Our Staff, Knowledge-Keepers and Supporting Elders

Current Staff

Zeynya Shikur Alemayehu -  Research & Policy Lead

Zeynya is SMA's research and policy lead. Zeynya is a researcher and policy professional with an interest and experience in human rights, sustainability, and public policy issues. In her past roles, working with non-profits, think tanks, and governments, she has coordinated and contributed to several research and policy projects. At SMA, she oversees and collaborates to implement and disseminate the results of SMA's participatory research projects focusing on child care policy and the work-related impacts of COVID-19 on low-income lone mothers in BC, as well as other research conducted by SMA. She also provides research and analytical support to design and execute SMA’s broader policy advocacy initiatives and campaigns. 

Leona Brown - SMA Indigenous Coordinator and Knowledge-Keeper

A Gitxsan and Nisga’a mother of 3 children, of the Fireweed House and the Killerwhale Clan. I am an Indigenous Independent Cultural Facilitator. I gained 3 years of training in Land and Lives around Indigenous Culture with the Resurfacing History Program Coordinated by Jolene Andrew. This work has become my Healing Journey; the grassroots teachings and knowledge is shared with my children. This knowledge is important to know who we are and where we come from and how we live with the lands and Waterways around us. As a Gitxsan Refugee in the unceded territories of Musqueam, Squamish, and Tsleil-waututh, I have taken on land-based work here in the city and thrive as an ambassador to the work Resurfacing History has taught me about Indigenous food and resources that we harvest in the city. I advocate at every opportunity with the Vancouver School Boards, City of Vancouver, and Vancouver Parks Board for all opportunities for Indigenous people to relearn our culture on the lands and waterways that we live on as we actively talk of reconciliation.

As an Indigenous Cultural Facilitator I lead talking circles, workshops on salve making, plant medicines, decolonizing talking circles and I help organize taking groups to the mountain to harvest Devil's Club. Beyond the Single Mothers' Alliance, I have partnerships with the Aboriginal Mothers' Centre, BC Coalition for Healthy School Food, Vancouver Urban Food Forest, and Frog Hollow Neighborhood House. I work with and engage in committee work the District Parent Advisory Council (DPAC), DPAC-Indigenous Education Council, DPAC-Black & Indigenous Working Group, the City of Vancouver's Food Policy Committee (VFPC), and with the Vancouver Park Board to create sites to develop decolonized community spaces. I also sell salves and tinctures during summer for both individuals and groups.

Viveca Ellis - Executive Director 

Viveca serves the Single Mothers' Alliance in the role of executive director. Viveca is a founding member of the organization; in 2014, she banded together with other lone mothers impacted by poverty and lack of access to legal aid, housing, and child care, to mobilize grassroots leaders and advocate for public policy solutions to lone-parent family poverty in BC. In past roles, Viveca has worked for the BC Poverty Reduction Coalition as the founder and coordinator of the BCPRC's Community Action Network, then led the Coalition through the pandemic as Interim Community Organizer until her departure to create the first staff role at SMA in 2021. In 2017, Viveca was nominated to the Minister's Advisory Forum on Poverty Reduction to design BC's first poverty reduction strategy and resulting legislation. Viveca also represented the BC CEDAW Group at the UN's review of Canada's compliance with the Convention to End Discrimination Against Women in Geneva in 2016. Viveca remains dedicated to mobilizing grassroots movements and campaigns toward human rights, gender equality, and ending poverty in BC. In her spare time, Viveca can be found mountain biking with her 12-year-old son and paddling her canoe on BC's remote lakes and rivers.

Vibusha Madanayake - Northern & Rural BC Engagement Liaison

Vibusha Kalanee Madanayake (she/her) is the northern and rural BC engagement liaison for the Single Mothers’ Alliance BC. Vibusha’s previous experience involved managing projects on post-conflict development and gender-based violence in war-affected communities in Sri Lanka. Vibusha is a passionate advocate for gender equality and youth empowerment while pursuing her post-graduate education in Gender Studies at the University of Northern British Columbia (UNBC), BC, Canada. In her spare time, she is keen on spending time with her family, enjoying movies, and exploring diverse destinations and food cultures.