Grace Saris’ career has spanned over 35 years in the financial industry, with leadership roles in branch operations and management, business development, financial planning, insurance and mergers and acquisitions with several banks and credit unions in retail and business banking. With a passion for making a difference in her community, she has served on the board of many not-for-profit organizations, and has been involved with local Chambers of Commerce, committees and task forces. In addition to her role with the Fraser Valley Health Care Foundation, Grace is also Vice Chair of SARA for Women Society.
Since 2000, Grace has been the Chief Financial Officer for a commercial construction company, which she owns with her husband, and has also started a consulting business called Mondella Consulting that helps organizations develop and improve their leadership capabilities and strategic goals. She also stays active in the farming community by raising livestock.
Grace has attended Simon Fraser University, the British Columbia Institute of Technology and Trinity Western University, and lives in Agassiz with her husband where they have created a farming legacy for their children and grandchildren.
Colleen Walker retired from working in the energy sector after 30 plus years, holding various positions in the operation and maintenance of nuclear power generating stations in both Canada and the United States, with her last position as Director and Chief of Staff at Fermi 2.
Colleen was born and raised In Prince Rupert and attended the University of British Columbia. She subsequently completed the Executive Development Program at Ross Business School (University of Michigan) and the Corporate Leadership Development Program at Rotman School of Management (University of Toronto), and holds a Certified Human Resources Professional designation from the University of Toronto.
In addition to her role at the Fraser Valley Health Care Foundation, Colleen sits on two other boards, and was previously the High Performance Team Manager with Synchro Canada, attending both the 1995 Pan American Games and 1996 Olympics. She brings her regulatory, financial and leadership skills to the board.
In 2014, Colleen and her husband returned to Chilliwack where her family has lived for more than 40 years.
Todd Kesslar enjoys working with owner-managed entrepreneurial businesses. His clients represent a wide range of industries including manufacturing, agriculture, construction, real estate, transportation, wholesale, retail and distribution.
Since completing the Chartered Accountants of Canada In-depth Tax Course, Todd has specialized in Canadian income taxation, corporate and personal tax planning and estate and trust planning. In a highly personable and informative manner, he provides his clients with creative solutions to corporate and personal income tax issues, succession planning and financial reporting.
Todd joined Manning Elliott in 2000 as a partner. Prior to that, he was a senior manager in the tax group of Ernst & Young after starting his career with KPMG. He received his CA designation in 1991 and holds a Bachelor of Business Administration from Simon Fraser University.
Todd is very involved with community activities. In addition to his work as treasurer of the Fraser Valley Health Care Foundation, he is the former treasurer of Big Brothers and Big Sisters of the Fraser Valley, former treasurer of the Abbotsford Matsqui Rotary Club and a supporter of United Way of the Fraser Valley.
A long-time resident of the Fraser Valley, he enjoys spending time with his family and friends, travelling, fishing, downhill skiing and riding his Harley Davidson.
Shelly Avram is a Partner of RDM Lawyer LLP and practices in the area of civil litigation, with a particular focus on personal injury litigation. She also practices in the area of labour and employment and human rights law. Shelly has represented clients in all levels of court in British Columbia, including the Supreme Court and the Court of Appeal, and at various tribunals. She is a member of the Trial Lawyers of British Columbia, has been involved with the provincial branch of the Canadian Bar Association and a member of the executive of the Women’s Practice and Equality Section of the CBA.
Raised in B.C., Shelly completed her undergraduate degree from the University of Victoria in 1994, and moved to Ontario to complete her Master’s Degree in Political Science in 1996 and law degree in 1999, both from the University of Western Ontario. She then returned to the west coast, where she articled with a large law firm. Shelly was called to the Bar in 2000 and joined RDM Lawyers in 2003.
Michael Adkins has retired after working over 50 years in executive positions in several careers. An entrepreneur, he owned a restaurant and started a wholesale bakery business that provided unique products for restaurants, hotels, delicatessens and pubs. Michael also held executive positions in the supermarket industry, security, construction and manufacturing sectors. He is a full-time volunteer in the community with:
With over 24 years of service with Rotary, Michael has been recognized with numerous awards. In 2017, he was nominated for Abbotsford’s Philanthropist Volunteer of Year, was awarded the D.F. Service Above Self Award and the Fraser Valley Champion of Diversity Award in 2018, and is nominated for the 2018 Community Builder Award.
Since 1989, Michael has resided in Abbotsford with his wife Gladys, has three daughters, one son and seven grandchildren.
Cristen Gleeson was born in Thunder Bay Ontario where she was exposed to the great outdoors of the Northern Ontario wilderness. In early adulthood Ms. Gleeson began fighting forest fires and in that context she became one of the first female leaders of a helicopter attack crew. In addition, Ms. Gleeson was one of the most successful basketball players of her graduating year, leading her to play for the Queen’s University Varsity Women’s Basketball Team for several years during her undergraduate degree.
Ms. Gleeson lived and worked in developing countries in her early twenties on two global outreach projects living in remote villages in Jamaica and Guatemala. Ms. Gleeson was a participant in the Canada World Youth international exchange program. Ms. Gleeson graduated with a degree in English Literature from Queen’s University in 1998 and obtained her Law Degree from Queen’s University in 2001. She articled with BC Hydro in Vancouver and was called to the Bar of British Columbia in 2002.
In the early stages of her career Ms. Gleeson had the honor of working with Court of Appeal Judge Gail Dickson and the late Judge Russell MacKay who were then practicing lawyers in the areas of plaintiff civil sexual assault, personal injury and criminal defence. Ms. Gleeson appeared before the Supreme Court of Canada on a triple appeal involving civil sexual assault and abuses to children in foster care. She also worked and volunteered in the Downtown Eastside of Vancouver, working with women facing issues of drug addiction and assault and served on the Board of the Pivot Legal Society.
Ms. Gleeson’s spouse was born and raised on a tree farm in Chilliwack BC. She moved to Chilliwack BC from Vancouver with her husband and joined the firm of Baker Newby LLP in 2006. She became a Partner in January of 2010. Ms. Gleeson’s practice focuses on family law and personal injury. Ms. Gleeson is on the cutting edge of the new developments in family law and she works collaboratively with the leading mediators and parenting coordinators in Vancouver to achieve prompt resolution for her clients. Ms. Gleeson is known for being extremely tough and passionate about her work. Ms. Gleeson has a commanding presence in the courtroom and does not shy away from difficult cases. Clients often comment that Ms. Gleeson is a real person who has your back. Ms. Gleeson’s practice is centered in the Fraser Valley but she receives direct referral work from former and current clients as far away as Dawson Creek and Vancouver. Ms. Gleeson has a winning track record in court and relishes obtaining real, prompt results for clients facing unfair, difficult and complex personal injury and family disputes. Ms. Gleeson is a new age lawyer who brings practical, tangible results in a timely fashion so you can move on with your life with a fair resolution. Ms. Gleeson frequently appears in the BC Supreme Court and has appeared before the BC Court of Appeal and Supreme Court of Canada. Ms. Gleeson is the founder and current co-chair of the CBA Fraser Valley Family Law Section.
Ms. Gleeson is extremely proud to be the mother of son Levi and daughter Josie and this passion carries over into her law practice. In addition, Ms. Gleeson and her husband own a tree farm located in beautiful Rosedale BC in the heart of the Fraser River delta. In her spare time Ms. Gleeson enjoys hockey and soccer with her kids and is known for solo hiking the Westcoast Trail and backpacking Alaska and the Yukon. Ms. Gleeson loves to snowboard, run and bike with her children and husband.
Kerry Kinney grew up in Calgary and moved to British Columbia in 1996. She completed a Bachelor of Arts degree at the University of the Fraser Valley in 1998 and began working in the criminal justice system with high risk young offenders, and eventually started a career with federal corrections. After 12 years, Kerry changed career directions and joined Sun Life Financial as an advisor. She has obtained insurance and mutual fund licenses, with the goal of becoming a Certified Financial Planner. Kerry lives in the Fraser Valley and balances her time between career and family.
Doug Lester is a Senior Partner at RDM Lawyers, practicing in civil litigation with a focus on personal injury law with an emphasis on brain injury and catastrophic physical injuries. He has appeared in all levels of court in British Columbia, including the Supreme Court and the Court of Appeal. Doug is a member of the Trial Lawyers Association of British Columbia, the Fraser Valley Bar Association and the Abbotsford and District Bar Association. Since 2009, he has served as RDM Lawyers’ managing partner, and in 2016, he received the designation of Queen’s Counsel, a recognition reserved for only seven percent of all practicing lawyers in B.C. Doug is also a designated Chartered Professional in Human Resources (CPHR) of British Columbia & Yukon, having been conferred this designation in 2016.
Born and raised in the Fraser Valley, Doug attended school in Alberta and Ontario. After completing his undergraduate degree from Ryerson Polytechnical Institute in 1980, he spent two years in the insurance industry before returning to school to pursue his legal career. Doug obtained his law degree from the University of British Columbia in 1985 and joined RDM Lawyers upon his call to the British Columbia Bar in 1986.
An active member of the community, Doug has coached minor hockey, minor fastball and ringette and has served on the Board of Directors of the Reach Gallery and the Abbotsford Minor Hockey Association.
Bonnie McEwan is currently Past President of the Auxiliary to the Abbotsford Regional Hospital, where she has been on the board for six years and is the former manager of the Gift Shop in the hospital. Bonnie and her husband, Wayne, owned a hardware and gift store in Salmon Arm for many years, and moved to Abbotsford ten years ago once they retired.
Born and raised in Abbotsford, Dave Sidhu is proud to be part of this multicultural community and has been focused on community outreach from an early age. Currently, he is the President of the Fraser Valley Indo-Canadian Business Association, as well as the General Manager of the only bilingual newspaper in BC, The Patrika. Among his other community roles, Dave has been involved in fundraising for the Abbotsford Regional Hospital and Cancer Centre, The Canadian Diabetes Association, Abbotsford Police Foundation, and The Abbotsford Food Bank. He has played an instrumental role in student recruitment for the University of the Fraser Valley, helping to facilitate agreements with various universities from India. A driving force in forging strong community links, Dave’s love for the community motivates him to constantly strive for improvement and progress. Dave wishes to elevate Abbotsford further and make it a city its residents can continue to be proud to call home.
Dr. George Vrabec immigrated to Canada from the Czech Republic with his parents in 1969. He graduated from Saint George’s School in Vancouver and then went on to the University of Pennsylvania where he obtained a Bachelor of Science in Biochemistry and Philosophy. As an undergraduate, George lettered in Indoor and Outdoor Varsity Track & Field for eight straight seasons and was elected captain of the team in his senior year. He returned to Canada and completed both medical school and urology residency at the University of British Columbia and became a Fellow of the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Canada in 2001. George then spent a year in Austria completing a minimally invasive surgery fellowship prior to starting his current practice at Abbotsford Regional Hospital and Cancer Centre. With a strong interest in clinical research, he is principal investigator of Exdeo Clinical Research Inc., which focuses on advanced prostate cancer. George lives in Abbotsford with his wife Sara and three children, and enjoys Nordic skiing and triathlon.
Dr. Peter Fry is a semi-retired Vascular Surgeon who maintains a practice in Langley and also operates at Abbotsford Regional Hospital and Cancer Centre one day a week. Along with his interest in health care philanthropy, he is an animal lover, volunteering at Langley Animal Protection Services and at the Greater Vancouver Zoo. Peter also enjoys tennis and travel.
Ethel Hooge has been a member of the Mission Health Care Auxiliary Society since 1989. A retired bookkeeper, she lives in Mission with her husband Hardy. Ethel also volunteers for the Clarke Foundation Theatre, the Peerious Program through Community Policing in Mission and the Canadian Cancer Society Daffodil Campaign.
Lorraine Hughes has been a member of the Mission Health Care Auxiliary Society for 60 years. She is a retired business owner who lives in Abbotsford with her husband, Bud. Lorraine has volunteered with the Silverdale Community Hall Association, started a women’s group for Mission Minor Hockey and is a former Rotarian.