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 provides information, assistance and, practical and emotional support to older adults who call the SAIL Line. She also coordinates the Building Community Bridges: Outreach to Older Women At Risk project and the Seniors Peer to Peer Outreach and Support project.
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.
Sarah Khan – Lawyer
Sarah provides legal advice and representation to older adults. Prior to joining Seniors First BC, Sarah worked at a public interest law firm where she developed and litigated constitutional, administrative law and human rights cases primarily on issues involving income assistance, disability benefits, access to legal aid, and access to affordable residential electricity. Sarah regularly presents workshops at Law Foundation of BC advocates’ training conferences. Sarah received her law degree from the University of Victoria.