Berta Lopera – Executive Director
Berta brings with her more than 22 years of experience as a lawyer in private practice and as in-house counsel in the private sector. Service has been a lifelong commitment and a vocation for Berta. She has volunteered her time to many different causes since her early teens and as a professional, she has represented clients on a pro bono basis and has served as a volunteer at an Elder Law Legal Clinic in the Lower Mainland.
Three years after she came to Canada to learn English, Berta was enrolled in her second law school at the University of British Columbia and was called to the Bar in 2005. Her law practice in British Columbia has been varied and enriching, and has included some exposure to litigation, matters related to estate and disability planning and elder law issues. She has also been involved in the not-for profit sector directly within the private industry and as a volunteer in various boards of directors in Canada.
Berta is fluent in Spanish and she is very happy and proud to call Canada home. When she is not working or volunteering, Berta enjoys creative writing, biking, walking, hiking, dancing and travelling.
Genevieve Smith – Manager of SAIL and Victim Services Program
Genevieve is a graduate of the University of Natal, Durban, South Africa with a B.A. in Psychology. She is also a graduate of the Langara College Social Service Worker Program. Genevieve manages the Seniors Abuse and information Line and the Victim Services Program. Genevieve has experience in helpline service provision, volunteer management and engagement, anti-violence work and mental health advocacy.
Gordon Marshall – Lawyer
Gordon is the senior counsel for Seniors First BC, overseeing its litigation services, and participating in the legal clinics. A member of the Trial Lawyers Association of British Columbia and the Canadian Bar Association, Gordon has worked as trial and appellate counsel since being called to the Bar in Manitoba in 1973 and the British Columbia Bar in 1975.
Lin Chen – Workshop Coordinator
Lin is a graduate of McGill University with a Master’s of Social Work (specializing in community and international development). She has over 5 years of experience working in the non-profit sector, during which she has taken on a variety of roles as a support worker, group facilitator, and program and volunteer coordinator. She is passionate about social justice, particularly in defending and promoting the rights of people, immigrants and refugees. Lin coordinates the Seniors First BC Seniors Reaching Out to Seniors Workshop Program and provides information, assistance, and practical and emotional support to older adults who call the SAIL Line. Together with the Community Education volunteers, she presents 6-8 workshops each month to community groups around the Lower Mainland, raising awareness about elder abuse and empowering older adults with knowledge and resources.
Margaret Verheyden – Office Manager
Margaret is a graduate of Concordia University in Montreal and has a degree in Modern Languages. She worked for Citizenship and Immigration Canada for 29 years as in both programs as an officer. Her experience includes processing Work Permits, Student and Visitor visas and granting Citizenship to new Canadians. She also was the Judges Coordinator for 15 years in the BC Yukon Region.
Nighat Afsar – Legal Advocate
Nighat has a law degree and practised law for 15 years in Pakistan. As a Britannia Chevening Scholar, she completed her Master’s degree in International Law from the University of Hull, UK. She also has a Master’s degree in Urban and Regional Planning from the University of Colorado-Denver. Nighat works in the Legal Advocacy Program, providing information, referral and representation services to older adults.
Arian is a graduate of the University of British Columbia and Simon Fraser University and has a degree in Kinesiology and Gerontology. She is currently completing her Master in Health Leadership and Policy specializing in Seniors Care at UBC. Her interests include: Public Health and Policy, promoting advocacy and support for seniors and patient care quality improvement. Arian works on the SAIL line providing callers with emotional and practical support as well as information and assistance on elder abuse identification, response and prevention. She also provides referrals to the legal and victim service programs of Seniors First BC as well as external resources.
Queen is a graduate of the University of British Columbia with a Bachelor’s degree in Social Work and a graduate of the Vancouver Community College Community Counselling Skills Program. She has volunteer and work experience with the Multicultural Family Centre, YWCA, and Battered Women Support Services. Queen also has training in Community and Settlement Services, Crisis Line Intervention, Domestic Violence Intervention, Non-violence Intervention and Mental Health First Aid. Provides information, assistance, and emotional support to older adults who call SAIL line.
Marta is a Registered Social Worker and graduate of the University of Victoria Social Work Program and an AIRS certified Information and Referral Specialist. Marta has been working and volunteering in Social Services for over 10 years in immigrant and refugee settlement, anti-violence work, addictions, crisis line training supervision. Marta is passionate about incorporating an anti-oppressive, intersectional feminist practice into her work, and promoting social justice and community building efforts for older adults of diverse backgrounds.
Martha Jane Lewis
Martha Jane received a BA in Economics from the University of Victoria and worked in investments and then in international trade in Canada, England and Thailand. She received an LLB from the University of British Columbia Law School, and was called to the BC Bar in 2002. She received a Master of Laws from the University of Bristol Law School in England. Her Masters courses were international human and welfare rights, international labour and welfare rights, and environmental law. She is passionate about social justice and enjoys working with the SAIL team to provide information and assistance to vulnerable older adults over the Seniors Abuse and Information Line.