Who We Are
Meet The Team
Director of Services
Adrienne cofounded VICCIR in 2015 with her colleague Linda McLagan. For more about Adrienne's remarkable career see below under Our Board.
Ana provides many different levels of administrative support, including finance, banking, human resources, reporting, customer service, tax receipting, funding communications and much more besides.
Social & Community Services Worker
Abeer provides one-on-one support to individuals or family units as well as culturally sensitive problem-solving assistance to both counsellors and clients. She also maintains contact with other social service agencies and health care providers.
Michelle is the Administrative Assistant and her job is to manage the day-to-day administrative support functions of the Counselling Centre.
VICCIR Counsellors, Interpreters, Volunteers
VICCIR has more than 20 counsellors, all of whom are experienced Master's level members of their professional associations. They are from diverse backgrounds, speak several languages, and are specially trained and supervised to meet the specific needs of VICCIR clientele.
We also have a team of trained and supervised clinical interpreters, many of whom have lived experience of the issues facing our clients.
In addition, we have a growing number of volunteers who assist our clients with a wide range of issues and facilitate the smooth running of the organization.
Vahini Govinder MC:AT, DVATI, RCC Counsellor and Art Therapist
Xi Yao Associate Member STIBC Mandarin interpreter
Zohreh Granfar Spanish interpreter
Tebu Makalima Spanish interpreter
Michael Isaac Tigrinya interpreter
Ana Maria Pavon Marin MACPsyc, MM, LLB, CIC, RCC Counsellor
Soraya Centeno PhD, CCC, RCC Counsellor, Certified EMDR Therapist
Samuel Oweis Arabic interpreter
Manasi Shaha Hindi and Punjabi interpreter
Sherri Hohert, MSW Counsellor
Kaveh Sarmast Persian and Serbo-Croatian interpreter
Nelio Buongermino Portuguese interpreter
Jasmin Gerwien Supervisor and Trainer for Interpreters
Barb Imlach MA, RCC Counsellor
Lee McLeod RCC Counsellor
Latifa Elalaoui Arabic interpreter
Jean Ellis BEd, MEd, SEP, CAIET Counsellor
Jordan Levine PhD, MC Counsellor
Susanna Ruebsaat PhD, RCC Counsellor, Jungian Art Therapist, Clinical Supervisor
Sonya Boya MSc, RCC Counsellor
Nan Hsien BScN, MA, RCC Counsellor
Linda Lange BCATR Clinical Supervisor
Deborah Klein Patton BAS, MA, BCATA certified Art Therapist
Kim Chi Nguyen Vietnamese interpreter
Kedsanee Broome MA, RCC Counsellor
Jodi Strom MEd, DVATI, RCC, Art Therapist
Jaswant Guzder MD Consultant Psychiatrist and Trainer
Alannah McPhail DVATI Art Therapist
Alison Miller PhD Clinical Supervisor and originator of Parenting Workshops
Yvonne Haist MEd, RCC Clinical Supervisor
Doina Florina MA, RCC Counsellor
Macayla Yan, BA, DiplEd Counselling Intern
Toby Macklin MA, RCC Counsellor
Daniel Oh, Interpreter
Robin has a 30-year background in child welfare within both government and community agencies, and holds a Master of Arts degree in Human and Social Development from the University of Victoria.
Robin joined British Columbia’s Ministry of Children and Family Development in 1999 to develop services for a large group of migrant youth arriving off BC’s coast from Fujian Province, China.
In July 2007, Robin joined BC’s Ministry of Public Safety and Solicitor General to open Canada’s first government-based Office to Combat Trafficking in Persons. The Office is jointly funded by the Solicitor General and the province’s Child Protection ministry, and is responsible for the development and coordination of services for trafficked persons across government departments, community agencies, law enforcement, and academia.
Bob is a retired Chartered Accountant with 40 years of experience in public accounting. He was fortunate to join a Winnipeg accounting firm on his graduation from university in 1973 and retired in 2013 as a partner. His career gave him significant experience with various not for profit agencies, governmental entities and small and medium business.
His volunteer activities include being a member of the finance committee, then treasurer and then president of St. John Ambulance Manitoba council and member of the national council. He has also volunteered with the United Way of Winnipeg, his professional organization and condominium entities.
“I have been a Victoria resident since 2015 and am very happy to be able to assist in the good works being done by VICCIR in our new home city.”
Before retiring in February 2019, Jim worked with BC Assessment as an analyst in the Communications Department for 10 years. Prior to that he managed the Web Services team for fiber-optic manufacturing company, JDS Uniphase for 11 years. In the 90s he worked in fiber optics and nondestructive testing while living in Quebec, and in the 80s he lived in Guadeloupe in the French Caribbean. Jim has a BA in Art Education received from Nova Scotia College of Art and Design. Jim was born with a congenital condition called arthrogryposis. He has had 36 operations from birth to 13 years old in the Hospital for sick children in Toronto. Outside of work, his passion is for photography: he loves going on photo walks and taking people along with him. And music! He plays the guitar and composes.
He is married and he and Sheila have two children.
The VICCIR Board
Adrienne’s attunement to immigrants and refugees is rooted in personal experience. In 1956, she and her parents escaped from Hungary during the Revolution, first to refugee camps and then to Canada. They had nothing but the clothes they were wearing. Adrienne was a young teen. She acquired a graduate degree in Social Work from McGill, and worked for more than two decades with the Victoria Child and Youth Mental Health team as a senior therapist. Her overseas work began at the University of Nigeria as an instructor in Social Work. Then, beginning in 1999, Adrienne had 15 missions around the word with Doctors Without Borders. In all sites, she established mental health projects to provide help to those traumatized by war and natural disasters. She recruited, trained and supervised local counsellors. In 2011 she began work with the Centre for Victims of Torture as a psychotherapist/trainer, first in Kenya and then in Jordan where she worked for more than two years providing supervision and training to local Jordanian counsellors, who, in turn provided individual and group counselling to traumatized Syrian and Iraqi refugees. Read more about Adrienne's role in the foundation of VICCIR here.
Ghassan was born and raised in Homs, Syria, where he volunteered in several organizations, including the Syrian Red Cross and Crescent and Al Rajaa for people with special needs and disabilities. He studied medicine at the University of Kalamoon in Syria from 2008, and in Egypt from 2012, gaining his Bachelor of Medicine and Surgery (MBBCh) in 2016. Ghassan now lives in Victoria, BC, and works as a research assistant at PerCuro Clinical Research Ltd. He is working toward entering the Canadian Medical Residency. He believes that VICCIR is crucial in supporting immigrants and refugees move on from their past experiences, memories and trauma.
Sara attended university in Syria to become a medical doctor, then continued her studies and graduated from Egypt before arriving to Canada in 2016. During the medical school years in Egypt, she joined the International Federation of Medical Students’ Association as a volunteer in the public health committee and later was assigned to the Local Officer on Research Exchange position.
She also volunteered in organizing different campaigns in public health, human rights and peace, women’s health and mental health.
Sara has a great interest in mental health and believes in cultural integration.
John’s experience spans 40 years, serving a broad population base, ranging from Pediatrics, Child and Youth Mental Health, Adult & Geriatric Psychiatry, and Forensic Psychiatry. John has worked in a variety of community, public and private institutional settings in both the USA and Canada. Prior to his work in government, his clinical work was with the Queen Alexandra Centre for Children’s Health and included Child/Youth Mental Health Services, Respite Rehab and the Preschool Program. Prior to his retirement he was Director of Corporate Services and an Operational Review Analyst with the Financial and Decision Support Services Branch, MCFD.
VICCIR's mission is to provide specialized counselling and training services to:
Assist refugees and immigrants who suffer from the effects of trauma and torture to the extent that their daily living is compromised.
Train professional counsellors in the treatment of trauma and torture and provide ongoing training and support to VICCIR interpreters.
Educate, train and counsel sponsorship groups, teachers, school board personnel, public health workers, first responders, and the general public to address and resolve vicarious trauma they experience and to assist them to better meet the unique needs of migrants to Canada.
Inclusiveness: we serve immigrants and refugees of all ages from all countries in the world who reside on Vancouver Island. Although clients are encouraged to financially contribute towards their treatment, no client is refused treatment and all clients are provided care regardless of their financial circumstances with the most traumatized clients given priority counselling.
Confidentiality is essential to building the necessary trusting relationships between the counsellors and the clients, so information can be freely shared knowing that it will be held in the strictest confidence.
Respect for the personal, religious and cultural diversity of our clients is accomplished by ensuring the appropriate counsellors and interpreters are assigned to meet the ethnic and language needs of our clients.
Service Quality is of utmost importance to ensure the best possible results for our clients through the use of professional counsellors and trained interpreters who receive ongoing trauma treatment training and guidance provided by the Director of Services and a professional interpreter including regular debriefing with counsellors and interpreters after counselling sessions.
Welcoming people through our interactions and training of individuals and agencies involved with immigrants and refugees, we help facilitate the positive integration of immigrants and refugees into Canadian society, which is the ultimate outcome of our services.
At VICCIR we value inclusiveness, confidentiality, respect, a high quality of service, and extending a welcome to all.