who we are

Meet our Board of Directors

Click photos to read bios and get to know what phenomenal experience, knowledge and care our board of directors bring to RAVEN.

Jeffrey Nicholls
Board President

Ron Lameman
Board Vice-President

Cliff Atleo
Board Member

Susan Gee
Board Member

Rachelle Loos
Board Member

who we are

Our Board of Directors

Click photos to read bios and get to know what phenomenal experience, knowledge and care our board of directors bring to RAVEN.

Jeffrey Nicholls
Board President

Ron Lameman
Board Vice-President

Trent Blind
Board Treasurer

Cliff Atleo
Board Member

Susan Gee
Board Member

Rachelle Loos
Board Member

RAVEN STAFF

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Susan Smitten

Executive Director
RAVEN Co-founder

In 2009, Susan created and has managed the only non-for-profit corporate charity in Canada with a mission to raise legal defence funds to assist First Nations who enforce their rights and title to protect their traditional territories and the environment.  She is committed to being a living example for her daughter, and is grateful for the opportunity to serve as an ambassador for the values that RAVEN represents.

A second-generation settler raised in the Dish With One Spoon territory, Susan started out in journalism, honing both story-telling and the desire to amplify voices and issues of marginalized groups.  Still working on her own decolonizing and unlearning, she is committed to the ongoing work of achieving real reconciliation.    

Susan is also an award-winning filmmaker and writer whose past projects communicate the connection between environmental issues and First Nations’ stewardship of the land.  For RAVEN, Susan directed the acclaimed Blue Gold: The Tsilhqot’in Fight for Teztan Biny, giving voice to the Tsilhqot’in peoples unanimous rejection of Taseko Mines Limited’s ‘Prosperity’ open pit gold-copper mining project.  She co-directed Wild Horses, Unconquered People, about the Xeni Gwet’in First Nation’s monumental rights and title legal challenge to save their culture and land. 

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Andrea Palframan

Communications Director

Andrea Palframan (she/her; settler of Scottish and Irish ancestry living on unceded Hul'quimin'um speaking-people's lands) is RAVEN’s Director of Communication. She is dedicated to make media that brings the strength of data together with the power of storytelling.

She holds a Masters in Intercultural & International Communication. Her research focus— how Indigenous communities are responding to, resisting, and adapting to climate change—forms the underpinning of her understanding of environmental justice and human rights issues. She spent 10 years working in sub Saharan Africa as Programs Manager for Glasswaters Foundation, working with grassroots community leaders to bridge the digital divide. 

Andrea is also a filmmaker: her documentary "Raven People Rising" screened at VIFF and won People's Choice award at the Vox Popular Film Festival; she is producer of "The Story of a Girl" with the Visual Epidemiology Project, and author of "Red Shoes on a Red Road: Stories from Brightest Africa." 

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Jamie Leigh Gonzales

Communication Manager

Jamie-Leigh is a Portuguese/Sḵwx̱wú7mesh filmmaker, podcast creator, photographer, poet, and designer living on stolen land of W̱SÁNEĆ First Nation. She is a cofounder and technical lead at Grounded Futures: a media and mentorship collaborative, as well as Communications Lead at Solidarity Housing Society. 

At RAVEN, Jamie-Leigh is a Communications Strategist who is keen to use her technical skills to amplify Indigenous voices and movements. 

With a passion for technology and storytelling, Jamie-Leigh has become dedicated to her multimedia practices; through the creation of engaging content, she hopes to stimulate meaningful dialogue that challenges the status quo and encourages systemic change.

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Karissa Chandrakate

Digital Content Specialist

Karissa joined the RAVEN team in June 2019.  She is a first-generation immigrant and settler, born in the Caribbean island of Trinidad and Tobago.

She is of Indian and Portuguese ancestry and is committed to learning about her deep colonial history and the culture of her ancestors. She is a photographer, filmmaker, illustrator and graphic designer with a  background in communications. She believes that lived experience should be valued higher than colonial education. Community and connection are important values to her, and she is always on the frontlines documenting movements. Her passion is using digital media to amplify underrepresented voices on the frontlines and also using her voice through media to facilitate change.

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Christopher Roy

Digital Marketing

Christopher manages digital strategy, planning, RAVEN’s website and the various digital services that support our campaigns, online fundraising and community engagement. He is a social venture entrepreneur who focuses his work on using digital strategy, marketing and advertising for businesses and non-profits to grow value and impact. Christopher is the Founder and Director of Marketing at Marketworks and is a board member of the Carving on the Edge Festival which hosts an annual gathering of West coast and Indigenous wood carvers in Tofino, BC each year.

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Conrad Young - ᑲᐸᐸᒥᐦᐊᐟ

Fundraising Campaigns Director

Conrad Young was born and raised in Maskwacis and is passionate about his work in Access to Justice, like the legal theories of change that are encapsulated at RAVEN. Conrad holds a Business Administration Diploma from N.A.I.T. (2007), and also graduated at Concordia University, earning a Business Management degree with a marketing major and a finance minor in 2009. 
 
He currently resides in Victoria, BC,and is part of the Juris Indigenarum Doctorate in UVic's first cohort (2018-2022). He has extensive experience in First Nations business, corporate finance, financial markets and institutions, investment analysis, including social justice and equity. Being a student at law has amplified his natural talents and interests to seek justice bolstered by lawful configuration.
 
Conrad has led and served in many areas of politics, business, and commerce in Nation Building (using the Harvard model). He is focused on cultural revitalization, and is a former councillor for Ermineskin Cree Nation, his Tribe, and is an heir to the Legacy of Treaty 6. 
 
Conrad frames his work with Treaty & Inherent Rights as Economic Rights, delivering wealth for healthier communities. He believes his Plains Cree traditional and mainstream teachings align with his natural talents and interests, which in turn allow him to help drive organizational evolution, lending his expertise to staff, and ultimately in finding the most appropriate and deliverable forms of justice for the Peoples and organizations he serves, like his new-found home at RAVEN
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Caitlyn Kerr

Development & Engagement Coordinator

Caitlyn is of Heiltsuk, Scottish and Finnish ancestry and lives on the traditional, ancestral and unceded territory of the Kwikwetlem First Nation. Currently, a student at BCIT studying Sustainable Event Management, Caitlyn's goals are to support and plan events that provide opportunities to highlight and amplify Indigenous creators while also focusing on reducing the event's environmental impact and focusing on sustainable practices.

Caitlyn is excited to be on the RAVEN team to support businesses and organizers in finding ways to raise funds to support Indigenous communities in protecting their land, history, and culture. She is very creative with too many hobbies to enjoy during her free time and is always learning more about her Heiltsuk heritage, culture, and language.

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russ elliott

Operations Manager

russ elliott (he/they) is a disabled/crip settler originally from the Treaty 7 lands of the Blackfoot Confederacy, just West and North of what is currently called Calgary, Alberta. He is of Eastern and Central European ancestry, and works hard at unlearning his internalized imperialism (including white supremacy, extractivism, patriarchy, ableism, etc.), knowing that it is an everyday, life-long journey. 

russ moved to the beautiful Lekwungen and W̱SÁNEĆ Territories to complete his MA degree in Sociology at the University of Victoria, where he focussed on decolonial poetics and political ontology in the context of climate change. He couldn't be more excited to help support RAVEN and the Indigenous communities in their defense of their traditional territories, histories, and cultures, and approaches this work with humility and care. 

He has experience in publishing, disability/accessibility justice, participatory budgeting, and navigating the complexities of academic, provincial, and municipal governance structures. In his free time, he enjoys hiking with his partner, watching cooking shows, and writing poetry. 

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Levin Chamberlain

Grant Writer//Project Coordinator

Levin (he/him) is a settler of Northern and Eastern European descent that is thrilled to be a part of the RAVEN team. After being raised in an old-growth cedar forest on the unceded territory of the Secwépemc Nation, he studied Environmental Studies and Canadian History at the University of Victoria where he developed a passion for Indigenous rights.

Levin draws upon four years of non-profit fundraising and grant writing experience to contribute to RAVEN. His work with Indigenous Quechua and Amazonian communities in Peru showed him how conservation and Indigenous relationships to their environments are deeply intertwined. This importance continues with Indigenous Nations across Canada, and Levin is grateful to be behind an organization that supports those Nations in their pursuit for justice.

Now a guest on the contested Sinixt, Sylix, and Ktunaxa territories, Levin spends most of his leisure time rock climbing, gardening, and being a dog dad with his partner.

 

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Maureen Butler

Accountant

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