Our Team is Our Greatest Asset
Manager, Marketing & Communications
Research & Evaluation Specialist
Accountant & Payroll Administrator
Manager, Corporate Services
Bev Holmes, PhD, C. Dir
President & CEO
Bev is a health research system leader with experience in practice and academia and a commitment to their integration. She has more than two decades of experience in the funding, production and use of research evidence to improve health.
Working in the field of health and risk communication, Bev championed stakeholder involvement and sees it as key to bringing evidence into practice. Her doctoral degree focused on knowledge translation: the use of research evidence to improve health and health care. Her academic studies fueled her passion for “evidence on evidence use” and she continues to contribute to this body of knowledge, while learning from and applying it.
Bev chairs and sits on various research advisory groups across Canada and internationally, serves as an associate editor at Implementation Science Communications and represents her organization in the National Alliance of Provincial Health Research Organizations. She is an adjunct professor at SFU’s Faculty of Health Sciences and UBC’s School of Population and Public Health, and holds a Chartered Director designation from the Degroote School of Business Directors College at McMaster University.
Bev is an advisor to funders interested in embracing their role as change agents to ensure citizens get maximum benefit from research investments. She publishes on and speaks about the importance of research systems, and the need for all stakeholder groups to play their part in the generation and use of knowledge to improve health and health care. In all this work, her intent is to be respectfully – but insistently – provocative.
As President & CEO of Michael Smith Health Research BC, Bev feels privileged to work with an outstanding Board, leadership team and staff group, and is committed to bringing evidence to her organization’s own practices towards strengthening British Columbia’s health research system.
Bev was previously the CEO of Michael Smith Foundation for Health Research and has held a number of management positions in non-profit agencies. She received her MA and PhD from SFU’s School of Communication. Her research interests are knowledge translation, discourse analysis, health and risk communication, and public involvement in health research.
Bev and her partner have four children and one grandchild (so far); they love swimming, cryptic crosswords and spending time outdoors with their family on the lands where they gratefully live, work, and play: the traditional unceded territory of the Coast Salish peoples, including the territories of the xʷməθkwəy̓əm (Musqueam), Səl̓ílwətaʔ/Selilwitulh (Tsleil-Waututh) and Skwxwú7mesh (Squamish) First Nations; the traditional, unceded territory of the K’ómoks First Nation, and the traditional territory of the Tr’ondëk Hwëch’in.
Cecillia Colbeck, CPA, CGA
Chief Financial Officer
As chief financial officer, Cecillia is a leader focused on the strategy, implementation and management of the finance, information technology, and corporate services activities. She leads a team to develop and implement financial strategies and tactics that support Michael Smith Health Research BC to strengthen British Columbia’s health research system.
Cecillia is an advocate of a continuous improvement mindset supported by her 20+ years’ experience in global technology and innovation companies. She spent many of these years designing and implementing executive decision-making processes and tools based on evidence and analytics as touchstones. These past experiences help to ensure that appropriate decisions are made for the best use of available resources and funds to promote healthy British Columbians.
As CFO, Cecillia is committed to her fiduciary responsibilities by creating a collaborative, inclusive and diverse working environment. She enjoys working closely with her executive colleagues, board members, and staff teams to achieve strategic objectives.
Cecillia is a Chartered Professional Accountant and also holds a Bachelor of Commerce and Business Administration from UBC. She has completed an Executive Program in business analytics at the Wharton School of Business where she translated her learnings into real life business cases.
Cecillia and her partner love to spend time traveling and hiking and also quiet time reading and watching science fiction programs.
Chonnettia Jones, PhD
Vice President, Research
Having worked for research funders in the US, UK/Europe and Canada, Chonnettia brings more than 20 years of experience in science and health strategy, funding and policy to enable world-class research.
As vice president, research at Michael Smith Health Research BC, Chonnettia oversees the organization’s research portfolio, and directs the research strategy, funding programs and strategic partnerships to maximize British Columbia’s investments in health research.
Chonnettia initially trained as a developmental biologist with interests in the molecular and cellular mechanisms regulating neural development. Following postdoctoral studies, Chonnettia managed an international research program at the Janelia Research Campus of the Howard Hughes Medical Institute that developed innovative tools for scientific research. Chonnettia went on to progressively senior roles at the Wellcome Trust in London, where as a member of the executive leadership team, she provided strategic leadership to maximize the impact of Wellcome’s funding and strategic initiatives in global health research.
Advocating for more empirical evidence to inform effective practices in research funding and maximize the impact of future investments in research, Chonnettia is a founding partner of the Research on Research Institute, an international consortium of funders, technologists and academics working in collaboration on a translational research agenda to make research systems more effective, equitable, diverse and inclusive.
Chonnettia serves on a number of international advisory boards on scholarly publishing, open research, responsible research assessment and anti-racism in research. A self-ascribed unapologetic positive disruptor, Chonnettia speaks internationally on issues central to research, including equity, diversity and inclusion, conceptualizations of research excellence, and systemic inequities in research.
In her free time, Chonnettia enjoys learning about peoples and cultures around the world, whether through international travel, entertainment or reading. But she feels the most fulfilled through her mentorship of emerging inclusive leaders.
Julia is a communications and marketing leader in health and science innovation. She is a trusted advisor on strategic communications, especially around complex issues where multiple stakeholders are involved. She brings a unique combination of experience having worked in public and private organizations over the past 20 years.
As director of communications at Michael Smith Health Research BC, Julia leads a large portfolio including communications, marketing, and stakeholder relations. Her mission is to bring vision, creativity, and expertise to advance the organization’s impacts and develop the brand story for the new organization. She leads and mentors a team responsible for an array of initiatives and programs, including government relations, corporate storytelling, brand development and advancement, stakeholder engagement, and digital marketing.
Prior to this role, she had increasingly senior communications roles at adMare BioInnovations, Genome British Columbia, and the University of British Columbia’s Office of Community Affairs.
In her personal time, Julia enjoys traveling the world with her husband and exploring new cultures. On a typical west coast weekend, you can find her with a cup of coffee, a crossword, and a political thriller novel.
Research Competitions Coordinator
As Research Competitions Coordinator, Andrew’s responsibilities include supporting the Research Competitions team in coordination and delivery of funding competitions, reporting tracking and collecting, financial reconciliation, and administrative duties. His current work is focused on supporting the Scholar and Health Professional-Investigator programs.
Prior to joining MSFHR, Andrew worked as a health education assistant at the Lung Association of British Columbia.
Andrew holds a Bachelor of Arts in Health Science from Simon Fraser University. He has more than five years’ experience working in a health care setting and program delivery.
Senior Scheduling & Human Resources Coordinator
Data Analytics Specialist
Chong is a data analytics specialist with nearly a decade of successful experience in providing evidence based information to assist in leadership decision-making. He specializes in advanced data analysis techniques and applying these techniques to challenges at work.
As MSFHR’s Data Analytics Specialist, he works with staff across the organization to lead the development of data-driven insights about MSFHR’s funding programs and processes to support evaluation, learning and improvement.
In addition to his Machine Learning and Lean Six Sigma certificates, he has a Master’s Degree in Operations Research from UBC.
Genevieve Creighton, PhD
Manager, Knowledge Translation
As Manager, Knowledge Translation, Genevieve is responsible for the implementation, monitoring and evaluation of the Foundation’s knowledge translation strategy. She is also a key contributor to the development of the knowledge translation strategy.
Prior to MSFHR, Genevieve was the research manager for the Movember funded study Man Up Against Suicide that used photovoice methods to investigate men’s depression and suicide. She has also headed up a number of community/university collaborative research projects including Fostering Health: Creating Supportive Transition for Youth in Care, and Capturing Wisdom and Resilience: An Evaluation of Pinnacle Alternative Program.
Genevieve has a PhD in educational studies and a Master in Arts in adult education from the University of British Columbia, a Bachelor of Arts in child and youth care from the University of Victoria, and a Bachelor of Arts in women’s studies/psychology from Simon Fraser University.
Genevieve is a previous recipient of an MSFHR Post-doctoral Fellowship Award.
Muneerah Kassam, MHA
As Manager, Partnerships, Muneerah is responsible for all partnership-related matters at the Foundation. In this role, she engages and works with a wide range of stakeholders and organizations to create partnerships with an aim to advance shared goals. Her work involves developing, negotiating and promoting the Foundation’s partnership activities. Currently, Muneerah is also working on the development of a partnership strategy for MSFHR.
Prior to MSFHR, Muneerah was with the Canadian Association of Provincial Cancer Agencies. While there, she worked on a number of pan-Canadian projects, including orchestrating their pan-Canadian initiative on health human resources and service delivery in cancer control.
Muneerah loves to volunteer in her spare time. She is currently involved with the Aga Khan Education Board, and Gilpin Elementary School.
Muneerah has a Masters in Health Administration from the University of British Columbia.
Julia Langton, PhD
Manager, Evaluation & Impact Analysis
Julia is responsible for the Foundation’s evaluation and impact strategy; this strategy includes measuring the overall impact of MSFHR, as well as individual programs, projects, partnerships and strategies.
Julia is an experienced health services researcher and has worked in the academic and government sectors in both Australia and Canada. Prior to joining MSFHR, Julia worked at UBC’s Centre for Health Services and Policy Research where her research focused on primary care performance measurement and reporting. She also worked as the assistant director of performance reports for Australia’s National Health Performance Authority where she led the development of reports on the quality of Australian hospitals and primary care organizations.
Julia holds a PhD in psychology and a Masters in clinical psychology from the University of New South Wales, Australia.
Human Resources Manager
Knowledge Translation Coordinator
As the Knowledge Translation Coordinator, Ugen is responsible for supporting the Knowledge Translation (KT) team in the coordination and delivery of KT activities and events, management of the KT Pathways tool and other administrative duties.
Ugen has worked for various non-profit organizations in Vancouver, Thailand and Bhutan in the areas of public engagement, program delivery, administration and communication. She brings several years of experience providing exemplary support and services to marginalized communities, including those living with mental illness, HIV, poverty, and people with disabilities.
Ugen holds a Bachelors of Liberal Arts and Sciences from Quest University Canada.
Marketing Communications & Design Coordinator
As Marketing Communications & Design Coordinator, Sherel uses her keen eye for detail to ensure MSFHR’s brand is applied consistently across all print and electronic materials. Sherel also manages the Foundation’s intranet and is regularly looking for ways to enhance internal communications and staff collaboration. Sherel is the creative behind various corporate materials, involved in everything from the initial brainstorm to the layout and type to the manipulation of graphics. Sherel is also responsible for the Foundation’s incoming sponsorships, from application assessment to post-event follow up.
Prior to joining MSFHR, Sherel worked at the Canadian Education Centre Network, a non-profit that marketed Canada as a world-class study destination for international students. While there, she was the lead for the organization’s website and 20 international sub sites, which included content management, design and maintenance. She also wrote and designed various communication pieces and executed the sales of their web products.
Sherel holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in communications, a minor in gerontology, and a co-op certificate from SFU. She also has an associate certificate in graphic design from BCIT.
As Finance Manager, Mukesh leads the finance and accounting functions by managing the planning, budgeting and forecasting activities to support effective decision making by the Foundation’s leadership. His other responsibilities include cash and investment management and providing analytical support to the CFO for finance and operational processes and initiatives.
Mukesh joined the Foundation in Fall 2019 with more than ten years experience in corporate finance and consulting in the US and India in sectors ranging from Banking to Technology. In similar roles, he synthesized business insights and presented actionable recommendations on organization’s performance to senior executives.
Mukesh holds a Master of Business Administration from Vanderbilt University (Nashville TN) and a Chartered Accountant designation from India.
IT Support Specialist
As IT Support Specialist, Vladimir is responsible for providing on-site support for general hardware, software, and network problems on MSFHR desktop computers, phones and audio-video equipment.
Before joining MSFHR, Vladimir worked at the Vancouver International Airport providing technical support to airlines and corporate users. Prior to this, he worked for Hewlett Packard at Molson Coors Brewery as the regional IT support for Western Canada.
Vladimir holds a Bachelor of Engineering from the University of Belgrade and a Network Administrator Diploma from CDI College Vancouver. He completed his CISCO Certified Network Associate Level 1 training through BCIT, and is IT Infrastructure Library certified.
Manager, Research Competitions
As Manager, Research Competitions, Tracy is responsible for the management of all MSFHR health research funding competitions, and is the key point of contact for researchers, research users, and research administrators during application review and award administration.
Tracy has over 20 years’ experience in a variety of positions within Irish government agencies responsible for industrial, trade and scientific development. Prior to joining MSFHR, Tracy spent a large part of her career with Science Foundation Ireland where she managed a team of eight people with responsibility for the administration of SFI’s suite of funding programs throughout their lifecycle.
Tracy holds a IPMA Certified Diploma in Project Management from the Institute of Project Management Ireland and a Graduateship in Marketing from the Marketing Institute of Ireland / Dublin Institute of Technology.
Manager, Information Technology
As the IT Manager, George oversees the IT department to provide strategic and tactical IT services and solutions to MSFHR work teams, focusing on technology as a business enabler. He leads the strategic IT projects, acting as the accountable IT leader for the Foundation.
Before joining MSFHR, George worked in the IT industry for over two decades in various roles supporting sectors such as international banking, vehicle processing, not for profit organizations, and multinational corporations. His previous role was taking care of the IT services for a large fitness company with clubs all over the Lower Mainland. While being responsible for the day to day infrastructure, he was also involved in planning the companies’ technical strategies and managing the technical aspects of building new clubs.
While George holds numerous Microsoft qualifications, including the Microsoft Certified Systems Engineer certification, much of his expertise comes from on-the-job experience and is self-taught.
Manager, Corporate Communications
Keeley Rose, MSc, PhD
Manager, Funding Program Design
Facilities & Corporate Services Administrator
As Facilities & Corporate Services Administrator, Leena is responsible for a multitude of areas related to reception, office administration, facilities, finance, and contract administration. She provides support in these areas to both her team and the Foundation as a whole. In addition to being the face of the Foundation (because she is the first one to greet you when you enter our office), Leena also leads the Occupational Health & Safety Committee, works with our property management company to communicate anything building related, and ensures we have ample supplies of everything needed to keep us going – from stationary to office equipment.
Prior to joining MSFHR, Leena taught for 14 years in elementary schools in India and Bahrain. She has also worked as a medical office assistant for family physicians in Vancouver.
Leena holds a Bachelor of Arts from the University of Pune in India and completed a one-year medical office assistant program at BCIT.
Senior Research Competitions Coordinator
Dainty is the Senior Research Competitions Coordinator in MSFHR’s Programs & Competitions department. She is responsible for award administration of funding competitions such as the trainee and scholar awards. Dainty also manages the MSFHR Help Desk by responding to telephone and email inquiries from the health research community and provides technical support to the electronic grants management system. She is also responsible for the coordination and contribution to the on-going development and implementation of the grants management system workflows and procedures.
Prior to joining MSFHR, Dainty worked for the Pacific Blue Cross, assisting with the BC wide registration of residents to the BC Fair Pharmacare program. She has also volunteered at the St. Michael’s Long Term Care facility assisting recreational workers with seniors activities.
Dainty holds a Bachelor of Science in Psychology Degree and has also completed several courses in Applied Business Technology.
Director, Knowledge Translation
As Director, Knowledge Translation (KT), Gayle leads the development, implementation, and ongoing management of MSFHR’s knowledge translation plan for the purpose of fostering and accelerating the impact of health research in BC and beyond. Her current work is focused on facilitating the increase of provincial health researcher and research user knowledge and understanding of KT practice and science, catalyzing health research system changes in support of evidence production and use, and supporting the health research evidence needs of the BC government.
Gayle has held numerous roles in health care and health research for the past 30 years and previously worked as MSFHR’s program coordinator for infrastructure and network programs.
Before joining MSFHR, she held positions as a medical radiation technologist, a health research writer, and a research coordinator in the area of bipolar disorder at the University of British Columbia’s Mood Disorders Centre.
Gayle holds a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology from Simon Fraser University and certification as a knowledge translation professional from the University of Toronto.
Research Competitions Coordinator
As Research Competitions Coordinator, Yuliya is responsible for the implementation and management of MSFHR competitions including launch, coordination of application review processes, award administration and close out.
Before joining the Foundation, Yuliya worked as a grants coordinator for the Centre for Heart Lung Innovation at the University of British Columbia where she coordinated all aspects of grant preparation and proposal development for the Centre’s principal investigators and their trainees. She has also held research and administrative roles at UBC and worked as part of the Vancouver Organizing Committee for the 2010 Olympic Games.
Yuliya holds a Master of Science in biochemistry and molecular biology from Simon Fraser University and a Diploma in accounting from UBC.
Zena Sharman, PhD
Executive Lead, Organizational Transformation & Integration
Zena is an experienced leader and strategist who is adept at working with complexity, facilitating organizational learning, adaptation, and continuous improvement, and building thriving, inclusive teams. She’s worked in the health research funding sector at provincial and national levels since 2008; prior roles include director, strategy at the Michael Smith Foundation for Health Research and assistant director of the CIHR Institute of Gender and Health. Trained as a qualitative researcher, Zena has a PhD in Interdisciplinary Studies from the University of British Columbia.
Zena is passionate about contributing to the development of a more equitable, diverse, and inclusive health research funding sector. In addition to her role at Health Research BC, Zena is a writer, speaker, and LGBTQ+ health advocate. She’s published three books, including The Care We Dream Of: Liberatory and Transformative Approaches to LGBTQ+ Health (Arsenal Pulp Press, 2021) and the Lambda Literary award-winning anthology, The Remedy: Queer and Trans Voices on Health and Health Care (Arsenal Pulp Press, 2016).
As Partnerships Coordinator, Jenni is responsible for administration of the Foundation’s partnered awards. She works with the Manager, Partnerships to build and enhance relations with partner organizations in support of MSFHR’s partnerships strategy, and plays a key role in implementing partner agreements.
Prior to joining MSFHR, Jenni worked at Mount Pleasant Neighbourhood House for one and a half years as the Communications and Marketing Assistant, and ran her own copywriting business serving corporate and charity clients. This followed a career in journalism, working at the BBC, CBC, and Daily Hive, and a career in translation, working at the European Union and running her own translation business.
Jenni holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in Modern Languages (French, Spanish, Slovene).
Senior Specialist, Strategy
Maija is a researcher and strategist with nearly a decade of experience generating insights and sparking wise action with funding, non-profit and health policy organizations. In her role at MSFHR, Maija leads cross-cutting strategic initiatives to help the Foundation realize its 2020-25 Strategic Plan to develop the health research talent and research capacity BC needs now, and in the future.
A health researcher by training, Maija holds a Masters of Science from Simon Fraser University, and a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology from Dalhousie University.
Director, Research Competitions
As Director, Research Competitions, Valerie oversees the delivery of MSFHR’s funding programs, including competitions, award administration, and MSFHR’s online grants management system (GMS) ApplyNet. Working with the Research Competitions team, Valerie ensures funding competitions are developed, launched, reviewed, and administered to the highest standard and best practices.
Valerie brings over 15 years’ experience in health research funding, including a background in business administration and project management, to her role as Director, Research Competitions. For the past five years, Valerie has been providing leadership and oversight to the delivery and award administration of MSFHR’s suite of funding programs and the program management of projects funded through other initiatives. Valerie enjoys seeing the diverse research proposals received through the different funding competitions each year and being able to make positive impacts to supporting the careers of researchers.
Research Competitions Coordinator
As Research Competitions Coordinator, Shannon is responsible for the implementation and administrative management of MSFHR competitions including launch, communication and support to applicants, coordination of application review processes, award administration, and close out.
Prior to joining MSFHR, Shannon worked as the Senior Office & Finance Coordinator at Vital Voices Global Partnership in Washington, DC, where she supported the finance team in procurement and contract administration, sub-grant management, and accounts payable; coordinated office administration; and assisted with program logistics. She has also worked in retail operations and inventory management at the US wireless company AT&T.
Shannon holds a Master of Arts in Political Science from the University of British Columbia and a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science from Western Washington University.
Manager, Research Competitions
As Manager, Research Competitions, Kate is responsible for the management of all MSFHR health research funding competitions, and is the key point of contact for researchers, research users, and research administrators during application review and award administration.
Before joining the Foundation as a Research Competitions Coordinator in 2017, Kate worked in various graduate program and grant administration roles at the University of British Columbia, where she was involved in writing, editing and coordinating multi-million dollar grant proposals, and overseeing student award applications.
Kate holds a Bachelor of Arts in socio-cultural anthropology from the University of Toronto, and a Bachelor of Education from the University of New Brunswick.
Our staff ensure that researchers, funders and partners have the tools and information to advance health research in BC.