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Meet the team

Portrait image of Emily Flegel

Emily Flegel

Project Analyst


Emily’s role as Project Analyst is very dynamic. She has worked on everything from research to social media, report writing, and video editing. At the core Emily is responsible for organizing and reviewing relevant research and information and translating it into public project materials.

As a recent graduate from the University of Victoria, Emily obtained her Bachelor of Science in Psychology and brings a passion for mental health and wellbeing to her role. Through her own journey she understands the value of open discussion and accessible support in regard to mental health. She aims to help open the conversation and break down stigma around mental health challenges.
Further, Emily has been employed since she was 15 years old and worked in a number of different fields and positions. Because of this she has a deep understanding of youth’s experience navigating BC’s current employment field. She also understands and has experienced the positive impact workplace supports and accommodations can make on an individual’s employment journey.
When Emily is not working, she is passionate about fostering her own mental health and well-being. Some way she does this is through reading, getting outside, staying active in the BC Cheerleading community, and spending time with her dog, friends, and family.

Elliot Gustafson

Content & Curriculum Coordinator


Elliot is responsible for writing curriculum for the Employment Support Model for Youth with Disabilities and developing content for other project deliverables.

In his spare time, he enjoys playing tennis, training in martial arts as well as reading and overall staying active physically and socially.

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Rebecca Ipe

Research Coordinator


As the Research Coordinator, Rebecca engages in research and stakeholder collaboration towards the development of the Provincial Employment Strategy for Youth with Disabilities.

Prior to joining CanAssist, Rebecca obtained her PhD in Education at the University of Glasgow. Her research interests include community-based school governance, international development, humanitarian aid, and the lived schooling experiences of marginalised populations in rural south India. She has researched and volunteered with low-income populations in Glasgow, India, and Vancouver. She is passionate about leveraging research to advocate for sustainable policies and supports for a more inclusive, equitable and diverse Canadian society.

Ameera Azam

Research and Engagement Facilitator


Ameera has a Masters in Leadership Studies, focusing on Adult Education and Community Engagement. She is now the Research Facilitator for the Provincial Youth Employment Strategy project.
Ameera’s interests include improving accessibility and creating better opportunities for marginalized communities. Her research interests also include exploring the role of media in creating positive/progressive discourse for marginalized communities, particularly from a systemic discrimination perspective. She hopes to someday apply her learnings to her country of origin – Pakistan.
In her free time, Ameera enjoys reading, blogging, photography, and exploring the beautiful Vancouver Island.


Laura Pringle

Community Network Engagement Coordinator


As Community Network Engagement Coordinator, Laura helps include youth with disabilities and the wider community in the work of the Provincial Employment Strategy for Youth with Disabilities. Laura sees working on the ESYD as an opportunity to meet and learn from many people.

Having personal experience with disabilities, Laura benefited immensely for the support of a job-coach. She hopes that many more people will have access to whatever supports they need.

In the past, Laura has worked in childcare, volunteer coordination, and student facilitation. Her interests include learning (and unlearning) and being a part of communities such as her pop/indie/folk choir. Laura is an outdoor-enthusiast, dog-lover, and proud Aunt.

Alejandra Hergert

Community Network Engagement Facilitator


Alejandra works closely with our Coordinator and collaborates and engages with community partners and stakeholders.  She has over 10 years’ experience working with people facing barriers to employment.  She has worked extensively in non-profits in the designing, planning, and development of the curriculum for youth employment programs. 

She has a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology from UBC and a Career Development Practitioner Certificate from SFU.   She is passionate about disability inclusion and believes firmly that it should start in the early stages of education to set the path for success.  In her free time, she enjoys spending time with her family outdoors going paddleboarding, hiking, biking, and looking up at the planets and stars with her telescope. 


Sarah Grindlay

Communications Coordinator


Sarah is responsible for designing, creating, and editing all communications for the Employment Strategy for Youth with Disabilities (ESYDBC) project. Sarah brings over ten years of experience as a writer, editor, manager and team-builder, and six years as a UVic employee.

She is a UVic alumna (‘15), a person with invisible disability, and proud member of the LGBTQ2S+ community. Sarah holds a Bachelor of Arts (BA) with distinction, specializing in English, Writing and Professional Writing. She is currently completing her certificates in both Editing and Plain Language Writing through Simon Fraser University.

In her spare time, Sarah is a dog mom, an amateur potter, a writer of fiction and poetry, and an unsuccessful but enthusiastic gardener.

Dushan Ouyang

Media Assistant


Dushan is currently pursuing a Bachelor of Arts in Visual Art and Art History at the University of Victoria. As a fluent speaker of Mandarin, Japanese, and English, she has a passion for inclusive and effective cross-cultural communication. With a strong interest in learning and growth, she is enthusiastic about supporting the Provincial Employment Strategy for Youth with Disabilities project.


She loves films and literature when she’s off work.

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Margarita jarrin

Communications Assistant


Margarita is the Communications Assistant for the ESYD project. Currently, she's doing a MA in Global Leadership at Royal Roads University. She is from Quito, Ecuador and is a newcomer to Canada. She has a BA in Organizational Communications. Her background is in communications, HR, training, and education.

Margarita's own experience with a disability motivates her to connect people with disabilities to resources. Her Masters project aims to enhance inclusion for international students with disabilities and neurodiversity in higher education.

She also works as a Spanish teacher for all ages. In her spare time, Margarita is a "dog mom" to a cute min-pin named Amy Winehouse. She enjoys cooking, theater, movies, traveling, and singing.

mitchell brown

Research Assistant


Mitch is a co-op student in the role of Research Assistant. He is currently working towards a Master's in Public Administration from the University of Victoria. He has his bachelor's degree in social research from the University of the Fraser Valley.

Much of his past work experience has been working with children in various roles including youth baseball coach, behavioural interventionalist and summer camp coordinator.

In his spare time Mitch enjoys playing sports such as baseball and pickleball, hiking and surfing.

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