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BA Economics and Psychology, 1975
Darrell Burnham has been a visionary leader in delivering vital social services to B.C. communities for more than 35 years. He spent a decade early in his career serving residents of the Tri-Cities as executive director of Share Family and Community Services. For the past 27 years Darrell has transformed the lives of the most vulnerable in our society as chief executive officer of Coast Mental Health, one of B.C.’s largest community mental health organizations. Coast provides non-profit housing, employment preparation, and community-based services for people with severe and persistent mental illness in BC. He grew the budget from $2.9M to $25M and today leads over 400 staff, with 40 sites in Metro Vancouver and more than 4,000 clients served. Among the many innovative programs he has spearheaded with Coast are discretionary and non-discretionary trust programs to handle finances for over 350 clients with mental illness, and creating the Coast Social Enterprises Society to foster businesses willing to employ persons with mental illness.
He also led the effort to bring the “Courage to Come Back” awards to B.C., making it one of the most successful awards events in North America, and giving inspiration and hope to countless individuals who struggle with physical and mental challenges. He is recognized and consulted as a subject expert with great credibility on the topic of mental illness and is a frequent commentator in the media including print, radio and television.
Highly engaged in his community, Darrell has served on many boards and agencies and is currently an active member of the Mayor’s Taskforce for Mental Health and Addiction, and chair of the Expert Advisory Panel on Specialized Populations with the Ministry of Social Development. He has also been an active member of Rotary International for more than 20 years.
Darrell Burnham has become the premier champion for mental health in B.C. Thousands of people with mental illness have seen their quality of life improved, thanks to the housing, services and programs he has created, the policy he has influenced, and the advocacy work he continues to do on their behalf.