Our Team

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Our Team

First United is proud of the diverse talents and life experiences of our leadership and staff.

Read on to get acquainted with our leadership, management, and governance teams and their rich experience from across the charitable, private and public sector.

Interested in joining our team? Current employment opportunities are listed here, and volunteer opportunities can be found here.

Leadership

The Rev. Dr. Carmen Lansdowne

Executive Director

Carmen is the compassionate, thoughtful, and creative Executive Director of First United Church Community Ministry Society and First United Church Social Housing Society. She tends to take on large projects and extend herself in many directions, largely (although not always) pulling it off while maintaining academic interests, church ministry, Indigenous way of being, parenting and partnering. Carmen joined First United in February 2017 and has led an organizational turnaround resulting in increased stability and capacity.

She currently chairs the national Indigenous Candidacy Board for the United Church of Canada, supporting Indigenous and non-Indigenous candidates for ministry in Indigenous contexts. She has previously served on the Pension Board of The United Church of Canada (UCC), Executive of the UCC’s General Council, as United Church representative to the Executive and Central Committees of the World Council of Churches, and the Theology, Inter-church, Interfaith committee of the UCC. In addition to pursuing her CFRE designation, Carmen holds a PhD from the Graduate Theological Union in Berkeley, CA and is a member of the Heiltsuk First Nation. She is passionate about creating a life with great stories and amazing adventures with her family.

A face-on photograph of Gillian McLeod smiling

Gillian McLeod

Managing Director

Gillian McLeod comes to First United from an extensive career in Library Science, Information Technology and Social Planning.  She holds a Masters in Theological Studies from Huron College and a Masters in Library Science from Western University, both in London Ontario.  Gillian is a life-long United Church Member and was privileged to enjoy United Churches all across Canada as her family moved frequently.  A goal for Gillian is the creation of barrier-free, equitable communities and this passion has served her well as a public, theological and special librarian and as a City planner.  Gillian has 3 grown children, enjoys cooking and playing the piano, and shares her sense of humour without barriers!

Mayleen Ahoy, BA, CPA, CGA

Director of Housing

Mayleen came to First United as a volunteer for the Finance Committee in the Winter of 2017, and was fortunate to be offered the position of Director of Finance in June 2018. After affecting change in the both Societies (FUCCMS & FUCSHS), Mayleen found a greater draw to the First United Church Social Housing Society. During Fall 2020, Mayleen is transitioning to the Director of Housing. Born and raised in Vancouver, Mayleen brings with her many years in accounting in different industries; she hopes to marry her passion for First United to her skills and experiences. Mayleen is so proud to be able to tell her daughter of her work here at First United, and that all endeavours that seek justice and compassion are worth our time and effort. When not working, she can be found trying to reclaim lost hobbies while accumulating more that involve her husband and daughter, especially watching The Great British Baking Show.

Cheryl Bear

Director of Community Ministry

Cheryl is from Nadleh Whut’en First Nation, is a respected voice and teacher on behalf of Canada’s Indigenous peoples and has traveled to over 600 Indigenous communities raising awareness and understanding of Indigenous issues. She is a founding board member of NAIITS, an Indigenous learning community; an Associate Professor at Regent College; earned her Doctorate from The King’s University, and Master of Divinity from Regent College. Her doctoral work presents an approach to First Nations ministry from the foundations of Indigenous worldview and values.

Cheryl served two terms as a band councillor for her community of Nadleh Whut’en First Nation from 2014-2018, is currently serving as a Strategic Associate as the Indigenous Relations Specialist with Canadian Baptist Ministries, and is an award-winning singer/songwriter.

 

Amanda Burrows

Director of Development

Amanda joined the First United team as Director of Development in the summer of 2020. She has over 12 years experience raising funds for non-profits, and is focused on using her skill set to build stronger and more equitable communities. As a connector and teacher Amanda develops programs and curriculum that stimulate philanthropic behaviour, and volunteers with organizations and projects that encourage inclusion, civic engagement and social purpose.
Amanda has a degree in Art History from the University of Victoria, a Masters in Museum Studies from the University of Toronto, and a certificate in Fundraising Management from Ryerson and is CFRE.

Keely Hale

Director of Programs

Keely has worked in the mental health and addictions field for over sixteen years and has served in roles at Riverview Hospital and Coast Mental Health. She holds a Community Social Service Worker Diploma from Douglas College, as well as an Advanced Citation in Co-Occurring Disorders. She also holds certificates in drug and alcohol counselling and motivational interviewing I and II from the Justice Institute, as well as multiple certifications related to frontline work and harm reduction.

Sean McCaughey

Director of Facilities

Born in Nova Scotia and cultivated in Newfoundland, this Maritimer has been on the Westcoast for 23 years. Sean joined First United in January 2018 as the Manager of Operations and was promoted to Director of Facilities in January 2020. Sean oversees 4 buildings at different sites, belonging to both the First United Church Community Ministry Society and the First United Church Social Housing Society, with the number of sites to expand to 7. Sean brings with him a wealth of experience from construction and business management and a natural acumen for what First United is and is going to be. Sean has his Bachelor of Business Administration from Capilano University, and is currently working on his Project Management Certification through UBC.

Rob Vandermey

Director of Finance

Born in Ontario, Rob spent much of his childhood in Holland cultivating his love for Dutch cheese. Since receiving his diploma in Business Administration-Accounting from Georgian College in Ontario, Rob’s passion for non-profit business began. He has over 20 years of non-profit experience related to construction management, finance, accounting, budget management, clean energy initiatives, human resources, and leadership. Rob spent 16 years at Tollendale Village in Barrie, working from Bookkeeper to Executive Director, serving independent living for seniors. Four of those years he also volunteered as Treasurer for Mill Creek Care Centre. In 2014, Rob moved to BC and was the Finance & Operations Director for the BC Wildlife Rescue Association. He’s extremely grateful to have joined First United as Director of Finance, but more importantly, as a member of such an inspirational team. When he isn’t working, you’ll find him and his wife on soccer fields around the lower mainland with one of their two boys.

Boards

Ministry Board

First United Church Community Ministry Society is governed by an elected volunteer Board of Directors. The Board is comprised of representatives from the United Church of Canada, as well as committed community volunteers with expertise in the legal, financial and management sectors.

Board members

  • Dr. Heather Clarke, Chair
  • The Rev. Dr. Brian Thorpe, Vice-Chair
  • Jacob Black-Lock, Secretary
  • John Christie, Treasurer
  • Jean Budden
  • Scott Griffin
  • Jeremy Hermanson
  • Elizabeth Kerklaan
  • Kathy Kwon
  • David Munroe
  • Paul Mitchell-Banks

Non-voting board members

  • Treena Duncan, Executive Minister, Pacific Mountain Region, The United Church of Canada

Housing Board

First United Church Social Housing Society is governed by an elected volunteer Board of Directors. The Board is comprised of representatives from the United Church of Canada, as well as committed community volunteers with expertise in the legal, financial and management sectors.

Board members

  • Elizabeth Kerklaan, President
  • Alison Lindsay, Treasurer
  • Rosemary Collins
  • Maggie Knight
  • Chris Munroe

In compliance with its Conflict of Interest policy, First United discloses the details of payments for products or services made to board members or companies in which board members have an interest.  First United’s bylaws prohibit any payment for products or services made to board members or companies in which board members have an interest.  First United’s finance policies allow for board members to have access to reimbursement of reasonable expenses related to the governance and oversight of First United; in the past fiscal year no reimbursements have been claimed.