Vancouver Asian Heritage Month Society (VAHMS) has a Board of Directors and staff with a passion for bringing together the Asian Canadian community and others, and for sharing in unique intercultural events through explorASIAN during the month of May and throughout the year.
Carol Hamshaw, BA Honours, DAP (Sauder School of Business, The University pf British Columbia) is an advanced bookkeeper, tax preparer, and grant writer. She has been serving VAHMS in a number of roles over the past 25 years. As a former Managing Editor of The Capilano Review, she has written grants and consulted with RicePaper Magazine/ACWW, Video In, VAHMS, Theatre in the Raw, Edgewise ElectroLit Society, and individual artists. Carol has served on several boards and worked for nonprofits and charities, most recently The Rivershed Society of British Columbia and Tri-City Transitions Society. Carol brings skills and experience in writing and publication, finance and project management, as well as community leadership to the support of Pan-Asian arts and culture, multiculturalism, and diversity.
Shahid Abrar-ul-Hassan, PhD (The University of British Columbia, Vancouver, BC), has been working as a language educator and researcher for over two decades at institutions of higher education in several regions of the world. He is currently a language educator and works in Vancouver, BC. He also serves as a subject expert with the British Columbia Ministry of Advanced Education in Vancouver. He has previously taught at the University of British Columbia and the University of the Fraser Valley. Shahid has served in several key leadership roles with professional and non-profit organizations in Canada, USA, and South Korea. His work received a number of honors including an Alumni Achievement Award (2018) from the Middlebury Institute of International Studies at Monterey, California, USA, which is his alma mater. Shahid is eager to promote the Asian heritage in the Lower Mainland and serve his diverse community.
Jimmy Yan, BSE, MEd., is the Project and Information Officer of Access Pro Bono. Jimmy is a columnist of the City Post of Singtao News and has been a media commentator on issues of public legal education and information since 2008. He is also a research assistant of The Centre for Education, Law, and Society in the Faculty of Education at Simon Fraser University and a CELS educational advisor to the Chinese community. Meanwhile, Jimmy has served on the Boards of many committees with the Royal Commonwealth Society, Mainland BC Branch as well as the Royal Society of St. George, BC Branch.
Patricia brings over three decades of senior-level experience leading social service organizations. She has led organizations in diverse sectors including legal services, health care, community, and children services. A pioneering leader in immigrant and refugee services, Patricia has been globally recognized for championing a first-of-its-kind service delivery model for newcomers. She has consulted on both national and international social service programming. Patricia has served on numerous boards and committees and currently serves on both Regional and National Corrections Canada Service advisory committees and on TRAC (Tenants Resource & Advisory Centre). Patricia received the YWCA Women of Distinction award for Non-Profits and the Community Social Services Awards of Excellence. Patricia’s interest in art led to her involvement and continued support in VAHMS for the past decade.
Fred Soofi studied Hotel Management and Economics at the University of Regina. Restaurateur Pasta Polo in Coquitlam and Club Ilia Eatery & Lounge at SFU Burnaby. A Canadian resident since 1974, small business owner/operator, and community advocate. Past Board of Directors of the following non-profit organizations: Tri-Cities Chamber of Commerce, Coquitlam Foundation, Laurel Foundation, ACCESS Youth Services, Advisory Committee on Light Rapid Transit, City of Coquitlam Multicultural Advisory Committee, Chair of the Tri-City Iranian Cultural Society. At present, on the Board of Directors of the Port Moody Seniors Friendship Society, Coquitlam Heritage Society. Awards: Federal government Citation for Citizenship award (1994); nominated for the Order of Canada (2000); Spirit of Community Volunteerism Award (2004) and the Chamber of Commerce Entrepreneur of the Year Award (2005), Port Moody Heritage Award (2007 and 2012), recipient of Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Medal (2012), Tri-Cities Chamber of Commerce Member of the Year (2012), Top 25 Canadian Immigrant Award (June 2016).
Kiana Hipolito is an interdisciplinary artist, illustrator and graphic designer from Vancouver, on the unceded Coast Salish Territories of the Musqueam, Squamish, and Tsleil-Waututh peoples. Kiana obtained her BFA in illustration from Emily Carr University of Art and Design in 2018, which includes her studies at Falmouth University (United Kingdom) in 2017. She currently works as an attendant at the Richmond Art Gallery as well as Canadian Art Prints and Winn Devon Group Inc. as a graphic designer in addition to her art and design practices. Kiana’s use of texture and colour within her work often narrates themes of (mis)communication, cultural identity and shared diasporic experience observed in communities present in North America. Kiana also enjoys illustrating for young readers, often creating colour works inspired by the nature of the Pacific Northwest, and the curiosities hiding in plain sight.
Jessica Lam was born in Hong Kong and immigrated to Vancouver at the age of one. She is a BA Communications, minor English Literature graduate from SFU. Her future as a creative entrepreneur began when she learned how acclaimed local marketing firms like Hamazaki Wong as well as global networks like J. Walter Thompson told stories to, and built relationships with, their clients’ audiences. Having worked with global brands like Coca-Cola and Starbucks in Hong Kong and Shanghai, Jessica has decided to focus on creating her original work, in her start-up venture which allows children to virtually collaborate on creative projects, and tell her story in the form of comedy, music and dance. She is a devoted supporter of her local community, having been a key part of organizations such as the Canadian International Dragon Boat Festival Society in the past. Now she intends to apply her skills and passion to the Vancouver Asian Heritage Month Society to help strengthen the voice of the Festival and its artists, and its relationships with the community.
Elisha Wang is an interdisciplinary artist and designer currently based in Vancouver. Elisha obtained her BFA majoring in Visual Arts, minoring in Interactive Designs from SFU in 2020. She currently works as a home stager and freelance designer. Elisha has worked and volunteered as a gallery assistant, gallery tour docent, and graphic designer in multiple non-profit art organizations. She intends to apply skills in marketing and communications, passion in Asian arts and culture to VAHMS.
Judy Lam Maxwell
Judy Lam Maxwell is a local Chinese Canadian, a trained historian (MA from UBC), and a specialist in Chinatowns around the world. She is an activist and advocate for Chinatown’s well-being, protection, and continuity. She has been very active in Chinatown for more than 20 years, on the boards of numerous Chinatown committees, and has been a member of many Chinatown organizations in North America. On the Board of VAHMS, she hopes to assist in bringing to the table an extensive network of contacts that she has in these diverse communities. Judy is the founder and director of two Chinatown businesses: Historical Chinatown Tours (2010) and Masterclass Dumplings (2016). She prides herself in educating people about the history, culture/intangibles, and the significance of Chinatowns, and she is proud of Vancouver’s multicultural dynamic and the organizations that represent and celebrate diversity. She also cares deeply about her Chinatown community of elders, the heritage buildings, businesses, and other aspects that are invaluable to the community.
Jeffrey Chan is a retired pharmacist, after an accomplished and rewarding career in the healthcare industry. Born and raised in Vancouver he has worked and managed pharmacies at Woodward’s, Safeway, Macdonald’s Prescriptions, HBC Zellers, and Target. He was a Director for the HBC Pharmacy Division. He strived for positive health outcomes for all his patients and has taken this passion for success into his future endeavours. As a patron of the arts, he attends the VSO symphony, VAG events, and various charitable events regularly. He brings this love for arts and culture to VAHMS by supporting and committing to showcasing the Asian Canadian culture. A key player in the silent auction gala fundraiser he has contributed to its growing success in recent years. With his many contacts in the social landscape of the city, he strives to make each VAHMS fundraiser an overwhelming success.