Executive Team

Meet Our Executive Team

Justine Patterson

Chief Executive Officer

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Justine brings international and provincial experience across government, not-for-profit, private and public sectors. With clinical and leadership experience in mental health and substance use, Justine is passionate and committed to providing and improving access to mental health and substance use services and supports for underserved populations.

Justine comes to Phoenix Society from her role as Executive Director, Knowledge, Innovation and Partnerships with BC Mental Health and Substance Use Services at the Provincial Health Services Authority. Previously, she led the provincial response to the toxic drug supply crisis as Executive Director of the Overdose Emergency Response Centre with the Ministry of Mental Health and Addictions. Justine spent her early career as a Psychologist in Queensland, Australia before relocating to Canada, where she worked as the Clinical Director for the Elizabeth Fry Society of Greater Vancouver. Justine has her Bachelor of Psychological Science and Master of Clinical Psychology from the University of Queensland; she completed her Post Graduate Diploma of Organizational Psychology at the University of London.

“I am honoured to be joining the Phoenix Society as the new Chief Executive Officer. I look forward to working with the Society’s board, staff, and stakeholders to advance the organization’s vision, services, and commitment to serving the community.” Justine Patterson, incoming Chief Executive Officer, Phoenix Society

Justine assumes the role of CEO on May 1, 2023. Please join the Board of Directors of Phoenix Society in welcoming Justine to our community.

Trudi Shymka

Chief Operating Officer

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Trudi Shymka has worked with women and children experiencing homelessness in the Downtown Eastside for over 25 years, expanding women-only shelters and developing minimal-barrier services that provide support and opportunities for women to build on their strengths and move towards a better life. For the past decade Trudi has led a portfolio that also includes health and housing services for seniors, people with mental wellness challenges, and end of life care at Bloom Group Community Services Society.

Currently, Trudi serves a member of the Downtown Eastside Coalition of Women Serving Agencies, sits as vice-chair of the Homeless Services Association B.C. and formerly served on the Cedar Cottage Neighbourhood House Board.

“I have a strong drive to provide opportunities for community engagement for individuals who face barriers. One of the biggest motivators to me is peoples’ willingness to open their lives and ask for assistance and share their stories. I just feel so honoured and respectful of that,” she remarks. “Most of us who live lives of privilege don’t have to do that, and when you can create a trusting environment where people feel like they can open up and then identify what their next steps are, that’s what’s really kept me in the work as well as supporting and improving the systems that make those opportunities. I think as I’ve moved away from frontline work I am now really focused on creating work environments to sustain the staff that are willing to do this work.”

Trudi has been with the organization since 2021

Kim Brazil

Chief Financial Officer

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Even in the buttoned-down world of financing — She is a CPA, CGA — Kim takes time as a CFO to know the residents at Phoenix, and she appreciates hearing their stories. “I’ve been able to combine my financial expertise with a cause that’s near and dear to my heart,” she says.

Kim has over 25 years of experience in accounting and finance, and has held senior financial positions with not-for-profit and First Nations organizations.

When she started at Phoenix, the administration was in a warehouse and programs were running out of residential housing. Kim considers herself fortunate to have been able to work closely with founders Michael and Ann Wilson, helping bring their visions into reality.

Now Kim is proud that what used to be a single recovery home has expanded to become a facility that not only treats addiction but that also addresses a range of issues including homelessness, poverty, health and education.

She believes the success of the program comes from the way the organization listens to clients and puts their needs first. “Everyone is a unique person with unique needs,” Kim says. “every person has their own individual needs, which we do our best to meet.”

Kim has been with the organization since 2001.

Kasimir Kish

Director, Housing and Programs

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Kasimir Kish joined Phoenix after working with the City of Vancouver’s Non-Market Housing Operations and John Howard Society. Earlier in his career, he mainly worked in project management and later in residential and multi-family real estate sales and development.

He became involved in the volunteer non-profit housing world in 2014 as a Board Director for a local affordable housing provider. He currently serves on an Acquisitions and Asset Management Committee.

Kasimir holds a BA from UBC and has completed the Social Housing Management program at Langara. He is also a certified practitioner of the Chartered Institute of Housing Canada.

Kasimir has been touched by addiction which includes the loss of a relative who was not able to access support services. This makes the Phoenix mission even more prescient for him.

Kasimir hopes to make a big impact at Phoenix by supporting and strengthening what Phoenix has already been doing so well, for so many years. “I have the privilege of seeing and feeling the positive impact that Phoenix makes in peoples’ lives.”

Kasimir has been with the organization since 2022.

Narinder Dhillon

Director, Human Resources

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Narinder joins Phoenix Society as its Director of Human Resources and brings over a 15 years of human resources experience. Before joining Phoenix Society, Narinder honed his skills in various industries, including technology, financial services, digital marketing, and professional sports. This diverse background has equipped him with a deep understanding of the unique challenges and opportunities that exist within the workplace.

Narinder’s primary areas of focus includes leading the people and culture practices, supporting an engaged and thriving workforce and workplace founded on the values of social justice, collaborative relationship, social innovation, and strength- based practices.

Narinder is driven by his passion for leveraging progressive and innovative HR practices to drive tangible results. He understands that the success of any organization is intrinsically tied to its people, and he is committed to building a workforce that not only excels individually but also collaborates synergistically to achieve collective goals.

Narinder assumed the role of Director of Human Resources on August 8, 2023. Please join in welcoming Narinder to our community.

Munir Velji

Director, Mental Health and Substance Use 

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Munir Velji (He/Him/His) is both a Registered Clinical Counsellor and a Registered Social Worker. He has a passion for working with people from all walks of life. Munir holds a BA in Criminology from SFU, a Bachelor in Social Work from UBC, as well as, a Masters in Social Work from UBC. Munir has worked at all levels in many organizations in his career in both the public sector, private sector and the non profit sector. Munir is passionate about his work in trauma, substance use, mental health, and in critical incident stress management. He is also an expert in accreditation, clinical supervision, practice and standards and staff wellness. He hopes his clinical knowledge and leadership skills will be an asset to Phoenix Society.

Munir joined Phoenix in January 2023 and started his role as Director of Mental Health and Substance Use on August 28th.