Jeff Brain, MA, CTS, CEP
What if...you could get the
smiles, the hugs, and the love back...
What if...your family could be
the way it was before the problems started...
What if...you could find a place
here in Canada that would help your child turn
their life around...
Jeff Brain, MA, CTS, CEP
Director of Admissions
and Program Development
Jeff has been advising, advocating, guiding and mentoring parents and their children throughout his 26 year career. He has a master’s degree in clinical psychology and is a certified trauma specialist and a certified educational planner. Jeff has extensive clinical and administrative leadership experience in a variety of residential settings and has worked with both adolescents and adults with a variety of mental health, substance use, developmental and behavioral issues.
Jeff has served hundreds of families as an educational advisor, advocate, therapist, behavior specialist and trauma specialist. Jeff developed and co-founded an innovative, residential transition program for emerging adults with mental health challenges and served for nine years as a director of admissions for a nationally recognized, accredited, therapeutic boarding school. As an adjunct to this recent work as an admissions director and educational/therapeutic consultant, Jeff developed and copyrighted a therapeutic program/school checklist for parents to use to determine the quality and legitimacy of therapeutic schools and programs. In addition, he founded and still leads a therapeutic youth group for adolescents with social skill deficits and is an expert in anger management, having developed and copyrighted a successful and innovative anger management curriculum for adolescents and young adults.
Jeff speaks regularly at conferences and to parent groups and has an extensive network of professionals, schools, programs and treatment providers to serve as resources for families in need. Jeff has traveled extensively throughout the US and Canada, visiting schools and programs meeting the needs of children, adolescents and young adults. He is a regular attender at international conferences for therapeutic schools and treatment programs, treatment and education consultant conferences, and many treatment specific professional conferences to stay abreast of best practices in the industry and direct knowledge of the best programs available to families.
Jeff volunteers his time for the Muscular Dystrophy Association, serving as a trainer and senior camp counselor for MDA’s extraordinary summer camping program, as well as facilitator for MDA’s Young Adult Network.
On a personal note, Jeff has been married to his wife Debbie for 28 years and they have two beagles, Jack & Jake, who are certified therapy dogs. In his free time, Jeff enjoys running (and ran his first marathon recently), reading, hiking, kayaking, boating and any outdoor activity that gets him either in the woods or in/on the water.
Call our Admissions Team today!
Toll Free: 1-866-762-2211
Executive Director, Ontario
Louise has extensive training and education in Trauma and Addiction counselling, receiving certifications from University of Alberta, Hincks Dellcrest Institute, Centre for Addictions and Mental Health, and is a certified Life Skills Mentor and Coach. For over 20 years Louise has worked in diverse environments including the Department of National Defence and youth services programs. Louise achieves success with clients through a client-centered approach, focusing on developmental assets and attachment styles. Louise works closely with Venture Academy youth and families and others to ensure success for all. Louise is a dedicated, energetic, empathic and skilled counsellor and leader. Through assessment, Louise identifies client issues/challenges and provides empathetic emotional support as well as focused addiction and mental health interventions. Louise has been instrumental in leadership and management and has demonstrated excellence in working with community professionals and governing authorities including licensing and professional referral sources.
Leanne Stanley Bsc., Kin, B.Ed.
Executive Director, Kelowna
Leanne obtained her undergraduate degree in Honours Kinesiology at the University of Waterloo in Ontario. She then went on to Nipissing University for her Bachelor of Education in Intermediate/Senior Education with teachable subjects Health and Physical Education and Science - Biology along with extra courses in Outdoor Education and Mental Health. Leanne pursued additional qualifications in Special Education from York University as well as expanding to Junior Education, qualifying her to teach grades 4 - 12. Leanne was also the Principal of Venture Academy Independent School in BC.
As Executive Director, Leanne handles the day-to-day operations of the Kelowna campus. She is responsible for the coordination of "in house" Venture Academy services and resources, linking staff and clients to program protocol and procedures, and supports the Education program at the Alberta campus. Leanne’s experience including working with and supporting youth who are struggling for a variety of reasons including learning challenges, addictions, anxiety, depression and behavioural challenges. She is skilled at assisting youth to implement new learning strategies, increase motivation and overcome challenges.
Leanne is also a world class athlete and coach in Kelowna. As a competitive athlete, she is involved in racing all over the world representing Canada in outrigger canoes and dragon boats.
Executive Director, Alberta
Tammy has been supporting youth and families for over 25 years in areas of early intervention, mental health outreach and residential treatment. Her vast and diverse experience includes managing both secure and voluntary detox programs for youth, coordinating programming for youth struggling with mental health and addictions, as well overseeing a residential program for youth with complex mental health needs and extreme behavioural concerns including criminal behaviour. With a sound working knowledge of treatment models that include Dialectical Behavioural Therapy, Motivational Interviewing and Stages of Change, Tammy has directly supported youth and families in their treatment, managed and provided clinical supervision to treatment teams, as well liaised with other community professionals and organizations to best meet the needs of youth and families requiring supports.
Tammy is trained in Therapeutic Crisis Intervention, Suicide Intervention, Critical Incident Stress De-briefing and Compassion Fatigue. She obtained her Correctional Worker Diploma through Algonquin College in Ontario and has since pursued professional development and certification to “Train the Trainer” in courses pertinent to working with youth and families. Tammy’s client-centered and non-judgmental approach with youth allows her to build therapeutic relationships and support them with their skill development. Her knowledge, compassion for others, drive and dedication all contribute to her ability to effectively support families and lead Venture Academy’s multidisciplinary team.
Terri Elwood, BA, MS, SLP
Terri has BA in Speech Communications at Wheaton College in Illinois and her graduate studies in Speech and Hearing Sciences at Portland State University in Oregon. After working as a speech/language pathologist with children in both the public school and private practice settings, Terri shifted her focus and began studies at the Neufeld Institute. Terri earned authorization as a course facilitator and has since offered numerous parenting courses in British Columbia. In 2013, Terri completed her program of advanced studies at the Neufeld Institute, which provides training in parent education and consultation.
Terri has great compassion for teens as many of them face overwhelming challenges in an often chaotic culture. Her calm and patient manner serves her well in her work with youth and families. With a strong belief that a child's relationship to their parents, or those adults responsible for the child, is key to emotional growth, Terri's desire is to walk with parents as they seek to become the parent their child needs.
Prior to joining the Venture Academy team as Parent Consultant, Terri was a host parent with Venture Academy for three years. She fills her open spaces talking about the child-parent relationship whenever and wherever possible: parent meetings at schools and teacher training. Terri is an avid reader and enjoys playing piano. Living in a neighborhood of hills means she has many wonderful routes for extensive walking. If Terri were to choose one word to summarize her life focus, that word would be "relationship".
Formally trained in business management and administration Teresa has seventeen years of management and front line experience working with youth presenting emotional difficulties, addictions issues and severe behavioural challenges. Teresa has provided a safe, supportive and behaviourally managed home care environment for youth, assisting them in making positive behavioural changes as well as developing warm and helpful relationships with parents of youth in her care. Teresa's extensive experience makes her a valuable resource and support for staff and families alike.
Jennifer Dobbin, B.A., M.A., C.C.C.
Jennifer is a Certified Clinical Counsellor and holds a Master's of Arts Degree in Counselling Psychology from Gonzaga University. She also obtained a Bachelor's of Arts Degree in Psychology from the University of British Columbia Okanagan. While obtaining her Master's degree, Jennifer's experience as a Youth Worker with High Risk Youth at a Drop in Center and Emergency Shelter solidified her desire to work to improve the lives of struggling youth. Since this time, Jennifer has been practicing as a Clinical Counselor, specializing in working with children and adolescents struggling with family, social, emotional, and mental health concerns including depression, anxiety, suicidal ideation, trauma, grief, and self harming behaviours. Her work has included assessment, testing and implementation of strategies using family-centered interventions to address behavioural health issues and family challenges. Jennifer is passionate about her work with youth and their families, and joins Venture Academy in practicing from a holistic, strengths-based, family systems approach.
Rachel Anenberg B.A. (Psyc), B.S.W. (Hons), M.S.W., R.S.W.
Rachel is a registered social worker and therapist in clinical practice. Shereceivedher Master of Social Work from theUniversity of Toronto with a specialization in Mental Health. She holds an Honours Bachelor of Social Work from Lakehead University, and a Bachelor of Psychology from Saint Mary's University.
Rachel's expertise as a therapist come from a combined background and education in psychology and social work with practical applications to clinical counselling for individuals from many walks of life, with particular interest in emerging adults.Through strategic and attuned dialogueshe provides an holistic and integrativeapproach to clinical therapy. Working from aframework that is trauma informed, through attachment, narrative, and depth psychology based frameworks, Rachel attends to the physiological, emotional, intellectual, and relational aspects of healing. She is passionate about facilitating well being, positive relationships with self and others, andemotional mastery in her clients throughcomprehensive,knowledgeable, and caring support.
Naomi Hanna; M.S.W., R.S.W.
Naomi received her Master of Social Work degree from the University of Calgary with a Clinical Specialization. With over a decade of experience working with youth in a variety of settings including school, residential care, treatment centres, cultural centres and outreach, Naomi values the opportunity to support youth and their families through the struggles of life in these times. Having a passion for art and youth she brings more than just therapy to the team. Using art as an engagement tool Naomi builds strong, creative relationships with the youth she works with creating a safe space to work on Social, emotional, and mental health concerns. According to Naomi, the best part of working for Venture Academy is the chance to work with each individual supporting them specifically according to what they need.
Kim Wardman, BBA, MACP
Kim's passion for working with the children, youth and families is evident in all that she does. In providing counselling and attachment focussed therapy to Venture Academy youth, Kim draws on her experience counselling youth in crisis through depression, anxiety, drug addiction, family relationships, self-harm, anger issues, trauma, and emotional dysregulation. In line with Venture Academy’s philosophies, Kim's training includes attachment parenting courses and crisis intervention and she is currently completing her Masters in (MCAP) complimenting her degree in Human and World Resources. As a mother and as a professional in the field of helping children and families, Kim continually seeks opportunities and paradigms which reflect positive growth both in her own family and the families of those she works with. Kim's warm and gentle approach combined with skill in attachment parenting contribute to her success in mentoring youth to make healthy lifestyle choices as they work through the stages of change.
Holly Dalgleish M.S.W. in Clinical Social Work, RSW
Holly received her Bachelor of Social Work degree (BSW) from Thompson Rivers University and her Master’s in Clinical Social Work (MSW) from UBC Okanagan. She has additional training in Restorative Justice from Simon Fraser University. Holly is registered (RSW) with the BCASW (BC Association of Social Workers). Holly’s has training in psychodynamic counseling, and cognitive behavioral therapy. Holly has 10 years experience working with children, youth and their families in a variety of areas and specializes in these areas; at-risk youth therapy, family support work, parenting education and support, anxiety counseling, Autism, and social skill development. Holly strongly believes in working collaboratively with the family which is core to Venture Academy’s philosophy.
Janelle Martens, B.S.W., R.S.W.
Janelle obtained her Bachelor of Social Work from the University of Calgary at the Lethbridge, Alberta campus. Since this time, Janelle has supported individuals and families struggling due to mental health issues, trauma, addiction, developmental disabilities and learning challenges, in positions of Youth Mentor, Family Support Counsellor and In-Home Support Worker. Her experience includes working with families to reduce conflict and develop greater cohesiveness, as well as supporting high-risk youth to develop better decision making skills and attain personal goals. Janelle thoroughly enjoys working collaboratively with youth and their families to facilitate positive change. Her positive energy, sense of humour and compassionate nature contribute to her ability to address difficult situations while maintaining positive working connections. She has a love for the outdoors and hiking in particular, and enthusiastically shares her commitment to a healthy lifestyle in the work she does with the Venture Academy clients in our BC location.
Sarah Stackhouse SSW, RSW, CYW
Sarah attended Canadore College receiving her diploma in Social Service Work before moving on to receive a post graduate diploma in Addictions Treatment and Prevention. Prior to working with Venture Academy, Sarah worked with youth through a street outreach program, at an Aboriginal Shelter and as a facilitator at an Alternative to Custody Program. Sarah's responsibilities included creating/ implementing case plans, role model a pro-social attitude and belief system through individualized support and counseling. Sarah's approach of motivational interviewing, empathy and structured support to youth and their struggles have assisted youth to make positive and long lasting behavioural changes that have helped improve their quality of life. Sarah is a strong team member at VA delivery quality programs to youth and their families.
Nancy Sysoutham; B.Sc.
Nancy obtained her Bachelors of Science in psychology at Burman University. Prior to and while obtaining her degree, Nancy volunteered in various youth centres and has been on multiple mission trips working with teens and their families. Her experience includes working with children and teens, providing coping skills and supporting youth with improving their decision making skills and self-regulation. Nancy has assisted youth through traumas and various challenges faced by teens within both community settings and school settings. With good listening skills and a warm heart, Nancy puts forth her skills and abilities to collaboratively work with youth to help them progress, both emotionally and behavioural. Nancy is committed to providing tools and support for individuals in the best form possible.
She has a passion for fitness, being outdoors and most importantly, family. Nancy is devoted to her work with youth and will utilize her skills at best to contribute to the success of the Alberta location
Jodi Keay-Benson, B.A, B.Ed
Jodi attained her Bachelor of Education as well as her Bachelor of Arts in Creative and Critical Studies and Sociology from the University of British Columbia. Her education specialization is at the secondary level and her teaching experiences range from grades seven through to twelve. Jodi is trained in crisis intervention and non-violent conflict resolution and her diverse teaching background includes working with high-risk youth, including those with learning challenges and special needs. Jodi strives not only to assess, identify and support students' educational strengths, but also to assist students to recognize their own educational abilities. As an avid outdoors excursionist, Jodi embraces a holistic view of education which incorporates community-based teaching opportunities with classroom learning.
Jodi's enthusiasm in connecting with youth and her sincere desire to see students succeed assist her in providing a learning environment that promotes confidence to achieve success.
Chris Strayer, B.Ed.
Chris obtained his Bachelor of Education at California University of Pennsylvania and has his teaching certification for intermediate and senior levels through Ontario. Chris is currently completing his Masters in Education out of Argosy University. Chris began his career in 1999 as a public High School Social Studies teacher, and in 2005, Chris began specializing in the highly dynamic realm of educating "at-risk" and "troubled" youth. Chris is experienced in implementing behaviour modification programs to address student cognitive distortions to enhance the educational climate of the classroom. Through positive role modeling and meaningful interactions, Chris works to instil compassion, decency, good manners, insight, and into the youth, who will inevitably become tomorrow's leaders. He uses his worldly experiences as a military veteran, years of coaching baseball and rugby, coupled with his positive personal growth oriented perspective to connect, coordinate, and improve the lives of those he interacts. Chris understands his enthusiasm for life, and supportive teaching methods have a tremendous influence on a child and their future, and is passionate about helping youth at Venture Academy.
Daniel Shaw-Cosman, B.A, B.Ed.
Daniel obtained his Specialized Honours English and Education degrees concurrently from York University in Toronto. His Education certification is Junior/Intermediate with an additional certification in English at the Senior level. In his role as a Teacher, Daniel works to instill in his students a passion for life, for learning and for continuing betterment. His love of all subjects encourages students to look at new and challenging ideas with intrigue and anticipation. Daniel is highly active and enjoys all aspects of physical fitness and health and very much enjoys helping students plan and reach their goals. Additionally, Daniel is an active practitioner of breath meditation and mindfulness; two stress relieving techniques which has proven effective in students remaining calm and focused. Daniel is thrilled to be part of the healing and transformations which occur at Venture Academy.
Naomi Kleinschmidt, B.A., B.Ed.
Naomi holds a Bachelor of Education specializing in Middle School from the University of British Columbia, Okanagan campus. In addition, she has a Bachelor of Arts from Okanagan University College. Naomi has experience as a Special Education Case Manager for students with a variety of learning challenges, including but not limited to Autism Spectrum Disorder and FASD. Naomi’s experience includes six years as a teacher at a long term drug/alcohol treatment program for youth ages 14-18 as well as supporting students in an alternate school setting. Naomi is passionate about education and working with youth, and is committed to helping all students in her classroom achieve success and growth, both academically and personally.
Rick Papineau, B.A. (Honours); B.Ed.
Rick obtained both his Arts and Education degrees from the University of British Columbia and continues to take additional courses focused on inclusive education. While Ricks's undergraduate degree focused on Canadian Literature and History, he is also a music, Mathematics and Science teacher. As a provincially certified teacher, Rick has worked with students dealing with a variety of learning challenges including ADHD, Autism, Depression, Anxiety and physical challenges including deafness. He is skilled at developing relationships with youth in order to better facilitate the learning experience and promotes learning that is a collaborative endeavour between teacher and student. Rick is an avid believer in the importance of balance in education and in life. In his spare time, he enjoys running and triathlon training. He has completed both half- and full Ironman distances and several marathons as well.
Zach Davis, J.D., E.Ed., B.A.
Zach obtained his Juris Doctor degree from Thompson Rivers University in Kamloops, BC after completing his Bachelor of Education degree at the University of Windsor. Prior to his Education degree, Zach completed a Bachelor of Arts degree in History at Burman university in Lacombe, Alberta. Before attending law school, Zach served as a high school teacher in a remote, northern Manitoba First Nations community. He also spent 3 summers as a counselor at a social skills development camp run by the Learning Disabilities Association of Alberta. Zach’s experience working with youth from varied academic and social backgrounds helps him support youth in their educational journeys and in building life skills.
Dwayne Merceus B.Sc.
Dwayne holds a Bachelor of Science from Burman University majoring in Psychology. Dwayne has completed crisis intervention and child development certificates. After finishing his degree Dwayne worked as a child development worker providing support for children and assisted with their programs. Dwayne has served as a respite worker for parents of children with disabilities, and also volunteered in the Native community working at a school doing assessments for the youth. Dwayne’s wide variety of experience with youth has led him to focus on the ways individuals are shaped by their surroundings.
Quality Assurance Manager
Zara joined Venture Academy in 2005 as a Youth Counsellor, with an education in Social Services / Substance Use Counselling. Her experience includes positions of Child and Youth Care Worker in two lower mainland high schools, Youth Support Worker with an independent living program and Activity Supervisor at a substance misuse counselling program. After a number of years supporting Venture Academy's struggling teens in making positive behavioural changes, Zara went on to obtain education in office administration and returned to Venture Academy as Assistant to the Executive Director. As the Quality Assurance Manager, Zara plays an integral role in Venture Academy’s Licensing and CARF Accreditation processes. Her administrative training, frontline experience, and broad knowledge of the agency contribute to her ability to assist the Venture Academy Team in admissions, human resources, policy and procedure, data management and outcomes reporting, among other general operational duties.
As the Office Administrator, Karen is involved with many aspects of the agency including scheduling of daily activities, accounting, data management, human resources. Karen's organizational skills, leadership abilities and background in upper administration and management contribute to the high standards of service delivery that are provided to Venture Academy youth and families. In addition to the managing the diverse administrative responsibilities of a youth treatment program, Karen is one of the friendly voices that our families have grown accustomed to hearing when calling in to our office and she takes great pleasure in making sure they are each taken care of.
Lisa’s favorite part of being a member of the Venture Academy team is having the opportunity to observe the positive changes made by the Venture Academy students and she is inspired by the accomplishments achieved during the youths’ treatment stays.
In Lisa’s role as Administrative Assistant, she is involved in assisting the Admissions Team, preparing for admissions, scheduling appointments and follow up, records management, and assisting in many of the other day to day tasks in the administrative office. As a mother of a teenage son, Lisa enjoys attending hockey practices and tournaments as a family; they spend much of the summer boating and enjoying the beautiful Okanagan.
Gordon Hay, B.G.S.
Gordon received his Bachelors Degree from Brandon University in Brandon, Manitoba majoring in both Psychology and Physical Education. Gordon has thirty years of frontline training and experience working with troubled teens in British Columbia and Manitoba in both outpatient and residential treatment settings. Gordon originally held positions as a Youth Counsellor and Youth Justice Support Worker including working with struggling teens and young offenders with multiple risk factors and youth with clinical diagnoses. Gordon was also an independent contractor with British Columbia's Ministry for Children and Families providing residential care and supported semi-independent and independent living services for "high-risk" youth. Simultaneous to the above work, Gordon and his wife Teresa opened up their own home to struggling teens for nine years. Gordon not only comes from a clinical and organizational development background, he also knows what it takes to provide the "round the clock" perseverance and dedication needed to support troubled teens in overcoming their challenges in order to make positive behavioural changes. As the President of the Venture Academy group of troubled teen treatment programs, Gordon oversees agency direction, policy and program development, quality assurance, outcome evaluation and other organizational leadership tasks. Gordon is the principal founder of Venture Academy.