Board of Directors

Leslie Brown

Chair

Leslie Brown, PhD, is a professor emerita at the University of Victoria. She holds degrees in public administration and social work and has built a career on a commitment to community engagement and accountability.

Leslie’s research and scholarly interests are in Indigenous child welfare and governance, housing and homelessness, social innovation and Indigenous and community-based research methodologies. Retired in 2017, she held several administrative positions at UVIC including director of the School of Social Work, associate dean Research in the Faculty of Human and Social Development, advisor to the Provost on Community Engagement and Director of the Institute in Studies and Innovation in Community-University Engagement. Her main teaching area was in the field of research and evaluation methods, particularly community and Indigenous approaches to research and knowing.

Leslie was the founding principal investigator for Siem Smun’eem: the Indigenous Child Wellbeing Research Network of BC and helped develop the Vancouver Island Social Innovation Zone, the Aboriginal Coalition to End Homelessness, Community-Based Research Canada and the Pacific Housing Research Network. She is currently co-chair of The Living Lab Project, a community-university-schools initiative connecting eco-cultural restoration, science education and Indigenous knowledge. She also is treasurer of the Salish Sea Housing Society which is currently building workforce housing on Tsawout First Nations lands.

Carole James

Carole James served as Minister of Finance and Deputy Premier of British Columbia from 2017 to 2020. 

She has been recognized for her work and leadership through her many elected appointments, locally, provincially, and nationally, serving in elected roles for over 25 years.

Her public service has included National Democratic Institute Elections Missions in Morocco, Algeria, and Georgia. Ms. James was a Director for Child and Family Services at Carrier Sekani Family Services and Coordinator for Northern Aboriginal Authority for Families.  

Active in her community, she was Chair of the Greater Victoria School Board, President of the BC School Trustees Association, and First and Second Vice President of the Canadian School Boards Association.

Ms. James is an honourary life member of the Vancouver Island Cooperative Preschool Association and the B.C. School Trustees Association, and served as a foster parent for over 20 years for children and adults with developmental disabilities.

 

Robert Jawl

Robert is managing director with Jawl Properties Ltd, Victoria, BC’s largest owner, manager and developer of commercial real estate. Prior to Jawl Properties, Robert was an associate with the Blackstone Group involved in the firm’s real estate private equity investment initiatives. Earlier, Robert was an analyst in the Investment Banking Division of Goldman Sachs & Co.

Robert holds a Bachelors of Science in Economics from the Wharton School of Business at the University of Pennsylvania and a Masters of Science in Sustainable Urban Development from Oxford University. Robert is past chairperson of the Urban Development Institute Capital Region and a past director of the Downtown Victoria Business Association and the Mayor’s Taskforce on Economic Development. Robert is engaged in a range of philanthropic initiatives with a principal focus on youth, education and community wellbeing. Robert lives in Victoria with his wife and two sons.

 

Lenora Lee

Lenora Lee is Partner with KPMG LLP. Active in her community, Ms. Lee is a Director of the Government Finance Officers Association of British Columbia. She is also Chair of the Government Organizations Audit and Accounting Forum for the Chartered Professional Accountants of British Columbia. Ms. Lee is a Student Mentor for the University of Victoria. Previously she was a Community Fund and Arts & Heritage Committee Member for the Victoria Foundation. Ms. Lee is a Chartered Professional Accountant from the Chartered Professional Accountants of BC and holds a Bachelor of Commerce from the University of Victoria.

E. Michael O'Brien

Mr. E. Michael O'Brien recently retired after a distinguished career as a senior executive of the Vancouver Airport Authority where his responsibilities included strategic planning, legal services, corporate secretary, environment, community and media relations. Previously Mr. O'Brien served as Chief of Staff to the federal ministers of health, transport and employment and immigration.

He commenced his career as a barrister, having received his Bachelor of Laws from Osgoode Hall Law School and his Bachelor of Arts from the University of Toronto. Mr. O'Brien has served as a director of the Richmond Gateway Theatre and the Richmond Chamber of Commerce and as the Chair of the Board of Directors of the Richmond Olympic Oval Corporation. At present he serves as a member of the Fraser Basin Society.

Peeter Wesik

Peeter Wesik is the president of Wesgroup Properties, a family business started in British Columbia more than 50 years ago. Wesgroup is a private real estate organization with a diversified portfolio spanning residential and commercial real estate.

Wesgroup has also invested in the equipment sales and service business under the brand names Williams Machinery and Westerra Equipment, with 8 branches located throughout British Columbia.

Mr. Wesik previously practiced law as a partner at Russell & DuMoulin (now Fasken Martineau DuMoulin) and is involved in numerous industry associations including the Urban Development Institute, where he served as a director and chair, and is a former trustee of the Vancouver Art Gallery.