Chair of the board
Laura joined the board of Seva Canada in 2011 after years of volunteering with Seva. In 2016, she became Board Chair.
Laura brings a unique perspective to the board, having been introduced to Seva in early childhood, witnessing her parents volunteer at various Seva programs abroad. In completing her Master’s thesis in Public Policy at Simon Fraser University, Laura worked with Seva's Guatemalan partner Visualiza. She returned in 2010 to support a proposed program in San Marcos, Guatemala.
Her endeavours outside Seva have included management consulting in Vancouver, and policy development, project management and program administration in Toronto at Ontario’s cancer agency.
Currently, Laura is a certified Fertility Coach helping people navigate their fertility journey. Previously, Laura was the Project Manager for a provincial Advance Care Planning Initiative at the BC Centre for Palliative Care, a non-profit funded by the Ministry of Health in support of the BC Provincial End of Life Action Plan.
Laura has lived in South Korea, Spain and Berkeley and has travelled for pleasure across the globe. She and her husband Emanuel have been calling Vancouver home since 2015, after a honeymoon that included a trip to one of Seva’s key partners, Aravind Eye Care System hospitals in Madurai and Pondicherry, India.
Karen Chalmers is the Executive Director of Edmonton Destination Marketing (EDMH). She has more than 30 years of global sales, marketing and executive management experience. Used to being defined by bottom-line success and top-line creativity, she has helped emerging companies define and substantiate, and established companies excel beyond expectation.
Karen joined EDMH in 2013 from BI WORLDWIDE Canada where her focus was to help corporations achieve objectives by igniting their employees, channel and customers, translating strategic goals into actionable programs that influenced perceptions, changed behaviour and delivered measurable results.
Karen has a long history in the tourism industry, including working for Receptive Tour Operators such as Brewster Travel and SNV International; hotels including Coast Hotels & Resorts; Princess Cruises and marketing organizations including Destination Canada, Destination British Columbia, Tourism Vancouver and Tourism Jasper. Throughout her career Karen has brought vision, alignment of corporate values, unrelenting determination, strategic thinking and creative solutions to exact the needed change and engage people across organizations.
Paul Courtright is a Founder of the Kilimanjaro Centre for Community Ophthalmology (KCCO) and a professor at the University of Cape Town. Paul Courtright and his wife, Dr. Susan Lewallen, established the Kilimanjaro Centre for Community Ophthalmology in Moshi, Tanzania in 2001 and lived there until 2012, spending the next 4 years in Cape Town, South Africa. He handed over the reins of KCCO to Dr. Robert Geneau in 2016. He started work in the eye care field in 1979 as a Peace Corps volunteer working with leprosy patients in South Korea. After completing his Masters (1984) and Doctorate (1988) he has worked in Egypt and Ethiopia (1 year each), Malawi (4 years), Tanzania (11 years) and South Africa (4 years). He and his wife moved to San Diego, into a life of semi-retirement (depends upon whom you talk to) in 2016. Currently, as a consultant, he is the Trachoma Technical Lead for Sightsavers' trachoma elimination programmes in 9 countries in Africa. He is the Assistant Editor of Ophthalmic Epidemiology and has published 250 scientific articles and book chapters. He was the recipient (with his wife) of the American Academy of Ophthalmology's Blindness Prevention Award (2008), the Premio Vision Mundi de Lucha Contra la Cuguera (2011), and the Antonio Champalimaud Vision Award (for KCCO in 2015). He has two sons, Jim (age 28) and Tom (age 25), both of whom have spent the last 3 years working in Africa or the South Pacific. Paul has been working with Seva Canada since the mid-1990s, at that time to design the Tibet Eye Care Assessment. He has been an avid fan of Seva Canada for many reasons, including the professional way in which Seva Canada approaches its engagement, the willingness to respond to needs identified in the field, and the willingness to invest in new ideas, new areas, and new people.
Charles Diamond is the Vice-President and General Manager of National Holding Ltd.
He has held a number of senior finance-related roles in both the mortgage finance industry and the agricultural industry for over 25 years. Prior to this, Charles spent a number of years in public practice with both large and medium sized chartered accounting firms.
Having spent over 20 years supporting local charities, Charles was looking to broaden his horizons by supporting a global initiative. Shortly after, he was approached to take on the role of Treasurer at Seva Canada.
Through a combination of work experience and education, Charles is able to bring a level of sophistication to Seva’s financial management and administration, helping to free up their limited resources and focus on their mission: delivering eye care services to people in need.
Sasipriya (Sashi), currently works as a consultant at Lions Aravind Institute of Community Ophthalmology (LAICO), a unit of Aravind Eye Care System in Madurai, India (anchors a three year consulting project involving five eye hospitals from Sub Saharan Africa). She served as a consultant for Seva Foundation, USA and Alina Vision, a Singapore based for-profit organization with a mandate to promote affordable eye care models in emerging markets. Prior to that, Sashi worked at LAICO for 16 years. During her tenure at Aravind, she was involved in various projects including tele-ophthalmology, pediatric eye care, human resource development, and primary eye care services. She also led LAICO's consultancy division for a decade and contributed to implementing four funded consultancy projects that benefitted at least 50 eye hospitals from India and other developing countries.
For Sashi, volunteering on a not-for-profit board like Seva Canada is a natural extension of her beliefs in giving back to the community. In her spare time, Sashi likes to study history, dabble in photography and is an amateur trekker who is planning to scale Ladakh in the future.
Harish Krishnan is Associate Professor in Operations and Logistics and Director of the Centre for Operations Excellence at the Sauder School of Business at the University of British Columbia.
Born and raised in India, Harish moved to US for graduate school and received his PhD in Business Administration from the University of Michigan. He has been at UBC since 2002. He also has been a visiting scholar at the Indian School of Business in Hyderabad, India.His research and teaching work focus on understanding how organizations of all types can become more efficient in achieving their mission. Inspired by the Aravind Eye Care System’s innovative approach to delivering cost-effective and high-quality eye care to everyone in need, Harish became interested in supporting like-minded organizations and is delighted to be able to help Seva Canada further its mission of restoring sight and preventing blindness.
Harish lives in Richmond, BC, with his wife and son.
David Roberts is a practicing lawyer with Grossman & Stanley, a boutique business law firm located in Vancouver, B.C. His practice mostly consists of advising businesses of all sizes and individuals on their legal issues of the day. David brings his legal experience to the board, helping to troubleshoot legal issues facing the board. He has always enjoyed providing pro-bono legal services to the disadvantaged, and he has previously served as the deputy chair of a pro-bono legal services entity. At law school, David was awarded his school’s top prize for volunteerism due to the reforms he implemented in his capacity as the director of his law school’s free legal advice clinic. A North Vancouver native, David enjoys spending his spare time outdoors and playing sports. David was appointed by the Province of British Columbia as a member of the Employment and Assistance Tribunal in 2018.
Phairis Sajan grew up in a small village on Vancouver Island. When Phairis was a teenager it became clear to her parents that she couldn’t see very well. They drove for hours to the nearest city to visit an eye doctor, and Phairis was fitted with contact lenses. Instantly, her world of fuzzy isolation was transformed. As a result, Phairis began to do well in school and was able to follow her dream to work in TV News. In her role as Producer at Global TV in Vancouver, she learned how to multi-task, team build, communicate, lead and problem solve. Phairis and her family then moved to Abu Dhabi, where she produced a TV series on local culture and wrote for several print and online publications and obtained a Marketing Strategy Certificate from Cornell University.
Now back in Canada, Phairis is honoured to bring her media experience and knowledge to serve on the Board of Seva Canada because she knows firsthand how the gift of sight can help people realize their full potential.
In her spare time Phairis loves to travel with her husband and two children, to meet people of different cultures and taste all their delicious food.
During the past 25 years, Neil has followed his passion for working in organization development and leadership support initiatives, some of which have been in India, Vietnam, Nepal and Thailand.
Originally from Ontario before being lured west by the rivers and mountains, Neil holds a BA in political science from University of Toronto, MA in Experiential Curriculum from University of Northern Colorado, and a Ph.D. in Organization Change and Leadership from the University of Oregon.
Neil is now living in Lantzville on Vancouver Island with his wife Deidre, and balances outdoor pursuits with his consulting company Pacific Leadership Design, research in professional learning communities and teaching summer graduate studies in Organizational Change.
Marty Spencer, M.D.
Martin (Marty) Spencer got his medical degree from the University of Chicago and his residency in Ophthalmology at the University of Western Ontario. He is currently in private practice in Nanaimo specializing in cataract and intraocular lens surgery.
Marty has volunteered with Seva for many years in India, Nepal, Tibetan Areas of China, China, Madagascar, Malawi, Cambodia, and Guatemala. He has also designed several instruments for cataract surgery, as well as two intraocular lenses.
He has published and lectured extensively on topics related to cataract surgery, particularly in low-income countries. Marty is the recipient of many awards including the Governor General's Sovereign Medal for Volunteers (2016), Lewis Perinbam Award in International Development (1997), the American Academy of Ophthalmology Achievement Award (1999) and the Achievement Award of the International Agency for the Prevention of Blindness (2004).
Aside from his three daughters, Marty’s interests include photography, cinema, reading, ultimate frisbee, running, snowboarding and windsurfing.