Foundation Board

Board Executive

Nick Cheng Picture

Nick Cheng, Chair
Financial Advisor, Edward Jones


Nick has been a Financial Advisor with Edward Jones since 2002, where he has managed the New Westminster B.C., branch. He is a Limited Partner of the firm, and has served in several leadership and mentoring roles in the Greater Vancouver region. Nick has a PhD degree from Cornell University in Ithaca, NY, a BSc from Peking University in Beijing, and is a chartered member of the Elder Planning Counsellor (EPC). He is an active member of the local community. He serves on The Copper Ridge Conference Centre Board, The Rotary Club of New Westminster, The New Westminster Foundation, and The Finance Committee of the Village of Anmore. He has been proudly recognized with the following: Paul Harris Fellow - Rotary International 2013; Judge - Citizen of the Year New Westminster 2009; and Business Person of the Year - New Westminster Chamber of Commerce 2008. He lives in Anmore, B.C., with his wife and daughter.

John Evans

John Evans, Vice-Chair
Former Senior VP and Chief Human Resource Officer, BCAA
John retired in 2011 after many years in the human resources profession. His most recent position was Senior VP and CHRO for BCAA, where he served as an executive team member from 1993 until his retirement. Previous experience involved diverse public and private sector roles with Pacific Vocational Institute, Expo 86 Corporation, the provincial health care sector, and Federated Co-Operatives Limited. As a long-term member of the B.C. Human Resources Management Association, John took a keen interest in mentoring students seeking careers in the HR profession, and also served on BCIT's Human Resources Advisory Committee from 2003 to 2010. John served on the Douglas College Board from 2016 to 2019, which included roles as Human Resources Committee Chair and Board Chair. He is a graduate of Simon Fraser University, where he obtained a BA in Economics and Commerce (1978).


Board Directors

Wayne Arondus Picture

Wayne Arondus
President & CEO, Highmark Consulting Group 


As President and CEO of Highmark Consulting Group, Wayne provides leadership expertise and management support in all areas of finance, sales and operations to companies across Canada. Wayne holds a Degree in Business from Sauder School of Business at University of BC. He also earned certifications from Harvard University in the Program for Leadership Development, Simon Fraser University in the Program for Executive Management and Leadership Development, and at the BC Institute of Technology in the Operations Management Program. Wayne is the Past Chair and Board Member for Habitat for Humanity Vancouver as well as a member of the National Committee, a Board Member for the Canadian Manufacturers and Exporters and a member of the Governor General Leadership Conference of Canada. He is also a participant and alumni of the 2012 Governor General’s Leadership Conference of Canada.

Jay Dargatz Picture

Jay Dargatz
President, Canstar Restorations 


Born in Chilliwack B.C., Jay learned the value of hard work combined with family values early in life. With a Master Carpenter father and a large extended family, Jay learned that building a community meant developing both yourself and those around you. In 1985, Jay founded Canstar Restorations with the help of his younger brother Dale. The early years of Canstar were focused on the construction and renovation of homes, but the company gradually migrated into the then fledgling business of fire and flood restoration. By 2000, Jay and Canstar were entirely focused on the disaster restoration business, adding contents processing and investing in the education of his then 25 staff members. Three moves and 32 years later, Canstar’s Head Office remains in the Tri-Cities, and Jay wouldn’t have it any other way. Quick to credit the many exceptional people that have contributed to Canstar’s growth and success, Jay couldn’t be more proud of what the Canstar team has accomplished.

Michael Edwards Picture

Michael J. Edwards
Senior Partner, Edwards & Company


Based in New Westminster, Michael has more than 46 years’ experience as a barrister and solicitor. He is the senior partner of Edwards & Company. A long-time member of the Westminster Savings Credit Union, he was elected to the WSCU’s Board of Directors in 1973 and served 42 years, stepping down in 2015. Throughout his business career, Michael has served on numerous community and organizational committees including the South Surrey Senior Citizens Housing Society, Masonic Fraternal Society, Shrine Legal Committee, the Masonic Trial Commission and the Downtown New Westminster Business Improvement Society. Michael has recently become a resident of Maple Ridge.

Jamal Khan Picture

Jamal Khan
Jamal Khan Financial Group


Jamal Khan has been working in the financial services industry for over ten years where he focuses on collaborative business succession, tax and estate planning for privately held companies and incorporated professionals. Jamal is passionate about financial literacy and ongoing education and wrote his first book last year. Jamal has also written articles for the Financial Post, appeared on Bloomberg Canada TV, BC Business magazine and Business in Vancouver. He also feels strongly about giving back to the community and helping others. He currently is a director at SOS Children’s Village, Surrey Foundation and the Surrey Board of Trade. Jamal also has setup the Jamal Khan Scholarship in Finance at Simon Fraser University and the Jamal Khan business administration scholarship at Douglas College. 

Sasha Ramnarine Picture

Sasha Ramnarine
Associate Lawyer, Remedios & Company 


Sasha Ramnarine is a business lawyer with Remedios & Company focusing on business law, wills and estates and real estate law. Sasha has worked since the age of nine with over 20 different organizations, and managed his family’s Trinidadian restaurant for a number years in Kitsilano. A tireless lawyer and entrepreneur, Sasha is dedicated to providing his clients with high value and creative legal solutions for their business and personal life. Sasha is a strong supporter of the business and greater community. Sasha is a long-time member with the Greater Vancouver Board of Trade and is also a member with the Tri-City Chamber of Commerce and the Burnaby Board of Trade. Sasha serves as a Board Member for a variety of organizations including the Immigrant Services Society of BC (ISSofBC) and the New Westminster Police Board. Sasha is also an Instructor with Simon Fraser University and Kwantlen Polytechnic University, teaching business law and ethics to commerce students. Sasha’s mission is to inspire and touch the hearts of as many people as he walks the path of life.

Aaron Robinson Picture

Aaron Demes
Senior Advisor, The Stewart Group Inc. 

Born and raised in Coquitlam, Aaron is a strategic advisor with The Stewart Group, an infrastructure advisory and management consulting firm located in Vancouver, BC. He is a graduate of the University of Western Ontario with a B.A. (hons) in International Relations. Living in London, Ontario for nearly a decade, he spent several years as an instructional therapist working with children with autism before moving back to Vancouver. Passionate about connecting people and serving his community, Aaron has served as a policy advisor for the Tri-Cities Chamber of Commerce and the Greater Vancouver Board of Trade, and the Metro Vancouver Regional District. He has volunteered on the Board of Grow Local Tri-Cities and with SHARE Family and Community Services, the Port Moody Economic Development Committee and CityHive Vancouver. He currently lives in Port Moody with his husband.

Paul Holden 
President & CEO, Burnaby Board of Trade

Paul Holden is President & CEO of the Burnaby Board of Trade, the City’s preeminent business association with around 1100 members. Paul was born in London, England and worked in the publishing industry from 1978 until 2010 working for leading companies in London, Hong Kong and Vancouver and joined the Burnaby Board of Trade in 2011. Paul has volunteered on numerous boards over the years, most recently Vancouver AM Tourism Association, where he was President and Treasurer, Vancouver Coast and Mountains Tourism and the Douglas College Foundation where he currently serves as Past Chair. Paul was recently appointed to the Board of WACE, an association of Western USA/Canada based Chambers of Commerce. He also coached youth soccer for 8 years for his local youth soccer club. Paul lives in Port Moody, BC with his wife Bernice and their two adult children.


Board Ambassadors

Gerry Della Mattia Picture

Gerry Della Mattia

Gerry served on the Foundation Board from 2001 to 2012 as Director and Secretary. Previous to his role on the Board, he spent 38 years working in post-secondary education in BC. He worked in private universities before joining Douglas College in 1970 as Director of Admissions. He was appointed Dean of Student Services in 1980 after completing studies for a PhD. He took a two-year leave of absence in 1988 to work in the Middle East. Upon returning to Douglas College, he was appointed Dean of Human Resources and College Development. In 1993 he joined the Advanced Education Council of B.C. as CEO, a position he held until his retirement. Gerry has a small consulting business and has worked for Elections Canada and Elections BC. He also continues to be involved as a volunteer in Seniors Care in Surrey. Gerry and his wife live in Surrey, have four adult children and five grand-children.

Neal Nicholson Picture

Neal Nicholson
Professional Accountant 

Neal is a professional accountant and has lived in Coquitlam with his wife and children since 1976. During his career in public practice he was involved with his profession’s continuing education program. He was appointed to the Douglas College Board in 1993 and served until 2000.  He was elected Board Chair in 1997 and served as one of the Board’s representatives to the Foundation because it helped bring him closer to students and their needs. On retirement from the College Board he became a full member of the Foundation Board. He has continued to develop his connection with education and his community through his appointments to the Board of the Institute of Indigenous Government and as treasurer of the Evergreen Cultural Centre in Coquitlam. Currently, he is Treasurer of the Rivershed Society of BC, Coquitlam Heritage Society and BC Entertainment Hall of Fame. He was a councillor for the City of Coquitlam from 2007 to 2014.

Baj Puri Picture

Baj Puri

Baj served on the Foundation Board from 1988 to 2017 as Director, Treasurer, Vice-Chair, Chair, and most recently, as Past Chair. He has been involved in the lumber and building material industry, and in 1998, he received the Building Supply Industry Merit Award. Baj is a past president of the Hyack Association and a former Director of the Transit Police Board. He currently serves on the New Westminster Police Board, and is also passionate about his work with the Navy League of Canada and the Royal Canadian Sea Cadets. In recognition of his many decades of community service and civic leadership, Baj has received the Queen’s Silver, Gold and Diamond Jubilee medals, the Order of St. John Officers, and was New Westminster’s Citizen of the Year in 1996. Baj lives in New Westminster with his wife Nancy.

Honorary Board W.R. (Bill) Emerton
Pete Legge, OBC
Peter W. Webster