Venture Academy helps teens who could benefit from academic support and clinical treatment. Our treatment programs for troubled teens employ staff that have a comprehensive understanding of the diverse challenges faced by today’s teens and students. Our staff members have a proven record of proficiency in working with students who may be struggling for many reasons or would benefit from some extra support. Venture Academy employees are carefully screened and selected for their integrity, compassion, and ability to help school-aged adolescents make real changes. We help teens overcome their challenges while teaching them how to develop and maintain healthy and productive lifestyles and relationships.

Our students benefit from the support of a skilled Education and Clinical Team and dedicated frontline workers. We believe in a direct, one-to-one, hands-on approach. For example, students benefit from direct support from a Behavioural Therapist or Counsellor “on the floor” – meaning in the classroom setting, in a social learning environment or while out engaging in a fitness and recreation activity! This is critical for transfer of skills and real-life results.

A Message From Our Founder

Venture Academy

Youth Counselling & Treatment Programs

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…

 

Dear Parents,

I ask the questions above because parents just like you tell us that is what they want. Somehow your child has strayed from your family’s core values and beliefs. Your child’s behaviour no longer matches your idea of how a healthy, happy family behaves. The ideals you set for your child are not being achieved and might not be, unless the right path is chosen. We are all too familiar with the pain and stress you are dealing with now.

Throughout my 27 years working with youth and families I have literally spoken with thousands of parents who have told me heartbreaking stories of their child’s behaviours and difficulties and resulting family struggles. I founded Venture Academy for families in need – loving and caring families, families who want to intervene and get help for their child before things get even worse. My goal was to develop the best possible services for troubled teens in Canada – an all encompassing and clinically comprehensive assessment service and treatment program that would actually meet the needs of youth and families.

I started Venture Academy from a deep personal desire to help families. I wanted to create a structure and environment that would produce the greatest possible success for each youth in the program and create the positive behavioural changes that youth need to successfully function in school, in the community, and at home. I wanted to develop a program that made sense to parents who were looking for help, a program that spoke to their beliefs and value systems.

My personal commitment to you:

  1. We will have open communication with you – you are part of the solution.
  2. We will incorporate your family values into our treatment and education planning.
  3. We will support you as parents and follow up with you and be there for you every step of the way.
  4. We will do everything possible to return your child the happy, loving person he or she once was and is capable of being once more.

Venture Academy was established in 2000 and since then, we have served hundreds of families from across Canada. Venture Academy was the first—and maybe the only—successful private residential treatment program and school of its kind for troubled teens in Canada.

I wish to thank you for taking the time to browse our website in order to gain an initial understanding of Venture Academy. I hope you’ll become familiar with our organization and I trust you will be comfortable with our approach and inspired as you read through our testimonials and information. If you have any questions whatsoever I encourage you to call.

We can help. (855) 281-5813

Respectfully,

Gordon Hay

Executive Director / Founder
Venture Academy

Jeff Brain, MA, CTS, CEP

Director of Admissions and Program Development

Our Staff: Jeff Brain, Director of Admissions and Program DevelopmentJeff 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.

Chris Madsen

Admissions Coordinator

Chris holds a Bachelor’s degree in Psychology from the University of Utah and 20 years of experience working with well over 1,000 youth and families in wilderness, residential and in-home settings. Chris began his career counseling troubled teens at a therapeutic youth ranch program in a remote wilderness setting. Moving back to the city, Chris served for 12 years as Admissions Director, Program Developer and Community Liaison for a leading residential, dual diagnoses, treatment program specializing in the “therapeutic community” model of care for substance abusing clients. Chris went on to co-found an ‘in-home’ therapeutic program providing intervention, assessment, treatment, case management and consultation while coordinating with juvenile justice systems, schools, outpatient programs and residential treatment centers across North America to assist families in accessing appropriate levels of care. These experiences, coupled with almost 4 years of service with Venture Academy, have provided Chris with firsthand knowledge of the multitude of challenges families experience in dealing with struggling teens as well as the solutions that bring lasting positive change. Chris assures families that there is hope as evidenced by the success he has seen over the course of his career and looks forward to helping families find direction and help for their struggling teens.

Louise Beard

Executive Director, Ontario

Our Staff: Louise Beard, Executive Director, OntarioLouise 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

Teresa Hay

Managing Director

Our Staff: Teresa Hay, Managing DirectorFormally 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.

Nancy Dyer, B.Sc.

Program Coordinator

Our Staff: Nancy Sysoutham, Program CoordinatorNancy obtained her Bachelors of Science in Psychology at Burman University. With much experience working with teens in both school and community settlings, Nancy focuses on client-orientated approaches allowing her to build therapeutic relationships and assist in positive changes. Over the last few years, Nancy has supported youth in learning coping mechanisms, supporting youth in decision making skills as well as assisting in the mending of family relationships. Nancy is both passionate and dedicated to collaboratively work with youth and their families to help them progress, both emotionally and behaviorally.

As Program Coordinator, Nancy focuses on the coordination and implementation of the activities of day-to-day program to ensure it is meeting the needs of the youth and the families we work with. Nancy also assists in leading the Alberta campus team, providing support and guidance on an everyday basis. As a naturally driven and passionate individual, Nancy is committed to providing tools and support to others 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, as well as their families, and will utilize her skills to best contribute to the ongoing success of the youth and their families at the Alberta location.

Elizabeth Anthony

Program Coordinator

Elizabeth has extensive personal and professional experience in positions of Executive Director, Project Manager/Co-Founder of a Youth Foundation and Founding Executive Director a Youth Centre. Elizabeth has worked as a local Resource Development Coordinator with a national agency and as a Community Promotions Director. Additionally, she has established a consulting agency, supporting individuals in building self-awareness, self-esteem and effective communication strategies and offering strategic planning and team building to other organizations.

In these positions, Elizabeth has worked hands on with youth in developing life skills & navigating life into adulthood. Elizabeth’s formal training has focused on Leadership, Cross-Cultural Intelligence, Human Resources, Career/ Life skills and Personality Dimensions. She has also participated in Humanitarian Policy & Conflict Research with Harvard University.

Elizabeth’s desire and dedication to helping others build meaningful relationships and strong authentic attachment coincide with Venture Academy’s core values and she is grateful to have the opportunity to support Venture Academy families.

Joseph Pugelj, B.A., H.B.S.W., M.S.W., R.S.

Program Coordinator

Joseph received his Masters and Honours Bachelor of Social Work from Lakehead University, and a B.A. in Sociology and Social Anthropology from Wilfrid Laurier University. Joseph’s background includes working in Children’s Mental Health, as well as providing clinical therapy within the health care sector to children, youth, adults and with vulnerable populations. Experienced as a Clinical Therapist and as a part of a Family Health Team, Joseph is skilled in developing intervention plans based upon the needs of each individual and their identified treatment goals. He has aided others in various roles, to learn the coping strategies needed to navigate their experiences, including crisis situations and mental health diagnosis. With extensive training and experience, Joseph possess the tools crucial in aiding youth to understand and work through their struggles, supporting them on the path towards positive change.

Terri Elwood, BA, MS, SLP

Parent Consultant

Our Staff: Terri Elwood, Parent ConsultantTerri 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”.

Jennifer Dobbin, B.A., M.A., C.C.C.

Clinical Therapist

Our Staff: Jennifer Dobbin, Clinical TherapistJennifer 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.

Naomi Hanna; M.S.W., R.S.W.

Clinical Therapist

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

Naomi Hoffenberg, M.S.W., R.S.W.

Clinical Therapist

Naomi obtained a bachelor’s degree in Social Work from Ryerson University followed by a Master of Social Work from University of Windsor. She has also received certification in brief and narrative therapy with Hincks Dellcrest Centre in Toronto.

Naomi has had the opportunity to work with individuals, families, youth, and children in roles including Counsellor, Clinician, Program Coordinator, Family Service Worker and Frontline Youth Worker. Her experience includes providing individual and group counseling, crisis counseling, bereavement counselling, attachment focused therapy, facilitation of support groups, supervising recreational programs, as well as delivering educational presentations and workshops. Naomi’s non-judgmental and encouraging approach in working with adolescents contributes to her ability to build therapeutic relationships and assist Venture Academy youth to recognize their own skills, strengths, guiding values, and start to live their lives in a more meaningful and positive way.

Matt Jorgensen, M.S.W., R.S.W., M.A., C.Psych

Clinical Therapist

Matt obtained his Masters in Counselling Psychology after graduating with a Bachelor from the University of Calgary and studying Social Work at Mount Royal College. With a longstanding passion for working with children, youth and families, Matt’s repertoire of experience started with supporting children and youth recreationally in community development programs. Since that time, Matt has spent almost 2 decades helping individuals and families as a Social Worker and Counsellor. Most recently, Matt’s practice has been focused on providing individual and family therapy as well as substance abuse assessment and treatment. When working with the Venture Academy youth, Matt utilizes his ability to quickly engage and develop professional relationships with young minds, as he works towards getting to the root of the issues and struggles that they are experiencing. Matt supports the Venture Academy teens to develop coping strategies, reasonable solutions, sustainable and healthy relationships, and simply helps them be the person they would be excited to wake up and be every day.

Stephanie Erdt, RPCC

Certified Counsellor

Stephanie provides counselling to individuals, couples, families and youth. She has 17 years’ experience working with children and their families. Stephanie’s passion is to walk alongside those struggling with life’s issues and challenges. In building therapeutic relationships with those she works with, Stephanie offers opportunity to each individual to share their personal story in a comfortable, non-judgmental environment. Stephanie specializes in the area of addictions, has experience counselling at an addiction center and has recently has been certified as a ‘Recovery Coach’. Her extensive experience in both addiction and non-addiction counselling has focused on supporting others in areas of trauma, anxiety, depression and relationship struggles with the goal of reaching desired life changes.

Holly Dalgleish M.S.W. in Clinical Social Work, RSW

Clinical Support

Our Staff: Holly Dalgleish, Clinical SupportHolly 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.

Behavioural Counsellor

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.

Jodi Keay-Benson, B.A, B.Ed

Teacher

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.

Teacher

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.

Rick Papineau, B.A. (Honours); B.Ed.

Teacher

Our Staff: Rick Papineau, TeacherRick 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.

Sean Davies, B.Sc, B.Ed.

Teacher

Our Staff: Sean Davies, TeacherSean obtained his Bachelor of Education and Bachelor of Science at Burman University. His educational specialization is at the secondary level and he has taught grades seven to twelve. Sean has experience supporting students as a teacher’s assistant and as a P.E teacher to home-schooled children, encouraging interest in sports and inspiring students to be active. In addition, Sean has been working closely with high school students in a dormitory setting for the past several years. Sean’s diverse volunteer involvement includes that of a youth leader, martial arts instructor and he has participated in mission trips to the Dominican Republic and Puerto Rico to build facilities for those in need. Sean is very passionate about motivating youth in all areas of their schooling and enjoys helping them along their path to success. His ability to quickly engage youth and build collaborative working relationships contributes to his effectiveness in supporting Venture Academy youth to work towards positive educational and treatment goals.

Jordan Klassen, B.Ed

Teacher

Jordan obtained his Bachelor of Education from the University of British Columbia Okanagan. Prior to, and throughout, his schooling Jordan has worked as a director of, and a counsellor for, a local youth group and summer camp. He has been working with children and youth in various groups, camps and classrooms for the past decade. Jordan is a relationship-driven educator who is passionate about cultivating a learning environment in which youth feel encouraged, supported and valued. Further, he is a skilled communicator who aims at using quality, holistic education as a tool for equipping young people to be successful citizens in an ever-changing world.

Kelly Hettinga, B.Ed

Program Counsellor

Graduating from the University of Calgary with a Bachelor of Education and being a certified journeyman has given Kelly a unique and varied background. In his career Kelly has had the opportunity to teach in both secondary and post-secondary environments and further advanced into senior leadership roles at the Southern Alberta Institute of Technology before transitioning into the private sector as a business owner. Throughout these experiences Kelly has maintained an active role in the community as a long-term president of a children’s camp and an ongoing volleyball coach and club director. Why is all this important? Simply put; at every point in our lives (whether we be Teacher, Employer, Coach or Parent) there are relationships all around us that have purpose and we all have a responsibility to help each other find and engage in that purpose and bring out the best in the people around us. Kelly’s desire, as he engages the Venture Academy youth, is to build healthy, trusting and respectful relationships so they can be confident young people making good life choices. Kelly applies these principles everyday with his family of six living a very active lifestyle in the beautiful Okanagan.

Kelsey Bast, B.A.

Program Counsellor

Kelsey graduated with a Bachelor of Profession Arts in Human Services at Athabasca University. Prior to obtaining her degree, Kelsey obtained a Corrections Diploma at Lethbridge College. Through her experience working in roles including Crisis Intervention, Youth Care and Community Support Worker, Kelsey has worked in both outreach and residential treatment settings, supporting youth with various learning, behavioural and mental health diagnosis including ADD, ADHD, FASD, RAD. Kelsey’s training includes crisis intervention, suicide / self-harm assessment and various other mental health courses and certificates. In her spare time, Kelsey enjoys playing sports, being active outside and spending time with her family.

Alexandria Leatherdale

Program Counsellor

Alexandria (Ali) obtained her Advanced Child and Youth Worker Diploma with Honours from Georgian College at the Orillia, Ontario campus. Ali has supported individuals with developmental disabilities, mental health issues, learning challenges, and those who have suffered from traumatic events, in the positions of Child and Youth Worker, Family Support Worker, Respite Care Worker and personal mentor. Her experience includes working with children in the foster care system, assisting individuals with physical disabilities, as well as supporting high-risk youth to develop better self-regulation, problem solving and decision-making skills. She thoroughly enjoys working alongside youth and their families to create goals, promote positive change, and develop and maintain healthy relationships. Ali has dedicated her personal time to different programs that reach at-risk youth, including a Christian based Family Circle program, volunteering at a drop-in centre and participating in a street walk in downtown Toronto to be educated on homelessness. Her outgoing personality, sense of humour and empathy, contribute to her ability to create a positive rapport, promote resiliency and support youth to reduce risk factors. Ali is passionate about helping the youth at Venture Academy attain their greatest potential.

Ginny Bates, BA

Program Counsellor

Ginny obtained an honours diploma in Police Foundations, followed by a degree with a Focus on Child Youth and Family Studies from the University of Guelph. In Ginny’s previous roles as a Caseworker and Youth Support Worker, she has had the privilege of working with individuals, families, youth and children in community and residential settings. Her experience includes supporting at-risk individuals in crisis intervention, group therapy, and family focussed practice. She has been actively involved in the promotion of life skills, parenting and personal development. Ginny is skilled at engaging those she works with, using a person-centered approach in tangible goal setting with a focus on positive outcomes.

Hope Hay, B.H.K. Candidate – 2019

Recreational Coordinator

As the Recreational Coordinator, Hope organizes and leads the Venture Academy teens in fun, healthy and pro-social activities. With experience including activity leader at summer camps and in ongoing mentorship roles, Hope is skilled at engaging teens in team building games, skill building activities and leadership development. Hope enjoys promoting a healthy lifestyle to those around her by leading through example. Her desire at Venture Academy is to support and encourage teens to grow into healthy, active young adults.

Zara Parker

Quality Assurance Manager

Our Staff: Zara Parker, Quality Assurance ManagerZara 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

Karen Stevenson

Office Manager

Our Staff: Karen Stevenson, Office ManagerAs 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 Olenczuk

Administrative Assistant

Our Staff: Lisa Olenczuk, Administrative AssistantLisa’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.

Nancy Blow

Receptionist

Our Staff: Nancy Blow, ReceptionistNancy’s is the friendly voice that greets the Venture Academy families calling into our head office. As Receptionist with Venture Academy, Nancy is involved in a wide range of administrative tasks including scheduling family calls and visits, youth appointments, recreational activities and overall contributing to the administrative team and tending to the needs of the Venture Academy families. Graphic design and marketing formed the backbone of her professional life, until Nancy realized she wanted to be a part of something deeper and more meaningful on a human level. That journey led her to Venture Academy, where she is delighted to be interacting with youth and their families on a daily basis, and thrilled to be providing support to a team of passionate professionals who are working with these families to make a positive difference.

Renée Herron

Receptionist

As Receptionist / Administrator with Venture Academy, Renée provides administrative support to the team in many of the day-to-day tasks. Renée has worked in diverse environments, coupled with her bilingualism has provided her with a solid foundation of transferable skills to support the Venture Academy team. As a mother of a teenage daughter, Renée enjoys spending time with her family and friends in the beautiful Ottawa Valley.

Kris Ongaro

Receptionist

As a receptionist for Venture Academy, Kris is often the first point of contact in welcoming families to the Venture Academy Ontario location. Kris provides a variety of clerical tasks, supporting the Academy’s team in their administrative needs.

Twyla Wahler

Community Outreach & Executive Assistant

Twyla obtained her Legal Administrative Assistant certificate at Okanagan College in Kelowna, British Columbia. She is experienced in the legal and medical fields and has served as a legal assistant at a local law firm. As the Community Outreach & Executive Assistant, Twyla is instrumental in corresponding with professionals across the country, organizing and scheduling meetings, in addition to various of other administrative tasks supporting agency executives. Priding herself on customer relations, Twyla will leave no stone unturned with her attention to detail. Twyla enjoys spending time with her family, biking, boating and attending her children’s activities.

Gordon Hay, B.G.S.

Founder, President

Our Staff: Gordan Hay, Founder and PresidentGordon 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.