Our Team

The Centre for Race and Culture’s highly educated, experienced and innovative team has decades of expertise helping organizations see the intrinsic value of living and working in a diverse environment. We work closely with clients to gain insights into cultural issues and find practical solutions for workplaces, teams and individuals. Our non-profit, non-denominational, non-partisan status means we’re committed to neutrality while building understanding across all cultures and all sectors.

Our staff and facilitators are a diverse and highly competent group from a range of sectors, including applied social science, education, international development, youth intervention, business, the arts, and health care.

Team Members

Vanessa de Koninck

Executive Director



(780) 425-4644

Vanessa has over 20 years’ experience in the complex arena of intercultural collaboration, community advocacy and engagement. She holds a BS, MA and PhD in Anthropology, all from campuses of the University of California. She has extensive experience working in international contexts, having worked for twelve years with Aboriginal people in the Northern Territory of Australia, and from four years as a rural community development volunteer in Papua New Guinea. Her work history spanning both public and non-profit settings, as well as formal training in dispute resolution and mediation, all contribute to her commitment to building equitable relationships in line with CFRAC’s vision and mission.

Kaitlin Lauridsen

Senior Consultant



(780) 425-4644

Kaitlin has worked with CFRAC since 2012 in different roles, when she was in the process of completing her Master’s degree in Public Health in the area of social inequities. She has experience not only in academic research, but also in on-the-ground facilitation and program development with community grassroots organizations.


Eugene Chok




(780) 425-4644

After completing his Bachelor of Business Administration degree at the Texas Tech University, Eugene immigrated to Canada in search of the good life and an opportunity to develop his skills in the field of accountancy. From 1980 to 2000, he worked as an accountant in both industry and government organizations. Along the way, he picked up a professional Accountancy Designation with the Certified General Accountant Association of Alberta. In 2000, he accepted an offer to work as an accountant with The Alberta Lung Association and has continued working in the non-profit sector since. He admires the strong commitment that NGO workers hold toward their cause and plans to finish his career in this sector. In his spare time, he teaches Tai Chi Chuan to seniors at the Chinese Freemason Association in Edmonton.

Ashima Sumaru-Jurf

Associate Consultant



(780) 425-4644

Ashima Sumaru-Jurf has facilitated, coordinated and managed programs related to immigration and migration, adult education, and human resources in the not-for-profit and government sectors. She has worked with communities throughout Alberta to build partnerships around creating inclusive and equitable communities.

Ashima is a self-described “teacher-learner” who is interested in connecting academic research and business knowledge with community and workplace practices. She is passionate about creating education, training and programs that bring together multiple forms of knowledge and assisting communities, organizations and individuals to develop their own strengths-based solutions to the issues they face.

Reuben Quinn

Program Coordinator


(780) 425-4644

Reuben Quinn is the Coordinator for our Nehiyaw Language Instruction program. Reuben has been working with Aboriginal youth and adults within Edmonton for 16 years. He has been a Cultural coordinator and Cree instructor for Edmonton Public Schools, Mother Earth Children’s Charter School, as well as the Edmonton Young Offender Center.
Reuben grew up in the residential school era and when the Blue Quills School was taken over by the Aboriginal community, there was a resurgence of language and cultural teachings. Reuben credits the late Mrs. Rosanna Houle for reviving the Nehiyaw (Cree) Cahkipeyihkanah and teaching it to all the students who had been liberated from residential school. The Nehiyaw Cahkipeyihkanah, or as some refer to it ’the Star Chart’, is a tool Reuben uses for teaching the Cree language.

Sahar Ibrahim

Project Administrator




Sahar Ibrahim joined the Centre for Race and Culture as a Facilitator/Educator and Project Administrator after completing her B.A. in Medical Anthropology focusing on mental health and social wellness. Sahar is also one of Canadian Roots Exchange’s Youth Reconciliation Initiative (YRI) Leaders in Edmonton, and works with a team to create and facilitate spaces that aim to build bridges between Indigenous and non-Indigenous youth. Sahar grounds herself in community and draws upon her experiences to inform her work.