Merike Kolga, President
Merike is a seasoned learning and development professional. She has built her portfolio working in for-profit organizations inclusive of manufacturing, finance, manufacturing, healthcare, and insurance. Merike is a results-driven, collaborative leader with experience in designing and enabling organizational solutions for advancing individual and team-level talent.
Focusing her career on adult education, Merike has a talent for connecting theory and practice in ways that enable value-add experiences in alignment with goals achievement. She excels at transforming abstract ideas into clear concepts.
Her projects include onboarding programs, custom course design, facilitation, producing career matrix and pathways for employee development. She has participated in a national shipbuilding procurement strategy, establishing effective training departments along with instructional, advisory, and mentoring programs.
As a life-long learner and active volunteer in her community, Merike has spoken on panels, chaired campaigns and led committees. Currently, she is an active member of the International Leadership Association – a global network that influences new research, knowledge, and activities in support of adult education. She is a Certified Strengths Coach and is currently pursuing her Educational Doctorate.
Shayda Sobhani, Secretary-Treasurer
Shayda was introduced to the world of OD through her keen interest in systems and complexity theory developed during her Masters in Industrial-Organizational Psychology at Saint Mary’s University in Halifax, Nova Scotia. Shayda firmly believes the OD perspective of viewing an organization as an open and complex system is necessary for designing effective and long lasting solutions.
Shayda enjoys teaching and tailoring her communication to various audiences, including piano teaching to young children, instructing teenagers on flying gliders, and presenting academic research to peers.
Having lived in Beijing and Shanghai, she has developed an appreciation for differing perspectives and encourages them in any discussion. Using these skills, Shayda helps highlight BCODN for the incredible group of professionals that it is, as it surrounds emerging and seasoned practitioners with a supportive and encouraging environment.
Shayda’s Honours thesis research on incivility experienced by leaders at work has been published in two different journals, and her Masters thesis research on empathy and negotiation was nationally funded. Shayda works at the Provincial Health Services Authority in its Transformation Leadership Office, supporting the coordination, management, and execution of provincial strategic initiatives.
Jerome Dickey, BCO Liaison
Through his firm, Agile Work Solutions, Jerome has been focusing his leadership and growth coach practice on enhancing organizational success by transforming business through people for optimum results. He brings a strategic approach and operational expertise to the art and science of leadership, organizational development and conflict resolution.
During his 20 years of leadership and management roles in a variety of sectors including commercial aviation, transportation, and utilities, Jerome has crafted his ability to leverage challenging business problems into opportunities through agile approaches which are proven, practicable and profitable. With a Master of Arts in Leadership as well as qualifications and certifications as a Business Coach, Human Resources Professional, Organizational Coach, and Mediator, Jerome brings a unique combination of education and practical experience to the workplace.
Jerome believes in the art of possibility. By partnering with organizations and people, he promotes innovation to shift paradigms for personal and professional fulfillment building workplace success.
Elaine Pedersen, VP, Program Development (Co-Chair)
Elaine is an organizational development practitioner who is passionate about fostering employee engagement, building leadership capacity at all levels, and improving organization effectiveness. She is currently the Manager of Employee Experience, Organizational and People Development at Vancouver Community College, where she has had the opportunity to provide leadership coaching; implement performance management systems; manage an employee mentorship program; conduct employee engagement surveys and develop and deliver training programs. She has also spoken on leadership skills, motivation and retention, conflict resolution, team alignment, and emotional intelligence across Canada.
Elaine’s educational background includes a Master of Arts in Leadership from Royal Roads University and a Bachelor of Commerce from the University of British Columbia. Elaine is a Chartered Professional in Human Resources and Prosci® Change Management and Myers-Briggs Type Indicator® certified. She has also volunteered as an OD consultant for a non-profit mental health society through the BCODN’s Building Community Organizations. A continuous learner, the BCODN continues to expand her OD knowledge and provide a sense of community.
Jen Schmidt, VP, Program Development (Co-Chair)
Jen is an external Organization Development consultant on a mission to help companies implement sustainable continuous improvement. She believes there is always a better way to do things and an OD approach is the most effective way to create desired change.
Jen has a Masters Certificate in Organization Development and Change from York University, a BBA in HR and Innovation from SFU, and a Certificate in Management Excellence from UBC. Jen is also a certified Lean practitioner.
Jen’s OD work is primarily in the tech sector where early systems work enables more efficient scaling. Using the action research model, Jen delivers value to clients in the areas of high-performance teams, leadership development and strategic planning.
The BCODN has been a catalyst for Jen’s career by growing her network, expanding her toolkit, and providing mentorship support to her volunteer consulting opportunity with the BCO. Her role on the Board of Directors is consistent with her drive to keep growing personally and professionally while giving back whenever possible.
Sehej Veer Singh, VP, Communications
Sehej is a young professional with a strong academic background, having recently completed his Masters in Business Administration (MBA) in 2020. Sehej has had a diverse work experience in the past, having worked for both non-profit and for-profit sectors. He is currently employed as a Financial Service Representative at CIBC where he helps individuals achieve their financial goals.
While enthusiastically engaged in his banking profession, he maintains a keen interest in making a positive impact in organizational development and helps small & medium sized businesses and business professionals to succeed. Sehej’s diligence and creative ability also aids him to come up with out of the box solutions.
Sehej is not only passionate about his own professional growth, but also lays great emphasis on collective growth, to forge a more inclusive environment. He strongly believes that learning is an endless process while curiosity and humility are essential tools for any form of learning.
Karen Bowen, VP, Community Engagement
Senior Partner at EQ Development Group, Karen provides comprehensive leadership curriculums and interventional organizational development services including an innovative Flagship Strategic Planning Process that helps clients define vision and direction that moves their organizations forward. Karen is a well-known and invited conference speaker at organizations including CPHR BC, The United Way, Crowe Mackay, and the Canadian College of Health Care Leaders.
Karen holds a BA in English, a Certificate in Adult and Continuing Education, and a Masters in Leadership through Royal Roads University. As well, Karen is a Master Trainer for the EQ-i 2.0, EQ360, and the Hardiness and Resilience Gauge. Her additional certifications include Multiple Brain Intelligences (Coach), Power+Systems, Clear Leadership, Human Systems Dynamics, MBTI, graphic facilitation and True Colors. Formal learning combined with over 25 years of experience working as a leader and consultant allow Karen to deliver innovative leadership learning programs and powerful organizational interventions.
Translating a somewhat mysterious world of personal and organizational values, leadership skills, team dynamics, and culture change into metrics, measurable trends, concrete strategy and practical objectives is a unique skill that Karen brings to her work. Karen is a trusted advisor in a diverse business field from front-line employees to mid and executive level leaders, fostering positive workplace culture and organizational effectiveness.
Milla Zaenker, VP, Community Engagement
Milla is an accomplished human resources and organizational development professional with a business-based perspective, who is passionate about creating a work environment that supports growth to enhance organizational effectiveness through people.
Having worked with government organizations and international business, her expertise lies in human resources and organizational development, leadership development, coaching, relationship management, and change management.
She is currently working as a Manager of Learning and Development at the Legal Services Society of BC where she is responsible for the development and delivery of strategies, programs and initiatives aimed at developing LSS and its people in support of the mission, vision, values and key goals.
Building trusting relationships and inspiring people to collectively build organizations where they can use their talents to create meaningful work leading to success is at the heart of Milla’s philosophy.
Milla holds a Masters of Business Administration, and a Certificate in Mediation/Third-party intervention. She is a Chartered Professional in Human Resources (CPHR), ProSci certified change practitioner, and a Certified Insights Discovery practitioner.
All BCODN Officers and Directors can be reached by email: email@example.com