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 Ludgate is the senior manager of community investment for Vancity Credit Union and sessional instructor at BCIT for sustainable business. She 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. Catherine currently serves on the City of Vancouver’s Poverty Advisory Action Group, the Living Wage National Community of 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 Masters in Management Co-ops and Credit Unions from St Mary's University.

Sarah Louise Brownlee

Sarah Brownlee is currently in Administration and Marketing for the PropertyGuys.com in West Kootenays and in Administration for the Castlegar United Church, having previously been involved with managing a lower income housing complex. Modelling community engagement for her children, she is on the boards of the Kootenay Family Place, the Castlegar and District Library (Secretary) and teaches Sunday School at the Castlegar United Church. Sarah is actively involved in reconciliation within the Indigenous and LGBTQ2S communities. She 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 Casimer is a citizen of the Ktunaza Nation. She is a long-standing advocate for First Nations issues and perspectives and is committed to building better bridges of understanding between neighbouring cultures. Cheryl 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. She 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. Cheryl 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.

Zahra Esmail

Zahra Esmail is currently the Executive Director of the South Vancouver Neighbourhood House. She has worked in Asia, Latin America, Africa and the Caribbean to ensure that vulnerable people are actively engaged in the development of their own communities. Zahra has learned the importance of local leadership to implement programs effectively. She has a Masters in Globalization and International Development from the University of Ottawa.

Murry Russel Krause

Murry Krause 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. He retired, as Executive Director, after 22 years with the Central Interior Native Health Society, an interdisciplinary primary health care clinic in downtown Prince George.  Murray is currently a councillor with the City of Prince George, a director of the Regional District Fraser Fort George, Past President of the Union of BC Municipalities and Chair of the Regional Hospital District Board. 

Rosanna May McGregor

Rosanna McGregor 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. She is also involved in the Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder Advisory Committee and the Human Service Worker Advisory for Thompson Rivers University. Rosanna 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 Mills is the CEO of Mills Printing and Stationary. He is actively involved in his community as Chair of the 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 the Downtown Eastside that provides occupational and life skills training to residents of the community that 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 Montani 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 organizations on the issues of cross-cultural awareness and racism, women’s right and the impacts of social exclusion on the health and well-being of children and youth in low-income families. She is on the board of the Community Legal Assistance Society, the Institute for Public Education BC and is an honorary lifetime member of the Federation of Community Social Services of BC. She was previously the Executive Director of Surrey Delta Immigrant Services Society and Big Sisters of BC Lower Mainland. Adrienne holds a Bachelors in Asian Studies (Honours) from York University and a Masters in Adult Education from Simon Fraser University.

Tabitha Anne Naismith

Tabitha is currently the Newton Chair for the 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 Poverty Reduction Advisory Forum.  

Krishna Murthy Pendakur

Krishna Pendakur is a Professor at Simon Fraser University. She 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 SFU Faculty Association (vice president and treasurer). She has a bachelor’s and a master’s degree from the University of British Columbia and a doctoral degree from the University of California Berkeley.

Lissa Dawn Smith

Lissa Smith is the elected Vice-President for the Metis Nation of BC where she is Minister Responsible for Metis Rights, Justice and Metis Veterans, previous portfolios include Child and Families and Health. She previously worked as a social worker for First Nations Bands and understands the complex socio-economic dynamics of intergenerational trauma that affect Aboriginal people today. Active in her community, Lisa 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 from the University of Victoria.

Stephanie Rosina Smith

Stephanie Smith 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. She holds an Early Childhood Education Degree from Palmerston North Teachers' College.

Caitlin 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, also 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. She is pursuing a Bachelor of Social Work at the University of Victoria.