Our team

CSPS is a dedicated and diverse team. Our responders and supervisors come from all backgrounds and experiences, reflecting the communities we service. The one thing we share is the highest quality of training and ongoing education, and a commitment to supporting people affected by suicide.

CSC Board of Directors

Our board is comprised of a diverse group of service providers, researchers, administrators, policy makers and survivors from across Canada. They all share the same vision for a comprehensive and compassionate national strategy to prevent death by suicide and to assist, educate and comfort those who have been impacted by suicidal behaviours.

Alison Caird

President - Executive Director, Toronto Distress Centres & Chair, DCO

Alison has dedicated her career to the non-profit and public sectors where she began as a literacy coordinator with the North York Public Library and the Children’s Aid Society of Toronto, and then held progressively senior positions in volunteer management with the University Health Network, (i.e., Toronto General, Toronto Western, and Toronto Rehab hospitals). In 2009 she became Executive Director of Serve!, a charity that worked with youth from the priority neighbourhoods of Toronto.

In 2013 Alison was hired as Executive Director to operationalize the merger between Distress Centre Peel and Telecare Brampton, renamed Spectra Helpline, and in the spring of 2017 she was recruited as Executive Director for Distress Centres Toronto. Alison is Chair of the Board for Distress and Crisis Ontario, as well as Crisis Services Canada.

Last year, Alison and colleagues published Measuring the Impact of Volunteers: A Balanced and Strategic Approach, which won The 2016 Terry McAdam Book Award. The results of Alison’s work have been acknowledged several times with awards and best practice designations in the areas of leadership, strategic planning, standards and service development. 

Jerilyn Dressler

MSW, RSW, Vice President - Executive Director, Distress Centres Calgary

Jerilyn Dressler is the Executive Director at Distress Centre Calgary. Jerilyn began her work with Distress Centre as a crisis line volunteer from 2001-2003; she rejoined the team as an employee in 2007 after graduating from the University of Saskatchewan with a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology. Jerilyn also holds a Masters in Social Work from the University of Calgary, with a specialization in Leadership in the Human Services, and serves as Vice-President on the InformCanada board.

Elizabeth Newcombe

Secretary/Treasurer - Executive Director, Vancouver Island Crisis Society

Elizabeth Newcombe is the Executive Director for the Vancouver Island Crisis Society. Previously, Elizabeth was a training officer with the Atomic Energy Control Board in Ottawa and the Program Coordinator for the Military Family Support Centre pilot program. She is currently the treasurer and was the past president of the Crisis Line Association of BC. Elizabeth degree with a degree in Recreation Administration from Dalhousie University.

Sandy Biggerstaff

Director - Executive Director, Crisis Intervention & Suicide Prevention Centre of BC

Sandy Biggerstaff is the Executive Director of the Crisis Intervention and Suicide Prevention Centre of BC. Previously, Sandy was the Operations Manager and Interim Executive Director at bc211 and worked for over 15 years in the post-secondary environment in various management/administration roles. She holds an undergraduate degree in History/English degree from UBC, a Master of Business Administration from Royal Roads University, a Canadian Risk Management Designation from SFU, 10 years of Conflict and Negotiations training from the Justice Institute of BC, and is currently completing a certificate in Human Resources Management from Simon Fraser University.

Susan Dineen

Director - CEO, Legacy Next Strategies

Susan Dineen is the Chief Executive Officer of LegacyNEXT Strategies, a consulting company focused on IT Strategy and skills gap advisory services. Previously, Susan was EVP at Fox Group Technology Consulting, COO at Apptitude Inc. an IT cloud and managed services company, EVP at Stornoway Communications, a digital broadcaster, VP at Arius3D, a high-tech 3D imaging company and SVP, IT, New Media & Strategic Marketing at Sony Music Entertainment. Susan is on the board of Immigrant Women in Business (IWB) and on the curriculum advisory boards for Centennial College, Operations Management and Georgian College, IT & Interactive Media. Susan graduated with a B.A. from the University of Windsor.

Christina Halladay

Director - Acting Executive Director, Spectra (Brampton-Mississauga)

Christina Halladay is Acting Executive Director at Spectra Community Support Services (Spectra Helpline). Christina was the Ontario Regional Manager for HealthPartners, and has extensive experience developing and managing volunteer programs. She currently is a member of the Canada Suicide Prevention Service (CSPS) and the Chair of the Service Partners Committee. Christina has an Honours Bachelor of Arts from Wilfrid Laurier University.

Ralph Mahar

Director - Executive Officer, RCMP Veterans’ Association

Ralph Mahar is the Executive Officer of the RCMP Veterans’ Association. The Association works to promote the physical, social and economic welfare of its members and additionally provides support to worthy community services and organizations of a charitable or benevolent nature. Ralph has worked in the field of law enforcement, national security and public safety for over 40 years with the RCMP, the Canadian Security Intelligence Service, and the Special Investigation Unit of Ontario. He served two tours of duty in Afghanistan as a civilian contractor supporting the Canadian Army. Ralph graduated with a Bachelor of Arts (History) from Carleton University in 1993.

Charles Laframboise

Director - Executive Director, Distress Centre of Ottawa and Region

Charles Laframboise is the Executive Director for the Distress Centre of Ottawa and Region. Charles began his career working for national governing bodies. He has a long association supporting the Canadian Distress Line Network before joining the Board of Directors of Crisis Services Canada. Charles graduated with a Master’s Degree from the University of Ottawa.

Sheila Levy

Director - Executive Director, Nunavut Kamatsiaqtut Help Line

Sheila Levy is the Executive Director and co-founder of the Nunavut Kamatsiaqtut Help Line. Previously, Sheila was the Guidance Counsellor at Inuksuk High School in Iqaluit, Nunavut. She is a former President and Board Member of the Canadian Association for Suicide Prevention. She is a former President, and current Vice-President, of the Nunavut Embrace Life Council, which coordinates and works on suicide prevention activities in Nunavut. Sheila has a BA in Sociology from Carleton University and a M.ED in applied psychology focusing on counselling and guidance from the University of Toronto.

Lisa O'Blenis

Director - Executive Director, Chimo Helpline (New Brunswick)

Lisa O’Blenis is the Executive Director of Chimo Helpline, a provincial crisis phone line for New Brunswick. Lisa previously worked as the Volunteer Resources Specialist at the Calgary Public Library and the Program Coordinator for Seniors Secret Service. She is currently a board member for Adult Literacy Fredericton. Lisa graduated with a Bachelor of Arts degree from St. Thomas University.

Lynda Poirier

Director – General Director, Centre prévention suicide de Québec/présidente du Regroupement des Centres de prévention du suicide du Québec

Lynda Poirier is the Executive Director of Centre de Prévention du Suicide de Québec. She spent most of her career among non profit organizations and as a university teacher. Trained in administration, she has a Masters Degree in Social Work, with an interest in public health, harm reduction, prevention and intervention. Sitting on many committees, she is also the active President of the Regroupement des Centres de prévention du suicide du Québec. She represents the RCPSQ on the Board of SCPS.

We rise by lifting others.

Our People

CSC has a dedicated core team that bring years of experience in crisis support, suicide prevention, responder training, and IT/ telephony systems, to deliver the Canada Suicide Prevention Service. We are committed to best practices and share a common set of core values. With our volunteers, supporters, advocates and Board of Directors, we are leveraging our collective strengths, local knowledge, resources, experience, information and technology to support the needs of all people in Canada.

Karen Letofsky

CSC Ex-Efficio Board Member and Government Relations

Karen Letofsky is Board President of The Canadian Association for Suicide Prevention (CASP), an organization that provides information and resources to communities to reduce the suicide rate and minimize the harmful consequences of suicidal behaviour.

She is also a member of the Faculty of the Centre for Death and Bereavement Education. Before joining Crisis Services Canada, Karen was the Executive Director of Distress Centres Toronto, where she worked for thirty-seven years engaging in program development, partnership and education in the fields of suicide awareness and response. In honour of her achievements, Karen is a proud recipient of the Order of Canada.

Jason Chare

Director of Operations, Crisis Services Canada

Jason Chare is the Director of Operations for Crisis Services Canada. Based in Vancouver, he also serves as the Network Operations Manager for the Crisis Line Association of British Columbia (CLABC), and is the former Life Line Director at Tokyo English Life Line (TELL). Jason has a degree in Psychology from University College London (UCL) and a Masters Degree from Essex University.

Roberta Fox

Senior Management Technology Advisor, Crisis Services Canada

Roberta Fox is Senior Management Technology Advisor to Crisis Services Canada (CSC). In her ongoing role Roberta will act as Chief Technology Officer for CSC.  Roberta is a serial technology entrepreneur and technology consultant. Her various technology organizations provide technology and procurement strategic planning, guidance, vendor and project management advisory services, to leading enterprise, health care, distress centre/first responder and non-profit organizations in next generation communications technologies.

During the past year, she has provided board and senior management guidance for the development of the CSC environment.  This included the architecture, design and development of the innovative CSC virtual voice, text and chat national contact centre solution.  She also provided senior project management and integration support with the eleven vendors and over one hundred and twenty participants in the development of this state of the art national virtual distress centre. 

What is unique? The solution Roberta developed overlays and integrates next generation multi-media contact centre and customer relationship management technologies from multiple vendors on to existing legacy voice, network and IT environments. 

First of Its Kind! The CSC virtual technology solution provides the first pan-national multi-media virtual contact centre providing sophisticated routing, tracking, and reporting to the CSC members and various stakeholders involved in suicide prevention and distress support to the people of Canada.

In her ongoing role, Roberta will be responsible for enhancing and expanding the system capabilities to enable social media, video and next generation technology solutions to be added to meet the changing public communication needs.

Karen VanderSluis

National Training Coordinator, Crisis Services Canada

Paul Yu

Production Services Manager, Crisis Services Canada

Val Brosseau

Office Administrator, Crisis Services Canada

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