PHABC Conference 2019 – Speaker Biographies

Simplifying Complexity:

Public Health Approaches and Practice in Complex Systems

Conference & Annual General Meeting

November 14th & 15th, 2019

The Sutton Place Hotel

Vancouver, BC

Registration on now, click here to register today!

Speaker Biographies



The Honorable Minister Lana Popham

BC Minister of Agriculture

Lana was raised on Quadra Island in a do-it-yourself community, where growing food, raising animals and harvesting from the sea was a way of life. Her interest in urban planning led her to UBC where she graduated with a degree in geography. In 1996, Lana made her home in Saanich South. She co-founded and operated Barking Dog Vineyard, the first certified organic vineyard on Vancouver Island. She also managed a crew of vineyard workers who took care of many vineyards on the Saanich Peninsula, and has been a strong advocate for food producers in Saanich for many years.

Lana served on Saanich’s Planning, Transportation and Economic Development Committee and on the Peninsula Agricultural Commission. She was also president of the Vancouver Island Grape Growers Association, chair of the Certification Committee for the Islands Organic Producers Association, and a member of the Investment Agriculture Board. After being elected in 2009, Lana served as Opposition critic for agriculture for eight years. She travelled the province extensively, meeting with farmers, agricultural associations and food advocacy groups. She has championed numerous agricultural initiatives, including the Buy BC programme, improvements to the meat regulations and increased institutional procurement of local food.

As the MLA for Saanich South, Lana actively supports her constituents and has organized many community meetings, gatherings, rallies and marches. She has also spearheaded successful initiatives such as safety improvements to the intersection of Pat Bay Highway and Sayward Road.


Dr. Simon Carroll

Assistant Teaching Professor, Department of Sociology – University of Victoria

Dr. Simon Carroll is an Assistant Teaching Professor in the Department of Sociology, at the University of Victoria. He has a particular interest in the areas of sociological theory, the sociology of health and illness, and in social justice and social inequalities. His research over the past 15 years has been focused on sociological approaches to understanding health systems. Methodologically, he has been involved in an emerging approach to knowledge synthesis, called ‘realist synthesis’, and has published several articles and book chapters related to that approach. Simon continues to be involved in a variety of research projects as a co-investigator including the AGEWELL program of research, a multi-disciplinary national research network in technology and aging, funded under the Networks of Centre’s of Excellence program. Simon completed his PhD at the University of Victoria, and his Master’s Degree at Lancaster University, UK.


Lesley Dyck

Principal – Ideas to Impact Leadership and Consulting

Lesley is an independent consultant, helping leaders deliver effective solutions to complex issues in public health, environment and social justice. She has over 25 years of health promotion and community development experience in Canada and internationally. Before leaving to start her own consulting company, Lesley was a Knowledge Translation Specialist with a national public health research and advocacy organization (the National Collaborating Centre for Determinants of Health). She has also worked as a public health program manager (with Interior Health), as an international volunteer (with public health in Indonesia), as a communication coordinator and as community developer/programmer.


Guy Felicella

Peer Clinical Advisor – BC Centre for Substance Use

Guy Felicella grew up in a middle-class home in Richmond but fell into addiction at a young age. Guy spent 30 years in the repeated cycle of gangs, addiction, treatment and jail. He spent nearly 20 years residing in the two-block radius in the Downtown Eastside and using many resources, including harm reduction, to keep himself alive.

Today, Guy has escaped the grips of the turmoil that kept him suffering and resides with his wife and two young children with multiple years of recovery and sobriety under his belt. Guy is passionate about advocating for the vulnerable people who still suffer in addiction and educating communities on harm reduction and safe supply to eliminate the stigma that exists around it. Currently Guy works for Vancouver Coastal Health, Ministry of Mental Health and Addiction and the BC Centre on Substance Use. In addition, Guy attends various school districts and post-secondary institutions to educate students on addiction.

Guy spent nearly his entire life suffering from the disease of addiction and now he is using his experience to change the hearts and minds of people to the idea that recovery is harm reduction and harm reduction is recovery.


Dr. Theresa Healy

Adjunct Professor -University of Northern BC

Dr. Theresa Healy has lived and worked in Northern BC since 1994 holding a variety of appointments at UNBC since her arrival. She has a wide range of experiences with community engagement and community-based research related to healthy community development. She considers herself fortunate to have worked with many skilled and generous teachers who are passionate about change and increasing community well-being. In particular, she has been honoured to serve many First Nations communities and groups. The powerful changes that can emerge when communities lead the way are transformative. For this reason, she is especially interested in participatory theories, tools, and methods such as Participatory Action / Community Based Research, empowerment theories for community consultation methods, innovative and creative outreach (photovoice, Digital Story Telling) and engagement strategies (e.g., Open Space, World Café, Theory of Change, Graphic facilitation), use of social media (story mapping, Storify, Hackpad, etc.).

She is also a reflective practitioner and a facilitator interested in team building and collaborative action. She brings these interests and experiences to her Adjunct Professor appointment at UNBC in the School of Environmental Planning where she teaches upper-level classes related to experiential learning and concrete tools and methods drawn from her 20+ years’ experience in Northern BC. She co-supervises graduate students and sits on graduate student committees and can also serve as an external examiner. Capacity to support community leadership and direction means that skills and experience in facilitating community wisdom and vision are crucial and opportunities to learn and practice these are embedded in her classrooms.


Dr. Perry Kendall

Co-interim Executive Director – BC Centre on Substance Use

Member of the Order of Canada

Perry Kendall, CM, OBC, MD, FRCPC is the interim Co-Executive Director at the BC Centre on Substance Use. As the province’s former Provincial Health Officer, Dr. Kendall was a leading voice in calling for public health approaches to substance use. During his term he advocated for the expansion of harm reduction, most notably the establishment of Insite, the first legal supervised injection site in North America. He also declared the public health emergency in response to the province’s unprecedented overdose crisis. Dr. Kendall was also the author of a report on Indigenous health, which helped inform the creation of the First Nations Health Authority, still the only one of its kind in Canada. Dr. Kendall, who was born in the United Kingdom before coming to Canada, has also held leadership positions in Ontario and BC, including serving as Toronto’s chief medical officer and the President of the Ontario Addiction Research Foundation. He was appointed the Order of British Columbia in 2005 and in 2019 he was appointed as a Member of the Order of Canada.


Melanie Kurrein

Provincial Manager, Food Security, Population & Public Health – BC Centre for Disease Control, Provincial Health Services Authority

Melanie Kurrein is the Provincial Manager of Food Security with the Population and Public Health Team with the BC Centre for Disease Control (BCCDC), Provincial Health Services Authority (PHSA). She is a registered dietitian with a master’s degree in socio-cultural studies of food and has worked in food security for over 19 years at both local (health authority) and provincial levels. In her current position as the Provincial Manager of Food Security, Melanie works closely with the regional health authorities, the First Nations Health Authority and the Ministry of Health to facilitate provincial collaboration and coordination of activities to inform food security programs, policy and practice across the province. In her spare time Melanie loves to be outdoors, to spend time with her family and she loves most things to do with food including cooking, gardening and eating!


Dr. Shari Laliberte

Faculty, Nursing, School of Health Sciences – Vancouver Community College

Shari organizes and co-supervises population health promotion practicum projects for nursing students in collaboration with diverse community organizing and policy advocacy partners, with particular emphasis on addressing the socio-environmental determinants of child and youth health. Her areas of research include the use of critical qualitative research to deepen understanding regarding the inter-relation between socio-economic processes and young people’s mental health and implications for multi-level and inter-sectoral youth mental health promotion initiatives and best practices in population health promotion curriculum development.


Dr. Marjorie MacDonald

Professor Emerita, School of Nursing, Adjunct Professor, School of Public Health & Social Policy, & Scientist, Canadian Institute of Substance Use Research – University of Victoria

Marjorie MacDonald is a Professor Emerita in the School of Nursing, an Adjunct Professor in the School of Public Health and Social Policy, and a Scientist in the Canadian Institute of Substance Use Research (CISUR), all at the University of Victoria. She co-directs the Research in Public Health Systems and Services Initiative (BC) (formerly CPHFRI) and is leading an initiative to develop a Public Health Systems and Services Research agenda for Canada. Marjorie held one of 15 inaugural CIHR Applied Public Health Research Chairs from 2008-2014, and was President and Past President of the Public Health Association of BC from 2011 to 2016. Research interests include public health systems renewal, health equity, public health and primary care collaboration, adolescent health promotion and drug use prevention, and public health ethics. Marjorie also is interested in the application of complexity science to research methods in public health.


Dr. John Millar, MD, FRCP(C), MHSc

Clinical Professor Emeritus. School for Population and Public Health – University of BC

After a 15-year career in clinical medicine, surgery, health policy and administration in the developing world Dr Millar returned to Canada where he specialized in community medicine. He then served as a Medical Health Officer in the north and on Vancouver Island before becoming the Provincial Health Officer for BC from 1992- 1998.He then served for 5 years (1998-2003) as the Vice President, Canadian Institute for Health Information and then Executive Director, Population and Public Health for the BC Provincial Health Services Authority (2003-11). Dr Millar is currently Clinical Professor Emeritus at the School for Population and Public Health, UBC and a senior associate with InSource Consulting.


Val Morrison

Scientific Advisor – National Collaborating Centre for Healthy Public Policy

Val has been a full-time scientific advisor at the Centre since 2008. She has a background in sociology specializing in race and ethnic relations, popular culture, and cultural theory. She has taught courses in Canadian society, political sociology, and the sociology of sport, notably, and continues to be a regular part-time faculty member in the Department of Sociology and Anthropology at Concordia University. Her specific interests at the Centre are health and social inequalities. The projects she is involved with include one that examines the ways that not-for-profit organizations influence policy and another on the usefulness of the concept of wicked problems as a way of addressing health inequalities.


Ian Roe

National Manager – Kids Boost Immunity & I Boost Immunity

Ian Roe is a transplanted Newfoundlander who first moved west to BC some 30 years ago to play in a rock and roll band. Ian first joined the Communications team at the BC Centre for Disease Control in Vancouver in 2004 and has had several roles at the Centre ever since. Currently, Ian is the National Manager for two online education platforms he helped found – Kids Boost Immunity and I Boost Immunity – that he is excited to tell you about.


Dr. Irv Rootman

Adjunct Professor, School of Public Health and Social Policy – University of Victoria

Irv has been a researcher, research manager, program manager, professor and consultant in the field of health promotion for more than forty years.  Currently, he is the Chair of the Steering Committee for the BC Health Literacy Network, Co-Chair of the Health Promotion Canada Professional Development Working Group and a representative for B.C. on the Executive Committee. He was a member of the U.S. Institute of Medicine Expert Committee on Health Literacy and Co-Chair of the Canadian Expert Panel on Health Literacy.  He has published widely on Health Promotion and Health Literacy. In 2014, he received an Honorary Doctor of Laws Degree from the University of Victoria for his contribution to health promotion and in 2016, an award for his lifetime contribution to health promotion by the Global Forum on Health Promotion. He is the lead editor on the 3rd and 4th editions of Health Promotion in Canada.


Lori Snyder

Educator of Wild, Edible and Medicinal Plants – Earth Awareness Realized Through Health

Lori Snyder is a descendant from the Powthan, Dakota, T’suutina, Nakota, Cree, Nipissing & Anishinaabe people mixed with European ancestry.  In 2013 Lori formed her company Earth Awareness Realized Through Health, sharing Indigenous ways of knowing of First People’s perspective on wild, edible and medical plants.  This knowledge has helped people reconnect to the wisdom of the Earth through practices that include plant identification walks, workshops on how to make the plant medicines, illustration workshops, along with consulting on native garden design.

Teaching at elementary and secondary school, Lori recently finished facilitating with Farm2School on a 2 year pilot project planting Indigenous Foodscapes on school grounds   Other venues include UBC Farm; SFU Embark Gardens; students from the University of Gastronomic Sciences, Bra, Italy; and the Vancouver Parks Board, Douglas Community College, Van Dusen Gardens, Village Vancouver and many community gardens and centers around the Greater Vancouver District.

Today Lori care takes a Medicine Wheel garden at Moberly Arts and Cultural Centre. The garden is used by the school adjacent to the centre and by new immigrants to help identify native species.  Lori’s vision is to continue with insightful dialogue to replant our native plants into our urban landscape, accessing our true local foods & medicines.


Dr. Tammara Soma

Assistant Professor, School of Resource and Environmental Management (Planning Program), Research Director, Food Systems Lab – Simon Fraser University

Dr. Tammara Soma is an Assistant Professor at the School of Resource and Environmental Management (Planning Program) and the Research Director of the Food Systems Lab at Simon Fraser University. Dr. Soma is a committee member of the U.S National Academies of Science on a “Systems Approach to Reduce Consumer Food Waste”. Her work has been featured in mainstream media such as Chatelaine magazine, The Globe and Mail, The Toronto Star, TVO Agenda, BBC, Huffington Post, and CTV.  She has published on the topic of food system planning and food waste in numerous academic journals including International Planning Studies, Built Environment, Local Environment, and more. She holds an MSc.Pl and PhD in planning from the University of Toronto.


Dr. Christy Sutherland

Education Physician Lead – BC Centre for Substance Use

Medical Director – Portland Hotel Society

Dr. Christy Sutherland is a family doctor and diplomat of the American Board of Addiction Medicine who works in Vancouver’s Downtown East Side providing care to Canada’s most vulnerable population.

Dr. Sutherland is the Education Physician Lead with the BCCSU and the Medical Director of the Portland Hotel Society where she leads a team of physicians and nurses who are embedded in low barrier, harm reduction projects, as well as the lead physician for the Rapid Access to Consultative Expertise (RACE) line. She received her MD at Dalhousie University and completed her Family Medicine Residency at UBC in 2010. Dr. Sutherland was recognized as the 2018 British Columbia Family Physician of the Year, as well as the recipient of a City of Vancouver Award for Excellence in 2019.


Craig Thompson

Director of Immunization – BC Ministry of Health

Craig Thompson is a healthcare leader with more than 25 years of diverse experience working for provincial and municipal government, public health, university, military and NGO (emergency management) sectors. Craig is the current Director of Immunization and acting Director for Sexually Transmitted and Blood Borne Infections with the BC Ministry of Health.  He is a past Co-chair of BC’s Immunization Committee and is the present co-chair of BC’s Immunization Promotion Working Group.  Craig is a registered nurse with a BSN from Ryerson University (Toronto), and has an MBA from the University of Liverpool (UK).


Angie Todd-Dennis

PHABC Elder-in-Residence & Nak’azdli First Nation (Dene)

Angie was born into the Frog clan of the Nak’azdli of the Dene Nations. After she attended convent and residential schools, she received degrees from UBC (BEd) and University of Hawaii-Manoa (MPH). Her career spanned decades primarily in the teaching and health fields in program development, community engagement and as an educator, bridging the gap between indigenous communities and public institutions. At BC Women’s Health Centre and Hospital Angie’s provincial role was to improve indigenous women and girls’ health. Her community volunteer service has included sitting on many Vancouver boards including the Friendship Centre, Luma Native Housing, Vi Fine day Shelter and Circle of Eagles transition house. As well she was the founding president of (now) Pacific Association of First Nations’ Women and Vancouver Aboriginal Child and Family Services.


Andrew Tugwell

Director, Health Promotion & Prevention – BC Children’s Hospital

Andrew Tugwell is the Director of Health Promotion and Prevention with the Provincial Child Health program, BC Children’s Hospital. Andrew’s role is responsible for facilitating the development of and leading programs and services that promote the physical and mental health and wellbeing of children, youth and families.



Moderator Biographies

Richard Han

Provincial Manager -Farm to School BC

As a Public Health Practitioner and the Provincial Manager of Farm to School BC, Richard Han is passionate working to improve health and well-being of populations. Ethnically Korean and a cultural adoptee of Campbell/Windsor family in Heiltsuk First Nations, Richard brings diverse and rich experiences working in: K-12 community school, child and family services, social development, health authority and universities. He is deeply invested in children’s well-being, sustainable living, and continually exploring to understand how to fostering deeper connection to land, food, people and environment. Richard holds a Master of Public Health, Bachelor of Science (Hons) from Simon Fraser University.


Rita Koutsodimos

Executive Director – BC Alliance for Healthy Living

Rita Koutsodimos is the Executive Director of the BC Alliance for Healthy Living (BCAHL) – which is a group of provincial organizations that advances health-promoting policies, programs and environments that support the health of British Columbians. For the past nineteen years, Rita has worked in the non-profit sector to make our communities healthier for all with a focus on chronic disease prevention and the social determinants of health. In her leadership role at the Alliance, Rita works to build consensus on collaborative action among a wide variety of partners, including NGOs, health authorities, government and researchers.

Using a government relations approach, Rita leads advocacy efforts on behalf of the Alliance and has met with provincial Ministers, MLAs, standing and caucus committees, as well as leaders of the opposition to promote healthy public policy. She has authored many policy papers, organized dialogues and also advanced healthy public policy at federal and local levels of government. Earlier in her career, Rita actively promoted solutions to climate change related to the design of our cities and transportation systems. She believes that many of the elements of communities that make them environmentally sustainable also make them good for our physical health and mental well-being.


Shannon Turner

Executive Director – Public Health Association of BC

Shannon is the current executive director for the Public Health Association of BC and the National Co-chair of Prevention of Violence Canada. Previous roles include Director of Public Health for Vancouver Island Health Authority. Shannon served as a keynote in an international Speaking Tour in Sweden and Latvia in 1994 and 1996 and in 2008, she facilitated a thirteen-country meeting in Uganda on behalf of the East, Central and South African Public Health Associations. Shannon has been named to the Delta Omega Society for outstanding contribution to public health by the University of Hawaii. In 2008, she was awarded the James M. Robinson Award (UBC Public Health) for her significant contributions to public health and in 2017 she was awarded the honorary life membership award from the Canadian Public Health Association. She has served the World Health Organization Global Violence Prevention Alliance for the past decade as National Co-chair of Prevention of Violence Canada.


Chris Van Veen

Director, Strategic Initiatives and Public Health Planning – Vancouver Coastal Health)

Chris Van Veen brings over a decade of progressively increased leadership experience in health authority, government, and non-profit settings. He draws on a breadth of expertise in strategic policy development, partnership work, and health and social service operations. With a strong collaborative ethos, Chris has found success through many cross-sectoral initiatives to improve the lives of people struggling with mental health, addictions, and conditions of urban poverty. As the City of Vancouver’s Urban Health Planner Chris worked with community groups to implement dozens of significant projects funded through a contingency budget created to mitigate the effects of the overdose epidemic in the hardest hit community in Canada. Throughout this time, he administered over 20 high-impact grant contracts, collaborated closely with health, successfully advocated for policy change with senior levels of government, and shepherded a $1M City capital investment in the new St. Paul’s Hospital Mental Health HUB. In early 2018, Chris joined the Senior Leadership Team in Public Health at Vancouver Coastal Health where he has been tasked with engaging partner organizations to jointly implement the provincial emergency overdose response structure. Chris is also responsible for a range of research, knowledge translation, and policy initiatives across the VCH region. Chris is a current board member for the Public Health Association of BC