Our Team

Daniel Whitehead, MA - CEO

Daniel is a Regent College graduate and ordained minister with over ten years of full-time vocational church ministry experience in the UK. He has traveled extensively overseas working on various humanitarian projects and is a certified mediator with London School of Mediation.

Dan says:

Having spent ten years in full-time vocational church ministry, I know the levels of brokenness that a community carries, often in secret, and I have witnessed at firsthand the good, the bad, and the ugly approaches to mental health. Thus I have personally felt the great need for this ministry, and I can personally attest to the challenges of leading at times when my own mental health was poor. It is undoubtedly these firsthand experiences, including walking with many friends and family members through debilitating mental health struggles, that have caused me to see the value and power of Sanctuary’s work.
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Michelle Furumori - Director, Operations

Michelle studied commerce and practices hospitality. She has served in non-profit management, private sector analytics and operations, and church communications. 

Michelle says:

Through mental health seasons when family, friends or I have felt like sinking, I have heard the need for the Church to echo poet Kelsey Savage: "I have grown to be the safe harbour she returns to, the island fluent in holding steady as those I love weather the heavy work of seeking and breaking and shining. I know best how to be solid ground for residual waves in the limbs."
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Corin Pilling - National Director, UK

Corin joins Sanctuary after having spent the majority of his career working with people experiencing homelessness, leading Livability's work with churches, and developing training and resources to build an inclusive church. Corin is delighted to build on an existing partnership with Sanctuary to support the UK church in its growing response to mental health.

Corin says:

In twenty years working with homeless people and eighteen years as part of a diverse church based on an estate in central London, I've seen the impact of poor mental health on communities. Yet in these settings, I've seen the positive impact when each group has chosen to prioritize mental health and wellbeing. It leads to stronger communities which reflect the love of God, which in turn offers freedom for everybody to bring their gifts. I'm excited for the future of Sanctuary's work in the UK and building on the partnerships we've already established. I believe now is the time for the church to move from awareness to action and Sanctuary is here to support this journey.
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Markku Kostamo, MS - Director, Development

Markku has served as an executive in the non-profit sector for over twenty years and is passionate about seeing organizations grow and develop in executing their mission and impact. To enable this, Markku takes an entrepreneurial and relational approach to revenue generation and partnerships.

Markku says:

I first engaged with Sanctuary Mental Health as a volunteer after being diagnosed with bipolar 1 disorder a few years ago. This work is so critical and timely. I love what Sanctuary does. It is a huge privilege for me now to serve with Sanctuary and help the organization have a broader impact on mental wellness. I love having coffee—please email or call me if you would like to get together!
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Kate Dewhurst - Program Manager

Kate has an academic background in International Development Studies and English Literature, and has worked as a teacher, pastor, manager, and writer. She finds the common threads of social justice and community development woven through the many roles she has filled and is inspired by the ways church communities can become even more loving places of belonging and hope.  

Kate says:

I'm a pastor’s kid who has worked in pastoral ministry, and through the years, I've participated in many different Christian denominations. Within these environments, I've experienced the powerful ways God works in community to bring support, care, healing, wholeness, and transformation. Also at times, through a lack of mental health awareness and understanding, I've witnessed further marginalization of persons living with mental health issues. A couple of years ago, I attended a Sanctuary seminar and was impacted by the stories of people with lived experience and their insights into how churches and parishes could better support their recovery journeys. I wanted to be part of an organization that elevates these voices and their life-wisdom. 
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Leslie Roberts, MA - Communications Manager

Leslie has a bachelor’s degree in marketing and has worked in advertising, television production, and as the Communications Director for a church in Texas. In her time working at the church, she realized one of the biggest needs in the church is for education, awareness, and care for people living with mental health challenges. Following her ministry experience, Leslie earned a master's degree at Regent College in Vancouver.

Leslie says:

Working in ministry, I developed a strong conviction that communicating well is a way of loving people well. I also saw a deep need for equipping leadership for better mental health care in the church. So when I moved to Vancouver in 2018 to begin studying at Regent College, one of the first classes I took was Mental Health & The Church. I got connected to Sanctuary and loved their vision for supporting the Church in learning how to communicate about and care for people with mental health challenges.
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Jina Lee - Administrator

Jina found meaning in her work with Sanctuary after a life-changing career break wherein she saw God’s grace and provision working in a powerful way. She has volunteered serving women refugees from North Korea, and as support staff at a Christian school in Kenya. Jina is also a freelance photographer and music instructor.

Jina says:

While my friends of faith struggled with mental health issues, I struggled to find the right words to comfort them. I realized the need for greater awareness and understanding of how to journey alongside them in a caring way, and Sanctuary provides that in our churches, helping them become compassionate communities for mental health.
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Jane Born, MDiv - Program Development Coordinator

Jane has been involved in ministry for over a decade, volunteering as a youth leader and Sunday school teacher at various churches, and spending six years on staff at the International House of Prayer. She has designed curriculum for several mission organizations, and recently completed graduate theological studies with an emphasis on mental health and spirituality at Regent College.

Jane says:

The years I spent in pastoral ministry convinced me of the desperate need for mental health education within the church. Too often I saw hurting individuals offered counseling perspectives that neglected spirituality and theological perspectives that dismissed psychology. My search for integrative resources and ministry approaches ultimately led me to Sanctuary. Through the work of this organization I have received personal restoration and discovered an alternative ministry model that offers hope to people of faith experiencing mental health challenges.
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Daniela Amestegui, MA - Graphic Designer

Daniela is a graphic designer striving to find ways to merge faith and vocation with her career. She got her bachelor's degree in Graphic Design in Bolivia, her beloved homeland, and moved to Vancouver to study theology at Regent College. She completed her master's degree in Christianity and the Arts in 2020. She has worked with many NGOs around the world as well as higher education institutions where she has learned the importance of purpose-driven design.

Dani says:

For the longest time, I didn’t know how mental health and faith coexisted. I always had an strong interest in both subjects, but never knew if they could be talked about in the same space—especially within the Latin American church. When I first got connected with Sanctuary Ministries and learned what they do, I sighed with relief to know that finally someone was breaking ground in this area and taking the challenge to add mental health to the Church's vocabulary. It's a privilege to help visually communicate this vision to the world.
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Isabel Ong - Social Media Coordinator

Isabel has worked in marketing communications in the civil service and as a journalist/social media manager for a magazine. She has also volunteered as a youth and young adult leader in church for over ten years. Since moving from Singapore to Vancouver in 2017, she has been working as a freelance writer and is currently pursuing a M.A. in Christian Studies at Regent College.

Isabel says:

I was searching for ways to integrate my work with my faith more tangibly. I also come from a culture where living with mental health issues is a largely taboo topic that is is often perceived as shameful, and I was interested in finding out how we could have a more Christ-centered view and approach to mental illness. I was—and continue to be—deeply impacted and encouraged by Sanctuary's vision to equip the Church to have thoughtful and theological conversations about mental health. I am inspired to create space for honesty and vulnerability to flourish in the communities I belong to, as well as in the social media sphere.
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Amy Deutscher, MC - Research Intern

Amy has a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology and a Masters of Social Health and Counselling. While working as a youth minister in Sydney, she developed training for youth groups and the broader church around how to understand mental health theologically and how to practically support one another. She came to Vancouver to upgrade her Graduate Diploma of Divinity to a Masters of Divinity at Regent College.

Amy says:

My interest in mental health came from having an interest in people. I’ve always enjoyed listening to those around me, but worried I wasn’t helpful enough because I didn’t always know what to say. Study was really freeing for me because I learned that I don’t need to have all the answers to be helpful. My experience working in a church has shown me a lot of Christians want to be helpful, too—but they’re afraid they’ll do or say the wrong thing, or simply not know what to say. I see the potential of mental health resources developed for the Church, so when I heard about Sanctuary, I reached out about an internship and am delighted they’ve taken me on.
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Sarah Kift - Podcast Coordinator

Sarah is Sanctuary's resident podcaster; she is also a writer, facilitator, webinar host, and mother of two small children. She has worked in front line mental health and community support both in secular and faith-based communities for over seventeen years, from the heart of Vancouver's downtown east side to local churches. She also hosts training webinars for shelter workers across the province and is passionate about mental health education and advocacy.

Sarah says:

I first encountered Sanctuary at an event, and was invited to train as a volunteer coach soon after. It has been a joy to work with the Sanctuary team in different capacities!
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Sean Dykink - Film Production

Sean is a filmmaker with over ten years of experience in studio and freelance roles. For the past five years, he has produced a variety of work with his company GUUDi Media for corporate and non-profit clients. When he has some spare time you can find him creating online classes and low or no budget creative projects.

Sean says:

I first learned about Sanctuary Ministries after filming an interview with Dan Whitehead at Regent College. Interested in what he had to say and having heard that he was looking to create films for Sanctuary, I was compelled to eventually share my own story. I expressed interest in helping create videos for Sanctuary's first mental health course as it touched a nerve in my own lived experience. I’ve always felt a great pull to help those vulnerable to mental health challenges, as I had experienced immense healing from those who have been supportive of me when experiencing my own. I’m extremely grateful to have found further recovery in my own life and feel hopeful that through Sanctuary's work we can be part of others' recovery journeys as well.
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