Board of Directors

Current Directors

Leslie Varley

Board Member, Chair

A member of the Killer Whale clan of the Nisga’a Nation, Leslie is a committed social justice advocate. She is currently Executive Director of the British Columbia Association of Aboriginal Friendship Centres. Previously, Leslie held the Indigenous health portfolio at Provincial Health Services Authority, where she co-led the development of San’yas Indigenous Cultural Safety Training. As a result of experiencing and observing ongoing indigenous specific racism, Leslie developed a life-long passion for addressing racism towards Indigenous people. Her community work has focused on ending structural racism and violence against Indigenous people, particularly towards women and girls. She holds a Master’s Degree in Business Administration from Simon Fraser University and resides as a guest on Lekwungen Territory in Victoria.

Jennifer Johnstone

President & CEO

President and CEO of Central City Foundation since 2006, Jennifer’s 30-year career has focused on non-profit leadership and community resource development. She began as the founding program coordinator with the Whistler Centre for Business and the Arts and since then has held key leadership positions with a variety of organizations that include Vancity Community Foundation, Battered Women’s Support Services, Vancouver Status of Women and Ballet BC. A passionate and committed supporter of social justice and community investment, Jennifer is a past president of the Vancouver chapter of the Association of Fundraising Professionals and currently serves as Board Chair for AFP Canada and as a director for Yaletown House Foundation, A Better Life Foundation and Battered Women’s Support Services. In her spare time, Jennifer enjoys baking cakes and hanging out with her awesome nephew the inventor.

Cliff Fregin

Board Member, Treasurer

Cliff was born and raised in Prince Rupert and is Haida from Old Massett, Haida Gwaii. With over 35 years of management experience, he has worked extensively in Indigenous economic and business development throughout Canada. A strategic thinker and strong financial manager, Cliff’s areas of expertise include leadership development, stakeholder relations, partnership development and the development of programs and services. With a wide variety of experience establishing business mentorship programs for youth, Cliff is one of the founders of YES – Young Entrepreneurs Symposium. For over 15 years, YES has provided entrepreneurship training for youth through an annual conference. Since 2019, Cliff has been Chief Operating Officer of Indspire, a nationally recognized non-profit that supports Indigenous students through scholarships, bursaries and mentorship initiatives.

Cory Douglas

Board Member

Cory was born and raised in Coast Salish Territory ‘Vancouver’ and brings over 25 years of local experience in art and architectural design. He is a Squamish Nation member with Haida and Tsimshian ancestry. Cory began his business as a graphic artist and continues to redefine himself as he merges his academic architectural vocation with his innate creativity. Cory is connected to the Squamish Nation through his parents and has been studying traditional Haida form and Formline and Coast Salish design. Cory’s intention is to communicate the cultural history of Canada alongside the development and design strategies through decolonization.

Samuel Jang

Board Member

Samuel is an investment associate at RBC Dominion Securities. He enjoys his work because of the collaborative nature of client relationships and the opportunity to serve others in financial wealth creation. Prior to RBC, Samuel worked for BC Investment Management where he managed passive and active strategies for North American equities. Samuel was also a member of the UBC Portfolio Management Foundation, a two-year investment program which engages undergraduate students in the management of balanced portfolios. At Central City Foundation, Samuel is interested in serving the investment needs of the organization and acting as a sounding board for new ideas as the organization evolves. Samuel is also passionate about the good work Central City Foundation does on behalf of the inner city and looks forward to opportunities to collaborate and engage.

Miles Richardson

Board Member

Miles is a citizen of the Haida Nation and Canada. In addition to serving as Director of the National Consortium on Indigenous Economic Development, Miles provides strategic advisory services to a range of clients, building on over three decades providing strategic advice on Indigenous governance, intergovernmental relations, negotiations, community engagement, sustainability and business development. In 1984, he was the youngest person to be elected President of the Council of the Haida Nation, a position he held until 1996. Miles is a founding Director of the David Suzuki Foundation, having served on its Board of Directors since its incorporation in 1990. He was also a founding member of the Bill Reid Foundation, which works to preserve the art, perpetuate the legacies of Bill Reid and deepen appreciation of Northwest Coast Indigenous art.

Tom Syer

Board Member

Tom is the Head of Government Affairs at Teck Resources. With over 18 years of experience in senior leadership roles in the public and private sector, Tom has served as Deputy Chief of Staff for Policy Coordination and Issues Management in the BC government, Director of First Nations and Corporate Relations for a renewable energy company and as VP of Policy and Communications at the Business Council of BC. Tom has played an integral role in the development and roll-out of numerous provincial policy initiatives and, in the private sector, was responsible for advancing corporate and First Nations relationships. He has actively participated in numerous policy and communications committees for organizations such as the Energy Policy Institute of Canada. Tom lives in East Vancouver with his family.

Saravan Veylan

Board Member

Saravan is a lawyer focusing on commercial real estate and Indigenous economic development. As a partner of MLT Aikins LLP, Saravan advises clients on all aspects of real estate, both on- and off-reserve, including acquisitions, developments, dispositions, leasing, financing and subdivisions and related corporate matters. A member of the Law Societies of British Columbia, Alberta, and Yukon, he has served as a chair of the Canadian Bar Association British Columbia Branch Real Property Subsection and as a director of the Vancouver Bar Association. Saravan lives in North Vancouver with his family.

Diana Walls

Board Member

Diana is a public affairs professional with more than 20 years of experience in government relations, Indigenous affairs, communications and organizational development with some of Western Canada’s leading natural resource sector organizations. Prior to establishing et al. consulting, Diana was the Senior Director of Strategic Policy for the Association for Mineral Exploration of BC. Previously, Diana provided professional advisory services to Canadian and international natural resource companies in the areas of government affairs, Indigenous and multi-stakeholder relations. Committed to her community, Diana has served in a variety of front-line and governance capacities for organizations in Canada and the United States. Most recently she served in a front-line role supporting the economic empowerment of women in the Downtown Eastside.