With leaders from health care, education, the non-profit sector, and various other sectors, the Options for Sexual Health Board of Directors are a dynamic group who bring a wealth of experience, expertise, and passion for sexual and reproductive health and rights. Our Board of Directors is responsible for the governance and strategic planning of the organization.
2015-2016 Opt Board of Directors
Jill joined the Opt board in 2009 and became a member of the executive in 2013. In her other life, Jill manages Public Health programs and the Bridge refugee clinic out of Evergreen Community Health Centre, Vancouver Coastal Health. Previously Jill worked as an Executive Director in the not for profit sector for almost 15 with the Elizabeth Bagshaw Women's Clinic, the Asian Society for the Intervention of AIDS, and Planned Parenthood Ottawa. Jill is thrilled to be involved with Opt as she believes that being able to make informed decisions involving one's body, identity, and sexuality is not only a human right but one of the cornerstones of a happy, healthy life.
Barb Hestrin has been involved with Options for Sexual Health for many years, starting in 1975 when she began volunteering in the (then) Planned Parenthood office and education program. She became a staff member in 1978, serving as a Nurse Supervisor in the Vancouver Clinic, then as Provincial Clinical Director, and finally as Provincial Director of Education. In 1992 she moved to BC Women’s Hospital where she was involved in developing many programs in the new Women’s Health Centre, and until her retirement in 2008 was the Senior Administrative Officer for BC Women’s Hospital & Health Centre. She also served on the Board of Directors of the Planned Parenthood Federation of Canada (now Action Canada for Sexual Health and Rights) including a term as President. Barb joined Opt’s Board in 2001, and remains as passionate as ever about sexual and reproductive rights and freedoms.
Heather McEwen is a family doctor that works as a locum in Vancouver while dabbling in rural work as well. She is fiercely passionate about sexual health, reproductive choice, and providing care to people with mental health and addictions. Her work currently includes delivering babies at BC Women's Hospital, working at Opt clinics, and doing general family practice. She harks from rural Saskatchewan but moved to BC in 2012 for her residency at St. Paul's Hospital.
She has been on the board for Options for Sexual Health for 3 years. Heather joined Opt because at the time she needed to rekindle meaning in medicine. With having chosen Family Medicine in pursuit to work in sexual health, she values being a member of an organization that drives and innovates sexual health in clinics, education, and publicity.
Heather enjoys playing ultimate frisbee, planning kayak trips, and doing puzzles.
Miriam joined the Opt board in October 2012. She was introduced to the organization by a former PHSA co-worker and quickly became enthused with the mission, the values, and the extraordinarily wide range of services of the organization. These first impressions were confirmed upon meeting the other Board members and provincial office staff. Miriam is a professional accountant, retired, and was employed as a finance professional for many years working in multiple industries as well as federal and provincial government organizations. She gained Board experience over the years volunteering with other non-profit organizations. Her other current passions are travelling the world, reading, walking, gardening, working with fabric, plus the Grandson and Grand-dog.
Janice joined the Opt board in 2014 and became a member of the executive in 2015. A pro-choice feminist since her teens, she wrote extensively about sexual and reproductive rights, health and pleasure during her lengthy career at The Toronto Star. When not working for a professional services organization, Janice enjoys cycling, forest and beach walks, and puttering in her ever-evolving garden.
Kathryn joined the Opt Board in 2013, and the Opt executive in 2014. Opt plays an important role in providing advocacy and education, both areas that align with Kathryn’s strong personal commitment to support social justice and inclusion. When Kathryn isn’t at her day job with Vancity Credit Union, Kathryn dedicates personal time to family and friends and spending time with her 2 Labrador Retrievers; Megan and Oliver. Kathryn is a collector sports car enthusiast, and is the proud owner of 2 Sunbeam Tigers, so when you hear she keeps Tigers in her garage, it’s true! Given the opportunity, Kathryn also enjoys spending time in special places on the Oregon Coast and in California.
Members at Large
Member at Large
Gary began his interest in social activism using theatre in the early 70’s touring southern Ontario. He came to BC in the mid 70’s with the great migrations of that era. Training in theatre included driving cab, tending bar and working at a drop-in centre in downtown Cranbrook. Love for the outdoors and the people who live in the region was supported and encouraged.
Gary began working for ANKORS in the East Kootenay in 1999 and hasn’t looked back since. This is the longest job he has ever held and celebrates every day. ANKORS has given the opportunity to participate in the amazing changes that come with addressing the issues HIV and AIDS. Healing Our Spirit, Pacific AIDS Network, British Columbia Persons with AIDS, YouthCo, CATIE and others have come to the East Kootenay to add to the local initiatives that many in the community support. Almost all member agencies of BCPWA have participated as resources for this region.
Joining the Opt board in 2006 was an obvious fit. Sexual health clinics needed growth. Linda Douglas, the Opt Nurse in Cranbrook, looked for the resources to expand services in the East Kootenay. Participation on the Board allowed all the previous experiences to meld. Information through the Opt Board is shared with ANKORS and throughout the East Kootenays.
Member at Large
Joyce joined the Board in October 2014. She has a background in urban and social planning, and currently works as a housing planner for local government. She brings her passion for connecting individuals to supports and services, as well as community engagement to the Board. In 2009, Joyce's journey with Opt began when she became a counselling and administrative volunteer at the Vancouver clinic. She then moved on to a reception and volunteer coordinator role before leaving to pursue graduate school. Joyce is very excited to be involved with Opt once again and supporting access to sexual health education and services across British Columbia. In her spare time, she enjoys going to yoga, spending time with family and friends, and being near the ocean. Her talents include putting together IKEA furniture and undoing stubborn jewelry knots.
Member at Large
Kaye Hare is a completing her PhD with the Faculty of Education, University of British Columbia. Kaye is a feminist and poststructuralist scholar with a special interest in online sexual knowledge exchange. She previously worked for the Alberta government in the Strategic Policy and Planning Division for Alberta Health and served on the Board for the Compass Centre for Sexual Wellness in Edmonton, Alberta.
Kaye joined the Opt Board in late 2015. She is dedicated to challenging dominant perceptions about sexuality and gender, as well as promoting holistic sexual health. She is honored to be part of an organization with a long-standing history of providing comprehensive and inclusive sexual care and education services and advocating for sexuality-related rights.
In her personal life, Kaye is passionate about community involvement and leadership, recently discovered the benefits of kickboxing, and spent many summers in Glacier National Park in Montana.
Member at Large
Saleema started volunteering at Opt’s North Shore Clinic in the 1990s and has been a Provincial Board Member since 2004. A sexual health educator, she is an avid supporter of Opt’s mission and couldn't be prouder of the services our organization provides to British Columbians of all ages. In her personal life, Saleema is a stepmom to two teenage girls, likes running marathons, and tap dances every Saturday.
Member at Large
Thom began on the Board in 2014, although while living in Calgary he served on the Board of the Calgary Sexual Health Centre.
Thom works as a social-policy consultant for non-for-profits. One of the major projects that he has worked with is an organization that is making social change through primary prevention of domestic violence. He has also done a major project for a group of churches to change how they were implementing their human resources' functions.
Thom’s passion for sexual health definitely revolves around sexual health education. He knows that sexuality is such an important part of being a human being, and so much of our understanding comes from misinformation from our peers or the back alleys of the internet. There are so many gains to be made from high quality sexual education, both for individuals and society that he is passionate to be a part of.
Thom is also a passionate Canucks fan, and enjoys playing hockey as often as he can with his two hockey teams.
Nicole Macdonald Member at Large
Nicole joined the Opt board in October of 2016. Her passion for empowering others, particularly by providing access to education and services, has inspired her work with both local and international non-profits.
In her professional life, Nicole is part the Client Care team at Chimp. She is a proud champion of women's health and looks forward to expanding her advocacy to include sexual health services and education for all British Columbians, through her involvement with Opt.
As her friends and colleagues can attest, Nicole is also passionate about her home city of North Vancouver. In her spare time she can be found brunching with friends and wandering through the city's network of trails.
Kate Phifer Member at Large
Kate Phifer wasz excited to become part of the Opt Board of Directors in October 2016. A recent graduate from Capilano University, Kate recently joined the fantastic team at ICS(International Conferences Services). There she will be coordinating Education & Career Fairs across British Columbia. Kate became connected with Opt after hosting a Sexual Assault Awareness campaign at her university campus. This led to the lobbying of government and a final push for Bill 23-Sexual Violence and Misconduct Policy Act.
When not working or volunteering, Kate can be found outside. While her main passion is being on the water in any way possible, sailing, kayaking, or stand-up-paddle boarding, Kate loves the mountains and her hiking shoes are in constant need of being replaced.
Brenda Belak Member at Large
Brenda joined the Opt Board in 2016. She is the sex work campaign lawyer at Pivot Legal Society. Brenda believes that sex is an essential part of who we are as human beings and that choosing what we do with our bodies is a fundamental human right. Brenda is also passionate about living in beautiful BC and spends as much time she can outdoors, hiking, cycling, kayaking, camping and skiing.