Steering Committee

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Heather Peddle, Co-Chair

Allies for Youth Connections Caseworker, Children’s Services – Edmonton Region

“I’ve loved working with on this committee of amazing people and youth.  Looking forward to seeing you at the conference!”

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Rebecca Stiller, BCYC, CCYC, MSc CYC Candidate, Co-Chair

Kinship Development Supervisor, Chimo Youth Retreat Centre

"Rebecca currently supervises the CSD Kinship Care program at Chimo Youth Retreat Centre. She is passionate about building community with youth and empowering others through relationship.”

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Peter Smyth, MSW, RSW

Specialist for High Risk Youth Services, Edmonton Region Children’s Services

“Peter has specialized in the area of serving youth for the past 18 years developing a practice framework, and consulting, training, and writing in this area.”

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Karen Drynan

Executive Director, Old Strathcona Youth Society

“Karen has been involved with the Old Strathcona Youth Society since 2001, and became the Executive Director there in 2009. She is dedicated to empowering youth to dream big and make positive changes in their lives.”

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Julian Wigg

Supervisor of Reunification, The Family Centre

“I’m a firm believer that regardless of circumstances, every young person deserves the opportunity to have their voice hear, be surrounded by people who love them, and live their dream.  Being part of this conference gives all of us who care for youth a greater ability to help them realize this potential.”

Tennille Soderberg

REE*START Youth Transition Advisor, Edmonton John Howard Society

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Eric Storey


“Eric is a retired businessman with a long history of community volunteerism. He is currently involved in projects that focus on mentoring, youth transitioning from government care, and sexual and gender minority youth and seniors.”

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Doreen Lesperance

Aboriginal Program Coordinator/Provincial Liaison for Aboriginal Program Coordinators, Justice and Solicitor General

“It has been a great honor and privilege to be a part of this conference. One thing I have learned working in rhythm with these ‘rebellious youth’ is to be unselfish, giving and forgiving. I have come to learn that they are doing the best that they can with what they have got, and when they know better, they do better.  I am very fortunate to see their kindness, their innocence, and their talent that lies within them. My hope for them is to one day treat themselves like they treat me, with much love and respect, doing whatever it is they can do without guilt, without obligation, just from the heart, to walk beside each other and hold their heads high and celebrate who they are. ‘There is no progress without struggle and we smile… because we made it through’.”

Renee Sullivan

Catholic Social Services, SafeHouse

“I'm honoured to be part of a committee of like minded people who are dedicated to inclusivity of young people and ‘revitalizing practice’.”

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Roxanne Varden

Employment Specialist, Working Warriors Program
Bent Arrow Traditional Healing Society

“Do what you love!  Looking forward to the next step in youth practice.”

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David Rust

Project Lead, Community Mental Health Action Plan

David has over 35 years of experience providing community development, clinical supervision, training, and advocacy for vulnerable youth in areas such as personal development, mental health, addictions, sexual exploitation, suicide prevention, sexual minority youth, and multi-cultural and indigenous young people. He has received such recognition as the Canadian School Mental Health Award, Excellence in Learning Partnerships Award and the Man of Honour Award for his community service.
“Children are the world's most valuable resource and its best hope for the future” -JFK"

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Larisa Jeffares

Mindfulness Counselor/Director, Wolf Willow Well-being

Larisa has extensive experience working with children, youth and families. Professionally, she has worked for twenty years with at risk youth and their families in various capacities. She has been a child and family services case worker with Inner City Connections (ICC) and the High Risk Youth Unit (HRYU). Larisa has also been an assessor for Protection for Sexually Exploited Youth and for Northern Alberta Child Intervention Services. She has worked in Boyle Street Community Services as an adult outreach worker. She is a steering-committee-member for the Allies (4) Youth Conference. Most recently, she has created a mindfulness coaching company called Wolf Willow Well-being. As a mindfulness counselor at Wolf Willow Well-being Larisa supports organizations and businesses with workplace well-being programs. She also continues to support youth, adults and families struggling with anxiety, depression, burnout and/or addictions using a variety of mindfulness practises, reiki and nature as a classroom. Larisa believes in freedom, dignity and respect for all through the practise of compassionate service, stewardship and love. Years of Service: 4 years with Wolf Willow Well-being. 20 years in the field.

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Donna Jamieson

Daniel Cramer

Allies for Youth Connections Caseworker, Children’s Services – Edmonton Region

“Daniel J Cramer is a composer, musician, and social worker who works with youth in a specialized unit with Children’s Services. As a founding member of the Allies For Youth Connections Conference, Daniel has been passionate about having youth engaged in planning and attending the conference.”

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Holly Hallbourg

Christina Lafreniere, BSW, RSW

Edmonton Catholic School District

“You are the choices you make, you will never influence the world by trying go be like others, everyone is perfect in unusual ways.”