Who We Are


Belma Podrug, Executive Director

Afton Tolley, Program Manager

Azalea Barrieses, Language Services Manager

Lori Steward, Refugee and Immigrant Health & Case Coordination Manager

Pam Miller, Finance Manager

Board of Directors

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.

Lorelei Nickel, Board Chair

Born and raised in Saskatchewan, Lorelei is a lecturer in the Department of Management and Marketing at the University of Saskatchewan where she focuses on the area of ethics and strategic decision making. In March of 2017, she and her husband returned to Saskatoon after spending eighteen months working with a humanitarian organization in Southeast Asia.

Prior to completing her MBA with a specialization in leadership from Royal Roads University, Lorelei worked as an Occupational Therapist for seventeen years in the healthcare, corrections, and education sectors. Since 2007, she has fulfilled various corporate roles as well as operating her own leadership consulting and coaching practice where she has worked with a wide variety of clients locally, nationally, and internationally. Lorelei’s journey to date has provided her with the opportunity to inspire and influence leaders of all ages - from the university classroom, to the corporate boardrooms of North America, to the jungle villages of Myanmar. She is honoured and excited to serve on the GGP board.

Bella Hop, Board Vice-Chair

Bella was born and raised in Mexico. She belongs to the Mexican-Sephardic Jewish Community and her family is originally from Damascus, Syria but has strong roots with Israel, too.

After completing law school, Bella and her husband got married and moved to Vancouver where they began their story in Canada eight years ago. Since leaving Mexico, Bella has worked in various fields such as Management, Marketing, Advertising and Law, where she has worked in Immigration, Corporate and Commercial law.

Bella arrived in Saskatoon in the summer of 2016 when her husband got offered a position at the University of Saskatchewan. She currently works as a Commercial Paralegal at McKercher LLP in Saskatoon.

Julie Mooney, Board Secretary

Julie joined the board of directors at Global Gathering Place in February 2019. Born and raised in Canada, Julie spent several years working in the refugee resettlement sector in Toronto, particularly with Franco-African and Latinx communities, before making a career move to teaching and curriculum development in the college and university sector. From 2018-2019, Julie worked as an Educational Developer at the University of Saskatchewan.

She is now working on doctoral research towards her PhD in Education, with a specialization in Adult, Community, and Higher Education at the University of Alberta. Julie has lived and worked in five Canadian provinces, as well as in Western Europe, West and Central Africa, and the Caribbean. She holds a long-standing interest in and commitment to supporting refugees and immigrants as they make new lives in Canada and become engaged and valued members of our community.

Julien Coopoosamy, Board Treasurer

Gurtej Bhullar, Board Member

Gurtej joined as board member after successfully completing the “Bridging to Non-Profit Governance” program offered by Global Gathering Place. He has more than 15 years of work experience in information technology services specializing in operations and projects. He is new to Canada and is passionate about opportunities for continuous learning and improving professional skills. For him to serve on the Global Gathering Board has been a privilege, and indeed one of the unique and most valuable experiences of life.

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.

Alan Anderson, Board Member

During the past several years, Alan has volunteered at Global Gathering Place as a regular participant in the weekly ‘Coffee and Conversation’ sessions, as a personal mentor to clients wishing to improve their writing skills, and as an assistant on various excursions. A retired sociology professor at the University of Saskatchewan, he taught a course on immigration and refugee policy and long chaired the International Studies Program. His extensive international experience has influenced his longstanding commitment to immigrants and refugees. He continues to be affiliated with the Saskatoon Refugee Coalition, Saskatoon Open Door Society, Amnesty International, and Canadian International Council.

Darlene Cooper, Board Member

Darlene finds herself back to serve on the board of GGP after a 2-year hiatus.  She has been working closely with newcomers in her professional role as a Employment Consultant and witnesses the shear gift & magnitude of the talents, skills & contributions newcomers bring to our city and community.  Knowing GGP provides invaluable services & programs in facilitating their transition & settlement to our country cannot be over-stated.  She looks forward to another term working with an exceptional management team & board to ensure the vision, mission & mandate of GGP continues its great legacy of settlement in Saskatoon.

Joanne Khan, Board Member