Our Team

Daniel Whitehead, MA, ThM - CEO

Daniel is a Regent College graduate and ordained minister with over ten years of full-time vocational church ministry experience in the UK. He has traveled extensively overseas working on various humanitarian projects and is a certified mediator with London School of Mediation. Daniel studied the role of majority world theological perspectives in shaping a theology of mental health in his ThM research. Daniel is adjunct faculty at Regent College; member of the International Initiative for Mental Health Leadership; committee member of the International Network on Theology and Mental Health; and advisory group member for the Centre of Spirituality, Health, and Disability.

Dan says:

Having spent ten years in full-time vocational church ministry, I know the levels of brokenness that a community carries, often in secret, and I have witnessed firsthand the good, the bad, and the ugly approaches to mental health. Thus I have personally felt the great need for this ministry, and I can personally attest to the challenges of leading at times when my own mental health was poor. It is undoubtedly these firsthand experiences, including walking with many friends and family members through debilitating mental health struggles, that have caused me to see the value and power of Sanctuary’s work.

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Corin Pilling - National Director, UK

Corin joins Sanctuary after having spent the majority of his career working with people experiencing homelessness, leading Livability's work with churches, and developing training and resources to build an inclusive church. Corin is delighted to build on an existing partnership with Sanctuary to support the UK church in its growing response to mental health.

Corin says:

In twenty years working with homeless people and eighteen years as part of a diverse church based on an estate in central London, I've seen the impact of poor mental health on communities. Yet in these settings, I've seen the positive impact when each group has chosen to prioritize mental health and wellbeing. It leads to stronger communities which reflect the love of God, which in turn offers freedom for everybody to bring their gifts. I'm excited for the future of Sanctuary's work in the UK and building on the partnerships we've already established. I believe now is the time for the church to move from awareness to action and Sanctuary is here to support this journey.

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Krista Ewert- Interim Director, Operations; Director, Engagement

Krista Ewert has a background in finance and non-profit management, primarily in the areas of marketing and communications including at the Church of England and Alpha Canada, as well as over fifteen years of ministry experience. She is passionate about helping people see themselves as God sees them, especially those on the margins and equipping and empowering the Church to create a safe and welcoming space for all.

Krista says:

Throughout my life and even today, as I live alongside refugee claimants and raise my daughter with Down syndrome, God has called me to journey alongside those who don't quite fit the "typical" social construct. When I was first introduced to the work of Sanctuary, I was immediately drawn to the organization because often, individuals who experience mental health challenges are also stigmatized. More than ever, the world needs to hear the message that God loves us and that we are made in his image. When we find ourselves on the margins because of stigma, social expectations, or for other reasons, we also discover that the margins are where Jesus can be found.

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Michelle Furumori - Director, Operations

Michelle studied commerce and practices hospitality. She has served in non-profit management, private sector analytics and operations, and church communications. Michelle is currently on maternity leave.

Michelle says:

Through mental health seasons when family, friends or I have felt like sinking, I have heard the need for the Church to echo poet Kelsey Savage: "I have grown to be the safe harbour she returns to, the island fluent in holding steady as those I love weather the heavy work of seeking and breaking and shining. I know best how to be solid ground for residual waves in the limbs."

Kate Dewhurst - Director, Programs

Kate has an academic background in International Development Studies and English Literature, and has worked as a teacher, pastor, manager, and writer. She finds the common threads of social justice and community development woven through the many roles she has filled and is inspired by the ways church communities can become even more loving places of belonging and hope.

Kate says:

I'm a pastor’s kid who has worked in pastoral ministry, and through the years, I've participated in many different Christian denominations. Within these environments, I've experienced the powerful ways God works in community to bring support, care, healing, wholeness, and transformation. Also at times, through a lack of mental health awareness and understanding, I've witnessed further marginalization of persons living with mental health issues. A couple of years ago, I attended a Sanctuary seminar and was impacted by the stories of people with lived experience and their insights into how churches and parishes could better support their recovery journeys. I wanted to be part of an organization that elevates these voices and their life-wisdom.

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Markku Kostamo, MSc - Director, Development

Markku has served as an executive in the non-profit sector for over twenty years and is passionate about seeing organizations grow and develop in executing their mission and impact. To enable this, Markku takes an entrepreneurial and relational approach to revenue generation and partnerships.

Markku says:

I first engaged with Sanctuary Mental Health as a volunteer after being diagnosed with bipolar 1 disorder a few years ago. This work is so critical and timely. I love what Sanctuary does. It is a huge privilege for me now to serve with Sanctuary and help the organization have a broader impact on mental wellness. I love having coffee—please email or call me if you would like to get together!

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Leslie Roberts, MA - Director, Communications

Leslie has a bachelor’s degree in marketing and has worked in advertising, television production, and as the Communications Director for a church in Texas. In her time working at the church, she realized one of the biggest needs in the church is for education, awareness, and care for people living with mental health challenges. Following her ministry experience, Leslie earned a master's degree at Regent College in Vancouver.

Leslie says:

Working in ministry, I developed a strong conviction that communicating well is a way of loving people well. I also saw a deep need for equipping leadership for better mental health care in the church. So when I moved to Vancouver in 2018 to begin studying at Regent College, one of the first classes I took was Mental Health & The Church. I got connected to Sanctuary and loved their vision for supporting the Church in learning how to communicate about and care for people with mental health challenges.

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Melodie Reinders - Operations Manager

Melodie has an academic background in theology and mental health and has worked in ministry with various church and parachurch organizations over the last decade. She has also worked as a freelance bookkeeper and payroll administrator. She is grateful for the opportunity to bring her desire for the Church to be a place of safety for people to experience their mental health journeys and her love for good systems and processes together in this work at Sanctuary.

Melodie says:

I learned about Sanctuary from a friend of mine and was so excited to see the way that Sanctuary brings together theological reflection, clinical expertise, and lived experience to dialogue about mental health and faith. This is such important work! Having my own lived experience with mental health as both a pastor and a lay person in the Church, I am thrilled to be part of Sanctuary’s mission to equip faith communities to be places of compassion, empathy, and safety for all.

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Jane Born, MDiv - Resource Development Manager

Jane has been involved in ministry for over a decade, volunteering as a youth leader and Sunday school teacher at various churches, and spending six years on staff at the International House of Prayer. She has designed curriculum for several mission organizations, and recently completed graduate theological studies with an emphasis on mental health and spirituality at Regent College.

Jane says:

The years I spent in pastoral ministry convinced me of the desperate need for mental health education within the church. Too often I saw hurting individuals offered counseling perspectives that neglected spirituality and theological perspectives that dismissed psychology. My search for integrative resources and ministry approaches ultimately led me to Sanctuary. Through the work of this organization I have received personal restoration and discovered an alternative ministry model that offers hope to people of faith experiencing mental health challenges.

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Lizzy Ojo Martens - Communications Manager

Lizzy holds a Bachelor of Commerce with a specialization in Marketing. She has worked in marketing/communications for several start-ups and non-profit organizations. Prior to joining Sanctuary, she worked in sales and frontline management at a large food and beverage CPG company. She also brings volunteer experience in campus and kids ministry.

Lizzy says:

I first heard about Sanctuary from Michelle, the Director of Operations. Sanctuary’s need for another communications person coincided with a need for more purpose-driven work in my life. I have personally experienced the consequences of a church ill-equipped to support those facing mental health challenges and so I support Sanctuary’s mission whole-heartedly. Now is an incredible time to be at the forefront of this space and I couldn’t be more excited to help in making the Church a more inclusive and loving place.

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Bryana Russell, MATS - Engagement Manager

Bryana has worked as a consultant, speaker, and connector in the non-profit sector, including church ministries, for the past two decades. She has developed curriculums, established youth programs, and grown an international medical institute. Fostering her love of art, her most recent role was as a gallery curator. Her undergraduate work focused on International Studies, and she holds a Masters of Theological Studies. Throughout her roles, Bryana’s passion remains a genuine love of people, their stories and the ability to connect. Bryana is currently on maternity leave.

Bryana says:

A few years ago, I met with Daniel through an act of networking. At the time I was deeply ensconced in a tech project relating to mental health and adolescent women. When he finished telling me about Sanctuary, I responded without missing a beat, “Please let me know when you’re hiring.” Within the Church, I have long witnessed the alienation and isolation persons living with mental health challenges can experience. I truly believe that Sanctuary creates incomparable resources. They generate more space, and new freedom, to better hear, accompany and love those living with mental health challenges. As a result of Sanctuary’s work, I find myself increasingly attentive to the lived experiences of those around me and further equipped to speak into conversations about faith and mental health. I am profoundly grateful to have joined the Sanctuary team.

Nathan Bender - Data Systems Manager

Nathan has worked in the non-profit and higher education sectors for over ten years in various managerial and database administration roles. He enjoys setting up systems and creating processes to make work easier and more efficient. He has degrees in Intercultural Studies and Theatre, as well as a diploma in Christian Studies from Regent College.

Nathan says:

I have been involved with Sanctuary for many years through my wife Kate. Through volunteering at many events over the years as well as running and participating in The Sanctuary Course, I have seen and experienced the benefits of having a conversation about faith and mental health. It is great to be a part of an organization that seeks to bring people together to talk about an issue that so many in faith communities struggle with alone.

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Sean Dykink - Film Producer

Sean is a filmmaker with over ten years of experience in studio and freelance roles. For the past five years, he has produced a variety of work with his company GUUDi Media for corporate and non-profit clients. When he has some spare time you can find him creating online classes and low or no budget creative projects.

Sean says:

I first learned about Sanctuary Ministries after filming an interview with Dan Whitehead at Regent College. Interested in what he had to say and having heard that he was looking to create films for Sanctuary, I was compelled to eventually share my own story. I expressed interest in helping create videos for Sanctuary's first mental health course as it touched a nerve in my own lived experience. I’ve always felt a great pull to help those vulnerable to mental health challenges, as I had experienced immense healing from those who have been supportive of me when experiencing my own. I’m extremely grateful to have found further recovery in my own life and feel hopeful that through Sanctuary's work we can be part of others' recovery journeys as well.

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Amy Deutscher, MC - Youth Resource Developer

Amy has a passion for seeing young people thrive and has been working alongside them voluntarily and in paid positions for close to fifteen years! She also holds a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology, a Masters of Social Health and Counselling and a Masters of Theological Studies (Applied Theology). While working as a youth minister in Sydney, she developed training for youth groups and the broader church around how to understand mental health theologically and how to practically support one another.

Amy says:

When I was in high school, mental health was barely mentioned but I was passionate about making sure all people felt seen and heard, whatever they were going through. Today I’m still passionate about that and pray that God would use the work of my hands to let many young people know that if they’re living with a mental health challenge God loves them, they’re not alone, and there is hope.

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Adam Mountstevens - Graphic Designer

Adam has studied graphic design and has worked in the non-profit industry for over five years. Originally from the UK, he moved to Canada as a teen and started playing guitar in the local music scene while honing his design skills making merchandise and marketing materials. Eventually Adam attended school and moved into graphic design full-time.

Adam says:

I came to learn about the life-saving work Sanctuary does through my worship leader at church. Working in the Downtown Eastside in Vancouver for the last five years has really highlighted for me the intense need for increased and continual mental health supports. When the opportunity arose for me to be a part of the Sanctuary team, I jumped in with both feet, and I am so glad to be here.

Chelsea Evans, BBA - Grant Writer, US

Chelsea has a bachelor’s in business administration with a focus on marketing. For over ten years, Chelsea has been serving US-based non-profits in a variety of roles: outcomes management, government compliance, marketing, development, grant writing, and more. The majority of the non-profits she has worked with have a focus on serving individuals and families experiencing poverty and homelessness.

Chelsea says:

Sanctuary has been in a season of rapid growth, and thankfully for me, they were searching for a US-based grant writer. I am really grateful to be a part of this team and have witnessed firsthand the incredible need Sanctuary is meeting through their resources. I have personally lost loved ones to suicide and have close relationships with people who live with diagnosed mental illness. I am excited to see the Church begin to address mental health from a place of openness, understanding, and compassion.

Shauna Kostamo - Grant Writer, Canada

Shauna is a Trinity Western University graduate, whose background is in teaching and tutoring with a specialty in Teaching English to Students of Other Languages. She loves engaging with people from other cultures and has traveled broadly. Though her background is in ESL teaching, she has more recently added academic editing and grant writing to her work experience.

Shauna says:

I came to Sanctuary through my brother-in-law, Markku, who had amazing things to say about the organization. He saw the potential of matching my love of the English language, writing skills and heart of empathy with a position that Sanctuary was growing in: grant writing. I have come to appreciate firsthand, not only the beautiful work Sanctuary does and the compassionate vision it has, but also its team of amazing individuals who believe in and care for the people they work with and for so deeply. The more I come to know the heartbeat of Sanctuary, the more I am humbled and blessed to be able to write grants which might turn into helping more people on their mental health journeys.

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Nicole Mah - Administrator and Project Coordinator

Nicole has a degree in health sciences and before coming to Sanctuary she worked in front-line roles in healthcare and non-profits. Nicole has also consistently enjoyed volunteering and working in a variety of children, youth and women’s ministries.

Nicole says:

Over the duration of the time I have been involved in ministry, I have repeatedly encountered the need for an educated, compassionate response from the Church towards mental health topics. I saw the painful effects of times when the response was not done well and the beauty of when it has been. Michelle introduced me to Sanctuary and the vision to support the Church in learning to care for people experiencing mental health challenges well. I am so excited that I now get to join with Sanctuary’s work and vision.

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Regula Winzeler - Executive Assistant and Translations Coordinator

Regula holds a bachelor’s degree in education and a master’s degree in theology. Prior to coming to Sanctuary, she worked as a teacher in both Switzerland and Canada teaching both primary and secondary students in second languages including French and German. She also has experience working in graduate theological education as well as in church-related work.

Regula says:

I am deeply passionate about building healthy communities and I see people of faith and places of worship as integral in this vision. My theological education coupled with being an educator at my core has increased my desire to participate in providing the global Church a robust yet accessible framework and language around mental health and faith that facilitate spaces where all people can be safe, experience healing, and contribute meaningfully; namely building flourishing faith communities.

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Nicole Janz - Development Coordinator

Nicole is a highly relational person with experience in major gift fundraising, development processes, higher education student recruitment, and student experience. She holds an M.A. in Theological Studies (Spiritual Theology) from Regent College. Nicole enjoys meaningful connection with people over important matters (like mental health!) and gets a kick out of organizing systems, folders, and processes.

Nicole says:

I heard about Sanctuary Mental Health Ministries while studying and working at Regent College. I knew immediately that Sanctuary was (and is) meeting a need in a unique way. This was affirmed when I recently facilitated The Sanctuary Course in my church life group. A group member realized for the first time that most people have their own lived experience of mental health challenges or know someone who does. She said, “Why are we all so quiet about it when we’re all dealing with it?” The Sanctuary Course provides a context for people to share, be heard, and learn together. I’m grateful to be part of the team.

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Maddie Garcia, MA - Social Media and Content Specialist

Maddie holds a Bachelor of Arts in Communications and has worked as a social media manager and digital marketer in ministry settings for over five years. In her Masters of Communications, Maddie researched marketing best practices for non-profit organizations with a special focus on campus ministries. Through her experience as an online mentor for teens and young adults, she learned the importance of loving others through listening.

Maddie says:

I participated in the Sanctuary Course through my previous workplace and found the approach so refreshing, helpful, and kind. In recent years, friends would confide in me about challenges in their lives that were impacting their mental health, and I didn’t always know how to respond. I just knew I wanted to be a supportive and compassionate friend. What Sanctuary does is so critical in helping us learn how to talk about mental health and walk alongside others who are working through hard things, particularly in faith communities. I was searching for a communications role in the field of mental health, and this job sounded like a perfect fit! I am honored to now be a part of Sanctuary’s work.

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