REACH staff provide the infrastructure to help community members, policy makers, front-line agencies, and researchers develop effective interdisciplinary teams and conduct research that will have an impact.

seanSean B. Rourke
REACH Director

Sean B. Rourke is a clinical neuropsychologist and scientist with the Centre for Urban Health Solutions with the Li Ka Shing Knowledge Institute at St. Michael’s Hospital and Professor of Psychiatry at the University of Toronto. He is also the director of three national centres: the CIHR Centre for REACH in HIV/AIDS (REACH 2.0), the CIHR CBR Collaborative: A Program of REACH, and Universities Without Walls (a CIHR program that is training the next generation of HIV researchers in Canada).

Sean is transforming how population health and community-based research is done to have a stronger impact on policies and front-line services, and to solve complex health problems for people living with or at risk for HIV/AIDS. With his novel effective approach to community stakeholder engagement, partnership development across disciplines and sectors, and innovative KTE and research-to-action strategies, Sean is having a major influence in getting us closer to ending the HIV epidemic in Canada.

frannyFrancisco Ibàñez-Carrasco (
Universities Without Walls Program Manager

Francisco Ibàñez-Carrasco, a lifelong educator, AIDS activist and teacher, has a passion for building education programs. The driving force, with Sean Rourke and Cathy Worthington, behind Universities Without Walls (UWW), he works collaboratively with faculty, students and the community to review applications, develop and deliver the curriculum, create service learning opportunities, and give UWW fellows an education experience not available in traditional programs. His goal is to connect and inspire students.


Michelle Sumner-Williams (
REACH Coordinator

Michelle Sumner- Williams holds a Bachelor of Medicine, Bachelor of Surgery (MBBS) degree, and upon completion of her medical internship in 2006, began work in the field of HIV/AIDS with not-for-profit, community based and international civil service organiza

tions. She has successfully led these organizations in the development, implementation and management of local and internationally funded HIV programs with positions at the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) and most recently Interim Director with the African and Caribbean Council on HIV/AIDS in Ontario (ACCHO). Much of her professional experience has been with racialized and marginalized communities. She is also a certified Behavior Change Communication specialist, and has previously assisted in the administration and dissemination of qualitative research. Having an understanding of the impact of the many social determinants of health, Michelle is continuously committed to improving the lives of people by working from an anti-racism, anti-oppression framework, promoting health equity and reducing systemic barriers to healthcare.

James Watson (
Coordinator of Community-Based Research and Peer Initiatives

James Watson is the Coordinator of Community-Based Research & Peer Initiatives at the Centre for Urban Health Solutions of St. Michael’s Hospital in Toronto. James began his career in the HIV sector as a Peer Research Assistant with the seminal work of Positive Spaces, Healthy Places study. He then graduated to managing large scale community-based research projects for the Ontario HIV Treatment Network. He has been integral to the creation of the peer researcher training curriculum in Canada through Universities Without Walls. James also hosts and produces a podcast called pozcast, a show that brings HIV research to life.

Colt Burrows (
National HIV Stigma Index Coordinator

While completing his undergraduate degree in microbiology from the University of Toronto, Colt worked as a peer support coordinator for LGBT Youth Line, a community-based organization that provides peer-to-peer support and referrals for queer and trans youth questioning their gender and sexual identities across Canada.  His involvement with LGBT Youth Line and his work as a student ambassador for the Canadian Foundation for AIDS Research guided him towards a degree in public health.  In 2015, Colt began and completed a Master’s of Public Health degree at the University of British Columbia with a focus on Indigenous and queer health.

While living in Vancouver, Colt worked as a peer research associate for the Momentum Health Study (a prospective cohort study exploring the sexual behaviours of MSM in Vancouver) and as a peer support worker for QMUNITY (a queer and trans resource center for Vancouver LGBTQ2S youth).  He has recently finished working as a peer research associate for the BC Stigma Index (a dynamic study investigating HIV-positive individuals’ experiences of stigma and discrimination) and as a policy intern for the First Nations Health Authority.  He currently sits on the Board of Directors at YouthCO HIV & Hep C Society as Board Coordinator, and as Youth Director for the Canadian AIDS Society, and is involved with multiple Indigenous research initiatives.  When not working, Colt enjoys backcountry camping and working his way through cookbooks!


Regional Coordinators

janiceJanice Duddy (
Director, Evaluation and Community-Based Research, Pacific AIDS Network 
BC/Yukon Region

Janice Duddy, MES, is the Director of Evaluation and Community-Based Research at the Pacific AIDS Network and has worked with the CIHR Centre for REACH in HIV/AIDS since 2013. Previous to this role she was the Grants & Partnerships Coordinator with the CBR program at PAN and held a dual role with the Provincial Health Services Authority (PHSA) as the Manager of the PHSA’s HIV/AIDS Program and the Operations Manager of the BC Centre for Disease Control’s Hepatitis Program. Janice is very committed to engaging community as active members of research and evaluation teams. She has a passion for building a stronger culture of evaluation in the region through engagement of stakeholders from across the sector and showing the value of moving research evidence into practice.

Janet Madsen (
Capacity Building and Knowledge Translation Coordinator, Pacific AIDS Network
BC/Yukon Region

Janet joined Pacific AIDS Network in 2017. She works on knowledge translation for community-based research studies at PAN,  develops educational events for PAN member organizations and oversees PAN’s web-based communications. This blend of r

oles supports ongoing education about CBR projects and developments in BC.

Paul Kerber (
Evaluation Coordinator, Pacific AIDS Network
BC/Yukon Region

Paul is PAN’s Evaluation Coordinator and joined the PAN staff team in 2017. Paul is not a stranger to PAN as he has been working as a Peer Evaluator supporting the impact evaluation of the PLDI program. Paul is very active in the community, a past PLDI grad, and a volunteer at Positive Living BC. He is working with PAN’s evaluation team to support various evaluation projects including building evaluation tools for our capacity-building program.

Natasha Hoehn (
Community-Based Research Regional Coordinator, Mount Royal University
Alberta/Northwest Territories Region

Natasha became involved in HIV/AIDS research during her undergraduate degree, where she assisted with ongoing projects at the Southern Alberta Clinic. She later earned a master’s degree in biological anthropology from the University of Calgary. During her graduate education, Natasha gained experience in global health research in rural Nicaragua, where she collaborated with community-health workers on her thesis project. Prior to joining the REACH CBR Collaborative Centre, she also interned with a capacity building maternal and child health project in Tanzania. These experiences solidified her belief that collaborative, community-based research has the power to create relevant solutions for challenges faced by community members

Sugandhi del Canto (
Executive Director, SHARE (Saskatchewan HIV/AIDS Research Endeavour)
Saskatchewan Region

Sugandhi has worked in the field of HIV since 2003, beginning with a position at the Native Friendship Centre in Montreal as the HIV/AIDS Prevention and Education Coordinator. She has also worked at CTAC (Canadian Treatment Action Council), CAMH (Centre for Addiction and Mental Health) and, up until her recent return to academia, was the Prairie HIV/HCV Educator at CATIE. Sugandhi moved to Saskatoon in 2010 to begin a Master’s program in the Department of Community Health and Epidemiology at the University of Saskatchewan. She holds a B.A. in International Development Studies from McGill University and is currently finishing up her PhD, a mixed methods study of built environments and healthy food access. She volunteers on the board of the Canadian Women’s Health Network and has previously served on the board of ASAAP, the Alliance for South Asian AIDS Prevention. She is the inaugural President of the City Centre Food Cooperative, a local initiative to provide affordable fresh food to Saskatoon’s downtown and surrounding areas. She also knits. A lot.

RingaertLaurie Ringaert (
Manitoba CBR Coordinator, Nine Circles
Manitoba Region

Laurie Ringaert started in early November 2015 with Nine Circles Health Centre. She brings experience in developing networks, community engagement work, collective impact, developmental evaluation,  community based research and evaluation methods, working with indigenous communities, remote and rural communities,  and  knowledge translation. She has a passion for working with and bringing together various sectors to work on complex issues.


Charlotte Guerlotté (
Community-based Research Coordinator, COCQ-SIDA
Quebec Region

Charlotte holds a master’s degree in anthropology from the University of Montréal. Passionate about identity issues and intercultural relations, she has developed several research projects on these themes. Her master’s thesis dealt with identity dynamics of Guadeloupean youth from hip-hop culture and from disadvantaged neighborhoods. She has maintained a particular interest in populations considered marginalized or stigmatized with the aim to work with community to move beyond prejudices.

Caroline PloemCaroline Ploem (
Community-based Research Manager, AIRN
Atlantic Region

Caroline Ploem joined in late 2015 as the AIRN/REACH Atlantic CBR Manager based at Dalhousie University in Halifax. Her greatest passions are related to harm reduction, social justice and health equity. Caroline holds an MA in Applied Psychology and has close to 25 years of experience in health-related program planning, management and evaluation. Most of her earlier career (1990-2004) was dedicated to the field of HIV-related research, focusing much of her work on the prevention of HIV and HCV among vulnerable populations, particularly inmates and people who use drugs.


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