Sam Issari, Owner and Managing Director

Sam Issari, Executive Director, Vancouver School of Bodywork and Massage

Sam became the owner and Managing Director of VSBM in May 2016. He was drawn to the healing energy of the space and the human element of VSBM that is often absent in other industries. Sam has a background in health and sport supplements and comes from a successful career in sales and marketing, most recently in the ever-evolving world of e-commerce.

He is passionate about working with the school’s dedicated instructors to deliver high quality education to students at all stages of the healing journey. Sam believes in the transformational power of the healing arts and in his spare time enjoys many outdoor pursuits including skiing, volleyball and swimming.

Sam’s office is located at the VSBM studio on Water Street, Vancouver and students and staff are encouraged to utilize his open door policy should they have any questions or concerns about their program or the school.

Val McKinnon – Admissions Director

Val McKinnon Admissions DirectorWith a wealth of knowledge from working with students in a variety of roles, as well as a passion for helping people achieve their goals, Val is very excited to be joining the Vancouver School of Bodywork and Massage as Admissions Director.

Val has spent the past few years working in a post-secondary administrative role, and working as a homestay administrator. Both roles allowed him to help guide a diverse group of students achieve their educational goals, as well as having hands on experience working with new-to-Canada students to acclimate to a new culture as well as succeed academically.

Val is passionate about volunteering with the Dreams Take Flight program, which helps chronically ill and differently abled kids on the trip-of-a-lifetime to Disneyland every year! In his spare time, Val enjoys taking his dog Tyson for walks and spending time with his fiancé.

Marie Salton, Program Director

MarieHeadShotCROP (3)Marie graduated in 2005 from the Spa Therapy Program at VSBM. Since graduation Marie has remained involved with the school. She has tutored, mentored, been a TA for several modalities and served on the VSBM’s Advisory Committee. In 2010 she began lead instructing and has taught Hot Stone, Spa Business Skills, Hydrotherapy and Joint Release.

She started her massage career in 2006 at Poet’s Cove on Pender Island and then Last Frontier heli-skiing. In 2007 Marie worked for the Sacred Stone Spa in Tofino, BC, first as a bodyworker and then as assistant manager. She bought the spa in 2008 and operated it as general manager to 2013, when she sold her interest. Marie relocated back to Vancouver and worked for 3 years at Sense Spa at the Rosewood Hotel Georgia (5-Star).

Marie has throughout continued her own training and workshops, taking Shiatsu, Thai Massage, Thai Foot Massage, Deep Tissue, Reiki, and Pregnancy Massage. In particular, Marie has become increasingly involved with Deep Flow, as a student, then TA, and currently as an instructor.

As VSBM Program Director Marie wants to ensure the Spa Therapy Program continues evolving and meeting demand from an ever-changing spa industry. Her goal is a program that is highly focused and effectively delivered. Read more about Marie at

Laurel Tien, Senior Educational Administrator

Laurel Tien, Senior Educational AdministratorLaurel comes to VSBM with a passion for transformative learning. She has over 25 years experience in curriculum development at the post secondary level in both the public and private sectors. With formal education in Curriculum and Pedagogy/ Art Education at the University of BC and in holistic education at SelfDesign Graduate Institute, she has continued this journey as a PhD student at the California Institute of Integral Studies.

Overall she is impassioned about transformative learning experiences that engage the individual/group/ community in developmental unfolding and complexifying states of consciousness.Her current research inquires into how transpersonal, integral, holistic, contemplative, spiritual and evolutionary/developmental lenses illuminate and support transformative learning experiences.


Sarah Cepeliauskas – Student Clinic Director

Sarah Cepeliauskas Student Clinic DirectorSeveral years ago Sarah pursued a long held passion and enrolled at VSBM where she obtained her Certified Bodyworker designation.  In addition to her role as Clinic Director, Sarah uses the healing and compassionate skills she learned at VSBM and works with women in an addiction recovery house.  Sarah is also a long time volunteer and Board Member of Urban Academy, a learning institution committed to inspiring excellence through innovative, engaging education. Sarah has a Bachelor of Arts in Family Science and a diploma in education from UBC, where she captained the UBC Women’s Volleyball team.  

Lea Cohodas – Operations Coordinator

Lea Cohodas Operations CoordinatorLea brings her background in non-profit administration, graphic design, and visual arts to her position as VSBM’s Operations Coordinator.

Lea is a perennial volunteer and advocate for many causes. She is excited to be a part of VSBM’s vibrant, diverse community of students, faculty and staff.

Scott Kellsey: Anatomy, Physiology, Pathology, Kinesiology (APPK)

Scott KellseyScott Kellsey, RMT, graduated top of his class from MH Vicars with a highly respected 2200 hour certification in Massage Therapy in 2011. He then furthered his education by becoming certified in Schweitzer’s Deep Tissue Therapy and a Kinesio Taping Practitioner KT1 & KT2 as well as attending Macewan university to further his understanding of the biomechanics and human kinetics.

In 2017, Scott became certified as a Yoga instructor with Open Source Yoga and has been teaching weekly fundamentals classes and workshops. As of August 2017 he is a graduate of the National Academy of Osteopathy. Scott’s focuses on correcting muscular problems instead of only relieving the symptoms. This allows him to direct his energy during treatments to focus on achieving positive results that his clients notice and always appreciate. Scott primarily treats muscular pain and postural imbalance with a mixture of trigger point therapy, myofascial release, and osteopathic mobilizations. This approach allows him to release “muscle knots” as well as retrain the muscles to have proper resting tone.

Scott taught massage therapy from 2013-2016 with the South Edmonton School of Massage Therapy in Edmonton, AB. Scott enjoys working with adult learners and his passion for therapeutic massage comes through in his dynamic and engaging teaching style.  The fusion of knowledge from yoga, massage, and osteopathy, with a strong desire to continue learning, makes Scott a valuable addition to the instructing team at VSBM.

Eva Mateus: Swedish Massage Techniques

Eva MateusEva grew up as a competitive gymnast and loved the dedication and commitment needed to push her body to its limits. As she evolved, her passion for personal physical development translated into 10 years of coaching gymnastics in her hometown of Terrace, BC. Focusing on her physical body served a huge purpose in her life, but she soon realized how important the mental components were to overall well-being and expansion. Recognizing this she completed her 200-hour Yoga Teacher Training in 2007 and became a Certified Bodyworker in 2009. She has been practicing for the past 8 years and still absolutely loves it! After numerous client sessions and personal experiences she began to better understand the body, mind and emotional connection. This ignited an exploration of how physical and/or emotional trauma can get physically trapped in the body and cause long-term pain. Her curiosity to understand this connection more deeply took her to Rhodes Wellness College in Vancouver, BC, where she completed the Life Coaching Diploma in 2016.

Marie Salton: Joint Release, Integrative Bodywork, Hot Stone Massage

MarieHeadShotCROP (3)Marie graduated from the Vancouver School of Bodywork & Massage in 2005. In 2007 she first managed and then owned the Sacred Stone Spa for 5 years in Tofino, B.C., until 2012 when she sold her interest and relocated back to Vancouver on a full-time basis. During that period she trained and employed 40 Spa Therapists, many who were VSBM graduates. Marie’s practitioners were trained in her signature “Sacred Hot Stone” massage, one of the most popular treatments, which she now shares with VSBM students. 

Marie works part-time at Sense Spa at the Hotel Georgia where she lends her massage abilities in a 5-Star environment. Marie is now also offering Restorative Yoga to hotel clients and at Dharma Movement Company.

Whether in a classroom, retreat, spa or studio, Marie Salton brings extensive knowledge and skills to the international world of massage.

Scott Kellsey: Deep Tissue, Sports Massage

(See Human Sciences Instructor for bio)

Glynnis Osher: Aromatherapy, Indian Head Massage & Self Care

Glynnis Osher

Glynnis is a passionate teacher, Ayurvedic practitioner and published author specializing in the healing arts of Ayurveda, aromatherapy and aromanutrition.

Glynnis has partnered with a women’s herbal collective in Nepal co-creating authentic Ayurvedic self-care products. Her love for natural beauty and the aromatic herbs, spices, and plant essences led Glynnis to create, offering online learning experiences and products in the arts of aromatic Ayurveda.

Glynnis created the curriculum for and is teaching aromatherapy, Indian head massage and Ayurvedic self-care. She is recently on faculty at Langara College teaching Ayurvedic self-care in the YTT Program.

Glynnis is co-author of the book, Your Irresistible Life: 4 Seasons of Self-Care through Ayurveda and Yoga Practices that Work.

Fernando Cabrera: Shiatsu

Fernando CabreraFernando is a Registered Shiatsu Therapist and a member of the Shiatsu Therapy Association of B.C. As one of Vancouver’s preeminent therapists, he began his practice of Zen Shiatsu (Masunaga style) in 1992. Fernando formerly taught Shiatsu Therapy at Source Point and Langara College. He is a long-standing faculty member at VSBM teaching Shiatsu level I in the Spa Therapy Program, the Weekend Introductory to Shiatsu as well as acting as Program Director and primary instructor of VSBM’s 150-hour Shiatsu Program.

Fernando’s unique style combines techniques drawn from traditional Thai Massage and Chi Nei Tsang (international organ massage). After 20+ years, he passionately maintains a thriving practice in Kitsilano where he treats his loyal fan-base of shiatsu converts.

 Jo Knight: Reflexology

Jo KnightJo brings decades of teaching experience spanning many sectors, most recently instructing courses in the continuing education studies department for Okanagan College. As founder of Paddleout Training, Jo believes in lifelong learning and the art of combining skill, heart and focus or “paddling out!” In surfing it is about the ride….in life it is about the journey.

As a professional member of the Reflexology Association of Canada (RAC), founder of Soulsurf Reflexology, a BC Eldercare and Indian Head Massage provider, Jo’s clients are cared for with a mindful touch.

Jo travels 3 months of the year to connect with family and friends and rejuvenate with some sand between the toes time. She is devoted to the vibrant health of mind, body, spirit and planet and is stoked to be on the VSBM team!

Sheryl Watson: Hydrotherapy

Sheryl WatsonSheryl brings a diverse background to her students at VSBM. Since becoming a massage therapist in Alberta in 1995 she has studied a vast array of modalities and had a variety of professional opportunities.  

Sheryl taught lymphatic drainage, trigger point therapy, proprioceptive neuromuscular facilitated techniques and hydrotherapy in the massage program at Grant MacEwan University for 14 years in Edmonton.

She also holds valuable business and professional knowledge from her experience as the sole proprietor of a women’s healing centre and from her tenure as the continuing education and examination chairperson for the Massage Therapist Association of Alberta.

Her current practice is at Empower Health in Vancouver where she focuses her practice on pelvic health and integrated sexuality. The core techniques she practices are the Arvigo® techniques of Maya Abdominal Therapy, Holistic Pelvic Care™, craniosacral and shamanic practice. She also leads women’s sexuality workshops.

Kirsten Johansson MA, RTC: Professional Development, Body–Mind Integration

Kirsten Johansson

Kirsten is a Registered Therapeutic Counsellor with a Master’s degree in Expressive Arts Therapy and Psychology. She holds additional certification in Relational Somatic Therapy as well as training in Narrative Therapy, Acceptance and Commitment Therapy and Internal Family Systems Therapy.

Kirsten has practised bodywork and massage since training at VSBM in 2004. At the centre of her bodywork is the goal of emotional and psychological healing through touch and physical awareness.

Kirsten’s classes promote self-discovery and growth through body, mind and emotional awareness. Her extensive training has equipped her to teach Professional Development and Body-Mind Integration, a uniquely creative and dynamic course offering at VSBM.

Kirsten holds a private practise in Vancouver. Through individual therapy and group workshops, Kirsten works with issues related to trauma, grief, anxiety, depression and relationships. Her work draws from holistic counselling approaches including the arts, bodywork, mindfulness and cognitive therapies.

Kelty McKerracher: Ethics

Kelty McKerracher Ethics Instructor VSBMKelty’s path has been profoundly shaped by VSBM, having graduated in 2011 from the Spa Therapy certificate program and in 2013 from the Expressive Arts Therapy certificate program. These trainings in somatic and arts-based therapies, along with her background in dance, provide the foundation for her community-engaged artistic practice.

Kelty teaches Ethics in the Spa Therapy program and Community Arts in the Expressive Arts Program. For her, practicing ethics means having an embodied, relational, and decolonizing approach to working with clients and communities. She feels blessed to be supported to constantly explore and deepen her own ethics and looks forward to supporting this journey with emerging practitioners at VSBM.

Mariska ReinerinkSelf Employment

Mariska Reinerink

Mariska brings a varied background to VSBM. She was trained as a physiotherapist in Holland, and has worked in Holland, UK and Canada.

During her years as a physiotherapist she studied many different modalities and became a Certified Healing Touch Practitioner and Instructor, teaching throughout BC. She had her own clinic on the Sunshine Coast where she integrated all modalities, while also mentoring her students.

Having been fascinated by how people’s health and well-being is often tied to their sense of wealth and money, Mariska ended up switching over to helping people through financial services and became a Certified Financial Planner. She now also a Money Coach, integrating finance with psychology, neuro-economics and energy work.

Marie Salton: Business Skills – Spa Employment Preparation

See Administration or Manual Skills Instructors.

 Nick Feetham: CPR Level A

Nick is a paramedic by trade and owns Critical Interventions, teaching CPR and First Aid to private clients in the Vancouver area.