The Founding Mothers

Bridges for Women Society gratefully acknowledges the five Founding Women featured who had the courage and wisdom necessary to formulate a new vision in our society, one that facilitates the transformation of the human spirit.

Today, Bridges has a recipe of transformation that has evolved over 27 years, to help those who are ready to move forward. Bridges Founding Mothers have dedicated their lives to supporting women’s causes, and leave us with a growing legacy of inspiration and wisdom.

With love & healing we celebrate with you and your families, all you have achieved in light of Bridges …

Arlene Wells

Bridges has always been close to Arlene’s heart. She helped to found Bridges and served as its first program coordinator from 1988 to 1996. In the early 1990s, she worked with a team of women to write Building Bridges, a manual written “so that others could learn from our experience”. Arlene joined the Bridges for Women Society Board in autumn 1998 and served as co-chair for several years.

Joan Krisch

Joan Krisch is truly the mother of Bridges. Joan had a passion for improving the lives and the futures of women, and was so sure of the vision for Bridges right from the start. She was pragmatic and discerning, a woman of action, and she took the lead in writing the initial proposal and gathering strong women to serve as Bridges advisors. Without her, Bridges would not exist. Joan was the program administrator at Bridges from 1988 till she left due to illness. Joan died in 1994.

Dr. Katie Cooke

Dr. Katie Cooke was a famous Canadian who was in retirement when she helped to found Bridges. She was a mentor & role model for Bridges women. She was the first president of the Canadian Advisory Committee on the Status of Women, wrote the Canadian Child Care Task Force report, and received the Lifetime Achievement Award through the Victoria Women of Distinction. She helped pull together a community advisory committee to ensure the project considered all of the supports the women would need: access to childcare, legal services and housing. She chaired the Bridges Advisory Committee in the early years and later helped form the Bridges for Women Society in 1992. She died in 2003.

Diane Erickson

Diane Erickson is a founding mother of Bridges who has continued to work closely with Bridges. She was a consultant on the original Bridges funding proposal and advocated for ongoing research and evaluation that would demonstrate the effectiveness of the Bridges approach. She brought to Bridges her experience as a policy planner in government and in the private sector as well as her passion for justice for women. She was a member of the Bridges Advisory Committee and was the first Chair of the Bridges for Women Society Board.

Kathryn Ogg

Kathryn Ogg is a Bridges founder who helped to research and prepare the initial funding proposal for Bridges in 1988. Kathryn worked on  women’s employment projects with Joan and Arlene in the 1980’s.The  assistant administrator from 1988-91, she also was the Employment  Preparation Facilitator at Bridges from 1988 to 2000 and then Work  Placement Coordinator until 2002. She is a strong feminist, a proud  single parent (and grandmother) who advocates for positive change in  women’s lives at Bridges, and continues to support Bridges.