Together We Give Hope

Our Staff

Click on Staff Names for Bios

Administration – all staff can be reached at 604-872-1811

Sandy Biggerstaff
 – Executive Director

Brett O’Reilly – Manager, Development and Communications

Sean Davis – Manager, Information Technology

Tamara Guyon – Administrative Services Coordinator

Kaan Yazman – Development Coordinator

Inkeri Meharg – Bookkeeper

Community Learning & Engagement – all staff can be reached at 604-872-1811

Lu Ripley
– Director, Community Learning & Engagement

Tiffany Robinson – Youth Programs, Community Learning & Engagement

Sean Manson – Community Facilitator

Distress Services – all staff can be reached at 604-872-1811

Liz Robbins
– Co-Director, Distress Services – Clinical/Operations

Akhila Blaise – Co-Director, Distress Services – Volunteer Management & Training

Staff Biographies

Sandy Biggerstaff – Executive Director

Sandy has spent 20 years successfully cultivating stakeholder relationships and leading cross-functional teams in both post-secondary and non-profit sectors. As an integrated and strategic thinker, her leadership philosophy is firmly grounded in a commitment to exceptional communications skills and open consultation as the best way to foster positive outcomes. Her experience within large and medium sized service-based organizations has taught her that relationships matter, particularly when initiating new projects where dialogue and consultation are critical to program implementation and organizational excellence. She holds an undergraduate degree in History/English, a graduate degree in Business, a Canadian Risk Management designation, 10 years of training in conflict resolution, and is currently completing her Certified Human Resource Professional Designation.

Brett O’Reilly – Manager, Development and Communications

A professional fundraiser for over ten years, Brett has explored and honed his craft in a few different sectors, including HIV/AIDS, theatre, and seniors’ recreation and outreach. With a strong emphasis on community, conversation, and storytelling, his objective is to make a positive difference in the world, recognizing not only that making a difference in even a single life can have far-reaching effects for the greater good, but that the difference made in that single life is alone worth it.
Brett has a strong personal connection to the Centre’s mission, having experienced near-tragedy of such a nature within his own immediate family. As such, the Centre’s mission is of great personal value to him, and one he is happy to support and contribute to.

Sean Davis – Manager, Information Technology

Bio coming soon!

Tamara Guyon – Administrative Services Coordinator

Having experienced a suicide within her personal life, Tamara wanted to work somewhere that made a difference to those who are in distress and need someone to listen to them. Tamara joined the Crisis Centre in 1998 and currently supports all staff to help achieve the organization’s mission. She is happy to help you in any way she can, and always with a smile!

Kaan Yazman – Development Coordinator

It did not take long in life for Kaan to realize his affinity for impacting communities and people for the better.  He began at a young age by helping his parents with their humanitarian work and soon after transitioned to volunteering for various organizations within Vancouver.  Seeing as he is no stranger to mental health issues and their struggles, he is committed to bringing awareness and support to the topic while engaging with the community he loves and is a part of.  He predicates his fundraising work on being compassionate and building genuine connections with others. Kaan believes strongly in what the Crisis Centre stands for, and that no one is ever truly alone.  With the amazing help of the community and beyond, he is excited by the prospects of mental health awareness and how it can reach those in need.

Inkeri Meharg – Bookkeeper

Inkeri grew up in the Okanagan Valley, and attended UBC, where she earned a BSc in 1992. After working, travelling, and having children, she joined the Crisis Centre’s admin team in 2011, as a part-time bookkeeper, where she enjoys keeping the finances neat and tidy.

Lu Ripley – Director, Community Learning and Engagement

Lu is passionate about working together to build suicide safer communities.  She has worked for more than 30 years in education/training program development and evaluation & mental health promotion. Her zeal for this work comes from professional and personal experience around suicide and mental health, along with a 10+ years relationship with mindfulness practice.

Tiffany Robinson – Youth Programs, Community Learning and Engagement

Tiffany completed a BA in Psychology in 2003 at the University of Calgary, but knew from a young age she loved the west coast.  She worked for various educational retreat centres and youth-serving organizations before moving to Vancouver in 2008.  Tiffany completed a two-year Meditation Teacher Training in 2012 and continues to study and teach.  She has been instrumental in bringing mindfulness to the Crisis Centre and is passionate about mental health and well-being.  Tiffany splits her time between Vancouver and the Lightwork Ecovillage on Gambier Island with her husband Scott and his daughter Cloe.

Sean Manson – Community Facilitator

Since he was a young boy, Sean has always been passionate about teaching.  He is ecstatic to have finally found the subjects he has been searching for: suicide alertness and mental health awareness.  After graduating from the University of Winnipeg in 2009, Sean moved to Vancouver and shortly after began volunteering for the Crisis Centre.  Having learned from his own struggle with depression and suicidal thoughts as a teenager, Sean has traveled to high schools all over the Lower Mainland teaching youth how to get help and look out for one another.  Sean is excited about the opportunity to contribute more to building suicide-safer communities inside Vancouver and out.

Liz Robbins – Co-Director, Distress Services – Clinical/Operations

Liz has her Masters in Clinical Counselling from the University of Southern Maine.  She was a Licenced Clinical Professional Counsellor (LCPC) in the State of Maine before she and her family jumped the border in 2006 and headed to Vancouver.  She has over twenty years of crisis intervention and suicide prevention experience with a focus on assessment of mental health emergencies and clinical supervision.  Liz believes that any of us can encounter crises in our lives that can make it difficult to function and live life fully.  She believes the services the Crisis Centre provides are essential and ensure that none of us ever feel alone, and that there are options for making change.  She is Vice President for the Crisis Line Association of BC (CLABC) and is a site examiner for the American Association of Suicidology.

Akhila Blaise – Co-Director, Distress Services – Volunteer Management and Training

Akhila is passionate about building connected communities.  She has her Masters in Psychology and Post Graduate Diploma in Counselling.  She has over 20 years of experience working in the mental health and suicide prevention areas in different capacities.  One of her specializations is curriculum development including designing and delivery of training programs within the framework of inquiry based approach.  Akhila brings in her knowledge and understanding of diversity, cultural differences and post colonial issues surrounding the phenomena of suicide to the work at the Centre.