Staff

Mike Simpson

Executive Director

Mike is the Executive Director of the British Columbia Council for International Cooperation (BCCIC). Prior to working for BCCIC, Mike was the Executive Director of One Sky – The Canadian Institute for Sustainable Living. His work with One Sky varied from leading major bilateral projects in West Africa, including Nigeria and Sierra Leone, to working in Latin America on projects ranging from forest conservation to leadership development. Mike has been an active voice for Canadian civil society at international forums ranging from the World Summit on Sustainable Development to UN meetings on renewable energy. With a keen interest in integral theory, he has been active in exploring the nexus between developmental psychology and social change.

Prior to his work with civil society groups, Simpson was an award winning documentary producer who ran a video production company that specialized in programming on environment, development, and human rights. He spent many years working in conflict and post-conflict areas, with a special focus on Latin America. His most recent focus has been on leadership development within the context of social movements, including both the private sector and civil society.

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Dr. Zosa Gruber (nee De Sas Kropiwnicki)

Policy Director and Gender Specialist

Dr. Zosa De Sas Kropiwnicki-Gruber is a Policy Director & 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 17 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, and Save the Children. Her work has centered on human rights, empowerment, and social justice in the context of child protection, forced migration, gender empowerment, and women’s equality. Zosa has published two books as well as numerous book chapters, academic articles, reports, and policy briefs on topics related to the Sustainable Development Goals. Zosa lives in North Vancouver with her two children, dogs, and guinea pig.

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Rowen Siemens

Communications Director

Rowen Siemens is the Communications Director 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, a BA in Philosophy from the University of British Columbia, and has acquired years of writing, research, and communications experience. She has worked across a range of sectors, including the private, charitable, and the international non-governmental. She worked most recently with Minority Rights Group International (MRG). When she isn’t busy at BCCIC, Rowen sits on local committees that engage with issues related to public policy, communications, and public engagement. She enjoys volunteering, is a novice yogi and runner, and listens to probably too many podcasts.

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Laurel Wayne-Nixon

Operations Manager

Laurel moved to Vancouver in the summer of 2018 to do an internship with BCCIC. She had spent the previous year in Norway, busy with the first year of her Masters in International Environmental Studies. Prior to moving abroad, Laurel lived in Victoria and obtained a BA in Political Science and Environmental Studies from the University of Victoria. She was a cheerleader for 9 years and has an impressive house plant collection (of over 20 plants!). Laurel has a passion for bringing people together, often planning parties for the team and her friends. For fun, Laurel loves to cook, bake, and try new restaurants- she even has an Instagram account dedicated to food! Not to mention she has been known to write a murder mystery or two in her spare time.

Laurel is passionate about the intersection between policy, food, and environmental sustainability, and she wrote her Masters thesis on the barriers that environmentally-sustainable food businesses face. Laurel started working on SDG policy briefs during her internship at BCCIC and became fully immersed in the 2030 Agenda. She sees a powerful opportunity in the SDGs, and she is excited to continue building meaningful partnerships through BCCIC to achieve these goals

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Bashar Alsaeedi

Policy Analyst

Bashar Alsaeedi is a Policy Analyst at BCCIC. He holds a Masters in Public Policy and Global Affairs and a BA in International Relations from the  University of British Columbia. Prior to joining the BCCIC team, Bashar has worked for the United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO) in Bahrain with the objective of strengthening local capacities in selected countries in the Arab, Asian and African regions. He specifically worked hand-in-hand with entrepreneurs to develop their business plans and contributed to strengthening existing SMEs on a local and global scale in order to facilitate sustainable economic development. Bashar has also gained experience carrying out qualitative research and analysis for an NGO in Nepal after conducting fieldwork on healthcare accessibility and management of sickle cell disease focusing on the Indigenous Tharu community.

Coming from the small island nation of Bahrain in the Middle East, Bashar has been passionate about cooking, sailing, soccer, and politics. He is a true foodie and linguist when traveling around the world and discovering new destinations.

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Angela Phan

SDG Programming Assistant

Angela is a recent graduate from the University of British Columbia (UBC) with a B.A. in International Relations. She is grateful to live on the traditional, ancestral, and unceded territories of the xʷməθkʷəy̓əm (Musqueam), Selilwitulh (Tsleil-Waututh), and Sḵwx̱wú7mesh (Squamish) peoples. Growing up on this land has helped foster a passion for intersectional environmentalism and firmly believes that in order to reach environmental justice we have to aim for social justice as well.

Throughout her degree, she has held several co-op positions with UBC and Environment and Climate Change Canada and has experience in environmental non-profit work. She currently volunteers with Ocean Wise as part of their Ocean Bridge program. In the future, Angela hopes to pursue a Masters degree in environmental science and development in order to protect and conserve our already fragile ecosystems across the globe. When she is not working, you can find Angela hiking, spending time at the beach, trying new restaurants, and watching dog videos.

 

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Eliana Fleifel

Communications Specialist

Eliana Fleifel is a Masters of Development Practice holder with expertise in sustainability communications and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Eliana has leveraged various forms of media and creative platforms to mobilize think tanks, universities, private sector organizations, researchers, and other stakeholders to align with the SDGs, promote global citizenship and advance engagement around sustainable development issues.

She has lent her communications expertise to advance the work of many prominent national and international organisations in the sustainable development space. These include the Sustainable Development Solutions Network (SDSN) Canada, the SDG Academy and the Global Schools Program (SDSN Youth) to advance education for sustainable development, the Cascade Institute to leverage systems thinking for transformative change, and BCCIC Climate Change branch to promote youth led climate action. She also currently holds a position as Sessional Instructor for Global Health at the University of Waterloo.

Eliana’s passion for creative media, public speaking and education are at the center of her work. She strongly believes that effective communications and collaboration is the key driver for empowerment and development in Canada and around the world.

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Demitra Soursos

Monitoring and Evaluation Administrative Assistant

Demitra Soursos is the Monitoring and Evaluation and Administrative Assistant at BCCIC, gratefully residing and learning on the traditional, ancestral, and unceded territories of the Semiahmoo and Kwantlen people. Demitra holds a BA in International Relations and Economics from the University of British Columbia, having done the majority of her independent research in gender and development in the Middle East, as well as the impacts of educational and health barriers faced by children in the Middle East and Africa. Demitra has long held a passion for international development and the social, political, emotional, and economic empowerment of women and girls across the developing world.

Demitra is also deeply passionate about local issues here in BC. At 17, Demitra co-founded a student-led charitable organization aimed to support transitioning Syrian refugees residing in Surrey, as well as hosted events and information sessions to promote global citizenship and facilitate discussions on the plight of the world’s refugees. She has also long been an advocate and ally for racial and Indigenous justice, equality, esteem, and an active listener to stories of systemic, intergenerational injustice across groups in BC.

Demitra enjoys exploring different cultures through food, travel, language, nature, and connecting with new people across the world. When she’s not busy with M&E, you’ll likely find her on hikes or in restaurants across the Lower Mainland.