GSHI thanks the over 30 dedicated field staff who provide outreach and research support in the community and are the back-bone of the program.
Jaime Adams, Interviewer/Outreach Worker with the AESHA Project, has been working as a frontline support for women in Vancouver's Downtown Eastside for nearly 10 years. She is dedicated to supporting women's wellness through harm reduction, advocacy, and support. Jaime is particularly passionate about supporting positive outcomes for women engaged in survival sex work. The majority of her time during the past five years has been devoted to connecting marginalized women to the healing power of nature through her work with Forest and the Femme, which she founded in 2012. Jaime loves being outdoors and spends as much time as possible on the mountaintops and lakesides of the coastal mountains.
Monica Akello, BBA, Project Coordinator (Gulu), is currently pursuing a postgraduate diploma in project planning and management from the Uganda Management Institute. She is the Uganda Project Coordinator for the Gulu Sexual Health Project, a collaboration with The AIDS Support Organization (TASO) – the largest indigenous AIDS organization in Africa – and many others.
Sarah Allan, BA, JD, holds a degree in law, with a specialization in social justice and the law, and an undergraduate degree in both anthropology and human relations. She is a lawyer who is passionate about plain-language information, access to justice, and empowerment of marginalized persons, particularly women and children. Sarah provides support to GSHI's knowledge translation and law and policy reform efforts. She is on the board of directors of Parent Support Services Society of BC.
Kamal Arora, PhD, Project Coordinator (Qualitative Research), completed a doctoral program in anthropology at the University of British Columbia in 2017. She also holds a master's degree in gender and development from the University of Sussex (UK). Kamal's PhD focused on gender, religious practice, urban space, and the effects of violence among Sikh women in New Delhi, India. Her research was supported by a Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council Doctoral Fellowship. Her academic interests focus on intersections between gender and violence. She is experienced in ethnographic and qualitative research methods as well as research project management, and has a keen interest in research ethics.
Natalie Blair, RN, Clinical Research Associate, has worked as a nurse on unceded Musqueam, Skwxwú7mesh, and Tsleil-Wauthuth territories for the last four years. She is committed to supporting people into their own healing. She is interested in social and health justice, people's stories, anti-colonial and non-discriminatory health access, harm reduction, sexual health, trauma-informed care, and new paths to healing. She is honoured to be working beside the AESHA and SHAWNA participants and team. Natalie also likes to laugh a lot, and feels most alive in the mountains.
Melissa Braschel, MSC, Statistician/Data Analyst, holds an MSC in Applied Statistics from the University of Guelph, where she focused on analysis of longitudinal and clustered data. She loves working with the passionate team at GSHI on quantitative research projects in AESHA and SHAWNA. In her spare time, she enjoys reading and hiking with her silly, lovable dog, Daisy.
Ray Croy, RN, Clinical Research Associate, is honoured to join the AESHA and SHAWNA teams. Prior to completing her BSN, she worked at various projects with RainCity Housing and Support Society, Positive Women’s Network, and YouthCO. Her professional interests include examining how health professions can foster collaborative access to health care for diverse populations, trauma-informed care, harm reduction, and sexual health. Ray also works at the Downtown Community Health Centre, and in her free time likes to explore gulf islands and hang out with puppies.
Monique Desroches, Interviewer/Outreach Worker, comes to the SHAWNA Project after 22 years with Positive Women's Network. She has been living with HIV since the early 1990s and has found both purpose and belonging through advocating for other women living with the virus. Her work in the community has focused on political action, peer mentorship, and writing and public speaking about her experiences. Monique is also a trauma-sensitive yoga therapist and the creatress of fully woven yoga. She loves nothing more than snuggling down with her two dogs and kitty cat for an afternoon of reading and napping.
Anita Dhanoa, RN, Clinical Research Associate, is a settler on the territories of the xʷməθkʷəy̓əm, Sḵwx̱wú7mesh and sel̓íl̓witulh nations. She graduated from BCIT's Nursing Program in 2015. She has previously worked in addictions research and volunteers for a program addressing social determinants of health in clinical practice. Anita is dedicated to working with under-served and multi-barriered communities. She is excited to be a part of the GSHI team on the AESHA and SHAWNA projects. In her free time, she loves birdwatching and playing with her nephews and dog.
Lulu Gurney, Peer Research Associate with the SHAWNA Project, previously worked at Hustle: Men on the Move, Red Road HIV/AIDS Network, and YouthCO. She is excited to be working with the SHAWNA Project to connect peers with one another for a greater cause: to find more information regarding women’s health and strategies. Lulu has connected with peers under a few agencies to help them have safe access to organizations within the Metro Vancouver area, and to help break down barriers that may hold back peers from changing or improving their personal well-being. To take care of herself, Lulu enjoys outdoor activities such as biking around the seawall and swimming outdoors. For quiet nights in, she enjoys reading a book or hanging out with friends.
Lydia Hamel, BA, Interviewer/Outreach Worker, holds a degree in anthropology with a minor in interdisciplinary sexuality. She has a background in social services and has worked in street outreach and social housing. She is currently employed with the Portland Hotel Society as a mental health worker. Lydia is a passionate advocate for women’s sexual health, harm reduction and community-based mental health initiatives. She is especially interested in the health impacts of multi-dimensional forms of stigma experienced by women living in the Downtown Eastside. Lydia is excited to join the SHAWNA team and honoured to have people share their stories with her.
Emily Sarah Leake
Emily Leake, RN, Clinical Research Associate, worked in a variety of settings as a registered nurse prior to joing GSHI, including the the acute medical and HIV units at St. Paul's Hospital and the nursing resource team at BC Children's Hospital. Emily currently divides her time between the AESHA, SHAWNA and ARYS projects, as well as InSite and CTCT. She is certified in STI management, allowing her to provide screening and treatment for sexually transmitted infections as well as Pap tests. Emily is passionate about women's sexual health and grateful to be a part of a project that advocates for the safety and well-being of sex workers.
Jane Li, BA, Interviewer/Outreach Worker, practices from a feminist, decolonizing, social justice, and anti-oppression perspective, and remains committed to work that empowers women and promotes their health, safety, and well-being. Prior to joining GSHI, Jane assisted on several research studies examining immunization delivery in BC, and has worked in the community social services with immigrant, refugee, women, youth, and older adult populations. She currently works in the community with youth and im/migrant women engaged in indoor sex work, and is completing studies in social work. At GSHI, Jane conducts interviews in the office with AESHA and SHAWNA participants, and is part of the Indoor Sex Venue Outreach Team.
Sylvia Machat, Interviewer/Outreach Worker, finds great joy in getting to know participants through the interview process and is passionate about online outreach as a method for reaching the many sex workers who work invisibly behind the scenes. Sylvia is thrilled to be able to bring her skills and experiences to the AESHA and SHAWNA Projects.
Lauren Martin McCraw
Lauren Martin McCraw, Interviewer/Outreach Worker, is a writer and performer who believes in the healing power of shared laughter. She has been a frontline worker and harm reduction activist in the DTES for over six years. She is proud of the work she currently does at the supervised injection facility, InSite. Lauren is passionate about advocating for better mental health care and elder care. In her free time, she volunteers with the elderly, takes long bike rides, and produces sketch comedy.
Jenn McDermid, BA, Interviewer/Outreach Worker, holds a BA in psychology with a minor in sociology, and is currently completing her social work degree at the University of British Columbia. She has a strong interest in social policy and community building and has spent much of her professional life working with women in Vancouver's Downtown Eastside. Most recently, Jenn has worked and volunteered with Megaphone Magazine, WISH, and the BC Civil Liberties Association. She is the co-author of a report on homeless deaths in B.C. titled "Dying on the Streets." In her spare time, she runs an art collective in support of female-identified residents of the Downtown Eastside.
Patricia McDonald, BA, Assistant to Dr. Kate Shannon, holds a degree in Latin American studies and cultural anthropology and draws on an eclectic background in international education, non-profits, and property development. She spent many years in Peru, where she worked with a feminist organization in Lima developing corporate social responsibility partnerships. Patricia has an alter ego as a sculptor and painter, and enjoys helping her son in the production of short film projects.
Minshu Mo, BSW, Interviewer/Outreach Worker, graduated from St. Thomas University in Fredericton, New Brunswick. In a previous life, she worked as a journalist in China and Toronto for years. In the Maritimes, Minshu was active with sexual and reproductive health movements and queer community building.
Sarah Moreheart, SHAWNA and AESHA Research Coordinator, is a passionate advocate for people affected by structural violence and barriers including, but not limited to, mental health consumers, substance users, sex workers, women living with HIV/hep C, and women impacted by historical and current violence and trauma. Harm reduction and social justice are at the forefront of all her practices. At GSHI, Sarah is responsible for overseeing the SHAWNA and AESHA teams, including community linkages and collaborations with a range of stakeholders, the advisory boards, and the outreach and interview teams. Outside of the amazing GSHI work and team, Sarah can be found buried in a book, doing puzzles, or exploring online cat videos.
Jennifer Morris, Assistant Project Coordinator for the AESHA Project, works collaboratively with team members to conduct interviews, screen new participants, train staff, and manage the research office. Her primary focus is coordinating outreach efforts for follow-up and recruitment. Jennifer feels in her element out on the streets liaising with the women, the community, and service providers. She believes that building rapport and education around harm reduction in all capacities can make a difference in women's health and safety. She also works collectively with the nursing team to ensure that all samples have been obtained and any necessary referrals and treatment have been given. She has been a senior staff member at WISH for six years as well as RainCity Housing and other non-profits in Vancouver. These experiences have sculpted her values around sex work policies. She believes strongly in creating safer sex-work spaces and access to health care, harm reduction, and drug treatment services.
Alka Murphy, Interviewer/Outreach Worker, brings to the GSHI team over a decade and a half of experience in providing and coordinating experiential, harm reduction, and asset-based frontline support services, crisis intervention, and specialized victim services for sex workers. Her expertise includes sexual assault health, safety, and prevention; medical, legal, and social services advocacy; community development, outreach, and public education; community-based research; and activism. Alka believes sex workers are experts in their own experience. Her dedication to social justice drives her to ensure that marginalized and stigmatized populations are given equal access to rights and liberties and provided with non-judgmental care.
Rachel Nicoletti, RN, Clinical Research Associate worked in a variety of settings including - acute cardiac care, addictions/mental health, harm reduction and HIV care, prior to beginning her work with the AESHA and SHAWNA Projects. As part of the AESHA study, Rachel provides full STI/HIV screening and STI treatment, either in one of the GSHI clinics or on outreach. She also offers PAP testing, referrals, and provides advocacy when needed. Rachel enjoys being a part of a project that is, and will continue to improve the health and safety of sex workers in Vancouver.
Flo Ranville, Peer Mentor/Qualitative Interviewer with the SHAWNA project, was born and raised in Vancouver and is the mother of seven children and two grandchildren. She has over 15 years of experience in the anti-violence field, having worked as an Aboriginal outreach worker, fetal alcohol spectrum disorder worker, and Program Coordinator for a parenting program reuniting families involved in the foster care system. Flo has survived personal experience living in the Downtown Eastside, substance misuse, violence, homelessness and sex work. She was diagnosed with HIV in 2000. Flo began in community-based research 10 years ago as a peer on the MAKA project involving sex workers in the Downtown Eastside. She volunteered at AIDS Vancouver for two years and worked as a peer research associate with the Dr. Peter Study in 2013-2014. With the SHAWNA project, Flo has been training peer research associates to facilitate and recruit new participants. She enjoys working in community-based research with the HIV community to help her peers be a part of the solution in the fight against HIV.
Abby Rolston, Field Research Support/Front Desk Reception, is a settler on the unceded territories of the xʷməθkwəy̓əm (Musqueam), Sḵwx̱wú7mesh (Squamish), and Səl̓ílwətaʔ/Selilwitulh (Tsleil-Waututh) nations. She joins GSHI after nearly a decade at the WISH Drop-In Centre. As part of her own feminist and activist practice, Abby endeavours to act as an ally in the struggle for sex workers' rights and de-stigmatization, and believes strongly in community-informed policies around healthcare access, housing, and harm reduction. For these reasons, among others, she's happy to be that smiling face that greets you at the GSHI front desk, or the calming ocean-sounds voice on the phone. In her free time, she enjoys sewing, getting out to the woods, and reading.
Heidi Safford, Interviewer/Outreach Worker with the SHAWNA Project, has been volunteering in the HIV community for the last fuve years, an experience she has found very rewarding and inspiring. She worked on the McLaren Housing Project, a partnership with the BC Centre for Excellence in HIV/AIDS. Heidi is a people person, who worked in the travel and tourism industry for 20+ years. She thought it was time to shift gears to something that nurtures and feeds her spiritual soul in a healthy, positive environment by giving back to the local HIV community and her fellow peers. Heidi loves to explore and travel, and is always up for an adventure! She likes to stay active with a variety of things such as cycling, rollerblading, badminton, hacky sack, movies, sunsets, and friends and family. It all helps her have a healthy, balanced lifestyle, mentally, physically, emotionally, and spiritually. She loves anything chocolate too!
Erin Seatter, Project Coordinator - Knowledge Translation and Community Engagement, holds a master's degree in communication from Carleton University, where her research focused on issues of racism and media. She has worked for years in the HIV and anti-violence sectors with a passion for the intersections between equity and health. A lover of words, she enjoys tackling weekend crosswords.
Bridget Simpson, RN, Clinical Research Associate, is a settler on the unceded territories of the xʷməθkwəy̓əm (Musqueam), Sḵwx̱wú7mesh (Squamish), and Səl̓ílwətaʔ/Selilwitulh (Tsleil-Waututh). She is honoured to work with AESHA and SHAWNA project participants. Bridget believes passionately that sex work is real work and that all forms of criminalization run contrary to health promotion. She aims for a nursing practice that recognizes and works against systemic violence and oppression. In her spare time, she likes to listen to records, eat delicious treats, and gaze at pictures of poodles.
Brittney Udall, Assistant Project Coordinator for the AESHA and SHAWNA Projects, coordinates outreach teams, recruits participants, distributes harm reduction supplies, and interviews women about their lives and experiences with sex work, drug use, or with living with HIV. She has worked in the Downtown Eastside for many years, with previous experience as a tenant support worker in an SRO.
Peter Vann, Research Coordinator, has been with GSHI since 2010. He is responsible for the preparation of grants, ethics documents, reports, conference presentations and posters; the submission of manuscripts; and the ongoing development of interview questionnaires. Peter enjoys spending time with his family.
Sherry Wu, Interviewer/Outreach Worker, studied cognitive science at Johns Hopkins University before returning to Vancouver to continue her education in social justice. In her community, she is committed to implementing programs to improve the quality of life for seniors in long-term hospital care; advocating for Chinese-speaking clients in the areas of poverty reduction, crisis intervention, intimate partner violence, and legal information and referral through Chimo Community Services; and promoting active living and first-aid knowledge as a lifeguard and swimming and first-aid instructor. In her spare time, Sherry enjoys cooking for her friends and family, and petting other people’s dogs and cats.