• Freda Fernandes

    Division Manager, Career Services

    Freda Fernandes

    Division Manager, Career Services

    As an immigrant herself, Freda Fernandes has an intimate understanding of the challenges newcomers face in rebuilding their careers in Canada. She’s very passionate about helping newcomers achieve their potential, and this is reflected in her job overseeing ISSofBC’s employment services as Division Manager.

    Freda has over 16 years’ experience in the career services industry, with a focus on career counselling and project management. She began her career at ISSofBC in 2001 as a frontline staff, and built her administrative and management experience working in various employment programs.

    A Bachelor of Commerce degree holder in Accounting and Economics and a certified career counsellor, Freda has worked as project manager in several high-profile employment programs, including the Skills Connect for Immigrants and the Career Paths for Skilled Immigrants program.

    In addition to encouraging excellent client service, Freda considers promoting staff morale and fostering a positive team environment a priority in her current role as Division Manager.

  • Veronica Lee

    Facilities Manager, ISSofBC Welcome Centre

    Veronica Lee

    Facilities Manager, ISSofBC Welcome Centre

    Veronica Lee, ISSofBC Welcome Centre’s Facilities Manager, is among a small but growing number of ISSofBC staff moving closer to marking 30 years of service with the agency.

    From her position as Executive Assistant to ISSofBC’s first and second executive director in the early 1990s, Veronica has over the years continually taken on more responsibilities and is today Facilities Manager of the ISSofBC Welcome Centre, a world-class 58,000 square foot, Gold LEED building that regularly draws prominent visitors from Canada and around the world.

    In this position, Veronica oversees facility operations and ensures compliance of established safety policies and procedures and promotes safe work habits. “Although the job is challenging and unpredictable, my background and experience continue to serve me well,” says Veronica, who has over 19 years’ experience in operational management of facilities. She is currently also responsible for overseeing and tracking lease renewals for all ISSofBC locations.

    Veronica’s stint as a Tradeshow/Event Planner after completing her studies in England helped hone her skills in trouble-shooting problems and managing crises. Equipped with a Bachelor of Arts in Business Administration and a Certificate in Administrative Management, Veronica enjoys travelling, reading and fine dining.

  • Lily Lim

    Division Manager, Communications

    Lily Lim

    Division Manager, Communications

    Lily Lim left a rewarding career behind when she immigrated to Canada nearly three decades ago, but with her current assignment as ISSofBC’s Communications Division Manager, things have come full circle.

    Lily had a lucrative job as a communications executive in a commercial bank with a nation-wide network when she gave it up to pursue her passion for journalism. From writing a popular daily human interest column in a national newspaper to serving as news editor of another national daily, Lily had the opportunity to interview a military dictator (and later on attend the presidential inaugural reception of the housewife who toppled him), a UN General Assembly president, the longest current-serving female US senator, even a saint: Mother Teresa. She also directed assignments and guided reporters covering breaking news including military coups.

    “My career at ISSofBC may not be the adrenaline-pumping affair that my journalism career was, but the psychic rewards are just as great,” says Lily, who oversaw ISSofBC’s Career Services division for 23 years before she fully transitioned to Communications in 2016. Lily is currently responsible for the planning, development, and implementation of the organization’s internal and external communications initiatives. She has a Bachelor in Mass Communications, majoring in Journalism.

  • Kathy Sherrell, PhD

    Associate Director, Settlement

    Kathy Sherrell, PhD

    Associate Director, Settlement

    Kathy Sherrell has worked at ISSofBC in settlement services for nine years. She takes a lead role in program development and evaluation, contract negotiations and oversight, and quality assurance and standardization. Involvement in special projects such as the Refugee Readiness Hub and the GAR Refugee Trauma Pilot allows Kathy to share her passion for refugees with others, promoting policy change and greater understanding of refugee issues.

    Kathy holds a PhD in Geography from the University of British Columbia and a Master of Arts Degree from Simon Fraser University with an emphasis on refugee resettlement in Canada, including regionalization, legal status, housing, and settlement experiences. Kathy continues to be actively engaged in research with refugees. At present Kathy is a co-investigator on two pan-Canadian, multi-year refugee research projects, as well as a lead on numerous internal research projects.

    Kathy is inspired by the strength and resilience of refugee newcomers and committed to reducing structural barriers to their integration through her work and research.

  • Diana Smolic

    Division Manager, LINC

    Diana Smolic

    Division Manager, LINC

    In her 25 years at ISSofBC, Diana Smolic has contributed considerably to ISSofBC’s reputation for excellence in program management, administration and delivery.

    As Project Manager of ISSofBC’s LINC program until her promotion as Division Manager in 2010, and driven by a strong desire to provide quality language programming to newcomers, Diana has led the LINC team in introducing innovative ideas and practices in service delivery that have stood the test of shifting client needs.

    Under her management, LINC expanded from one location in Vancouver to six locations across Metro Vancouver, as well as one in Squamish. Diana was also responsible for implementing various enhancements to the LINC program including providing blended online and in-class training options and ensuring that ISSofBC is a leader in Portfolio-Based Language Assessment.

    Diana holds a Bachelor’s degree in Psychology and a minor in Commerce from the University of British Columbia. When not at work, Diana enjoys travelling, reading, garden design, and yoga.

  • Bonnie So

    Division Manager, ISS Language & Career College

    Bonnie So

    Division Manager, ISS Language & Career College

    Bonnie So is the first to admit that her pride in the ISS Language and Career College (LCC) – ISSofBC’s very successful social enterprise – goes deeper than merely professional.

    “It has been so fulfilling to witness LCC grow from one class of 12 students to our current operation with over 2,000 students attending ESL, vocational and co-op programs each year,” says Bonnie, who was involved in the creation of the program in 1995.

    “Having come to Canada from Hong Kong as an international student myself, I value and enjoy our multicultural clients and our diverse staff and volunteers,” says Bonnie, who has a Bachelor of Business Administration degree from Toronto’s York University and a Multicultural Settlement Certificate.

    Under Bonnie’s management, LCC became a recognized college, earned accreditations from Languages Canada and the BC government (Private Training Institutions Branch), and was listed on the federal government’s prestigious Designated List of Institutions. LCC revenues generated over the years have contributed significantly to supporting unfunded ISSofBC programs.

  • Edith Oen

    Controller

    Edith Oen

    Controller

    Edith Oen was an accomplished Certified Public Accountant in the Philippines before immigrating to Canada as a skilled independent immigrant in 1997. While in university, Edith served as president of the campus association for accounting students and was a recipient of several academic scholarships.

    She joined ISSofBC in 1999, carrying out multiple functions in the Finance department. Edith has extensive training and experience in bookkeeping, internal auditing, payroll, account reconciliations, cost analyses, and budget preparation. In her current position as controller, Edith is responsible for preparing the organization’s financial statements, monitoring internal controls and supervising the day-to-day processes in the department.

    Edith says she feels privileged to be “working with dedicated ISSofBC staff” and “feels honoured to be a part of an organization committed to serving newcomers.” During her free time, Edith enjoys long road trips with her family, nature hikes, dancing and arranging indoor plants.

  • Jennifer York

    Division Manager, Settlement

    Jennifer York

    Division Manager, Settlement

    Jennifer York’s career path at ISSofBC gives her a rare vantage point not available to anyone else in the organization at her level.

    From serving as volunteer 13 years ago to occupying positions as receptionist, program assistant, employment counsellor, senior counsellor to being manager of federally and provincially-funded employment programs, Jennifer brings to her current position as Settlement Division Manager, a unique understanding of the work requirements and challenges at each level of the organization’s operations.

    Jennifer has a Bachelor of Science degree from University of Alberta, an Executive Master of Business Administration and a Certificate for Responsible Leadership from Queen’s University. She currently serves as secretary for Kindness Foundation which promotes kindness through a school toolkit used by Vancouver School Board and other school districts.

    Outside of work, Jennifer enjoys spending her free time hiking in the BC trails, baking bread, learning new activities and spending time with her little Pekinese, Sunshine.

  • Ewa Karczewska

    General Manager/Community Relations, ISSofBC Welcome Centre – Surrey

    Ewa Karczewska

    General Manager/Community Relations, ISSofBC Welcome Centre – Surrey

    It’s hard to miss Ewa Karczewska in a crowd. Her exuberant personality and infectious energy bring a positive vibe to any gathering. As General Manager/Community Relations of the new ISSofBC Welcome Centre – Surrey, Ewa may be counted upon to deliver with vigor, the client-focused, multi-service model that its forerunner in Vancouver was built on.

    Ewa, who joined ISSofBC in 1994, has a well-known record for connecting with people, identifying problems, finding solutions and getting things done. As one of her colleagues said, “Ewa leads with flair! She is an exceptional leader who is proficient, fun, and never afraid to roll up her sleeves and do what needs to be done.”

    Ewa joined ISSofBC in 1994 as Childcare Supervisor. This was followed by promotions to ELSA Assistant Manager position then to ELSA/LINC Manager position in 2007. Ewa was instrumental in setting up of the ISSofBC LINC satellite locations in Tri-Cities, Richmond, New Westminster and Maple Ridge. She has also served in several BC-wide and regional committees and boards, including the City of Coquitlam Multicultural Advisory Committee.

    In her spare time, Ewa enjoys spending time with her family and friends, hiking, traveling and relaxing in the sun.