Laura Oke – Assistant Project Manager
Laura joined ADRA Canada in 2007. If anyone has a finger on the office ‘pulse,’ it’s Laura.
Born and raised mere kilometers from the ADRA Canada office, Laura is now happily raising two children with her husband, Tim. She got her bachelor’s degree from the University of Ottawa, and gained Human Resources experience while working at the Hudson’s Bay Company. When she’s not working at the office, she enjoys watching her daughter dancing, or catching her son’s latest game of hockey. It seems that almost everything about Laura is 100% Canadian!
“Working with ADRA has opened my eyes to the world around me, to real people with real needs,” says Laura. “I’m so thankful that the work I do each day is contributing to making a difference in someone’s life!”
Avish Raj – Senior Project Manager
“The world is one family, we need to grow with love and care”, says Avish, who hails from the largest democracy, India.
With 4 years of offshore corporate work experience with UK and US based companies and 6 years of development experience with World Education Consortium Thailand and with ADRA offices in Thailand, Rwanda, and Papua New Guinea, equips him with diverse knowledge and skills to work with the communities in need.
Avish holds an MA from Andrews University and BA from Spicer Adventist University. His services in the past included appointment as a Volunteer, Field Asst., Program M&E Officer, and Program Director. In 2015, Avish joined ADRA Canada. He works as a Senior Project Manager, supporting development and emergency related projects funded by Canadian Food-grains Bank.
“ADRA Canada’s undaunted service towards communities in need and distress through seamless integration of Theology and Development is what keeps me going!” says Avish.
Crystal Weststrate – Supporter Relations Assistant
Crystal is the newest member of the Donor Relations Team. Accuracy, attention to detail, organization skills and a creative flair are assets she is bringing to one of the most important parts of our agency. Crystal has lived in France and worked for several years in customer relations as a bilingual representative. Being fully fluent in French will enable her to serve our donors from all over Canada.
Crystal loves baking decadent treats, scrapbooking, and planning events for her friends and family. She has organized bake sale events to fundraise for local humane societies and for an ADRA mission trip with area church groups. When she isn’t hard at work being a mom, Crystal finds her relaxation enjoying quiet moments in nature and her love of music.
Heather Grbic – Church Relations Coordinator
Before joining ADRA Canada in 2014, Heather interned with ADRA Morocco and the United States Department of State at the UNESCO (United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization) office in Paris. In both of those positions, Heather was able to use her BA in intercultural communications from Southern Adventist University and her second major in French. Si vous parlez français, parlez à Heather.
Heather’s international experience includes extensive time teaching in Taiwan, and travel to many countries in Europe and Asia.
“It is such a blessing to work in a place where my beliefs and values are put to good use and are shared by my colleagues,” says Heather. “We’re all working towards the same goal.”
In her position, Heather is responsible for the ADRA Canada Prayer Angels program, coordinates ADRA Church Ambassadors, and reaches out to the youth of the church through Pathfinders and Adventurers programs.
Sonja Fraser – Stewardship Coordinator
Born and raised in Saint Vincent and the Grenadines Sonja knows the joys and struggles of growing up in a developing country. Because of this she has a passion for sustainable development and equal access to development opportunities for all. She came to Canada and graduated with B.A. in International Development Studies from Saint Mary’s University Halifax, Nova Scotia.
During her time Saint Mary’s she worked at its Annual Giving Centre. She knows how important it is for any organization to create and maintain healthy relationships with its supporters and enjoys talking to them when they call.
When asked about how she feels about working at ADRA Canada she says “I love the fact that I am part of an organization whose goal is to be the hands and feet of Jesus and assist those in need.”
Outside of work she is a fan of everything South Korean which include watching South Korean dramas and listening to K-pop. Her favourite quote is: ‘Give a man a fish he will thank you for today; Teach a man to fish and he will thank you forever.’
Michael Kirkby – Design and Communications Coordinator
As the Design & Communications Coordinator for ADRA Canada, Michael is responsible for creating many of the visuals that ADRA Canada uses at events and in publications across Canada. He is also the person behind our social media pages. As a graduate of the International Studies program at Canadian University College (now Burman University) in Alberta, Michael is now happy to use his degree at ADRA. Before taking this position with ADRA in 2014, Michael honed his organizational skills at an asset management firm in Toronto.
Michael is enthusiastic about his role: “ADRA has been the organization I have wanted to work for since I was young, hearing stories of their work while ingathering. My ADRA trip to Nicaragua in 2008 reinforced my desire. My position here allows me to help others from around Canada experience and see the great things that ADRA is doing.”
Frank Spangler – Communications Specialist
Frank has been working with ADRA Canada on a contract basis since 1989. He has been traveling the world, visiting ADRA programs, taking photographs and producing ADRA report videos. In 2014 he joined our staff as our Communications Specialist. He says, “My work in the documentation of the programs of ADRA has taken me to the ghettos and remote villages of many developing countries of the world. I am always saddened by the poverty, amazed at the resilience of the people and inspired by the children who smile through their pain and hunger.”
After earning his MDiv from Andrews University, Frank stayed on to continue studies in International Development to help him have a greater awareness and sensitivity to the work that ADRA does around the world. He is delighted to officially join ADRA Canada and looks forward to sharing the mission and vision of ADRA with the world.
Theresa MacMaster – Accountant
Theresa comes from northeastern Nova Scotia, but has also lived in the United States. “What I like about working at ADRA Canada,” she says, “is that we start off the day with worship and prayer! It’s a small office with amazingly friendly and caring people.”
Theresa’s duties at ADRA Canada are to assist the Finance Director and Controller through the preparation of financial reports and documents, record-keeping, payables, payroll, and service records.
Theresa has a diploma in accounting and a BA in Finance from Saint Mary’s University in Halifax. This type of training comes in handy when you’re manipulating columns of numbers on a daily basis! Before she joined us, she worked as Territory Manager for LG Electronics in the Atlantic Provinces. When she’s not in the office, she enjoys spending time with her family.
Ingrid Schwinghammer – Junior Accountant
Ingrid’s official title at ADRA Canada may be “Accounting Clerk,” but her organizational skills and multi-tasking abilities have well equipped her for what she actually does in the office: keep everything going. Her eye for design and love of organization ensure that our office looks, and performs, its best. She likes working at ADRA because the agency has a mission, and “projects and partners are our success stories!”
Ingrid originally joined ADRA Canada in 2004, working part-time to help process donations for the tsunami in the Indian Ocean. Before that, she garnered 15 years of experience in payroll, reception, and production scheduling, but primarily in accounts receivable. She’s lived in Alberta, Ontario, and Michigan.
Lauren Clarke – Information Technology Manager
Lauren might be our resident tekkie, but at heart, she’s really a people person. “I love working with my colleagues,” says Lauren, “they’re a great bunch to be around.” That’s a good thing, because Lauren is often the one who has to come in early or stay late to ensure that other office staff have functioning systems to complete their work.
After getting her degree in Computer Information Systems, she began troubleshooting anything with an electric cord (“power supply line”) or screen (“graphical user interface”) here at ADRA Canada in 2001. Before joining us, she was a computer lab consultant and software developer. Hopeless in the kitchen but skillful with a keyboard, she’s happy for a husband whose talents complement her own.
Sharon Njobo – Associate Director, Project Management (EMBRACE)
Sharon Njobo is a passionate international not-for-profit leader with experience working with teams in multiple locations. A graduate of International Development and Global Health, Sharon brings strong leadership and communication skills. She is an advocate for children, women and marginalized communities. Educated in Zimbabwe, Sharon began her career as a journalist for the national news agency. She earned her MSc. in Development Studies from University of Natal, South Africa. Sharon’s thesis for the MSc. in Global Health with University of Manchester, interrogated the impact of child early and forced marriages on maternal and child health outcomes. She has been a volunteer executive board member of Women’s Health in Women’s Hands, which provides community, mental and clinical health care in metropolitan Toronto.
Thokozani Njoloma Dhliwayo – Senior Project Manager
Thoko (as she likes to be called) comes to us with a rich background of engagement and knowledge of monitoring and evaluation of program activities in developing countries. Thoko brings to ADRA Canada a solid understanding of the determinants of reproductive, maternal, newborn and child health, and their management in developing countries.
Thoko obtained a Bachelor of Science in Nursing and is also a qualified midwife. She recently gained an MPH (Global Health) from the University of Melbourne in Australia. A native of Malawi Thoko is married to Believe Dhliwayo originally from Zimbabwe together they enjoy praise and worship and engaging young adults on various health related issues.
Thoko is the Project Manager of PROMISE, ADRA’s newest program that will be saving the lives of mothers and children in the countries of Rwanda, Malawi and Ghana.
David Kozarichuk – Monitoring and Evaluation
Prior to joining ADRA Canada’s Development Programs department, David worked for 7 years in programming and project management. He worked in a fast-paced corporate environment before switching to the humanitarian sector.
David is using his MS in Software Engineering and BS in Computer Science to develop monitoring and evaluation protocols, build and update project management databases, and increase project sustainability by improving monitoring and evaluation.
David has also been to Mexico and Argentina on mission trips, and serves as an elder in his local church, where he leads a small group in Bible studies.
Sherry Leonard – Gender Advisor
Sherry serves as ADRA Canada’s Project Coordinator for Canadian Foodgrains Bank projects, and ensures the integration of gender equality and protection in all ADRA Canada projects. Prior to joining ADRA in 2005, she worked for 10 years in the business management sector, and has received training in business management and gender equality methodologies. “I left the business sector to do work that was more spiritually enriching, and my life has been forever positively changed by this decision,” says Sherry. “Now, I enjoy the opportunity to do work that I am spiritually connected to, and that reflects God’s love to those in need.”
When she’s not working at ADRA, Sherry enjoys sports, spending time with her family, and eating chocolate! Sherry’s international experience includes travel to Cuba, Dominican Republic, Mexico, Honduras, Haiti, Thailand, Cambodia, and Mongolia!
Kimberley Whyte-Jones – Project Manager, Public Engagement (EMBRACE)
A communications professional with over 7 years of experience and a passion for solving sustainability, environmental and social development challenges, Kimberley has a lifelong goal of positively impacting lives. She focused on public participation while completing a Master of Arts in Environmental Policy at Memorial University of Newfoundland, which complemented her BA in Media and Communication from the University of the West Indies, Jamaica.
Kimberley has a professional affiliation with the International Association for Public Participation (IAP2) in Canada and has previously been involved in youth engagement initiatives in her native Jamaica. She is enthusiastic about her role at ADRA Canada, which involves engaging the public in order to increase awareness and engagement in global maternal, newborn and child health.
Anthony Da Rocha-Senior Technical Advisor, MNCH
Born in Geneva, Switzerland, Anthony moved to Canada in 1990. His passion for international humanitarian aid began to develop when he took trip to Laos in 2007 with ADRA and Burman University. During his 6 weeks in Laos, Anthony came face to face with the urgent need for international relief and development.
After graduating from Burman University, Anthony went on to study medicine. As a medical professional, Anthony brings unique skills and knowledge to his position at ADRA. As Senior MNCH Technical Advisor, Anthony is responsible for the day-to-day management of technical matters related to MNCH programming and policy, including program-based and applied research. He will provide technical guidance and lead in the coordination and collaboration with other key stakeholders in maternal health including research institutions, professional associations and academic entities, international development partners, and host country governments.
He says, “I am very excited to be part of the ADRA network, working together with other ADRA offices, towards the common goal of humanitarian aid.”
Richard Novlesky – Associate Director for
Richard, our soft-spoken and patient controller, joined us here at ADRA in 2012, after returning from overseas where he served as Treasurer of Middle East Union of the Seventh-day Adventist Church in Beirut, Lebanon. His MBA studies and years of experience have been a strong contribution to the finance team and we have appreciated his eye for detail, a trait essential to the accounting department.
The accounting profession often includes demanding deadlines and Richard’s unflagging patience to help those around him, while bringing a smile or a chuckle to every situation, is very much appreciated by his accounting team. Richard says, “Accounting is pretty much the same everywhere, but working for ADRA is a unique opportunity to combine my skills and experience with helping people make the world a better place.”
Jasmin Simyunn – Senior Manager
“Jasmin Suson-Simyunn is of Filipino descent. Most recently, she was the Country Director for ADRA Papua New Guinea (and de facto Finance Director). She previously served as Finance and Admin Director as well as Interim Country Director for ADRA in Mongolia. Her first ADRA engagement is in Sri Lanka initially as short-term finance support and then as Finance Director. Her early career in the Philippines includes audit and teaching. Jasmin holds both CPA and MBA diploma.”
Mareli Nunes – Manager
Mareli has been with ADRA Canada as a program accountant since 2006. After earning her BA in Commerce in her native country of South Africa, she spent years working there as a senior government auditor. This experience has proven valuable in her current role as program accountant, where she is responsible for coordinating the disbursement of program funds, financial collaboration between donors and partners, timely and accurate record keeping and reporting, and assistance with program development and proposal writing.
“I believe in the work of this agency,” she says. “I love the people I work with, and I love my position.”
Zeny Cooper – Manager
Zeny joined ADRA Canada in Jan 2016 as a part time accountant for the emergency unit. Her role is to provide support to the financial management of emergency funded projects in liaison with implementing offices. Having been in the network for over 20 years, she has served as a Financial Consultant or Finance & Admin Director in ADRA offices across Africa and Asia. She has also participated in many financial programmes across the agency facilitating finance training sessions in country and regional offices. Prior to joining ADRA Canada she worked for ADRA UK. She is currently an active member of the network’s emergency response team, deployed as Finance Manager to oversee the rapid and transparent disbursement of funds to provide immediate relief to those in need during emergencies.
Zeny says, “I am passionate with the work that ADRA does because I find it very fulfilling helping other people.” A native of the Philippines, she currently lives in Thailand where her husband is serving ADRA Thailand.