Board of Directors – GI Society

Our voluntary Board of Directors’ are made up of individuals from diverse backgrounds including business, health, and financial sectors. They dedicate their time and expertise towards developing strategic goals and collaborating with staff for furthering our mission.

Gail Attara

Gail Attara
Co-Founder
President

As the Executive Director of the Canadian Society of Intestinal Research since early 1996, Gail has led the Society’s development from a small BC charity into a national presence, accounting for the largest growth period in its history. After co-founding the GI Society she is now in the role of President & CEO.Her motto, “the patient comes first”, directs her resolve for patient-focused healthcare and commitment to increasing awareness about the seriousness of gastrointestinal illnesses.Gail has a solid background in public relations and fundraising and is an active community volunteer in Canada serving on numerous Boards, and overseas, where she has worked with orphans. She is also a published freelance author. Gail has been an invited speaker coast-to-coast on numerous occasions, to wide-ranging audiences, including doctors, patients, pharmacists, and healthcare decision-makers.

With the dynamic support of the Board of Directors, a dedicated group determined to fully realize the GI Society as Canada’s gastrointestinal disease and disorder information source, Gail continues to lead the Societies into a bright future.

Karishma Shelat

Karishma Shelat
BScN, RN
Chair

Karishma graduated from University of British Columbia (UBC) with a Bachelor’s degree of Sciences in Nursing – after pursuing a double major in Health Science and Psychology at Western University in London, Ontario. Currently she works as an Emergency Registered Nurse at the Urgent Care Centre at UBC Hospital. Prior to this, she also worked as a community nurse in the Downtown Eastside of Vancouver working at Insite Supervised Injection Site and as a cardiac nurse at Vancouver General Hospital.

Throughout her life, Karishma has been involved in various charities, non-profit organizations and events, such as, Western Psychology Association, UBC School of Medicine Health Mentor Program, UBC Nursing Undergraduate Society, and Children’s Mental Health Ontario. She has been a keynote speaker on several occasions for the Children’s Mental Health Ontario talking about the stigma of mental  illness. Karishma is a keen learner and strongly believes in public education and sharing of evidenced-based information. She is eager to commence her new role as a Board Member for the GI Society where she aspires to bring her creative ideas, out-of-the-box style of thinking, and networking skills.

Andrew Gray

Andrew Gray
LLB
Secretary

Andrew practices law in Coquitlam, British Columbia. Operating as a sole practice, Andrew accepts clients in various areas, including in family, criminal, youth criminal, immigration, and tribunals. Andrew was called to the British Columbia Bar in 2011 and is a 2010 graduate of University of British Columbia’s Faculty of Law. From 2010 until 2013 he articled and worked as an associate of a three-lawyer law firm in Courtenay, Vancouver Island. In 2014 and 2015 he worked as an associate of Dr. Gary Botting, Barrister, in Coquitlam.

Andrew plays the bass trombone and has an undergraduate degree in Classics (Ancient Greek and Latin). He speaks French. In his youth, Andrew was an office volunteer for the Canadian Society of Intestinal Research.

Jim Smith

Jim Smith
MBA
Treasurer

Jim is a graduate with a Master of Business Administration from the University of British Columbia with senior experience in the software industry, working with business owners and accounting professionals on ways they can improve and expand their businesses. He is a passionate supporter of seniors, having been the president of the Richmond Intermediate Care Society, a non-profit operating a 155 resident seniors’ care facility in Richmond, British Columbia, with an annual budget of more than $14 million. While there, he oversaw major strategic planning initiatives, as well as two large renovation projects, each well over $1 million.

Jim is passionate about diseases of the gut as a result of being part of a family that suffers from such disorders. He understands the pain, discomfort and loss of control that such conditions present, and hopes that someday there can be great strides in the diagnosis and treatment of gastrointestinal conditions and a better life for those who suffer.

Ron Goetz

Ron Goetz

Director

Ron has been involved in the entertainment business since 1974. He started his career at CFTK-TV in Terrace, British Columbia. He then moved to Regina, Saskatchewan to be a senior producer and eventually the Creative and Promotions manager at CKCK-TV from 1979 to 1997. He left the broadcast world to become an independent producer and the senior business partner at Partners in Motion in Regina in 1997. Finally, the company was moved to Vancouver in 2012. He won an Emmy in 2001 for The Day the War Came Home and a Centennial Medal from the Province of Saskatchewan in 2005 recognizing his commitment to the province. He was a special consultant and producer for the Saskatchewan Pavilion at the Vancouver 2010 Olympic Games. He also guided the company to an Abex Award as the company of the year in 2007.

He has sat on numerous boards including being the President of the Saskatchewan Motion Picture Industry, a board member of the Lieutenant Governor’s Celebration of the Arts, and of the Yorkton Short Film Festival.  He is also the President of Ronlin Holdings, a private investment company, and sits on the board of Gloo Studios in Burnaby, British Columbia.

James Gray

Dr. James R. Gray, Gastroenterologist
CCFP, ABIM, FRCP(C)
Co-Founder, Director

Dr. James Gray is a graduate of the Faculty of Medicine at the University of British Columbia, and performed his internship at Dalhousie University in Nova Scotia. After operating a successful family practice, he completed his residency in internal medicine and gastroenterology at UBC and was subsequently awarded a research fellowship at the University of Edinburgh. He is currently Clinical Professor of gastroenterology at the University of British Columbia and is also president of the BC Society of Gastroenterology.

Dr. Gray is the author of numerous published medical studies in the field of gastroenterology. He is a frequently invited speaker and is an active participant in many of GI Society’s and CSIR’s public education initiatives.

Sarah Nahid

Sarah Nahid
MBA
Director

Sarah is an established consultant in the health care, biotechnology, pharmaceutical, and life science industries. She completed the part-time MBA program specializing in strategic management from the highly regarded Sauder School of Business, University of British Columbia, while working as a senior consultant at the National Health Care Advisory Services team of Ernst & Young LLP.

Throughout her career, Sarah has provided advisory services to senior decision makers across Canada including various health ministry officials. One of her latest projects involved creating a response plan for providing health services to government-assisted Syrian refugees in British Columbia.

Sarah’s interest in the GI Society stems from her passion for health care betterments, as well as her personal experience of losing several friends and family members to GI cancer.

Board of Directors – CSIR

Our voluntary Board of Directors’ are made up of individuals from diverse backgrounds including business, health, and financial sectors. They dedicate their time and expertise towards developing strategic goals and collaborating with staff for furthering our mission.

Gail Attara

Gail Attara

President

As the Executive Director of the Canadian Society of Intestinal Research since early 1996, Gail has led the Society’s development from a small BC charity into a national presence, accounting for the largest growth period in its history. After co-founding the GI Society she is now in the role of President & CEO.Her motto, “the patient comes first”, directs her resolve for patient-focused healthcare and commitment to increasing awareness about the seriousness of gastrointestinal illnesses.Gail has a solid background in public relations and fundraising and is an active community volunteer in Canada serving on numerous Boards, and overseas, where she has worked with orphans. She is also a published freelance author. Gail has been an invited speaker coast-to-coast on numerous occasions, to wide-ranging audiences, including doctors, patients, pharmacists, and healthcare decision-makers.

With the dynamic support of the Board of Directors, a dedicated group determined to fully realize the GI Society as Canada’s gastrointestinal disease and disorder information source, Gail continues to lead the Societies into a bright future.

James Gray

Dr. James R. Gray, Gastroenterologist
CCFP, ABIM, FRCP(C)
Vice-President

Dr. James Gray is a graduate of the Faculty of Medicine at the University of British Columbia, and performed his internship at Dalhousie University in Nova Scotia. After operating a successful family practice, he completed his residency in internal medicine and gastroenterology at UBC and was subsequently awarded a research fellowship at the University of Edinburgh. He is currently Clinical Professor of gastroenterology at the University of British Columbia and is also president of the BC Society of Gastroenterology.

Dr. Gray is the author of numerous published medical studies in the field of gastroenterology. He is a frequently invited speaker and is an active participant in many of GI Society’s and CSIR’s public education initiatives.

Sophie Dubé

Sophie Dubé
BBA, CPA, CGA
Treasurer

Sophie Dubé holds a BBA from the University of Quebec in Montreal and a professional designation as a Chartered Professional Accountant – Certified General Accountant. Originally from Montreal, she is fluent in both English and French. Sophie acquired her strong accounting background by working within a diverse variety of industries, including aeronautics, government, manufacturing, sports, and mining. Having recently returned from a trip around the world, and now a new mother, Sophie is keen to get involved in her role as a member of CSIR’s Board of Directors and as its new Treasurer.
Gwen Ellert

Gwen Ellert
BScN, MEd, RN
Director

The president and CEO of Trelle Enterprises, Gwen Ellert, has been an educator in the healthcare industry for more than 15 years. A registered nurse, she also holds a Master of Education degree and a BSc in Nursing, both from the University of British Columbia. Gwen shares her knowledge and experience within numerous profit and non-profit settings, and is a regular lecturer for the CSIR and GI Society’s joint BadGut® Lecture Series focusing on the Aging Digestive Tract.

She has contributed to published medical research and innovation, is a founding member of the BC Men’s Health Foundation, and is co-author of The Osteoporosis Book: Bone Health as well as other books and educational materials endorsed by Canadian and American experts in Arthritis and Osteoporosis.

Gwen has a long history of volunteering with numerous charities and non-profit groups, including the Arthritis Society, Osteoporosis Canada, and the BC Women’s Hospital & Health Center Society. She looks forward to serving in this new role within the CSIR Board of Directors.

Diane Robinson

Diane Robinson

Director

After starting out in the tourism industry with a number of sales and marketing management positions, Diane has worked at senior management levels in the areas of fundraising, marketing, and communications for non-profit organizations, including the Canadian Diabetes Association, the Variety Club, the Canadian Council for Business and the Arts, the Vancouver Symphony, and the Vancouver Art Gallery. Diane joined Parkinson Society British Columbia in 2005 as CEO.

Originally from Montreal and fully bilingual in English and French, she holds a BA from the University of Montreal. In 1976, she founded the Vancouver AM Tourist Association, which still thrives today. Diane looks forward to contributing her expertise in the non-profit and healthcare fields to the continuing work of CSIR in British Columbia.

Staff

Our small but dynamic team works closely with the Board of Directors and is responsible for the day-to-day operations of the GI Society, including publication of patient resources and major fundraising.

Gail Attara

Gail Attara
Chief Executive Officer

As the Executive Director of the Canadian Society of Intestinal Research since early 1996, Gail has led the Society’s development from a small BC charity into a national presence, accounting for the largest growth period in its history. After co-founding the GI Society she is now in the role of President & CEO.Her motto, “the patient comes first”, directs her resolve for patient-focused healthcare and commitment to increasing awareness about the seriousness of gastrointestinal illnesses.Gail has a solid background in public relations and fundraising and is an active community volunteer in Canada serving on numerous Boards, and overseas, where she has worked with orphans. She is also a published freelance author. Gail has been an invited speaker coast-to-coast on numerous occasions, to wide-ranging audiences, including doctors, patients, pharmacists, and healthcare decision-makers.

With the dynamic support of the Board of Directors, a dedicated group determined to fully realize the GI Society as Canada’s gastrointestinal disease and disorder information source, Gail continues to lead the Societies into a bright future.

Paul Evered

Paul Evered
Development Director

Paul is a seasoned professional with more than twenty years of experience in fundraising, leadership, relationship development, and project management. He spent the majority of his time and talents over the last twelve years within major gift fundraising for two prominent national health charities. He comes to the GI Society with a broad-based knowledge of fundraising and a record of accomplishment in securing major gifts from individuals as well as Canadian corporations.

In his own words, “I very much see myself as a people person and have come to adopt the personal philosophy that people don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care. Major Gift fundraising affords you the opportunity to meet caring people who want to make an impact and a difference.”

As a relationship builder, he comes to the GI Society looking forward to connecting individuals and corporations of like passion with our mission and with the understanding that there is nothing more powerful than a philanthropic collaboration.

In addition to his career in fundraising, Paul has travelled globally as a keynote conference speaker, addressing audiences from one hundred to ten thousand.

Kwynn Vodnak
Associate Director

Jesse-Ann Demanche
Outreach Coordinator

Morgan Amber
Information Coordinator

Ashly Wang
Administrative Assistant

Board Advisors

Our advisory committee is comprised of professionals who donate their time for special projects, contribute to our activities and are accessible to assist staff with patient requests.

Dr. Alan Low

Dr. Alan Low
BSc (Pharm), PharmD, RPh, ACPR, FCSHP, CCD

Alan is a registered pharmacist holding positions as Chief Operating Officer of Network Healthcare (www.networkhealthcare.ca), Clinical Associate Professor at the Faculty of Pharmaceutical Sciences, University of British Columbia, and principal of Dr. Alan Low Pharmaceutical Consulting. Alan has held several prominent positions through his career, in addition to presenting at numerous national and international conferences, serving on many medical and pharmacy committees, regionally and nationally, and continuing active participation in several associations and societies. He is also a guest lecturer in the Gerontology Program at the Simon Fraser University.

Alan was conferred Fellow status by the Canadian Society of Hospital Pharmacy (FCSHP) in 2002, which is a recognition that signifies outstanding leadership, dedication, and commitment to practice excellence and professional growth.

Specialty areas include pharmacy care for geriatric patients, as well as particular interests in gastrointestinal disorders, inflammatory bowel disease, Parkinson’s disease, osteoporosis, menopause, diabetes, depression, Alzheimer’s disease, hypertension, and multiple sclerosis. Alan has been involved with the College of Pharmacists of British Columbia in establishing a credentialing program aimed at recognizing advanced practitioners to help in the promotion of pharmacists as effective professionals in healthcare delivery.

Medical Advisory Council

The Medical Advisory Council consists of medical professionals including gastroenterologists, surgeons, and pharmacists, with recognized standing in their field. This body ensures the accuracy and quality of our patient resources, reviews applications for our research grant, and consults with staff on special projects.

Dr. J. R. Gray, Chairperson
Dr. F. H. Anderson
Dr. G. Aumais
Dr. D. M. Israel
Dr. H-M. Jung
Dr. W. C. Kwan
Dr. G. I. McGregor
Dr. R. Panaccione
Dr. D. C. Pearson
Dr. D. M. Petrunia
Dr. T. D. Picton
Dr. M. E. Prest
Dr. J. Siffledeen
Dr. U. P. Steinbrecher
Dr. T. Steiner
Dr. E. Tam
Dr. J. S. Whittaker
Dr. E. M. Yoshida