Community Action Initiative represents a varied cross-section of interest and experience in mental health/illness and substance use.

Our collective expertise stems from lived experience, research, advocacy, volunteer and work practice. Our members represent community social services, Aboriginal, First Nations and Métis nations and organizations, government, and labour.


Melinda Markey

Secretariat Director

Melinda holds a master’s degree in Public Health from Simon Fraser University where her graduate work focused on the contribution mental health promotion can make to social justice as well as the importance of community inclusion for people experiencing homelessness and mental illness. She has considerable experience working in community-based, participatory and peer-led health research as a Program Evaluator with the Collaborating Centre for Prison Health and Education at the University of British Columbia, and as a member of the national qualitative research team with the Mental Health Commission of Canada. Melinda strongly believes that collaboration, innovation and collective impact can make our communities better places to live – where all people have a chance to thrive.

Jennifer Alsop

Research Analyst

Jennifer is responsible for leading, planning and implementing research and evaluation projects at CAI. Jennifer brings a background rich in in program evaluation and policy research gained from experience with federal and territorial departments, and non-profit organizations. Born and raised in the Lower Mainland and educated in public policy at the Masters level in Ottawa, Jennifer works to generate knowledge and research about the community sector to help inform CAI’s grant funding, training and capacity building programs. Jennifer is grateful to be working closely with communities in developing unique ideas and creative solutions to local concerns.

Prairie Chiu

OPEN Project Coordinator

Prairie is responsible for the management and support of special CAI granting initiatives activating community-based organizations across BC to tackle mental health/substance use issues through collaborative and innovative projects. Prairie earned her Masters of Social Work degree from Smith College in Northampton, MA, and spent 7 plus years providing psychotherapy to diverse clients in community mental health settings. Most recently, Prairie worked in Seattle, WA as Equity and Inclusion Project Manager for a non-profit mental health agency. Prairie is excited to be back in her native Vancouver, and to contribute to local change efforts.

Dakota Fayant-McLeod

Communications and Administration Coordinator

Dakota is responsible for CAI’s internal and external communications, including social media and website administration, identity systems and implementing administrative systems and policies. Born and raised in Saskatchewan, her home communities are Peepeekisis First Nation and the Qu’Appelle Métis community. Dakota holds Bachelor of Arts in Women and Gender Studies, and has over a decade of experience working and volunteering in community based non-profits across Canada.

Leadership Council Chairs

Tanya Davoren

CAI Co-Chair

Director of Health of Métis Nation British Columbia

Anthony Kupferschmidt

CAI Co-Chair

Co-President of BC Psychogeriatric Association

View the profile ofConnie Easton

Connie Easton

CAI Co-Chair

Mental Health Consultant/Social Emotional Learning, Richmond School District.  Affiliation with BC School Counsellors Association

Leadership Council Members

Nichola Hall

Past President of From Grief to Action

Shelagh Turner

Executive Director of CMHA Kelowna Branch

View the profile ofAndrea Duncan

Andrea Duncan

Vice President

Community Social Services of BC Government and Service Employees’ Union

View the profile ofKeva Glynn

Keva Glynn

A/Executive Director, Mental Health of Ministry of Health

View the profile ofJanine Steveson

Janine Steveson

Community Health and Wellness of First Nations Health Authority