ICA Summer Workshops

FREE: Our Summer Workshops Begin July 8!

Click Here for Full Program Schedule

Racist Incident Helpline (1-833-457-5463)

Open Monday to Friday, 9 am to 5 pm (PT).  More information here

ICA Leadership Team

Shelly D’Mello
Chief Executive Officer

Shelly D’Mello is a skilled relationship builder, a collaborative coach who takes a strength-based approach to team and community development, a creative thinker, and a visionary leader. With over 25 years of experience in private, government, and non-profit organizations, Shelly is an inclusive and transformational leader whose strengths include strategic planning, financial acumen, organizational development, and organizational change management.

A self-proclaimed entrepreneur, Shelly is backed by a degree in Economics from York University, an international MBA from England, is a member of HRPAO (Human Resources Professionals Association of Ontario) and holds a Certificate in Adult Training and Development from the University of Toronto.

She has held executive and management positions in organization in sectors including settlement and integration, management consulting, information technology, education, and health care.

Born in Guyana, South America, Shelly is passionate about women in leadership, and has created curriculum and facilitated workshops that empower immigrant women and entrepreneurs to create a meaningful life in Canada. Over the last 13 years, Shelly has immersed herself in the settlement and integration sector in Toronto, Ontario designing, developing, and delivering programs and services to newcomers, immigrants and refugees. These programs give voice, opportunity, and recognition to the important contributions of immigrants to Canada while addressing barriers to integration such as language, credential recognition, access to employment, mental health and wellbeing, and housing.

Shelly is a founding board member of Aurora House, a transitional home for survivors of modern slavery, and is the Treasurer of the Workforce Housing Non-Profit Corporation, a non-profit initiative working towards addressing how home ownership and control of the “roof over one’s head” is the best way to break the cycle of poverty, build equity, and create self-respect.


Winnie Lee
Director of Operations

I have had the pleasure of working at ICA since 1997 and my role has varied from frontline work with clients and volunteers, to program design and implementation of services. My family’s personal immigration experience is what attracted me to work in this field more than 20 years ago.

My parents did not have the opportunity to benefit from settlement services, LINC classes, or employment support. It is important to me to help ensure all immigrants and refugees arriving to Canada can take full advantage of available services they are entitled to and have the best possible support.

Alkarim Versi
Director of Finance

As the Director of Finance at ICA, my role is to provide specialized support to ensure the financial health of ICA. I bring more than 16 years of broad experience in the international, not-for-profit sector in areas of program and financial management, strategic planning, board governance advisory, training and facilitation, and key stakeholder dialogue.

With diverse work experiences in over 20 countries in Africa, Europe, and North America, I am excited to join the ICA leadership team. I believe in the organization’s mission, its inclusive and rights-based approach to building a strong community, as well as its strong advocacy in anti-racism, multiculturalism, diversity awareness and human rights. This work resonates deeply with my sense of passion and drive.

Meghan Mergaert
Director of Impact and Innovation

Since 2019, I have led the Community Engagement and Impact and Innovation team at ICA, overseeing community development, communication, fundraising, program design, and client evaluation.  Prior to this role, I served as ICA’s Development Manager since 2012.

For more than 15 years, I have had the pleasure of learning from and working with immigrant and refugee communities in Victoria, BC. My experience includes designing, delivering and evaluating complex programs for high-needs immigrants and refugees, with a special focus on assisting immigrant and refugee youth.

I continue to be inspired by the people I meet through this fulfilling work. The strength of newcomers motivates me to find solutions that support them as they create a new home and are welcomed into our community.

 

Todd Kitzler
Acting Immigrant & Refugee Services Manager

As the Language Services Manager I oversee the delivery of more than thirty language classes with between 600 and 700 students each year.

I started teaching EAL overseas in 1986 and have been working at ICA since 1993. During my time with ICA, I have worked as a LINC Instructor, Head Language Instructor and Language Services Manager. After I started teaching English at ICA, I quickly realized that helping newcomers adjust to living in Canada is very important work.

ICA teaches newcomers the practical language tools needed, as well as information about local people, cultures, government and employment to help them and their families thrive in Victoria.

Elaine van Niekerk
Manager of People and Culture

My role at ICA is to work in partnership with the leadership team to develop HR strategies while administering best practices that align with ICA’s values, mission, and vision. I also serve as Administration Manager, overseeing ICA office operations to ensure a safe and healthy workplace.

My career at ICA started in 2013 as the Office Manager and Executive Assistant, and since that time, my areas of expertise have expanded to include  accreditation consultation, office management, labour relations, organizational development, workforce engagement, compliance management, health and safety, and policy development. ICA is committed to cultural diversity and as such, it is very rewarding to employ and work with culturally diverse individuals from all over the world, as I myself immigrated to Canada from South Africa in 1997.

Florentien Verhage
Manager of Immigrant Integration, Research & Planning

As the Manager of Immigrant Integration, Research and Planning at ICA, I work with community partners to celebrate and create better opportunities for newcomers. I lead the Greater Victoria Local Immigration Partnership (GVLIP) and oversee other partnerships with local governance, employers, education, health care and housing organizations to inform and strategize, organize events, and conduct research that furthers the inclusion of immigrants and refugees in our region.

My interest in equity work started when working in academia in gender studies and philosophy. Born and raised in the Netherlands I have studied and worked in the UK and the US before arriving in Canada. As an immigrant myself, I feel passionate about collaboratively building a community that welcomes newcomers and is dedicated to an equitable approach to inclusion and participation.

Mirko Kovacev
Employment Services Manager

As the Employment Services Manager, I oversee the Employment Services programs, including Career Paths, Game Changer and WorkBC. I started my career at ICA in 2013, as the Mentoring Services Facilitator/Employment Facilitator, and continued as an Immigrant Employment Specialist, providing frontline client services to newcomers’ job seekers in the Greater Victoria Area. I transitioned to the role of Employment Services Coordinator thereafter, providing client services support to the Career Paths team and overseeing the Settlement Employment Services.

I am passionate about the services and supports that we offer at ICA, as they address the current and evolving job search needs of newcomers and refugees, and thus providing them with the information and supports they need to become successful in the local labour market.

Quinton Gordon
Manager – Strategic Engagement

As the Manager of Strategic Engagement at ICA, my role is to develop, implement and oversee ICA’s communications strategies across all departments, including our client and community services.

My background includes working internationally in Costa Rica, New Zealand and the UK, for more than 25 years, helping tell the stories and share the impact of organizations in social, cultural and environmental sectors. Joining ICA’s leadership team in 2018 offered me the opportunity to focus my efforts on ICA’s mission–to support newcomers in Greater Victoria, while working alongside the community to address issues of racism and build a strong community that celebrates our diversity and provides the opportunity for us all to thrive–means I spend each day working towards values that I believe in.

Paulina Grainger
Manager of Arts, Equity and Community Engagement

As the Manager of Arts and Community Engagement at ICA, my role is to develop and implement community based programs that support greater cultural competencies through anti-racism training programs like Tools for Equity as well as other community and arts engagement programs focused on diversity, equity and inclusion.

I joined ICA in 2012 and as a Black, immigrant woman of colour, with a deep connection to community and broad knowledge of the many systemic barriers faced by refugees and newcomers to Canada continuously informs my work. I use an innovative approach of art-based practices to explore critical social issues around equity, justice, diversity and inclusion, for which I was honoured to receive the BC Multiculturalism Award in 2016. My background includes experience as a community organizer, activist, arts administrator, actor, general manager of PUENTE Theatre, storyteller and TV and radio producer for International Advertising Agencies in Kenya, Zimbabwe, South Africa and Sri Lanka.

Aly Essa
Private Sponsorship of Refugees Manager

As a Victorian and a local business owner for more than 25 years, I care deeply about building community and partnerships. This aligns nicely with my work and allows me to advocate for ICA’s values of diversity, inclusion, and education. My career at ICA started as an educator, running workshops and training covering a range of topics. After transitioning to ICA’s Housing Coordinator, I joined ICA’s leadership team as the Resettlement Assistance Program manager in 2019. This leadership role aligned with my passion to integrate newcomers and build diversity in the community I love and grew up in.

In 2023, I became the Private Sponsorship of Refugees Manager. ICA is a Sponsorship Agreement Holder with the Government of Canada, Department of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada, for the purpose of refugee resettlement through private sponsorship. The Private Sponsorship of Refugees (PSR) program allows Canadian citizens and permanent residents to resettle persons who qualify as refugees under Canada’s refugee and humanitarian program. Sponsoring groups provide refugees with settlement assistance and financial support for up to one year from the date they arrive in Canada.

I am constantly inspired by the resiliency of the refugee families I encounter through my fulfilling work. Their strength encourages me to advocate for them as they create a new home in Canada and are welcomed to our island.

Sika Patton
Acting Language Services Manager

As the Acting Language Services manager, I am responsible for overseeing and supporting the LINC (Language Instruction for Newcomers to Canada) program, the childcare program, the assessment team, and the Language Services administrative support team.

I began as an EAL teacher in 2004 and taught various levels of LINC classes at ICA starting in 2011. I also worked as Head Language Instructor from 2016-2022.  Helping newcomers become comfortable, confident, and successful in their lives in Canada has been inspiring and rewarding.   I am committed to working to meet the diverse needs of our clients so that they can achieve their goals. It is also a pleasure to work alongside the dedicated and passionate ICA staff. I look forward to supporting the Language Services department’s objective of helping newcomers thrive in Canada.

Nahla AlSayah
Resettlement Assistance Program Manager

As the Resettlement Assistance Program Manager (RAP) at ICA, I am responsible for overseeing the Resettlement Assistance Program, which provides vital services to refugees who have recently arrived in Greater Victoria under the sponsorship of the Canadian Government via Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada. Working closely with my team, we facilitate the process of welcoming newcomers and linking them with education, housing opportunities, integration support, medical navigation, and identifying employment opportunities.

My journey with ICA began in 2019, as a RAP worker, where I provided frontline support services to refugees who were resettled in the city. I then advanced to become the RAP team coordinator in 2021 and took on a leadership role with ICA as the RAP Manager in 2023.

As an immigrant myself, I am passionate about offering guidance and support to newcomers and refugees during their immigration journey. I strongly believe in creating a welcoming community that embraces newcomers and upholds fair and inclusive practices to promote their successful integration and participation.

Billie Tes (she/her)

Manager of People and Culture – Employee Experiences and Engagement

As a human resources equity designer, relationship builder, and social justice leader I have witnessed the impact employers can make on their employees when the workplace cultures’ systems and processes center the employee experience. If employees have a positive experience in the workplace, it has a ripple effect on the organization, the larger community, and the sector.

Born in Canada, with an Afro-Caribbean father who immigrated from Barbados and a European mother, I’m a second-generation immigrant and this intersectionality of mixed-race ancestry informs my practice. I am an active volunteer in a variety of roles including as a cast member of ICA’s 2019 im:print performance, member of the Sexual Assault Response Team at the Victoria Sexual Assault Center and Vancouver Island Youth Get It Community Council at Coast Capital Savings Credit Union.

I hold a Bachelor of Arts in Humanities with a Major in Gender Studies and a Minor in Philosophy alongside a Diploma in Intercultural Studies and Practice. I am passionate about how people work together, what systems enable or inhibit building connection with one another and how we can work towards a sense of belonging for everyone.

In my free time I love to attend community events and am a Certified Personal Trainer through the National Academy of Sports Medicine, crafter, and outdoor enthusiast. I strive to be a gentle visitor gardening on Quw’utsun unceded, ancestral, and traditional lands of the Hul’qumi’num people, in Duncan BC.

 


Community Partnership Network (CPN)

The Community Partnership Network (CPN) is a group of more than 300 local agencies, businesses, and institutions committed to building diverse, equitable, and inclusive communities in Greater Victoria.

Immigrant Welcome Centre

From housing and education to employment services, ICA’s Settlement Services team can help newcomers navigate and connect with important resources and support.

Board Bios

ICA board members bring a wealth of diverse skills, experience and community leadership to the governance of the organization. Each is personally committed to the work of building a more diverse, equitable and inclusive community that supports newcomer immigrants and refugees throughout the Capital Region.