Joanne Griffiths, President & Co-Founder


Vancouver, BC |
Joanne has devoted her life to the betterment of children's lives. She has been involved in community projects most of her professional career and is a founding member of Canuck Place. In 2012, Joanne and her daughter Emily-anne discovered the need of children from inner-city schools for food on weekends. Joanne recruited the school that her children had attended in West Vancouver to help fundraise and pack Backpack Buddies first 20 bags of food in the spring of 2012. Joanne’s passion is her children and grandchildren. She enjoys spending time outside with them and walking her dog, Lucca, who has now become the Backpack Buddies mascot and can often be seen riding shotgun with Joanne in the Backpack Buddy mobile.

Emily-anne King, Vice-President & Co-Founder


Vancouver, BC |
Emily-anne founded Backpack Buddies along with her mother Joanne in 2012. A recent graduate of Political Science and working at a law firm, Emily-anne had every intention of pursuing law school, but decided to focus on developing Backpack Buddies instead. In 2017 she became the Executive Director of Quiet Cove Foundation. The Backpack Buddies model creates change in two very different ways, and Emily-anne is equally committed to teaching kids about building empathy as she is about feeding children in need. Emily-anne and her husband have a sweet baby girl named London.

Lorraine Winchester, Operations & Logistics


New Westminster, BC |
Lorraine spent most of her career in print media and marketing, leading program and production teams. After 26 years, Lorraine decided to make a move to the non-profit sector and found her skill set and qualifications perfectly matched an opportunity available with Backpack Buddies. Lorraine has two children and has been a single parent for much of their lives. She did not struggle to feed children, but she knew single parents who did - hard working, devoted parents who simply couldn't make ends meet. Backpack Buddies provides relief for these families, while respecting their privacy and dignity - allowing kids to be kids!

Vishad Deeplaul, Marketing & Communications Coordinator


Coquitlam, BC |
Born and raised in South Africa, Vishad is an accomplished event planner who has over eighteen years of experience planning and executing events in the private, corporate and non-profit sectors. He is passionate about education, working with people, and bringing a vision to life. Vishad’s family is his joy and he believes one of the most amazing sounds in life is the laughter of children. Vishad is proud to be helping to bring smiles to children in need every weekend.


Geoff Pedlow, Chair of the Board

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Vancouver, BC
Geoff is a business lawyer at the Vancouver office of a major international law firm practicing in the areas of corporate and technology law. He advises entrepreneurs, start-ups and venture-backed technology companies, from ideation through business organization, capital raising and exit. In 2015 Geoff started attending Backpack Buddies events and eventually became more involved with the organization’s legal needs and governance. Geoff finds it immeasurably rewarding to play a part in filling the weekend hunger gap for children across the city. He and his wife love food and are always in search of the best new restaurant.

Samantha Tennant, Board Member

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Vancouver, BC
Following her studies at the University of British Columbia, Sauder School of Business, Samantha began her career with PwC as a member of the assurance practice. Here she achieved her CPA, CA designation and has since completed all three levels of the CFA designation. Following PwC, Samantha joined the team at Seymour Investment Management, a boutique asset management firm located in Coal Harbour. Samantha loves being outside and feels fortunate to live in such an incredible place, however she was surprised to learn that there were kids in her own backyard going home hungry. She is inspired and engaged by the work being done at Backpack Buddies.

Denise Salmon, Board Member


Vancouver, BC
Denise is the Managing Broker of  Remax Masters Realty in West Vancouver and REMAX Crest Realty in North Vancouver, a subsidiaries of Metro Vancouver Properties Group, a proud corporate sponsor of Backpack Buddies. Denise’s management experience includes the fitness industry, retail and restaurant, and she has spent the last 22 years selling real estate. While her children were growing up, Denise spent 14 years on Parent Advisory Councils and was the Chair of the District Parent Advisory Council in the Sea to Sky Corridor for 4 years. Denise enjoys spending time with her grandchild, her Jack Russell Rocky and being outdoors hiking, snowshoeing and beach combing.

Alison Wilson, Board Member

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Vancouver, BC
Ali is a communications professional who has earned a reputation of excellence across the private, public and not-for-profit sectors. Her acumen includes strategic communications planning, media relations, investor relations and speech writing for senior level officers. Ali currently leads global PR efforts and analyst relations for TELUS International. In 2017, Ali served as Co-Chair of Backpack Buddies’ Food 4 Thought gala fundraising event and has been on the board ever since. Ali and her husband are parents to two young children.

Ryan Yada, Board Member

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West Vancouver, BC / Canggu, Bali, Indonesia
From airports in Malta, to hospitals in Kitimat, to golf courses in South Africa, to development teams in Bac Giang Vietnam, Ryan has spent the majority of his career leading teams in customer-facing senior roles and helping to grow billion-dollar companies. Ryan is a recipient of the Forty-under-40 Award from Business in Vancouver, and the co-founder of Flowmotion Entertainment, a publisher of mobile games for women that donates a percentage of revenue every month to Backpack Buddies.  Ryan and his wife have 3 children.