Sam Issari, Owner and Managing Director
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
With 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
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 mariesalton.com.
Laurel Tien, Senior Educational Administrator
Laurel 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. laureltien.academia.edu
Sarah Cepeliauskas – Student Clinic Director
Several 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 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.