Poverty Reduction Advisory Committee

The Poverty Reduction Advisory Committee was appointed on March 18, 2019. The independent committee will advise government on policy developments related to poverty reduction and prevention, as legislated in the Poverty Reduction Strategy Act.


The 13-member committee includes advocates, stakeholders and people with lived experience with poverty.

Catherine Anne Ludgate (chair)

Catherine is the senior manager of community investment for Vancity Credit Union and a sessional instructor for sustainable business at BCIT. Catherine provides support to and participates in partnerships dedicated to social justice and financial inclusion such as microfinance and educational programs to ensure individuals have the knowledge, skills and confidence to make the right financial decisions for themselves. She is currently serves on the City of Vancouver’s Poverty Advisory Action Group, the Living Wage national community and practice, the Asset Building and Learning Exchange, the Living Wage for Families Campaign and is a trustee of the BC Real Estate Council. She was previously involved with the federal Advisory Committee on Poverty Reduction and the BC Poverty Advisory Forum. Catherine holds a bachelor's degree from Simon Fraser University, a diploma in legal studies from Capilano College, a certificate in non-profit management from Simon Fraser University, and a master’s degree in management of co-ops and credit unions from St Mary's University.

Sarah Louise Brownlee

Sarah is currently working in administration and marketing for PropertyGuys.com in the West Kootenays and for the Castlegar United Church. Her previous experiences include managing a low income housing complex. Modelling community engagement for her children, Sarah is on the boards of the Kootenay Family Place, the Castlegar and District Library (secretary) and is a Sunday school teacher at the Castlegar United Church. She is actively involved in reconciliation within the Indigenous and LGBTQ2S communities. Sarah holds a bachelor of fine arts in ceramics from the Alberta College of Art and Design as well as a travel and tourism diploma from CDI College.

Cheryl Casimer

Cheryl is a citizen of the Ktunaxa Nation. She is a long-standing advocate for First Nations issues and perspectives and is committed to building better bridges of understanding between neighouring cultures. She is a former chief and councillor of the ?aq̓am First Nation and was previously the director of treaty, lands and resources for the Ktunaxa Treaty Council. Cheryl is active in her community, serving on numerous boards including the First Nations Summit (co-chair), the BC Assembly of First Nations, and Ktunaxa Kinbasket Child and Family Services Society. She is on the First Nations Summit Task Group, mandated to carry out specific tasks related to Aboriginal Title and Rights negotiations with B.C. and Canada. Cheryl also served on the Minister’s Advisory Forum on Poverty Reduction.

Zahra Esmail

Zahra is currently the executive director of the South Vancouver Neighbourhood House and Marpole Neighbourhood House, and a board member of the Lookout Foundation. Prior to joining the neighbourhood house movement, Zahra worked as general manager at Eva’s Phoenix, a transitional shelter and training program for homeless and at-risk youth and as program manager with Street Kids International, both based in Toronto. She has worked in Asia, Latin America, Africa and the Caribbean to ensure that people are actively engaged in the development of their own communities. Throughout her career, Zahra has learned the importance of local leadership and the value of designing and implementing sustainable programs that are relevant. She holds a master’s degree in globalization and international development from the University of Ottawa, with a specialty in microfinance programs for rural women.

Murry Russel Krause

Murry has been involved in various non-profit sector management positions focused on issues such as social justice, health care, poverty, homelessness, racism culture and heritage. Murry served as executive director with the Central Interior Native Health Society, an interdisciplinary primary health care clinic in downtown Prince George, before retiring after 22 years.  He is currently a councillor with the City of Prince George, and he also sits as a director of the Regional District Fraser Fort George. Murry is past president of the Union of BC Municipalities and chair of the Regional Hospital District Board. He also served on the Minister’s Advisory Forum on Poverty Reduction.

Rosanna May McGregor

Rosanna is the executive director for the Cariboo Friendship Society in Williams Lake. She has numerous years of experience with contract management and economic development through the programs run by the Friendship Centre. Rosanna participates on many community boards including the Social Planning Council of Williams Lake, Williams Lake Social Housing Society (chair), Aboriginal Housing Management Association (committee chair), and BC Association of Aboriginal Friendship Centres. Rosanna served on the Minister’s Advisory Forum on Poverty Reduction and she is also involved in the Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder Advisory Committee as well as the Human Service Worker Advisory Council for Thompson Rivers University. She holds a business administration diploma from the Fraser Valley College and a micro computer accounting certificate from Thompson Rivers University. Knucwente kuc es yegweyegwt.s-kuc Help us be Strong.

Bradley (Brad) Donald Mills

Brad is the chief executive officer of Mills Printing and Stationery. He is actively involved in his community as chair of Basics Office Products and as chair for H.A.V.E Café. H.A.V.E is a social enterprise operating as a culinary training society and restaurant in Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside that provides occupational and life skills training to residents of the community who are excluded from work due to poverty, homelessness, addiction or mental and physical disabilities. Brad was previously a board member for Dress for Success, an organization that supports women to make lasting change in their lives and the lives of their children.

Adrienne Marie Montani

Adrienne is the provincial coordinator for First Call: BC Child & Youth Advocacy Coalition. She was the chairperson of the Vancouver School Board during her tenure as an elected school trustee. Adrienne has worked with many organisations on the issues of cross-cultural awareness and racism, women’s rights and the impacts of social exclusion on the health and well-being of children and youth in low-income families. Adrienne is on the board of the Community Legal Assistance Society, the Institute for Public Education BC and is an honourary lifetime member of the Federation of Community Social Services of BC. She previously held positions as the executive director of the Surrey Delta Immigrant Services Society and of the Big Sisters of BC, Lower Mainland division. Adrienne holds a bachelor’s degree in Asian studies (honours) from York University and a master’s degree in adult education from Simon Fraser University.

Tabitha Anne Naismith

Tabitha is currently the Newton chair for BC ACORN as well as the secretary on the National Board for ACORN Canada. She has been involved in campaigns for ending the child support claw back for single parents on income assistance and raising the rates for individuals who possess a bus pass. Tabitha was a member of the BC Minister’s Poverty Reduction Advisory Forum.

Krishna Murthy Pendakur

Krishna is a professor at Simon Fraser University. He studies the statistical and econometric issues related to the measurement of economic discrimination, inequality and poverty, including work with visible minorities and Indigenous peoples. Krishna is a member of the Simon Fraser University Faculty Association (vice president and treasurer). Krisha holds a bachelor’s and master’s degrees from the University of British Columbia, and a PhD from the University of California Berkeley.

Lissa Dawn Smith

Lissa is the elected vice-president for the Métis Nation of BC where she is minister responsible for Métis rights, justice and Métis veterans. Her previous portfolios include child and families and health. She previously worked as a social worker for many First Nations bands and understands the complex socio-economic dynamics of intergenerational trauma that affect Aboriginal people today. Active in her community, Lissa is on the board of the Aboriginal Coalition to End Homelessness. She holds a human service diploma from Vancouver Island University and a bachelor of social work degree from the University of Victoria. Lissa also served on the Minister’s Advisory Forum on Poverty Reduction.

Stephanie Rosina Smith

Stephanie is the first female elected as president of the BC Government and Service Employees' Union. She was previously an early childhood educator and is an advocate for worker rights, young workers and equity groups. She has been active in her community as a member of the United Way Success by Six and Coalition of Child Care Advocates of BC. Stephanie holds an early childhood education degree from Palmerston North Teachers' College and she also served on the Minister’s Advisory Forum on Poverty Reduction.

Caitlin Ashley Lind Wright

Caitlin currently works at Together Against Poverty Society (TAPS) as office coordinator and a legal advocate. She was first drawn to working in the anti-poverty sector through her work as a volunteer disability advocate and at TAPS. Caitlin is honoured to bring both her lived and professional experiences to the volunteer work she undertakes including the important work of substantially reducing social and economic inequality and inequity in our province. Caitlin was born with a physical disability and uses a wheelchair for mobility; in addition, she has lived experiences with mental health disorders. Caitlin is pursuing a bachelor's of social work degree at the University of Victoria.