PSYL Team: Program Coordinators
Our core team of Program Coordinators come from a variety of backgrounds including social justice, teaching, and outdoor experiential education. Each year, they come together to design PSYL, and then facilitate activities and workshops throughout the program. They offer resources and mentorship to participants in developing their own incredible ideas and projects.
Below are detailed descriptions about our PSYL 2019 Coordinators.
Co-Directors: Kathryn Mc Cabe & Vrindy Spencer
Kathryn (Kat) Mc Cabe is thrilled to be returning to Vancouver Island to experience the community of PSYL once again!
Having spent her teenage years lost, with no real sense of self or purpose, Kat eventually connected with her passion in her twenties - when she found a radical masters in Australia called Social Ecology. It enabled her to engage with complex systems, design context specific change strategies and, crucially, feel inspired about what is possible when people feel respected and trusted to take the next step towards transformation. Kat has spent the years since then learning and unlearning; who she is, what the world needs and how she can contribute to…well…changing the world.
Kat's passion is for designing and facilitating emergent programs that can deeply meet the needs of the group. She values intersectional leadership that is personally empowering and enlivening, and that supports social justice and ecological wellbeing. Her area of focus is on personal and interpersonal relationship development, as well as a sense of ‘spiritual’ connection to place. Kat brings a complexity science
perspective that emphasizes actions and reflective practice that integrate personal, social, political and environmental concerns and possibilities. It allows for big picture thinking whilst generating local, context specific strategies for change.
Kat now works internationally (Ireland (Kat's homeland), UK, Australia and Canada) as an independent consultant and facilitator for groups that are engaged in transformational change.
Vrindy Spencer started designing and facilitating activities at international peace-education camps when she was 15 and has been drawn to continue this work ever since.
She is inspired to support the realization of a greater sense of self-worth that individuals develop through being part of short-term intentional communities. She studied and wrote her undergraduate thesis at Quest University on “What conditions optimize a sense of belonging?” and looked at the question “How can I facilitate group intimacy?” She completed her adult education diploma and loves the realm of curriculum development, facilitation, and program coordination. She has staffed various international peace education camps and designed and facilitated her own personal development programs for groups from scratch.
Currently she is a Residence Life Coordinator at Simon Fraser University, volunteers as a program coordinator for a non-profit with the mission to increase self-awareness and connection globally, is co-creating a mindfulness retreat, and is an avid swing dancer. She is stepping into a growing passion for diversity and inclusion work.
When she was 17 she wrote her bio to be a PSYL coordinator and feel beyond honoured to support the community through co-directorship.
Kat and Vrindy met in 2018 as coordinators and are thrilled to have the opportunity to work together supporting the PSYL 2019 community develop and thrive.
A PSYL 2010 participant, Tira Okamoto is thrilled to be returning PSYL this summer as a Coordinator!
Named after Tiramisu the Italian dessert, Tira grew up in San Francisco, California. Her love of people and cross-cultural awareness led her to PSYL when she was 16. Among countless things, PSYL offered her community and support in asking complex questions and co-creating solutions to take back home. She has fond memories of performing dance pieces in participant shows, arts interventions in Victoria, Spirit Spot, and staying up late pondering life’s hardest questions.
After PSYL, Tira pursued an interdisciplinary major at University of California, Los Angeles in arts activism and social justice, co-directed a student-run bicycle-powered concert, studied abroad in Jordan and researched sexual harassment in urban Ammani streets, and created a senior thesis and performative dance piece on bicycle feminism and eco-positionality. Post-college, she has committed herself to climate justice and equitable adaptation to our changing climate. Tira has worked for various collaborative initiatives in the Bay Area that seek to bridge siloes and transform ‘business as usual’ structures into more equitable ways of working together towards a sustainable future.
Tira is a people person and a creative connector. She enjoys bringing people of all ages together to work on complex intersectional and interdisciplinary issues. As a mixed-race woman of color, she has always lived her life at a crossroads belonging to multiple communities and identities. She is passionate about climate justice, sea level rise, dance, arts activism, being outdoors, and self-care. She can’t wait to learn from and with this year’s cohort of PSYL changemakers!
Debbie Wilder is in her first year as the PSYL Administrator and is an Entrepreneur, Independent Skin Care Consultant and President of the Oceanside Women's Business Network located in beautiful Parksville, BC . Debbie brings a wealth of experience in Office Management, Administrative Support and Customer Service, including bookkeeping, reception and accounting.
Sookie Bardwell (she/her/hers + they/them/theirs) is passionately committed to the work of helping people be better together. She is a white settler invested in the work of decolonization and racial justice. She is also a fat, queer, genderqueer femme living with invisible disability. Her work is informed by all of these ways in which she moves through the world.
Sookie is an OCT certified teacher, has been trained as a sex and relational health educator through Opt BC, and has recently received an MA in Gender Studies and Feminist Research at McMaster University. She has been involved in social change/justice work for over fifteen years, and has extensive experience as an educator, trainer, and facilitator- with a focus on LGBTQ+ equity and inclusion, body-positivity, emotional competency, relational skills, and sexual health. She is proud to be part of the Challenge Accepted Learning Collective, Shamefree.ca and unlearn. teams, and feels very lucky to challenge fatphobia/sizeism and weight stigma alongside her best friend through their work with Chub Love.
Sookie believes everyone deserves to be treated like a person, no matter what, and that everyone deserves access to- and has the capacity to develop- the knowledge and skills needed to encounter difference with compassion, kindness and genuine curiosity.
James Harley is a queer Eco-feminist who loves playing in the garden and reading a good murder mystery. They are passionate about environmental liberation and food justice, and spends their time attempting to dismantle capitalism through community care. James has an affinity for physical movement and aspires to become a physiotherapist working with bodies that do not typically belong in an active space. This affinity grew from their experience as a fat and competitive rugby player of 12 years. At PSYL, James hopes to offer workshops on food justice, sex and gender, and the end of the world. They are looking forward to connecting with people from a variety of backgrounds and are excited to learn more about communities and leadership.
Alexandra Wilson is an interfaith minister, doula for birth and death, a ceremonialist, poet and pilgrim. Her passions lie in strengthening community and deepening our connections to the land and our ancestors. With a background in youth and social work Alexandra now writes, speaks and teaches on various political and spiritual topics such as the legacy of colonialism and addressing white fragility, collectively facing the uncertain future of our civilisation under climate change, the importance of wholesome rites of passage at adolescence and strengthening communication and connection through non-violence. Alexandra lives in the mountains of north wales and is never so happy when walking the pilgrim trails or wild swimming, she loves dogs and simple things like a good cup of tea.
Emma Castanier (she/her) is a Canadian queer vegan feminist who works with youth in Edmonton, Alberta. When she is not at work, she enjoys gardening, making Kombucha, doing yoga, singing, practicing tarot, writing and reading poetry. She is very empathetic and loves spending time in community (especially at Pearson) making music together or simply building connections. Having been a Youth Advocate at the Zebra Child Protection Centre, working as an Educational Assistant, and being an alumni of both PSYL 2012 and PSCL 2018, she prides herself in being able to connect and with folks young and old via both structured and organic ways. She has a degree in Psychology with a minor in Women and Gender Studies, and dreams of one day becoming a Doula and/or Reiki healer while living in an Earth Ship. Emma is also mentally ill. She is open to sharing her lived experiences with severe depression and anxiety alongside their accompanying stigmas. Curious about dismantling Capitalism and hungry to learn more about off-grid living, she is always open to learning more about unconventional ways of living. She cannot wait to meet the community of PSYL 2019.
Mark Spilsbury started his facilitation journey as a fresh-faced 18 year-old volunteering at Greenhill YMCA Outdoor Center in Northern Ireland. From there he has spent almost 15 years working on experiential and outdoor education programs internationally (US, UK, Australia, and soon Canada!). Mark has spent the last five years as an Education Outdoors Teacher at MLC Marshmead, a remote, residential 9th grade campus in the Croajingolong National Park. He loves facilitating this 52-day journey of personal growth and community building, whilst exploring social justice and environmental sustainability. He has recently begun a Masters in Social Ecology which has ignited a passion for ecological education and is nurturing his interest in issues of gender, race and power. Mark loves many things in this world - some of these include mountain biking, second hand books, tall trees, cups of tea, well-worn clothes, and perfectly ripe avocados. After participating in the first ever Pearson Seminar for Collaborative Leadership last year, he is tremendously excited to be returning to Vancouver Island to join PSYL this summer.
For the past 14 years, Noriko Oka has been fortunate to work as an expressive arts therapist with diverse communities across the spectrum of life (e.g. LGBTQ+, neurodiverse, immigrant, etc.) Her trauma-informed work is somatic, sensory and play based. She currently works as a counsellor and expressive arts therapist with youth at Foundry Victoria and in private practice at drawheart.ca
Brad Davis (MEd. RYT 500) has spent many years working in trans-formative education, travelling and facilitating leadership, diversity and global social justice programs, locally and internationally. He has taught high school, created community-based theater, led environmental education programs with all ages, guided river trips and facilitated University leadership and sustainability programs in India and the US. Since coming to live and work on Vancouver Island on the territories of the Coast Salish First Peoples in 2010 he has worked with the Pearson Seminar for Youth Leadership (PSYL) Brad believes in the importance of stories, song, dance and deep quiet. Nowadays, he has expanded his trans-formative work to include learning and sharing yoga and meditation while continuing a life long practice of biking to most places, paddling his canoe when the tide allows, caring for gardens both literal and metaphoric. He finds meaning in the words of HIllel “I get up, I walk, I fall down. Meanwhile I keep dancing”.