Our Team

Karen Giesbrecht

Network Coordinator & Dietitian
cell 778-840-4775    email

Karen cultivates a community of practice among food charities so they can share ideas and resources, inspire each other to deeper hospitality that increases access to nutritious food, build resilient residents and neighbourhoods, and prompt a cultural shift in both the Christian and the wider community away from random charity toward sustainable and equitable local food systems.

Karen is a registered dietitian with a particular interest in mental health and nutrition, having worked with people with mental health challenges in both Vancouver and Jamaica.  She holds a master’s degree in healthcare leadership from Royal Roads University (RRU), where she studied collaboration and engagement with people from diverse healthcare disciplines.  The focus of her research at RRU was the relationships between the youth, staff, and volunteers in a mentorship program for at-risk youth.

Outside her role with CityGate, Karen works with Tenth Church, coordinating their weekly meal programs, and as the dietitian with the Salvation Army Harbour Light. She currently serves, by  invitation, on the food security committee of the College of Dietitians of BC. She was a founding Board member of Inner Hope Youth Ministries, a housing and support program for at-risk youth in Vancouver. Karen takes great delight in sharing good meals with her family, friends, and those in her community who are hungry.

Simeon Pang

Community Kitchen Coordinator
cell 604-518-2676   email

Simeon oversees all elements of our cooking groups, including grocery shopping, creating opportunities for learning, and working with participants to plan healthy, balanced menus which incorporate family traditions, new eating experiences, and personal preferenes. Simeon also ensures that each kitchen is a positive environment where friendships can develop and personal growth occurs.

Simeon has a BSc in Plant & Animal Science, a Post-Graduate Diploma in Landscape Design, and an undergraduate Diploma in Fine Arts. His diverse work experience, which includes student ministry in the UK, a kindergarten T.A. in Hong Kong, and a wood fired pizza chef in beautiful British Columbia, makes him uniquely qualified for his role.

Simeon also works for one of Planted’s partners, Grandview Calvary Baptist Church in east Vancouver, where he coordinates their Crossroads Community Meal. He is known for his delicious butter chicken, embracing Vancouverites love of flavours from around the world.

Jonathan Bird

Executive Director
cell 778-881-2137   email

Jonathan works to extend the reach of Planted, to root it deeply in the principles of Asset Based Community Development, and to cross-pollinate it’s ancient spiritual perspectives with contemporary environmental and civic concerns.

Prior to founding CityGate Leadership Forum and launching its Planted initiative, Jonathan helped establish a holistic drop-in centre (including the Crossroads Community Meal) for Grandview Calvary Baptist Church in east Vancouver. He holds a MA in Old Testament Studies from Regent College where he studied the ethical thrust of the Jewish Law and Prophets as well as the implications of ancient Israel’s story for Christian mission in the postmodern era. He also holds a MA in Literature from Miami University, where he studied critical theory and the aspirations of Avant-Garde artists to become the prime force for social justice and harmony after the “death of God.”