We are the small but mighty team behind Food Banks Alberta and the support provided to 109+ member food banks across the province. If you haven’t met us yet – learn a little bit about us below!
Shawna Bissell, Executive Director
Shawna joined Food Banks Alberta in August of 2023. She has a decade of experience leading within the not-for-profit sector and has devoted her entire career to working with children, families and the community. This has allowed her the opportunity to acquire a diverse range of hands-on skills and experience in the areas of leadership and management. Equally important, her position has also allowed her to develop the “softer skills” vital to success within a muti-agency environment; those of engagement, collaboration and active listening. She has developed positive, productive relationships within both the public and private sector, with a particular emphasis on achieving the goals and outcomes of all involved in a manner that is responsive, respectful, and constructive. Knowing the immense diversity within the food bank network in Alberta, she is committed to working in partnership with each unique agency to support them in meeting their identified needs and goals. In her spare time (when she has it) she enjoys running and drinking coffee with people she loves.
Jason Lyver, Development Manager
Jason joined Food Banks Alberta in 2021, quickly cementing himself in the fabric of our organization with his demonstrated commitment to fundraising and fundraising education for the members of the Food Banks Alberta community. Jason shares that he joined Food Banks Alberta because “we are seeing a record high number of people needing the support of their local food bank. My passion for this work is seeing the direct impact we have as an organization when it comes to being a strong voice in this province, in helping our members and working with the community. I love knowing that the support provided has a direct impact on thousands of Albertans across the province.” When Jason isn’t working in the nonprofit sector (fun fact – he has for the entirety of his professional career!), you can find him hopping on a plane bound for Palm Springs, or sweating it out in a spin studio in Calgary.
Franciska Riehl, Network Manager
If you were to sum up Franciska in a phrase – it would be a ball of energy. Franciska is always on the go, whether it’s hiking up peaks in the Rockies, exploring the rainforest-like serenity of Yoho National Park, or training for the Spartan Trifecta in Hawaii, she is the epitome of an Energizer Bunny! Born and raised in the old part of Hungarian Transylvania, Franciska’s reasons for joining Food Banks Alberta are deeply personal. “It’s a personal example of poverty. While my parents were determined to never let their daughters go hungry, they have a multitude of examples of when they came very close to starvation. Born in a poor country meant standing in lines for days never being guaranteed even a loaf of bread or jug of milk, making the most of everything procured (canning, curing, fermenting, pickling, etc.), facing political turmoil/bloody revolutions, facing death penalty if anyone attempted to flee the country. While we successfully immigrated anyway, my parents had but a few dollars to their name and resorted to whatever methods they could to feed our family while they got up on their feet. I am proud of them for their efforts and honesty. So while I may not touch the lives of clients who visit our member food banks, I am determined to serve the network so they in turn can care for those most vulnerable in a dignified manner! Food Banks Alberta serves a large network of members, each with a unique community and yet we all share the same heart. I love that!” When she’s not climbing and skiing mountains, you can find Franciska in a state of zen in her garden – her most recent hobby.
Paul Belanger, Warehouse Coordinator
Paul is a retired Firefighter Captain, and a lifelong learner. He joined the food banking world after his retirement in 2014. “I started volunteering at the Edmonton Food Bank. One day the Executive Director of Edmonton’s Food Bank asked me if I’d like to also volunteer with Food Banks Alberta and I’ve been with them ever since. My involvement in the food security area is an extension of my 32 year career of serving and helping people in need.” When he’s not working at the warehouse, you can find Paul enjoying his hobby of maintaining tropical fish.