The Board of Directors for Hope and Health is an incredibly diverse and accomplished group of individuals, all in active professional roles within their respective fields of expertise. They each bring to the foundation various skills, talents, and experiences, while they share a common passion and vision for creating the most healthy and resilient future generation.


Deana Gill-Georgica

Ed Georgica

William Yoachim

James Merriman

chief wayne sparrow

Player advisory Board members

jake Nerwinski

Brett Levis

Board page pic.jpg


Deana Gill-Georgica

co-founder &
Executive Director, Board Member

Deana Gill, MSW, has been leading capacity building and organizational development initiatives
for over 20+ years in a variety of settings, from public service to non-profit to global corporations.  She started her career as a front line child protection social worker and child and youth mental health therapist and moved into supervisory and management roles driven by her passion to make
a difference on a larger scale. Deana crossed into the corporate world (PwC and Ritchie Bros.)
to strengthen her leadership skills and business acumen and also founded an advisory company (Dreammaster) where she specialized in Aboriginal service agencies, partnering to strengthen governance, leadership and providing culturally safe and relevant services. Deana was recognized nationally in 2013 as the recipient of the Canadian Association of Social Work “Distinguished Service Award” for outstanding contribution as a social work professional. Deana believes that identifying and building on strengths and inviting people to lead from where there they stand contribute to healthy, vibrant outcomes in all situations.

When not focused on Hope and Health, Deana balances her time and contribution between the roles of Executive Director of Dream Master Advisory, providing organizational/community capacity building services benefiting Indigenous children and their families AND as the Director of Workplace Culture & Experiences (Corporate HR) for the Provincial Health Services Authority (PHSA).

Deana is most passionate about partnering with her husband and other committed citizens to make
a difference in the lives of Indigenous children and youth and their communities.

Hope and Health is a movement that brings communities and people together with our nation’s most vulnerable children and youth at the center. Everyone that participates understands that the most important component is investing in the relationship and maximizing the opportunities to connect with the kids on a personal level and offer our love and mentorship- on and off the pitch.
— Deana Gill-Georgica



Co-Founder, Board Member & 

An East Vancouver native, Ed began his 28 year career in professional sports with the BC Lions back in 1980. After the Grey Cup win in 1985, Ed moved into hockey as the Equipment Assistant with the Vancouver Canucks for six years and then moved to the Ottawa Senators for their inaugural year as the Head Equipment Manager where he contributed in this role for over 10 years.
On the international stage, Ed worked for Team Canada at the 1993 and 1996 World Championships resulting in a silver medal win. He was then selected to represent the world team in the 2000 NHL All Star game in Toronto. Ed served four years on the executive board for the Society for Professional Hockey Equipment Managers (SPHEM), with one year in the role of President. In 2001, he was the recipient of the Larry Ashley Award presented to the trainer that best exemplifies the character and commitment to excellence displayed by Ashley throughout his career. In 2002, Ed made a change from hockey and moved to back to the West Coast where he enjoyed sports consulting for two major motion movies and then pursued a business opportunity patenting a unique technology for a compression garment. Five years later, a licensing deal was finalized with a global performance sports apparel leader and this technology is now global and in multiple products.  In 2011, Ed stepped back into professional sports, with the Vancouver Whitecaps FC, as the Head Equipment, Logistic & Facilities Manager. He is currently the Head of First Team Operations, Facilities and Equipment.

Ed enjoys being active and spending time with his wife, Deana and their four children Jenessa, Sarah, Alex and Taylor.

The cornerstone belief is that our potential is limitless and our aim is to inspire the kids to believe in themselves to pursue their dreams. Humanizing the pro athletes is key so the kids realize that we are all just people and that with hard work and determination, they too may accomplish great things, whatever that looks like for them.
— Ed Georgica



co-founder & Board member

William Yoachim is a proud member of Snuneymuxw FN, born and raised in Nanaimo.
Currently the Executive Director Kw’umut Lelum Child and Family Services, and former elected councillor member, City of Nanaimo. Bill received his Bachelor of Arts from Vancouver Island University (VIU) and Bachelor of Social Work from the University of Victoria.

A former elected member of Snuneymuxw Chief and Council 2002-2014 and former VIU Board of Governor 2008-2014, Bill has always maintained a focus on service to his community and was awarded the 2014 MLS Works Community MVP.

He his a proud father to daughter, Samantha, and a son, Joshua. Bill currently lives with his partner Shawn.

Hope and Health is how one shall live by, this movement to me is about providing children, youth and families with hope while providing health.
— William Yoachim


James Merriman

Board Member
Hope and Health Head Coach

Coaching Credentials
CSA B National Coaching License
NCCP Level three
NCI Advanced Coaching Diploma (trained)

Born and raised in Cedar, BC, James excelled and pursued soccer early becoming a Youth Provincial
and National level Player. As a NCAA DIV1 Athlete, 4 Year Letter Winner, he completed a Business Administration Degree at the University of Denver. James then moved on and played in the Professional Arena Soccer League & Premier Development League in Colorado, along with European experiences as he trained & studied in Germany, Turkey and England while he transitioned into coaching. He then contributed five seasons as an Assistant Coach at the collegiate level CCAA Vancouver Island University and NCAA Simon Fraser University. James formerly a Youth Coach for Vancouver Whitecaps FC accepted a very exciting role as the Assistant Coach with the newly launching Pacific FC (Canadian Premiere League), based out of Victoria, BC. Jamie loves fishing, art and spending time with family & friends on Vancouver Island!

A day of inspiration that gives us an opportunity to make positive change. The hope is the energy from this experience will truly make a difference in every person involved young and old. The goal is a healthier outlook on life and to give support and strength to those in need. Most of all,
its a special day with lots of smiles!
— James Merriman


Chief Wayne Sparrow

board member

Chief Wayne Sparrow yək̓ʷyak̓ʷəl̕əq of the Musqueam Indian Band was first elected in 2012. He has been serving the Musqueam community as a member of the Musqueam Chief and Council for over 15 years and has also held a seat on the Musqueam Fisheries Commission.
Chief Sparrow, as the chief negotiator for Musqueam Indian Band, has led the Band to sign precedent setting agreements that have renewed and strengthened relationships between Musqueam and other local First Nations.

Chief Sparrow’s principled approach is to be open and involved directly with his community through his knowledge, and passion for the Musqueam Culture and Traditions. Chief Sparrow is also actively involved in Musqueam’s participation in sports and is a proud supporter of all Musqueam youth.



Board Member

An athletic right back, Jake Nerwinski signed his first MLS contract with Vancouver Whitecaps FC on February 9, 2017 after getting selected seventh overall in the 2017 MLS SuperDraft, then was was named the club's Most Promising Player in his first season.

I have been fortunate enough to have been able to play professional soccer for a few years now and I believe that giving back to the community is the most important facet of my job. Hope and Health has given me the perfect opportunity to do so through a sport that has given me so much joy throughout my life. This organization has introduced me to a new community and culture that I have come to respect and greatly admire. I could not be more excited to start this year!
— Jake Nerwinski


Brett levis

Board Member

A speedy winger-turned-left back who previously excelled with Whitecaps FC U-23 and at the University of Saskatchewan (his hometown). Brett Levis joined Whitecaps FC 2 for the team's inaugural USL season.One of the first players signed to Whitecaps FC 2 in February 2015, and proceeded to record eight goals and four assists in 40 appearances in less than two seasons in the USL. Levis then signed an MLS contract with Whitecaps FC on August 23, 2016. 

“I was one of those kids who was athletic. I played a number of different sports. Soccer is just the one that stuck. It’s something I rolled with. It’s something I always played that I loved the most. The end goal was to make it as far as I possibly could. MLS, being from Saskatchewan, it was a little bit of a stretch. It was something I always wanted to do. It’s a cliche but it’s a dream come true.”

Soccer has helped me overcome many obstacles throughout my youth. I hope to use my platform as a professional athlete to help inspire children through community initiatives. I look forward to working with the Hope and Health foundation and helping kids reach their potential!
— Brett Levis