Steering Committee

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Peter Smyth, MSW, RSW, Chair

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

Peter has specialized in the area of serving youth for the past 20 years developing a practice framework, and consulting, training, and writing in this area. He is the author of the book, Working with High Risk Youth: A Relationship Based Practice Framework


Robyn Webster, Co-Chair

Program Officer, Youth Resiliency Project
The Duke of Edinburgh's International Award – AB, NT & NU Division

Supporting Northern Alberta and based out of Edmonton, Robyn Webster is a Program Officer for the Youth Resiliency Project – an initiative by The Duke of Edinburgh’s International Award – AB, NT & NU Division, providing dedicated support to youth involved in the justice system. Robyn collaborates with youth justice institutions and community partners to expose young people to pro-social activities, while empowering them to work through the Award framework and toward their individualized goals. Robyn is exceptionally passionate about working with youth, and the importance of community development. She is also a competitive pole vaulter and coach.

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Heather Peddle, Past 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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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 heard, 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

Tennille has worked with youth and families in a number of capacities since 2005. She has been a member of the Edmonton John Howard Society REE*START Program since 2013. "I have the best job in the world and I'm proud to be a part of a this amazing committee and conference planning team."

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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.”

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

Youth Probation Officer
Justice and Solicitor General

Roxanne has 12 years experience working with youth in a number of different settings. She is very passionate about providing opportunities and assisting with their full potential.

“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


Holly Hallborg

REACH Edmonton Council for Safe Communities

I have been with REACH since its inception, and most of my work has focused on youth initiatives. Most recently, I have managed the collaborative WrapED youth gang prevention program. I am grateful to be a part of this incredible conference committee, and admire their passion and commitment to support youth in Edmonton.


Christina Lafreniere, BSW, RSW

Edmonton Catholic School District

Christina has 14 years experience working with youth in different capacities from addictions, mental health to schools and non profit organizations, she is dedicated in empowering youth to become their best selves.

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


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.”