Staff & Board



jessecrJesse Birch has worked as a curator, artist, writer and educator. He holds a Bachelor's Degree in Fine Arts Photography) from Emily Carr (2001), and a Masters of Arts degree in Art History (Critical and Curatorial Studies) from the University of British Columbia (2008). In 2007, he was a curatorial fellow at de Appel arts centre in Amsterdam, and was Co-Director/Curator of Access Gallery in Vancouver from 2008 to 2010. Birch maintains an active practice as a writer, and has published in art magazines including C Magazine and fillip. In 2013, he received the Art Writing Award from Ontario Association of Art Galleries for his essay on artist Kika Thorne for the Art Gallery of Windsor. From 2009 to 2013, Birch taught at Emily Carr University of Art and Design in the Critical and Cultural Studies faculty. Before accepting the position in Nanaimo, Birch was Exhibitions Curator at The Western Front (Vancouver). He has served on the Board of the Or Gallery (Vancouver) and as treasurer of the Pacific Association of Artist Run Centres. 


claire website Claire Geddes Bailey is an emerging artist, writer and curator. They began at Nanaimo Art Gallery in November 2020, and will be in their role as curatorial intern for one year. Their work has appeared at CSA Space, Field Contemporary, Hatch Art Gallery, and the Polygon, and they were writer-in-residence as part of Artspeak's Studio for Emerging Writers (2018). Claire holds a BA in English Literature and Visual Art from UBC (2019).



IMG-1947 1 0Violet is from Snuneymuxw, Stzuminus, Penalekut, and Cowichan now residing in Quamichan, which is in Cowichan. She lives with her Sta'lus, Joe Elliott, her Memuna', Jeremy Elliott, married to Maria, and they have two beautiful daughters, Adelie and Evelie. Her youngest Son is Tyrone Elliott and his Fiance' is Jasmine Dionne.

Violet has been weaving for 25 years, She has taught hat weaving workshops, purse weaving workshops, and has been in the schools to introduce our children and youth about our values of cedar bark gathering. She also enjoys gathering other natural weaving materials and being in the outdoors. Violet has primarily worked in the Counselling/facilitating field, teaching history and impacts of colonization and Indian Residential Schools.

IMG-0902Born in the Comox Valley Dana has worked in museums, galleries, and spaces of public learning and experience for 20 years. After attending the University of British Columbia with a double major in Anthropology and History and a concentration in Museum Studies she has been able to hone her experience at places like the Douglas Reynolds Gallery, Vancouver Aquarium, Japanese Canadian National Museum, the Museum of Anthropology, and the Gardens at HCP in Victoria. Now settled in Saltair with her family, Dana enjoys spending time in her gardening, reading, and exploring the Island.


I am a Canadian visual artist currently living in Nanaimo. I studied at the Alberta College of Art and Design in Calgary, and completed my undergrad and master of fine arts at the UdK (University of the Arts) in Berlin, Germany. Art is not only a means of self-expression and self-knowledge but also a powerful tool for social cohesion and change. 


Carolyn Holmes 2020 eCarolyn Holmes joined Nanaimo Art Gallery as Executive Director in July, 2020. She holds a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree from Queen's University in studio arts, a Masters of Museum Studies degree from the University of Toronto and has been working in art galleries since the age of sixteen. Before coming to Nanaimo, Holmes lived on the traditional territory of the Lheidli T'enneh and had various roles at Two Rivers Gallery in Prince George, including Director of Public Programs and more recently Executive Director. She currently sits on the Council of the BC Museums Association. Holmes is passionate about collaborating with other organizations, encouraging creativity and engaging with the community.



80411760 1670025653132508 8805480609536278528 oChris has been with the Gallery since June 2003. Prior to that she worked in Ontario for an experiential learning company. She thrives on variety and her years with the Gallery have certainly provided that. In addition to managing the financial aspects of the Gallery, she enjoys the creative aspects such as  growing programs such as TD Artists in the Schools. She holds an honours BA with a double major in English and Theatre. Her interests include photography, writing and the environment. Her photographs have graced the covers and insides of many magazines. Her writing especially travel articles have been published by a number of Ontario newspapers. She is currently writing a fiction book and taking lots of photos of inspiring Vancouver Island.



Jennifer started as a volunteer with Nanaimo Art Gallery in 2006. She has since joined the gallery as an employee and still volunteers. Jen has over ten years experience in clerical administration as well as assistant managerial experience. A writer and poet, she has been published in Quills Canadian Poetry Magazine, Synergy Magazine, Bard's Ink, and had her work showcased on various online publications. In the past Jen has assisted with the editing of some gallery publications. She also took part in NAG's 2014 exhibition Ekphrasis: Writing the Collection.


Aarame sqAs a poet, printmaker, arts administrator, and art collector, the arts permeate all aspects of Aaramë's life. Originally from Texada and the upper Sunshine Coast, she has called Nanaimo home since 1999. She is grateful for the privilege to spend her life on Tla'amin, Snuneymuxw, and other Coast Salish territories.

Since 2008, she has operated a small home-based printmaking studio creating handmade serigraphs, intaglio etchings, and hand-bound books. She has taught printmaking workshops through Nanaimo Art Gallery, Vancouver Island University, Gabriola Isle of the Arts Festival, Ladysmith Waterfront Gallery, and private studio classes. She holds a Diploma of Visual Arts from Vancouver Island University (2013) and is an alumna of the Leadership Vancouver Island program.

Aaramë brings over 20 years administrative management experience to Nanaimo Art Gallery, and has been a part of the Nanaimo arts community for over 10 years, previously working with Crimson Coast Dance and Centre for the Arts Nanaimo. She is a strong advocate of the power of art to create bonds, build communities, and transform lives.

She is also passionate about growing her personal collection of works on paper, including hand-bound and limited edition books, original prints and letterpress broadsheets.


yvonnecr2Yvonne Vander Kooi has lived and worked as an artist and educator on Vancouver Island for the past 20 years. Originally from Ontario, Yvonne holds a bachelor’s degree in Fine Arts and has continued her studies here and in Toronto. She served on the Board of Directors at the Nanaimo Art Gallery when she first came to the island and has been an active member of the Nanaimo art scene for many years. In recent years, Yvonne has led numerous community public art projects including the painting of large- scale murals and delivering innovative art programming in a variety of settings. 




Debra Jacklin

Born in the harbor city, Debra has been a proud Nanaimo resident for much of her life. She is the Manager of Talent Acquisition for VIU where she sets and manages the growth vision for the University’s employee recruitment. With her background in corporate marketing, Debra works towards defining VIU’s employment brand and sharing the benefits of the VIU employment experience with others.

In her previous role as VIU’s Marketing Manager, Debra won an International Association of Business Communicators Gold Quill award for social media and a Canadian Public Relations Society Excellence award for best electronic/social media project in 2014. In 2015, Debra and her creative services team were nominated for a BC American Marketing Association Marketer of the Year award and she has been invited to speak at American Marketing Association events.

A firm believer in service as a form of gratitude, Debra has been a literacy tutor and board member with the Canadian Mental Health Association. She is a dedicated yogi and an avid participant in maker culture who enjoys creating in her spare time. Debra holds a BA and a PR Dipl, both from the UVic and lives in her hometown with her husband and two cats.


Ken HammerWith a personal practice of lifetime learning, Ken has devoted himself to an attitude of always being curious. Currently, he is a Nanaimo Realtor with RE/MAX of Nanaimo. He loves to serve, and with a 17-year career as a professor at Vancouver Island University, he has a unique combination of business, teaching and community experience. Ken has served numerous small businesses and individual entrepreneurs through his leadership and management development company, and through Startup Nanaimo. He has served his local community and international community through his involvement with various community groups including the Nanaimo Child Development Centre and Nanaimo Daybreak Rotary. Because of his work, there is a high school in Ghana named after him. 


Caroline web

Caroline attended Vancouver Island University (then Malaspina University College) where she obtained her Bachelor of Business Administration degree with a focus in Management. Since, Caroline obtained her Mortgage Broker's license from UBC's Sauder School of Business and is now an owner of Fitzwilliam Mortgage Corp. As a long-time resident, Caroline knows Nanaimo's challenges and opportunities. Her volunteer work is a testament to her dedication to building a bright and sustainable future for our community. She is currently the President of VIU's Alumni Association and was previously on the Downtown Nanaimo Business Improvement Association Board of Directors. She is also on the executive of the Bayview Elementary School PAC. Caroline believes that education is crucial to Nanaimo's future and that arts and culture are a key part of that. Caroline lives in the South End of Nanaimo with her husband and son. She spends her free time hiking, camping, gardening and growing her own food. She is a self-proclaimed "newbie" to the art world but loves to challenge herself by stepping outside of her comfort zone and is excited to share her unique perspective to contribute to the continued growth of the Gallery.


Sarah Casual HeadshotRaised in Port Alberni and Victoria, Sarah knows Vancouver Island well.  In 2002, after completing her Associate’s Degree in Hotel and Restaurant Management, she completed the TESOL certification to teach English in Taiwan and travel throughout Asia. In 2005, Sarah returned to Victoria to work with a Destination & Event Management Company (DMC) where she got a taste for the Meetings & Incentive Travel (M&IT) Industry. In 2008, she launched SEL Conference Services, and as the Principal and Managing Director, has been designing and producing meetings and fundraisers across Canada, most recently working with the Royal Architectural Institute of Canada to plan and execute the Festival of Architecture in Nanaimo in 2016. Sarah has over 15 years of board experience, having volunteered for Nanaimo Chamber of Commerce, the Island Professional Event Network (formerly the Vancouver Island Meeting Planners and Suppliers), and the Centre for Arts Nanaimo. Sarah is passionate about projects that benefit our community. She is an entrepreneur, a mother of two happy children, an avid reader and gardener, and a health and exercise enthusiast. She is currently pursuing a Fitness Instructor Certification, as well as a Certified Meeting Professional (CMP) designation through the Events Industry Council. Sarah speaks French and basic Mandarin and looks forward to learning more languages, having come to know that the best cultural insights come through language.


218-759-512 4pd6 121wpGeorge Anderson was born and raised in Nanaimo. He attended Park Avenue Elementary, John Barsby Secondary, and Vancouver Island University. He then completed his law degree at Osgoode Hall Law School in Toronto. George is passionate about community involvement. He has served as a Director of the Nanaimo-Ladysmith Schools Foundation and as a Trustee for the Nanaimo Addictions Foundation. He has volunteered for several organizations including: Big Brothers and Big Sisters of Central Vancouver Island, the Salvation Army, and Vancouver Island Multi-Cultural Society. Currently he sits as a committee member with the Ontario Justice Education Network. In 2011, George became one of the youngest people ever elected to Nanaimo City Council, where he also served as a Director of the Regional District of Nanaimo, and as Chair of Transportation. He has been recognized as Junior Citizen of the Year by the Nanaimo Chamber of Commerce and in 2016 was presented with the BC Achievement Award by the Lieutenant Governor. In his spare time, George enjoys cycling, travelling, skiing, visiting art galleries, and food. George also has a love of music. He plays five musical instruments and has had the honor of playing with the Juno award winning group VEJI. 


FullSizeRender 3Ian Gove is a lawyer and documentary filmmaker based in Nanaimo, BC. Ian's solicitor practice with Heath Law LLP focuses on business, real estate, and estate planning. Ian is an avid cyclist and outdoorsman, including two extended tours where he cycled from BC to Mexico and then BC to Newfoundland. Ian produces short documentary films focused primarily on vignettes of interesting people doing unique things to make the world a better a place. Ian is a former board member of the Pedal Society, a non-profit society that oversees several bicycle related projects in the Vancouver area.



JH NAG 2018 wp1John began his broadcasting career during the 1960's at the age of 16 as the morning show host for CFTK radio in Terrace, BC. Since those early days he has worked with Vancouver radio stations hosting a jazz show, morning show and afternoon drive. He has also been a radio news producer and community liaison.

John is a published writer with his articles seen regularly in a variety of greater Vancouver newspapers and local and national magazines including Dogs in Canada, Senior Living, Real Living and Vancouver Magazine.
In 2004 John's writing and production skills combined to produce news for Accessible Media Inc., a national broadcaster focussed on accessibility for Canadians. He was awarded a 2011 Gordon Sinclair Award from the Radio and Television News Directors Association and the 2011 Live Coverage feature award from the International Association of Audio Information Services for contributing coverage of the 2010 Paralympics in Whistler, BC.
Since retiring from broadcasting John moved to Nanaimo where he is writing a novel and is the director of the John Harris Gallery for contemporary art.


Chris CroppedChris is a design and planning practitioner in Nanaimo whose passion and commitment is focused on integrating urban and ecological systems. For the last fourteen years, Chris has worked in local government, initially as an urban design and sustainability planner, with more recent roles in organizational change management, strategic planning and intergovernmental relations. In 2008, Chris and his spouse Kate Stefiuk moved to Nanaimo, where they gradually became a family of four. With Kate and his two daughters, Chris has especially enjoyed the benefits and offerings of the Nanaimo Art Gallery as a cultural hub for the City, and has watched the evolution of the Gallery with pleasure and admiration.


Melissa Headshot wp1Melissa is a Chartered Professional Accountant (CPA) with a Bachelor of Commerce degree in Finance from the Edwards School of Business at the University of Saskatchewan. Originally from Saskatchewan, she has called Vancouver Island home since 2016. Melissa has experience in corporate accounting, treasury and enterprise systems in a variety of industries in both the private and public sector. She supports the arts as core curriculum in the education system and believes in the power of art to build communities, engage audiences and spark reinvention. Melissa is looking forward to reconnecting with her artistic roots in service as a board member for Nanaimo Art Gallery.


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