Board of Directors

The people that make CIRE possible

Mary Clare Zak - Director

City of Vancouver, Managing Director of Social Policy

Mary Clare is the Managing Director of the Social Policy & Projects Division with the City of Vancouver. She has decades of public sector experience at all three levels of government and the not-for-profit sector. Her role at the City of Vancouver is to provide advice to the Mayor and Council on social issues, and to work across government and various sectors to address these issues.


Irene Gannitsos - Director

Vancouver Community Foundation, Manager of Strategic Programs

Irene has a broad range of experience supporting and leading different nonprofit organizations, including specific expertise in each of our foucs areas of social enterprise, community owned real estate and impact investing. Irene has also worked in microcredit, through international experiences in Bolivia and Guatemala, as well as domestic examples including inner-city Winnipeg, and as the founding Executive Director of the Immigrant Access Fund in Saskatoon. Her university degrees are in Business and in Rural Planning & Development, and she also had a role with the SFU Centre for Sustainable Community Development doing post-graduate research and coordinating a joint program delivered through a Mexican University in Cuernavaca. 


Karen Hemmingson - Director

BC Housing, Chief Research Officer

Karen has been involved in Housing Policy and Planning work since 1989. An Urban Planner by training, she started her planning career at Terra Housing Consultants, developing social housing projects with non-profit societies. Karen's planning career includes policy and development work on the City of Vancouver`s waterfront redevelopment sites of False Creek and Coal Harbour. In addition to land use, policy and development work, she was the Director of the Vancouver Agreement Unit for the provincial government, responsible for implementing both policies and a variety of housing and community development initiatives in the Downtown Eastside.

Karen is currently the Chief Research Officer for BC Housing, and is responsible for managing research and performance planning activities that support the organization’s public accountability plans, technical building research and housing sector transformation.