Who We Are
Sunrise was created in response to community concerns about social problems in Calgary's Eastern Suburbs. In 1997 a number of organisations formed a working committee to address these concerns.
There was an agreement that a centre was needed in East Calgary to provide information dissemination, referrals to services, and accessible programming. In September 2000, Sunrise was established.
We have been operating now for 20 years in various locations throughout East Calgary, and have a team of dedicated and hardworking staff and volunteers, helping to better the lives of individuals and families in some of the most economically challenged neighbourhoods in Calgary.
Executive and Management Team
Salimah Kassam, Executive Director
"As a collaborator and friend of Sunrise Community Link for the past six years, I have great respect and admiration for the people and the work of this vital and vibrant organization. I am happy to support Sunrise in continuing to be resilient, sustainable, effective and excellent. My career has been committed to finding solutions that work to solve the complex and persistent problem of poverty in our communities. I am excited to work with the Sunrise team and volunteer community, and I believe together, we will design and create a better day-to-day reality for Calgarians living on very low incomes.
A bit more about me:
I am a highly empathetic, resourceful and driven leader who is determined to make meaningful impacts on the people and systems in Calgary. I am driven to envision and execute strategy, galvanize resources, track results, and make lasting shifts in society. I am a subject matter expert in policy development, asset-building, poverty reduction, social housing, community economic development and behavioral economics. As Manager of the Financial Empowerment Network for Untied Way Calgary and Area, I acted as a key player in launching, building and executing Calgary’s poverty reduction plan and Canada’s national financial empowerment movement. Prior to joining United Way, I spent five years working for Momentum, Community Economic Development. During this time, I partnered with individuals and families experiencing living on a low income to create positive financial change in their lives. During my final years at Momentum, I worked to receive a Masters’ in Public Policy from the University of Calgary.
I have a deep appreciation for the role art plays in solving complex social issues. Currently, I am the President of the Board at Downstage Theatre, a board member with Cornerstone Youth Centres, and I often volunteer with the Ismaili Muslim community. If you would like to connect over a coffee, please feel free to connect with me."
Manager - People and Programs
"Hello, my name is Melissa Bohnsack. I have been working in the human services field for just over ten years. The majority of which has been as Sunrise Community Link. My educational background is in Social Work and Business Administration, as well as some trades experience.
I enjoy working at Sunrise Community Link because the programs, staff and board truly follow the agency's vision and mission. I currently work as the Manager of People and Programs at Sunrise. Our goal is to contribute to a stronger community by creating space and encouraging community members to play a leading role in the design of programs and initiatives that they use."
CRC HUB Community Advocate
"I am so excited to have joined the wonderful team at Sunrise Community Link. Originally from Ontario, I made the decision to move to Calgary a few years ago after completing my degree in English Literature with a minor in French. I love everything to do with literature, creative writing, and spoken word; now, as a certified teacher, storytelling is one of my favourite tools to use both in the classroom, and in the community.
Ever since I can remember, all work and volunteer opportunities that have truly nourished my soul have been focused around supporting others through advocacy. Through the years, my experience has consisted of an intersection of working with people experiencing homelessness, youth in the justice system, children, individuals struggling with mental and physical health, and community advocacy.
I enjoy spending time with my family, whether that is spending summers in Lebanon with my parents and siblings, visiting Ontario, or exploring what Calgary has to offer with my partner, my cat Bella, and my Border Collie pup Talulah.
I love Calgary, and I know I’m exactly where I need to be; I hope to meet you soon!"
"I’m thrilled to be a part of the team at Sunrise Community Link and look forward to all the wonderful adventures I’m sure to have with the community of East Calgary.
One of my favorite things to do is share stories with other community members because stories are magical and transformative. One of my missions in life to create spaces where people feel safe and comfortable enough to share what they feel is important.
My family and friends are incredibly important to me. A very important member of my family is Ruthie, my lovely grey cat.
Thanks for reading a bit about me, I hope to one day listen to your story."
Operations and Support Team
"Originally from Auckland, New Zealand, I moved to Canada in late 2016. Initially I had just intended to stay for a winter and get some snowboarding in, but then I fell in love with the country and the people here and I decided to stay.
Back in New Zealand I worked in the telecommunications industry as a Product Manager. I was excited about the opportunity to work at Sunrise and do something that was a little more fulfilling, helping the amazing people who work here improve the lives of East Calgarians.
When not at work I enjoy socialising, sports, travelling, staying active and making the most of the beautiful surroundings and activities that Alberta has to offer."
"I am excited to join the amazing team at Sunrise Community Link. I began my career, fresh out of college, working as a Job Coach and I loved it. Through out the years I have had the privilege of working with persons with disabilities, persons living with a mental illness and persons experiencing homelessness.
One of the highlights of my career was the development and operation of a transitional housing program in Williams Lake, British Columbia. I moved to Calgary in 2017; a big shock for a country girl, but I love this city and all it has to offer.
When I am not working, I enjoy spending time with my two granddaughters, doing portrait photography or doing work as a Pay It Forward International Ambassador."
Board of Directors 2020-2021
The Sunrise Board of Directors is a diverse group of highly-skilled volunteers stewarding our organization to achieve positive outcomes in the community. Our Board of Directors determines Sunrise’s strategic direction and governs our organization.
Nicole Olsen - President
Deborah (Lynn) Robbins-Junor - Vice President
Allisa Park - Treasurer
Anson Wu - Director
Larry Wu - Director
Irma Roberts - Director