Meet our Family Advisory Council

 

Michèle Langlois, Chair

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Photo of Michèle Langlois

Michèle is the Chair of the Family Advisory Council.  Active in the Council since 2018, Michèle brings substantial family experience from her work as President of the Ottawa Network for Borderline Personality Disorder and as Family Connections Course Leader since 2014. She is also a devoted family caregiver with lived experience supporting loved ones through their recovery from mental health conditions. Michèle’s lived experiences inspired her to join the FAC to strengthen and augment the impact of family voices at The Royal.

As Chair, Michèle mobilizes Council and family advisor strengths to represent the collective voice of families served by The Royal. She leads the Council in advocating, advising, and meaningfully engaging with The Royal and other community partners to shape policy, programs, research and practices, as well as participate in initiatives that support and strengthen families and improve the care of loved ones, the client, and family experiences across The Royal campuses.

A champion of The Royal’s vision of a “hospital without walls,” Michèle is committed to facilitate its work with community leaders and partners in the design and co-creation of models of care that not only meet family and loved ones “where they are at” but also better support them through the life span of their needs: from early identification through resolution and reintegration into community life.

Michèle draws upon 30 plus years’ experience as an Executive and Executive Advisor to public sector organizations in the areas of Service and Business Innovation, with specific expertise in

Strategy and Planning, Program and Project Management and Change Leadership. Currently, she is completing her Master’s in Transformative Leadership and Spirituality at St. Paul’s University in Ottawa. As a leader, Michèle is committed to ethical, values-based and mindful leadership.

Juliet Haynes, Vice Chair

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Photo of Juliet Haynes

Juliet Haynes is the Family Engagement and Experience Coordinator at The Royal and Vice-Chair of the Family Advisory Council.  Prior to this, she served as The Royal’s Family Support Program Coordinator where she devoted her energy to improving families’ access to support through community partnerships and telemedicine.  

Juliet has over 12 years’ experience at The Royal working with diverse populations in individual, family and group settings in the Substance Use and Concurrent Disorders Program, the Mood Program, the Crisis Unit, as well as providing outreach to the broader community. 

She is the Vice-President of the Ottawa Network for Borderline Personality Disorders where she has volunteered as a Family Connections Course Leader since 2015.  Juliet is a trained Family WRAP Facilitator, Powerful Tools for Families Course Leader and has co-facilitated the NAMI Family to Family Education Program.  Juliet has over 15 years’ experience as a trained family and peer supporter in mental health and addictions and violence against women.  

In all that she does, Juliet aims to promote a culture that empowers families and advances Client and Family Centered Care. Juliet is an ally to those with mental health issues and their families, understanding that where health care professionals may change over time, clients’ families are the one constant along their mental health journey. Juliet has her Master’s in social work from Carleton University.

 

Cynthia Clark

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Photo of Cynthia Clark

Cynthia has been a volunteer at the Royal since 2007, devoting her time and energy to supporting the Family Advisory Council as Chair for many years, now serving as Secretary. She has represented families on various community and hospital committees and has provided an advisory voice for the provincial government and national agencies. She is the lead proponent for a new research project at The Royal funded by the Canadian Institutes for Health Research to build a framework for supporting meaningful family caregiver engagement in mental health care and research.

She is presently the Chair of the Ontario Family Caregivers’ Advisory Network (OFCAN), A provincial organization that connects groups in Ontario who support family caregivers of people with mental health and addiction issues.  Cynthia was a founding member of Parents’ Lifelines of Eastern Ontario (PLEO). She has over 15 years of experience in the delivery of programs to family members of individuals with serious mental illness and was a valued employee of the Schizophrenia Society of Ontario for 12 years.

May 2015 she was appointed to the Ministry of Health and Long-term Care, Mental Health and Addictions Leadership Advisory Council. Cynthia was a recipient of the YMCA-YWCA Ottawa Women of Distinction Award in May 2011 and in 2005 she received the Inspiration Award presented by the Royal Ottawa Health Care Group in recognition of individuals who have served as models of hope and inspiration to others.

Dr. Mohammad Ebrahimzadeh

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Photo of Dr. Mohammad Ebrahimzadeh

Mohammad is an award-winning neuroscientist and (among other awards and accomplishments) the recipient of the 2014 Graduate Student Research Award from The Royal’s Institute for Mental Health Research. He has acquired research experience in molecular psychiatry, analgesic properties of cannabinoids, pain perception, addiction, and binge eating.  

On a personal level, the experience of mental illness by family and friends has motivated Mohammad to familiarize himself with different aspects of mental illness and how it can be managed. Accordingly, he became a voracious reader on different psychological interventions including Cognitive Behaviour Therapy (CBT), Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy (MBCT), Acceptance Commitment Therapy (ACT), and existential psychotherapy. 

He has been very involved in knowledge translation and advocacy for mental health through organizing conferences (executive board member of the Young Researchers annual conferences), blog writing (The Canadian Biomarker Integration Network for Depression), and public speaking (Student Alliance for Mental Health).

Mohammad is extremely passionate about furthering his understanding of how mental health care is delivered, what the potential areas of growth are and how he can make a positive impact on this process.

Lisa Kastler

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Lisa Kastler

Lisa joined the Family Advisory Council in January 2021.  Lisa has experience providing care for loved ones who have been dealing with mental health and addiction issues.  Lisa sees health through the lens of a holistic approach and brings passion for healing.  

Lisa works as an Education Assistant with school aged children, and  also has experience working with persons who experience developmental disabilities.  Lisa is currently working on her Honours Bachelor of Arts with a major in Human Relations and Spirituality with a minor in Conflict Studies.  She understands the importance of advocating for others and considers it a privilege to work with the Family Advisory Council. 

 

Sara MacNaull

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Sara MacNaull

Sara joined the Family Advisory Council in December 2020. Family has always been an important part of Sara’s personal and professional life. Following 12 years at the Vanier Institute of the Family, Sara joined the Centre of Excellence on Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder and Related Mental Health Conditions, which is hosted by The Royal. The Centre of Excellence on PTSD builds strong community networks to create the best possible supports and services for Veterans and their families. Sara’s role involves engaging with diverse stakeholders, with the aim of embedding the lived experience and expertise of Veteran and Veteran families into all aspects of the Centre’s work. Her role on the Family Advisory Council speaks to her dedication to amplifying family voices. 

Sara currently serves as President of the Canadian Families and Corrections Network, a national organization dedicated to families affected by criminal behaviour, incarceration, and reintegration.  

Sara is pursuing a Doctor of Science in Rehabilitation and Health Leadership from Queen’s University. 

Kevin MacNeil

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Kevin MacNeil

Kevin is new to the Family Advisory Council joining in February 2021.  He was first introduced to the services of the Royal Ottawa as a result of his mother, and her struggle with Dementia and Alzheimer's.  His intentions are to "pay it forward" as an active member of the Family Advisor Council, advocating for families and their loved ones.

Nancy Myers

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Photo of Nancy Myers

Like most people involved with volunteer groups, Nancy's interest and concerns about mental health issues relate to experiences of family and friends.  She has a B.Sc and has worked in 5 teaching hospitals (pediatric and adult, medical/technical/ clinical/ research) in Canada and Saudi Arabia, learning that it's much easier to be inside a white lab coat as part of a team, than on the outside with not always answerable questions. 

She also spent many years as a volunteer advocate in the Ontario school system for special education supports and services during times upheaval and budget cuts. Through participation on various statutory committees, she recognized the importance of working from within a large complex organization, learning "how it works", balancing expectations, agendas, changing political priorities, and fiscal limitations. 

As a parent, Nancy understands the confusion, frustration and stress of trying to navigate shifting silos which overlap wide ranges of educational, social, medical and mental health care and services.  Friends and families often feel powerless and judged by those who say "you know your loved one best" but undervalue their opinions. The "24/7 on-call " chronic stress of living with, or being personally responsible for, people who need mental health support/ care often feels like some form of PTSD which outsiders cannot understand.  

Through these varied experiences, Nancy’s life lessons include that friends and family (“framily”) make the best decisions they can at the time with the information they have available; the value of breaking down overwhelming problems into manageable details and of new eyes looking at old problems from the bottom up; and thinking ahead, often as "Devil's Advocate", and trying to see through other perspectives.

Nancy represents the Family Advisory Council on the Royal’s Ethics/Medical Assistance in Dying (MAID) and Medication Reconciliation Committees.

 

Dr. Denis Riordan

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Dr. Denis Riordan

Denis is a retired Professor in the Faculty of Computer Science at Dalhousie University and recent family caregiver. Denis has a PhD degree in Mathematics from Carleton University and had a lengthy academic career at universities in both South Africa and Canada holding positions as lecturer in Mathematics and Professor, Head of Department and Associate Dean (Academic) in Computer Science. He has held numerous administrative positions including chairing of academic appointments committees and as a three times elected President of a Faculty Association (Union). He was awarded the Technical University of Nova Scotia award for teaching excellence and the Dalhousie University Srini Award also for teaching excellence.

Denis has authored, co-authored and refereed journal and conference publications and supervised and co-supervised graduate students mostly in the area of expert and intelligent systems. His thesis supervision has produced functional intelligent systems in areas including aquaculture, medical diagnostics, engineering control and aviation visibility forecasting.

Since becoming a family caregiver Denis has become involved with mental health resources supporting family caregivers. He has attended multiple workshops and conferences for family caregivers and peer support training and is a member of the Family Advisory Council (FAC) at The Royal. Denis was presented with an Inspiration Mental Health Award at the 2019 Inspiration Awards Gala at The Royal. Denis has only positive things to say about his involvement with the Ottawa Hospital, The Royal and the FAC at The Royal. 

Tami Sugarman

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Tami Sugarman

Tami joined the Family Advisory Council in January 2021. Her own lived experience, gained from walking the road alongside family members and friends who have struggled to cope with mental health and addiction issues, motivates her to find ways to evolve and enhance this journey for others.

As an environmental consultant and business owner, Tami draws upon thirty-five years of experience as a professional geoscientist, environmental assessment planner, project manager, consultation facilitator, client manager, trainer, and mentor. A team member and leader of multi-discipline teams on both small individual and larger multifaceted projects. Tami often volunteers on special committees within her industry’s professional association. 

As a consultant, she has collaborated with diverse teams of discipline experts from private industry and government, as well as public and Indigenous community members. She is versed in engaging with interested knowledge keepers in open, transparent, and continuous exchanges of ideas, ensuring that a project plan is effectively scoped, designed, executed, communicated, and documented. 

Tami’s professional practice has confirmed her personal belief that there is added value in welcoming an assembly of expertise/experience to an undertaking. It is essential for a successful outcome for all. She is honoured to be involved with the Family Advisory Council at the Royal Ottawa Hospital.

Judy Thomas

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Judy Thomas

Judy Thomas is a volunteer in the community and has worked with families over the past 4 years as a FWRAP, Family Wellness Recovery Facilitator, a certified Peer Support worker, a member of The Royal Family Advisory Council. A dedicated advocate for increased transparency between the health care teams, their clients and families. She is committed to professional and personal excellence while demonstrating care and compassion for families and clients who have experienced mental health challenges. 

Her experience with implementing change management processes with a focus on active and visible executive leadership accountability, frequent and open communication and employee engagement and participation organization wide. Her expertise is shared with health care teams at The Royal and executed at the level of the Family Advisory Council.

Judy draws upon her 35 plus years of experience as accomplished Senior HR Specialist, NLP Certified Professional Coach and High-Performance Team facilitator, with a history of Senior Management positions across North America and over the past 27 years continues to operate a very successful consulting business. As a leader, Judy is committed to inspiring her clients and family to reach their unlimited potential.