VCST is run by a dedicated board of directors and a coordinator:
Sharmarke Dubow – President
Sharmarke Dubow is a former refugee who fled civil war in Somalia at the age of 8, and spent 20 years seeking safe haven until Canada offered a home in 2012. Sharmarke cast his first vote in October 20, 2018, and at the same time was elected as a Victoria City Councillor. His passion and commitment to diversity, inclusion, and building equitable, inclusive and compassionate communities and his work for marginalized communities earned recognition and respect as a community leader and a voice for bold and courageous policies. Sharmarke’s outstanding activism has garnered him various awards and recognitions including the Victoria Community Leadership Award in 2017.
Dubow has extensive experience serving refugee and immigrant populations and community development. He holds a degree in Business Technology from the University of Cape Breton and has worked at the Inter-Cultural Association of Greater Victoria and the Victoria Immigrant Refugee Services Centre.
Prior to joining VCST, he spent over 5 years working with asylum seekers, migrants and refugees in the Middle East, where he worked with several organizations, including Africa and Middle East Refugee Assistance, Egypt AMERA, Psychosocial Training Institute Cairo and as a research assistant at Center Migration Refugee Studies, CMRS at American University in Cairo, AUC.
Ken Agar-Newman – Secretary & Co-Treasurer
Ken brings with him several years professional experience working as a Registered Nurse. His passion for human rights stems in part from when he traveled overland from London to New Delhi at age eighteen.
He is one of the founding members of VCST and has been involved with a number of projects of relevance to stopping torture including: Supporting Article 10 of the United Nations Convention Against Torture in relation to the education of nurses and others; supporting a coherent and clear voice by the nursing profession against specific cases of torture; and establishing a body to ensure oversight in connection with universal standards of nursing (medical) practice related to torture prevention and whistle blowing.
Kathryn Finnis – Co-Treasurer
From a young age, Kathryn has been passionate about human rights and helping those around her. This desire to lend a helping hand lead her to a career in health care. For the last four years, she has worked within the hospital sector as a regulated pharmacy technician, focusing on sterile product preparations. Since becoming involved with VCST, Kathryn is now looking to further her education and shift into the legal field. Her goal is to focus on giving a voice to marginalized groups and break the stigma surrounding immigration and mental health.
Álvaro Moreno – Member at Large
Álvaro Moreno has over 25 years of experience in the research, planning, management and evaluation of social and community change projects and programs, both in Canada and Overseas. Areas of experience include participatory research and education, planning and evaluation, human rights education, democratic development, social and community economic development, environmental education, diversity awareness and anti-racism education. Álvaro is currently the Settlement Director with the Victoria Immigrant and Refugee Centre Society, Álvaro holds an MSc in Sociology from the University of Alberta and in his home country (El Salvador) he was an Agricultural Engineer.
Rick Howard – Member at Large
Rick is a retired emergency room registered nurse. Throughout his career, he worked with people of all ages that are victims of torture. Having studied anthropology (B.A.) in university, Rick has always been shocked by the readiness of populations to condone inhuman acts. On a personal level, he has worked to engage labour activism amongst hospital nurses to stop the horrendous treatment of people in the last hours of life relegated to a stretcher in a brightly lit busy ER hallway with very minor success. It became a reminder that physicians and nurses are often active participants in institutional acts of torture.
Felix Autenrieth – Member at Large
In Katiali, Côte d´Ivoire, Felix experienced the positive impact of humanitarian work for strengthening local and global communities. He volunteered at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign for both the NGO “Cosmopolitan Club” and the University YMCA, which culminated in the renovation of an elementary school. Furthermore, while staying for two months in the village Katiali, the children impressed him with how they took agency for their own learning, thereby placing him on his ongoing journey as a teacher.
After graduation, Felix taught English as a Second Language (ESL) in Colombia for three years. He is currently enrolled in the Post-Degree Professional Program (PDPP) at the University of Victoria. As a teacher, Felix wants to foster a sense of belonging in newcomer youth and guide his students towards informed world citizenship. He believes that when we let ourselves be guided by students’ curiosity, focus on their well-being and happiness, as well as integrating them into our small and large communities, we can create a better world. Felix enjoys engaging with culturally diverse student populations and practices a pedagogy of the heart, in which everyone benefits through the integration of unique perspectives, perceptions and understandings.
Alexandra Dawley – Coordinator
Alexandra is passionate about working to reduce barriers of integration for refugees and all survivors of torture, specifically promoting holistic, trauma-informed settlement and integration assistance.
With over ten years’ experience working with refugees, asylum seekers, and marginalized populations within Canada, Jordan and Hungary, Alexandra is motivated by meaningful connections shared with survivors of torture. Alexandra holds a Masters in International Social Development (specializing in Refugee and Forced Migration Studies) from University of Sussex (UK). She has experience working with settlement agencies, social justice organizations, the United Nations Refugee Agency, and humanitarian aid groups. Alexandra Manages the Refugee Settlement and Integration Program at MOSAIC Settlement Agency in Vancouver, BC, where she spearheads vital service provision for refugee claimants across the lower mainland.
Peter Golden – Board Member Emeritus
Peter worked as a dedicated lawyer for over twenty years in Victoria with an emphasis on immigration and refugee law. He is remembered as a leader and a fierce and loyal advocate for people fleeing hardship and danger. In addition to volunteering for various local organizations Peter travelled abroad to promote international human rights. He also worked as an independent election observer in Mexico and El Salvador.