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Who We Are

Our Board of Directors provides skills and expertise that are vital to the governance of Global Gathering Place. We are grateful to each board member for their contributions. To apply to join our board, please fill out the online form here.

Jordan Sokmeneglu, Board Chair

Jordan was born in Saskatchewan and has lived and worked in various cities across the province. She has a diploma in Food and Nutrition Management and is currently working on a Business Certificate from the U of S.  Jordan first became interested in helping newcomers when she met her husband, who is an immigrant to Canada. Since meeting her husband, Jordan has learned about some of the struggles newcomers face and the importance of having community support.  She also works closely with newcomers in her job at Sask Polytech, where she teaches in the Food and Nutrition Management Program. Jordan feels privileged and thrilled to serve on the Board of Global Gathering Place.   

Suresh Kalagnanam, Vice Chair

Suresh is an associate professor at the University of Saskatchewan’s Edwards School of Business.  His work at the university has provided the opportunity to collaborate with community organizations, understand issues pertaining to equity, diversity, and inclusiveness, and mentor students.  Originally from India, he came to Saskatoon 33 years ago.  Over the years, he has volunteered his time as a treasurer, educator, and mentor; he enjoys interacting with people.

Dennis Vezeau, Board Treasurer

Firstly, Dennis is a proud father of 6-year-old William and spouse to Kimberly. Professionally, Dennis is a CPA with 10 years accounting experience, including not-for-profit assurance and governance best practices. In addition to using his professional skills to help Global Gathering Place, Dennis is excited to meet and learn from his fellow board members.  Dennis believes in Global Gathering Place’s core values of respectfulness, dignity and diversity and looks forward to continuing the success of a very important community organization. 

Darlene Cooper, Board Secretary

Darlene finds herself back to serve on the board of GGP after a two-year hiatus.  She has been working closely with newcomers in her professional role as an Employment Consultant and witnesses the sheer gift and magnitude of the talents, skills and contributions newcomers bring to our city and community.  Darlene believes that the invaluable services and programs GGP provides to facilitate their transition & settlement to our country cannot be overstated.  She looks forward to another term working with an exceptional management team and board to ensure GGP’s vision, mission, and mandate continues its great legacy of settlement in Saskatoon.

Laura Herman, Board Member

Laura Herman brings 20 years of strategic communications and fundraising expertise garnered through diverse roles in post-secondary education, co-operative and corporate banking, healthcare and the non-profit sector. She was bitten early by the ‘service bug’ and was fortunate to spend a year travelling the globe with the international performance and service group, Up With People. The learning experience cemented a love of travel and culture as she was fully immersed in new ways of living and language alongside her castmates who collectively represented 25 countries. Always curious about the motivations behind transformative corporate giving, Laura spent time researching the impact of strategic corporate philanthropy on Canadian non-profits. Never wanting to use her marketing degree from the U of S as a way to sell more product, she used her unique study as a launching point for a purpose-driven career. Many millions of dollars fundraised later, and with more than a few communication plans tucked in her back pocket, Laura is excited to continue serving community alongside the Global Gathering Place team. Food, family and football are a few of Laura’s favs and she can often be found in her kitchen creating a new recipe for husband and two kids to devour!

Janet Okoko, Board Member

Janet Okoko, Board Member

Janet Mola Okoko is an Associate Professor in the Department of Educational Administration at the College of Education, University of Saskatchewan. She came to Canada as a student and obtained her PhD from the Werklund School of Education at the University of Calgary. Prior to pursuing doctoral studies, Janet trained and worked as a teacher and as an education program officer for both government and non-governmental organizations in Eastern Africa.

Some of her experience includes working with foundations and relief organizations to enhance educational opportunities for minoritized populations, including refugees from war-affected countries. Her commitment to volunteer and scholarly work that supports culturally and linguistically diverse newcomers won her a nomination for the Saskatoon YWCA Women of Distinction: Education in 2017.

Peiwen Kolosnjaji, Board Member

Peiwen is a CPA with over eight years of experience in accounting and tax in the private and public sectors. Outside of work, she enjoys cooking for family and friends, taking her dog for walks, hiking, biking and reading.



• Belma Podrug, Executive Director
• Afton Tolley, Program Manager
• Azalea Barrieses, Language Services Manager