VANCOUVER, BRITISH COLUMBIA – Following a nearly 25-year history of advancing health research, programs and policy for queer and trans people in Canada, the Community-Based Research Centre (CBRC) has appointed Michael Kwag as Executive Director to lead its bolder, more inclusive mandate.
With roots in HIV/AIDS organizing and gay, bisexual and queer men’s health, this Vancouver-based national community organization has since expanded its focus to include issues relevant to queer women, both cis and transgender, as well as Two-Spirit and non-binary people.
Kwag—a long-time CBRC staff member who was previously overseeing the organization’s communications, policy and public affairs initiatives—is primed to use CBRC’s deep expertise in knowledge development and community mobilization to further the health and wellbeing of people of diverse sexualities and genders in Canada.
“Working in many capacities with CBRC for the past 20 years has inspired me to see the good we can do for queer people and communities, and the important role we play in making the progress that’s possible,” says Kwag, who started with the organization in 2004 recruiting for Totally Outright, a CBRC program that builds leadership skills in the community. “At a time when homophobia and transphobia are more explicit—and when people continue to face barriers to getting the health care they need—now is our opportunity to be more aggressive, work harder and aim higher.”
Kwag has been an influential leader within CBRC since its early years, working to set up some of the organization’s cornerstone programs. These include Sex Now (Canada’s largest survey of gay, bisexual, queer, and trans men, as well as Two-Spirit and non-binary people), the Summit (Canada’s largest conference on 2SLGBTQIA+ health) and Totally Outright.
As a thoughtful, compassionate coalition builder, Kwag has been instrumental in furthering CBRC’s policy goals—earning the buy-in of government and elected officials, and forging meaningful partnerships with researchers and community leaders from across Canada. In addition to securing multi-million dollar funding contracts for CBRC’s community-based research and education programs, Kwag has helped influence public policy on key files related to 2SLGBTQIA+ wellbeing such as HIV/sexual health, blood donation policy, and conversion therapy practices.
Responsible for the dual portfolios of policy and communications/knowledge exchange, Kwag has increased awareness around these files and other issues—connecting community members and service providers to information and resources, improving CBRC’s bilingual capacities and raising the profile of inequities and injustices still faced by queer and trans people in Canada today.
“Thanks to Michael’s unwavering commitment to this organization and determination to see our community live healthier, happier lives, CBRC has grown from a small, B.C.-based think-tank to a leading community voice on queer and trans health in Canada,” says Chris Gallardo-Ganaban, Chair of CBRC's Board of Directors. “Equipped with deep institutional knowledge and an ability to call allies into our work, I have no doubt that Michael will continue to do right by CBRC, its staff and the communities we serve.”
Community-Based Research Centre (CBRC) promotes the health of people of diverse sexualities and genders through research and intervention development. CBRC's core pillars - community-led research, knowledge exchange, network building, and leadership development - position the organization as a thought leader, transforming ideas into actions that make a difference in our communities. CBRC was incorporated in 1999 and is a non-profit charitable organization. Our main office is located in Vancouver, British Columbia, and we also have satellite offices located in Edmonton, Toronto, and Halifax.
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Communications Coordinator, CBRC
Media Relations Officer, CBRC
- Kwag has nearly two decades’ worth of professional experience in community-based research, health promotion, policy mobilization and advocacy on 2SLGBTQIA+ health and wellbeing.
- Kwag has held the role of CBRC’s Director of Knowledge Exchange and Policy Development since 2019. Prior to that he was the organization’s Director for the Advance Community Alliance, as well as a coordinator for CBRC’s special projects and youth programs from 2004 until 2008.
- In addition to his roles at CBRC, Kwag has cemented his status in the sector through both paid and volunteer positions with CATIE (Canada’s leader on HIV and Hepatitis response), the Health Initiative for Men, the BC Centre for Disease Control, AIDS Vancouver, Vancouver Coastal Health, and the Asian Society for the Intervention of AIDS.
- Kwag was selected following an extensive national search for candidates and rigorous application process with many qualified candidates. His term as Executive Director commences on April 17, 2023.