Board of Directors

The Harambee Cultural Society Board members welcome you! Our volunteer board represents parents, community and our youth. The board includes a founding family member, parents of children ranging from toddlers to young adults, an adult who has attended since being a toddler, professionals; in the field of youth support, banking, project management, IT, education and business. Our long term plans are to ensure our programming supports the needs of our families and hope to provide yearlong opportunities for the essence of Harambee. We truly believe we are empowering our children. For more detail on 2018 progress, click on this link a copy of the 2019 President's report to the Board.

Rena Konomis, President, and husband Jason created a wonderful transracial family when their son came to them through adoption. Adopting from the USA into Canada and now living in the Pacific Northwest of USA has guaranteed the bonds to both countries. Rena focused her career in the technology sector for +20 years. She has held several board positions with SDL Optics Inc., BC Manufacturing Association and Victoria Advanced Technology Council. Most recently her position with the Adoptive Families Association of BC allowed her to use her project management experience to lead the association to an international Accreditation. Volunteerism is a joy and has included being the coordinator for the family mentoring program Akoma to enhance connections highlighting African culture within adoptive families. From the first moment we joined Harambee we have felt their collective embrace. It gives us the knowledge and strength to understand our transracial world and the joy we have.

Me-Kon HayesMe-Kon Hayes, Vice President, with her husband Issa are parents of five children. I started my family as a single mother through adopting our oldest son who is of African Heritage. Our second son is aboriginal. As foster parents for thirteen years, we enjoyed the busyness of a full household. I have been involved in guest speaking at British Columbia’s Ministry for Children and Family Development adoption orientation sessions. I am President of the B.C. Black History Awareness Society and on the board of the African Heritage Association of Vancouver Island. Through my company Binkadi Human Services I provide support to persons with developmental disabilities and youth with extra support needs. I love the problem solving involved with my work and developing residential resources unique to the individuals I support. Our family loves everything about Harambee, the support, the spirit, the love. The only times my kids are not talking about Harambee are when we are there. We are very grateful to be part of the Harambee family.

Trevor TremblayTrevor Tremblay, Treasurer, and his wife Susanne are parents to three great kids! Their two oldest are adopted from the USA and are loving siblings to the youngest bio child. Trevor is currently the VP, Finance for Interior Savings Credit Union while Susanne manages the home front including many homeschooling activities. Trevor & Susanne have been participating in Harambee Cultural Society’s (HCS) summer festival since 2009 and have benefited greatly by the supportive environment. Trevor is active as a Board member for his local church in Kelowna and recently completed 5 years of volunteer service with the Big Brothers in-school mentorship program. After a recent presentation on HCS’s strategic plan, Trevor was compelled to get involved by offering his support in the Treasurer role to help see the plan become a reality in supporting transracial families and children of African heritage.

Mikayla SherryMikayla Sherry was adopted from Haiti at 7 months old and has been attending Harambee with her family who are one of the founding families of Harambee ever since. She is currently enrolled in her 3rd year of Child and Youth Care Counseling at Douglas College. In addition to school she spends her time volunteering for Speak Up, an organization focused on youth and mental health and also enjoys her time with Big Brothers Big Sisters Association.” I am passionate about Harambee as it brings families together from so many countries and there is a great group of youth to led and work with.”

Pam PatersonPam Paterson, and her husband Ray are the parents of four children who joined their family through adoption. Two of the children have Afro-Caribbean heritage, one is African-American and one has First Nation status. The Patersons recently retired from many years of Foster Parenting. Pam started Harambee in 1996 with another parent. Her goal was to create lifelong connections for her children with other children whose history and cultural heritage reflected their own. She is very proud to say that this goal has been realized. Pam is a graduate of the British Columbia Institute of Technology with a Diploma of Technology in Hospitality and Tourism Administration. She worked many years in management positions in the Hospitality field prior to leaving the working world to dedicate herself full-time to her beautiful children. Pam has always been an active volunteer in many organizations. She has held executive positions in the Girl Guides of Canada, the Kelowna Foster Parents Association and the Parent Advisory Councils of her children's schools. In 2006 Pam, along with Susan Sherry and Lindsay Joyce, received the Adoption Champion Award from the Adoptive Families Association of BC.

Luckner Bakewell - was adopted from Haiti at 2 and a half, along side one of his two sisters. Luckner has been attending camp since the beginning and is very excited an honored to represent the camp by being on the board of directors. Luckner is currently working construction but is looking to become a police officer in the near future. " I feel it is my duty to attend Harambee as it has shaped an changed my life and in doing so I can help change the lives of the next generation of campers."

Karen Peters. The adoption seed was planted way back when Karen was in high school during a trip to the Philippines working with children in a local orphanage. After many years of traveling the globe, she met her husband Chris, who had the same passion for growing a family through adoption. Soon after marriage the planning began, working with Adoption by Shepherd's Care in Florida to expand the family, which now includes our two daughters of African and Dominican Hispanic descent; Mattea and Shaylyn. We live in Surrey, and consider Florida our second home given the ongoing open arrangements with have with both of our kids' birth families. Karen is a mental health therapist working in Fort Langley in her private practice, with a 20 yr history of working as a clinician and practice analyst for the children's mental health program in BC (MCFD). Her husband balances out this type of emotion-based work by offering the highly technical side of web development skills used at Tableau in Vancouver. We've been part of the Harambee family for about 5 years now, and were hooked on day 1. New to the board, Karen is excited to learn from the long-experienced members and offer whatever she can to continue to grow Harambee into the best fit for its participants.

Jennifer Eberts

Jennifer Eberts lives on the Sunshine Coast with her two boys Lucas and Paet plus their two labs and a new kitty cat. Both Lucas and Paet were born in Florida came to Jennifer through adoption at birth. They enjoy visiting and being close with both Lucas and Paet’s birth families. They started coming to Harambee in 2004 and have never missed a year and nor do they plan to. Harambee is the highlight of their year and they look forward to it every year with the daily countdown starting at Christmas! They have met some of their closest friends at Harambee and learned so much from all the activities and sessions put on by Harambee. Jennifer has been self-employed since 1994 as an expansion strategist (business coach) working with entrepreneurs and companies across Canada, the USA, Europe, Northern Africa, Mexico and Central America. Jennifer also works as a mentor for teens and young adults in her community and his heavily involved in the boys’ school and on their PAC.

Julian Walmsley lives in Vancouver B.C and has been coming to Harambee since 2015. His sons Max and Lehlo were born in Namibia and Lesotho respectively and Harambee quickly became the highlight of everyone’s year. Julian served on National and BC boards for the CNIB in both marketing and fundraising capacities. He remains a Vision Mate for CNIB today and a keen volunteer in his sons’ sports teams and when ever else he is able. Professionally, Julian is a digital marketer.