Meet the staff of mhm

Richard Thiessen

Executive Director

Richard has been Executive Director of the Museum since April 2014. He grew up in Chilliwack and was Library Director at Mennonite Brethren Bible College / Concord College from 1990 to 2000, and Library Director at Columbia Bible College from 2000 to 2014. He also serves as Managing Editor of GAMEO, the Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. He has a passion for gathering and telling the Mennonite story.

Jenny Bergen

Museum Visitor and Outreach Coordinator

Jenny joined our team in October of 2019. She has always felt a strong connection to her Mennonite heritage and enjoys digging deeper into the Mennonite story. With a background in Art and Education Jenny has a passion for sharing the Mennonite story while building and strengthening community relationships. In her spare time, she enjoys reading, painting, and spending time with friends and family while exploring the great outdoors.

Jennifer Martens

Office and Volunteer Manager

Jennifer joined us as Office and Volunteer Manager in July 2016. She was recently employed as a Library Technician at Mennonite Educational Institute Schools for 19 years and the Fraser Valley Regional Library since 2013. Jennifer enjoys reading, history, organizing, facilitating projects and working with volunteers and teams. She has a keen interest in community culture, food history, genealogy and cross-generational relationships. Her favourite activities are spending time with family, making handmade cards and shopping for gifts, books, paper, art supplies, fabric and yarn.

Mary Ann Quiring

Receptionist and Office Assistant

Mary Ann Quiring has been interested in the Mennonite story for many years. She enjoys reading and spending time working on genealogy. She is excited about the facilities that house the Mennonite Heritage Museum and the opportunity to connect with researchers and visitors alike. Mary Ann is married to Ernie Quiring and enjoys spending time with their 7 grandchildren.

Viola Wall

Cafe Cook & Baker Level 1; Cafe Team Lead

Viola is a proud Mennonite by name, faith and culture. She was born in Paraguay and lived in the Menno Colony, out on indigenous settlements, in Tres Palmas (East Paraguay) and Steinbach area and Winnipeg during her childhood, teen, and college years. Her ancestors moved from Manitoba to Paraguay in 1927 and founded the Menno Colony. So, she has a lot of Menno & Manitoba relatives. She enjoys playing the exciting Mennonite game of trying to figure out who her relatives are. After getting married, she lived on a peanut farm and cattle ranch in Colony Fernheim, in the new settlement Ribera for 13 years and now has lived in Abbotsford for 20 years. Viola enjoys a wide variety of music, reading novels or biographies, gardening, water sports, doing puzzles and traveling. She has even traveled as a part of a singing ensemble throughout Canada, from Ontario to BC, and numerous European countries. If she could, she would love to own a private jet so she could visit family anywhere at any time!

Colin Manning

Building & Grounds Maintenance

Colin came to our museum excited to recreate the success he had as a Site Manager for a school his two daughters attended when young. He has years of expertise as a Red Seal Electrician and with maintenance, having worked in various fields, including telecoms, irrigation, and landscaping. Colin grew up in England, 11 miles from Trafalgar Square, where he lived in the same house until he bought his own at age 22. He has strong roots in the UK, with his maternal grandmother being of Irish descent and his surname, Manning, originating from the centre of Ireland. Today, alongside his daughters, he calls the Fraser Valley home after having travelled to countries on several continents. He keeps busy doing home renovations, being the best grandad to his 4 grandsons and indulging in hobbies like reading books, listening to music, chuckling at corny jokes and keeping an eye out for the rare 1970s English sports car, the Triumph TR6, on hot summer days.

Rita Siebert

Cafe Cook & Baker Level 2

Rita is a first-generation Canadian Mennonite with strong family ties to Mennonite history on both her husband’s and her side of the family. Her parents were born in Russia, fled as refugees during WWII to Europe (the Berlin Escape), then travelled aboard the “Volendam” ship to Argentina, then landed in Volendam, Paraguay, in 1947. Her parents arrived in Canada in 1955 and 1957. Her favourite Menno foods are: zwieback, platz, vereniki, borscht, rollkuchen and watermelon, to name a few. Yummy! Rita has consistently volunteered since high school in far too many places to list. Her hobbies are reading, learning, cooking, baking, volunteering, creating giftbaskets, camping, fishing, hunting, travelling, hiking, and running. Her goal is to one day run a full marathon. She also enjoys working on her Event-planning business and serving others. She has numerous certificates for Neuro-Linguistic Program Coach Certification Training, NLP Practitioner Certification, and the Indigenous Canada Certificate via the University of Alberta, among others. Some fun facts about her are that she played the accordion for 10+ years from age 7 and then in her 50’s, took piano lessons for a few years. Most beautiful instrument; the piano! She is an avid music lover, and enjoys all kinds of music (except rap), instruments and attending concerts. She can speak German, Low German, English, and Spanish.

Darlene Klassen

Cafe Cook & Baker Level 2

Lilian Batista

Cafe Cook & Baker Level 2 Auxiliary

She grew up in South of Brazil in a very Mennonite Cozy Home where she lived the true Anabaptist culture, learned German at home and Portuguese at School, and moved out to Canada in 2015. Here in the Fraser Valley, she spent her working time serving customers in a very friendly, patient and respectful manner making new friends. She also likes to speak with people and make them feel at home. She enjoys and loves her husband and two kids. Living in Canada is a dream come true for her and she's making this place her new home.

Stephanie Martin

Museum Research & Education Assistant

Stephanie joined our team for the summer through the Young Canada Works Program in May 2023. Her background is 7+ years as Customer Service staff at Potter's Farm & Nursery. Then, she spent almost a year as a part-time accountant for a small family-owned coffee & food equipment repair company while she finished earning her diploma in June 2023 at the University of Fraser Valley's Library and Information Technology program. The value and goal from the Mennonite Heritage Museum that resonates with her most is learning about the past to preserve for the future and share in a way that connects people now to people from a different era years ago. Her hobbies include crafting, reading, hiking, gardening, and caring for her mini zoo of pets.