OkaZHI: Okanagan-Zambia Health Initiative




  • Chair: Gary O’Connor
  • Vice Chair: Linda Hawker
  • Secretary: Carol Jones
  • Treasurer: Kevin Blackmore
  • Member at Large – Medicine: Glynn Jones
  • Member at Large – Nursing: Jackie Denison
  • Member at Large – Surgery: Gary O’Connor
  • Member at Large – Community: to be filled



Executive Director: Bill Nelems    Bill (1)


People ask why it is that I am driven to be involved in development work in Africa, and in particular, why in Zambia. Why development work? Simply stated, I have been blessed beyond reason by the education, the good fortune and the career opportunities that I have enjoyed. I have lived a charmed life. It is time for me to give back a little of what was so abundantly gifted to me. Why Africa? Born in Africa of Canadian parents, Africa is in my blood. I agonize over the many challenges that face this magnificent continent.

Why Zambia? I lived in Zambia for some years as a boy when my dad was a mine manager on the famous Zambian Copperbelt. And then, when my time came to explore my options, I returned to Africa to find my former classmate, the celebrated Professor Chintu. The rest is history but the journey just begins. I marvel at the organic growth of the Okanagan Zambia Health Initiative, and the dedication of so many highly qualified volunteers who have come from many walks of life.


Chair: Gary O’Connor, MD, FRCS(C) Dr. Gary O'Connor

Gary is a founding member of OkaZHI and also current chair of the Surgical Committee. He graduated with an MD from the University of Alberta in 1978 and pursued Orthopedic training through Queens University in Kingston, Ontario, currently practicing orthopedic surgery in Kelowna BC. He has travelled extensively and has become aware of the health care gaps in developing countries. He is strongly committed to teaching medical students and surgical residents, and found OkaZHI an ideal way to expand that commitment to help train those who do surgery in Zambia. Gary is a firm believer in increasing health care capacity through collaborative team training of local health providers so they can manage health care challenges that they have identified as high priority.


Vice Chair: Linda Hawker, MD, CCFP Dr. Linda Hawker

Linda is a founding member and Past Chair of OkaZHI. She is a Kelowna General Practitioner who graduated from the University of Alberta in 1977, and has done extensive travelling over the years with her husband, Gary O’Connor, where she developed an appreciation for the many challenges in the developing world. This awareness, combined with a love of teaching patients and health providers about medical issues, resulted in a commitment to support global health through education of health professionals in Zambia. Her focus is on education of Clinical Officers in Western Province, who deliver vital primary care. She is also chair of the Medical Committee and with fellow GPs offers long-distance Skype education sessions for Clinical Officers. She has participated in several collaborative teaching visits to Zambia. “We teach, and we learn”.


Secretary: Carol Jones   Biopic Carol

Carol grew up in South Africa and became aware at a young age that she was born into privileged circumstances while millions lived in poverty, with poor access to food, accommodation and even clean water. This dramatically impacted her and she determined to make it a priority in life to assist those less fortunate than herself. Together, with her husband Glynn and their four children, they have donated time, skills and resources in numerous countries around the world. Carol is currently enrolled in a Master’s Degree in Social Work.

Carol’s involvement in Zambia started in 2009 when she became a member of the newly formed Okanagan Zambia Health Initiative. Although both her husband, Glynn, and her son, Cameron, have travelled to Zambia with OkaZHI, she has not yet, but looks forward to an opportunity in the future.  Carol is serving OkaZHI as Secretary as well as on the Communications and Fund Raising committees.


Treasurer:Kevin Blackmore, CA  biopic_kevin_blackmore


Kevin is a senior manager at Grant Thornton in Kelowna. Although he had a limited knowledge of health care issues in Zambia, as an accountant he is a very welcomed member of the OkaZHI board. His contributions and enthusiasm have been invaluable.


Member at Large – Medicine: Glynn Jones     Biopic Glynn



Member at Large – Nursing: Jackie Denison  Screen Shot 2015-06-30 at 5.25.06 PM