Board of Directors Team
The Forward House Board of Directors is made up of a dedicated group of volunteers with a wide range of professional and life experience. Their combined expertise and passionate commitment to community service and to Forward House makes them an awesome team!
Janet Walker - President
Island born (Port Alberni), Janet comes to us with a healthcare background. She was a manager and an administrator in cancer care as well as an adjunct professor. Her other Board experience centered around non-profit community services. In her spare time, Janet can be found practicing for her piano lesson, catching fish, or digging in her garden in Nanoose.
Marianne O’Brien - Treasurer
Marianne came to the Board of Forward House after retiring from Island Health. As a community mental health outreach nurse, Marianne brings a deep understanding of the realities people with mental health and addiction challenges face. Still learning and giving, Marianne is active in healing practices in the community. She lives in Parksville with her husband John and their labradoodle Jack. Their combined total of nine grandchildren ensure lots of joy in their life.
Wanda Brown - Vice President
Wanda has lived on Vancouver Island for 23 years and loves it. For many years, she applied her history and rehabilitation education to vocational rehabilitation and employment services in Nanaimo. Now retired, Wanda shares those skills and more with Forward House. She believes strongly that we are here to support the staff and volunteers for everything they give to our clients. In her free time, Wanda happily grapples with jigsaw puzzles and mystery novels.
Mary Parkinson - Secretary
Mary has a long professional background in airline and other industries, and has always had a deep commitment to volunteerism. She began serving her community when she was a teenager and continues to this day. Following in the footsteps of her late sister, Carol, who founded Forward House, Mary lives and represents the philosophy, the heart and the history of this organization. A cancer survivor, Mary makes the most of her free time dog walking, gardening and enjoying classic films.
Phil Dwyer - Director at Large
A Member of the Order of Canada (2013), Phil devotes his time to a love of music, the practice of law and a commitment to advocating in the area of mental health and addictions. He has worked in this field in Toronto and has been a past volunteer with Forward House. His work-life balance includes organic vegetable gardening at his home in Qualicum Beach and the occasional fishing trip to Bamfield.
Marilyn St. Clair - Director at Large
Marilyn brings her many years of experience working in a wide variety of human resource contexts. Currently the Island Regional Work Experience & Alumnus Services Director at Discovery College, she has also worked as a Family Service Consultant, advocated for seniors, and worked in healthcare, tourism, and job creation. After twenty years living in the U.S., Marilyn returned to Canada in 2014 and resides in Nanoose Bay. She spends her spare time driving up and down the Island with her trusty companion “Tucker” and enjoying the beautiful Northwest.
Dale Partridge - Director at Large
With a lifetime career in Communications and lived experience with mental health challenges, our newest Board member has much to offer. Dale received his diagnosis late in life, and suddenly a lot of things made sense. He was able to get the support he needed to manage his challenges and overcome stigma, and he brings his great compassion and understanding to Forward House. He is proud to have won the crown as ‘TOPS’ King of BC (Take Off Pounds Sensibly) for 2018 by losing 70 lbs.
Sharon Welch - Executive Director
Sharon is committed to lifelong learning and helping others. Her career has included music instruction, employment services, human resources, and management. She joined the Forward House team in 2014 and was tasked with the overall leadership of the organization. Sharon loves diverse challenges, and you’ll often find her working on everything from staff development to community outreach and grant writing. If Sharon isn't at Forward House, it’s probably because she’s out on the water enjoying everything coastal living has to offer.