Meet the Team


President & CEO

Outdoor enthusiast. Guitarist. Loves road trips and cities.

Charles holds a Masters of City Planning from the University of Manitoba and has been steering the DVBIA since 1992. He’s been the recipient of Business In Vancouver’s prestigious ‘40 Under 40 Achievement Award,’ and the Downtown Vancouver Association’s President’s Award, in addition to other accolades. He has served on numerous boards during his career including the Business Improvement Areas of BC, the BC chapter of the Canadian Society of Association Executives, the International Downtown Association, and the Vancouver New Year’s Eve Celebration Society. He enjoys the outdoors almost as much as he does cities, and loves tapping into his creativity by playing the guitar and singing. He has hiked the Inca Trail to Machu Picchu, the Grand Canyon, and Canada’s famous West Coast Trail.


Vice President

Mountain climber. Animal lover. Philanthropist.

Jane is responsible for keeping the day-to-day operations of the DVBIA running smoothly. She sees opportunity and possibility everywhere she looks, and is an essential element of what makes the Association such an organized, well-oiled machine. She joins the DVBIA from the world of philanthropy, having held senior roles at the BC SPCA and the Positive Living Society, and is passionate about making the world a better place— for humans and their furry friends alike. Jane holds a Masters of Arts degree in International Relations from Webster University and a Certificate in Executive Leadership from Cornell University. From Kilimanjaro to Vancouver’s more modest peaks, she has scaled her fair share of mountains, but also thoroughly enjoys logging a few hours on the couch with a great book.

Keyanna Russell

Administrative and HR Assistant

Boardgame enthusiast. World adventurer.

Keyanna is responsible for everything administrative in the office and helps coordinate the operations of HR within the organization. She pursued a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Sociology and French at Mount Allison University and soon after discovered her passion for Human Resources at Camosun College when completing her Post-Degree Diploma in HR Management and Leadership. In her spare time, you can find her hiking, drinking wine with her family and friends, or curling up with a good book.

Marketing & Communications

Heather McKenzie-Beck

Marketing and Communications Senior Manager

Wordsmith. Happy hour enthusiast.

Heather looks after the DVBIA’s diverse range of communications initiatives. From social media to thought leadership to strategic planning, she strives to ensure that the great work of the association is shared with Vancouverites in a meaningful way. Heather has a Master of Arts in Communications and experience in a wide range of industries, including financial services, education advocacy, non-profit communications, and agency-based PR work. She has lived in Vancouver for over twenty years and considers it her personal mission to sample each and every happy hour menu that downtown Vancouver has to offer. It’s a tough job, but someone has to do it.

Joshua Davidson

Communications and Graphic Design Lead

Booklover. Explorer. Music Enthusiast

Joshua works alongside Heather in communications while also working as the DVBIA’s graphic designer. He collaborates with the Economic Development team in designing the DVBIA reports while producing all other print and digital graphics for the wider teams. Joshua studied Literature at Lincoln University and has moved to Vancouver from London, England. When not in the office, Joshua is usually seeking the ultimate outdoor adventure, be it hiking, skiing, snowshoeing or simply exploring the city.

Nikola Fischerova

Membership Engagement and Events Lead

World Traveller. Yogi.

Nikola provides executive support to the President and CEO and is responsible for ensuring the smooth running of the DVBIA office. She provides event coordination support for DVBIA events, and in one way or another, her work supports every other organizational function. Nikola has refined her diverse skillset over five years of experience working in private sector and not-for-profit organizations, and her background provides DVBIA and its members with a mix of skills in administration, project coordination and business operations. When not keeping everyone in the office organized and on track, Niki enjoys exploring the world, travelling to countries where she hasn’t been before and meeting interesting people from different cultures.

Sofia Laratta

Digital Marketing Coordinator

Spin Instructor. Music Lover. Fashionista.

Sofia takes care of the DVBIA’s social media channels and provides support to Joshua and Heather with communications, events, and marketing initiatives. Sofia moved from Calgary, Alberta to Vancouver in 2015 to pursue a bachelor’s degree in Tourism Management from Capilano University. While working in Vancouver’s tourism industry, Sofia gained an enormous love and passion for the city and all that it has to offer. In her spare time you’ll catch Sofia at a concert, taking “pics for the gram,” or curating a playlist for her next spin class.

Placemaking and Public Spaces

Andrew Nakazawam, M.PL

Placemaking and Public Spaces Manager

Bike love. Balcony gardner.

Andrew manages the DVBIA’s placemaking and public space portfolio and is responsible for overall program vision and direction, long-range planning, and strategic partnerships. With a people-first approach to improving the downtown core, he and his placemaking team collaborate with property owners, member businesses, and local makers and creators to enhance underutilized spaces, streets, laneways, and plazas. Andrew comes to the DVBIA with a Master of Urban and Regional Planning from Queen’s University and has over seven years’ experience in urban planning and design, commercial development strategy, and public and stakeholder engagement. Andrew loves plants and everything green and enjoys growing whatever fits onto his narrow West End balcony.

Winki Tam

Placemaking and Public Spaces Lead

Mountain climber. Animal lover.

Winki works in the Placemaking Team to program arts, music, and cultural activities in Downtown Vancouver. Her mission is to make Vancouver the world’s best rainy city to play and live in. With a background in events and project management, Winki has organized fundraising events across 30 cities in B.C. and design projects across 3 countries (Mauritius, The Netherlands, U.K.). 

Winki is continually seeking introductions to talented, local creators and groups for outside-the-box solutions and ideas. Artists, musicians, and event producers – say hello at winki@dtvan.ca!

Clare Warner

Placemaking and Public Spaces Coordinator

Experimenter. Novelty seeker. Animal lover.

Originally graduating with a BSc in Geology from UCC Ireland, Clare decided that Canada was calling and moved to Vancouver in 2015. With a background in logistics and sales and sustainability, enriching the city she has chosen to call home has since become her passion. Clare brings the strategic vision of the Placemaking department to life through her exemplary organizational skills, creative problem solving, and positivity. Her favourite downtown places include atop Harbour Centre’s lookout for the birds-eye view of city life, the unique DVBIA laneway projects, and any bench that allows her to take in the North Shore mountains. Clare can often be found stopping to greet any dog she meets, playing badminton, or testing out local establishments of cuisine and culture alike.

Economic Development

Gavin Duffus, MPL*

Economic Development Manager

Urbanist. Concertgoer.

Gavin wants businesses in Vancouver to thrive. To this end, he helps ensure that downtown Vancouver is an attractive and affordable place to set up shop. Gavin fosters synergistic commercial opportunities through outreach and networking. Trained as an urban planner, Gavin enjoys collaborating with stakeholders and policymakers to improve civic regulations. When not recruiting new business ventures, Gavin can be found jogging the seawall or hosting a themed party. (*Master of Planning)

James Anderson

Research and Data Analyst

News junkie. Data nerd. Sports Enthusiast

James works with the Econ Dev department to collect, visualize and interpret data, highlighting downtown’s livability, economy, and public spaces. James received his Master of Human Kinetics from the University of Windsor where his research focused on the socio-economic impacts of sports events. Prior to starting at the DVBIA, James worked in the sports sector, analyzing membership and performance data to inform the governance of a National Sport Federation. When he is not crunching numbers, he can be found wandering Stanley Park, sailing in English Bay or planning his next travel adventure.

Community Safety

Arden Grant

Community Safety Senior Manager

Arden is responsible for all things related to community safety for the DVBIA and its members. She holds a Bachelor of Arts Degree from Simon Fraser University in Criminology and Sociology. She is currently working on her Graduate Diploma in Business Administration at the Beedie School of Business (SFU). Arden joins the DVBIA with 17 years of experience in policing at both the municipal (VPD) and federal (RCMP) levels. Arden grew up on the Sunshine Coast of BC, so her love for the west coast and Vancouver is reflected in her passion for working with key stakeholders and the DVBIA team to help make Vancouver the safest and most amazing city it can be. In her personal time, Arden loves being near the ocean or in the mountains with her little rescue dog, hitting up patios for a nice glass of wine, or visiting her niece and family in Germany.

Charlene Abellana

Operations Lead

Charlene oversees the day to day operations for the Community Safety teams while working alongside Arden on various community projects and initiatives. She works directly with the teams to provide support to our Downtown members and community. Charlene joins the DVBIA with a background in Operations, Safety, Recruitment and HR. Charlene spends her free time being a dog mom outside of work, sweating it out at boxing or enjoying a good happy hour!