Our Team

Ray Sawatsky

Executive Director and CEO

With his passion for international development, Ray joined GAiN in January 2017. His experience includes consulting charitable and philanthropi c organizations , and advising donors on international development giving as the Managing Partner of Hatch. He has also served and volunteered for multiple non-profits and has experience leading missions teams overseas. As the former Director of Stakeholder Relations for Cardus, a Christian think tank, Ray worked with experts to provide independent research to the public. With his background in education, he has designed courses and written curriculum for Global Education. Ray, along with his wife Ginny, and two daughters, is passionate about serving internationally and showing God’s love to those in need.

William (Bill) Blaney

Director of Strategic Initiatives

With over 32 years of senior management experience in the forest industry, Bill began working in the field of humanitarian aid and developed a passion to help the needy and disenfranchised people of the world through sharing God’s love in a very practical way. This desire to come alongside people and love on them led him to join GAiN in January 2003.

Aaron Rogers

Chief Operations Officer

Born in Pune, India, Aaron grew up in Kuwait in the Arabian Gulf. He has a commerce degree from the University of Pune with a major in Accounting and Auditing. His professional career began with the set up and management of a private limited company in Pune in the Machine Tool Industry. He worked with Otis Elevator Company, Kuwait, a subsidiary of United Technologies, from 1989 to 1998, first in pricing and estimating and then in the Finance and Administration Department as its Assistant Financial Manager. He worked in the finance office at CCCC’s Head Office from January 1999 to June 2000.  From there he went on to manage the Creative Communications department of CCCC until July 2001.

 Aaron and his wife Madhvi immigrated to Canada in September 1998 with the faith that God wanted them here. They have been married since July 1993.

Aaron has been involved with GAiN since July 2001.
 Aaron is passionate about doing whatever it takes to get the job done. This has been important in his career as he has fit into a variety of different roles over the years. His prayer is that God would always give him a passion to do what he is doing. It’s this passion that excites Aaron in his current role with GAiN Canada. Touching people through acts of compassion, seeing their lives transformed through the love of God.

Dennis Fierbach

Operations Manager - Water for Life Initiative

For over 30 years now, Dennis has been involved in planning and implementing projects of faith around the world which communicate Christ’s love and change lives. His career began after he graduated with a degree from the University of Alberta in Electrical Engineering. He maintains his active status in the British Columbia Association of Professional Engineers. His work has exposed him to the varying needs in cultures of different countries, including Paraguay, the Dominican Republic, Jordon and Tanzania. Dennis’ assignments have included founding an ESL school in the Dominican Republic, Director of Information Technology, VP of Operations, and managing many international projects. Joining GAiN in 2008 was the fulfillment of a personal dream – to work in the humanitarian aid sector and implement projects which demonstrate Christ’s love in practical ways to needy people, underscoring the message of God’s love. Dennis now applies his expertise and experience in Water for Life Initiative bringing clean, pure water to needy people worldwide.

Jennifer (Mullan) Thornton

(currently on mat leave) Marketing & Communications Director 

After completing her Bachelor of Commerce degree (Marketing Major), Jennifer spent the last 15+ years in a variety of marketing and communication roles in Alberta, British Columbia, Ireland, Thailand and other areas. Whether it was working with a media campaign, starting a communications department or even focusing on the marketing aspect of certain city strategies, Jennifer was continually drawn to the compassionate activity in each project. Today, Jennifer is using her passion for humanitarian work as well as her skills to help GAiN practically meet the needs of individuals and communities around the world.

Tim Lee

Director - Water for Life Initiative

Tim graduated from the University of Alberta with a Bachelor of Science degree majoring in Food Science and Technology. Prior to joining GAiN, Tim worked in both non-profit and for-profit organizations that allowed him to have an extensive international working experience by traveling to various countries in Asia and Africa. He is passionate to see life change happening around him and is very excited use his skills to help bring tangible change in people’s lives around the world.

Tim is responsible to manage overall process of the Water for Life Initiative, ensuring the program is running effectively and finding innovative and creative solutions to challenges.


Sheri McConnell

National Director, Development and Marketing

Prior to joining GAiN, Sheri was the Canadian Director for Youth, Artists/Celebrities and Volunteer Engagement with World Vision Canada. Sheri has over 25 years of leadership experience in vocational ministry leadership and the not-for-profit industry, excelling in world-class marketing, fundraising, leadership development, team building and creative management experience.

In addition, to being recognized as a dynamic, strategic and visionary entrepreneur who delivers exceptional marketing and fundraising programs. Sheri is known as a pioneer and architect of global platforms and movements. “I live my life for creating local and global transformative change, affecting the world’s most vulnerable and I believe this is exactly the adventure I have prepared myself for throughout my career. It is an honor and blessing to serve in leadership with GAiN Canada, Internationally.”


Steve J. Thompson

Operations Manager - Water for Life Initiative

Prior to joining GAiN, Steve held various operations leadership roles during his 25-year career in the private sector. After a short-term missions trip to Mexico in 2015, he gained a passion for helping to meet the physical needs of women, children and families across the world. Over the next two years, he had the opportunity to use his background in operations and logistics on two relief and development projects. These experiences, plus his desire to work in the field of humanitarian aid for a values-focused organization, prompted him to join the GAiN team in 2018. Steve has been a member of the Canadian Institute of Traffic and Transportation (CITT) since 2004. 

As Operations Manager, Steve is responsible for the financial management and administrative operations for the Water for Life Initiative program, as well as overseeing the well drilling operations in each country.


Lindsey Schacter

Staff Development and Operations Manager

Lindsey Schacter joined GAiN in July of 2009 after spending two years with a short-term international team in Panama City, Panama. Lindsey was raised in High River, Alberta and attended the University of Calgary where she graduated with her Bachelor’s of Science in Biology and Chemistry. Upon graduation Lindsey headed to Panama with a desire to partner with Panamanian staff and work with upcoming leaders on the university campuses. In Panama and through travels in Central America Lindsey saw the need to be ministering to the poor and needy both in concrete ways such as providing food and water but also through ministering to their spiritual needs with the message of the love of Christ. Upon her return to Canada in the summer of 2009, Lindsey began to transition into working with GAiN.

Sarah Blaney, RN

Project Coordinator - Water for Life Initiative

Sarah joined GAiN in May, 2012 after spending 11 years as a Registered Nurse in the Emergency Department. She graduated from University of the Fraser Valley with a Bachelor’s of Science in Nursing. She has been privileged to use her skills to care for people in many countries over the years on many short-term trips. Now, Sarah is taking her nursing and overseas experience and applying it to the role of GAiN Project Manager. With the Women and Children strategy, she is helping to care for destitute women and fatherless children by participating in the development of a sponsorship program.  In addition, her medical knowledge will be applied where needed to other strategies and in disaster response.

William Vaxevanis

Graphic Designer / Video Editor

William has been making and creating professionally for over 12 years as a Graphic Designer. Having graduated with a Bachelor of Design from the York University / Sheridan College Design Program, William has since worked on a variety of projects that include TV, Web/UI, Advertising, Signage and Packaging. Before joining Global Aid Network, he worked for a studio designing for Starwood Hotels and for 5 years at Power to Change as Lead Designer helping rebrand the organization. Early in his career, he made the decision to design for non-profit as a way to make a positive contribution to society. This switch in sectors was greatly influenced by his volunteer mission work helping Haitian Refugees in the Dominican Republic. This ideology coupled with the desire to help people, lead him to join GAiN in 2012, where he uses graphic design to raise awareness and funds for those in desperate need.


Samuel Bechard

Water for LIfe Initiative

Samuel joined GAiN in 2012 after a growing passion for the poor. After graduating in 2005 as an automated manufacturing engineer, Samuel worked for a few years in aerospace industries. His passion for the people and for helping them to discover God's love, pushed him to quit is job and get involved with students. During this period, he traveled to Haiti on a LIFE Team and discovered how he can use his engineering and social skill to make a difference in this world. His compassion for the poorest people pushed him to join GAiN and to help bring water where water is a question of life or death.

Charmaine Wee

Water for Life Initiative Administrator

Charmaine joined GAiN in July 2014 after spending a year in Kenya working with International Justice Mission. She is a graduate from Trinity Western University with a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology and a concentration in Human Services. Originally from Singapore, Charmaine spent most of her childhood years in Israel before moving to British Columbia in 2004. Her diverse cultural background and volunteer experiences have fuelled her passion for doing work in developing nations. Charmaine has a heart for justice and is excited to be working with the Water for Life Initiative in helping to provide clean water for villages around the world.


Stephanie McDonald

Project Manager - Water for Life Initiative

Stephanie graduated from the University of Calgary, Schulich School of Engineering with a Bachelor's in Chemical Engineering and worked in the Oil & Gas industry as a project manager for several years. Her long-standing passion to bring clean water to those in need, combined with her educational background, opened the door for her to join GAiN in June 2015 and work alongside the drilling operations team. Travelling has always been a favourite hobby for her; to see and experience new cultures both for work, travel and short-term missions. Stephanie is excited to be working in what she calls her "dream job" combining many things she enjoys while providing sustainable clean drinking water to those in need.

Sarah Winters

Marketing & Communications Assistant

Sarah has a Bachelor's degree in Journalism from Kwantlen Polytechnic University. Before GAiN, she did some freelance work for websites, magazines, local newspapers, churches and small businesses. She feels at home at GAiN, where she can bring her experience in media, storytelling, content creation, and passion for sociology and social justice to the job. Telling stories of lives that have been changed keeps her inspired and motivated every day.


Tess Mawson

Project Manager, Sustainability - Water for Life Initiative

Tess joined GAiN in 2015 after graduating from the University of British Columbia at the Okanagan campus with a degree in Civil Engineering. She had experienced different short-term mission projects in the past; one where the focus was on providing aid and another where the focus was on spiritual development. Both times she felt something was missing from her experience. Then she went on a LIFE team trip to Benin with GAiN where she was able to combine words and deeds by helping provide clean water to people and sharing the love of God with them at the same time. She wanted to use her heart for serving and skills in engineering to help people in need. Now she able to do that with GAiN by helping to develop the long-term sustainability of the Water for Life Initiative.

Bessie Lee

Operations Administrator

Bessie's first mission trip was in grade 9 and spent many consecutive summers going on trips since then. It was after her trip to North Korea in 2012 when she developed a heart to extend her hospitality to the unloved and vulnerable. With a degree in Bachelor of Arts, major in Mathematics, she struggled to identify a particular career path in which her educational background would align with her passions. Shortly after graduating, she joined GAiN in July 2015. Since then, she began to attain a broader perspective and deeper insight into global issues. Her role at GAiN allows her to use her practical skills to provide help to the hurting and needy people around the world, as well as being challenged to actively reach out in God's love to the people around her.

Breanne Cleland

Program Coordinator - Maternal and Family Health

After working as a Registered Nurse at Kelowna General Hospital, Breanne joined GAiN in 2015. She graduated from the University of British Columbia Okanagan with a Bachelor of Science in Nursing degree. She loves being able to use the skills that she has been given to improve the lives of others, both physically and spiritually. In her role with GAiN, Breanne is working on a community development project that impacts the health of women and children in West Africa. 

Liesl Klaue

Executive Assistant to Ray Sawatsky

After spending eight months in the desert of northern Kenya, Liesl knew that she wanted to work to improve conditions and provide opportunities for people in developing countries, but knew she didn’t have the skill set to be of use “on the field.” Instead, she felt that her particular giftings would best be used in a supportive role for those that were called to overseas humanitarian aid. Already possessing a degree from the University of British Columbia in English and Philosophy, Liesl took a second program at BCIT to become an office administrator and started working with GAiN shortly after completing that program in 2016. In this role, she can indirectly be involved in relief and development by supporting those who are directly involved.

Lily Kwok

LIFE Teams Manager

Lily graduated from the University of British Columbia with a Bachelors of Applied Science degree specializing in Civil Engineering. She worked as a Professional Engineer for seven years in both the public and private sector in the area of Water Treatment and Water Supply. Sensing a different calling in her life, Lily shifted gears and attended Tyndale Seminary in Toronto graduating with a Masters of Theological Studies. For the last decade, she was working as the Director of Children's Ministry at her local church. Lily's desire to meet people's needs in a holistic way, physically, emotionally and spiritually, has lead her to join GAiN.


Monique Lieuwen

Project Manager - Relief and Development

Monique graduated from Dordt College with a Bachelor of Science in Engineering. After graduating, she worked for the City of Abbotsford for six years, where she obtained her Professional Engineering License. Monique is very excited to use her engineering and project management skills to fulfill a lifelong dream of working in international relief and development. She is passionate about making a difference in people's lives around the world.


Stacey Zimmerman

Water for Life Initiative Administrative Assistant


Natalie Gulasekharam

Knowledge Specialist - Water for Life Initiative


William Hochachka

Intern - Water for Life Initiative

William graduated from the University of Guelph with a Bachelors Degree in Mechanical Engineering in the spring of 2017. During undergrad he heard about the work GAiN was doing to help provide sustainable water solutions for people in Africa and wanted to be apart of that. He has always enjoyed working with his hands and having the opportunity to use his education to serve others. After graduation William decided to join GAiN as an intern for nin months. He joined GAiN as an intern in the fall of 2017 and is excited to build upon his well drilling knowledge as well as help to provide sustainable solutions to clean water for people in Africa through GAiN's Water for Life Initiative.


Dr. George F. Rhoades Jr., Ph.D.

Director of Trauma Training

Dr. Rhoades is a Clinical Psychologist having his own practice in Hawaii. He is on the Executive Committee on Trauma Psychology with the APA (American Psychologists Association) and also Chair of the Diversity and Multi-Cultural Concerns Sub-Committee with the APA. Dr. Rhoades has conducted workshops, training and counseling in countries like Northern Ireland, Russia, Iran, Paraguay, Brazil, Sudan and Sri Lanka. He has been back to Sri Lanka several times since the tsunami to conduct trauma training and workshops in universities, hospitals and Bible colleges.


We as staff could not accomplish anything without the vast, hardworking network of unpaid partners that we have. They contribute their labour, influence, finances, and expertise in working together with us to demonstrate God’s love to hurting and needy people, and we are grateful for each one of them.