Opt Provincial Office Staff

Provincial Office Staff

Leadership Team

Michelle Fortin
Executive Director
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When Michelle was a kid her dad introduced her to poetry and there was a line in a Robert Frost poem that resonated with her 10 yr. old self “I took the road less travelled by and that has made all the difference”.

Michelle identifies that she has had many privileges in life and believes that knowing this has allowed her to stay curious, be open and seek out opportunities that made her uncomfortable, in a good way.  Working in the social service world for most of her adult life, she has learned to approach the world through a social justice lens and think critically about systems.  A background in psychology, counselling, and leadership has prepared Michelle for her current position as Executive Director at Options for Sexual Health.  Michelle says that supporting the mission at Opt is easy because she too embraces a pro-choice, sex positive approach to reproduction and sexual health for all.  As an Executive Director she is responsible for oversight of finances, board governance, program development and evaluation, as well as fundraising.

Michelle has done volunteer work throughout her life from working with youth with disabilities, to VP of the Downtown Eastside Slowpitch League, Co-chair of her credit union board and is currently the co-chair at Vancouver Pride Society.  In her spare time music, travel, food, and family bring her great joy.


Helena Palmqvist, 
Clinic Services Director
she | her | hers & they | them | theirs
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Helena began working with Opt in 2015. As the Clinic Services Director, Helena is responsible for operations of all of Opt’s clinics, making sure they run smoothly and efficiently. This includes managing operating costs, clinic hours of operations, staffing levels, and agreements with our partners. Helena is also responsible for the Sex Sense line, our free confidential sexual health referral and information service. Prior to joining Opt and moving to Canada, Helena spent several years in management consulting in Australia and in the Pacific, most recently focussing on sexual health and human rights in Kiribati. Away from her role at Opt, Helena is the Secretary/Treasurer of Everywoman's Health Centre and a recently converted knitter.

Nicole Pasquino RN (C) BSN BHSc
Clinical Practice Director
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Nicole began working at Opt in the 2007 at the Vancouver Opt Clinic and joined the team at provincial office in 2008, and she continues to practice clinically at the North Vancouver Opt clinic. Nicole is responsible for the clinical practice and clinical support for all of the Registered Nurses that are employed at Opt. She also represents Opt in provincial practice to improve nursing guidelines associated with sexual health care. Away from her role at Opt, Nicole is very involved in Rugby, Coaching, Playing and Coordinating the BC Women's League. 

Marisa Collins, BIS MD MHSc CCFP FCFP
Medical Director
she | her | hers
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Dr. Collins has been Opt’s Medical Director since 2013, where she works closely with other members of the clinical team to support services across the province. In 2017 she was appointed to the role of Rural Scholar in the Department of Family Practice, UBC. She chairs the Sexual Health conference (a UBC CPD - Opt partnership), and leads a UBC CPD sexual health online journal club and discussion forum for physicians. Marisa worked as an Opt physician at the Whistler Opt Clinic from 2000-2017. Her other clinical work includes facilitating Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy groups.


Joan Westman de Carle
Finance Director
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Joan began working with Opt in 1996. As the Finance Director, Joan is responsible for managing all Opt’s finances, including banking, financial statements, budget, audit, payroll, WCB, GST, PST and donation receipts. Joan lives on Gabriola Island, and commutes back and forth to Vancouver most weekends. Her husband has been renovating their home since 2000, but she hopes he is close to being finished…

Kristen Gilbert 
Education Director
she | her | hers
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Kristen has been working as an Opt educator since 2006. As Director of Education, Kristen oversees Opt’s diverse education services, including our school-based programs and all professional development workshops. She is often out in the field, driving her hatchback full of condoms from school to school. Kristen delivers comprehensive sexual health education to students of all ages in a wide variety of school settings, including the public and independent schools systems, alternative programs, and for youth in custody. She also leads Opt’s vibrant professional training programs, providing support for education and health professionals who wish to develop their capacity to connect confidently with clients about their sexual health. Kristen is the best parallel parker you have ever met.

Ashleigh Turner  
Communications Director
she | her | hers
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Ashleigh began working with Opt in 2008. As the Communications Director, Ashleigh oversees Opt's communications and media. She is the go to contact for media requests, social media, website, outreach, governance support, e-newsletters, Opt’s style and branding, and volunteer management and coordination.Ashleigh works with our graphic designers and IT and web support companies to keep Opt’s materials and website looking good. Ashleigh is Opt’s resident sports fanatic; she is a diehard Canucks and Patriots fan. She spents most of her time away from the office knitting and running around after her four year old son. 



Opt's Dynamic Support Staff

Lynn Trimble
Clinic Services Coordinator
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Lynn has been with Opt since September 2007. As Clinic Services Coordinator, it is Lynn’s job to purchase and distribute all contraceptives and safer sex supplies to Opt clinics and partners; print and distribute clinic/patient/admin paperwork; obtain and distribute information/educational materials; inventory and stock control for provincial office and clinics; oversee purchases/invoicing for Staples and Stevens for clinics; collect, collate and enter all stats and data into spreadsheets. Lynn is the person to turn to if there is something your clinic needs, or if there is paperwork that needs clarification. For her down-time, Lynn is often torn between playing on her Xbox and knitting/crocheting for her grandchildren. Perhaps a comfy rocking chair would make this decision easier!

Licda Valladares
Clinic Services Coordinator
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Licda began working at Opt in 2000. As Opt’s Clinic Services Coordinator, Licda provides administration support for clinics. She also takes care of our clients and clinics by booking appointments for 11 of our clinics in her part-time role on reception. Did you know that Licda has aliens living with her? Licda lovingly refers to her three wonderful daughters as aliens. They often visit the Provincial Office and help with tasks like button making, packaging outreach materials, and anything else we ask them to do! Licda also likes to crochet and collects postcards.


Esther Adibe
Finance Assistant
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Bio Coming Soon


Saira Hansen
Education Coordinator
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Saira has been with Opt since 2002, where she began her work in the Clinical Department and moved into the Education Department in 2007. In her role as Education Coordinator Saira is the first point of contact for all Education Department related inquiries. She is in charge of program promotion and handles the booking and scheduling for Opt field education services in schools or establishments around the province. She coordinates and plans Opt’s Sexual Health Educator Certification (SHEC) programs and CAVE/SAR workshops as well as other professional trainings that are offered through our Education Department. She assists in the coordination of department staff, workshop attendees, and all past and future SHEC students. Saira also contributes to the organizing of other Opt events and trainings. Outside her role at Opt, Saira is a Certified Clinical Hypnotherapist and also enjoys singing, dance and riding horses.

Jo-Ann Svensson
Contact Reception

Jo-Ann began her Opt career as a North Vancouver volunteer in 2009. One year later she moved into the receptionist role and after seven more, became part of the Provincial Office reception team. Jo-Ann is responsible for booking appointments for 11 of Opt’s sixty-odd clinics as well as a sundry of activities that make her head spin. When she is not twirling about her office chair she is either hiking in her beloved forests, listening to the trees and the rocks, or sitting in a café writing the ever-elusive bestseller.