Our Mission

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We develop, maintain and promote affordable housing

Our housing is for individuals who are poorly served elsewhere in the community due to their physical health, mental health, behavioural issues, substance dependencies, forensic history, and for those who are homeless.

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PHS is for everyone in need of our services

We will not discriminate against: • Persons with a mental health diagnosis • Persons with physical disabilities and/or ailments • Persons with a history of criminal activity and/or involvement in the criminal justice system • Persons who engage in active alcohol, and/or drug use • Persons with any combination of the above, or persons in need of housing

Our History

In 1991, psychiatric nurse Liz Evans began supporting marginalized people from a single room occupancy hotel in the heart of Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside. The area was the epicentre of a wave of overdose deaths and the highest rate of HIV/AIDS infections in the Western World. Poverty and exclusion were increasing along with homelessness and drug use.

The Portland Hotel Society (renamed PHS Community Services Society in 2003) was founded to provide harm reduction, housing and promote social inclusion and human rights for the most under-served members of society.

Since its inception, PHS has developed and delivered innovative programming for people otherwise excluded from services. In 2003, PHS opened Insite, North America’s first legal supervised injection site.

Our Partners

PHS is only able to support the most marginalized people in Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside and Inner Victoria because of the ongoing belief and support of key partner organizations and our funders. Thank you for making this possible.

Our Team

Our Senior Leadership Team and Board of Directors

Micheal Vonn

Chief Executive Officer

Kim Hiebert

Chief Operations Officer

Susan Alexman

Director, Programs

Tanya Fader

Director, Housing

Stephen LeBlanc

Human Resources and Labour Relations Director

Devinder Sekhon

Chief Financial Officer

Dr. Christy Sutherland

Medical Director

Avery Taylor

Director, Operations - Victoria

Jeff Brooks

Board Chair

Jeff Brooks

Board Chair

Jeff brings extensive experience as former Director of Social Planning for the City of Vancouver.

During his 11-year tenure he oversaw Vancouver’s comprehensive program of social development, providing the City with information, advice and policy recommendations about social issues. Jeff oversaw the provision of financial support to community organizations including neighbourhood initiatives, childcare programs and those covering children, youth, family issues, substance abuse and mental health matters. He was also involved with grants programs, including community services, childcare support and capital grants considerations.

He has 20 years’ prior experience of public service initiatives in the Vancouver and provincial environment. In addition to an extensive working knowledge of pressing Downtown Eastside issues, Jeff brings considerable public service involvement in provincial and neighbourhood associations throughout Greater Vancouver, serving on a large number of advisory committees.

Allen Garr

Treasurer

Allen Garr

Treasurer

Allen has spent most of his career as a journalist, working locally, nationally and internationally, winning the provincial 2014 Jack Webster City Mike award for reporting excellence.

He’s probably best known in the city for a Vancouver Courier civic column which ran for 19 years, and has also been a CKNW talk-show host, CBC labour reporter and legislative columnist for the Province newspaper. In 1985 he published the biographical book Tough Guy: Bill Bennett and the Taking of British Columbia. He has been involved with board work for the past 20 years. He was on the board of Vancouver Resource Society, providing housing and support to people with disabilities for five years, including three as President. Allen served on the board of Vancity Credit Union for six years during which time he chaired the Governance, Nominations and Election, and Human Resources committees. He also served on the board of Citizens Bank, a wholly owned subsidiary of the credit union.Allen earned his board director’s ICD.D designation in a program offered by the National Institute of Corporate Directors through Simon Fraser University’s Beedie School of Business.

Stephen Learey

Vice Chair

Stephen Learey

Vice Chair

Stephen has a long history working in the Downtown Eastside. He was hired by Downtown Eastside Residents Association (DERA) in 1984 to advocate for low income residents, campaigning for improved living conditions in SRO hotels. He went on to become Assistant Organizer to DERA Executive Director Jim Green and was part of a team that built hundreds of units of social housing, including the original Portland Hotel.

As Executive Director of the Urban Community Development Unit with the provincial Ministry of Community, Aboriginal and Women’s Services he worked with community groups around British Columbia.

During his time with the provincial government Stephen was involved in creating and funding innovative programs for low-income marginalized communities in urban areas throughout B.C. He left this role to become Executive Assistant to Mayor Larry Campbell, working together driving the supervised injection site initiative. He currently is the Executive Director of Strathcona Community Dental Clinic.

Donna Baines

Director

Donna Baines

Director

Donna Baines is the Director of the School of Social Work at University of British Columbia. She brings a strong background in anti-oppressive practice and a desire to deepen the connection between social-justice-engaged social work education and the DTES.

A globally recognized scholar, Donna has collaborated extensively with research projects in Canada, Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, Taiwan, Hong Kong, and Scotland. Her research focuses on paid and unpaid work, anti-oppressive/critical social work theory and practice, and social policy and austerity. She founded and co-edits the online journal Social Work & Policy Studies: Social Justice, Practice and Theory.

Baines is author of the popular book Doing Anti-Oppressive Practice, Social Justice Social Work. The fourth edition is currently in publication.

Jan Christilaw

Chair, Governance Committee

Jan Christilaw

Chair, Governance Committee

Dr. Jan Christilaw brings leadership and experience in British Columbia healthcare issues to PHS Community Services Society.

She recently retired as the President of BC Women’s Hospital in Vancouver, having served an eight-year term. Jan received her Doctor of Medicine (M.D.) degree from McMaster University, continuing her education at the University of British Columbia, receiving a Masters of Health Science in 2002.

Dr. Christilaw brings a vision for women’s health issues to the board, and has been very generous in providing her time to important health initiatives. She is a frequent presenter at health and leadership forums, providing her broad experience in a provincial and national context. Jan is also extremely supportive of grassroots community initiatives and is committed to contributing her time and talents to PHS.

Guy Felicella

Director

Guy Felicella

Director

Guy Felicella is a former PHS program participant who brings his lived experience to his very successful community advocacy addressing the overdose crisis and the toxic drug supply.

He spent nearly 20 years in the grip of addiction, surviving six overdoses, and now dedicates his life to advocating for harm reduction and removing the stigma against drug users. He’s an in-demand speaker on B.C.s drug poisoning crisis, appearing at conferences, seminars, summits, schools, podcasts and documentaries. Guy’s articles are widely published in Vancouver media, he is a familiar voice to anyone following harm reduction posts on social media and he’s connected to various community groups working within the overdose crisis. In May 20201, he was a Coast Mental Health Courage to Come Back Awards winner

Guy educates the public on safe supply of drugs, decriminalization, harm reduction and treatment options. He is married with three young children.

Bobbi Hoadley

Director

Bobbi Hoadley

Director

Bobbi Hoadley is an experienced professional in counselling, therapy and rehabilitation services provision, and a longstanding advocate for people living with disability.

She is a Board Certified Behaviour Analyst and Clinical Counsellor who is fully qualified in neuropsychiatric behavioural therapy and rehabilitation. Since 2004 Bobbi has provided client-centred, solution-focused therapy and intervention for individuals living with mental health challenges. Her expertise in adolescent and adult mental health recovery integrates counselling, recovery and rehabilitation with the technology of Applied Behaviour Analysis. Bobbi is an In-Service Teacher who provides consulting and clinical supervision in hospitals and facilities throughout British Columbia. She served on Vancouver City Council’s Persons with Disability Advisory Board, and as a Board member of both the Stroke Recovery Association of British Columbia and Girl Guides of Canada.

Bobbi is the author of Babes in the Woods – The Women’s Guide to Eating Well, Sleeping Well, and Having Fun in the Backcountry.

Cheyenne Johnson

Governance Committee

Cheyenne Johnson

Governance Committee

Cheyenne was born in Salmon Arm and is a status member of the Tootinaowaziibeeng Treaty Reserve in Manitoba. She is a registered nurse who works in the area of addiction and substance use care in Vancouver.

In her current role as the Director of Activities and Development with the BC Centre on Substance Use (BCCSU) and the Canadian Research Initiative in Substance Misuse, she oversees development and dissemination of evidence-based clinical guidelines, practice tools and policy briefs. Cheyenne is also the Director of the BCCSU’s Addiction Nursing Fellowship Program and is passionate about educating healthcare providers and the public to reduce stigma and improve addiction care in BC.

She is also an Adjunct Professor at the School of Nursing at the University of British Columbia and actively collaborates with interdisciplinary researchers across Canada.

Perry Kendall

Director

Perry Kendall

Director

As B.C. Provincial Health Officer, Dr. Perry Kendall declared a public health emergency over the province’s significant rise in opioid-related overdose deaths.

The 2016 declaration of a public health emergency allowed collection and analysis of real-time information, and for proactive action to warn and protect people who use drugs. Always outspoken, Dr. Kendall detailed that the emergency powers would see health staff working in a coordinated way to bring help to those who need it most. He publicly supported the opening of Insite in 2003, consistently speaking in support of the facility and harm reduction in general in an era when the media was much more skeptical on the subject. He retired in 2018, handing over to his deputy Dr. Bonnie Henry.

Dr. Kendall has produced an extensive list of reports and publications, served on many health-related committees and was awarded the Order of British Columbia in 2005 and the Order of Canada in 2020 for his work in public health.

Ben Milne

Chair, Fundraising Committee

Ben Milne

Chair, Fundraising Committee

Ben Milne was born and raised in the Lower Mainland. His post-secondary education was at Simon Fraser and UBC where he received an M.A. in women’s studies and an M.B.A. in human resources.

Ben’s work experience is mainly in human resources and sustainability. He was responsible for global HR at InterWrap, overseeing 1600 employees in Canada, the US, China and India. Currently he works at the Milne family charity, Unbounded Foundation, which manages active and passive investments, funds research on substance use and supports organizations such as Pivot and Union Gospel Mission.

Ben has been involved with the Simon Fraser Students’ Society, serving on the board of directors, including a period as Chair. He also served as a board member at Pacific Cinematheque, a non-profit Canadian film institute, and is currently Treasurer of the Action at a Distance dance company and a board member of the BC Centre for Disease Control Foundation for Public Health.

He’s a proud father of one daughter and enjoys running and travel.

Adam Munnings

Risk, Finance and Audit Committee

Adam Munnings

Risk, Finance and Audit Committee

Adam is Anishnaabe from Curve Lake First Nation, an Aboriginal Lawyer and founder of Munnings Law.

He has acted as general counsel for Aboriginal communities on economic development, specific claims, reserve land management, employment, governance, accommodation of Aboriginal rights, and negotiations and agreements with government and industry. In June 2015, Adam completed his MBA in Aboriginal Business and Leadership at Simon Fraser University, to better support his client’s business needs. This paved the way for founding Munnings Law in 2016, a boutique Aboriginal and Business Law firm.

In addition to the PHS Board, Adam serves as Chair of the Vancouver Aboriginal Health Society, as a member of Canadian Bar Association British Columbia (CBABC) Provincial Council, and as a member of the Curve Lake First Nation Finance Committee. He previously served as Chair of the CBABC Aboriginal Lawyers Forum, Chair of North Shore Restorative Justice and as President of the Aboriginal Housing Management Association. Adam has written articles, and presented at professional education courses and as a guest lecturer at University of British Columbia and the Nicola Valley Institute of Technology

He has recently started fly fishing, hunting and powerlifting, and enjoys the outdoors, camping and finding time for travel with his wife and dogs.

Raema Quam

Secretary

Raema Quam

Secretary

Raema Quam is a workplace lawyer with extensive experience with non-profits and excellent knowledge of the Downtown Eastside, having been a social worker in the neighbourhood prior to her legal career.

Her love of travel took her around the globe for several years, building experience working with a range of organizations in the public and private sectors, focusing on organizational management and leadership development. Raema has wide-ranging experience working with Vancouver community groups and in strategic development, consulting. She holds a Bachelor of Social Work from the University of Victoria, Canada and completed the Coro Fellowship in Public Affairs in San Francisco. Raema graduated from the Juris Doctor program at the University of British Columbia in 2017, and was called to British Columbia bar in 2018.

Raema is a Senior Manager, Faculty Relations at University of British Columbia.

Arushi Raina

Fundraising Committee

Arushi Raina

Fundraising Committee

Arushi is passionate about sustainable health solutions for vulnerable communities.

She holds an Economics degree from Vassar College in the US and an MBA from the Richard Ivey Business School. She has worked across sectors including retail, real-estate, manufacturing, healthcare and the non-profit arena. At KPMG she worked with complex organizations including provincial ministries and major hospitals, assisting decision making, clinical redesign and strategic planning. She has local and provincial healthcare experience, including as senior strategy advisor for the introduction of diabetes prevention technology at BC Children’s Hospital and on a health startup accelerator for the Praxis Spinal Cord Institute. She has prior experience working with a neuroscience startup that improves the lives of people with brain injury.

Arushi also has international experience, which includes consulting with the World Bank, and has lived in the US, UK, South Africa, Nigeria and Egypt. As a keynote speaker across BC schools and universities, Arushi focuses on diversity, social inclusion and the arts. Her novel When Morning Comes, set in apartheid-era South Africa, has been reviewed internationally.

Board Meeting and Community Advisory Committee Minutes

Please click the links to view meeting minutes from our Board and the Community Advisory Committee for Temporary Modular Housing

Board of Directors
Community Advisory Committee Downloads

2020 Minutes

Please email chair@phs.ca for board minutes.

2019 Minutes

Please email chair@phs.ca for board minutes.

Annual Report 2021

Your support impacts the individuals we serve every year. PHS Annual Report shares stories and updates from the past year, a personal message from both our CEO and Board Chair, and a special thank you to our donors. (Email info@phs.ca for the 2020 report.)