Staff

Deborah Hollins

Executive Director

Deborah is a social worker with a rich history of working with marginalized and vulnerable people and community development. She came to NFLA in 2012 with an abiding belief in resilience and healing. As such, she works to cultivate equity, to live a balanced life that is deeply connected to community, and to apply ethical values to actualize meaningful social change.

Contact Deborah:
d_hollins@nflabc.org
250-754-3331 ext. 201

Mia Maarika

Programs Coordinator
Volunteer Counselling Program and Senior Peer Counselling Program. (V.C.P. & S.C.P.)

Mia’s background is in Nursing/Psychiatric Nursing. She is a Registered Professional Counsellor. She grew up in Sweden and came to Canada when she was 23 years old. She has been involved at NFLA for 10 years and has coordinated the counselling program for almost 8 years. Her passions are personal growth, spirituality, meditation, nature, books and her awesome children.

Contact Mia (she/her):
m_maarika@nflabc.org
250-754-3331 ext. 427

Donna Berthiaume

Manager of Financial Services

Donna graduated from VIU with her Associate in Commerce specializing in Accounting. She has an extensive background in both “for profit” and “not for profit” bookkeeping and financial management. Donna was born in Montreal and moved west until she found her home in Nanaimo. Loving the ocean, forests and the people, Nanaimo is the place for her.

Contact Donna (she/her):
d_berthiaume@nflabc.org
250-754-3331 ext. 204

Stefan Jaeger

Program Coordinator
Therapeutic Activation Program for Seniors (TAPS)

Stefan has recently graduated Vancouver Island University with a Bachelors in Recreation & Tourism Management.  With a background in both public and non-profit recreation delivery, working with TAPS is a natural fit.  Stefan was born on the Island and loves to connect with the beautiful scenery.  He can always be found talking hockey or watching the latest Netflix has to offer.

Contact Stefan (he/him):
s_jaeger@nflabc.org
250-754-3331 ext. 716

Maria Cerna

Program Assistant
Senior Housing Information and Navigation Ease Program (SHINE)

Maria immigrated to Canada in 2008 from Mexico, where family and community are very important pillars in life. She believes that seniors deserve to be safe and secure, and that no one should have to struggle on their own late in life. Maria’s background as a hospice Care Aide in Vancouver, working with patients and their families, has inspired her to continue working in organizations devoted to making communities stronger. 

Maria has been in Vancouver Island for over a year. She loves connecting with nature and photographing the many beautiful places around the island.

Contact Maria (she/her):
m_cerna@nflabc.org
250-754-3331 ext. 212

Angela Turnbull

Program Coordinator
Better at Home

Angela came to NFLA driven by a passion for diversity, personal growth, and equality for those who have been systemically and culturally disempowered. She has a diploma in Business Administration and is eager to use her education and various personal life experiences to give back to the community.

After an exciting move from the Alberta Prairies in 2020, Vancouver Island truly feels like home. She enjoys gazing into the ocean, spending time with her partner and dogs, and working in her crochet business.

Contact Angela (she/her):
a_turnbull@nflabc.org
250-754-3331  ext. 203

Josh Drummond

Program Facilitator – Beyond Blame

Josh has a background in social work working for both Indigenous agencies and non-profit organizations. He has a Masters of Social Work from UVIC and a Bachelors of Social Work from VIU. He has lived his entire life in the Nanaimo/Ladysmith area.

When not at work he loves the hiking, snowboarding, hockey, golf, and spending time with his dog.

Contact Josh:
beyondblame@nflabc.org
250-754-3331 ext. 767

Heather Foster

Housekeeping Service Provider
Better at Home

What better position could there be for someone who enjoys meeting and assisting people along with cleaning/organizing.  Makes my heart sing to see the shear appreciation on our clients faces after a visit.  Although I have had a diverse career, far removed from housekeeping, this retirement career is the best yet! NFLABC brings a wealth of support to our Nanaimo Community and I am honored to be part of the Better at Home Program and look forward to working with the NFLA team.  So very much to learn and do.  Most of my spare time is spent with my three precious granddaughters, along with skating, paddle boarding, hiking and reading a good mystery novel.

Contact Heather:
h_foster@nflabc.org

Denisa Reyes

Housekeeping Service Provider
Better at Home

Denisa is a nature lover with an eclectic career background, having worked in public service, therapeutic riding stables, and as a professional photographer. Her greatest passion are Medicine Horses, energy work, and supporting others on their self-healing journey. Denisa believes one’s home is an extension of one’s body and life. Better At Home gives her the opportunity to work with that concept and improve the lives of our clients. By cleaning and organizing a client’s space, she intends to help clear their path to wellbeing and harmony.

Contact Heather:
d_reyes@nflabc.org

Amber Knapman

Volunteer Resources Coordinator

Amber was born in Saskatchewan and made Vancouver Island her home in 2008. She has both studied and been employed in the field of Animal Behavior and Welfare for over 15 years before deciding to join NFLA. Amber’s passion to help people and provide support to her community while working in not profit organizations has led her to join the Nanaimo Family Life Association. Outside the office, you can find her hiking, skiing or camping with her dogs.

Contact Amber (she/her):
a_knapman@nflabc.org
250-754-3331 ext. 206

Luisa Handford

Volunteer Resources Program Assistant

Luisa has a strong passion for working with children and vulnerable youth in her community. Being from Gabriola Island, Lu has experienced working with families and individuals from all stages of life and many divergent backgrounds. NFLA is allowing Luisa to expand her abilities in contributing to safe, accessible, healthy environments.

Outside of NFLA, Luisa is a director, actor and writer of theatre on Vancouver Island, with a goal of creating an educational, theatric space for youth of all ages to play, learn and grow.

Contact Luisa (she/her):
VolunteerCoordinator@nflabc.org
L_handford@nflabc.org
250-754-3331 ext 213

Cora Leschert

Programs Manager

Cora holds a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology and moves into her role as Programs Manager after two years volunteering with the Peer Counselling Program. She brings with her a background in education, healthcare, and retail management, and has been in love with NFLA from the moment she walked through the doors for her counselling training. She has a passion for equitable access to mental heath supports and believes that people have incredible capacity for resiliency and growth. She loves beachcombing with her family, reading, baking, and walking her adorable golden retriever.

Contact Cora (she/her):
c_leschert@nflabc.org
250-754-3331 ext 209

Ellis McNewshiro

Program Facilitator Gender Journeys and Transcend Nanaimo

Ellis is a passionate advocate for the 2SLGBTQIA+ community and brings a diverse set of lived experiences to the role of peer support facilitator. As a non-binary parent, they intimately understand the importance of fostering connections and mutual support within our community.

Ellis envisions the groups as an extension of Nanaimo’s incredible queer community, a sanctuary where individuals can find solace, understanding, and encouragement on their unique gender journeys. Together, let’s build bridges, share stories, and create a supportive environment that empowers us all.

Outside of work, Ellis runs a 2SLGBTQIA+ book club, gardens extensively and enjoys singing karaoke.

Contact Ellis (they/them):
gender_journeys@nflabc.org                                           250-754-3331 ext 209

Ardith Finnamore

Administrative Manager

Ardith moved to Nanaimo in 2017 while working on a masters degree. She left a large corporate organization in 2013 to complete her Psychology degree and pursue work in community. It was a pivotal moment of growth, and now Ardith is driven by the need to help others. 

Being an administrative manager allows her to fulfill her goal of community support while utilizing her acquired skills. Ardith enjoys working on a team and assisting people to transition through challenging times. 

In her spare time, Ardith enjoys spending time with her pets and friends. She has a variety of interests and hobbies that are ever changing. 

Contact Ardith (she/her):
reception@nflabc.org    250-754-3331 

Jay Howey

Program Coordinator Senior Housing and Navigation Ease Program (SHINE)

Jay has a background in healthcare, information science and the legal system. She joined SHINE because she wants to promote and protect the housing rights of seniors. Jay believes safe, affordable housing is a human right and no one should have to choose between housing, food and medication.

Jay has lived and worked in Japan and Holland but loves Vancouver Island best.

Contact Jay (she/her):
j_howey@nflabc.org   250-754-3331 ext. 205