Family Support for Children with Disabilities Provincial Parent Advisory Committee

Gan, Caroline

Caroline Gan's journey with FSCD began in 2014 when her child was diagnosed with Autism at the early age of 22 months followed later by an additional diagnosis of Epilepsy. While navigating through these challenges of a very high-needs child, she maintained a full-time career and volunteered for Autism Calgary, sharing her experiences, providing strategies, helpful information and guidance for parents facing similar challenges at Autism Calgary parent sessions. She has been an active member of the Autism community, connecting with a wide range of parents and neurodiverse families, providing pragmatic strategies to handle situations that she has encountered herself. She encourages those she connects with to see the positivity and a sense of belonging to a community that they sometimes can't see for themselves. More recently, she has also volunteered to support newly landed immigrants to adjust and cope with their new lives in Canada.

Competencies required for members of the FSCD-PPAC include knowledge of the policy affecting families of children with disabilities and the ability to build networks with communities. Members must also have teamwork skills and be the parent of a child receiving FSCD services from the Government of Alberta. Caroline Gan was directly recruited and appointed on the basis of acceptably meeting the competencies, skills and attributes as described above.

Khalid, Nabeel

Nabeel Khalid holds a Master of Business Management from the United Kingdom. He is a Senior Project Manager who works with Scotiabank to ensure employment equity and remove barriers for employees who have disabilities. He is a certified Program Manager and certified Change Practitioner who also mentors Scholars Academy students at the University of Calgary. Nabeel has previously worked for a non-profit organization to ensure food availability for Indigenous peoples and communities.

Competencies required for members of the FSCD-PPAC include knowledge of the policy affecting families of children with disabilities and the ability to build networks with communities. Members must also have teamwork skills and be the parent of a child receiving FSCD services from the Government of Alberta. Nabeel Khalid was directly recruited and appointed on the basis of acceptably meeting the competencies, skills and attributes as described above.

Jobanputra, Suchi

Suchi Jobanputra holds a Master of Science in Speech-Language Pathology and Bachelor of Science in Psychology from the University of Alberta. She immigrated to Canada from India in 1989 and currently resides with her husband and son in Edmonton, Alberta. Her son is diagnosed with CDKL5 Deficiency Disorder, a rare genetic disorder associated with numerous severe medical and developmental challenges.

She has worked as a pediatric Speech-Language Pathologist in Edmonton and other communities in Alberta since 2010. Suchi currently works for Alberta Health Services (AHS) supporting preschool/school-age children with communication challenges and their families. She is recognized within AHS for her experience and leadership in the area of motor speech disorders, particularly Childhood Apraxia of Speech (CAS). She actively participates in mentorship opportunities, working groups, and committees focused on developing support for children with CAS.

Competencies required for members of the FSCD-PPAC include knowledge of the policy affecting families of children with disabilities and the ability to build networks with communities. Members must also have teamwork skills and be the parent of a child receiving FSCD services from the Government of Alberta. Suchi Jobanputra was directly recruited and appointed on the basis of acceptably meeting the competencies, skills and attributes as described above.

Nielsen, Jessica

Jessica Nielsen holds a Travel and Tourism Diploma from SAIT Polytechnic. She is a published author residing in rural, southern Alberta with her husband and their seven children. Five of her children are impacted by disabilities giving her knowledge and understanding of experiences for varying needs and income levels of families impacted by disabilities. She is co-founder of a non-profit organization, Parent’s Survival Resource and Connection Society, which supports others across Alberta. Since 2018, she has professionally supported those impacted as a certified Healthcare Aide. As an advocate who works diligently, she believes if families can navigate the process of supports and services everyone can thrive and grow.

Competencies required for members of the FSCD-PPAC include knowledge of the policy affecting families of children with disabilities and the ability to build networks with communities. Members must also have teamwork skills and be the parent of a child receiving FSCD services from the Government of Alberta. Jessica Nielsen was directly recruited and appointed on the basis of acceptably meeting the competencies, skills and attributes as described above.

Swanberg, Rachel

Rachel Swanberg holds a Bachelor of Music from the University of Alberta and a Bachelor of Music Therapy from Capilano University. She is a stay-at-home mom to her two young boys. She works to ensure her youngest son, who has Down Syndrome, receives all of the support he requires. At Capilano University, Rachel served for two years on the Music Therapy Students’ Association as both Co-President and Vice-President. She has five years experience working as an accredited Music Therapist with children with special needs in both primary and secondary schools.

Competencies required for members of the FSCD-PPAC include knowledge of the policy affecting families of children with disabilities and the ability to build networks with communities. Members must also have teamwork skills and be the parent of a child receiving FSCD services from the Government of Alberta. Rachel Swanberg was directly recruited and appointed on the basis of acceptably meeting the competencies, skills and attributes as described above.

Williams, Simon

Simon Williams is the dad of a wonderful 11 year old daughter who lives with VACTR-L and lights up whatever room she is in with her British sense of humour, inherited from dad. He holds a Master’s Degree in Education from Walden University, Postgraduate Certificate in Education from Cambridge University and Bachelor of Science Degree from Sheffield University. He is an Executive Co-Director at Foothills Academy Society, a special education private school and community outreach centre for children and youth with learning disabilities. Simon has previously served as President of the Learning Disabilities Association of Alberta and the Association of Independent Schools and Colleges of Alberta. He is a current board member of the Learning Disabilities Association of Canada. When not working or parenting, he pretends to be healthy and tries to get lost in the wilderness of the mountains on his bike.

Competencies required for members of the FSCD-PPAC include knowledge of the policy affecting families of children with disabilities and the ability to build networks with communities. Members must also have teamwork skills and be the parent of a child receiving FSCD services from the Government of Alberta. Simon Williams was directly recruited and appointed on the basis of acceptably meeting the competencies, skills and attributes as described above.

Wu, Ying

Dr. Ying Wu holds a PhD in Psychology majoring in Behavioral Neuroscience from US in 2004. She has been studying the brain and behaviors with multimodal methods for nearly 30 years. She is a mom of two children, one who has Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD). She always has double passions about understanding, supporting and advocating for the ASD community, particularly the Chinese community. Dr. Wu founded social groups for Chinese ASD/Intellectual Disability families in Calgary in 2017 and 2020 respectively. The groups help new immigrant families to break down language and cultural barriers for navigating FSCD, PDD and education systems.

Competencies required for members of the FSCD-PPAC include knowledge of the policy affecting families of children with disabilities and the ability to build networks with communities. Members must also have teamwork skills and be the parent of a child receiving FSCD services from the Government of Alberta. Ying Wu was directly recruited and appointed on the basis of acceptably meeting the competencies, skills and attributes as described above.

Butler, Mei

Mei Butler holds a Certificate of Education Diploma. She has been an international trading business owner, as well as a teacher for many years. In 2006, she graduated from the College of the North Atlantic Programmer Analyst (Business) program in St. John’s Newfoundland. Mei has served as a volunteer with the YMCA for ten years and as a board member with Epic Fencing Club. Since 2017, she has been a Foods Distribution Coordinator and is a volunteer with ECSSEN non-profit career school.

Competencies required for members of the FSCD-PPAC include knowledge of the policy affecting families of children with disabilities and the ability to build networks with communities. Members must also have teamwork skills and be the parent of a child receiving FSCD services from the Government of Alberta. Mei Butler was directly recruited and appointed on the basis of acceptably meeting the competencies, skills and attributes as described above.

Gray, Heather

Heather Gray holds a Bachelor of Science in Geology and a Master of Business Administration, both from the University of Calgary. She is a Professional Geologist with over 15 years of energy industry experience in both technical and management roles. Heather is passionate about sharing her knowledge of the FSCD program with other families who could benefit from the resources available and advocating to ensure supports match the evolving needs of families accessing the program.

Competencies required for members of the FSCD-PPAC include knowledge of the policy affecting families of children with disabilities and the ability to build networks with communities. Members must also have teamwork skills and be the parent of a child receiving FSCD services from the Government of Alberta. Heather Gray was directly recruited and appointed on the basis of acceptably meeting the competencies, skills and attributes as described above.

Rizwan, Tania

Tania Rizwan lives in Calgary with her husband and two boys. She has a PhD in Mechanical Engineering from the University of Alberta and is a professional engineer with the Association of Professional Engineers and Geoscientists of Alberta (APEGA). She has more than 15 years of experience in her field and currently works as a Technology Program Manager for TC Energy.

Tania has been involved in the autism community ever since her second son was diagnosed with non-verbal autism at the age of two. She is an unrelenting advocate and strong voice for her son and for all children with disabilities and is driven to help other families who have a need for resources and connections in the community. She is equally passionate about the meaningful inclusion of children with disabilities in our schools and community. She regards collaboration and bridging the FSCD program between families and the Committee Secretariat as an important aspect of supporting children with disabilities and their families and she feels privileged to be a part of the PPAC.

Behnke, Tanin

Tanin Behnke is the proud parent of three children, including her middle son, who was diagnosed at age 3 with severe, non-verbal autism, and eventually received an additional diagnosis of ADHD. Tanin is an advocate for all her children, but especially advocates to ensure that her middle son has access to the benefits and quality of life that all children deserve. The concept of active inclusion is something she is passionate about and works hard to instill compassion and empathy in her children, as well as awareness of inclusion to those in her circle of influence. As adoptive parents through both private agencies and foster care, Tanin and her husband are passionate about sharing their story and advocating for open adoption. Tanin enjoys volunteering, and was an elected member of the Peace River town council for a four-year term.

Competencies required for members of the FSCD-PPAC include knowledge of the policy affecting families of children with disabilities and the ability to build networks with communities. Members must also have teamwork skills and be the parent of a child receiving FSCD services from the Government of Alberta. Tanin Behnke was directly recruited and appointed on the basis of acceptably meeting the competencies, skills and attributes as described above.

Delainey, Tina

Tina Delainey is the Executive Director of the Autism Society of the Regional Municipality of Wood Buffalo and previously held roles on their board of directors including treasurer, fundraising director and volunteer coordinator. She is also a parent to four children with disabilities and has earned a diploma in business administration and certificates in non-profit management and equity, diversity and inclusion. She is an active volunteer with St. John Ambulance as a medical first responder.

Competencies required for members of the FSCD-PPAC include knowledge of the policy affecting families of children with disabilities and the ability to build networks with communities. Members must also have teamwork skills and be the parent of a child receiving FSCD services from the Government of Alberta. Tina Delainey was directly recruited and appointed on the basis of acceptably meeting the competencies, skills and attributes as described above.

Hammerschmidt, Dawne

Dawne Hammerschmidt is a Community Development Advocate with Inclusion Alberta supporting the Inclusion Wetaskiwin Board, and a founder of Capabilities Connection of Central Alberta Association . She is also the mother to two children with disabilities – a son who is non-verbal and has a dual diagnosis of down syndrome and autism, and a daughter with dyslexia. Dawne actively advocates for the inclusion of all people, particularly in central Alberta communities and helps families find information, resources, and guidance locally with an inclusion-focused lens. She is the current Chairperson of the Central Alberta Regional Parent Advisory Committee and a Director with Alberta Safeguards Foundation.

Competencies required for members of the FSCD-PPAC include knowledge of the policy affecting families of children with disabilities and the ability to build networks with communities. Members must also have teamwork skills and be the parent of a child receiving FSCD services from the Government of Alberta. Dawne Hammerschmidt was directly recruited and appointed on the basis of acceptably meeting the competencies, skills and attributes as described above.

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