We are a very diverse group with experience in many walks of life who have come together to further the mission and goals of Urban Safari Rescue Society.
We invite you to become a member of our board.
Sharon Doucette – Executive Director
Sharon is an award-winning commercial and editorial photographer with 25 years experience who has worked all over Canada for clients and news organizations such as Canadian Press, Canwest Global, Canadian Government – Border Services, Glacier Press, Vancouver Magazine. She has also owned businesses, volunteered for environmental organizations such as Greenpeace, designed interactive educational displays and helped teach the “Bee Program” at the Richmond Nature Park. She also spent 10 years photographing whitewater paddling and exploring the wild rivers of Canada. She is concerned with conservation and environmental issues.
”Kids and adults have lost touch with the natural world around them; for many people the only exposure they get to animals and nature is through a screen of some kind. In addition to offering unwanted animals of all kinds a safe, secure lifetime home, we also offer people the opportunity to get to know and understand animals in a tangible way. If one is faced with the real and living animal it has a lasting impact and the journey to understanding begins. The planned Ecology Centre will allow us to offer bigger capacity to take in unwanted animals, which we will continue to rescue, and much greater opportunities for the public to learn about and experience animals in dynamic ways.”
Robin Wiens – President
Robin started volunteering in 2005 while working as a support worker for a client who also volunteered with us. Not only was she supporting another volunteer, Robin wanted to experience and learn about a variety of animals. She also wanted to get over her fear of snakes and spiders. That is what we call exposure!
Gary Oliver helped her achieve this, and she became a part-time presenter while juggling her job responsibilities as a care worker for adults with disabilities. Robin also taught our Nature Club for a few years and because of her training and experience as a support worker for people with disabilities, she included kids with disabilities in Nature Club. She loved helping with animal care and going on presentations with the animals to educate kids and adults about the beautiful, exotic animals in our care.
In 2010 she helped move all the animals down from North Surrey to South Surrey. That is when the Board of Directors was developed in order to run the Urban Safari Rescue Society. Robin was one of the very first board members and has served in different capacities. She now serves as President.
Pamala Combs – Vice President
With a varied background ranging from Cost Analysis, to HR Manager, to sales and customer service, Pamala brings a wealth of experience to the table.
“I’ve worked from one end of the spectrum to the other: as a sales clerk to designing and implementing a computer and telephone system for 100+ employees in a building that had only dust and cobwebs.”
Pamala’s current endeavor is helping the 45+ age group learn how to wrangle the dreaded computer. A firm believer that everyone should be able to approach their computer without fear, Pamala teaches people 45+ how to use their computers–everything from repairing, surfing the net, emailing and using various programs–she has seen it all including one computer that was home to a mouse! Yes, a real mouse!
“I joined the board because I believe in the project; I believe that people and animals need to coexist and the best way for this to happen is for people to interact with animals in a safe environment. Most people need more than a picture in a book to truly understand and respect an animal, to feel empathy for it. The planned Ecology centre will boost tourism and provide an amazing learning atmosphere for years to come.”
Kathy Lucier – Treasurer
Kathy is a bookkeeper, homemaker, and world traveler. She is also a longtime volunteer with Rabbitat caring for and feeding hundreds of abandoned rabbits. At Rabbitat she also coordinates and trains volunteers to look after the rabbits. Kathy’s good humour, work ethic, and ‘can do’ spirit have been an important addition to Urban Safari for several years.
She became a board member at Urban Safari for the love of the animals. She wanted to help with the care of the animals and also educate people about why it is so important to do your research before adopting.
Leigh Ann Konieczny – Secretary
Leigh Ann wanted to volunteer and came across Urban Safari. As she says, “I reluctantly signed up – I mean snakes, come on!” Soon she came to love the place and all the creatures here. Through caring for them she could see each had a unique personality and spirit. Even the tortoises would know when she came into their pen and would come over to see her. She now says it is an amazing feeling to connect with an animal. Although she has moved too far to volunteer, she became a board member so she could continue to contribute to what she calls a wonderful organization.
We are thrilled she has come on board again.
Leigh Ann is a small business owner, Graphic Designer and Web Designer. Thank you to Leigh Ann for our new website!
Dave Nash – Director
David Nash is a longtime resident of Abbotsford, BC. A graduate of the University of the Fraser Valley (1981), David served as a CBSA officer for 30 years (1980-2010) at various locations across BC. Prior to his promotions and various assignments, David trained and volunteered as an Executive Officer in Local 20045 of the PSAC (Union).
David retired with the serving management rank of Superintendent (A/Chief) and was serving in the position of Workplace Health, Safety and Emergency Planning Coordinator for the Pacific Highway District at his retirement. David was awarded the Peace Officer Exemplary Service Medal and a second awarding of the POESM (Bar). David was also awarded the Queen Elizabeth II Golden Jubilee Medal for his many years of volunteer experience in the community.
David’s volunteer experience in Abbotsford includes certification and coaching youth softball, soccer, and flag football. David also served as a R.C.M.Police Auxiliary Constable (1986-1994) in the communities of Abbotsford and Nelson, BC. He is the father of two adult sons and currently lives in Abbotsford, BC.
David brings a lifetime love of animals and a record of volunteerism to the position of Director and looks forward to serving on the Urban Safari Rescue Society’s Board of Directors.
We welcome Dave and the years of experience and perspective he brings to Urban Safari.
Susanna Murray – Director
Susanna and her family started as members of Urban Safari. Her kids loved coming here to see and learn about all the crazy critters we have at the facility. While visiting the Urban Safari with her children, she loved seeing the care and education the organization provided. Between her love for animals and her children’s growing interest in them, Susanna wanted to be an impactful resource to this great organization.
When the pandemic struck, she joined the board to help us and so her kids could continue to visit the animals.
Susanna is a registered nurse and works in the Pediatric Intensive Care Unit at a Lower Mainland Hospital. We welcome her unique perspective and life experience.
Christina Christie – Director
Christina is a recent volunteer at USRS and brings experience as a business owner and graduate from Emily Carr University. She has worked with many species of animals within her life and continues to be an advocate for animal welfare. She draws a lot of inspiration from animals and humans alike in her work as a tattoo artist. Christina’s fiancé Jon originally from Brooklyn, New York introduced her to reptiles where he had been working with various venomous species of snakes. Since then they have developed a lengthy collection of (non-venomous) animals here in Canada. Volunteering at Urban Safari has brought Christina tremendous joy and sense of community particularly within our reptile section. Between running her shop and listening to old stories from our founder Gary, any extra free time she gets is dedicated to volunteering with us. USRS has helped provide a source of inspiration in her work as an artist.
We welcome Christina to the Board and her “can do” attitude and positivity.
Louise Holden – Director
Growing up Lousie has always had animals in her life. She has taken biology, animal science and volunteered in a vet clinic. Louise has owned showdogs, cats, turtles, horses, guinea pigs, rabbits and mice. She says she has learned alot from being involved with Urban Safari, from handling snakes and feeding and learning about bearded dragons – she now has some, who she looks after and loves very much. She enjoys learning about iguanas, and about feeding all different animals from tortoises to sugar gliders. She a hard worker and raised her my son on her own and put herself through technical school. Louise currently looks after all the animals in the back, and helps up front making salads for the animals.
Thank you Lousie for the endless volunteer hours that you have contributed and welcome to the Board.