Meet Our Team
Learn how we can support you on our Parent2Parent Support page.
Founder and Executive Director
Julie’s commitment to supporting permanency for children and youth in families grew from her own adoption journey. After she and her husband adopted a sibling group of three older children, Julie soon realized that adoptive (and kin and customary care) families in Ontario would benefit from more resources, advocacy and community connections. In forming Adopt4Life – Ontario’s Adoptive Parents’ Association, Julie created a unified voice and invaluable peer network for adoptive parents and permanent caregivers.
Julie has been a passionate advocate in the non-profit sector, for more than 20 years. Along with the Adopt4Life team, she has formed collaborative relationships with Children’s Aid Society agencies across the province, as well as with organizational partners, including the Ontario Association of Children’s Aid Societies, Office of the Children’s Lawyer and the Adoption Council of Canada.
A changemaker at heart, Julie has helped shape legislation designed to strengthen the child welfare system to better protect some of Ontario’s most vulnerable young people. She participated in the work of the Motherisk Commission, advocating for the adoptive families impacted.
Erin is a mother to three boys, two of whom joined her family by adoption, through Children’s Aid and privately. Professionally, Erin is an Ontario Certified Teacher and a Chartered Professional Accountant (CPA, CGA) with a Masters in Business Administration. Erin has lived experience with toddler and infant adoption, openness, transitioning from care, adoption outside a local CAS, attachment parenting, reactive attachment disorder, special needs, induced lactation, and advocating for supports within the school system. Passionate about ensuring all children and youth having lifelong families, Erin has been instrumental in the development of Adopt4Life’s Parent2Parent Support Network. She is thrilled to see Adopt4Life grow province-wide and benefit all adoptive, kinship and customary care families and children in need of permanency across Ontario.
Policy and Knowledge Lead
Joy is a parent of three children, who were adopted as a sibling group at ages one, two, and three. For over two decades she has practiced occupational therapy, first in adolescent mental health and now in community-based practice with individuals experiencing the effects of injury. Joy’s focus, at work and on her adoption journey, has been promoting connection, validation, adaptation, identity, and hope. She has pursued ongoing learning opportunities around these topics, including ACT (An Adoption and Permanency Curriculum for Child Welfare & Mental Health Professionals). Joy has particular interests in trauma-informed communities, connected parenting, pre-natal substance exposure/FASD, interracial and First Nations adoption, and sibling adoption. She also loves research, writing and program development to support service providers and systems in meeting the needs of individuals and communities with excellence. It is Joy’s desire for our community to experience barrier-free and timely access to preventative and responsive supports, resources and opportunities.
Team Lead & Openness Specialist
Kathryn is an adoptive mom to three young children and the child of an adoptee. All three of her children were adopted through the Foster-to-Adopt program. Kathryn and her husband have embraced various levels of openness and have experience with openness orders, mediation, openness agreements and closed adoptions. Kathryn holds a Master’s Degree in Critical Disability Studies and a Bachelor of Social Work. Her previous work experience includes supporting families of children with special needs and providing crisis intervention to young adults with developmental disabilities. She is certified as a Triple P–Stepping Stones instructor and a Crisis Prevention Intervention (CPI) facilitator, as well as in ACT (An Adoption and Permanency Curriculum for Child Welfare & Mental Health Professionals). Two of Kathryn’s children have complex needs, so she has extensive experience advocating for supports and resources, to help them achieve their potential.
Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org / 1-888-274-6222 (Ext. 102)
Community Engagement Liaison
Valerie is a single mother of two, in an interracial family, and her youngest child joined the family through adoption at the age of 15, through the Children’s Aid Society. Formerly the Senior Editor, Special Needs, at Today’s Parent, Valerie has created stories and documentaries on diverse topics that touch our community, including: openness, attachment, developmental trauma, mental health, FASD, ADHD, ASD and disabilities. A big believer in creating supportive communities, Valerie founded a sponsorship group to support a Syrian newcomer family for their first two years in Canada. She also sits on the board of the Amy Project, a barrier-free performing arts mentorship program for girls and non-binary youth. In her spare time she fosters dogs for Redemption Paws.
Marketing & Communications Designer
Van was formerly in extended society care and became a Kin-in-Care Caregiver to her siblings. As a creative with a background in not-for-profits and youth advocacy in Ontario, she is committed to using her graphic design and illustration skills to support communities and communicate cross-cultural narratives. Van graduated from the York University/Sheridan College Design Program and the Film Production Program at York University, and she is a Registered Graphic Designer.
Social Media Intern
Kyla is a high school student and youth advocate who entered the foster care system late in childhood and was adopted with her two siblings when she was 11 years old. She is interested in helping other families and children touched by adoption and foster care, by drawing on her own knowledge and experiences. As a teen, she is social media-savvy, and brings this expertise to Adopt4Life to help grow our community and keep parents and caregivers connected.
Regional Parent Liaisons
Regional Parent Liaison, Central and Kitchener Waterloo Region
Heather and her husband have three beautiful children through adoption and recently retired from fostering after over 10 years. They have experience as kin parents and have one adult heart child. Through the Wraparound program, they mentor youth leaving care. Heather has extensive knowledge of attachment, trauma, safeguarding, lifebooks, transitioning children, FASD and other relevant topics. She facilitates support groups; is a PRIDE trainer; and is a sought-after public speaker. Heather is also on the Board of the Foster Family Association as the United Foster Parents Corporation of Canada (UFPCC) Representative in her area and is active in various foster and adoption focus groups and committees. She has experience in Critical Incident Management and Infant Mental Health and is a trained advocate and crisis intervention support person.
Regional Parent Liaison, Kitchener-Waterloo
(Currently on parental leave) Lesli is the proud mother of eight children: four by birth and four who grew in her heart. Lesli and her husband, Jeff, have been foster parents for over 15 years and Lesli has worked for over a decade in child and youth mental health. A strong advocate for children touched by care, she is the co-founder and executive director of Wraparound families, which seeks to find families and support within communities for youth moving on to independent living or aging out of foster care. Leslie is active in First Nations community activities and passionate about helping families who have adopted First Nations, Indigenous and Métis children learn more about their child’s heritage. Lesli is also a PRIDE co-facilitator and a big believer in creating strong support systems for families.
Regional Parent Liaison, Central Region
Teresa is a single parent to one child, placed through the Children’s Aid Society at age five. Her daughter has Down syndrome and complex medical needs, so Teresa quickly learned to advocate within the medical, developmental and education systems. Teresa is a Registered Nurse, who specialized in working with children who have exceptional medical, developmental, and psychosocial needs. She has worked with families caring for people at risk of, or infected with, HIV and hepatitis, and helped develop and facilitate a medical portion of PRIDE training. Teresa was involved with an FASD screening pilot project with Children’s Aid and is active in the special needs parenting community. When she was growing up, her parents also fostered, and as a young adult, she volunteered at an overseas orphanage. Her passion is helping children, youth, and families thrive.
Regional Parent Liaison, London Region
Heidi is the mom of two children. She and her husband grew their family through international adoption from South Africa. They welcomed their son home in 2008 and their daughter in 2014. Heidi is involved with the Families with Children Adopted from South Africa Parent Support Network and sits on the Networks Leadership Circle. She has over 20 years of educational and professional experience, primarily in childhood and family relations, developmental services work, and early childhood education. She believes in promoting inclusion and diversity, fostering empathy, increasing resilience, and developing secure connections.
Regional Parent Liaison, Northern Region
Miranda adopted two sibling groups from foster care, through the Children’s Aid Society and Dilico Anishinabek Family Care. She has fostered Indigenous children for over 11 years and is a proud “white Kokum” to two grandchildren. Miranda has parented children with FASD, ADHD, RAD, complex trauma, mental health challenges and development delays, as well as issues with substance use and running away. She has experience with treatment facilities, the justice system, openness, transitioning children into adult care, and advocating for permanency relationships. Miranda represents the Fetal Alcohol Support Information Network on her public school board’s Special Education Advisory Committee. She volunteers through the NorWest Health Center, which facilitates community FASD training and has her Mental Health Certificates for Teenagers and for Indigenous People. Miranda and her husband volunteer at a summer camp on a reserve, attend Pow Wows, and visit first family members on reserve, to foster their children’s relationships, cultural connections and healing.
Regional Parent Liaison, Ottawa
Joyce has five children through adoption and one biological child, ranging in age from 10 to 33 years. The three oldest and the youngest were adopted through the Children’s Aid Society. Her middle child joined the family through private adoption and both her youngest children, through kinship adoption. The family is also experienced with fostering children and youth and has maintained relationships with former foster children into adulthood. As an adoptive parent, Joyce has experience with open adoption, attachment issues, FASD, ADHD and learning disabilities. Professionally, she is a social worker. Joyce started her career with the CAS and worked with them for 12 years. She spent the next 19 years of her career at the Queensway Carleton Hospital. Joyce and her 32-year-old son speak together on PRIDE panels and advocate for older-child adoptions.
Regional Parent Liaison, Ottawa
Lauri is the mother of two teenage sons and of a 12-year-old daughter who, at age two, travelled from Kazakhstan to join her new family. Lauri has worked as a Regional Parent Liaison with Adopt4Life since its inception. She has her M.Ed. in Counselling Psychology and has focused on the crucial role of family in improving outcomes for children who suffer early trauma. In addition to her skills in attachment and trauma, she has a wealth of experience in conflict resolution. She is certified in alternate dispute resolution through the Canadian International Institute of Applied Negotiations and worked as a provincial negotiator. In supporting adoptive families, she is talented at finding mutually beneficial solutions in highly conflictual situations. Lauri works diligently to help build a sense of community, strengthen relationships and connect families with much needed resources and support.
Regional Parent Liaison, Eastern Region
Shannon is a mother through both birth and adoption: Her eldest son is 22 and has recently upgraded her to the role of “Nana,” and her youngest son is 12 and joined her family at five months old, initially as a foster child. After adopting, Shannon and her wife stepped into the worlds of FASD, ADHD and anxiety. They became founding members of the South Eastern Ontario FASD Parent Action Group, and today Shannon is co-chair of this parent support group. Shannon is passionate about her work as a registered early childhood educator, a role in which she advocates for families within the local Children’s Aid Society, school boards and community partner organizations. She is particularly invested in supporting the LGTBQ2S+ community, promoting self care among parents raising children with special needs, fostering cultural connections in First Nation adoptions, and ensuring access to mental health services.
Regional Parent Liaison, Toronto
Jessica is the adoptive mother of three beautiful children. She is familiar with the domestic public adoption process, advocacy and post-adoption issues. Jessica’s daughter has special needs and requires support at school and within the medical and mental health communities. As well as providing support to new adoptive families as a mentor, Jessica has on panels for the Children’s Aid Society of Toronto and the Adoption Council of Ontario. In her previous role as a Family Support Services Specialist with Shepell-fgi, she assessed families’ childcare and eldercare needs to connect them with resources and services.
Regional Parent Liaison, Toronto
Rebecca is the mother of two teens: who joined their family, respectively, as an infant and a toddler (through Children’s Aid and privately). Each has openness arrangements. Currently, Rebecca and her family foster babies awaiting adoption. For over 25 years, Rebecca has worked in the nonprofit sector, passionately supporting and empowering marginalized people. She has a wealth of experience in special needs including ADHD, disabilities, Gentle Teaching, trauma, attachment parenting, gender and sexual identity (LGBTQ2S+), mental health, multi-faith relations, developing family support systems, and suicide awareness and prevention. Rebecca is grounded by her faith and feels blessed to be able to help others build circles of support and access trauma-informed services.
Interested in joining our team? Visit our careers page!