Together We Give Hope

Our Staff

Click on Staff Names for Bios


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


Stacy Ashton
, MA – Executive Director

Tamara Guyon – Office Manager

Jeffrey Preiss, MATS, MA – Director, Development & Communications

Shannon McCluskie, Director of Finance


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


Lu Ripley
, MA – Director, Community Learning & Engagement

Mark Sheehan, MSc – Manager of Client Services and Operations


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


Liz Robbins
, MS, RCC – Director, Distress Services, Crisis Response & Operations

Akhila Blaise, MA – Director, Distress Services, Training & Quality Assurance

Johanna Polkki – Manager of Crisis Response & Operations (on leave)

Nicole Roussos – Manager of Crisis Response & Operations

Alain Bedard-Gibson – Distress Services Training Manager


Staff Biographies

Stacy Ashton, MA – Executive Director

Stacy started her career in the non-profit sector as a volunteer on the Crisis Lines, prior to completing her Masters in Counselling and working in the field as a Suicide Intervention Counsellor. She spent over a decade focused on non-profit management and volunteer engagement as the Executive Director of Community Volunteer Connections, and as the Provincial Coordinator of Volunteer Resources with the Alzheimer Society of B.C. She is thrilled to be bringing her experience and skills back to the place she started. In her spare time, Stacy serves on the New Westminster Public Library Board, makes movies, and hangs out with her husband and cats.

Tamara Guyon – Office Manager

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!

Jeffrey Preiss, MATS, MA – Director, Development & Communications

Jeffrey (he/him) has a passion for human wellbeing and flourishing combined with an extensive professional background working in the intersections of communications and community engagement. He can often be found in the front row of his favourite group fitness class at the Robert Lee YMCA, and he is an avid reader on topics such as deconstruction, poststructuralism, queer theory, critical race theory, and theology.  Jeffrey holds a BA in history, an MA in theology, and an MA in cultural studies. He also holds a number of professional certificates in public relations, leadership and facilitation, conflict resolution, fundraising,  public participation/consultation, and public policy development. Jeffrey is an ordained pastor in the Anglican Church of Canada and serves at Christ Church Cathedral.

Lu Ripley, MA – Director, Community Learning and Engagement

Lu is passionate about working together to build suicide safer communities and the interconnection between suicide prevention and life promotion.  With a bachelor’s degree in Sociology and a Master’s Degree in Educational Studies, she has worked for more than 30 years in education/training program and curriculum development and evaluation, with a strong focus on community development and health promotion.  Lu worked for several years in the downtown eastside designing and implementing programs to support inner-city youth and young adults, and worked for several years at Vancouver Coastal Health in a variety of positions including as Education Lead for the Addiction Services Redesign and an initiator of the SACY Substance Use Prevention Program.  Lu is an ASIST Coach and a safeTALK Instructor.   Her zeal for this work comes from professional and personal experience around suicide and mental health.  A certified yoga teacher and lifelong mindfulness learner, Lu has a 15+ years relationship with mindfulness that has served to be a life-changing personal practice.

Mark Sheehan, MSc – Manager of Client Services and Operations

Mark has a passion for promoting positive mental health practices and for helping to build capacity, suicide awareness, and safety within communities. He hopes that one day everyone will have access to the support that they need, when they need it.

With a Masters in Online Marketing, Mark spent nearly 8 years working in various tech companies before making the switch to the Crisis Centre. He hopes to use his skills and experience from the for-profit world to help advance the mission of the Centre. He began his time at the Centre as a volunteer Crisis Service Responder and then transitioned to a Distress Services Room Supervisor and Manager of Community Learning and Engagement. Mark takes his learnings from front line work to help plan what training is needed within the community. Mark is also a certified safeTALK instructor and a lifelong mindfulness advocate.

Liz Robbins, MS, RCC – Director, Distress Services, Crisis Response & Operations

Liz has her Masters in Clinical Counselling from the University of Southern Maine. She was a Licensed Clinical Professional Counsellor (LCPC) in the State of Maine before she and her family jumped the border (legally) in 2006 and headed to Vancouver. She is a Registered Clinical Counsellor with over twenty-six years of crisis intervention and suicide prevention experience with a focus on assessment of mental health emergencies and suicide as well as 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, ensure that none of us ever feels alone, and that there are always options for making our lives better. She is the former President for the Crisis Line Association of BC (CLABC) and has been a site examiner for the American Association of Suicidology.

Akhila Blaise, MA – Director, Distress Services, Training & Quality Assurance

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. She is also Vice President of Crisis Line Association of BC Executive Board and an American Association of Suicidology Site Examiner.