PHS Community Services Society appoints BCCLA policy director Micheal Vonn as CEO

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      Ever since the founders of the PHS Community Services Society—Liz Evans and Mark Townsend—resigned in 2014, there's been a fair amount of turnover in the top position.

      Ted Bruce served as executive director for 14 months, followed by Eamon O'Loacha for eight months. Then Jennifer Breakspear held the position for 22 months before being succeeded on an interim basis by long-time employee Andy Bond.

      Today, the PHS board announced that that it has hired a chief executive officer, Micheal Vonn, who will assume this position on September 3.

      Vonn has been policy director of the B.C. Civil Liberties Association for 15 years, outlasting several of the organization's executive directors, including Attorney General David Eby.

      She's a former chair of the AIDS Vancouver board and volunteered for that organization in the 1990s.

      In addition, Vonn has been an adjunct professor at the UBC Peter A. Allard School of Law and at UBC's School of Library, Archival and Information Studies.

      "The BCCLA is a friend of PHS and intervened in the Insite case at the Supreme Court of Canada," Vonn said in a PHS news release. "I have fought for rights and freedoms in every realm imaginable, from street protest to presentations to Parliament, and I am excited to bring this work to PHS."

      The chair of the PHS board, former journalist Allen Garr, praised the appointment of Vonn.

      "We believe her interdisciplinary background and years of leadership doing advocacy work will serve our staff and community as we navigate the prohibition crisis and the many challenges that come with supporting a community of those who have been underserved," Garr said.

      PHS manages more than 1,500 units of rental housing in 24 low-barrier locations, including shelters. It also co-manages the Insite supervised-injection facility with Vancouver Coastal Health.

      PHS co-manages Insite, which was Canada's first legal supervised-injection site.

      In its most recent filing to the Canada Revenue Agency for the 2017-18 fiscal year, PHS reported revenues of $38.6 million, of which $29.3 million came from provincial or territorial governments. Another $693,051 came from municipal or regional governments, with $627,008 received from the federal government.

      Expenses reached $39.4 million, leaving an annual deficit of about $760,000.

      The PHS news release did not disclose Vonn's salary.

      PHS revealed that in 2017-18, it had one employee who earned between $160,000 and $199,999. Two more were paid between $120,000 to $159,999, and seven others received between $80,000 and $119,999.

      Unlike some registered charities in the health field, PHS has not created a separate fundraising foundation to flow funding to its operating entity. However, it's still actively encouraging donations to the society to help pay for services to some of the lowest-income people in British Columbia.

      Watch this video explaining how Insite functions.