Our Team is Our Greatest Asset
Research & Evaluation Specialist
Accountant & Payroll Administrator
Manager, Corporate Services
Bev Holmes, PhD, C. Dir
President & CEO
As President & CEO of the Michael Smith Foundation for Health Research, Bev is focused on the funding, production and uptake of health research and health care-related evidence in British Columbia.
Her leadership and commitment to integrating these areas is evident in her work at MSFHR and as vice president of Friends of CIHR, as well as her lead role in developing the BC SUPPORT Unit.
Since joining MSFHR in 2010, Bev has supported the Foundation through a period of organizational redesign and program expansion, and helped establish MSFHR’s reputation as a leader in knowledge translation. Under her leadership, the Foundation has launched a new suite of funding programs that focus on developing, retaining, and recruiting the talented people whose research improves the health of British Columbians, addresses health system priorities, creates jobs and adds to the knowledge economy.
Bev is an active and respected member of the health research community and is regularly called upon to publish and present internationally on health research funding, and how best to support the translation of research evidence into policy and practice.
Bev’s roles prior to MSFHR include health communications and knowledge translation consultant, researcher, writer and communications director. Bev received her MA and PhD from SFU’s School of Communication and holds adjunct appointments at UBC’s School of Population and Public Health and SFU’s Faculty of Health Sciences. Her research interests include knowledge translation, discourse analysis, health communication, risk communication, and public involvement in health research.
Cecillia Colbeck, CPA, CGA
Chief Financial Officer
As Chief Financial Officer, Cecillia is responsible for the planning, implementation, management and operations of the Foundation’s finance, information technology, and corporate services activities. She is also a key participant in strategic planning and leads related annual and long-term business planning.
With over 20 years’ experience in technology and innovation companies, Cecillia spent the last eight years implementing executive and board reporting, creating analytics for executive decision making, managing business intelligence tools, and building collaborative relationships.
Prior to joining MSFHR, Cecillia held management positions in multi-billion dollar companies on operations and finance teams. At McKesson (subsequently Change Healthcare), Cecillia introduced the use of predictive analytics for forecasting and evidence based decision making. At SAP, she initiated the use of prescriptive KPI reporting for executive performance management.
Cecillia is a Chartered Professional Accountant and also holds a Bachelor of Commerce and Business Administration from UBC. She has also completed an Executive Program in Business Analytics at the Wharton School of Business where she translated her learnings into real life business cases.
Chonnettia Jones, PhD
Vice President, Research
As Vice President, Research of the Michael Smith Foundation for Health Research, Chonnettia Jones leads MSFHR’s funding programs, ensuring support for our province’s talented health researchers in improving the health of British Columbians and their health system. She also guides our knowledge translation, partnership and evaluation activities to maximize the impact of MSFHR’s investments in health research.
Chonnettia has more than twenty years of experience in science research, strategy and evaluation in government and philanthropic sectors in the US, UK and Europe.
She initially trained as a geneticist and developmental biologist at Emory University in Atlanta, Georgia. Following her postdoctoral studies, Chonnettia joined the Janelia Research Campus, an intramural research campus of the Howard Hughes Medical Institute, where she managed an ambitious scientific research program that supported collaborative research projects between Janelia scientists and international visiting scientists from around the world.
Immediately prior to joining the Michael Smith Foundation, Chonnettia worked in London at the Wellcome Trust, a private charitable foundation dedicated to improving health through research, innovation, policy and engagement with society. As Director of Insight and Analysis, Chonnettia provided strategic leadership to maximize the impact of the achievements and opportunities that arose from Wellcome’s funded research and strategic initiatives.
Chonnettia is an active champion of equality, diversity and inclusion and has held a long-standing commitment to mentorship of emerging leaders. Her personal interests include English history and international travel.
As Director of Communications, Julia leads the communications, marketing, and stakeholder relations portfolio for the Foundation. Her mission is to bring vision, creativity, and expertise to advance the Foundation’s impacts and brand as BC’s health research funding agency. She leads a team responsible for an array of initiatives and programs, including branding, public relations, stakeholder engagement, digital marketing, events, and sponsorships.
Julia is a senior communications professional with over 15 years experience working in both private and public sector organizations. Prior to joining MSFHR, she managed the communications portfolios at adMare BioInnovations, Genome British Columbia, and the University of British Columbia’s Office of Community Affairs.
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
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
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
As Executive Lead, Organizational Transformation & Integration, Zena provides strategic leadership and support across the organization, as well as leading a cross-functional team responsible for strategy, evaluation and impact analysis, funding program design, and partnerships. She’s skilled at developing and implementing adaptive context- and data-informed strategies and programs, working wisely with complexity, and nurturing meaningful relationships, collaborations, and partnerships. Zena has over a decade’s experience in progressively senior leadership roles in the health research funding sector, including seven years as the assistant director of the CIHR Institute of Gender and Health. She’s passionate about contributing to the development of a more equitable, diverse, and inclusive health research funding sector.
In addition to her role at MSFHR, 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). Zena frequently speaks on LGBTQ+ health-related topics to audiences of health care providers, students, and community members at universities and conferences across North America.
Trained as a qualitative researcher, she has a PhD in interdisciplinary studies from the University of British Columbia, where she studied the intersections of gender, power, and care work in the health system. Zena’s pronouns are she/her.
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.