Our Team

Meet the Board of Directors

Brenda Beck, President

Brenda Beck is a strategic planning consultant who heads a Coquitlam-based firm.  She holds certifications in architecture, engineering, and facilitation and provides facilities planning services primarily to institutional clients.  Brenda has also been active as a volunteer with several not-for-profit organizations in the Lower Mainland and is pleased to be supporting Talitha Koum women as a volunteer driver and board member.


Mary O'Neill

Mary O’Neill, Vice President

An educator for almost 40 years, Mary has worked as a teacher, counsellor, vice-principal and principal with the Coquitlam School District, concluding her career as the principal of Dr. Charles Best Secondary School. Since retiring in 2014, Mary works intermittently on a contract basis with the school district and is also an Associate Faculty in the MEd School Counselling Program at City University of Seattle (Vancouver campus).

Maria Tanaka, Treasurer

Maria has been providing accounting and bookkeeping services since 1981. She served on the Parish Education Committee of Our Lady of Fatima School in Coquitlam for 10 years.   She still is and has been on the board of the Festival Coquitlam Society for 15 years.  Presently she is also on the executive board of St. Clare of Assisi Parish Finance committee and the Catholic Women’s League council where she has served at the parish and the diocesan levels.



Jessica Spraggs, Secretary

“Jessica is a lawyer who has been providing legal services at a law firm in the Tri-Cities for over ten years.  As Chief Administrative Officer of the firm, she puts her Master of Business Administration to good use.  Jessica also works as a part-time instructor at Trinity Western University where she teaches business law in the School of Business.  While her work brings her great fulfillment, she finds true joy in parenting her four children.”

Sister Denece Billesberger, Sej., Director

Sister Denece has been a pillar of the society from its inception.  As a retired teacher and guidance counsellor, she previously helped with programming at Talitha Koum and is now our #1 volunteer driver.  The Sisters of the Child Jesus, of whom she is a member, have a long association with the Maillardville (Coquitlam) community who have lived and served at Our Lady of Lourdes Parish for over 100 years.


Sylvia Wallis, Director

Sylvia Wallis has worked in the social service field for thirty-five years, supporting youth, children and families. Sylvia has volunteered in programs supporting women and children and has been a foster parent to children and youth with special needs.  She has lived in the Tri-cities area her entire life. She is the mother of adult children and a grandmother of two.




Terry O’Neill, Director 

After an awarding-winning, 35-year career in journalism, Terry O’Neill served two terms on Coquitlam City Council before retiring in 2018 to focus on people and projects closer to home and closer to his heart. He has been honoured for distinguished citizenship and humanitarianism by both the Canadian Red Cross Society and Canadian Blood Services. He is the founder of Blooms into Rooms: The Easter Flowers Project.




Sebastian Thomas, Director

After two years on the Talitha Koum Board as Treasurer in 2014 and 2015, Sebastian returned to the board in 2021 after retiring as the Chief Financial Officer of an innovative BC-based company. With professional accounting designations from Canada and other jurisdictions, Sebastian has worked in many countries, across various industries.  As a volunteer, Sebastian has provided board and treasurer support for charitable agencies. In addition to volunteering with Talitha Koum, Sebastian serves on the governance board of a veterans-focused, seniors’ care centre in Burnaby.


Meet Our Staff

Talitha Koum is staffed, whenever possible, by alumni who serve as program director, facilitator, and evening/weekend support workers. Our employees/alumni continue to give support to help refine our program and ensure that it continues to be relevant and successful.                                         

Odo Nkum, Executive Director

Odo has worked in the addictions and mental health field for over 5 years, mostly in the Downtown Eastside of Vancouver.  Before working at TK she worked with the Canadian Mental Health Association (BC). Odo sees her work as a calling and is committed to support the women to break the cycle of addiction and assume their God-given identity. Odo holds a Masters of Education in Leadership.

Jodie Gruninger, Outreach Coordinator/ Facilitator (on leave)

Jodie is the Outreach Coordinator and Facilitator of Talitha Koum Society. She has a passion for working with women in addiction and her willingness to share her personal story are instrumental in leading other women on their journey of recovery.   A graduate and former client of Talitha Koum Society, Jodie’s success with the program brings a positive wealth of experience and knowledge.

Program Support Staff

Terri Maclennan , Facilitator

Kyla Gillespie, Facilitator

Candace Karlson, Evening and Weekend Support Worker

Shawna Johnson, Evening Support Worker

Mercy Ojo, Evening and Night Support Worker

Rose Owusu, Evening and Weekend Support Worker

Vera Yawson, Evening and Weekend Support Worker

Kiana Riazi Kermani, Evening and Weekend Support Worker

Aleesa Vanderwell, Evening and Weekend Support Worker

Office Support Staff

Sandra Uzelac – Office Assistant

Anastasia Ponomarenko – Bookkeeper