Council / Staff
Chairperson (Volunteer) Biography
Jeff Sparks - Quispamsis
Jeff is the National Director of Volunteer Engagement and Special Initiatives with Muscular Dystrophy Canada. He is a quadriplegic and relies on 24 hour attendant care, which he manages himself, for all physical activities of daily living. Diagnosed at 10 months of age with Spinal Muscular Atrophy Type 2, he was not supposed to live past the age of 2. 38 years later, there is no slowing him down. Jeff works full time, volunteers on several Boards in the areas of diversity, disability awareness and youth leadership development, has a graduate degree in Human Resources and is a certified Human Resources Professional.
Jeff operated his own consulting firm at one time focusing on diversity in the workplace and currently operates an accessible transit “Right of Way Transit Inc.” with his brother. In his current Senior Management role, Jeff raises awareness of what it is like to live with a neuromuscular disorder, raising funds for the Mission and striving daily to engage others in the work of Muscular Dystrophy Canada. Outside of work, Jeff is a role model and advocate for those with disabilities. He is Past President of the Saint John Ability Advisory Committee, a municipal advisory committee which has had several accomplishments under his leadership including implementing an accessible sidewalk policy, enhancing the Para-transit system, training city staff on working with people with disabilities, organizing activities for Disability Awareness Week and advocating for change for several people with disabilities. Jeff has been identified as one of New Brunswick’s 21 Leaders for the 21st Century, attended the Governor General’s Canadian Leadership Conference and has been the recipient of the Terry Fox Humanitarian Award, NB Disability Awareness Week Award and the YM/YWCA Leader to Watch.
Council Members Biographies
The Council is made up of Chairperson, Jeff Sparks of Quispamsis and 12 Council Members:
Front Row left to right: Sandy Meikle (Fredericton); Jeff Sparks (Quispamsis -Chairperson); Linda Ferrier (Fredericton); Noëlla Hébert (Saint-Louis-de-Kent); Courtney Keenan (Woodstock). Back Row left to right: Andrew Daley (Green Mountain); Christine Evans Saint John); Martin Bélanger (Robertville); Ken Walsh (Black River); Michael George (Saint John); Kara Reid (Fredericton). Missing from photo Armand LeBlanc (Notre-Dame) and Sheila Rogers (Bathurst).
Martin Bélanger - Robertville
Andrew Daley - Green Mountain
Andrew earned a Bachelor of Arts in Economics from the university of New Brunswick. He is a Certified Assistive Technologist and Learning Strategist providing training and support for assistive technology and strategies that extend to students with disabilities at the University of New Brunswick (since 1999), and the New Brunswick Community College system (since 2007). Andrew coordinates the conversion of UNB libraries print materials to alternative formats for students who have print disabilities. He is Vice Chair of the Canadian National Institute for the Blind - NB (CNIB) and serves as a member of two National CNIB committees - the National Programs and Services Committee and the Youth Council. Andrew is a 2012 recipient of the CNIB Holly Award for volunteerism and the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee Medal for distinguished volunteer service to community and country.
Christine Evans - Rothesay
Christine is the President & CEO of Key Industries in Saint John, NB. She has been at Key Industries since 1986 and is proud to be a part of a team that empowers people with a disability to achieve social, community, and economic independence. Christine is also the President of NBASSE (New Brunswick Association for Supported Services and Employment), a member of SJAAC (Saint John Ability Advisory Committee), the Vice President of the Saint John Kiwanis Club, and a Member of the Key Industries Charitable Foundation. Christine was a member of the Employment Action Plan Working Group from 2010 – 2011. Christine has volunteered for Romero House, Safe Kids BBQ, charity events, and numerous community fundraisers. Having family members with a disability she lives through the challenges and is motivated to improve services to ensure a positive future for all.
Linda Ferrier - Fredericton
Linda was born and raised in Upper Woodstock New Brunswick. She studied at the University of New Brunswick, obtained degrees from York University and the University of Toronto and pursued a career in community healthcare in Ontario. She became responsible for advocacy and community-based client services for brain injury survivors. During that time she also served as a member of the Toronto Rehabilitation Institute Community Advisory Group and various committees of the Toronto Acquired Brain Injury Network. Following her retirement, Ms. Ferrier returned to New Brunswick to be near family and now has the time to be reconnected to her home province and to work on community issues. She has direct personal involvement and experience through immediate family members dealing with long-term disabilities and the challenge they present. Amongst disability related concerns, she has a particular interest in cost effective community-based support services and issues around long-term care.
Michael George - Saint John
Michael has been an IT consultant for nearly 30 years. He is also a parent of three young adults, one of whom has complex physical and communication disabilities. He has been a fierce advocate for his son to ensure he receives the best possible care and education. Michael has worked with the Department of Education to bring world-class MOVE training to the province as well as an intensive workshop on augmentative and alternative communication. In October 2012, he presented at Inclusion International’s global forum in Washington, DC. He also recently published his first book, Third Time Lucky: How Ben shows us the way, which tells of his son’s amazing first five years and their determination to unleash the smart, social, loving boy who was trapped deep inside a spastic body.
Noëlla Hébert - Saint-Louis-de-Kent
Armand LeBlanc - Notre Dame
Courtney Keenan - Woodstock
Sandy Meikle - Fredericton
Sandy is a retired Forest Technician who lives in Fredericton. He has a physical disability and uses a wheelchair and walker to get around. Sandy has a 42 year old daughter who was born with Spina Bifida. As a result he has for a period of over 30 years had a desire to improve life for disabled. Sandy has served on the boards of various local, provincial and national disability organizations. He was awarded the Queen’s Golden jubilee Medal for his work for the disabled in 2003. He feels a lot has been done to improve the lives of disabled persons, but knows that a lot still needs to be done. Sandy looks forward to helping make this happen as a member of the Premier’s Council on the Status of Disabled Persons.
Kara Reid - Fredericton
Sheila Rogers - Bathurst
Ken Walsh - Black River
Ken spent his career in Laboratory & Healthcare Instrumentation where he traveled the province of NB to educational, industrial and healthcare institutions in support of their instrumentation requirements. Ken retired in 2009 from the Horizon Health Network after spending the last 5 years of his career as Director of the Clinical Engineering Department. As a volunteer in Fredericton during the 1980`s, he became President of the Fredericton Association for Disabled Children, a Board Member of the Canadian Paraplegic Association and Whirlteq Inc. This led to trips with several NB Wheelchair Teams to St. Johns, Montreal, Toronto, Winnipeg, Edmonton, & Vancouver, serving in various capacities.
Dr. Amelia Barry possesses an undergraduate degree in Science from Dalhousie University and a medical degree from the University of Western Ontario. She is a Fellow of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation with the Royal College of Physicians Canada. She completed her five-year Physical Medicine residency at the University of Ottawa. She also possesses a diploma in Electrodiagnostics (EMG) from the Canadian Society of Clinical Neurophysiologists. She is an Associate Professor with Dalhousie Medicine New Brunswick.
She is now working in Saint John NB at the Saint John Regional Hospital as a rehabilitation specialist for inpatients with conditions such as stroke, spinal cord injury, brain injury, polytrauma and amputation, and she has an outpatient practice in the community where she focuses on concussion, musculoskeletal and neurologic conditions. She is interested in improving community integration and resource management for individuals with disabilities across the province.
Brent has been a long-time advocate for persons with learning disabilities. Previously he sat on the board of directors for the Learning Disabilities Association of New Brunswick from 1989-1999. He continues to advocate the improvement of the lives and changes needed in legislation, laws and services to make this happen. He was also previously on board for the Alzheimer Society of New Brunswick from 2006-2008, and was former founding board member of Science East in Fredericton. He has also participated as a public spokesperson on disability topics with newspapers, radio interviews and TV trade shows. Brent has met with government officials on various occasions over the years encouraging service improvements for the lives of persons with learning disabilities as well as ADHD. He is also seeking changes for persons living with mental illnesses. Being very sensitive towards the challenges presented towards individuals with a disability, he strives towards improving processes. As a member of PCSDP, Brent looks forward to pushing for legislation and contributing towards the goals of improving lives for citizens of New Brunswick living with a disability.
Christyne Allain, Executive Director
Christyne Allain is the Executive Director of the Premier's Council on the Status of Disabled Persons in New Brunswick. Christyne joined the Premier’s Council in March 2008 as Program Officer. Prior to joining the Premier’s Council staff she worked with the Department of Health, Provincial Epidemiology Services, as a Health Study Coordinator. She has also worked for the Commission on Legislative Democracy, Literacy NB and the Department of Finance. Christyne graduated from St. Thomas University in 2002 with a Bachelor of Arts and a double major in Psychology and Gerontology. She has also acquired some credit courses in effective communication through the University of Sherbrooke. Christyne was hired as Executive Director of the Premier’s Council in November 2009.
Christyne is a member of several committees such as: N.B. Disability Executives’ Network; the Disability Supports Program Committee; the Barrier-Free Advisory Committee; Co-Chair of N.B. Disability Awareness Week; the UNB Advisory Committee; Special Care Home Working Committee; the Premier’s Committee on Healthy Families; the Women and Girls at Risk committee; the MHCC National Housing Strategy Project; the Building Safety Advisory Committee; the Disability Supports Advisory Committee; the Housing Renewal Stakeholder Committee; the Housing Renewal Stakeholders’ Committee; etc.
Christyne sits on a number of other committees related to employment, education, housing and various public policy issues connected to the disability community.
Christyne and her husband Shawn Allain reside in Fredericton, N.B.
Chelsee Pollock, Assistant Executive Director
Chelsee joined the Premier’s Council in July, 2013. Chelsee is a graduate of St. Thomas University, completing her Bachelor of Arts 2011 with a major in Criminology and her Bachelor of Social Work in January, 2013. Chelsee began her work in the disability field with Jobs Unlimited and was an active volunteer with Best Buddies during her time at St. Thomas.
The disability field was the basis for Chelsee entering the Bachelor of Social Work program. During her Bachelor of Social Work education Chelsee completed her clinical field placement with The Department of Social Development in the programs of Long Term Care, Disability Support and Community Based Services for Children with Special Needs.
Kristin Colwell, Office Manager
Kristin joined the Premier’s Council as the Secretary/Bookkeeper in April 2003. Prior to joining the Premier’s Council staff she worked with NB Easter Seals March of Dimes, a not-for profit organization that helps children and adults with physical disabilities.
Graduated from CompuCollege in 2002, Kristin majored in Business, Accounting and Computer Applications.
Brian Saunders, Policy Advisor
Brian comes to PCSDP from the Department of Healthy and Inclusive Communities. His responsibilities there had included the Disabilities portfolio, the Action Plan and the Employment Action Plan. Brian also spent time working with the Criminal Justice system, Public Safety and has worked in the Ukraine.
His background also includes work with the John Howard Society. Further, his eldest son has a disability which provided him with the opportunity to learn first-hand what resources were and were not available to his family, how the system works and the challenges a family faces on a daily basis caring for a loved one.
Brian will be with PCSDP for the next 5 years (2015-2020) and his responsibilities will focus primarily on policy development and research for the Premier’s Council.
Gabrielle Bernard, Administrative Assistant
Gabrielle Bernard, or “Geb” by preference, is originally from Bathurst and joined the Premier’s Council as the receptionist/librarian/data-entry clerk after having spent eleven years in Saint John, where she had received her diploma in Business Technology from NBCC-Saint John.
Geb enjoys watching movies, cross-stitching and Egyptology and has been an active board member of a Saint-John based gaming convention, “Impossible Realities”, for a number of years.