When I got married and decided to have a family, I had no idea about the journey that lay ahead. My husband and I had planned on having two or three children. I would work part time or stay at home with them until they were a magic age of “old enough” and then go back to work. Fairly simple and straightforward, I thought.
A huge change came with the arrival of our second child. Eric was born with multiple disabilities and from the first moment of his life, we were brought into this world of chaos and uncertainty. Without warning, we were headed in a whole new direction, like a roller coaster ride with many upward climbs, unexpected twists, and not enough time at the top to enjoy the view. Life was extremely challenging. We were living proof of John Lennon’s lyrics, “Life is what happens to us when we’re busy making other plans”.
In change, I had found my purpose.
When I began to work with families and support professionals, I had no idea how much I would learn, about myself, and about the lives of others. I heard so many stories from many families and support people and the common theme was about stress, grief, and concern.
People continually remarked on my optimism, despite my very challenging situation. Every day, I was learning, from my family and from those around me. I saw my circumstance as an opportunity, to pass along what I had learned, to people who were going through a similar experience. I have provided families with tools and resources that help them along their journey.
I also recognized the important role of empathy in human service delivery and that my story gave me a chance to influence quality in support, education and health care. I created my signature workshop, “In a Family’s Shoes, which offers an impactful simulation of what it is like to have a child diagnosed with a disability or to go through a sudden change. I have spearheaded the concept of consumer leadership as a way to authenticate quality and excellence in service delivery, recognized today as authentic engagement.
For over 20 years I have been providing innovative solutions for human service organizations, school boards, government, municipalities, hospitals and healthcare organizations, emergency medical response teams, colleges and universities, family leadership groups and business.
One of my most rewarding experiences was writing a book with seven moms that offered personal stories and tips for families who have received an extraordinary diagnosis for their child.
I have participated on a Pediatric Care Committee and Family Centered Care Committee at our local hospitals. I have worked as a Manager of Support and a Manager of Community Engagement. My more recent work has involved facilitation an initiative using Collective Impact Methodology. I facilitate team building activities and I continue to work with families, organizations and business.
I hold a Bachelor of Human Kinetics in Applied Kinesiology, (University of Windsor, 1988) and a Bachelor of Education, (University of Windsor, 1989) as well as additional teaching qualifications in Special Education Part 1, (Queens University, 2007). I have also received additional certification in Alternative Dispute Resolution, (University of Windsor, 2000) and I am a Certified Master Coach Practitioner (Certified Coaches Federation, 2010). I am a trained Community Conversations Facilitator (Harwood Institute, 2013) and a proud graduate of Leadership Windsor Essex, Class of 2015.
My personal experiences have shaped who I am today. As a track & field athlete in my childhood and youth, I realize the importance of setting goals for success. I am a mother who experienced an extraordinary circumstance. Eric passed away just before his fifteenth birthday. I have turned a tragic situation into a positive learning experience and I am very passionate about helping others discover positive outcomes in change.
As a certified coach and facilitator, I am delighted for the opportunity to pass along the knowledge, strength and motivation that can make a meaningful difference in your life.