Candidate profiles for Abbotsford board of education

The following is a brief overview of Abbotsford board of education candidates.

  • Nov. 1, 2011 10:00 a.m.

The following is a brief overview of Abbotsford board of education candidates in the municipal election on Nov. 19. In addition, the Abbotsford News will publish a special section on all the election candidates on Nov. 10.

Aeriol Alderking

Experience: small business owner/operator

Associations: founder of Radically Free Youth Society, vice-president of the Fraser Valley Conservancy, Abbotsford Middle School breakfast program, Parents’ Advisory Council, suicide prevention programs, First Nations relations

Uultsje DeJong (incumbent)

Experience: manager of protection services at the Abbotsford Regional Hospital and Conference Centre

Associations: founder and former chair of the DREAM Society, founder of Abbotsford Restorative Justice and Advocacy Association, member of the Abbotsford Traffic Safety Committee,  chair of the Abbotsford school district finance and facilities committee, awarded the B.C. community Achievement Award in 2004 for his work in social justice

Balbir Gill

Experience: started as a library technician with the Fraser Valley Regional Library 17 years ago and is now a librarian; also worked with the school district as a library technician and ESL assistant

Associations: member of Punjabi Development Council and the Fraser Valley Indo-Canadian Business Association, representative of Punjabi Parents of Traditional Schools, crossing guard and supervisor at Abbotsford Traditional Middle School, member of the school’s Parent Advisory Council, volunteer with the Abbotsford food bank and the Salvation Army

Ralf Landsberger

Experience: Has worked with children and youth for more than 20 years, and currently runs iCON Youth Ministries and the SWAT (Spiritual Weapons and Tactics) team

Associations: member of Christian Life Community Church, involved in the children’s ministry;  involved with numerous children and youth initiatives/events in the community, including a “mobile youth centre” and job training/placement for young people with developmental disabilities

Freddy Latham

Experience: retired educator, and founder and artistic director of Abbotsford Children’s Theatre

Associations: commissioner on the parks, recreation and culture commission; chair of the Arts and Heritage Advisory Committee; member of the City of Abbotsford’s Canada Day Committee; ceremonies director for the 2002 Disability Games and the 2004 Summer Games

Graham MacDonell

Experience: former teacher, weekly community reporter and editor during the 1970s, worked for BC Hydro’s public affairs division in the early 1980s, and now a professional genealogist and communications consultant

Associations: trustee on Surrey board of education in the 1970s, member of the Abbotsford Genealogical Society, former volunteer with the BC Liberal Party, produced and hosted a weekly cable show on education in Chilliwack and a live phone-in program on current topics

Korky Neufeld (incumbent)

Experience: former pastor at The Meeting Place church and now project manager for a construction firm in Abbotsford

Associations: former leader of the Abbotsford Christian Leaders Network, worked with city council’s bridge house task force, former executive with Love Abbotsford, member of the UFV committee council and the BC School Trustees Association provincial council

Rhonda Pauls

Experience: previously operated a preschool daycare, now self-employed

Associations: vice-chair and then chair of the District Parents’ Advisory Council for six years; representative on the School Planning Council steering committee; coach for school volleyball, basketball and cross country teams; community baseball and basketball coach; special education representative; school fees review team

Stan Petersen

Experience: retired after more than 33 years as a teacher, vice-principal and principal in Abbotsford

Associations: vice-president of the Abbotsford Youth Commission; chair of HANDS UP fundraiser for local charities; member of the committee that organizes the Abbotsford Police City Basketball Tournament; member of the organizing committee of the Disability Games; member of the selection committee for the Sports Hall of Fame

Preet Rai (incumbent)

Experience: a chartered accountant from India, immigrated to the UK in 1992 and worked for the Scottish government before moving to Canada in 1995; now works as an auditor with the Ministry of Finance

Associations: member of the Canuck Place campaign executive committee and the South Asian task force for fundraising toward the children’s hospice in Abbotsford, volunteer organizer for the AbbyFest multicultural event, director on various other committees and organizations

Cindy Schafer (incumbent)

Experience: owner of Architectural Interiors by Schafer Design, an interior design consulting business in Abbotsford

Associations: former member and chair of the Abbotsford District Parents’ Advisory Council; member of the Abbotsford Community Foundation Awards committee; representative on the parks, recreation and culture commission; member of the finance committee for the BC School Trustees Association

John Sutherland (incumbent)

Experience: retired professor/university dean now working half-time as a church director and teacher

Associations: pastor of neXus Church, member of the Abbotsford Social Development Advisory Committee, and commissioner with the parks, recreation and culture commission

Matt Thiessen

Experience: owner of RTOWN Abbotsford Digital Media and a realtor

Associations: played on the University of the Fraser Valley men’s basketball team that won the 2001-02 national championship, former BC Senior Games volunteer, former member of the Abbotsford Air Force board, member of Northview Community Church’s men’s commission, led MEI student on mission trip to Mexico in 2006 and 2007

Shirley Wilson (incumbent)

Experience: fund developer and communication liaison in the charitable sector, formerly with Big Brothers Big Sisters of the Fraser Valley and now with the Langley Memorial Hospital Foundation

Associations: director with the Fraser Valley Child Development Foundation, former president of the BC School Trustees Association Fraser Valley branch, chair of the school district’s policy committee, representative of the BC Public School Employers Association, former chair and vice-chair of the parks, recreation and culture commission

Information on candidate Arlene Ambrose could not be obtained by press deadline.


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