Our Staff

Genevieve Smith – Victims Services Worker
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 & Acting Executive Director

Gordon is the senior counsel for the BC Centre for Elder Advocacy and Support, oversees its litigation services, and participates 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.

Grace Balbutin – Director of SAIL
Grace obtained her Bachelor’s Degree in Behavioral Sciences from Maryknoll College and pursued her Master’s Degree in Sociology at Xavier University in the Philippines. She moved to Vancouver from the Philippines, where she worked in human resources management for a manufacturing company with over 1,000 unionized employees.

Prior to joining BC CEAS, Grace was the Legal Advocate at the West Coast Domestic Workers’ Association, assisting immigrants working under the federal live-in caregiver program in their employment and immigration issues. Grace’s diverse work experiences include working for Vancouver Rape Relief and Women’s Shelter, Richmond Multicultural Concerns Society, and BC 211.

Grace volunteers as Co-Chair of the Board of Directors at the Vancouver Cross Cultural Seniors Network. She was also a volunteer member of the Seniors Advisory Committee of City the City Of Vancouver from 2009 to 2011. Her volunteer work with the Asian Women for Equality Society involves public education about the issues that Asian women deal with in Canada.

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.

Martha Jane Lewis – Lawyer

Jane was born in Winnipeg and attended schools in Toronto and Switzerland. She received a BA in Economics from the University of Victoria and has worked in investments and in international trade research in Canada, England and Thailand.

When her children were in high school, Jane received an LLB from the Law School at the University of British Columbia. After articling with the BC Public Interest Advocacy Centre, she received an LLM from the University of Bristol, England. Her Masters courses were in labour and welfare rights, and human rights.

After a few years in private practice, Jane took the position of Executive Director and supervising lawyer at the Tenant Resource & Advisory Centre (TRAC) in Vancouver. At TRAC, Jane worked to provide legal information to individuals, legal support for advocates, and public legal education to tenants and landlords in BC.

Jane is passionate about social justice and enjoys working with the BC CEAS team to provide legal information and assistance for vulnerable seniors.

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.