Our Board

Meet the passionate and talented stewards of SJMA

Lianne Gulka


Building on her SJMA volunteer experience, Lianne is thrilled to combine her volunteer marketing & leadership skills with her lifelong passion for music & education as a SJMA Board member. Raised in a musical and teaching family, Lianne has an ARCT degree in Piano Performance, Royal Conservatory of Music & ran a successful Music For Young Children studio with 100+ students from 1998-2008. Lianne has a BA ( honours) from Queen’s & an MBA from York University along with 10 years’ experience in the financial markets.

Her volunteer experience ranges from Room To Read Canada (3rd world literacy & girl’s education), to health-related charities such as the BC Lupus Society & Arthritis Research Canada where she co-chaired the Patient Advisory Board for eight years and served on the ARC Board of Directors.

As a visual artist, Lianne is also a member of the Portside Art Studio co-op in East Van( www.lianneart.com ) & she donates sales from her music ( www.liannemusic.com ) to SJMA.

Always a fan of excellence, Lianne is passionate about raising awareness of the quality and “magic” that exists at St James.

Jenn Hepburn​


Jenn is a Certified Management Accountant and has over ten years experience in public company financial reporting. She is experienced in operational and financial analysis, project management and systems implementation, having worked in agriculture, bio-technology, manufacturing and mining sectors. She excitedly brings to the board her operational and financial experience. Jenn grew up playing the violin and trombone with the Vancouver Youth Symphony Orchestra and is committed to supporting youth in music. She believes passionately that music supports the skills for success and growth in young people. And that most importantly, music builds communities. Jenn is proud to be a part of the SJMA community through volunteering and as a member of the board. In her role as the treasurer, Jenn is to provide financial oversight and governance for the organization through presenting the board accurate and timely financial information, evaluating financial risks and opportunities, and ensuring funds are used in line with SJMA’s mission statement.

Don Shumka


Don is a lifelong supporter of the arts in British Columbia having served as the Chair of the Board of Emily Carr University of Art and Design, the British Columbia Arts Council and Ballet British Columbia.  He is currently on the Board of the Emily Carr Foundation and the Chairman’s Advisory Council of Science World.  In the Downtown Eastside, he is a benefactor of Union Gospel Mission, First United Church and the Heart of the City Festival.  Prior to joining the Board of SJMA, he has been a long-time donor.  Professionally, Don is a retired investment banker.  He has a BA in Economics from UBC and an MBA from Harvard University.

David Gens


David Gens is an award-winning business leader who is passionate about helping Canadian small businesses grow and find the financing they need. David is the founder and CEO of Merchant Growth, which grew from its humble beginnings in his apartment to offices in both Toronto and Vancouver. He now leads one of Canada’s largest online small business finance companies.
David has been an active musician his whole life, playing drums, guitar, bass and piano, and performing in a number of bands. He was the drummer for Head of the Herd whose song “By This Time Tomorrow” made it to #1 on the Canadian Rock Radio charts, which led to the band opening for Guns N’ Roses, Alice in Chains, The Sheepdogs, and many more. Music has had a profound impact on David’s life and he is keen to help spread its positivity through St James Music Academy. 

Kael Vincent


Kael Vincent has been part of the music school since day one.  Since having joined the program as a student in 2007, Kael has developed and enjoyed a great love of music;  His musical journey began with double bass, choir, and classical guitar through SJMA, to self-instruction later on in other instruments and styles, such as the accordion.  Kael has continued to play music regularly since having graduated from SJMA in 2014.

As part of the staff team from 2018-2022, and eventually as Operations Manager, Kael was instrumental in the day-to-day operations of the music school.  Since 2022, he has volunteered weekly, teaching stringed instruments to students with learning differences. 

Kael believes that every student deeply matters and has something unique to offer the world.  It is his hope that through discovering their ability to play music – and through the care of teachers and staff – all SJMA students may come to know this more fully. 

A life-long resident of Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside, Kael knows first hand of its suffering and beauty.  He looks forward to bringing his experience to the SJMA board and to supporting the work of the music school.

Rosmarie Schipizky


Rosemarie has a lifelong love of music. As a member of SJMA’s board, she combines this passion with her legal knowledge and other volunteer experiences. The dedication, discipline and joy of music is wonderful to share in community – something that SJMA excels at. Rosie played various instruments in her youth (piano, flute and balalaika), has always been a regular concertgoer and currently sings in United Voices Choir, a community choir performing large choral works with orchestra and soloists. Rosie is a trustee at St Anselm’s Anglican Church and president of Oak Counselling Services Society, a non-profit providing professional, low-cost counselling services. Rosemarie is a retired lawyer with the federal government.

Shirley Lu


Shirley Lu, CPA, is a Senior Accountant, Assurance Services for the Grant Thornton Vancouver office. She offers more than four years of public accounting experience acquired in Vancouver and Montreal. She specializes in supervising and managing audits, financial reporting, and financial statement reviews. Throughout her time in public practice, Shirley mainly focuses on public companies in the mining, retail, technologies industries as well as financial institutions and mortgage investment corporations. Outside of audit, Shirley is actively involved in the business unit’s training and onboarding efforts.

Shirley grew up playing piano and currently enjoys playing her travel-size guitar and singing during her spare time. She is excited about joining the board as the new treasurer and bringing her accounting knowledge to contribute to the SJMA community.

Joyce Locht


As a deacon at St James’ Anglican Church and the Street Outreach Initiative, Joyce Locht is happy to join the directors of the St James Music Academy. She knows many of residents in the neighbourhood through her work as a mental health therapist, as well as living just a short walk from the church.

Joyce values the gift of music training during her early years as well as in adulthood. In her current work as a trauma therapist, she knows that music training and participation in group musical endeavors help to build resilience and contribute to healing.  Participation in creative ventures and healthy interactions with others lead to the development of resilience. Qualities like teamwork, empathy and grit take root and flourish through music-making at St. James Music Academy.

SJMA is a ‘village’ devoted to the healthy development of children; Joyce is honoured to be part of this life-giving community.

Join Our Team

Join a passionate team committed to social change through the power of music.

Not all heroes wear capes! Come join a community of changemakers.


Community building and collaboration. Together we can do big things!