Team Members Profile

Caroline Halili

Chapter Coordinator

Caroline Halili is an award-winning designer working in marketing and advertising for the education, travel; tourism, hospitality, home improvement, entertainment, healthcare and self-care sectors. She is currently creative director at Halili Design and founder of Holden’s Hope Train, a nonprofit charity providing support to children fighting cancer and their families. She lives by the motto “Actions not words” and is in a constant state of volunteering for something somewhere with the hope of making a little bit of difference to make the world a more just and equitable place for all. A native Southern Californian, Caroline currently calls Kelowna home with her kids Hudson (15) and Hana (11).

Michael Simpson

Executive Director

  1. Home
  2. Staff
  3. Michael 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.

[button size="medium" link="/staff/" style="simple"]Back[/button]

Dan Harris

Program Officer

  1. Home
  2. Staff
  3. Dan Harris

Program Officer

Dan is a New Zealander with over seven years’ experience in the field of international community development working with NGOs in Latin America and the United States. Raised on a yacht, Dan’s love for international cooperation grew out of his own travels in Europe, the Caribbean, West Africa, and the Pacific. With a Masters in Development Studies, Dan’s focus is participatory methodologies for community engagement and change leadership. While this work is his passion, Dan also loves the outdoors and exploring the wilderness either with a backpack or by sail. [button size="medium" link="/staff/" style="simple"]Back[/button]

Sara Michel

Interim Program Director

Sara is temporarily replacing Dan Harris as Program Director from March until the end of June 2020, at which time Dan will resume his position.
Sara has been working with the Provincial and Regional Councils for International Cooperation through the Inter-Council Network since April of 2017. Sara was working at the BCCIC office when BCCIC hosted the ICN from April 2017 until end of May 2019.
Sara has over 15 years of experience in the sector, having worked for the federal government's Departments of National Defence and Foreign Affairs, the United Nations World Food Programme, Caritas Canada, as well as local civil society organizations in the Caribbean and South America. She has experience and a particular interest working on peace and justice issues, specifically in the Middle East and North Africa region. She lives in Vancouver with her son, and enjoys all kinds of toddler mischief these days.

Dr. Zosa Gruber (nee De Sas Kropiwnicki)

Senior Policy Analyst & Gender Specialist

Senior Policy Analyst & Gender Specialist

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 Generation, published by Palgrave-MacMillan, focuses on the experiences, identity, and agency of 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. [button size="medium" link="/staff/" style="simple"]Back[/button]

Staff photo
Rowen Siemens

Communications Officer

Staff photo

Communications Officer

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, 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 enjoys being a mediocre vegan cook, a novice yogi and runner, and she listens to probably too many podcasts. [button size="medium" link="/staff/" style="simple"]Back[/button]

Laurel Wayne-Nixon

Office Manager & Partnership Development

Officer Manager & Head of Partnership Development

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 attained 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.   [button size="medium" link="/staff/" style="simple"]Back[/button]

Brennan Strandberg-Salmon

Climate Emergency Policy Analyst

Brennan is a second-year Bachelor of Environment student at SFU, majoring in Resource and Environmental Management. He hopes to pursue a career in environmental solutions and innovation. As a youth environmental leader, he initiates efforts to improve the environment, including stream stewardship, bee pollinator habitat, water quality, environmental education, and other efforts. He recruits and manages volunteers, organizes and promotes events, and advises on youth engagement activities for volunteer organizations. Since 2019 he has been the Policy and Research Division Coordinator for BCCIC Climate Change and has worked on a project to develop a guide to accelerate municipal climate emergency declarations. He co-leads SFU 350, which is a student club engaging SFU to be a climate leader. For the summer he has taken on the role of Climate Emergency Policy Analyst for BCCIC, where he will write a toolkit for industry and professional associations to pursue climate mitigation and adaptation strategies. Brennan thrives in outdoor environments and enjoys hiking, dragon boating, water skiing, and exploring nature locally and during travels abroad (Iceland is a favourite).

Jose Lamyin

Jose is Managing Partner of Deetken Impact, a private asset management company focused on impact investing in emerging markets. Deetken Impact is a signatory to the UN Global Compact and a certified B Corporation. The aim of Deetken Impact investments is to achieve strong, stable returns while creating meaningful positive social or environmental benefits for low income populations. For the past two decades, Jose has worked in engineering, finance, strategic planning, and entrepreneurship. He holds an Applied Science degree from UBC, and a Master’s in Business Administration from IESE Business School. Eighteen years ago, Jose co-founded The Deetken Group, and since then, has led the investment strategy in North America, as well as Latin America and the Caribbean. As an impact investor, his primary focus has been on renewable energy, microfinance, microinsurance, healthcare and financial services to support women SMEs. Jose has served on the Board of Directors of two companies, both in Canada and Central America. Born in Peru, Jose moved to Vancouver to attend University in 1992, and for the past 25 years he has worked in 9 different countries in Latin America and Europe. He has a passion for International Development and Global Affairs.

Shirin Kiani

Shirin has worked as a disability specialist in humanitarian aid and international development for the last 11 years, mainly with an NGO called 'Humanity and Inclusion' (previously called Handicap International) in countries such as Sri Lanka, Nepal, Haiti, Iraq, Laos and Syria. The focus of her work has been to ensure persons with injuries and disabilities are included in livelihood and health programs. She comes from an ethnic and religious minority in Iran called the Zoroastrians who are Indigenous to Iran. She is presently working for UNICEF as an 'inclusion and accessibility specialist' and hopes her presence on the BCCIC board can help ensure the SDG mantra to 'leave no one left behind' is inclusive of marginalized groups and also within BCCIC initiatives, as best as possible.

Amy Smith (Rauscher)

Having a keen interest in international development from a young age, Amy completed her Bachelor of Commerce in International Business. After her undergraduate degree, she lived and worked abroad in Europe and Mexico. Returning to Canada, Amy completed her MBA with a specialization in International Affairs. 
Amy's personal goal is around empowerment and she is excited to engage and collaborate as the regional coordinator for GECCO.

Mari Otomo


Mari’s passion for children’s rights, global issues and contributing to sustainable and intergenerational transformative social change is grounded in her educational background in political science (BA) and social work (BSW, MSW). In addition to working in government agencies, Mari has a diverse range of experiences in grassroots and national non-profit agencies as well as the United Nations. Her international work has taken her to countries such as Ghana where she worked at a local development agency on an income generating project for rural women and in Japan, she has worked for a UN agency assisting in the development of a entrepreneurship and leadership training for youth in Iraq.

Currently, Mari works in policy, research and development within the field of child protection at the Vancouver Aboriginal Child and Family Services Society.  Additionally, Mari is a partner and consultant at Social Root Consulting.