|Executive Director||Kathleen Cunningham|
|National Director, CCEL||Krista James|
|Staff Lawyer||Gregory Blue, Q.C.|
|Staff Lawyer||Kevin Zakreski|
|Staff Lawyer||Valerie Le Blanc|
|Research Lawyer||Maria Sokolova|
|Social Media Coordinator||Bénédicte Schoepflin|
|Legal Assistant||Shauna Nicholson|
|Legal Research Assistant||Sara Pon|
BCLI and CCEL Staff
||Kathleen Cunningham, B.Comm, LLB, MPS, TEP
Kathleen Cunningham joined the British Columbia Law Institute as the Executive Director in June 2015. She received her Bachelor of Commerce (1984) and LL.B. (1985) from the University of British Columbia and was called to the Bar of the Law Society of British Columbia in 1986 following articles at CP Limited in Vancouver, BC. She holds a Masters in Policy Studies from the University of New South Wales (2009) and a graduate diploma in Social Innovation from the University of Waterloo (2013).
From 1988 to 2008 Kathleen served in various capacities with RBC Wealth Management including Director of Policy and Risk Management for Royal Trust Corporation of Canada. While serving at the office of the Public Guardian and Trustee of British Columbia from 2010 – 2015 she assisted with implementation of personal planning and guardianship legislation and projects addressing the financial abuse of vulnerable adults. A past member of the BCLI Board and treasurer, she was also a member of the BC Law Institute Committees on the Modernization of the Trustee Act and Recommended Practices for Wills Practitioners Relating to Undue Influence.
Ms Cunningham is a member of the Society of Trust and Estate Practitioners (STEP) Worldwide Council and the Canadian Bar Association BC Branch Elder Law executive. She is the past co-chair of the BC Association of Community Response Networks and is a frequent contributor to education and conference programs. In her spare time she enjoys travel, the outdoors and local arts and culture.
|Gregory G. Blue, Q.C.
Senior Staff Lawyer
Greg Blue holds a B.A. (Hons.) from the University of Saskatchewan, an LL.B. from the University of Victoria, and an LL.M. from the University of Toronto. He was called to the Saskatchewan Bar in 1981 and to the BC Bar in 1986.
He articled and practised law with MacPherson, Leslie & Tyerman in Regina, Sask. 1980-82, then served in the Constitutional Law Branch, Ministry of Justice (Sask.) and as departmental solicitor to the Department of Energy and Mines (Sask.) 1982-87. Following this, he practised law with Halyk Brent Dovell in Saskatoon, Sask. from 1987-89.
He was a Legal Research Officer to the Law Reform Commission of British Columbia from 1989-1997 and later practised maritime law with McEwen, Schmitt & Co., Vancouver from 1997-2003.
Greg Blue was the principal staff lawyer responsible for the Succession Law Reform Project, the Probate Rules Reform project, the Report on the Privacy Act and numerous other projects. He also served as reporter to the Trustee Act Modernization Committee. He was a Co-Chair of the CBABC Legislation and Law Reform Committee in 1997-98 and its Chair in 1998-99. He is the author of the Annotated British Columbia Mineral Tenure Act (Vancouver: Western Legal Publications, 1998 and Aurora: Canada Law Book, 2nd ed. 2010.). He was appointed Queen’s Counsel in 2009.
Kevin Zakreski grew up in Saskatoon and moved to Vancouver to attend law school. He graduated from UBC Law School and was called to the BC Bar in 2001. He articled and practised with Chow and Company in downtown Vancouver in the area of corporate/commercial law. He then joined the BC Law Institute in 2003 as a staff lawyer.Kevin has worked on a number of law reform projects for both the BCLI and the Canadian Centre for Elder Law. These projects address topics in the law of real property, contracts, not-for-profit organizations, and evidence, as well as wills-and-estates law and family law. Kevin has also participated in a number of projects with the Uniform Law Conference of Canada. In his spare time, he is an avid marathon runner.
National Director of the Canadian Centre for Elder Law, Staff Lawyer
Krista’s work is focused on legal and policy issues related to aging. Her practice includes legal research, policy analysis and public legal education, involving stakeholders from diverse sectors including health care, labour, finance and justice. She has written on topics such as elder abuse, mental capacity, age discrimination, and caregiving policy. Krista is interested in how gender and other aspects of identity impact aging. She encourages approaches to aging policy that recognize the citizenship rights of older people and reject systemic ageism.
Krista James graduated from UBC Law School in 1997 and was called to the BC Bar in 1998. Before joining the CCEL Krista practiced labour law with a focus on human rights and disability issues. Over the years Krista has worked with women’s centres and various non-profit community organizations serving low-income people in BC. She also volunteered and worked as a legal advocate for many years.
In 2004 Krista took a break from law and studied fine art, film and video at Emily Carr University. Krista is a crafter, gardener, yogini and mother.
|Valerie Le Blanc, LL.B.
Valerie Le Blanc first joined the British Columbia Law Institute as a research lawyer in November 2016. She moved into the role of staff lawyer in April 2018. Valerie holds a B.A. from the University of Toronto (2006), and LL.B. from the University of Victoria (2010). She was called to the BC Bar in 2012.
As a graduate of the UVic Faculty of Law Co-op Program, Valerie worked on public legal education, legal research, law reform, and legal advocacy during her studies. She volunteered as an advocate for the Together Against Poverty Society (2006–2009), and conducted high school outreach presentations with the Faculty of Law—Law 4 All program (2007–2010). Her academic success and commitment to social justice earned her the Ann Robert’s Humanitarian Award (University of Victoria, Faculty of Law—2009).
Upon graduation, Valerie joined the Systemic Investigations Team at the Office of the Ombudsperson (2010-2011), providing legal research, policy analysis and drafting assistance on The Best of Care: Getting it Right for Seniors in British Columbia (Part 2) report, published February 2012. Valerie then articled and practised at a boutique civil litigation firm in employment, human rights and immigration law (2011-2013). Prior to joining BCLI, Valerie worked for the provincial government, advising on labour and employment matters, and workplace investigations.
Valerie was the lead researcher and writer of BCLI’s Study Paper on Financing Litigation, published October 2017. She also participated as a BC delegate at the 2017 Uniform Law Conference of Canada for the BCLI’s Uniform Vital Statistics Act Project. In her spare time, Valerie enjoys spending time with her family, travel, knitting, and cooking.
Maria joined the British Columbia Law Institute as a research lawyer in May 2019. She graduated with a Juris Doctor (JD) from UBC in 2011. She also holds a Licentiate in Civil Law (LL.L.) and a Master of Laws (LL.M.)
Maria articled with the appeals department of the Legal Services Society of BC (legal aid). She has also worked and volunteered with a number of non-profit organizations. She has worked as a researcher on a number of projects, and with the courts. She was called to the BC bar in 2013.
Outside of work, Maria has been a member of a local Russian community theatre for 20 years.
Social Media Coordinator
Bénédicte has been managing BCLI’s social media channels part-time since July 2016. The rest of the time, Bénédicte is the Coordinator of the Canadian Network for the Prevention of Elder Abuse and manages the CNPEA’s Knowledge Sharing Hub (www.cnpea.ca).
Bénédicte holds a Master’s degree in English Literature from the University of Poitiers, France. Past professional experiences run the gamut from language instruction to talent acquisition and museum management. These experiences contributed to her appreciation of the bonds that connect us — linguistic, historical or generational — and of the importance of protecting and championing them. Joining a team that embraces fair and modern laws and social justice seemed like the next logical step.
In her spare time, Bénédicte will likely be far away from smartphones and computers, purposefully lost, possibly in a foreign country. Don’t worry, it’s all part of the plan.
Shauna joined the British Columbia Law Institute in October 2018.
She earned her degree in law from Letterkenny IT, located in Ireland. Shauna moved to Canada from Ireland in 2015 and has made Vancouver her home.
In her spare time, Shauna likes to balance isolation and socialising so can either be found wandering in a forest or listening to live music with friends.
Legal research assistant
Sara completed her master’s degree in law at York University in 2018 and obtained her JD from the University of Victoria.
During her undergraduate degree, she did a minor in Gerontology. Throughout law school, Sara focused her research and writing on health care and older adults, including researching the laws surrounding restraint use in older adults in BC and Ontario, pension supports for caregivers of the elderly, and patient comprehension in the context of informed consent.
Thanks to our previous staff, volunteers, researchers and articling students.
Aimee King, Alexander Blondin, Allison Curley, Andrea Clarke, Andrea Hagen, Andrew McIntosh, Anya Paskovic, Brandan Brammall, Brandi Stocks, Caily DiPuma, Carolina Rodrigues, Caroline Berkey, Carolyn Laws, Christopher Bettencourt, Ciaran Aiken, Cindy Cheuk, Dana Kripp, David McClelland, David Mount, Deborah Cumberford, Denise Beaton, Elaine Vale, Elizabeth Pinsent, Emily Amirkhani, Emma Butt, Eric Hou, Esther Robson, Grace Loh, Greg Stich, Gurinder Cheema, Heather Campbell, Heather Tennenhouse, Holly Popenia, Isabelle Groc, Jeffrey Bryant, Jenya Hammond, Jesse Gelber, Jessica Magalios, John Richardson, Jordan Laporte, Julia Cameron, Julie Lawrence, Kalila Wilkinson, Kirsten Wharton, Kisa Macdonald, Kristine Chew, Kristy Boyes, Leah Sandhu, Lisa Mackie, Lisa Weich, Lois Patterson, Maggie Knowlan, Malise Wong, Marcus Patz, Margaret Hall, Martin Bauer, May Lee, Megan Stewart, Michael Fulton, Michelle Stimac, Mike Barrenger, Nadja Rence, Patrick Aubert, Paula Burgerjon, Priscilla Chong, Rachel Kelly, Raissa Dickinson, Reiko West, Rob Allan, Samantha Weng, Sebastian Ennis, Sergio Ortega Huerta, Setareh Javadi, Sharon MacMillan, Talman Rodocker, Tanya Saito, Thai MacDonald, Tracy Lee, Valerie Vojnic, Wendy Harrison, Zachary Froese