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Meet the Leadership Team

Executive Directors, Board of Directors & Members

Asha Gervan

Asha has been working in the non-profit sector for over 20 years, holding leadership positions in the health care, education and child protection sectors. Throughout her career, Asha has led teams and designed projects in many of the most challenging humanitarian contexts around the world, including Uganda, Indonesia, Ivory Coast, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Pakistan and Haiti. In her home country of Canada, Asha served as Deputy Director of Médecins Sans Frontières/Doctors Without Borders, and led the International Development Institute at Humber College, where she was also a part-time faculty member. Asha holds an MSc in Comparative Politics from the London School of Economics.


Christina Torsein

is a child protection practitioner with over 20 years’ experience, including over twelve years of field experience providing technical guidance to child protection programmes for UNICEF in Mali, Haiti, Palestine, Myanmar, Pakistan, the Democratic Republic of Congo, and Sri Lanka. She focuses on systems strengthening and has advised donors, governments, NGOs, and UN agencies on building national child protection systems, including the development of strategic organisational documents. Christina holds an LLM in International Human Rights Law and a Masters in Public Policy and Public Administration. Christina is under contract to write ‘Child Protection Systems in the Developing World’ for the series Palgrave Studies on Children and Development. Christina is a non-resident Visiting Research Fellow at the University of Bath, Centre for Development Studies. She is a Director with Proteknôn Foundation for Innovation and Learning.


Dr. David Conner

is the Director of Talent Development at Duke University. He oversees professional development and training and leads strategies that address talent development needs within the university-wide alumni and development community. Dave has an EdD in Adult Continuing Education with a concentration in Southeast Asian Studies. Professionally, Dave holds certifications in both human resources and coaching. He has experience in higher education, international relief and development, fundraising consulting, and church ministry and administration. His expertise includes non-formal education, self-directed learning, coaching, human resource management and development, organisational development, non-profit management and fundraising, intercultural education and communications, and cross-cultural research. Dave worked in Thailand for ten years and is fluent in Central Thai.


Dr. Kirsten Pontalti

is a researcher, policy advisor and mother with over 15 years of experience on issues related to children, youth and social change in conflict-affected, low-income contexts. Kirsten earned her doctorate from the University of Oxford for her dissertation on how childhood and children's transitions to adulthood have been changing in Rwanda and how children influence social change processes across generations, from colonialism to the present. She also has thematic expertise on governance and conflict, complex emergencies and development. Her recent clients include UNICEF, ECPAT International, UK DfID, Oxfam International, Girl Effect Rwanda, Grand Challenges Canada and the Rwanda Ministry of Justice.

Dr. Laura Lee

has more than 15 years of experience in working with children, youth and communities to strengthen wellbeing in adversity settings through research and programming. Laura’s work seeks to amplify the voices of children and youth. She specializes in the wellbeing of children and youth, community-based participatory research methodologies, art and play-based approaches, participation, health equity and participatory program planning and evaluation. Laura has been recognised as a leader among Canadian Women in Global Health and holds a PhD from the University of British Columbia, where she is an Adjunct Faculty member (Faculty of Medicine). Laura has regional expertise in East and Southern Africa and has experience in Eastern Europe, the Middle East, North and South America. She speaks English with native fluency and has working proficiency in French and Swahili.

Sara Lim Bertrand

drives for results, especially for children and young people in humanitarian and development settings.  This has involved relentlessly searching for and testing promising practices during her 20 years of programming in child protection, gender-based violence, education in emergencies, and learning and development. She is also a co-founder of Proteknôn.


Shaheen Nanji

Shaheen Nanji (MA, International Studies) is acting Executive Director, SFU International and is responsible for the collaborative development and implementation of the University’s international engagement.


As a convener of projects and dialogue on global issues, she is committed to collaboration between diverse disciplines, sectors, cultures, perspectives and interests for deeper impact. She has worked on development projects in the areas of the Sustainable Development Goals; refugees and immigration; equity, diversity and inclusion; education; diaspora; public health; and environment policy. Her international work has been focused in Africa and Asia. Shaheen is on the Boards of the British Columbia Council for International Cooperation, and the Proteknon Foundation for Innovation and Learning, is a member of the Burnaby Intercultural Planning Table, and an Associate of the SFU Centre for Dialogue.

Dr. Shrochis Karki

Shrochis is the Head of Research, Impact, and Learning at UnLtd, a charity that finds, funds, and supports social entrepreneurs in the UK. He is also the Executive Director of Samaanta Foundation, which provides comprehensive higher education scholarships to meritorious public school graduates from underserved communities in Nepal. He is passionate about equity, inclusion, and social justice for all.

Shrochis has previously served on the Senior Management Team of a leading international development consultancy. He brings extensive experience of working on education systems, organisational development, and policy reform in over 20 countries in Asia, Africa, Europe, and the Pacific. He has a D. Phil. in International Development, with a focus on education and employment issues, from the University of Oxford.

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