VARJ Directors, 2015

Ania Dwornik, President and Chair of the Vancouver Association for Restorative Justice
Ania is a Registered Social Worker working in health care.  Her interest in restorative justice is centered on restorative justice and mental illness, with specific emphasis on greater inclusion of individuals with mental illness in restorative justice practices.   She will be continuing her research on this subject matter while completing her PhD at the University of Victoria.

Frank James Tester B.Sc., D.Phil., M.E.Des., M.S.W. is a Professor of Social Work, School of Social Work, University of British Columbia. He has an interest in restorative justice as an alternative to the criminal justice system in Nunavut Territory in relation to reconciliation, healing and the restoration of Inuit to their families, communities and culture. Frank’s research interests include Inuit social history, the problem of young Inuit suicide and the social, cultural and environmental impacts of mining and mineral exploration in Nunavut Territory. He is a former chair of the Family Court/Youth Justice Committee, City of Vancouver, a former board member of CUSO and the Georgia Strait Alliance and was a research advisor to the Qikiqtani Truth Commission (2008-2010). He is the author of books and papers dealing with Inuit social history, Canadian social policy and environmental issues.

Jim Mandelin is a fully pardoned ex-offender, ex- gang member and recovered drug addict and alcoholic. Jim is 38 years clean and sober, public speaker, counselor and author and was the recipient of the 2015 Courage to Come Back Award for the province of BC. Jim has facilitated restorative justice conferences while working in the past with the John Howard Society of the Lower Mainland of BC.

Mary Etey is a registered massage therapist.  She has studied psychology at UBC and conflict resolution at the Justice Institute. She volunteers with the East Vancouver based community group “A Community Aware” to learn about and address social issues through education and action.

John de Haas Former president of VARJ since its creation in May 2007 to 2015.  John has a BA from UBC (psychology) and a Business Management Systems Certificate from BCIT, with an Associate Certificate in Mediation.  John is an Inspector with the Vancouver Police Department where he has worked as a police officer for 37 years — John is involved with VARJ in his personal capacity as a volunteer and is not acting in any way as a representative of the VPD.

Bergen Amren is an independent consultant employing coaching, dialogue facilitation and consensus-based approaches toward resolving difficult communications and planning organizational change.  His work and research has spanned family, criminal, and administrative justice systems. Bergen is President of Global Community Empowerment Collective Society (BC) and an Individual Member of BC Council for International Cooperation.

M. Asadullah  PhD student at Simon Fraser University’s School of Criminology, M. Asadullah is a sessional faculty of Peace & Conflict Studies at the University of the Fraser Valley. His research interests include restorative justice, village court, peacemaking criminology, community policing, and indigenous justice. He has trained as a conflict resolution and restorative justice practitioner with Dr Howard Zehr, Dr Brenda Morrison and Cpl Jim Cooley.

VARJ Associates 2015

Caitlin Grisack is a restorative justice facilitator, trainer and advocate, specializing in providing service to at-risk youth and the victims of serious crime and trauma. Caitlin has a Bachelor of Criminology and Political Science from Simon Fraser University, is a certified Community Justice Forum facilitator trainer and has worked in diverse areas of law enforcement, including strategic planning and communication, victim services and alternative measures. Currently Caitlin coordinates the Burnaby R.C.M.P Youth Services Restorative Justice Program.

Evelyn Zellerer  Ph.D.  is founder and director of Peace of the Circle, as well as a professor at Kwantlen Polytechnic University. Evelyn is a facilitator, trainer and speaker, working internationally with government agencies, businesses, non-profits, schools, police, corrections and communities. For more information visit

Alexander Formos is currently enrolled in the MFA in Film Production and Creative Writing program at UBC. His interest  spans European and American Independent cinema and film theory to psychology and innovative initiatives on how to better organize our society. He was born in Ukraine, grew up in Siberia of Russia and studied in Saint-Petersburg. In Saint-Petersburg he worked on a number of projects (as writer/director/editor) mostly on indie and documentary productions. Currently he is working as an editor on a documentary about the colonization of Inuits and the impact of a nickel mine in Rankin Inlet, NU on Inuit  life style. His involvement with VARJ includes the creation of visual works and documentaries that expose the concept of Restorative Justice to a wider audience and bring the discussion forward.

Svetlana Konopljova has a degree in BSc Psychology and is currently a graduate student at UBC in MA program for Human Development, Learning and Culture. She became interested in social-emotional learning while volunteering at after-school programs with children and adolescents in London UK under Westminster Pyramid Project, and in Boys and Girls Club in Vancouver BC. Her current interests extend to social justice, educational policies and alternative discipline methods, in particular how the principles of restorative justice can be applied in schools in order to foster social-emotional wellbeing in children, as well as to promote healthier communities.

Alanna Mulholland is a Masters student interested in focusing on environmental social work connected to the principles of restorative justice. She has spent time working with and learning from indigenous groups in Mexico and Guatemala, witnessing the trauma of environmental degradation and the destruction of communities in these areas. She had the opportunity to liaise with a variety of climate social justice groups in an anti-imperialist conference in Ecuador.  She draws on these experiences to guide her current studies in the Community and International Development stream of the Masters in Social Work program at UBC. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in Sociology and History from SFU and has experience in supporting people in the areas of health, mental health and addictions. Alanna continues to work towards integrating her travels, her education, and her work into a practice that honours the experiences of all involved and restores relationships with our environment.

Michael Collyer has an Honours Degree in Criminology from Simon Fraser University.   He volunteered in the AVP (Alternatives to Violence Project) program at Ferndale penitentiary for two years. Following graduation Michael was involved in software development and has recently assumed management responsibilities in the hospitality industry.  Michael has been an active volunteer with VARJ since early 2015 focusing on web enhancement and communication strategy.

Mark Stoller is a PhD candidate at the University of British Columbia, where he studies extractive industries and Indigenous rights in northern Canada.  His research focuses on impact assessment, pipeline development, and issues deriving from debates over land use and Indigenous governance.  Mark is part of the communications committee at VARJ, and assists with the development of the website.