This is the team that contributes to your experience at The Haven – from those who help you choose your programs and welcome you upon arrival, to those that prepare your meals, clean your room, maintain the property and complete a myriad of activities behind the scenes to ensure your program is delivered smoothly and your stay is comfortable. Most of our staff have been with The Haven for many years, and continue to participate in our programs just like you.
Maria Malmgren, Director of Community and Shared Services, is a professionally certified coach, with a BA in psychology and business. She works collaboratively with senior leaders and management teams to help create systemic, mission, vision and values-aligned, sustained organizational change and also provides personal coaching to a variety of clients. Although Maria has been aware of The Haven’s work for decades, she joined The Haven Board in Sept. 2019 and was able to experience her first Come Alive in early 2020. Maria feels very fortunate to have the opportunity to contribute to The Haven’s future and success. Maria is an explorer and lover of people, places, ideas, spirit, art, charcuterie boards and great second hand stores.
Kevin Wong, Director of Core Business, son of Haven Founder Bennet Wong, was raised by his two dads amid Haven ideas and teachings. Kevin identifies as a west coast Canadian who appreciates his connection with the B.C. Chinese community through his mom and dad.
As Director of Core Business, Kevin is keen to support the development of an Indigenous Youth Leadership program. He also looks forward to connecting with people in marginalized and diverse communities to find out what Haven might learn from and offer to them.
In his university years, Kevin would discuss ideas he learned about science with Ben & Jock, trying to find where the science world and the Haven world crossed paths. His path in the world of science has included projects as diverse as heart research at Cambridge University in England and a prostate cancer therapy derived from his Ph.D. thesis. Most recently, Kevin has served as president of ImmunoPrecise Antibodies, an antibody company, where he learned about running a business. Kevin, with his strong analytical and business skills, is a welcome addition to the Haven team
Nellie Bonin, Facilities Manager, leads our Housekeeping and Grounds teams that keep our property clean, in good working order and beautiful! A designer at heart, with a love for details and a sharp focus on the bottom line, she also serves as Project Manager for facilities improvement projects at The Haven.
Morag Ruckman, Programs and Registration Manager, has worked at The Haven since 1996 and has an in-depth, practical knowledge of our programs and accommodation. She has participated in many Haven programs, and brings her learning into her personal and professional life.
Anne Hainsworth, Development Manager, Anne is our new Development and Community Fund Manager. As a filmmaker, writer and investigative journalist, she’s navigated a wide range of complex social and environmental issues and has a broad understanding of people and society. As a past participant of the Come Alive program and recipient of the Community Fund, Anne is keen to help others experience the powerful programming the Haven offers.
Wendy Pitcher, Group Bookings, Events & Guest Services Manager, is your go-to for large group bookings, retreats, board meetings, and other events. Whether you’re putting on a concert in our 165-seat Phoenix Auditorium or hosting a private retreat in our secluded Havenhaus complex, she’ll work with you from the planning stage right through to the main event. Wendy’s primary goal is to ensure that your needs are met and your experience at the Haven is positive and memorable. She takes pleasure in providing outstanding customer service and in seeing the relaxed and smiling faces of our each of our guests!
Paula Brent, Online Community & Programs Manager. Paula joined the Haven in 2018 and has held a variety of roles, with a background in Media and Public Interest she is passionate about social justice and environmental sustainability. She loves coordinating events, experimenting with new things, and meeting and connecting with others online and in person. She enjoys being able to work remotely so that she can split her time between Gabriola Island, the traditional, unceded territory of the Snuneymuxw Peoples, and Ontario, where she grew up. She is a 4th generation settler on Turtle Island and is grateful to be surrounded by oceans, mountains, lakes, and forests that have been stewarded for thousands of years by First Nations Peoples. When she’s not hosting Zoom calls or diving into data and analytics, she’s engaging in citizen science, visiting farm stands, paddling canoes, hiking trails, making maple syrup, singing, volunteering in her local communities, or playing with her dog, Violet!
Lisa Rippington, Manager Marketing, Communications, Brand & Engagement – Lisa comes to the Haven with an extensive background in marketing. She is excited to bring her knowledge and expand both the brand of the Haven and broaden the reach to spread the word about the valuable work being done at the Haven. Lisa lives and works out of Victoria
Jane Olynyk, DCTM, BA, DipC, Director of Intern Training, is responsible for overseeing all aspects of our Certificate and Diploma training programs. She is a licensed acupuncturist with a Diploma in Chinese Medicine, and brings a unique approach to her work as a therapist and Haven program leader.
Dr. Mercedes Martinson, Online Programs Coordinator, pursued Physics before realizing it couldn’t answer her central question in life: “How does the universe work?” Between submitting her thesis and receiving her PhD, she spent a month in the Himalayan foothills of India studying yoga and meditation, which opened her up to a wider perspective of what it means to be a human on this planet we call Earth. Over the subsequent 4 years, her journey through personal and spiritual growth brought her to The Haven where she began to feel belonging and a sense of community on magical Gabriola Island. After doing back-to-back Living Alive 1 & 2 programs during the pandemic, she became an intern in late 2020. Mercedes is excited to join The Haven Team to help bring forth online programming, a role she dreamt for herself two years before the position even existed!
Shannon Schetyna, ,Assistant to Programs and Registration Manager, has a passion for lifelong learning and growth. She enjoys connecting people with programs that will give them tools for bettering their daily lives. Shannon started as a Receptionist in 2016, quickly moved into the Registration office and most recently provided support to our Bodywork area and Grants. In her off time you’ll find her on an outdoor adventure with her energetic son and husband.
Julia Crawford, Digital Marketing Specialist, is passionate about creating meaningful relationships and making every day a little bit brighter. She is a firm believer in treating the digital world as a way to support and deepen our connections with others and ourselves. An adventurer by nature she’s had the privilege to travel to 20 countries and live in 3 of them. In her spare time Julia can be found hiking, chasing waterfalls, reading or dancing to some good music!
Nicole Armstrong, Receptionist, has returned to beautiful Gabriola after 13 years working and traveling abroad. She has lived and worked in many countries including China, Japan, Vietnam, Cambodia, Czech Republic, Slovakia, Austria, Ecuador, Turkey, New Zealand, and Australia and traveled to many more. She’s happy to be back on Gabriola and can most often be found in the forest or on the beach when not at the Haven.
Giovanna Melnyk, Office Coordinator & Accounting Support, started working for the Haven in 2016 while completing her diploma at Vancouver Island University. Persuaded by the Haven’s buffet and unlimited coffee, she ultimately decided to stay. She enjoys learning new skills as an accounting assistant and helping Christine with all things finance. When not at work, she can be found either playing video games or reading a good book.