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Board of Directors



  Debbie Jefkin-Elnekave, Chairperson

At age 17, Debbie was an exchange student in Bolivia, then the world's second poorest country. It was an indelible experience that would shape the rest of her life. Of many discoveries that year, the most profound was that the two-lane road leading out of her rural community didn't stop at the next town as she'd thought, but went on forever, and led to opportunities to use her resources for the greater good.

Her interests are upskilling local medical personnel, capacity building, infrastructure and sustainability.

Debbie is a tour leader and owner of Uncommon Journeys.

She holds a Master's Degree in Spanish, with an emphasis on intercultural communications,

from the Pennsylvania State University.

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Gary Jackson, MD

Gary jumped for joy when he was invited to join the board of Project HANDS in 2014. Prior to that he served four years as Chairperson of the OB/Gyne Section of the British Columbia Medical Association.

His 30 year career as a community obstetrician, gynaecologist and colposcopist made him the ideal candidate to develop and serve as Director of the Women's Health Initiative and cervical cancer prevention program.

Gary's dedication to enabling the full potential of doctors and nurses abroad has earned him

their deepest respect.


Denise Richardson, RN

Denise dedicated her nursing career to the emergency room, burn unit and

supervised injection site.

Her professional experience has served Project HANDS well in her roles as recovery nurse, Volunteer Recruitment Coordinator and Scholarship Program Coordinator.


Denise’s passions are spending time with family and friends, travel, skiing, outdoor sports, walking her dog and everything in nature.

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Michael Fish


Michael is the President of Pacific Surgical Holdings Ltd., a group of companies dedicated to providing hospitals, operating rooms and ostomy patients across the country with high quality surgical products and equipment.

Michael was approached by Project HANDS in 2011 to help with surgical instrumentation for a surgical trip to Guatemala. In addition to donating the instruments, he decided to join the team, along with an employee who was a native of Guatemala. From that time on he has been an ardent supporter of our work. Under Michael's leadership, Pacific Surgical has sponsored numerous volunteers and donated various types of equipment necessary

for surgeons do their jobs.

Since joining the board in 2012, Michael has participated on teams in Guatemala, Bolivia and Myanmar.

Michael has also been a member of the Vancouver Symphony board of directors for the last ten years, and enjoys contributing to local community organizations that he feels have a significant impact on their members.


Jeanny Hamilton, RN

Jeanny is a retired operating room nurse, having previously worked at 

St. Paul’s and Lions Gate Hospitals.


Her involvement in Project HANDS was inspired by the organization’s passion to improve the health care and lives of indigenous people of Guatemala and Bolivia.


Since 2007 she has joined numerous surgical teams;  coordinated equipment and supplies; and served as the Coordinator of the Women’s Health Initiative (Cervical Cancer Prevention).


Her extensive travels in Myanmar were the motivation to assume her current function of Coordinator of the Physician Incentive Program, a role which she approaches with characteristic dedication and enthusiasm.


When Jeanny is not volunteering, she can be found on hiking trails, bike paths and ski slopes of British Columbia, pursuing her passion for outdoor adventure.

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Barbara Maryniak


Barbara co-founded Project HANDS with the belief that access to quality healthcare should not be an exclusive privilege for affluent societies. She served as Executive Director from 2006 - 2015. During that time she was responsible for operations, strategic planning, and program development & implementation. She also served as Team Leader on numerous triage and surgical trips. Her invaluable experience and insights are a continual source of inspiration and guidance to the board and the organization.

Of Project HANDS' numerous achievements under her leadership, her proudest accomplishment is having helped to construct an organization that pursues work that truly matters, and makes a tangible impact on a daily basis.

Barbara holds a BA Degree in Architecture from Kingston School of Architecture, Kingston University, London, and a Master's Degree in Creative Writing from the University of British Columbia.


George Maryniak, MD

George's first exposure to medical volunteer work in the developing world was in 2001 with Poco a Poco in Antigua, Guatemala. He subsequently worked with Health for Humanity before he co-founded Project HANDS in 2006 with his wife Barbara and daughter Tanya.

George has been practicing anesthesia for over 40 years. He obtained his medical degree and anesthesia training in London, England. He and his family emigrated to Canada in 1989. After many years as a staff anesthesiologist at Surrey Memorial Hospital, he currently works at a private surgical facility and several dental offices, providing procedural sedation and day care anesthesia.

He has been the Medical Director for Project HANDS since inception.

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Andrew Wilton

Inspired by his son James's volunteer work in Kenya, Andrew joined the board in 2014. He served as Treasurer from 2015 - 2017, and was appointed Chairperson in 2017.

Andrew qualified as a Chartered Accountant in London, England in 1975. He was promptly recruited by KPMG in London and later transferred to their Vancouver office.

After several years serving clients from diverse business sectors, he joined a private hospitality business headquartered in Vancouver, as Chief Financial Officer. By the time Andrew retired from the company in 2008, he had helped them successfully grow from 7 to 80 full-service restaurants. He has since been retained in various consultancy roles, and served for two years as the Chief Financial Officer of a publicly-traded resource exploration company.

Galvanized by his trip to Guatemala with Project HANDS in 2014, Andrew is ambitious to expand the Women's Health Initiative to help eradicate cervical cancer.

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