Current Officers and Directors

Sandra Thomson


I have worked in the performing arts industry for over forty years specializing in organizational development and fundraising. I was responsible for creating and implementing the strategic plan that raised $13 million and built the 800 seat Port Theatre in Nanaimo. I conduct workshops for non-profit groups on board development, strategic planning, volunteer management, sponsorship and fundraising. I have been visiting Oaxaca since 2008 and am an active supporter of a number of CANFRO projects.

Penny Hopkins

Vice President Finance

I am a retired guidance and career educator now consulting across Canada in the field of career guidance for individuals and organizations. Like many Canadians before and since, my husband and I were both enchanted by beautiful Oaxaca when we first went there in 1998 and deeply troubled by the signs of poverty evident everywhere. CANFRO offers us a way to help people change their lives.

Barbara Royce-Payne


Mexico has become a special place for me. Whenever I am there the landscape inspires me and the people delight me. I am happy to be helping CANFRO manage the financial records of its wonderful projects.

Laurie Thompson

CANFRO Coordinator

I arrived in Oaxaca in 2005 to learn Spanish, and like so many, fell in love at first sight. Even more than the beauty and fascinating history of this magical place, it is the people here who continue to inspire me. Now bilingual and a grateful permanent resident, I teach yoga locally, including as a volunteer with the young women at Fondo Guadalupe Musalem. I also work as an editor and photographer. I am delighted to help coordinate the noble work of CANFRO with our partner agencies in Oaxaca.

Jo-Anne Vandierendonck

CANFRO Secretary

My professional career in hospital settings has always been balanced by community volunteer activities and opportunities for lifelong learning. On a whim in February 2009, I visited Oaxaca to attend a Spanish language school. My experience was amazing as I was embraced by all that is wonderful about Oaxaca; people, food, architecture, arts, customs, ethno diversity and climate. However, it was recognizing that I was in a position to dedicate time to assisting disadvantaged Oaxacans to improve their life situations that convinced me that I had found a location that would become a part of my life moving forward. Seeing firsthand the positive impact of CANFRO on Oaxacan youth, my respect was cemented and I am eager to support the community now as a Board member.

The idea for a not-for-profit volunteer organization, designed to enhance the lives of people in need in Oaxaca, was conceived by a group of Canadians who hold Oaxaca and its peoples close to their hearts. This group, familiar with the State of Oaxaca and its indigenous populations, formed the first Board of Directors and did the work needed to launch CANFRO as a registered Canadian charity doing work internationally.

The first Board of Directors (at right) held its inaugural meeting in Oaxaca City on February 13, 2012. In February 2014 CANFRO received its charitable status.