat race, and spent several years backpacking, and working at various orphanage, and at an HIV charity in Thailand. This is the best thing we ever did. It gave our lives so much purpose. To make a difference to one life makes everything worthwhile.

Our lives are now busy as we have two children, Ella, aged 9, and Sam, aged 7.

I work as a Community Outreach Coordinator for local NGO, Hope For The Nations. I love the integrity, the people, and the work that HOPE does throughout the world.

I am passionate about making a difference, helping vulnerable children, and bringing people together to join in the joy of changing lives.

 


Joyce, Steering Committee Member

Joyce Brinkerhoff  is one of the founders and continues as the volunteer executive director of Global Citizen Events (previously known as Global Citizen Kelowna)  – a volunteer initiative promoting the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals. I have been recognized for my community work through various awards but the best ‘reward’ is seeing the  positive changes in people’s lives!    I have been actively involved in multicultural and immigration issues for many years. I am certified ESL teacher and served as co-president of the Intercultural Society of the Central Okanagan for over a decade. I am  on the board of Society of HOPE  which provides affordable housing in the Kelowna area and I am active with Hope for the Nations, a charity working with children at risk world-wide. I have been able to travel to numerous nations and projects overseas.   I am married to Dr John Brinkerhoff – a family physician and I am the proud mom to 4 adult children and 11 grandchildren.

 

 


Daria, Steering Committee Member

Daria Zavarzina I am a recent International Development graduate from the Okanagan College, active community volunteer, and travelling enthusiast. I hold a Master Degree in History from the Russian University, which I successfully used to work as a history teacher in the middle and high school in Russia. Desire to gain international experiences made me to travel and study abroad. I have over 8 years of customer service experience in a multitude of areas from teaching as a History Instructor to being a Hostess at the Delta Grand, and a library assistant in the Okanagan College Library.  I enjoy working in Educational sphere since I believe that the education is the most powerful tool to build peaceful, just, and prosperous society locally and globally. My Diploma in International Development became a useful link to expand my interests from historical perspective to political science, human rights, justice building, and current global issues such as poverty, racial discrimination, and political deficiency. I am also inspired by gender studies and environmental studies. From the importance of all UN Sustainable Development goals, I define for myself goals 4 and 5 as quality education and gender equality as the most desirable and ready to contribute to a community around the world to achieve these goals by 2030. I am inspired by learning new languages, cultures, and skills. Currently, I am a mentee in the British Columbia Council of International Education where I am eager to learn more about International Education profession. I am also actively learning Spanish; and I explore multiple Canadian parks and ski resorts with her photo camera and a good book to read.