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Our Staff

Adriana Zepeda Integration Coordinator

Adriana joined the Kinbrace staff in 2006. Her main role is to welcome new residents into the community by providing orientation, advocacy, and accompaniment and ensuring that their apartments are cozy and clean. She lives permanently in the community with her husband Paco and their two children, Marcelo and Sofia.

Andrew Kuipers Program Director

Andrew lived at Kinbrace in 2011 for a year while completing his Master of Social Work degree at UBC. His formal education coupled with residing on site offered an introduction into the experiences of refugee claimants arriving to Vancouver. In his current role, Andrew oversees programs and projects, ensuring Kinbrace's mandate is fully expressed in the welcome of refugee claimants.

Emily Parsons Dickau Community Building Coordinator

Emily joined the Kinbrace team in 2010 after completing a degree in International Relations and Latin American Studies at Simon Fraser University. At Kinbrace, Emily organizes events that provide safe and welcoming spaces for residents, including a weekly community dinner. Emily is grateful for the way that friendships are built during community events and how these relationships help sustain people through the stresses of the refugee claim process. She lives in the Kinbrace neighbourhood, with her husband Thomas, and will happily spend hours talking about gardening and simple, sustainable living.

Erin Pearce Wellness Counsellor

Erin first volunteered with Kinbrace in 2011, and now works on the staff team developing a mental health program for the Kinbrace community. She studied refugee mental health and community development at the University of Calgary where she completed a Masters of Social Work in 2014. She is often quoted saying, "Life is my main passion," but if you ask specifics you may get vague references to wheat grinding, wool socks, smooth pavement, Bernadin or a worn out running shoe.

Fran Gallo READY Tours Coordinator

Fran began working at Kinbrace in 2010 when she took on the position of READY Tours Coordinator. She continues in this role, while directing the development of the Refugee Hearing Preparation Guide. She has been involved as a volunteer with a number of agencies that assist refugee claimants since arriving in Vancouver in 2001. She enjoys hiking and practicing her Spanish language skills.

Jennifer Crolow Administrator and Wellness Coordinator

Since 2008, Jenn has been working as the Kinbrace office administrator, providing the strong force needed to develop a growing organization. In 2016 Jenn took on the role of Wellness Coordinator where she promotes wellbeing for Kinbrace residents. Jenn lives in East Vancouver with her two amazing children. These are a few of her favourite things: walking and riding 'round Trout Lake, listening to people and their stories, cooking recipes she has yet to try, capturing moments on camera, and working for an organization that contributes goodness to the neighbourhood and beyond.

Tatum McLeod Hospitality Coordinator

Tatum joined the Kinbrace community in August 2015. She loves building authentic, cross-cultural relationships and “doing life” with others, as she pursues her Masters in Public Health at Simon Fraser University. Tatum enjoys sharing tea from every country, and greetings in every language; to meet the whole world at dinner after a long day of class is simply an honour!

Loren Balisky Executive Director

Loren is one of the co-founders of Kinbrace and has lived with his family in the community since its inception in 1998. Loren guides the purpose, direction, and vision of the community, leads the staff team, and networks regionally and nationally on behalf of refugee claimants. Nurturing two wonderful teenage kids (Abigail and Oliver), baking bread, listening to creation, cooking well-flavoured food, drinking tea with residents, helping solve a problem, and sweeping the Kinbrace patio make the short list of Loren’s “best-ever” activities.

Raul Gatica Community Mobilizer

Raul is spearheading Kinbrace's newest program, Beyond Refuge, working to provide refugee families with a transformative welcome that includes permanent housing. As a refugee himself, Raul's attentiveness to newly arrived refugees is a life mission. He loves to write poetry and short stories, and watch animated and adventure movies. His favorite hobbies are traveling and organizing communities. He seems to be constantly creating new projects all the time!

The two ideas, justice and vocation, are inseparable…. It is by way of the principle and practice of vocation that sanctity and reverence enter into the human economy. It was thus possible for traditional cultures to conceive that “to work is to pray.”
Wendell Berry, The Art of the Commonplace: The Agrarian Essays (The Idea of a Local Economy)


Photos by Mark Janousek and Emily Parsons Dickau