Offering Hope and Self Sufficiency

Our Team & Board Members


    Marcia Nozick

    In 2001, Marcia Nozick founded EMBERS (the Eastside Movement for Business and Economic Renewal Society) as a community economic development charity with a mission to create economic and employment opportunities for people living on low incomes in Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside. A long-time community advocate, Marcia’s leadership at EMBERS has helped thousands of people facing work barriers lead productive lives by providing access to self-employment education, job placements, training and support.

    In 2008, Marcia broke new ground by launching EMBERS Staffing Solutions (ESS), an award-winning temporary staffing agency. Her goal was to create flexible, short-term work placements for people looking to re-enter the workforce. A social enterprise, ESS is self-sustaining and invests 100% of its profits back into the community through higher hourly wages, equipment, and training for workers. Thanks to Marcia’s leadership, ESS is able to have a tremendous social impact. In 2017 alone, the organization employed 1,900 people and paid out over $6.4 million in wages and benefits.

    An innovative leader, Marcia has been recognized nationally for her passion and contributions to the fields of community economic development and social enterprise. In 2015, she won the prestigious RBC Canadian Women Entrepreneur Award for Charitable Giving. The following year, she received the YWCA Woman of Distinction Award for the Community Champion category. Most recently, Marcia won Business In Vancouver’s 2017 Influential Women in Business Award, which recognizes British Columbia’s most outstanding business women.

    Prior to founding EMBERS, Marcia was the coordinator of Healthy Communities in Winnipeg, the associate editor and publisher of City Magazine and an instructor of Community Economic Development at Simon Fraser University. She holds a Master’s Degree in City Planning, and wrote the influential Canadian book, No Place Like Home: Building Sustainable Communities (1992) that David Suzuki praised as “a must read.”



    Photograph taken at the historic Woodward’s Building in Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside. Back row (l to r): Shelley Frost, Gurminder Dhaliwal, Keith Dolo, Kent Chawrun, Barry Fenton, and Doug Aason. Front row (l to r): Robin Surcess, John Lerner, Marcia Nozick, Barton Reid, and Allysa Hopkins.

    Barry Fenton, President

    Barry is a senior executive and consultant with a successful track record of operational leadership within the service-driven financial services and real estate industries. In his second career, Barry is giving back to the local community via his involvement on numerous non-profit and association boards.

    Robin Surcess, Vice President

    With over 35 years experience in the construction industry, Robin, Construction Manager and Sr. Superintendent, lends a wealth of industry knowledge to EMBERS, helping the organizational build social capital and avoid unnecessary risks.

    Barton Reid, Secretary

    Bart, researcher and consultant, has an interdisciplinary Doctorate in Urban Studies and City Planning. He was an original member of the Community Economic Development Group that led to the formation of EMBERS in 2001.

    Kent Chawrun, Treasurer

    As a Chartered Accountant with both public practice and industry experience working alongside private and public businesses, Kent has over 20 years of financial and operational experience.

    John Lerner, Past President

    John, Principle of Ecolibrio, is a sustainable development specialist with 18 years experience working in indigenous and rural communities, as well as inner-city urban settings.

    Gurminder Dhaliwal

    Gurminder, Senior Biopharmaceutical Representative at Amgem, is a business professional with over 10 years of sales and marketing experience. He has his BSc from Simon Fraser University and an MBA from the University of Northern British Columbia.

    Keith Dolo

    Keith is CEO of Sproutly. Prior to that, he was VP Strategic Accounts with Robert Half, and was an accountant with Pricewaterhouse Coopers.

    Shelley Frost

    Shelley has served as Vice President, Marketing, for the Pacific National Exhibition since 2004. Her expertise includes executive oversight, marketing, and business development, and she has worked with organizations in Canada, US and Europe. Shelley completed undergraduate degrees in both Psychology and Business (Marketing) from the University of Alberta and holds a MBA in International Marketing from Simon Fraser University.

    Allysa Hopkins

    As Small Business BC’s Vice President of Business Development, Allysa brings over a decade of proven experience with building tier-one commercial partnerships, driving top line sales revenues and bolstering bottom line profits through organizational planning and management.

    Sandra Reder

    Sandra is the Founder & President of Vertical Bridge Corporate Consulting a Vancouver based HR consulting firm. For the past 12 years the company has been providing out-sourced HR support to clients in a wide range of industries including health care, not-for-profit, private and public sector.


    Doug Aason

    Doug Aason

    Director, Business Development and Accounts

    Described by many as a “relationship man,” Doug Aason is a man passionate for changing lives and making a positive impact in his community.

    Gavin Jones

    Director, Operations

    Gavin oversees the day-to-day operations of EMBERS Staffing Solutions, creating a strong foundation for growth.

    Brad Purss

    Brad Purss

    Manager, Business Development

    Brad builds strong connections with our workers and clients.

    Holly Steele


    Looking for work? As our ESS recruiter, Holly, is the one to speak to.

    Becca Lazare

    Becca Embers

    Staffing Specialist, Vancouver

    Becca’s sharp listening skills and ability to meet workers where they’re at enables Becca to effectively deal with the daily demands of EMBERS Staffing Solutions.

    Julia Broderick-Hale

    Staffing Specialist, Vancouver


    Michelle Martincak

    Staffing Specialist, Surrey

    Passionate about helping connect people with work and offering them opportunities to improve their skills and succeed in life.

    Mitzi Contreras

    Staffing Specialist, Surrey

    Mitzi is dedicated to helping people improve through learning life skills. At ESS Surrey, she liaises with the Vancouver office and ensures that office operational procedures are running smoothly.


    Johanna Li


    Program Manager, EMBERS Ventures and EMBERS Eastside Works

    Johanna is passionate about the power that business and enterprise has in creating healthy communities.

    Grace Kennedy

    Supervisor (Maternity Leave)

    Currently on maternity leave, Grace is responsible for day-to-day operations, programs, and services at EMBERS Eastside Works.

    Austin Lui

    Acting Supervisor

    Austin oversees day-to-day operations, programs, and services at EMBERS Eastside Works, our DTES hub for training and employment.

    Jesse Cowan

    Business Developer

    Jesse makes connections with local businesses and community agencies to create partnerships for EMBERS Eastside Works.

    Christine Faber

    Community Connector

    Stacey King

    Community Connector


    Franck Salanson


    Working at EMBERS means that Franck is able to help many people become financially self-sustainable while using the skills and know-how he’s passionate about.

    Ann Kumpula

    Ann Embers

    Manager, Credit and Collections

    As Credit & Collections Manager, Ann works closely with EMBERS’ customers, opening accounts and ensuring timely payment of invoices. Ann is proud to be part of an organization that really makes a difference in peoples’ lives.

    Duby Paredes

    HR & Payroll Coordinator

    Duby serves as EMBERS HR & Payroll Coordinator, ensuring all the timesheets and invoices are processed correctly for both customers and workers as well as promoting a positive culture in the office.

    Stephanie Hall

    Manager, Marketing, Communications, and Events

    Stephanie is the EMBERS storyteller, promoting our impact to reach new audiences and inspire current ones.

    Lynne Tapper

    Program Manager, EMBERS Power of Work

    Lynne has worked in Learning and Development for over 16 years in both Vancouver and the United Kingdom.

    Judy Westacott

    Program Assistant, Power of Work

    As Program Assistant Judy is passionate about being the keen eye behind the scenes and supportive to those who need both a helping hand and someone to believe in them. At Embers there are plenty of opportunities to help our clients ‘shine’ and realize their potential.

    Marcel Chalmers

    Community Employment Services Coordinator