Chief Executive Officer
Wayne is the Chief Executive Officer of the Down Syndrome Research Foundation and responsible for all facets of the organization. He works in partnership with our dedicated staff, volunteers and donors to support programs and elevate awareness about the critical work we do for individuals and families. Wayne has had a very successful executive career in the charity and not-for-profit sector for over a decade, with a track record of leading organizations to improve and grow. Before joining DSRF, he was Chief Executive Officer at BC Adaptive Snowsports, where he led development of a transformative strategic plan focused on fund development, advocacy and improving services for children and adults with disabilities. He oversaw implementation of strategies that more than doubled fundraising revenues to support innovative program development. Prior to his not-for-profit work, Wayne enjoyed an 18-year career in broadcasting, which now helps him be a very engaging spokesperson for DSRF. When not at work, Wayne can be found with his wife spending time with their two dogs, travelling or trying one of the city’s many great restaurants. Email Wayne
Director of Development
Jason is a career fund development professional with over 25 years of non-profit fundraising and management experience, all of it in the health and disability sectors. After graduating from Simon Fraser University with a BA in Economics, Jason served for 13 years in a leadership role with the Multiple Sclerosis Society of Canada (BC Division). He then served five years as Executive Director of the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society of Canada, where he increased net revenue by 300% over a three-year period. As Director of Resource Development for the BC Centre for Ability Foundation, Jason oversaw an increase of over 110% in the organization’s direct mail appeal program. Most recently, Jason served as Director of Development and Interim CEO of BC Adaptive Snowsports, where he significantly increased the organization’s fund development revenues. Jason is also a partner in Ruby Group Fundraising and Event Management, through which he has consulted for a variety of local organizations. Jason lives in New Westminster with his wife, Ruby and their teenage daughter. Email Jason
Susan Fawcett, M.Sc. RSLP
Director of Therapy, Behaviour and Family Support
Susan has been the head Speech-Language Pathologist at DSRF since 2003, and has helped develop the speech and language, adult, and summer programs during that time. She has been thrilled to watch the therapy and teaching team and programs grow vastly since she started! Getting to know families over a long period of time and having a blast playing with the children she sees are Susan’s favourite aspects of her job. While enjoying a sessional teaching position in the education department at SFU, Susan encouraged the students to be more involved, and several of these students have become DSRF volunteers or staff. Susan has particular interest in the areas of social communication, mental health and problem behaviour in people with Down syndrome. She is currently working on her doctoral degree at UBC, studying positive behaviour support with families, under the guidance of Dr. Joe Lucyshyn in the Department of Educational and Counselling Psychology and Special Education. Email Susan
Director of Programs & Services
Pat comes to the role of Director of Programs & Services at the DSRF with diverse experience gained from supporting families as Interim Executive Director at the Family Support Institute, co-founder of Hanbury Holland, a private consulting company, and work as a network facilitator at PLAN (Planned Lifetime Advocacy Network). Pat graduated from UBC with a degree in psychology in 2007 after a previous career working at Cominco, British Petroleum, and BC Pavilion Corporation, in a variety of accounting roles. Pat and her husband John have three children and 24 year old Andrew is diagnosed with Down syndrome. Pat is a strong believer in the power of parent networking and a proponent of goal oriented programming that supports our children as citizens within their natural communities of family and friends. Pat has experience with the issues surrounding transition into adult life and was responsible for the creation and launch of Support Worker Central, a website designed to assist people who employ support workers for their disability related needs. Email Pat
Director of Communications
After graduating from the University of Calgary with a Bachelor of Commerce (marketing major), Glen spent the first 11 years of his career working in the not-for-profit sector, gaining extensive fundraising experience along the way. After three years as General Manager of a restaurant chain with locations worldwide, Glen joined the Down Syndrome Research Foundation in 2012 as Director of Development and Communications, helping DSRF significantly increase its fund development revenues. In 2019, Glen became DSRF's first full-time Director of Communications. Glen has a very personal interest in the work of DSRF, as one of his four children has Down syndrome, while another has other developmental disabilities. Glen and his family live in Aldergrove, BC. Email Glen
Finance and Administration Manager
Penny is DSRF's Finance and Administration Manager. She manages all accounting and finance functions at DSRF and oversees general administration. Penny has prior experience working for charities and not-for-profit organizations, and particularly enjoys working in these sectors. Penny earned her Commerce degree in Saskatchewan and moved to BC in 2009. She enjoys spending time with her family, watching movies, going to the park with her son, walking the family dog and cooking. Email Penny
Thyra Driver, M.Sc. RSLP
Registered Speech Language Pathologist
Thyra completed her Master of Science degree in Speech-Language Pathology at UBC and her Bachelor of Arts degree in Linguistics and Psychology at the University of Ottawa. She has explored research topics including how children with language impairment use language to express relations of time, how infants learn new words, and how children who use Augmentative and Alternative Communication devices interpret symbols. She worked as a Speech-Language Pathologist at the Burnaby School District before joining DSRF. Thyra is passionate about working with clients and their families to establish and work toward meaningful goals. In her spare time, she loves to spend time outdoors, either hiking, cycling, or camping with friends and family. Email Thyra
Marla Folden, M.Sc. RSLP
Registered Speech Language Pathologist
Marla completed her Masters of Science at McGill University in Speech-Language Pathology. While attending McGill, she ran a research project about intensive speech treatment for teens with Down syndrome and childhood apraxia of speech. She greatly enjoys working with individuals with developmental differences, and worked at the DSRF as a programs assistant and instructor prior to returning to school to study Speech Pathology. Marla values a client centred approach to treatment, and enjoys supporting families and individuals of all ages. Marla is delighted to be a part of the DSRF therapy team, and offers individual treatment and assessments. E-mail Marla
Andrea Lee, M.Ed.
Andrea received her Master’s in Education in Montessori Methodology and Children with Exceptionalities at Loyola University in Maryland. Previously, she graduated from the University of British Columbia with a Bachelor of Arts in Sociology and Classical Literature. Andrea is a BC Certified Teacher who taught for several years in Montessori Elementary schools in Vancouver, leading multi-age, full-inclusion classes. She is trained in the Orton-Gillingham method of teaching reading and writing to people with reading disorders and has tutored students with learning difficulties for close to a decade. Prior to teaching, Andrea worked as a research assistant for the Department of Education at UBC. At DSRF, Andrea currently teaches Reading and Communications Plus, Money Math and Budgeting, Social Communication and Navigation, as well as One to One Reading for students age 3 and up. Email Andrea
Stephanie Levine, B.Ed.
One to One Teacher
Stephanie completed her undergraduate degree at Michigan State University with a major in special education, and minors in English and elementary education. She comes to us having just taught at a secondary school in Denver, Colorado for four years, as well as having been a counselor and on-site director for Adam’s Camp; an overnight respite camp for kids and adults with special needs. Stephanie has a wealth of experience working with the Down syndrome and overall special needs population in a variety of applications. She is passionate about furthering the education and independence of her students through math and literacy via the One-to-One Reading Program. Email Stephanie
Hina Mahmood, M.OT
Hina is a recent graduate of the Master of Occupational Therapy program from the University of British Columbia. Prior to obtaining her degree she worked at DSRF for 6 years as the administrative assistant, and volunteer coordinator as well as a teacher’s assistant for the Reading & Communication program. Hina is passionate about working with individuals of all ages who have special needs. She values a holistic approach that is client centered and focuses on enabling and empowering her clients to live their every day lives in meaningful ways. E-mail Hina
Aja graduated from Simon Fraser University in August 2015 with a major in psychology and a minor in learning and developmental disabilities. She has worked at PLEA Community Services working one-on-one with children and adults with varying disabilities. Aja has also worked as a respite worker and behavioural interventionist. In the summers of 2014 and 2015, Aja worked as a volunteer in the DSRF summer programs, and is now assisting in the Money Math and Budgeting, and Reading and Communication Plus programs for young adults. Email Aja
Danielle McKinney, B.Ed.
Teacher, One-to-One Reading Program
Danielle joined the DSRF team in 2011. She graduated from the University of Victoria in 1998 with a Bachelor of Education in Elementary Education and a concentration in Language Arts. She has worked with children of various ages as a teacher on call, tutor and classroom teacher. Her most recent and related experience was in a private school for children with learning and developmental disabilities. She is the one to one reading teacher for the Early Foundations, Success Builders, Launch Pad and Read On! programs at DSRF. She teaches the literacy component of summer camp and has also taught the Read On! group program for young adult learners looking to increase their reading comprehension skills. Email Danielle
Liv Meriano, M.Sc. RSLP
Registered Speech Language Pathologist
Liv completed her undergraduate degree in Speech Sciences at Brock University prior to completing her Master of Science in Speech Language Pathology, with a minor in Audiology, at the University of British Columbia. Her undergraduate and masters research focused on applying theatre techniques to develop social skills in individuals with social-pragmatic difficulties. Prior to joining DSRF, she worked with preschool children, teens and adults with developmental disabilities. She is passionate about providing family-centered care and applying evidence- based practice. Outside of work, Liv enjoys theatre, outdoor activities, the company of her friends and family, and dining out. Email Liv
Riley Rosebush, M.Sc. RSLP
Registered Speech Language Pathologist
Riley studied psychology and linguistics before completing her Master’s degree in Speech-Language Pathology at UBC. She has worked with children and adults with disabilities in a variety of social and educational settings for many years. Riley is passionate about helping people improve their communication and social skills as a speech-language pathologist. She is excited to be a member of the DSRF’s dynamic team. Riley currently provides individual speech and language therapy and assessments at the DSRF. Email Riley
Lillie Ryan, M.Sc. OT
Registered Occupational Therapist
Lillie received her Masters of Science in Occupational Therapy from McGill University and completed a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology at the University of British Columbia. She has extensive experience working with children diagnosed with developmental disorders, such as Down syndrome, Autism Spectrum Disorder, and Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder. Prior to joining DSRF, Lillie provided services to children and their families as part of a multidisciplinary team in the school, clinic and rehabilitation settings. Lillie is passionate about working with children, values client centered practice, and uses a relationship-based approach to therapy. Lillie currently provides individual occupational therapy assessments and direct therapy sessions at DSRF.
Eleanor has worked at the Down Syndrome Research Foundation since 2008 and is the lead teacher. Eleanor is a BC certified teacher who has a Master’s degree in Educational Psychology, with a specialization in reading and exceptionality, from Simon Fraser University, and an education degree from McGill University. Eleanor developed and taught the adult courses at DSRF, aimed at increased reading fluency as well as social communication and community navigation skills. She also teaches children in the one to one reading programs for students age three to adult. Beginning in Fall 2015, Eleanor has lead a DSRF School Collaboration Pilot program, where she designs one-to-one reading interventions for school age children and collaborates with teachers and educational assistants to implement the reading program in the school setting. As lead teacher, Eleanor mentors all new teachers at DSRF, responds to community requests for information about teaching children with Down syndrome, and makes frequent community presentations. Email Eleanor
Donor and Community Engagement Specialist
Maria has over 30 years of experience in the media industry including community and customer relations, marketing, strategic planning, fundraising and event management. As the Donor and Community Relations Specialist, she is responsible for developing and cultivating opportunities for new donors while maintaining relations with existing donors, all leading to revenue producing events. Maria invites you to make an investment in the future of individuals with Down syndrome – an investment which pays lifetime dividends to so many families and helps empower them on their lifetime journey with Down syndrome. Email Maria
Heather joined DSRF in 2018 after many years in the corporate sector as a project coordinator and trainer. Her prior incarnations include restaurant manager and secondary school teacher. She brings a wealth of event planning experience to her role as DSRF Event Coordinator. She graduated from the University of Toronto in 1999 with a degree in History and has since lived, worked and studied in Switzerland, Australia, England and France. Heather has been teaching community yoga since 2010, and is dedicated to lifelong learning in a variety of disciplines, from tap dancing to philosophy to copy editing. Out of the office, she can usually be found snowboarding down a mountain, on her yoga mat at home, or pastry-sampling in Vancouver’s bakeries. Email Heather
Sukh was born and raised in Vancouver, BC and completed his Associate Degree in Criminology at Kwantlen Polytechnic University. After working seven years in the law-enforcement field, he completed an Accounting and Business Technology Diploma at the Academy of Learning and changed the direction of his career. Sukh enjoys the accounting field and continues to learn and grow every day. Sukh is a huge Vancouver Canucks fan, even though the team isn’t doing very well of late. In his spare time, Sukh enjoys exercising regularly and participating in any and all sports. He’s a dog person, and has an energetic 1 ½ year old Boxer dog named Fred who he loves taking for walks. Email Sukh
Christopher has worked as an office assistant for nine years. His duties in the office include reception and the maintenance of office recycling. In his spare time Christopher is involved in Special Olympics where he participates in swimming, floor hockey and softball. He is also an active member of a community youth basketball league. His experience, knowledge, and friendly personality are an asset to the DSRF office.
Danielle is proud to be DSRF's first ever Ambassador, and also enjoys working in the office one day a week. Her duties include answering phones, laminating, cleaning the lobby at the front and other office tasks. Danielle also works at a grocery store 3 days a week. She attended the DSRF summer school for many years and enjoyed it. Her favorite part of DSRF was the drama in the afternoons and also doing money math and budgeting. Danielle also attended Capilano University for 2 years and completed the Discover Employability Program. She has been part of Special Olympics for many years. The sports in which she participates are Golf, Softball, Swimming, Rhythmic Gymnastics and Basketball. She is also part of North Shore Connexions (The Summit). Danielle does bootcamp at the gym and loves to do Bollywood dancing.
Annette has worked at the DSRF since April 2013. Annette answers the phone and directs visitors who come to the DSRF for an appointment. Before becoming an employee, Annette volunteered with the DSRF for three years. Annette also works at CBI Consultants as a receptionist and has been there since 2009. Annette has a beautiful assistant dog, Jake, who is a big hit with kids and adults alike. When not working Annette enjoys going out to restaurants, movies, swimming and listening to music.
Christopher (Chris) Sayer started working at the Centre in August 2014. His responsibilities include the reception desk, keeping the office tidy and any other tasks that are needs. Chris is thrilled to be joining the DSRF team. Chris has been attending the DSRF RAC program since 2010. He also enjoys the summer programs offered at DSRF, such as Bollywood dancing and Art Exploration. Chris was involved in the summer program in 2013 as a volunteer peer to the younger students. Chris has worked at the Burnaby Mountain Golf Course since 2010 as a kitchen assistant/dishwasher. Chris is very involved in Special Olympics for his fitness and social activities. In summer he plays golf and baseball. In winter participates in Athletic Club and Curling.
Programs and Operations Coordinator
Nimet initially joined DSRF in 2001, and has over 20 years of office administration experience. In 2012, Nimet took time off from the Foundation to attend Capilano University, where she studied the Legal Administrative Assistant program, and graduated on the Dean's list. After working with both large and small law firms, feeling that she could not get the same job satisfaction as she had at DSRF, Nimet decided to return to the Foundation in 2014. Nimet’s current role is Office Administrative Assistant and Volunteer Coordinator, providing assistance to the Directors of Finance & Administration, Programs & Services, and Marketing & Development. In particular, she is responsible for the registration of programs offered in Burnaby, Surrey and Abbotsford, as well as coordination of volunteers for various programs and events such as Summer school, Run Up for Down Syndrome, etc., plus lots of general administrative duties. Upon rejoining DSRF, Nimet said "I am looking forward to reconnecting with previous families and welcoming new families to DSRF!” Email Nimet