Barry began his career as a pastor at churches in Prince Edward Island and New Brunswick. He joined Compassion in 1983, when the Canadian office had only eight staff and Canadians—mostly from Ontario—sponsored 4,000 children. Barry’s initial role as Vice President of Marketing was to extend the organization’s reach nationwide. Today, Compassion Canada serves more than 100,000 children through its network of sponsors coast to coast.
During Barry’s 35 years of leadership with Compassion Canada—25 as President and CEO—Compassion International enjoyed an eleven-fold growth in revenue and child sponsorship. Now, Compassion is the world’s leading child development ministry, with more than 7,000 local church partners across 25 countries. The organization serves almost two million of the world’s most vulnerable children.
Barry is proud and grateful that over the years, Compassion has never wavered from its unique commitment to being Christ centred, child focused and church based.
Throughout his career, his advocacy for the poor has brought him to more than 60 countries. He has witnessed extreme poverty firsthand and had the joy of seeing lives changed through Compassion’s ministry.
Barry is passionate about promoting holistic child development through the local church as one of the most effective ways to build God’s kingdom. He speaks regularly at churches and schools across Canada and internationally, challenging Christians to look at poverty from a biblical perspective and evaluate their approach to missions.
In addition to his duties at Compassion, Barry serves as a board member for the Christian Churches Network of London. He is co-founder of the International Alliance for Missions and the Servant Ministry Network of London. He has served as the chief governance officer of the Canadian Council of Christian Charities and the VIVA Network (Oxford, U.K.).
Barry is the author of A Journey of Compassion and Strategic Compassion—Reuniting the Good News and Good Works in the Fight Against Poverty. Barry and his wife, Sharon, live in London, Ontario, and have two adult daughters and two grandchildren.
Allison joined Compassion in 2012 to establish the Advocacy department and lead initiatives to raise awareness of God’s heart for children living in poverty. As President Elect, she will become our organization’s fourth president in October 2019. Allison speaks regularly at events, churches and schools across the country and represents Compassion to other charities and sector associations. Her work with Compassion has taken her to more than a dozen countries across North and South America, Africa and Asia.
Allison also spearheaded the creation of three multimedia series from Compassion Canada that invite families, churches and groups to fulfil Jesus’ instruction to care for “the least of these.” Step Into My Shoes lets children experience life with a Ugandan family, True Story helps youth explore poverty in light of God’s redemptive story, and Eyes to See challenges adults to live out their faith.
One of Allison’s greatest passions is working towards a world where all children can realize their full potential in Christ. It was her time teaching English in Chiang Mai, Thailand, over 17 years ago, that God first used to ignite a passion for ministry to children. After spending more than a decade in leadership roles in the marketplace, God used her love for her own children to call her to be an advocate for all children, especially those living in poverty. She stepped away from her career as a financial advisor and began to inspire and challenge others to live as faithful stewards of all that God has entrusted to them.
Outside of Compassion, Allison serves as a board member for the Canadian Christian Relief and Development Association, a medium that promotes high performance organizations seeking God’s purpose for the world’s poor. She was also an active member at Southridge Community Church in St. Catharines, ON, for the last fifteen years.
Allison holds a Master of Arts in Global Leadership with an emphasis in International Development and Urban Studies from Fuller Theological Seminary’s School of Intercultural Studies, and is currently studying toward a Master of Business Administration from the University of Western Ontario’s Ivey Business School. She and her husband, Tommy, live in London, Ontario and have two young daughters.
Executive leadership team
Board of directors
Chair: Ian Lawson
Ian Lawson brings distinguished leadership to the Board with over three decades of leadership and ministry experience. Although recently retired, he continues to engage in interim leadership support with the Evangelical Free Church of Canada. He also serves as an adjunct faculty member for Briercrest College and Seminary. Initially drawn to Compassion’s desire to fulfill the biblical mandate to care for the poor, Ian’s commitment to that mission is deeper now having witnessed the work in 8 field countries. He is the father of 5 grown children and 14 grandchildren, and cleverly finds time to invest into each one!
Vice-Chair: Mark Fletcher
Mark Fletcher is Vice President of Construction for a company called Teng Inc. Compassion’s mandate to release children from poverty in Jesus’ name attracted him to the ministry. Mark’s past experience on several church boards and committees has given him the ability to see big-picture issues, contributing valuable insight as a Board member. Mark enjoys setting one evening each week for family night, bringing the whole family together and building relationships.
Jennifer Adkins was an ombudsperson for the National Energy Board and an Instructor at Trinity Western University, before going back to school full-time to pursue a PhD in Sociology. She has specialized and consulted in Race and Ethnic Relations for over 25 years in the public, private, and non-for-profit sectors and brings her passion for justice and equity to the board. After much investigation, Jennifer selected Compassion Canada as the best international organization supporting children in poverty because of their candid and unapologetic Christ-centred mission and the fiscal responsibility that they demonstrate. Jennifer, her husband, and their twin sons enjoy living on the West Coast exploring as many new beaches as they can find.
David Burton has over 25 years of administration and management experience in social and health programs, ranging from policy development to front-line operations across four Government of Canada departments. A Compassion sponsor since 1997, he was drawn to the organization by its holistic child development approach and its Christ-centered emphasis. His interest in working with Compassion’s Board stems from a strong desire to use his administrative experience in a way that is pleasing to Christ and can help those in need. David and his wife reside in Dartmouth, Nova Scotia. They are actively involved in their church, Hillside Wesleyan, where David chairs the Missions Leadership Team.
Dr. Marie Geschwandtner
Marie Geschwandtner is a doctor of chiropractic medicine. On sabbatical from active practice, she divides her time working with her husband in professional practice management and leadership development, and maintaining a busy household with two teenage boys. Her experience as a sponsor led her to join Compassion’s Board, where she brings the unique perspective of being a doctor and mother to the table. As a co-founder of Chiropractors with Compassion, Marie feels blessed to be able to use her skills to assist the poor. Her family lives part-time in Lake Placid, New York, where her two sons train as competitive ski racers.
Len Hummel works with the Bank of Nova Scotia in international credit. With a strong desire to see the gospel spread and to serve the poor, he appreciates Compassion’s unique approach to child development and feels privileged to serve on its Board. As a co-leader of an Alpha course at his home church, where he serves on the board, and by regularly serving with the Salvation Army’s breakfast ministry for the homeless in downtown Toronto, Len finds himself with numerous opportunities to share the gospel personally and to treat the poor with dignity.
Shannon Williams is the Director of Children’s Ministry at New Life Community Baptist Church in Duncan BC. Shannon’s love for children and her desire to see them develop holistically attracted her to Compassion’s child development ministry. Her insight as a Children’s Ministry Director coupled with her Bachelors of Education from Trinity Western University (2000) brings valuable perspective to the Board. Shannon and her husband Phil reside in Duncan, BC where they love to live adventurously with their four energetic children.
Clark Kassian is a lawyer at Dentons Canada LLP. Clark Kassian has been a Compassion sponsor for many years, and was drawn to the organization by its holistic, Christ-centered approach to child development. With his legal background and advocacy skills, Clark brings a unique perspective to Compassion’s board. Clark, his wife and their two young children live in Calgary, Alberta. In his spare time, Clark enjoys playing ice hockey and serving in the worship ministry of his church.
Dr. Andrew Johnson
Andrew Johnson is a physician specialist in Infectious Diseases and Medical Microbiology at the University of Calgary, as well as Program Director for the U of C Adult Infectious Diseases Residency Training Program. Andrew is attracted to Compassion’s long-term development strategy of releasing children from poverty in Jesus’ name. His knowledge of infectious diseases and tropical medicine brings a unique perspective to the Board. He most enjoys mentoring young resident physicians and coaching community sports. Andrew, his wife Nicole and three children are active in the ministry of the local church in Calgary and advocate for the work of Compassion.