BOARD OF DIRECTORS
As a Vancouverite for the past 10 years, Lara is passionate about making B.C. better for all, and is commmitted to focusing on issues and opportunities that face the Downtown East Side. Originally from Abbotsford, Lara earned a Masters of Public Policy from Simon Fraser University, and holds a BA in Economics from the University of British Columbia. On the weekend, Lara enjoys swimming, reading and pottery.
Sunny is a real estate lawyer in Vancouver. He has been on Watari’s Board of Directors since 2018. He has also volunteered with a number of community organizations in the past, including the Urban Native Youth Association in the Downtown Eastside, the Indigenous Law Students’ Association at Thompson Rivers University, and Kanyawegi Support for Orphans and Widows in Kenya.
Gurpreet ChopraMember at Large
Gurpreet Chopra was born and raised in Vancouver and is currently an undergraduate student at the University of British Columbia in his fourth year of a biochemistry program, and is passionate about working in the community that has given so much to him in the past. He is currently doing dementia-related research at St. Paul’s Hospital and spends his free time volunteering at a needle exchange, volunteering at BC Children’s Hospital, taking calls at the Crisis Intervention and Suicide Prevention Centre of BC, and leading a humanitarian-based club at UBC focused on community advocacy following the asset-based community development model.
With Watari, he hopes to bring his experiences directly working with vulnerable populations and help grow the capacity of Watari to support more individuals of diverse backgrounds for years to come. With such experiences, he has gained valuable insight into the implications associated with addictions, mental illness, disability, inequality, sense of community, and the diverse socio-economic situations people are in that factor into the growing crises we see locally and nationally.
He was drawn to Watari because of their beliefs on empowering people by taking individualized approaches to providing services that play towards one’s innate strengths, capabilities, and desire for wellness. The philosophy behind Watari’s approach to services is something he strongly agrees with and is impressed by their long-standing commitment to bridging opportunities, resources, and choices to people in the community, as well as their active advocacy for vulnerable and marginalized people.
Gurpreet is excited and honoured to serve on the Board of Directors and looks forward to continuing and expanding on Watari’s philosophy of providing innovative, community driven programs/services.
Casey Vickers (they/them/theirs) is a uninvited settler of European ancestry who lives and works on the ancient, ancestral, and unceded territories of the Coast Salish Peoples, including the xʷməθkʷəy̓əm (Musqueam), skxwú7mesh (Squamish), and səlilwətaɬ (Tsleil-Waututh) nations – colonially known as Vancouver, BC. They have worked in the social service sector to advance equity and justice for all women and other folks vulnerablized by their gender in the DTES for 20 years. They are the proud co-chair of Watari’s Board of Directors and are currently the Program Manager at VWHC.
Sara has been a CPA since 2005. She worked in public practice for 7 years at BDO Dunwoody and KPMG working on a range of audit clients including not for profit, government and private enterprise, after which she worked in the mining industry for 8 years in a variety of financial roles. To this day she continues a role in financial oversight of investment assets that support their communities. Sara grew up in Burnaby and lived in Vancouver for almost 20 years.
Saffina JinnahMember at Large
Saffina joined Watari Counselling & Support Services Society in 2020. She currently works for Reaching Home: Canada’s Homeless Strategy; a community-based program aimed at preventing and reducing homelessness in the region. This culminates her two passions of finance and social services. Safinna brings knowledge from working in the financial service sector and is passionate about sustainable and impactful investing and the cooperative movement. She also has experience in the social services field; particularly with youth experiencing addiction and women fleeing violence. She has been a longtime advocate of girls and women locally and globally and is an active member of the Girl Guides of Canada. Safinna holds a Bachelor of Arts in Women’s Studies from Simon Fraser University.