The Council is made up of Chairperson and 12 Council Members
Council / Staff
The Council is made up of Chairperson and 12 Council Members
Patrick Losier, Miramichi
Patrick was born and raised in Miramichi, NB. He holds a Bachelor of Commerce degree from Mount Allison university, and is a recent graduate of the Juris Doctor and Master of Business Administration programmes at the University of New Brunswick. He is working to build a corporate/commercial law practice in New Brunswick.
Patrick has been involved as continual advocate for persons with disabilities. He served on the Senate Committees on Students with Disabilities at Mount Allison and the University of New Brunswick, where he assisted in drafting an updated accommodations policy. He has also worked in the assistive technology office at UNB to provide accessible format materials for students.
He is currently serving as co-chair of the Young Leaders Summit programme for Fighting Blindness Canada.
Council Member Biographies
Marc LeBlanc - Beresford
From an early age I was involved in sports such as: minor hockey, minor baseball, softball, figure skating, tennis cross-country skiing, alpine skiing, soccer, cross-country running at university, and marathon running.
Prior to going to university, I worked for my father’s business, then went to Université de Moncton, taking Business Administration Marketing.
After university I worked for a Canadian bank, a large corporate greeting card company as District Account Manager, a chemical industrial sales company as a sales representative, as well as at a car dealership.
I had a motor vehicle accident, which left me paraplegic. A positive attitude, hard work, perseverance, and my determination to concentrate on what I could do rather than what I couldn’t, pulled me through this life changing time in my life.
Sports played a large roll in my rehabilitation and to meet other persons with disabilities. I have been involved in wheelchair sports such as: basketball, sledge hockey, para Nordic skiing, para alpine skiing, and hand cycle racing.
I have also returned twice to post-secondary education college and university. I have also worked for the Federal government and elections, provincial and federal, as well as a significant amount of volunteer work.
Now l look forward to completing some educational goals and returning to possible work at some time in the near future.
Kailha Winter-Smith - Burton
Kailha Winter-Smith was born and raised in Cornwall Ontario. She is a mother of an amazing child with Autism, married to a wonderful husband Jason, and daughter to a mother who was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis. Through all her experiences: personal, educational, and professional she was drawn to the field of Disability. Kailha moved to New Brunswick in 2010. She has been immersed in the field of Disability and Assistive Technology for most of her life. She graduated from Ryerson University, where she obtained her Bachelor of Arts in Disability Studies. She then continued her education through Cambrian College where she obtained her Applied Learning Disability Certificate specializing in Learning Strategies and Assistive Technology (AT). Kailha is not only a professional in the field, but also a user of AT since the 2000’s. While pursuing her education, Kailha worked at St. Lawrence College and Queens University at their AT centers preparing documents in alternative formats and providing support to others using AT. She has been an advocate in the field since the 2000’s speaking to others about her journey living with learning disabilities and sharing her struggles and many successes. Prior to her current position at UNB Fredericton, she worked and volunteered with many different organizations including Easter Seals New Brunswick and the Learning Disability Association of New Brunswick. Kailha was a Champion for Inclusion sharing her story to others through the province. She also worked at the Neil Squire Society for four years as one of their Assistive Technology and Learning Disability specialists. She currently sits on an Advisory Committee for the Transition Resource Guide for students with Disabilities, for Ontario student’s transition to Post Secondary studies. She has a passion for the field of technology and disability and enjoys being able to help others find ways to overcome barriers and be successful. When she is not working as an Assistive Technologist at UNB, she is a commanding officer of a local Army Cadet Corps and teaches figure skating.
Michèle Ouellette - Edmundston
Originally from the Edmundston area, Michèle has a Bachelor of Nursing degree from the Edmundston Campus of the Université de Moncton. Her nursing career was spent mainly in the area of community nursing. She worked for Health Canada on an Indian reservation in Quebec, in public health in the Edmundston area, and for the past 28 years with special needs children and their families as an employee of the Department of Social Development in the northwest.
She has been retired since December 2014, and continues to offer her time as a volunteer in several organizations. She is a member of the Board of Directors of the Mouvement Acadien des communautés en santé (MACS-NB) as Past President. She is the President of the Madawaska Centre team of the Réseau Mieux-Être du Nord-Ouest (northwest wellness network). She is a member of the CHIC group (Collectif hôte de l’inclusion communautaire) of the Réseau mieux-être. She was president of the Network Inclusion Community North-West (NICNW) from 2012 to 2015 and a member of the board of directors of the Association pour l’intégration communautaire Edmundston-Madawaska – AICEM (Edmundston-Madawaska association for community living) from 2009 to 2015.
The past 28 years with special needs children and their families have enabled her to discover these extraordinary individuals, and it is a pleasure for her to now work with people living with a disability and include them in all activities of daily living.
Annie Chiasson Doiron - Petit-Tracadie
Annie Chiasson Doiron is the Executive Director of Vie Autonome Péninsule Acadienne (VAPA). VAPA’s mission is to promote and foster the progressive responsibility of persons in the community with permanent disabilities to help them develop and manage their personal and community resources. The mother of two children, Ms. Chiasson Doiron has a diploma in Business Technology - Administration and e-commerce options. Her experience at VAPA and in the Department of Education, at the Centre de Bénévolat de la Péninsule Acadienne, her studies, and her participations in many regional and provincial committees, and the fact that she has a disability herself, have enriched her knowledge for her duties on the Council.
She has a passion for and is dedicated to improving the well-being and integration of all people living in our beautiful community.
The Council provides a support and referral service to individuals for services available in the community.
Nick Taggart, Hanwell
Originally from the Woodstock area, Nick now lives outside Fredericton with his wife and two young children, one of whom has Down syndrome and autism. He has been involved in many different boards and committees relating to people with disabilities, including serving on the board of the Fredericton & Area Down Syndrome Society, chairing the organizing committee of the 2014 Canadian Down Syndrome Conference and coaching Challenger Baseball.
Nick has a keen interest in digital technology and how it can be used to engage citizens with disabilities. He has a bachelor’s degree in Computer Science as well as a Masters of Education from UNB. His professional background includes online learning, telecommunications, and public sector process re-engineering.
Gregory Zed, Rothesay
Gregory has an extensive background in the Addictions and Mental Health sector, both as a professional and as a volunteer. His educational background includes a Master of Social Work and Health Administration from Dalhousie University in Halifax. He is a certified Forensic Suicidologist who has spent much of his career in social work and is passionate about mental health. He most recently worked as the Clinical Liaison for the Mental Health Court.
As a professional social worker and volunteer, Gregory’s contributions to the Addiction and Mental Health field in New Brunswick is undeniable, as is his volunteering career which spans nearly an incredible 50 years. He is a past president of the Schizophrenia Society of New Brunswick and a life member. He is also a past president of the Saint John Boys and Girls Club and a life member. In relations to Mister zed’s professional life he has extensive experience in mental health and the law. This has earned him an honorary life member of the Elizabeth Fry society.
Over the 50 years he has received several awards recognizing both his professional and volunteer work, including the Dr. Michael J. Smith award for outstanding professional in the field of mental health in Canada and the Queen’s Golden and Diamond Jubilee Medals in recognition of his exemplary volunteer service to the community. Greg is also recognized as a Paul Harris fellow, a distinction bestowed on him by the Rotary Club of Saint John. He has been a tireless advocate and has devoted his career to shifting preconceptions about mental illness and reconstructing the image of our community’s most vulnerable members, giving families and people with lived experience a strong voice.
Connie Melanson-Savoy, Moncton
Connie Melanson-Savoy, for the past 19 years, as the Executive Director of Inclusion Advocacy SENB, (IA SENB), formerly GMACL, promotes inclusive communities, protects the rights and promotes the interests of individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities and their families in Southeast NB, advocating to give voice to some of the most vulnerable members of our communities, in all areas of their lives.
Connie was born and raised in Saint John, did undergrad. studies at UNB SJ and Fredericton and master studies through McGill. While she worked for municipal and provincial government for 15 years, her professional career has been primarily with the disability field in the not-for-profit sector. She has consistently demonstrated strong commitment to and fervent advocacy for, family values and inclusive communities, actively promoting their significant relationship in enhancing and empowering the lives of individuals and families and generally strengthening communities.
She has extensive community experience, being actively involved for more than 4 decades, at the local, regional, and provincial level, including the founding chair of several community groups. Her service has been recognized with several awards including, RPANB 2001 Active Living Volunteer and 1st YWCA 2007 Woman of Distinction “Woman in Public and Community Service”.
Connie is currently an active member of Autism Resource Center; Community Living Board Fundy Region, Family and Early Childhood Education Anglophone East; Greater Moncton Down Syndrome Society; Moncton Accessibility Committee; & South East Adult Education-Éducation des adultes SE,
She has served in various capacities on several other community groups and Boards including:
District Education Council; Member of Editorial Board, Journal of Leisurability; Founding Chair, Fundy Recreation Inclusion Council; Founding member of Local Home and School; NBACL Board including several committees: RNB Inclusive Recreation Council; Founding Chair of Partners for Positive Futures; Parent School Support Councils; and Saint John Association for Community Living.
Connie is married to Bernard Savoy, a retired banker. Both being from large families, they now, since 1994, live in Moncton where they enjoy sharing time with some of their adult children and grandchildren.
Dr. Kanza Hashmat, Fredericton
Kanza A Hashmat is graduate researcher at University of New Brunswick (UNB) at department of Interdisciplinary Studies (IDST), her research focuses on seeking, engaging, and retaining the services for immigrants on Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD) in New Brunswick (NB).
She is a medical graduate and has extensive personal and professional experience working with people with Autism, their support networks, and other stakeholders. She has served on boards of Multicultural Association of NB, Fredericton Regional Museum, and Graduate Student Association (GSA) UNB.
She has received Community leadership award from the federal government for spear-heading social platforms for immigrant communities, Disability Champion Award for her work with immigrant communities with special needs, Stepping up for NB from the province for her work during COVID pandemic with marginalized communities, and Unsung hero award from the city for her work as to acknowledge her efforts to help build and shape the community, helping bolster the work of social groups and organizations that offer recreational, cultural, or charitable services to the community.
She is happily married to a wonderful person a UNB alumni and Professional Engineer (P. Eng) by trade. They are proud parents of two wonderful kids. One of them who is a motivation for the research around Autism spectrum disorders.
She believes strongly in empowering people with disabilities to reach their full potential and looks forward to being part of a team that is focused on improving the quality of lives of people with disabilities.
Margaux Savoie-Connolly, Quispamsis
Margaux Savoie-Connolly : Originally from Moncton, but grew up in Ottawa, Margaux returned home in 1998 to explore her New Brunswick roots and decided to settle permanently in this lovely corner of the world. Margaux holds an Honours Degree in Political Science from UNB and a law degree from L’Universite de Moncton and has been a practicing member of the Bar in the Saint John area since 2007. She has worked in private practice and public service and is bilingual (English and French). Currently, she is a Senior Legal Counsel at the Financial and Consumer Services Commission in their Enforcement Division.
Margaux never backs down from a challenge. She is a firm believer that those with disabilities are not ‘dis-abled’ but ‘differently-abled’ and have so many remarkable gifts to share with the world. She is deeply committed to supporting everyone who is trying to realize their full potential. Margaux has a deep understanding of the challenges and opportunities that both physical and invisible disabilities can have. She worked for 13 years at WorkSafeNB in policy, legal and appeals and learned so much about physical and psychological injuries and disabilities and the importance of supports and removing barriers to allow individuals to thrive. Additionally, Margaux has many friends and family living in New Brunswick with disabilities and she is eager to foster an awareness of the barriers they face and eager to help find solutions and supports. She is looking forward to using her personal and professional experiences to help advance the Council’s mandate.
Margaux and her husband, Matthew, currently lives in Quispamsis with their two amazing kids and two dogs.
Brigitte LaPointe, Grand Falls/Grand-Sault
Cassie Hall, Johnville
Heather Chandler, Saint John
Christyne Allain, Executive Director
Christyne Allain is a strategic leader with over twenty years working with the government and fifteen years of experience advancing the cause for persons with disabilities in the province of New Brunswick. As Executive Director of the Premier’s Council on Disabilities, Christyne is primarily responsible for the general operations of the organization, supporting the Chairperson and Council in the realization of its mission.
Christyne specializes in public relations, government and community engagement, partnership development, council recruitment, and possesses a keen interest in interpersonal communications and leadership. Christyne obtained her Bachelor of Arts with a double major in Psychology and Gerontology from St. Thomas University and continued her education in effective communications through the University of Sherbrooke.
A native of Fredericton and a strong believer in collaboration, community volunteerism, the importance of respecting others and developing strong relationships. Christyne has also worked with the Department of Health, Provincial Epidemiology Services, the Commission on Legislative Democracy, Literacy NB, and the Department of Finance.
Mark Pentland, Communication and Engagement Coordinator
Mark joins the Council with twenty years of experience in several government departments and agencies, most recently with the New Brunswick Community College. During this time, Mark has led or participated in many provincial consultation and engagement initiatives on varied topics, including rural development, indigenous issues and the volunteer sector. He has also worked in the private sector as a management consultant, primarily working with clients in the healthcare, education and non-profit sectors.
Christie Innis, Project Coordinator
Christie joined the Premier’s Council in July 2021. Before that, Christie worked within the New Brunswick Public Library Service and at Mactaquac Provincial Park. She also volunteers with several organizations including ElderDog and CARMA, helping people and pets in the community.
Christie graduated from the University of New Brunswick in May 2019 with her Bachelor of Science. During her time at UNB, Christie satisfied her diverse interests by taking courses in Psychology, Sociology, Philosophy, and English as well as the prescribed Science courses.
Christie is most looking forward to being able to work with clients and improve accessibility for New Brunswickers with disabilities.
Jillian Shaw, Information Services Navigator
Jillian joined Premier’s Council on Disabilities in July 2021. Prior to joining the Premier’s Council staff, Jillian worked within Finance and Treasury Board, Revenue Administration Division and then moving to Justice and Public Safety as a Board Enforcement Agent, helping New Brunswickers with their travel plans to our province. Jillian has a bright outlook on life and has always wanted to make a positive impact in the lives of New Brunswickers.
She is looking forward to helping clients and is excited about her new role in making a difference in the lives of New Brunswickers with disabilities.