Support Afghan Refugees in Saskatchewan

Our Board of Directors

The Saskatoon Open Door Society is governed by a Board of Directors with a maximum of 12 members and is led by a Chief Executive Officer appointed by the Board. Board members are elected by the SODS membership.

The Board meets at least six times annually and is responsible for the oversight of the organization’s policies, programs, budgets and grant decisions. As stewards of the membership’s trust, the Board oversees the organization’s governance. The Board is accountable to the membership.

Board decisions are guided by our Mission, Governance Policy and Strategic Framework.

Our Board Members

Shakya Abeywickrama

Shakya Abeywickrama Board Member

Shakya Abeywickrama was born on the island of Sri Lanka and moved to Saskatoon with her family 10 years ago. She attained her Bachelors of Commerce degree in Marketing from the University of Saskatchewan in 2014. Shakya has over 5 years of experience in her current position as the Director of Growth for Vendasta, including digital service development with a focus in customer/user acquisition, growth and retention. She also served as a Board Member for the Sri Lanka Association of Saskatoon this past year. Moving to Canada at the age of 19, Shakya realizes how important it was for her and her family to have a great support system. She is thankful for her education, lifelong friends and growth in her career as an immigrant woman. Saskatoon is home to her and she believes now is the time to give back to this community. Saskatoon Open Door Society’s vision and mission aligns with Shakya’s passion to help newcomers make Saskatoon home.

Omar Abuelela

Omar Abuelela Board Member

Omar is a passionate marketing professional who earned his MBA degree in 2015 with marketing as his major. He is currently working as a Data Analyst for Federated Co-operatives Limited. He has more than eight years of related marketing experience and has handled all phases of both the technical and creative elements of marketing projects and initiatives.

Omar moved to Canada from Egypt in 2018 and has been residing in Saskatoon since then. After moving to Saskatoon and before taking up his current position at Federated Co-op, Omar had the opportunity to be part of the settlement sector and to interact with refugees as a volunteer, interpreter and PATH Facilitator at Global Gathering Place.

Prior to his immigration to Canada and in addition to political activities, Omar was engaged in civil society. At university, he was elected president of the student union. Later, he served as a member of the city’s 6th of October Board of Trustees, and headed the marketing committee for the 100 Days initiative - one of the Masrena NGO’s projects to motivate Egyptian youth to volunteer and connect them to initiatives that needed their expertise.

Edward Agbai

Edward Agbai Board Member

Edward Agbai is a management professional from Nigeria. He completed his Higher National Diploma in Electrical Engineering at the Rivers State Polytechnic in Nigeria (2002), obtained an MSc in Project Management (2015) and a PhD in Management with specialization in Leadership and Organizational Change (2018) from the Walden University, USA, and a Diploma in Business Administration from the Academy of Learning Career College, Saskatoon campus.

He has co-authored five publications, including Comparative Study of Education Funding in Nigeria (2021), and Tacit Knowledge Transfer at Engineering Consulting Organisations in the USA (2021), among others.  He is the author the soon-to-be-published book Travails, the Memoir of an Oil and Gas Field Worker. 

He participated in the SODS LACE program in 2020 and presented the proposal “Driving Economic Growth and Human Resource Development through Bridging Programs between Highly Skilled Immigrants and Job Placements” to the City of Saskatoon.

He is an Executive Member of Council at Southgate University, Namibia; an Advisory Board Member, African Journal of Engineering and Environmental Research (AJOEER); and Director of Research, International Institute of African Scholars (IIAS).

He started his career with Eni, a major player in the oil and gas industry in Nigeria, before joining Smart Alliance Consulting Services Ltd in Saskatoon as a Resource Partner. He is an Adjunct Faculty member at Emmanuel University, Fayetteville, NC, USA and is married with three children. 

Rahim Ahmad

Rahim Ahmad Board Member

Rahim Ahmad was born in Pakistan and moved to Canada in 1995. Since arriving in Canada, he has lived in all three Western provinces and has called Saskatoon home since 2012. He received his Bachelor of Engineering in Civil Engineering from the University of Saskatchewan in 2013 and his Professional Engineering designation from APEGS in 2017. Rahim has provided municipal engineering services to communities across our beautiful province as a Project Engineer and Project Manager with Associated Engineering. 

Rahim’s empathetic nature and strong communication skills enable him to create long-lasting relationships with clients and community members, as he assists them in creating sustainable infrastructure that will serve communities for many years to come. Rahim also works with the Ahmadiyya Muslim Jama`at of Saskatoon in various volunteer capacities – as a local Treasurer, Youth Leader, and since 2017, one of three Public Outreach Secretaries. With his public outreach activities, he has gained valuable experience in press relations and public engagement, helping to organize events such as Muslims for Remembrance Day and Virtual Ramadan. As a Youth Leader, he works with young newcomers to Canada to help them succeed in new cultural, social and economic environments.

Peta Bonham-Smith

Peta Bonham-Smith Board Member

Peta Bonham-Smith is the Dean of the College of Arts and Science and a Professor of Biology at the University of Saskatchewan. Peta came to Canada from the UK in 1981 to attend graduate school at the University of Calgary. She arrived in Saskatoon with her young family in 1992 and joined the Department of Biology at USask in 1994. Prior to holding her current role as Dean she was Vice Dean, Science for five years, and prior to that, Head of the Department of Biology for two years. During this time, she also sat on the board of the Saskatchewan Research Council; she chaired the Governance and Nominations Committee and served as Vice Chair of the Board of Directors for four years, prior to being Interim Chair for approximately two years. 

While bringing up a young family in Saskatoon, Peta was involved in community, city-wide and provincial soccer as a player and coach as well as a member of the board of both the Lakewood Zone and Saskatoon Youth Soccer. Peta looks forward to making a significant contribution to the vision of SODS, to enable all newcomers to feel welcome and encouraged to participate in their new economic, social, intellectual and cultural life.

Kiela Caudillo

Kiela Caudillo Board Member

Kiela Caudillo serves on the SODS Board of Directors because she has a passion for community service and believes that her international experience and communications skills are of help. Originally from Mexico, Kiela came to Saskatoon 8 years ago seeking a second Master’s degree in Plant Sciences at the University of Saskatchewan. Kiela worked with the U of S as a Research Assistant, International Student Recruitment Officer and currently as the International Partnerships Specialist for the region of the Americas and Oceania. She is also a multi-entrepreneur, has co-founded three small business in Saskatoon in diverse sectors - wholesale, family entertainment and food preparation. She participates in multiple community events for profit and non-profit organizations and several fundraising initiatives. She has made diverse contributions to those events, from volunteering, planning, and managing volunteers to performing and MCing. Kiela believes it is a necessity to help and support her community in every way she can, no matter how small, from accompanying her elderly friends to pick up their groceries to making reusable face masks.

Jeremy Morgan

Jeremy Morgan Board Member

Jeremy Morgan has been actively involved with the cultural communities in Saskatchewan for 30 years as founding CEO of Wanuskewin Heritage Park; CEO of the Saskatchewan Arts Board; Executive Director of the MacKenzie Art Gallery; and, currently, Managing Director of the University of Saskatchewan Art Galleries. Mr. Morgan has served as a member of various volunteer boards and committees, including the Citizen’s Advisory Council for the Province’s Centennial and Chair of both the Minister’s Heritage Council and the Saskatchewan Tourism Authority. He is a recipient of the Queen’s Golden Jubilee Medal and the Centennial Medal, a lifetime membership in the Museums Association of Saskatchewan, a Premier’s Public Service Award and the Mayor of Regina’s 2014 Business and the Arts award for Management Excellence and Service. He served as a Diefenbaker Policy Fellow at the Johnson Shoyama Graduate School of Public Policy and is currently chair of the City of Saskatoon’s Public Art Advisory Committee.

Athanasia Perdikaris

Athanasia Perdikaris Board Member

Athanasia Perdikaris holds two Bachelor's degrees from the University of Saskatchewan (U of S), in History and Education. Recently she has applied to complete a Master's for the Department of Educational Foundations with a primary focus on the inclusivity of the public education sector. She has been both an employee and a student at the U of S and has obtained a well-rounded experience, attributing broad depths of understanding and keen interests in knowledge acquisition. She was born and raised in Saskatchewan, living in various rural towns across the province. Growing up with dual ancestry, she was immersed in two varying backgrounds and was influenced by her family's experience in rural communities. This provided her with an understanding of one’s role within society and coinciding personal and public identities that greatly shape the way in which we view our local communities and subsequently national inclusivity.

Nikita Rathwell

Nikita Rathwell Board Member

Nikita is an associate lawyer with McKercher LLP in Saskatoon, working primarily with their Indigenous Law Practice Group. Her focus is First Nations litigation, governance issues and on-reserve development. Prior to practising at McKercher, Nikita worked for the Ontario Ministry of the Attorney General in the civil law division.  Nikita attended Osgoode Hall Law School and was called to the bar in Ontario in 2015 and in Saskatchewan in 2019. 

Nikita's mother's family immigrated to Canada from India in the 1960s, when there was almost no support system in place for new Canadians. This background has made Nikita understand the importance of an organization such as the Saskatoon Open Door Society and its mission to help new Canadians make Saskatoon feel like home.

In her personal life, Nikita enjoys spending time with her rescue greyhound Curry, swimming with the Goldfins Master's Program, and travelling. She also sits on the board of Chokecherry Studios, a youth-focused not-for-profit organization offering arts-based programming and mentorship to young and emerging artists in inner-city Saskatoon.

Zehra Rizvi

Zehra Rizvi Board Member

Zehra Rizvi is Pakistani-Canadian and immigrated as a child to rural Saskatchewan.  She obtained a BA in International Studies from the University of Saskatchewan and an MSc in Integrated Water Resource Management from McGill University.  She currently works at Plan International, an international development organization committed to gender equality.  She is an avid traveler and photographer.  Zehra has volunteered with the Youth Study Group program and English conversational circles for adults.  She hopes her contribution helps newcomers in Saskatoon feel empowered to realize their dreams, particularly women who face greater challenges in their new homeland.

Abid Sherali

Abid Sherali Board Member

Abid Sherali holds a Bachelor’s degree in Marketing and Finance and has also completed a diploma in Business Management. He has been working for Scotiabank for over eight years and is currently the Branch Manager at a local branch in Saskatoon. He moved to Saskatoon in 2011 from Toronto, lived and travelled in various rural communities across Saskatchewan, and relocated back to Saskatoon in 2018.

Abid truly understands the struggles newcomers face when they land in Canada as he, his family and his parents have gone through the same struggles. He would like to serve and help community members, especially newcomers, to settle as smoothly as possible and guide them with his resources.

Abid has been involved in many newcomer initiatives in Prince Albert, including the Prince Albert Muslim Association, and has also volunteered with many organizations to help newcomers. He and his wife are very passionate about helping newcomers and serving the community, as they understand the struggles of newcomers and are in a position to guide them. Abid’s skill set and experience include proven management and leadership, human resources and people management, customer service, change management, knowledge of the Canadian banking system and organizing major events.

Cloe Ye

Cloe Ye Board Member

Cloe Ye moved to Canada 20 years ago when her parents immigrated to Canada and landed in Saskatoon. Not knowing anyone, her parents enrolled in Open Door programs that helped them make life-changing connections and adjust to their new life in Canada. 

Since graduating from the University of Saskatchewan with a Bachelor’s in Commerce, Cloe has worked as the People and Culture Lead at Co.Labs, a leader in Canadian business accelerators that helps build technology startups in Saskatchewan. Her passion is to empower people by enabling them to increase their abilities. To date, she has worked with 100+ startup companies and helped create 300+ new jobs. 

She is actively involved in the Chinese Immigrant community, having moderated at Folkfest, the Chinese Language School and the Annual Saskatoon Chinese New Year Celebration activities. Cloe is a firm believer in giving back to communities that once helped make a difference in her life, such as serving on the Board of Directors of Table Tennis Saskatchewan, where she competed as an athlete, to develop grassroots table tennis in the province. Cloe hopes that her involvement in the Saskatoon Open Door Society can help provide newcomers with an impactful experience in adjusting to their new life in Canada.