Lyana is a member of the Stellat’en First Nation in northwestern British Columbia as well as Acadian/Scottish. She has been active in the field of education for almost two decades. She worked for the provincial Treaty Negotiations Office before completing a Masters in Indigenous Governance at the University of Victoria. After working as an education advocate for the Victoria Native Friendship Centre, she became interested in the deep connections between education and health, and the social and political structures that could either hinder or promote health and well-being. After five years co-creating Indigenous health curriculum in the UBC Faculty of Medicine, she started a PhD at the School of Community and Regional Planning. Her research explores the intersection of governance, history, health and storytelling.


Vanessa is a Vancouver-based family physician and community-based researcher with a special interest in inequities. Along with Manjit Chand and Sarah Dobson she co-founded Basics for Health Society in 2014. Her clinical interests are in the interdisciplinary care of vulnerable patients and those with complex chronic conditions often neglected in the medical system. Since a serious bicycle-MVA collision in 2010, she has gained substantial experience navigating the health system as a patient, now dedicating most of her ongoing clinical work to the compassionate treatment of chronic pain. In 2011, she published a seminal study that developed a screening tool to identify poverty in primary care settings. Since then, she has worked with groups across Canada to further the ability of health care workers to address poverty and its related social needs in clinical settings. Her research and advocacy focus continues to be how to address inequities in primary care, with a focus on the social determinants of health. She is a Research Associate with the BC office of the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives, the Vice-Chair of Communications for Canadian Doctors for Medicare, and works in collaboration with the BC Health Coalition and the Public Health Association of BC.

Kyle Pearce (Treasurer)

Kyle has been working in health and social services for over 25 years, with a particular focus on marginalized communities, cross cultural communication and sustainability.  He brings experience as a funder, executive director and provincial lead for new primary healthcare innovations.  Kyle is principal of think: act consulting, a firm that specializes in collaboration, organizational capacity building and social enterprise.  

Sarah Kesselring (Secretary)

Sarah has been working in health research since graduating from the UBC Master of Public Health program in 2012. She has experience in program evaluation and policy development and is a former volunteer with the Basics for Health Program. Sarah currently works as a Research Coordinator at the BC Centre for Excellence in HIV/AIDS. 

Donna Jepsen

Donna comes to the board with a background in public health, having worked as a program leader for 14 years on the Sunshine Coast with a multi-disciplinary team. Previous to that role, she worked as a public health nurse in both Gibsons and Prince George. Currently, Donna coordinates a supportive home visitation program for young, first-time pregnant mothers who are socioeconomically disadvantaged. She graduated with a diploma in nursing from the Vancouver General Hospital School of Nursing, has a Bachelor of Science in Nursing from the University of Victoria, and a Masters of Science (Health Promotion) from the University of Alberta.  She received a recognition award in 2012 for her contribution to the nursing profession.  Donna has a St. John Ambulance certified therapy dog named Sadie who has patiently attended Board meetings. (We love Sadie! And Donna, of course.) 


John is a family physician and clinical professor emeritus at the UBC School for Population and Public Health where he is involved in teaching and research in public health leadership, health policy and international health. He is currently vice president of the Public Health Association of BC and serves on the BC Healthy Living Alliance.  John is on the Board of the Stroke Recovery Association of BC, the Coordinating Committee for First Call, Health Officers’ Council and the Poverty Reduction Coalition for BC.

John has served as the BC Provincial Health Officer (1992-1998), as vice president of the Canadian Institute for Health Information (1998-2003), and as executive director of population and public health for the BC Provincial Health Services Authority (2003-2011). He is a lifetime honorary member of both the Canadian Public Health Association and the Public Health Association of BC.