Our Management Team

Sally Zhao

Chief Executive Officer

Dr. Sally Zhao obtained her Ph.D. in ESL (English as a Second Language) Testing and Assessment and an MA in Language and Communication from Cardiff University, UK, an M.Ed. in Teaching English for Specific Purposes from University of Exeter, U.K., and a BA in English Language and Literature from Lanzhou University, China. Sally has experience of teaching ESL, English Language and Communication, LINC (Language Instruction for Newcomers to Canada), and ELT (Enhanced Language Training) courses. Sally started her career at CIES in 2005. Since then, she has been in different roles within the organization as ESL volunteer tutor, LINC instructor, ELT instructor, LINC Manager and Executive Director Designate until November 1, 2014, Sally became the Executive Director of CIES, a title that later changed to Chief Executive Officer.

Eva Su

Eva Su


Eva Su was born in Taiwan. She obtained her degrees from San Francisco State University, Bachelor of Arts in Speech Communication and Master of Arts in English (TESOL). Eva also taught in a pre-academic program in San Francisco State University for one year and a junior college in Taiwan for four years before moving to Canada in 2004. Eva joined the Calgary Immigrant Educational Society in January 2005 as a teacher for the ELT Program and later became the manager of the Drop-In ESL and Volunteer Programs from August 2005 to March 2011. Currently, Eva holds the position of Manager of Human Resources and Office Operations.

Colyn deGraaff

Manager of E-Learning & Communications

As a seasoned writer, designer and public speaker with over 10 years of experience in communications, web design, and program development, Colyn received his Bachelor’s Degree in English from St. Mary's University in 2010 and currently completing his Masters Degree in International and Intercultural Communications through Royal Roads University in Victoria. As the manager of E-Learning & Communications for CIES, he has lead the proposal process, platform development, and daily operations of many of the organization's in-class and online programming. Since 2012 these have come to include LINC Home Study (LHS), Refugee Express Drop-In ESL & Integration (REDI), Adult ESL Class Online (AECO), and LINC Blended. As the head of CIES' Communication department, Colyn also oversees the design and dissemination of promotional materials (print and video), advocacy and internal correspondence, and is a approachable leader in inter-organizational relationships. A native-born Calgarian, Colyn is an active participant in the community and provides web-design support and communication strategies for local community non-profits who seek to improve their online presence and internal communications. Moving forward, he eagerly seeks to foster new partnerships and find ways to knit community stakeholders together in their effort to help support newcomers as they find their place in Canadian culture.

Jana Ciobanu

LINC Manager

Jana Ciobanu has been working for Calgary Immigrant Educational Society since February 2008.  During all these years, she has been a volunteer, an instructor and a PBLA Lead. Jana has taught all CLB levels and demonstrates a clear understanding of the CLB framework and its application in classroom planning. Last year, she completed the PBLA Foundation Course and became a Lead Teacher. As a PBLA lead, Jana has provided PBLA training to our instructors and helped implement PBLA at C.I.E.S. Being an ESL/LINC teacher, she has taken the opportunity to instruct a wide variety of students from various backgrounds. Jana taught ESL at the English Programs for Internationals, in the USA and Translation and Interpretation at the Free International University of Moldova. She has also been a Program Manager in an international company. Aside from a vast working experience, Jana also has a solid educational background. She graduated from the Educational Department at University of Calgary and acquired a Master’s Degree in TESL. Jana also studied Adult Education at the University of South Carolina and got a Bachelor of Arts in English and French at Alecu Russo University in Moldova. Jana is looking forward to working with our clients and hopes to help them call Canada home.

suman khanal

Suman Khanal


Born in Nepal, Suman Khanal obtained his Masters’ Degree in International Community Economic Development from Southern New Hampshire University in Manchester, NH. He also received his Master’s Degree in Business Administration from Lincoln University, California and working on his Doctorate. He earned his Post Graduate Diploma in Community Based Development from St. Francis Xavier University, Antigonish, NS. Suman served as the Chief Executive Officer for the National Federation of Community Credit Unions in Nepal for nearly 7 years before he moved to North America. In the United States, he served as Financial Literacy Program Director for America’s Credit Union Museum and for nearly 5 years he served other non-profit organizations as they helped immigrants in their settlement and integration. Suman has travelled to over 20 countries and provided short term consultancies in the area of Community Economic Development and Assets Building for poor and disadvantaged people, especially in Senegal, India, Bangladesh, Thailand, Philippines, Malaysia, Pakistan, and others. Since 2003 he has been a certified Development Educator with the Association of Asian Confederation of Credit Unions. After finishing his assignment with McBride Career Group as an Instructor for Career Planning/Job Search and Job Maintenance, Suman joined CIES in September 2013 as a Program Coordinator for Financial Literacy and Welcome Resources Information Program and served in this position until he became the Manager for Settlement Services ad Facility Operations. His mission it to help immigrants and low income people enjoy a meaningful life in their community and in 2017 he expanded his work portfolio to include, in his new title, Management of Settlement Services and Employment Training.

Racine Diallo


After his Bachelor degree in Sciences in Senegal, Racine pursued and graduated as Specialized in System and Software at EPITA-France (School of Computer Sciences and Advanced Technologies). Racine started teaching computer software and applications to youth, adults, as well in corporate setting for their employees in Paris before moving to Canada in 1995 driven by his passion in IT and profound desire to help peoples, that’s lead him to more than 10 years as Computer & Network Instructor in several Institutes and Colleges in Canada such as I.S.I. (Institute Superior of Informatique), Institute Demers, Delta College and CDI College in Montreal. Before Joining the Society in February 2013 as Computer Programs Coordinator. He worked as IT System Analyst at BELL, Guest-Tek and IT Support Analyst at HP . He became Manager of Computer and Accounting Programs since March 2014.

Wei Dang


Wei obtained his Chartered Professional Accountant, Certified General Accountant designations in 2015. He earned Master degree of Art, Economics in University of Ottawa. He also holds Bachelor degree of business administration. He has over 10 years of experience in finance, accounting, auditing and tax.  He joined the society in 2015. As a first-generation immigrant himself, he is very grateful and pleased to have opportunity to work for an organization that helps new immigrants.

melissa mckinnon

Melissa McKinnon

ESL & Volunteer Manager

Melissa earned her Bachelor of Arts degree from St. Thomas University in Fredericton, New Brunswick. She double majored in criminology and sociology and obtained a minor in religious studies as well. After her undergrad, Melissa earned her Bachelor of Education from the University of Maine. Melissa has taught youth and adults in various settings and grew a passion for teaching English as a second language after spending a summer in Uganda, Africa volunteer teaching. Prior to joining Calgary Immigrant Educational Society (C.I.E.S.), Melissa taught in a public school setting in her hometown, Sussex, New Brunswick. She joined C.I.E.S. in April 2013 as a Senior L.I.N.C. Coordinator. She worked in this position until she became Manager of ESL and Volunteer Programs in August 2014.

Cesar Suva

Program Development Manager

Cesar recently obtained his PhD at the Australian National University in Canberra, Australia writing on notions of power and authority vis-à-vis the state in a borderland Muslim society in the southern Philippines.  His interest in the challenges of minority integration has gained practical expression in his role as Programs Development Manager at CIES, where he has taken on the responsibility of developing new programs that respond to the changing needs of Canada’s newcomers.  He has taught at universities in Canada, Australia and the Philippines, and has presented on the topic of minorities at conferences in North America, Europe, Asia, Oceania and the Pacific.  His academic background is supplemented with private sector experience, having served for five years as a training department manager in an American corporation, as well as experience in language programming, previously filling the role of ESL and LINC coordinator for other immigrant-serving organizations.