AMI-Quebec’s Board of Directors ensures that AMI’s mission is achieved. Most members have or have had a family member with mental illness or mental health issues, and some have professional experience in mental heath or related fields.
Board members are volunteers who believe that family engagement is critical to the eradication of the stigma that is still associated with mental illness, and to the promotion of a whole person view of people with mental illness. They trust that a more humane and compassionate society can help people with mental illness realize their potential and lead satisfying and fulfilling lives. The main focus of the Board’s work is to support families in their role as caregivers while helping them to sustain their own wellbeing.
The Board of Directors is elected each year during the Annual General Meeting in June. Candidates are reviewed by the Nominating Committee and submissions can be made throughout the year. Familiarity with AMI-Quebec’s work and previous experience (such as serving on a committee, attending or facilitating support groups, etc.) is recommended.
Are you interested in being on our Board of Directors, or would you like to nominate someone?
Nominations can be submitted any time, but the Nominating Committee usually considers new board members early in the year (January-March).
Jean Claude Benitah has been a member of AMI-Québec since 1992. He is a carer for an adult son who lives with schizophrenia. He has been a member of the Board since 2006, and served as elected Vice-President and President. He chairs the Strategic Planning and the Advocacy Committees, and was a board member of Avant de Craquer (formerly FFAPAMM) of which AMI-Quebec is a member. Jean Claude holds a Bachelor’s degree in Electronics Engineering from McGill University and a Master’s degree in Computer Engineering from the University of Michigan. He had a 30-year long career in the computer engineering field at various levels (including Director of Engineering, Director of Strategic Planning and Vice-President of Engineering). He has spent his last 10 working years at Vanier College teaching Computer Engineering.
Jérémie Clarke has been working as a senior executive in the life insurance industry for nearly 10 years, most recently in group benefits. His experience has provided him with a good understanding of the importance and the benefits of caregiving as a whole. He has been an ardent supporter of local and national non-profit organizations, and took a leadership role in a corporate-supported fundraising campaign. His recent onboarding at AMI-Québec further demonstrates his long-lasting engagement towards volunteer work.
Joyce Cohen (Treasurer) is a family carer who brings a long history of working with AMI-Québec in different capacities from as far back as the early 1990s. She is a graphic designer, life coach, and art facilitator. Over the years, she has been involved in client intake, worked on the fund-raising committee, and regularly volunteered her graphic design services. She facilitates SoulCollage®workshops for AMI-Quebec, to help caregivers explore their challenges in a fun and creative way. She holds a Bachelor of Fine Arts (Concordia University, 1980), Personal and Professional Coach Certification (Concordia University, 2010), and is a trained SoulCollage®facilitator (2014). She was awarded the AMI-Québec Extra Mile Award in 2011.
Anna Beth Doyle has been a member of AMI-Québec since 1997. She is a carer for a married adult son with a major mental illness. Anna Beth has been a member of the Board since 2008, serving on the Program Committee and on the Executive in the positions of Treasurer, Vice-President and President. As an AMI volunteer, her primary interest and contribution has been to help family members communicate and work effectively with their loved ones and the health care system, as a facilitator of various programs and workshops. In addition to being a carer, she brings experience to AMI and the Board as a clinical and developmental psychology professor and researcher (Concordia University, retired), a board and committee member for several local and national organizations.
Guy Dumas has been a member of the AMI-Québec Board since 2011. A carer of an adult son who suffers from mental illness, he also contributes to a variety of mental health projects, most recently to the establishment of Maison Dunham in the Eastern Townships. He currently serves on the Strategic Planning Committee. Earlier he served on the Advocacy Committee. By training (PhD in management, Indiana University), he is a business executive and he brings business and strategic planning experience to the Board. He has experience as a graduate level professor of management at H.E.C. (Université de Montréal) and at the Université de Sherbrooke and as a consultant in a number of organizations, including the MacDonald Stewart Foundation, Towers Perrin, Mercer Consultants, and Concordia University.
Rosalie Fagen— affiliated with AMI-Québec for at least 15 years, Board member since 2016, and currently serves on the Nominating Committee. She is a carer of a son suffering from schizophrenia and she first came to AMI for counselling on how to deal with this situation. She has since learnt not only how to help herself deal with the trials and tribulations of having a loved one with a mental illness but also has served as a facilitator and worked with support groups that help families cope. For her, it has been very rewarding to give back the support that she received from the AMI-Quebec family through the years.
Judy Gold (Secretary) has recently completed a ten-year mandate as a member of the Quebec Human Rights Tribunal, a tribunal that specializes in litigations related to discrimination, harassment, and exploitation, in accordance with the Charter of Human Rights and Freedoms(the Québec Charter). As a commissioner of the Office de consultation publique de Montréal since 2004 and of the Bureau audience publique sur l’environnement (BAPE) from 2003 to 2009, she has presided and/or participated in numerous public consultations on a wide variety of issues, and has acquired significant experience as a decision maker in administrative tribunals as well as in the quest for social consensus. In addition, she has worked for over 25 years in the area of cultural diversity, social inclusion and community development. From 2008 to 2013, she participated in the Family Caregivers Advisory Committee of the Mental Health Commission of Canada. She has recently been appointed member of the Commission on Racism and Systemic Discrimination, as applicable to the jurisdictions of the City of Montreal.
Perla Muyal has been an AMI-Quebec member for the past few years. She has both suffered from mental illness and is now a caregiver for a suffering family member. Perla has just retired from her 30-year career as an Academic Advisor at Concordia University. While at Concordia she served on the Sexual Misconduct Standing committee where she participated in the writing of the university policy. Perla brings to AMI-Quebec many years of compassionate care for young adults in need of guidance, encouragement and direction. She has experience as a speaker on personal mental health struggles, being a caregiver, and reintegrating into the workforce following a leave. She holds a BFA in Art Education (1990) from Concordia University and a Certificate as an End-of-Life Doula from the University of Vermont (2020).
Anne Newman (President) — a member of AMI-Quebec since 2003 and the carer for her adult older brother who has been experiencing mental health issues for over forty years. She volunteered as a support group facilitator and has been a member of AMI’s Board since 2010, joining the Executive Committee in 2017. She served as Chair of the Nominating Committee and has been active on the Guidelines Committee, collaborating with a hospital’s psychiatric department to develop information and supports for carers. She brings experience to the board as a sibling of a person with a severe mental illness and as a researcher (Research Coordinator CUSM/MUHC Lymphedema Clinic). She also works as a Clinical Exercise Physiologist in the field of adapted exercise for special populations and has a special interest in the benefits of physical activity for people with mental illness. Anne holds a Master of Science degree in Exercise Science with a specialization in Clinical Exercise Physiology.
Dr. Henry Olders (Vice President) has been an AMI-Québec member for many years, joining the Board in 2016. A geriatric psychiatrist, now mostly retired, he looked after war veterans at Ste. Anne’s Hospital since 2005. Before that, he worked at the Jewish General Hospital in Psychogeriatrics and the Consultation-Liaison Service, and consulted to the Mental Health 60+ team at CLSC René-Cassin and Maimonides Hospital Geriatric Centre. Following training at McGill, he held several administrative posts at Douglas Hospital, including Director of the Psychogeriatrics Programme. He was honoured with AMI’s Exemplary Psychiatrist Award in 1995. Assistant Professor of Psychiatry at McGill University, author of several articles and a book chapter, he received JGH’s Henry Kravitz Teacher of the Year Award in 2005. Also a computer systems engineer, he volunteers for several community organizations and a McGill laboratory. He researches aging, the role of sleep in affective disorders, and neural networks.
Loreen Pindera is a journalist with 38 years’ experience, most of them as a reporter, broadcaster, and senior editor for CBC News. Health, social policy and Indigenous-settler relations are her areas of special interest.
Originally from Winnipeg, Loreen has worked or studied in Ottawa, Thunder Bay, Iqaluit, and Victoria, as well as in Australia, and she has lived and worked in Montreal since 1989.
Loreen has reported on mental health issues throughout her career, starting with the debate in the 1980s about deinstitutionalization and the path toward community living. She became aware of AMI-Québec’s work in the early 2000s, when she did a series of reports for CBC Radio on the housing challenges faced by people with mental health issues in Montreal. In 2002, she was invited to help AMI-Québec prepare an audiovisual retrospective on the first 25 years of the organization’s history, and she had what she calls “the immense privilege” of meeting and interviewing many of AMI-Québec’s founding members. She has been an active supporter of the organization and its goals since that time, frequently invited to moderate panel discussions or MC events, including the Low-Beer Memorial lecture and, in 2019, the inaugural Young Carers’ workshop. Loreen’s personal experience with family members facing mental health challenges means she has experienced first-hand the challenges of navigating the health-care system to find the right, timely help for loved ones, and the stress and toll that can take.
Carol Plathan is a carer for a family member, and has been on the Board of AMI-Québec since 2012. She facilitated a support group for parents of adult children with mental illness for a couple of years at AMI, and currently serves as the Chair of the Nominating Committee and is a member of the Guidelines Committee. She has experience speaking as a mental health advocate for caregivers, and has been a support worker in a homeless shelter in Toronto, as well as a support group facilitator with patients with chronic diseases and their caregivers at the Canadian Liver Foundation in Montreal. Her personal interest is in using a humanistic approach to expanding awareness of psychological and social issues related to mental illnesses with families who are severely affected, and promoting how to better share our human qualities as family carers.
Judy Ross is a caregiver for a family member living with chronic mental illness. An active member of AMI-Québec since 1998, she has served on the Board since 2002 and on the Finance Committee. Inspired by the programs and help received from AMI, she was the force behind the development of Mental Health Estrie (MHE), a community organization reaching out to English-speaking people dealing with mental illness in the Eastern Townships. MHE, incorporated in 2005, is located in Sherbrooke and serves an area within a 50-mile radius of that city. She was the Executive Director from 2005 until retirement in 2016. She brings a regional perspective of the needs of families and individuals challenged by the serious lack of services in English off the Montreal island. Her professional career has focused entirely on community service but endeavours in mental health have been the most fulfilling.
Lynn Ross discovered AMI-Québec in 1998, two years after the diagnosis of a family member with a severe mental illness. He has served on the Board since 2002 and on the Finance Committee. The vision of AMI’s work inspired him to become one of the founding members of Mental Health Estrie (MHE) in Sherbrooke which aims to implement programs similar to AMI’s. As a priest in the Anglican Church of Canada, he brings extensive experience of working at the community level, as well as nationally and internationally with a focus on communication and relief and development programs. He has worked with the Naskapi people in Northern Quebec for several years, and has special interests in the challenges facing Indigenous people in Canada, and the implementation of the recommendations of the recent Truth and Reconciliation Commission.
Norman Segalowitz— member of AMI-Québec since 2005. He is a carer for an adult daughter, married and a mother, and who still experiences mental health issues. He has been a member of the Board since 2005, and was elected to the Executive as member-at-large, Treasurer, and President. He has been active on the Board’s Strategic Planning Committee and Guidelines Committee (collaborating with hospitals to help carers), and involved in leading certain activities at Board retreats. He brings experience to the Board as a researcher (psychology professor at Concordia University), and as an ongoing member of the Mental Health Commission of Canada, including its Family Caregivers Advisory Committee and now its Advisory Council. He has a special interest in linguistic and cultural diversity issues regarding access to mental health services.
Donna Sharpe (Immediate Past President) is a caregiver for an adult son who has mental health issues. She started out with AMI-Québec with the Fundraising Committee in 2011 and then moved onto the Board in 2012. She is currently a member of the Executive and holds the position of President. As someone having a first-hand experience of living with a loved one with mental health issues, Donna is very passionate about making positive change for caregivers in the health system. She has over 25 years experience as an entrepreneur running a successful business. Finance and administration are her main areas of expertise.
Joanne Smith has been a member of AMI-Québec since attending her first educational evening for carers in 1990. Her mother had suffered from paranoid schizophrenia all Joanne’s life and before that evening Joanne had believed she was the only person with a mother afflicted with such an illness. It was very comforting for her to know she was not alone and she started volunteering immediately. As an AMI member she has given 8-week workshops to carers of siblings and adult children and facilitated various support groups. She has also served on many committees, including Advocacy, Program, Building Campaign, Strategic Planning, Nominating, and Fundraising. She has been a Board member since 2006, and a member of the Executive since 2013. She retired from her job as an IT professional with Bell in 2003.
Michael Truesdell— member of AMI-Québec since 2012, member of the Board since 2015, representing the AMI-Québec South Shore Group, carer for an adult son. He oversees the operations of the South Shore Group, is a member of La Table de Concertation en Santé Mentale de la Rive-Sud TCSM Longueuil and is a member of the ARC (Assistance and Referral Centre for Health and Social Services) which promotes access to English health and social services in the Montérégie.