Board & Staff

The YANA Board of Directors meet monthly on the first Thursday of each month at the YANA office at 6:30pm with the exception of July and March. The first portion of the meeting is open to the general public. We welcome people to come out to learn about the organization and to share new ideas. Our Annual General Meeting is the first Thursday in October of each year.

Meet the Board of Directors


Kelly Rusk (President)

As a member of the Comox Fire Department, I first became aware of YANA when we chose it as the main organization of choice for our donations. I learned of how YANA touched so many lives through other members of the Fire Department as well as other Comox Valley residents I met during our fundraising efforts. When I was asked to become involved as a board member, I thought it was a great opportunity for me to give back to an organization that has given so much to the families of the Comox Valley.

KATE BERG (vice-president)

I was inspired to become involved with YANA through my work in the Comox Valley School District. It is through this work that I have become personally acquainted with many families that have benefitted from YANA and have been moved by their stories. I strongly believe in service and contribution to my community and feel YANA demonstrates those same values. Being part of this organization feels like a perfect fit for me and it is a pleasure to sit on the board of directors with other like-minded individuals.

Marcel Moose (Treasurer)

When I learned about the amazing ways YANA helps families in the Comox Valley I knew I wanted to get involved.   Being on the board allows me to see how much of a difference YANA can make first hand.  We are truly lucky to have YANA as part of our community.

Ashley smith (Secretary)

YANA holds a particularly special place in my heart because of its sole commitment to sick kids and pregnant mothers. As a mother of a son diagnosed with leukemia, I understand the emotional devastation and financial burden that families are faced with during a time when their only focus should be their child’s health. I first became aware of YANA when I moved to the Valley in 2008 and saw a local transport truck with the YANA logo parked in the ferry line-up. Since then, I have come to learn of the vast work YANA does and how much love this community has for YANA. YANA’s presence in the Comox Valley and the support it receives from the community it serves (for over 30 years), speaks to the incredible need for this type of service in our Valley. This obvious community love and support is the reason why I wanted to get involved. I want to help other families who might need some extra support during challenging times and offer any help I can. I am so proud to be part of this dedicated YANA team and look forward to getting to know the families we serve and the amazing supporters we have!

Gary Ardron

My wife and I have supported YANA for a number of years as we recognized what a great organization it is and the role that it plays in supporting the needs of families with sick children in the Comox Valley. It became even more important to us over the last couple of years when our daughter in law went into labour at 24 weeks and was sent to the Womens Center in Vancouver. Our twin grandsons were born a few days later and many months later after an extensive stay in the neo natal intensive care unit we were able to bring home our one little grandson. YANA supported our son and daughter in law throughout this difficult time. I don’t know how to express our gratitude for this terrific organization. I have recently joined the board to try to give a little back and to help ensure that families going through similar circumstances continue to receive the support that is so needed during these times.

Laura Bomback

I have been involved with YANA in various capacities over the years.  It began in 1999, when my son was 3, and we were sent to Children’s Hospital for Diabetes training.  I remain involved with YANA because I love that it is such  a unique local charity that helps families stay together when their child is sick.

Dan costain

I love that YANA is local and I want to contribute to this group that helps provide support for families who need to travel for medical care for their children. The last thing people in crisis need is to be worried about finances and accommodation. I get emotional just thinking about it so I can’t imagine living through it. Our community has been so helpful and being a part of sustaining that support is my goal.

Rosanne Gerritsen

Profile coming soon…..

Brenda Hunt

Profile coming soon…..

Lesley Hunter

I started volunteering to make Christmas crackers and discovered an amazing new family. I love YANA.

adam wunderlich

YANA is a fantastic organization that embodies the true spirit of community. I’m inspired by the passion and dedication that the staff, volunteers and community show in supporting Comox Valley families. I look forward to being part of the commitment that continues this work.

Meet the Staff

Left to right: Dennyse Harris, Kelly Barnie, Deanne McRae, Joan McCaughey.

Kelly Barnie (executive director)

I have had the honor of working in nonprofit leadership for most of my career. I learned about YANA soon after my family and I moved to the Comox Valley in 2010. While working and volunteering in children’s sports, I kept hearing stories about how this wonderful organization helped local children and families. I heard about how the community rallied together to provide donations to make the support possible. To me, YANA represents exactly what makes this such an extraordinary place to live – families, friends, colleagues and community leaders helping, spreading love, and wrapping each other with caring and compassion when it’s needed most. I’m so grateful to be part of this inspiring organization that helps families access the care that they need, knowing their community has their back every step of the way. You can reach me at

DEANNE McRAE (Community Relations coordinator)

I am a born and raised Comox Valley girl and, for decades, have felt the importance of this grass roots organization. I have been attending events and donating to YANA since Terry David Mulligan hosted the celebrity auctions in the 1990s (I still have my Wayne’s World and Regis Philbin autographs). The core values of family, community, and kindness were instilled in me growing up, they guide how my husband and I are raising our two daughters and they steer my work with YANA. Like many of you, I know people who have needed YANA in their lives and as the community has grown in size, so has the need for YANA’s services. Contributions from local people and businesses have always been the foundation of YANA and I’m proud to work with our caring community to ensure support continues to be available to local families. You can reach me at

dennyse harris (family Services, relief staff)

My first experience with YANA was as an attendee at the 2011 YANA Auction. I remember being overwhelmed by the feeling of love and compassion in the room. I genuinely felt like I had made a difference through my donation that evening and knew it would be put directly into the hands of those families who needed it most.

The following year, there we were, a family with a 5-year-old son, and a 3-year-old daughter diagnosed with Leukemia. Our world was turned upside down as we had to spend over three months over Christmas in hospital with our daughter at BC Children’s Hospital in Vancouver. YANA was there for us every step of the way. The apartment on Oak Street, so close to the hospital was a haven, a break from the rigors of the hospital chaos, machines beeping constantly and the revolving doors of doctors and specialists. After our daughter finished her treatment, I began to use my diverse skills in planning, networking and organizing to plan events to raise money for YANA and for BC Children’s Hospital. I continued to connect and promote authentic, strong, and passionate people in my life, to fundraise for children and families with life-threatening illness as well as to advocate for selfcare for the parents and caregivers. I am beyond happy, and fully committed to being an integral part of the YANA team and look forward to caring and supporting our families in the Comox Valley.

Joan McCaughey (family Services, relief staff)

I lived in the Comox Valley for most of my life and raised my three children here. During that time I was well aware of YANA and the wonderful work the organization was doing in the community. In 2009, my job took me to a small town in the Okanagan. Three other Rotarians and I saw a need for an organization such as YANA in that community and the Highway to Healing Support Society was created using YANA as a model. In 2016, I returned to the Comox Valley and had the good fortune to arrive right when YANA was looking for someone to fill in on a casual basis for the Executive Director. YANA is a wonderful asset to the Comox Valley and I am truly honoured to be associated with it.