Senior Management Team

Bev Holmes

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 the 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.

Martin Schechter

Chief Scientific Officer

Dr. Martin Schechter is advisor to the president & CEO as well as MSFHR’s board, committees, and executive team.

He helps develop and maintain relationships between the Foundation and its stakeholders — including BC health authorities, the research community, and the Ministry of Health — and takes a lead role on specific projects. Martin is a professor in (and previously the founding director of) the School of Population & Public Health in the Faculty of Medicine at the University of British Columbia.

Martin combines interests in clinical epidemiology and health services research with HIV and addiction research. He is both a founder and national director of the Canadian HIV Trials Network, a national network of investigators and research facilities aimed at conducting trials of HIV therapies, preventions and vaccines. For his contributions, Martin has been awarded the Order of British Columbia (1994), a Tier I Canada Research Chair in HIV/AIDS and Urban Population Health (2001), the Science Council of British Columbia Gold Medal (2002), and fellowship in both the Royal Society of Canada (2004) and the Canadian Academy of Health Sciences (2005).

Cecillia Colbeck

Chief Financial Officer

As CFO, Cecillia plans, implements, manages and operates 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.

Chonnetia Jones

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.

Julia White

Director, Communications

As Director, 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 story and brand as BC’s health research funding agency. She oversees a team responsible for an array of initiatives and programs, including branding, public relations, program and funding announcements, digital media, events, and sponsorships.

Julia brings over 15 years of extensive experience in corporate communications, digital and social media, public relations, internal communications, and leadership primarily in the life sciences and biotech sectors. She leverages experience gained from small and large non-profit organizations including adMare BioInnovations, Genome BC, and UBC. She is a respected brand builder, stakeholder engagement strategist, trusted advisor, mentor, and organizational leader.

An advocate for the communications profession and women in STEM, Julia is a past board member of the International Association of Business Communicators (IABC) BC chapter, and the Society for Canadian Women in Science & Technology (SCWIST), a private, non-profit society that specializes in improving the presence and influence of women and girls in STEM.

Nicla Bolognese

Director, Human Resources

As Director, Human Resources, Nicla leads all aspects of human resources strategy and operations for the Foundation. She is responsible for people and culture, recruitment and retention, performance management, compensation and benefits, and training and development.

As a member of our senior management team, Nicla partners with the other leaders in the organization to address key Foundation matters. She has a people-first approach and coaches and advises staff at all levels.

Nicla has over 15 years of human resources and recruitment experience mostly gained in the high-tech and interactive entertainment industries. The environments she has worked in have ranged from start-ups to multi-national organizations including Disney and Electronic Arts. Nicla holds a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology and English from Simon Fraser University. Inspired by our mandate, Nicla joined the Foundation in 2015 to help support the building of health research talent and capacity in BC.