meet our team



Meet our team of passionate Child Developmental Specialists. As essential members of Lead’s team these colleagues use their skills, creativity, and knowledge to provide learning opportunities for our children and their caregivers every day. We are proud to say that many of our CDS’s have been a part of our Lead team for over five years, with a few celebrating over ten years with our program. Our team of CDS’s bring a variety of education ranging from early childhood education, disability studies, psychology, social work, speech assisting and many more. They also bring extensive experience in the area of child development with experiences working with families, preschools, school boards and special education programs. Their commitment, enthusiasm and experience are invaluable, providing strong support for building a child’s strengths and interests through play based learning.

Shawna Jones – Administration

I have thoroughly enjoyed these past years as a member of Lead’s extraordinary team working at the Front Desk as Office Administrator. I have called Calgary home for many years growing up, as a university student, met my husband here and we have raised our two boys here. I love getting to know people and learning how to make them smile. I believe in Lead Foundation because the staff here is the best and truly committed to helping families. I am very proud to be a part of that mission!


staff-christinaChristina Trebinski – Human Resources Manager

My name is Christina and I have been with Lead for over 11 years. I began working here as a CDS and moved to position of HR Manager over 8 years ago. I have loved watching Lead grow and continue to make positive changes each year to benefit our families and staff.



Sylvia Cieslik

Sylvia Cieslik – HR Administrator/ Office Manager

Hello, my name is Sylvia. I joined the Lead team in August 2016 as HR Administrator/Office Manager. I grew up in Calgary for most of my life but graduated with my BA from the University of Lethbridge followed by attaining my Human Resources Management certification at Mount Royal University. I have been working within the Human Resources industry for the past 5 years and am continually expanding my knowledge within the field. When not assisting the Lead team I enjoy spending time with my family – swimming with my son, camping, road tripping and exploring local festivals. I look forward to assisting our families and staff with the programs we offer.


staff-melanieMelanie Thomson – Clinical Manager + Speech Language Pathologist

My name is Melanie and I have worked as a Speech-Language Pathologist since 2000, primarily supporting children with special needs and their families.  I have worked with children in a variety of settings such as in the classroom, home, and community.  I thoroughly enjoy meeting new children and their families and learning about what is important to them.  I consider it a privilege to be involved in children’s lives and to help them open the door to communication!


staff-karen-baileyKaren Bailey – Clinical Coordinator

My name is Karen I joined Lead as a Clinical Coordinator after 4 years of previous experience in Early Childhood Services. I received my B.Ed. from the University of Regina. My professional career outside of Early Childhood Services includes classroom teacher, office manager/bookkeeper in the oil and gas industry and HR with the City of Edmonton. The aspects of Lead that are close to my heart are the strong team work within Lead, as well as the child and family centered programs focused on play activities and individual development.


Kim Marion – Clinical Coordinator + Occupational Therapist

My name is Kim Marion and I re-joined the Lead team in spring 2018 as Clinical Manager and Occupational Therapist.  I graduated from the University of Manitoba with my degree in Occupational Therapy in 1998. After a year of working long term care in the USA, I moved to Calgary where I was very fortunate to begin my career of passion in pediatrics.  My career has included working for non-profit organizations, Rocky View school division and most recently, private practice.  Outside of work I enjoy spending time with my husband and three children, running, yoga and being active in the outdoors. I am proud to be a part of the amazing team at Lead and I look forward to the positive changes we can make together in the lives of children and their families.


Ginger Mullen

Ginger Mullen – Early Learning Coordinator

My name is Ginger and I have been delivering early literacy programs for more than 20 years. Because oral language plays such an important role in children’s lives, I weave rhymes, songs and storytelling into my work with families. I bring to Lead additional experience as a Parent-Child Mother Goose facilitator, a university instructor and a mother of two.  I love fairy tales with strong heroines. My favourite is “Tam Lin.”




Amy K.

Amy Kinsey – Early Learning Coordinator

My name is Amy and I am very excited to be joining the Lead team as an Early Learning Coordinator! I have previously worked in a classroom setting, teaching various grade levels. I grew up in Ontario and completed a Bachelor of Physical Education at Brock University and a Bachelor of Education at Trent University. I am married and enjoy spending time in the outdoors with my husband and dogs – skiing, hiking and camping. The most exciting part about working in education is having the opportunity to give every student the opportunity to be the best they can be.



Billie-Jo Fairbarn – Early Learning Coordinator

My name is Billie-Jo and am delighted to be a part of the Lead team.  My professional and educational background includes Office Administration, Teacher Assistant, Early Childhood Education, and Teacher.  I am currently at the University of Calgary completing my Masters in Education (Instructional Leadership and Early Childhood Education).  My most treasured accomplishment is my family; my husband and I have two adult daughters.  We enjoy travelling and being active together. My favourite part about working with children is seeing them enjoy learning through play. I look forward to working with you and your children so they can be successful.


My name is Kristyne and I am delighted to be apart of the Lead Foundation team! I received my integrated education degree from the University of Winnipeg with a major in Kinesiology and a minor in Psychology. I originally taught in high school, but recently found my excitement and passion with young developing minds. On the weekends you can find me in the mountains hiking in summer or cross-country skiing in winter. It is an honour to be learning alongside your children as well as the professionals at Lead – I look forward to meeting you!


Erin Sather – Early Learning Coordinator

My name is Erin and I am thrilled to be a part of the Lead Foundation team as an Early Learning Coordinator. My education from the University of Calgary includes a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology with a minor in Linguistics as well as a Bachelor of Education. I also had the privilege of teaching with the Rocky View School District prior to Lead. With my new role at Lead I am inspired by the preschool children in our programs, witnessing them navigate, interact and make sense of the world around them. I feel grateful to work alongside like-minded professionals as we work hard to support the children, their families and lay the groundwork for academic success and lifelong learning. In my spare time, I enjoy managing a busy household of 5, going for a run in the country, biking my favorite trails or catching up with old friends.


Charlotte AireyCharlotte Airey – Early Learning Coordinator

My name is Charlotte.   I am delighted to be part of the Lead team! Understanding each child’s uniqueness and helping them to experience success is my passion.  I have taught in Calgary since 2004, and previously in Vancouver.  I hold a Masters degree in Education (Learning, Development, and Measurement) from UBC, and my teaching specialties are in Literacy, English as a Second Language, and Special Education.  I enjoy spending time with my family and all the great activities our city has to offer.


Elizabeth Poitras – Early Learning Coordinatorstaff-elizabeth

My name is Elizabeth and I joined the Lead team in the summer of 2010 as an Early Learning Coordinator.  Previously I worked as a special needs teacher for over 10 years and I owned my own preschool program for 5 years.  I am married, have three children and am Saskatchewan Roughriders fan!  I am very fortunate to have a job I absolutely love.  I have the best of both worlds working with amazing families in their homes and community as well as working with inspiring and creative preschools.


Lori Henriksson – Psychologist + Clinical Coordinator

My name is Lori and I’ve been a Registered Psychologist since 2001. I have worked in a number of settings including schools and Alberta Children’s Hospital. I’ve consulted to Lead for the past 13 years. I enjoy collaborating and problem solving with parents and team members. I especially enjoy working with children whose energy, spontaneity, and laughter keep life interesting!



staff-kathrynKathryn Fernandez – Triple P Practitioner 

My name is Kathryn and I am a born and raised Calgarian.  My background is in Child and Youth Mental Health Studies and Behavioural Strategies. I have been with Lead for 10 years, starting as a Child Developmental Specialist for four years and a Program & Behaviour Specialist for the past six years. I am currently the Triple P Practitioner (Positive Parenting Program) at Lead. My favorite part of my day is interacting with the families and children.


staff-jenniferJennifer Massina – Program & Behaviour Specialist 

My name is Jennifer and I’m one of the Program & Behaviour Specialists here at Lead, as well as the Speech Assistant. I’ve been working at Lead since October 2007 starting out as a Child Development Specialist in both PUF and SS programs. In March 2011 I became a Program & Behaviour Specialist and have really enjoyed working with families to develop strategies to support their children. I have a BA majoring in Psychology from the University of Calgary. My favourite part about working at Lead is being able to teach children through play.


staff-melindaMelinda Kramer – Program & Behaviour Specialist

My name is Melinda and I am a Program & Behaviour Specialist. I am originally from Winnipeg and have worked with children with special needs for over 20 years. Having joined Lead in 2007, I enjoy the dynamics of play based therapy, working with families as part of a multidisciplinary team and celebrating the ongoing accomplishments our children and families experience. As a mother to two teenagers, I especially have a passion for connecting with parents.


staff-melissaMelissa Neal – Program & Behaviour Specialist + Clinical Coordinator

My name is Melissa and I joined the Lead team in March 2013, and have been working with children with special needs for 10 years. In 2011 I completed my Master’s in Educational Psychology at the University of Victoria, and since then I have lived in a few different cities including Vancouver, New York and back in my hometown of Calgary exploring various modalities of working with children and integrating those experiences into my current position as a Program & Behaviour Specialist. I love the unique, unpredictable and special moments I get to share with children every day!


staff-amy-gundersonAmy Gunderson – Speech Language Pathologist

My name is Amy and I am a registered Speech-Language Pathologist. I received my Master’s degree at the University of Queensland in Brisbane, Australia. After graduating, I decided to move to Melbourne, Australia to work at a small private practice for a year focusing on childhood and adolescent communication disorders. This is my third year at Lead, and I could not be happier with my job. I love coming to work every day with my fantastic colleagues, families, and most importantly the kiddos!


staff-ninaNina Navratil – Speech Language Pathologist

My name is Nina and I graduated from the University of Alberta with a Bachelor’s degree in Speech-Language Pathology in 1993 and then completed my Master’s degree in 1998.  I have more than 20 years of experience working with preschool-aged children with communication challenges and have been employed by Lead Foundation for the past 10 years.  I thoroughly enjoy my work and am very proud of what the children and families in our programs are able to accomplish. To me, the most important thing in life is connecting with and enjoying time spent with other people so I try to make everything I do professionally and personally a lot of fun! I strive to bring joy to children and their families by enhancing their ability to communicate with one another. Seeing children communicating confidently and smiling and laughing with their friends and families is my greatest reward!


staff-amy-wainerAmy Wainer – Speech Language Pathologist

My name is Amy and I am a registered Speech-Language Pathologist. I completed my undergraduate degree in Psychology at Queen’s University, and my Master’s degree in Speech-Language Pathology at the University of Alberta. I have been with Lead since February 2014. I love working with kids, and helping them to better communicate with the world around them. No two days are the same at Lead, so it’s always fun and interesting!


Jill Hilstad – Speech Language Pathologist

My name is Jill and I have worked as a Speech-Language Pathologist since 2008, with a focus on children with special needs and their families.  I am passionate about the role communication plays in our lives and building relationships with the people around us.  My time outside of work includes spending time with family and friends, cooking and exploring food around the city!


SusanSusan Severyn – Speech Language Pathologist

My name is Susan Severyn and I have worked as a Speech Language Pathologist for the past 16 years. I started at Lead in August 2015. I am so grateful to be working at a job I love. I am passionate about working with families and children to help their communication skills blossom. Outside of work, I spend my time with my children, husband, dog and guinea pigs. When I have some spare moments, I love to read.




Kate Clayson – Speech Language Pathologist              Clayson, Kate- SLP

My name is Kate and I have worked as a Speech-Language Pathologist at Lead since September 2011. Originally from Manitoba, I completed my Masters Degree in Speech-Language Pathology at McGill University in Montreal. After working with a diverse population ranging from adults to school-aged children while living in Toronto, I came to Calgary and found a real passion for early intervention. I love my job because of the amazing team I work with and having a part in the life-changing achievements of our young clients. The other love in my life is my family and especially my baby boy Aaron, and a few of my ‘splinter’ hobbies include painting, snowboarding, and studying French.


Nicole Dickson – Speech Language Pathologist 

My name is Nicole Dickson and I am a Speech Language Pathologist with a passion for working with children who have special areas of need, and their families.  I have had the pleasure of working with the Lead team since September of 2011.  I love the dedication that Lead shows towards family focused support, and my role in developing social and communication skills.  It is so rewarding to watch a child and their family blossom and grow together as a family and as a part of their community.


Jenny Duffield – Behaviour Specialist + Clinical Coordinator

My name is Jenny, and I have been supporting families in a variety of capacities since 2001. My interest in working with children and families began at the onset of my undergraduate degree. At that times, I provided aide support to families and gained extensive experience in a diverse range of teaching philosophies. I facilitated direct teaching to parents and children for a number of years before assuming a strategist role. As my interest in child development and training grew I went back to school to acquire a Masters of Counselling Psychology. I now also have two young boys of my own. Subsequently, my daily practice is highly focused on the healthy function of the family system. I appreciate the complexity of the many moving parts that make up a family. Working with families in their natural environments including their home, community, and schools is my preference. I feel incredibly privileged to walk along side families as they embark on their unique journey.


staff-santinaSantina Cimino Deschenes – Occupational Therapist

My name is Santina Cimino and I am an Occupational Therapist. I’m a born and raised Calgarian, with a bachelor’s degree in Kinesiology from the University of Calgary and a Master’s degree in Occupational Therapy from McGill. I started working at Lead in September 2014, and absolutely love it! I think I have the greatest job in the world; helping kids be kids! It is so amazing to have the opportunity to work with kids in their natural environments, and to watch entire families thrive with the services that our programs are able to offer.


Devon Karchut – Physical Therapist

My name is Devon Karchut. I have been working in pediatrics for 4 years and started with Lead in 2015. I grew up in Calgary and completed my physiotherapy degree at the University of Alberta. I have always wanted to work with children and love the interdisciplinary and family-focused approach that Lead prides itself on.



staff-arleneArlene Klooster – Executive Director

My name is Arlene and I am a Speech Language Pathologist and Executive Director since 2002.  I have worked with children and families for over twenty years.  Every day I continue to marvel at the creativity and strength of our parents, children and staff.  I value being a part of the team at Lead Foundation. In my spare time, I enjoy spending time with my friends and family.



Retired Staff

staff-sueSue Robinson – Clinical Manager + Occupational Therapist

My name is Sue and I began working as an Occupational Therapist with children with special needs in 1988 at the Alberta Children’s Hospital.  I then moved to private practice, working with a variety of children and families, where I met and began working with Arlene Klooster.  As Lead took form, I initially worked as an Occupational Therapist with a few Lead families, and then joined the staff of Lead in 2004.  Continuing to provide occupational therapy, I also took on a Coordinator role and eventually the Clinical Manager role. I have enjoyed the challenge of working together with so many families and teams over the years.  I enjoy spending time with my own family, and being active in the outdoors—especially the sunshine!  I am looking forward to doing more of this as I aim to retire from Lead in December this year.

staff-alanaAlana Gordon – Occupational Therapist

My name is Alana and I received my Bachelor of Science degree in Occupational Therapy at the University of Alberta.  I have worked in pediatrics for many years and at Lead for 4 years.  As a therapist and as a grandmother I value being present, being playful and providing a nurturing environment. I am fortunate to be able to learn continually from my own family and from my colleagues and families at Lead.


Donna Senft – Financial Administrator

My name is Donna and I joined Lead in January 2015 as Financial Administrator. I worked in the banking industry for years and made a career choice to pursue accounting for small companies.  Shortly after, I started to work with Arlene Klooster in her private practice.  In the early days of Lead, I offered assistance in the payroll and accounting programs.  I have watched Lead Foundation continue to grow and establish their home and preschool programs.  It was nice to be welcomed by familiar faces and I look forward to working with the staff and Lead families. My spare time is spent with family and enjoying every shared moment with my granddaughter.

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