Building a vibrant community is about investing in our neighbours in need.
An affordable space can help a social service thrive. New kitchen equipment can give seniors access to food security. A new counselling space helps women feel safe to share and get help for the first time in years.
We listen, respond and build.
We connect neighbours and resources to transform communities and help them thrive.
Central City Foundation is located on the traditional and unceded ancestral homelands of the Coast Salish peoples, including the territories of the xʷməθkwəy̓əm (Musqueam), Skwxwú7mesh (Squamish), Stó:lō and Səl̓ílwətaʔ/Selilwitulh (Tsleil-Waututh) Nations.
Where others won’t invest, Central City Foundation will, because we listen to our community partners and fund innovative solutions that fit their needs. We help our neighbours in three ways – by providing funding and support for programs, capital projects and social purpose real estate.
Central City Foundation has more than 100 years of proof that providing safe, secure and affordable spaces for community organizations is the key to creating innovative and effective programs. We own five social purpose buildings and provide housing and space to support services like the Vancouver Women’s Health Collective and the Phil Bouvier Family Centre at highly subsidized rents.
We recognize that it is challenging for community organizations to find capital funding in Vancouver and a relatively small need can have a major impact. Something as simple as providing funding for bathroom renovations has the capacity to change lives. For every dollar Central City Foundation spends, we generate $3.90 in social benefit.
Caring for what we do and with whom we do it.
Learn more about how together we build hope with our neighbours.
Creating a legacy: By investing a significant portion of our core capital in social purpose real estate, Central City Foundation is able to amplify our impact and create lasting change within the community.
Learn more about how your donations are invested in social purpose real estate.
Proud history, exciting future: Since 1907, Central City Foundation has been an intrinsic part of Vancouver and we are determined to continue building a strong resilient community with our neighbours.
Our confidence in the future is inspired by our long history of success.
We are funders, investors, and builders with a passion for sustainable, timely solutions for those in need. Together we plan to bring about the promise of a vibrant, healthy and prosperous future for all our neighbours.
Meet past and present board members who mobilize change.
As a community, we are one.
Together we can bring about positive change for our neighbours. Here’s how you can help.
100 years of a great idea
Our history is a simple story about neighbours determined to help neighbours.
For over a century we’ve been entrusted to collaborate with our neighbours to remove barriers, create opportunities, and build human capacity.
In 1907, a small group of neighbours decided to start a mission for poor and unemployed men in Vancouver’s inner city. They were determined to provide spiritual sustenance as well as responding to basic needs for food and shelter.
At one of their first meetings, they agreed to ask each of the Christian denominations to help them establish an inter-denominational organization. This began a century-long relationship between the mission and many churches, individuals and organizations.
Central City Mission was incorporated on July 22, 1909. Two days later, the new Board of Directors made a deposit on the property at 233 Abbott Street. The construction was partially financed by sales of the shares that the founders had issued in 1907, which had realized almost $45,000 in just two years. The cornerstone was laid in 1910 and the building served the Mission and its work for 83 years.
Over the decades, the front steps of 233 Abbott Street were trod by thousands of men coming through the welcoming doors of the Central City Mission. There was always someone there to talk with about work or personal matters. There were prayers, concerts, lectures and films in the auditorium. Some men lived for long periods at the Mission; others found shelter for a night or a week. Many hot meals were served, made with food donated by generous merchants. A Christmas/New Year’s dinner was served every year to hundreds of men by Mission volunteers.
50s & 60s
The Mission worked hard to provide food and shelter throughout the Depression and the two World Wars, and by 1949 the mortgage was paid off, freeing up more of the Mission’s resources for its work. The staff and directors immediately began developing new programs to respond to the increasing level of hardship on the streets of the inner city.
In the early 1950s, the Mission opened a number of group homes for young men who needed housing while being treated for mental health problems or completing employment-readiness programs. The Mission has provided ongoing support to The Dugout since it opened in 1967, supporting their soup kitchen that feeds more than 200 people each day. The earliest needle exchange program was also supported by the Mission.
70s & 80s
In the 1960s, the Abbott Street building was turned into a long-term care facility for the Mission’s aging residents. In the mid-1970s, after many years of planning by the Board, and with support from donors, the City, and the Province, the Mission opened an Alcohol Recovery Program alongside the care facility.
At a Board meeting in February 1989, the members considered the enormous changes that were taking place in their community. The building at 233 Abbott Street had been sold, and after eight decades in the same location, the Mission was going to relocate. It had been clear for some time that there was no decrease in the need for a long-term care facility, or for alcohol recovery beds, in the downtown neighbourhood. In 1993, the Central City Lodge opened at the corner of Pender and Homer Streets, with 120 long-term care beds and 22 alcohol recovery beds. That facility continues to provide crucial services to women and men.
While the Board was handling all of the many details involved in managing its programs, selling one building, and building a new one, they were also in the process of establishing a new and important organization to support their ongoing work. The Central City Mission Foundation was registered as a society and as a public foundation in December 1991.
The Central City Foundation, as it is now known, has established a strong reputation for its programs of support in the Downtown Eastside and other areas of the inner city of Vancouver. Today, unlike other foundations, we reinvest our capital directly in our mission in the community. We bought and renovated the Abbott Mansion and the Cosmopolitan Hotel, as part of our commitment to ensuring good housing in our neighbourhood. We continue to develop projects that meet the urgent needs in community, such the Phil Bouvier Family Centre, the Crossing at Keremeos and Aunt Leah’s Place. Central City Foundation has become a leader for its model of investing in innovative, sustainable social purpose real estate properties that provide social housing, integrated family services and early childhood development, healthcare, youth services and more.
Graphic history by Avril Orloff
Meet your neighbours who mobilize change
“I was attracted to Central City Foundation because there was such a strong connection between the foundation and under-supported groups living in the city.” – Tom Syer, board member.
The voices of Central City Foundation’s first directors and staff can still be heard in conversations and consultations around the Board table, and with service providers and residents in our neighbourhood, speaking up for all of our neighbours in Vancouver’s inner city.
We continue to support the elderly, those who are struggling to meet their health challenges, children who are learning and being cared for and young people seeking to make their way in safety. Thanks to the generous support of the many neighbours and donors and our community and government partners, Central City Foundation continues the important work that our founders began more than 100 years ago, and we look ahead to a strong and productive future.
Lana Eagle is an Indigenous relations strategist and social innovator advising companies on how to better engage and work with Indigenous communities and find a pathway forward towards a Reconciliation framework. Her background is in banking, economic development, wealth management and mineral exploration.
Lana has volunteered with the Association of Mineral Exploration (AME), as a member and since 2013, the chair of AME’s Aboriginal Relations Committee. She is also a Director of AME, the first Indigenous woman to join its board in its 100+ year history. Lana serves as member of the Program Advisory Committee for Mining and Mineral Exploration at the BC Insititute of Technology, and is a member of the Canadian Institute of Mining Diversity and Inclusion Program Advisory Committee. She is currently the Vice President of Western Canada for the Canadian Institute of Mining. As well, she is the Co-chair, together with Dr. John Thompson, of the Resources for Future Generations 2018 global conference in Vancouver. She is a sought out speaker and lecturer on the topic of Indigenous engagement and Reconciliation in Canada. Lana is a member of the Whitecap Dakota First Nation in Saskatchewan. email@example.com
President & CEO
Jennifer Johnstone, President & CEO with Central City Foundation since 2006, has an extensive background in non-profit management and community resource development, including experience as a fundraiser, marketing and communications manager and non-profit executive for more than 25 years.
Jennifer has held key leadership positions with organizations such as the Vancity Community Foundation, Battered Women’s Support Services, the Vancouver Status of Women, and Ballet British Columbia, Canada’s pre-eminent contemporary ballet company, where she focused her efforts on building a sustainable non-profit dance company grounded in artistic excellence and community relevance.
Jennifer began her career in the non-profit sector as the founding program coordinator with the Whistler Centre for Business and the Arts in the late 1980s. Jennifer has also maintained a successful private consulting practice in fundraising, organizational and strategic planning, and workshop facilitation and is an instructor in the Fundraising Certificate Program in the Faculty of Business at BCIT.
Jennifer holds a BA Hons. in political science from Queen’s University and pursued graduate studies at the Institute of Soviet and East European Studies and in Women’s Studies at Carleton University. Jennifer remains passionately committed to social justice and community investment and, throughout her life, has served as a volunteer in many capacities with various organizations at the local, provincial and national level. Jennifer is the past president of the Association of Fundraising Professionals (AFP) Vancouver Chapter, and currently serves on the Boards of AFP Canada, Yaletown House Foundation, Leon & Thea Koerner Foundation, A Better Life Foundation, Battered Women’s Support Services, and Hastings Crossing BIA. firstname.lastname@example.org
Board Member, Treasurer
Craig McMillan graduated from Durham University in the UK and joined the assurance practice at PricewaterhouseCoopers in London. Following a two year secondment to Sydney, Australia and further experience back in London, he transferred to the Vancouver office in 2006, where he is now a partner.
Craig has two decades of experience in providing assurance and advisory services to both public and private companies in various stages of development. His approach to client service recognizes the importance of developing strong relationships with all levels of management, the early identification and resolution of issues and obtaining a thorough understanding of his clients’ business. He brings advice and ideas to clients regarding accounting and financial disclosure as well as internal controls and operating efficiencies. Craig has experience across a number of different industry sectors, including mining, life sciences, oil and gas, and real estate. email@example.com
Alexa Blain is currently a Principal with The Deetken Group, where she is responsible for initiation and management of the group’s asset management business.
Prior to joining Deetken, she spent three years with African Alliance, a pan-African financial services group, where she focused on expanding the firm’s microfinance and microinsurance operations, as well as the origination and negotiation of new capital.
In addition, Alexa has six years of asset management experience with the Canada Pension Plan Investment Board, the Macquarie Group and the Ontario Teachers’ Pension Plan. Alexa is a CFA Charterholder, and holds a Masters in Financial Economics as well as an Honours BA in Economics, both from the University of Toronto. firstname.lastname@example.org
Navdeep Gill is currently Vice President of Finance at Sandpiper Group.
Prior to Sandpiper, Navdeep served as Vice President, Financial Operations at the Tempest Group, a boutique broker dealer and investment fund manager. Her experience spans more than a decade holding positions as Senior Manager at Deloitte and senior financial reporting positions at OMERS and its related investment entities including Oxford Properties. Navdeep holds a Bachelor of Commerce from the University of Manitoba and is a Chartered Professional Accountant. email@example.com
Samuel Jang is an investment associate at RBC Dominion Securities where he invests clients’ assets primarily with small businesses and families. Samuel 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. firstname.lastname@example.org
Clive Millar is currently Vice President of Asset Management for an institutional real estate manager with a focus on BC. Clive grew up in the Toronto area and received his accounting designation while working in the property and corporate accounting divisions at a major pension fund, focusing on domestic assets and international funds. He moved to a mid-sized REIT in Asset Management assisting with the management of an 88-property portfolio that covered all asset classes. Prior to moving to the West Coast, he was a member of CBRE’s Downtown Toronto National Investment Team specializing in large trophy asset and portfolio sales, structuring and asset management strategy for institutional clients. While in Vancouver, he led the portfolio and asset management functions for a Western Canada-based firm specializing in development and value-add opportunities. Clive.email@example.com
Tom Syer is the Head of Government Affairs at Teck Resources Limited. Tom has over 18 years of experience in senior leadership roles in the public and private sector, including as Deputy Chief of Staff for Policy Coordination and Issues Management in the BC government, as the Director of First Nation and Corporate Relations for a successful BC- based renewable energy company, and as Vice President of Policy and Communications at the Business Council of British Columbia.
Tom played an integral role in the development and roll-out of numerous significant provincial policy initiatives and in the private sector, was responsible for advancing corporate and First Nations relationships, including successfully negotiating multiple comprehensive agreements for the province’s largest wind farm and run-of-river projects. He has actively participated in numerous policy and communications committees for the Business Council, and other industry and business organizations, including the Energy Policy Institute of Canada.
Tom holds a Master of Arts and Bachelor of Business Administration from Simon Fraser University and lives in East Vancouver with his family. firstname.lastname@example.org
Leslie Varley, a member of the Killer Whale clan of the Nisga’a Nation, is a committed social justice advocate. She is the Executive Director of British Columbia Association of Aboriginal Friendship Centres, an agency supporting the 25 centres in BC. 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, a facilitated, online decolonizing anti-racism training program offered to the health and social justice sectors in three Canadian provinces.
As a result of experiencing and observing ongoing indigenous specific racism, Leslie developed a life-long passion for addressing racism towards Indigenous people. She has worked in federal and provincial governments, and has contracted with municipal governments as well as with First Nations and Indigenous organizations, to achieve this goal. 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. email@example.com
Diana Walls 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. She helped shape lasting changes to provincial fiscal policy, permitting processes and land use frameworks, and has successfully stewarded Indigenous and community relations for complex infrastructure projects. Her early organizational development and corporate communications experience continue to inform her work.
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.
Born and raised in Montreal, Diana obtained a degree in Economics from McGill University and has commenced graduate studies in Sustainability Management at Harvard. 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. Diana.Walls@centralcityfoundation.ca
Lauren Blake practices at Legacy Tax + Trust Lawyers LLP, and has an extensive estate and family litigation practice. Lauren received a Bachelor of Arts (Honours) from the University of Toronto in 1991 and a Bachelor of Laws from the University of British Columbia in 1994. After clerking at the Supreme Court of British Columbia, she was called to the BC bar in 1996. Prior to joining Legacy, she practiced in Vancouver as a litigator for an international law firm. Her trust and estate litigation practice focuses on complex estate litigation, advising corporate and individual trustees as well as personal representatives and beneficiaries of their legal obligations and duties in all estate matters. She acts for beneficiaries who question the actions of the trustees of their particular trusts, and also assists individuals with wills and related issues. She also assists individuals with respect to their rights to vary a will as well as issues relating to the validity of will. Lauren also has a family practice which focuses on the intersection of estates and family law.
Lauren has authored numerous papers in the areas of wills, estates, trusts and the intersection of estates and family law, and is a frequent speaker on these topics. She has been recognized by Best Lawyers in Canada (in both Trusts and Estate and Corporate and Commercial Litigation). firstname.lastname@example.org
Wil is a commercial real estate lawyer with Dentons Canada LLP focusing on real estate development and commercial real estate transactions. He regularly advises clients on all aspects of real estate, including acquisitions, developments, dispositions, leasing, financing and subdivisions.
Prior to joining Dentons Canada LLP, Wil worked as corporate counsel for a real estate development company and as an associate for a boutique real estate law firm in Vancouver. Wil graduated from UBC with a Bachelor of Science in Animal Biology and Juris Doctor in Law. He is a member of the Law Society of British Columbia, Canadian Bar Association (BC) and Urban Development Institute.
Graeme has spent almost twenty years in the Corporate and Investment Banking industry.
Most recently, Graeme was Head of Investment and Corporate Banking – Vancouver for BMO Capital Markets and was a member of the firm’s Canadian Management Committee. Graeme specialized in raising public and private capital and advising on strategic issues such as mergers and acquisitions for many of Canada’s leading corporations. Graeme has an undergraduate degree in Business Administration from the University of Regina’s Paul J. Hill School of Business and a Masters Degree in Business Administration (with Distinction) from the University of Western Ontario’s Ivey Graduate School of Business.
Graeme is active with the Fundraising and Communications Committee and will take a leading role in the Foundation’s Investment Committee activities. In addition to his volunteer contribution, Graeme is an avid cyclist and continues to actively participate in numerous competitive road and cyclocross races in Canada, the US and Europe. Graeme.email@example.com
Barb is a leading market research professional and advisor to corporations and governments. During her 20-plus-year career, she has provided research and consulting services to almost every sector of the economy: energy producers, natural resource companies, retailers, developers, food and beverage manufacturers, tourism and transportation operators, First Nations communities, crown corporations, municipalities and the provincial government. Her research interests include civic affairs and urban planning. Barb holds memberships with the Marketing Research and Intelligence Association (MRIA) and the American Association of Public Opinion Researchers. She received the MRIA’s Certified Marketing Research Professional (CMRP) designation in 2004. She is also a former MRIA board member and vice-president, publications. Among her work in the not-for-profit category, Barb’s work received MRIA’s Murray Philps’ Award of Excellence for her research about the volunteer workforce for the Hearth and Stroke foundation. firstname.lastname@example.org
She is Managing Director of Fulmer Capital where she is responsible for deal origination and execution, as well as portfolio company development. Prior to joining Fulmer Capital, Julie was a Director at CAI, a leading mid-market private equity firm focused on investing in medium-sized businesses across North America. Before moving into private equity, Julie was a VP at Ernst & Young Vancouver’s office providing transaction advisory services to public and private clients across a variety of industry sectors. Julie joined EY after earning her CA and CBV designations working with small-medium sized clients at several professional services firms in Montreal and Yellowknife.
Julie has a Bachelor of Commerce degree from McGill University and is a member of the BC Association of Women in Finance, the Canadian Institute of Chartered Accountants and the Canadian Institute of Chartered Business Valuators. She was Finance Chair on the board of Leave Out Violence (LOVE) British Columbia, Special Olympics NT and the Sport North Lottery Authority Board. Julie is the proud mom of two young boys, and enjoys travelling, spending time with friends and family, and fitting in golf and good books whenever she can. Learn more about Julie. email@example.com
Bryan’s career later took him to Shanghai, China where he worked in commercial brokerage and gained a further understanding of the financial, banking, and lending side of commercial real estate, working with clients towards realizing and achieving their financially driven real estate objectives. Currently, as the President of Kindred Construction, Bryan uses his legal and real estate finance background to work with clients to ensure projects are delivered on target, keeping in mind the financial realities and outcomes faced by owners while balancing the quality and schedule objectives from the construction viewpoint. firstname.lastname@example.org