The Houssian Foundation Team
Mira Oreck | Executive Director
Mira Oreck loves people and politics. She is a social change leader who has spent her career advancing progressive public policies and promoting civic engagement. Mira believes in raising her voice whenever she sees injustice, and in uniting people across cultural and political lines.
Her work is guided by a feminist worldview that took root at a young age. At age 11, Mira wrote Whistler Mountain to ask them to address the sexist nature in how their runs were named (“Mom’s Run” was a green path; “Dad’s Run” was a black diamond mogul). By 17, she was flexing her leadership skills as president of the United Synagogue Youth for the Pacific Northwest Region, a precursor for her 2015 run to serve as a Member of Parliament in Vancouver Granville.
Mira earned a degree in sociology and women’s studies at McGill. She completed a Master's Degree in urban policy at The New School in New York City, anchoring her thesis in the development of a political action committee for Make the Road Action Fund, an organization focused on building power for immigrant and working-class communities.
Her first jobs out of university were at Friends of the Earth and the Great Bear Rainforest campaign.
Prior to her work with The Houssian Foundation, Mira spent two years as Director of Stakeholder Relations to Premier John Horgan. From 2014-17, Mira was the Director of Public Engagement for the Broadbent Institute, where she ran democratic engagement campaigns and led issue-based trainings across Canada.
Mira spent two years as Vice President at Moore+Associates in New York City. During the 2012 American presidential election campaign, she co-produced two of Barack Obama’s most widely viewed online videos.
Mira served for three years as the board chair for the PuSh International Performing Arts Festival. She has also served as a member of the Task Force for a Resilient Recovery, the City of Vancouver Renters Advisory Committee, and as a board member of the Canadian Jewish Congress, where she also worked as Director of the Pacific Region.
Outside of work, Mira enjoys adventures outdoors with her husband, two little people, and their loud, ten-year old dog.
Lara Hoshizaki | Program Manager
Lara Hoshizaki is deeply connected to the natural world. Whether working as a geographer with data and maps and unearthing the stories they tell; modeling habitats and ecosystem services across land and seascapes; or supporting Indigenous peoples as they steward their territories, Lara gives her whole heart to projects that nurture the complex relationship between nature and people.
Growing up in Kaslo, a village of 1,000 on the shores of Kootenay Lake, in the territory of the Ktunaxa, Sinixt and Syilx peoples, Lara was always on the beach. She credits her upbringing in the idyllic small town with the values she places on centering respectful and authentic relationships, and on exploring the nexus between the land, its caretakers, and their culture.
At the age of 18, these curiosities led Lara to northern India, where she learned about the impact of microfinance from small groups of trailblazing rural women. She went on to earn a BA from Concordia University in Geography, Planning, and the Environment, and an M.Sc. in Resource Management and Environmental Studies from the University of British Columbia.
In her professional life, Lara developed expertise in conservation planning, field-based monitoring, data governance, and data management. After serving as a GIS Analyst for several years focused on the marine environment, she stepped away to embark on new adventures and clarify her purpose. During this time, she walked 700 km as part of the Camino de Santiago pilgrimage across Northwest Spain, learned Spanish, spent a season as an organic farmer, and dabbled in hog butchery and sausage-making.
Upon her return to Canada, with rededication to her work, Lara spent seven years at Coastal First Nations – Great Bear Initiative, supporting Coastal Guardian Watchmen in their roles as protectors and stewards of their ancestral territories. She coordinated the development and implementation of the Regional Monitoring System for the Coastal Stewardship Network, a program of Coastal First Nations, and later served as Program Manager for the Network, leading a 6-member team.
As program manager at The Houssian Foundation, Lara works closely with grantees to support their inspiring work and cultivate new opportunities. Being a responsive partner to communities on the ground is the guiding principle of her work in philanthropy.
In her personal time, Lara loves to cook, paint and make people laugh at her jokes. Lara and her partner recently purchased land in the Kootenays, where they are preparing to build a cabin near her childhood home.
Christine Robertson | Operations Administrator
Christine Robertson thrives when presented with a new challenge that takes her outside her comfort zone. With deep experience in administration, event management, project management, sales, and operations, she loves building projects from the ground up. She credits her ability to adapt quickly to new work cultures—often where everyone speaks a shared language but her—to her mother Lorane, who herself had several ‘careers’ in her professional life. Christine joined our team in 2021 to build backend infrastructure for the newest incarnation of The Houssian Foundation.
Following her passion for healthy eating, cooking, animal welfare, and sustainable farming, Christine spent several years as a Marketing & Community Team Leader at then brand-new Whole Foods stores in Vancouver, before branching out for a decade as a contractor in the food and beverage industry.
Her work with clients is diverse: she organized events for over 10,000 guests, coordinated marketing, websites and social media plans, and managed and developed teams in high-end retail environments. During these years, the work Christine did with purpose-driven clients particularly resonated. In 2014, she coordinated the Feed Democracy campaign through the Broadbent Institute, working with food establishments to encourage voting. (The turnout in Vancouver that year was the highest since 2002). She coordinated the Foodprint Project through FarmFolk CityFolk, where she conceptualized, designed, and launched a retail consumer food waste reduction education campaign that eventually collaborated with Love Food Hate Waste. And she managed food rescue and vendor relations for Quest Food Exchange, not-for-profit grocery markets serving low-income residents.
Christine is passionate about food culture, the Arts and travel. She lives in North Vancouver with her husband Dale. After years of contracting work, she is thrilled to lay down roots with The Houssian Foundation, learn about and lend her skills to philanthropy and mission-aligned investing.
Portait photography by @JackieDivesPhoto
Board of Directors
Joe Houssian began his career at Xerox in 1973 and then founded Intrawest in 1976. Intrawest grew from an urban residential real estate business into an internationally renowned resort and real estate development company responsible for the success of such pre-eminent ski resorts as Whistler Blackcomb. Intrawest grew rapidly to 25,000 people with resort and hospitality entities around the world. In 1990, Intrawest became a public company and was sold in 2006 for US $2.8B.
In 1994, Mr. Houssian acquired the urban development business from Intrawest to createIntracorp Developments. Intracorp currently develops real estate in six urban regions in North America and has delivered more than 22,000 homes in 176 communities. Mr. Houssian founded Elemental Energy Inc. in 2007, inspired by his children, intrigued by the fledgling clean energy industry and interested by the social-capitalism triple-bottom-line ethos of people, planet and profit. In 2008, Mr. Houssian founded Replay Resorts, an integrated hospitality company.
Mr. Houssian is also a partner and director in several other companies in various industries in the USA and Canada.
Joey Houssian is a British Columbia native and entrepreneur based in Whistler. As a University student, his first business venture was an organic produce delivery service. He went on to combine his passion for people, nature, and sustainable business into The Adventure Group, an eco-tourism company that he founded and runs in Whistler.
Having visited over 50 countries around the world and always researching and looking for ways to improve The Adventure Group’s experiences, Joey believes deeply that connecting with friends, family, or co-workers in spectacular outdoor environments is amongst the most profound and special ways that you can spend your time.
Joey serves as a director on the boards of Do It For The Love Foundation, Zero Ceiling Society of Canada, and Playground Builders. He is also active in the Whistler community and passionate about family, music, yoga, surfingand snowboarding.
Jess Houssian has focused her career on the intersections of gender equality, philanthropy, and social change, imagining and co-creating spaces for innovation and collaboration that shift power and resources to feminist movements around the world.
Since 2019, Jess has served as Co-CEO of the Equality Fund, a new model for sustainable investment in global feminist movements. Leveraging an unprecedented contribution of CAD 300 million from the Government of Canada, the Equality Fund unites gender-lens investing, bold government funding, and powerful, multi-sector philanthropy to unlock new capital for women’s rights organizations and movements. With collaboration from leaders in every sector, the Equality Fund expects to activate over CAD 1 billion for gender equality, making it the largest self-sustaining fund for gender equality in the world. Previously, Jessica served as Executive Director of Women Moving Millions, a global community of women philanthropists who invest boldly with a gender lens. Jessica holds a B.A. in Women & Gender Studies (Bates College) and an M.Sc. in Fundraising & Grantmaking (New York University), and currently serves as co-chair of TheHoussian Foundation.
Joanne Houssian serves as Co-Chair of the Houssian Foundation. Joanne’s mission is to support community-based initiatives addressing human and environmental insecurities (and the intersection of these) both in her family’s local community and globally. She has held various leadership positions in community-based organizations, such as North Shore Family Services, Lions Gate Hospital and Collingwood school, of which she is a Co-Founder.
Joanne is active in addressing homelessness, child protection, and gender-based violence in British Columbia through various organizations including StreetToHome Foundation, Powel Place Shelter for Women, Children of the Street, YWCA and the Saint James Music Academy. Through the Canadian Women’s Foundation, she supports a national agenda to prevent and end human sex trafficking. She is also an alumna member of The Philanthropy Workshop.
Joanne lives in West Vancouver with her husband, Joe. She is incredibly proud of her three grown children and two beautiful granddaughters.
Jamie Houssian is Principal at Elemental Energy, a developer, investor and operator of renewable energy projects that generate long term financial returns, environmental benefits for the planet, and positive social impacts for the communities in which they work. In this role, he is responsible for discovering new business and investment opportunities and setting the strategic direction of the company.
Jamie has worked for Elemental in a variety of capacities for more than 10 years. Previously, he worked at Chrysalix Energy Venture Capital.
His first career was in the film business, where he was President and Co-Founder of The Collective Films, an award-winning documentary and commercial film production company. Jamie has a MBA from the University of British Columbia and a BA from the University of California, Santa Barbara.