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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.

Call for Nominations

Nominations for SODS Board of Directors are now CLOSED.

The Nominations Committee welcomes applications from all community members with knowledge, training and experience in all areas, and encourages applications from those with lived experiences in the communities SODS serves. The Committee also welcomes applications from those with experience in the following areas specifically:

  • Fundraising
  • Legal

Nominations will close on Sunday, April 30, 2023.

If you are interested in applying to serve on SODS Board of Directors for 2023/24, please:

  • Complete the online form and payment for SODS Membership here; and,
  • Complete and submit the Board Application Form found here.

Please also save the date for SODS Annual General Meeting on June 26, 2023 at 5:30 p.m.

For more information, email Leah Nickel, Executive Assistant, at

Our Board Members

Zehra Rizvi

Zehra Rizvi President

Zehra Rizvi obtained a Bachelor's in International Studies from the University of Saskatchewan and an MSc in Integrated Water Resource Management from McGill University. She is the Executive Director of the Saskatchewan Council for International Cooperation, an organization committed to inspiring Canadians in global education and Sustainable Development Goals. She is an avid traveller and photographer. 

Zehra has served as Vice President of SODS’ Board of Directors and Chair of its Governance Committee. She hopes that her contribution will help newcomers in Saskatoon feel empowered to realize their dreams, particularly girls and women, who face greater challenges in their new homeland.

Rokhan Sarwar

Rokhan Sarwar Vice President

Rokhan Sarwar holds two Bachelor's degrees, in Economics and Business, from the University of Saskatchewan and has completed his MBA at the Edwards School of Business. He has an extensive background in management, strong knowledge of business environments, current technology, leadership, and finance, and loves to serve others. For these reasons, Rokhan joined Saskatoon Open Door Society’s Board of Directors to offer his expertise and to help others. While serving on SODS’ Board, he has gained experience as both Vice President of the Board and Chair of the Audit and Finance Committee.

Abid Sherali

Abid Sherali Treasurer

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 a District Vice President. 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.

Kiela Caudillo

Kiela Caudillo Secretary

Kiela Caudillo has been serving on the SODS Board of Directors since 2020. Kiela has a passion for community service and believes that her international experience and communications skills can help newcomers. Originally from Mexico, Kiela came to Saskatoon 10 years ago seeking a Master’s degree at the University of Saskatchewan. She worked with the U of S as a Research Assistant, International Student Recruitment Officer, and International Partnerships Specialist. Currently, she works at the Saskatchewan Polytechnic, Saskatoon Campus as an International Project Coordinator. 

Kiela is also a multi-entrepreneur and has co-founded three small businesses in Saskatoon. She participates in multiple community events to support fundraising initiatives, from volunteering to planning and performing. Kiela believes that it is necessary to help and support the community in every way one can. 

Also, Kiela has a solid commitment to supporting women in business and promoting higher education for new immigrant women. Volunteering with the SODS Board of Directors has given her an opportunity to be directly involved in initiatives and programs that benefit newcomers while improving the local economy and social services.

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. She is a full-time teacher, teaching middle years for the Saskatoon Public School Division. She has been both an employee and a student at the U of S and has obtained a well-rounded experience, gaining 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.

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. 

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.

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 Senior Marketing Specialist 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.

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.

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.

Shakya Abeywickrama

Shakya Abeywickrama Board Member

Shakya Abeywickrama was born on the island of Sri Lanka and moved to Saskatoon with her family 12 years ago. She received her Bachelor of Commerce degree in Marketing from the University of Saskatchewan in 2014 and now works at Vendasta as the VP and Divisional GM of White-label Marketing Services. In her current role, she directs and oversees a division of five cross-functional teams with over 175 employees in the areas of product marketing, website development, social media marketing, digital advertising, and digital reputation management.

She's passionate about female empowerment, gender equality, and diversity in the workplace and community. During her volunteer hours, she supports the local emerging tech community by working as a Tech Start-Up Mentor for Co.Labs, a provincial tech incubator. She has also served on the Board of the Sri Lanka Association of Saskatoon and Saskatoon Open Door Society. 

Having moved 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 that now is the time to give back to this community. Saskatoon Open Door Society’s vision and mission align with Shakya’s passion to help newcomers make Saskatoon home.

Tyler Nguyen

Tyler Nguyen Board Member

Tyler Nguyen is an Economic Intelligence Manager with the Saskatoon Regional Economic Development Authority (SREDA). Part of his role is to maintain Saskatoon's economic voice and to support the growth and economic development of the Saskatoon Region. He is also Chief Editor of the SREDA NEWSflash, delivering business and economic news to almost 5,000 subscribers in the city.

Tyler graduated from the Edwards School of Business at the University of Saskatchewan with a Bachelor of Commerce in Finance. He was born and raised in Saskatoon after his parents immigrated from Vietnam more than 38 years ago.

Tyler believes in giving back to the community and has volunteered his time with his organization’s Learning Together Mentorship Program for Indigenous students, and as a mentor with Big Brothers Big Sisters of Saskatoon and Area in 2020. He also enjoys playing tennis and curling and he volunteered with the 2021 Canadian Olympic Curling Trials.

Growing up as the son of two immigrant parents who received kindness and support from Saskatoon, he is now looking to give back to the community and become a leader in creating an environment that values and respects individuals for their uniqueness.