Kids Help Phone is a national charity that operates three counselling centres and offers community engagement initiatives through staff and volunteers across Canada. We have an incredible team who is dedicated to supporting youth mental heath in Canada.
Katherine Hay, President and CEO
I have the privilege of leading Kids Help Phone, Canada’s only national bilingual 24/7 e-mental health service in the country, supporting youth as young as five and as old as 28 who reached out to us more than 1.9 million times in 2019. I worry about young people in Canada, however they identify themselves, and know that steady state is no longer an option. Kids are changing faster than ever, and technology even faster. We know that if we fall behind or waste time, lives are lost. Canada has the third-highest suicide rate in the industrialized world, and Indigenous youth are six times more likely to die by suicide than non-Indigenous youth. Canada’s young people are in crisis in every province and territory.
I am driven to reduce barriers and find new solutions, partnerships and innovations to save lives. I strive to deliver better experiences, better outcomes and more cost-effective e-mental health solutions to Canada. When Crisis Text Line (U.S.) and Kids Help Phone embarked on a partnership in 2018 and launched Crisis Text Line powered by Kids Help Phone, together we changed the landscape of mental health in Canada. This remains a point of pride for our team — through innovation and partnership, we are reaching more youth and saving more lives than ever before in our 30-year history. That makes me smile. But, there is more work to be done.
I am humbled to have been awarded the prestigious Top 10 Women Leaders in Digital Health in Canada (2019) for the game-changing work of Kids Help Phone.
I am a member of the Board of Directors of multiple organizations, including a seat at the table for the Ontario Premier’s Office on mental health and addiction; a member of the Children First Canada Council of Champions; the National Youth Serving Agencies; and the Mayor’s Task Force on Poverty and Homelessness in Mississauga. I am a former member of the National Council of Foundation Executives for the Conference Board of Canada; a former member of the Board of Directors for Imagine Canada; and former chair of the Toronto Academic Health Science Network Foundation CEO Roundtable.
I have had the privilege of advancing the health of women and girls across Canada as President & CEO of Women’s College Hospital Foundation, where I was named one of Canada’s Top 25 Women of Influence.
I have worked in academia, founded the Canadian Foundation in São Paulo, Brazil and began my career as an executive in the financial services sector.
I am most proud of my two courageous adult children who are catalysts and change-makers — and am most in awe of my 10-month-old grandson!
Aaron Sanderson, Senior Vice President, Advancement and Chief Development Officer
Aaron Sanderson leads Kids Help Phone’s fundraising efforts, and, in partnership with the Chief Executive Officer and Chief Community Officer, is the senior liaison to the organization’s community of generous supporters. Aaron joined Kids Help Phone in 2020.
Aaron is an international award-winning fundraiser with over 13 years of experience at leading non-profit organizations, including BC Children’s Hospital Foundation, Plan International Canada, SickKids Foundation and War Child. In addition, he has over a decade of senior volunteer experience with non-profit boards and committees, including the Association of Fundraising Professionals, Athletics Ontario, The Arthritis Society, Habitat for Humanity GTA, Heritage Toronto and the University of British Columbia.
Aaron also holds a Master of Arts in Philanthropy and Development, an Associates Certificate in Non-Profit Management and a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science and International Relations. He is the 11th Canadian to be awarded the Advanced Certified Fundraising Executive (ACFRE) designation, the top credential of the fundraising profession, and was inducted as a Fellow of the Association of Healthcare Philanthropy (FAHP). He was named a Top 40 Under 40 in North America by AHP in 2018, and was named “Difference Maker” by the Rick Hansen Foundation.
Alisa Simon, Senior Vice President, Innovation and Chief Youth Officer
Alisa Simon brings more than 20 years of leadership experience in health-care access and support services to her role as Senior Vice President, Innovation and Chief Youth Officer at Kids Help Phone. As a champion of innovation, Alisa is integral to the organization’s development of virtual health solutions for youth. Using comprehensive data and research to provide knowledge management strategies, Alisa drives improvements in service and support that respond to evolving technologies and the changing needs of young people. These include Kids Help Phone’s Live Chat service, the Always There app, the organization’s community resource database of 30,000 local programs and services nationwide serving young people — Resources Around Me — and most recently, a texting service — Crisis Text Line powered by Kids Help Phone — which launched across Canada in 2018.
Alisa also oversees the organization’s national counselling program, providing leadership and guidance to more than 100 professional counselling staff working across three national counselling centres. In addition, Alisa leads Kids Help Phone’s government relationships activities, working closely with provincial and federal government officials and stakeholders to advance the organization’s thought leadership initiatives.
Prior to joining Kids Help Phone, Alisa had experience serving as Health Policy Director at Public Citizens for Children and Youth where she managed two helplines assisting children and families. She was also the Health Care Director at Citizens for Consumer Justice and Acting Director of Policy and Communications with the Association of Ontario Midwives.
Alisa holds a Master of Public Health degree from the University of North Carolina.
Susan Morris, Senior Vice President, Operations and CFO
Susan Morris joined Kids Help Phone as head of Finance & Administration in July 1997. Prior to this, she ran her own accounting practice specializing in non-audit reviews, special projects and individual tax returns. She has a B.Sc. from the University of Toronto and qualified as a Chartered Accountant in December 1987. While at Deloitte & Touche, she specialized in small business and not-for-profit.
An active volunteer, Susan served on the Board of Directors of the Jean Tweed Treatment Centre for nine years, participated in volunteer tax clinics, served as an active school volunteer throughout her children’s elementary and secondary school years, and remains a committed Kids Help Phone volunteer. She enjoys gardening, long walks and, travelling. Susan lives in Toronto with her husband and two children. In her spare time, she studies piano.
Jenny Yuen, Vice President, National Partnerships and Chief Community Officer
Jenny Yuen is the Vice President, National Partnerships and Chief Community Officer at Kids Help Phone. She’s responsible for strategic development of advancement that connects communities across Canada. She joined Kids Help Phone in 2005.
For more than 15 years, Jenny has specialized in signature event fundraising strategies and execution, influencing the height of the most successful campaigns for two industry leading organizations — the Yee Hong Community Wellness Foundation and Kids Help Phone.
Jenny brings a multidisciplinary approach that includes, but is not limited to, the following portfolios: philanthropy, corporate and community engagement, sponsorship, volunteer leadership development and establishing systems to implement cross-functional programs. She has played key roles in bringing an inside-out approach to community and national events and teams that are focused on both enhanced efficiency and increased fund development by leveraging online and community-based strategies. Holding leadership positions that have both regional and national oversight, Jenny has developed experience in planning centrally and executing locally — developing a team-centred approach and bringing synergies to event strategies (requiring leadership from staff and community-based volunteers).
Jenny is a proud mom of two little humans in elementary school — they fuel her commitment to evolving the “village” in which we raise our kids and continue to adapt with them.
Alison Staples, Vice President, Human Resources and Chief People Officer
As Vice President, Human Resources and Chief People Officer at Kids Help Phone, Alison Staples oversees the strategic development of the organization’s human resources policies including recruitment, corporate culture and learning and development. She is a passionate relationship builder who has maintained the supportive and wonderful culture at Kids Help Phone.
Alison has over 20 years of experience in both the corporate and charity sectors, developing sustainable and strategic human resources programs and solutions designed to unleash leadership potential, drive performance, increase organizational effectiveness and steer business results.
Prior to her role at Kids Help Phone, Alison held executive human resources positions in organizations such as the Canadian Breast Cancer Foundation, the Canadian Cancer Society and Deloitte & Touche. She is a Certified Human Resources Executive (CHRE) and holds a Master of Business Administration from Nova Southeastern University.
A determined individual with a growth mindset, Alison also completed the High Potentials Leadership Program at Harvard University in 2013. She enjoys volunteering, having served on the Board of Directors of the Human Resources Professionals Association in York Region and the Sub-Board Committee at North York General Hospital. Alison is also a Peer Reviewer on the Accreditation Committee at Imagine Canada.
Kristen Buckley, Associate Vice President, Knowledge Mobilization and Government Relationships
Kristen Buckley is Kids Help Phone’s Associate Vice President, Knowledge Mobilization and Government Relationships. She leads a multi-disciplinary portfolio of Information and Referral, Knowledge Translation, Indigenous Initiatives and Government Relations. Kristen plays a key role in developing partnerships, bringing new programs and projects to life and sharing our insights on how to best support the mental health and well-being of young people with internal and external stakeholders.
Kristen has been with Kids Help Phone for 10 years, in roles from Coordinator to Executive team member. With a Master in Information and Library Science, she believes in the power of information and that there is no better way to support young people than through the work Kids Help Phone does each day through access to non-judgemental and empowering information and support.
Outside of Kids Help Phone, Kristen is raising three little girls with her husband, doing all the things busy, working moms do.
Daniela Sota, Associate Vice President, Service Operations
Daniela Sota is Kids Help Phone’s Associate Vice President of Service Operations. Daniela joined the organization in 2020 and oversees our knowledge translation and clinical operations, including our counselling and texting services.
Daniela has a master’s degree in Clinical Psychology and is a registered psychotherapist. Her career in mental health spans more than 20 years, beginning with her role at Health Canada investigating the long-term effects of mercury poisoning in young people in Wabaseemoong Independent Nations, just a few kilometres from the Ontario-Manitoba border.
She has a keen focus on leveraging alliances. At St. Joseph’s Health Centre, she successfully partnered with Toronto Police Service to lead a mobile crisis team and helped expand it across the city. Most recently, she held the position of Director of Counselling at Canadian Hearing Services, overseeing more than 100 staff across four programs. She also volunteers on the Board of Directors at Cota.
Daniela is a leader with the courage to try new things to effect change, bringing humour, optimism and matchless energy to every room she’s in. Investing in a culture of care, wellness and resilience, she embraces teamwork, creativity and innovation. She partners with others who can do what she cannot and energizes them to take on the impossible.
Jennifer Murdoch, Associate Vice President, Youth Experience and Program Operations (On leave)
Jennifer Murdoch, PhD is the Associate Vice President of Youth Experience and Program Operations at Kids Help Phone. She joined the organization in January 2016.
For more than 20 years, she has brought her commitment and dedication to the health care system through clinical work, strategic planning and operational insights.
From the outset of her career as a registered nurse, Jennifer has worked in a number of leadership roles in hospital, government and community-based centres. As an expert and PhD in interprofessional collaboration, Jennifer has provided direction for health human resources strategies and integrated plans and has participated and led a number of provincial and national initiatives aimed at building capacity within health care systems and service delivery.
As an Associate Vice President at Kids Help Phone, Jennifer oversees the full counselling operations and programs including training and evaluation of services across three centres in Canada. With over 100 professional counsellors and staff, Jennifer’s team ensures that Kids Help Phone meets and exceeds expectations in the delivery of quality phone and Live Chat services to young people in Canada every day.
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Jules Koostachin, PhD
PhD Candidate at UBC – GRSJ
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Kids Help Phone’s National Youth Council
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Dr. Valerie Taylor
University of Calgary & Alberta Health Services
Sharon Wyse Hrdlitschka
Senior Account Executive (retired)
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Matthew McLaughlin, New Brunswick
Julia Caddy, Alberta
David Fan, Ontario
Jahmar James, Ontario
Kate Lau, Ontario
Katie Clarke, Nova Scotia
Kieran Drachenberg, Nunavut
Mehul Gupta, Alberta
Nazanin Mandi, Ontario
Phyllis Huang, Ontario
Zuhal Ahmadi, Ontario
Laetitia Rajput, Saskatchewan
Harjot Kular, British Columbia
Haley Marion McLean, Quebec
Maxine Joly-Chevrier, Quebec
Hailey Noseworthy, Newfoundland
River Turner-Martens, Manitoba
Kids Help Phone recognizes the importance of Indigenous leadership in all of our work. Under the direction of the Manager of Indigenous Initiatives, and with the collaboration of our internal Indigenous Initiatives Committee, our Indigenous programs are also led by an external, Indigenous Advisory Council.
Our Indigenous Advisory Council is composed of Inuit, Métis and First Nations experts, half of whom are youth, who’ve demonstrated a strong commitment to the mental, emotional and spiritual well-being of Indigenous young people. We invite you to learn more about Finding Hope: Kids Help Phone’s Action Plan for Supporting First Nations, Inuit and Métis young people and how you can support this important work.
Indigenous Advisory Council (2019-2020)
Andre Bear graduated with his Bachelor of Education degree at the University of Saskatchewan and is now pursuing both a Juris Doctor of Law and Master of Business Administration. He is the former youth representative of the Federation of Sovereign Indigenous Nations and Co-Chair of the Assembly of First Nations National Youth Council as well as Executive Member. In 2016, Andre was appointed as a Special Advisor to the Minister of Crown-Indigenous Relations where he co-founded the Indigenous Youth Voices Network for the full implementation of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada’s Call to Action 66. Andre believes in advocating for Indigenous children and youth and treaty and inherent rights.
Michael Redhead Champagne
Michael Redhead Champagne, born and raised in Winnipeg’s North End, is an award-winning community organizer, public speaker and a proud member of Shamattawa First Nation. Michael believes we all have a gift and shows youth the path to discover their own. He is solution-oriented and passionate about building system literacy, encouraging volunteerism and engaging communities to be involved in the design, delivery and evaluation of any initiative that affects them. Michael is known for his honest and heartfelt style that will leave you moved, inspired and ready for action.
Michael’s first opportunity to speak to an engaged audience was in a room filled with community leaders who were speaking about homelessness. Michael was in the audience as someone with lived experience. He didn’t agree with what was being said from the stage, so he raised his hand and spoke his truth for the first time publicly — effectively altering the course of the conversation. He was 10 years old at the time.
Growing up in and around the child and family services system, Michael lived through the suicides of many people he cared about, gang violence directed at himself and his peers and the lack of opportunity for youth growing up in similar circumstances. This led to the founding of AYO! (Aboriginal Youth Opportunities) in 2010. This volunteer youth movement exists to uplift urban Indigenous youth, and provide them with a platform to share their gifts with the world.
Michael believes in leading by example and now travels across Canada sharing his gift with others. Whether he’s speaking to educators, youth, the business community or the not-for-profit sector, his goal is the same — to help heal, shape and create a call to action for everyone.
Randall Crowe has supported youth in his community of Deer Lake First Nation as a mental health worker for seven years. He’s also a crisis volunteer worker for Sioux Lookout First Nation Health Authority’s Nodin Crisis Response Program — a service that provides crisis intervention and support to immediate families impacted by tragic incidents.
Randall is a fierce advocate for meaningful involvement from First Nations youth in the development of policies and programs that affect them. In 2016, Randall was part of a delegation of Indigenous young people from northern Ontario who met with Prime Minister Trudeau to discuss issues affecting First Nations youth in the North. His voice continues to affect positive change across northern Ontario and beyond. This includes Randall’s work as an active member of Nishnawbe Aski Nation’s Oshkaatisak Youth Council.
Ashley Rose Cummings, Co-Chair
Ashley Cummings is a proud Inuk youth from Pangnirtung, Nunavut. As a member of the Prime Minister’s Youth Council, Ashley advises the Prime Minister on issues that have included (but are not limited to) rural and northern health/well-being, supporting ethical and Indigenous-led tourism, mental health and other issues affecting youth across Canada. Ashley has personal experience with leaving her community for medical treatment as a young child and is a fierce advocate for life promotion.
Ashley participated in Students on Ice (SOI), an organization that educates youth from across the world about the polar regions through immersive expeditions. Ashley has previously worked for North in Focus, which specializes in providing avenues of self-expression to youth, combining art, physical recreation and meditation with mental health promotion and anti-stigma education in arctic and sub-arctic communities. Ashley now sits on the board for Apathy is Boring, a national organization that promotes democratic participation in young people. Her colourful background living in Nunavut, Yukon, Nova Scotia, Quebec and New Brunswick has given her a comprehensive perspective on life for Indigenous young people from coast to coast to coast. Ashley works her hardest to advocate for “nothing about us, without us” to ensure all Indigenous youth are honoured.
Kieran B. Drachenberg, Kids Help Phone National Youth Council (NYC) Member
At the age of 18, Kieran has already established himself as a passionate, dedicated and influential mental health and LGBTQ2+ advocate. Originally from Dauphin, Manitoba, Kieran now lives in Iqaluit and studies Social Work at Nunavut Arctic College.
Kieran was instrumental in the passing of Bill 31 in Nunavut — a bill that ensures protection for transgender individuals under the territory’s Human Rights Act. He generously shares his own experiences with mental health struggles and has been featured in two documentaries: Two Soft Things, Two Hard Things and Bell Let’s Talk: In Their Own Words. In 2017, Kieran was recognized as a Difference Maker by the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH).
As a Métis young person raised in an Inuit community, Kieran brings a unique perspective to Kids Help Phone’s Indigenous Advisory Council. He has also volunteered his time for seven years as a Kids Help Phone National Youth Council member, ambassador and fundraiser. He’s also a member of the Frayme Advisory on Youth Matters (AYM) and works as a research assistant at Ryerson University.
Reina is passionate about her culture, loved ones and igniting change. She has a diverse youth leadership background that stems from being the former Lac Seul Youth Chief. In 2016, Reina spent a day shadowing the honourable Carolyn Bennett, Minister of the former Northern and Indigenous Affairs Canada. This opportunity was a dream come true for Reina and served as a stepping stone for her extensive global advocacy work, which includes being on Plan International Canada’s Youth Advisory Council (YAC).
Reina is passionate about First Nations child welfare and advocating for children and youth in care. She has both negative and positive experiences with the child welfare system and uses that as a fire-burner to ignite change within the system. Reina has many publications and articles on the topic of child welfare and is the female Youth Representative for the Tikinagan Child and Family Services: Board of Directors.
Reina contributes to many councils, panels and committees including Feathers of Hope, a First Nations youth initiative within the Ontario Child Advocate’s Office. After working a part-time job at a homeless shelter in Sioux Lookout, Reina was inspired to continue her work there after she resigned. She was appointed to the Out of the Cold Shelter: Board Committee to be a voice for the people who seek shelter there.
With dreams of being a worker for justice and law, she’s currently employed at a law firm. She hopes to obtain her undergrad and attend law school in the near future. She is proud and in disbelief that she accomplished everything she set her mind to before the age of 18. She hopes to inspire many other Indigenous youth to accomplish their dreams, too.
Robert Henry, PhD
Robert Henry, PhD, is Métis from Prince Albert, Saskatchewan and is an Assistant Professor at the University of Calgary in the Department of Sociology. Robert’s research areas include Indigenous street gangs and gang theories, Indigenous masculinities, Indigenous and critical research methodologies, youth mental health and visual research methods. Working closely with community partners, Robert works to create knowledge mobilization outcomes that reflect community needs and wants. He’s published a photovoice narrative collection with Indigenous male gang members titled Brighter Days Ahead (2013) and has recently submitted another collection in partnership with Indigenous females and their involvement in street gangs titled Through the Looking Glass. Robert was the lead editor of Global Indigenous Health: Reconciling the Past, Engaging the Present, Animating the Future (2018) and is a Co-Editor on two other collections focusing on settler colonialism and urban Prairie cities, and Indigenous health and art. Robert has also published in the areas of Indigenous masculinity, Indigenous health, youth subcultures and criminal justice.
His current research focuses on the concept of survivance and its applicability within Indigenous research more broadly. Borrowing from Gerald Vizenor’s concept of survivance in literacy, Robert and partners from Canada, New Zealand and Australia are contextualizing its usage within street spaces, and how Indigenous peoples continue to survive, resist and resurge their presence, challenging settler colonialism. In Canada, Robert is using survivance as a way to comprehend pragmatic agency of Indigenous peoples engaged in street lifestyles, specifically street gangs.
Jules Koostachin, Co-Chair, Kids Help Phone Board of Directors Representative
Jules Arita Koostachin, owner of VisJuelles Productions Inc., is MoshKeKo Cree and a band member of Attawapiskat First Nation, located in what is now called northern Ontario. Jules is a PhD candidate with the Institute of Gender, Race, Sexuality and Social Justice at the University of British Columbia — her research focus is on Indigenous documentary. She carries extensive experience working in Indigenous communities in varying capacities. Jules is also known as a digital storyteller and media artist who works to honour cultural protocols and build relationships within Indigenous communities through her arts practice. Her artistic endeavours are informed by her experience living with her Cree grandparents, as well as her mother, a residential school warrior.
Evan Sault is an elected councillor from Mississaugas of the New Credit First Nation (MNCFN) where he carries the health and wellness portfolio. Before joining council in 2015, Evan was a Child and Youth Worker and Family Support Worker on MNCFN and Six Nations of the Grand River for 12 years. In this role, and with his diploma in Indigenous Social Work, Evan supported First Nations young people as they navigated the justice and child welfare systems.
A strong advocate for the mental health benefits of sports and recreation, Evan was actively involved in the planning of the 2017 North American Indigenous Games and 2017 Invictus Games. On his own First Nation, he has coached, coordinated many tournaments and lead the community’s sports and recreation committee.
Evan maintains strong ties with the City of Toronto and its Indigenous community. He participates in Toronto’s Indigenous Advisory Council meetings and is responsible for leading MNCFN’s involvement in major events throughout the city including the Canadian National Exhibition.
Evan is actively involved in the health and well-being of his community through participation in a number of boards including Brant Family and Children’s Services, Ganohkwasra Family Assault Support Services and Youth Lodge and the Hagersville Food Bank. As a father and as a youth advocate, he believes youth and elders must be treasured and honoured.
Brittany Whynot is Mi’kmaq from Acadia First Nation and was raised off reserve in Liverpool, Nova Scotia. She graduated from Saint Mary’s University with a Bachelor of Arts in Criminology, and has almost completed her Indigenous Bachelor of Social Work from the University of Victoria. Brittany has five years of experience working in an Indigenous non-profit organization, and was on the National Association of Friendship Centre’s Aboriginal Youth Council (AYC) for three years. She has a passion for working with and assisting Indigenous people, bringing education and awareness to the barriers and issues they face. Brittany is currently working at Healing Our Nations, supporting Indigenous people in the areas of sexual health, HIV/AIDS, STBBIs, healthy relationships and by spreading Indigenous cultural awareness.
Roda Grey has been keen to learn new skills and has always been curious about life and the way she can help her people — the Inuit — to achieve a state of wellness. Born in 1949 in the remote community of Aupaluk, Quebec on the shore of Ungava Bay, she went to the federal day school. Roda moved to the Ottawa Valley region of Ontario where she undertook a course at Algonquin College, graduating in 1992 as a Social Services Worker. This helped her understand more clearly how social services among her people affect small communities, as well as how important it is to provide such services to address the needs of the Inuit.
Roda worked for several national Inuit organizations over 10 years to advocate for the Inuit on policies that address the four Inuit regions (Nunavik, Nunavut, Labrador as well as the Inuit of the Western Arctic). In 2007, after several years of living in southern parts of Canada, Roda went back north to live in Kuujjuaq, Quebec, work for the Isuarsivik Regional Recovery Centre and take community addiction training by the Nechi Institute. Later, she became certified by the Canadian Council of Professional Certification as an Addiction Counsellor.
In 2011, Roda became a Regional Addiction Officer with the Nunavik Regional Board of Health and Social Services. Here, she was part of the team developing an addiction training program for frontline workers specific to the Nunavik region. Later, she delivered addiction training in Inuktitut for the Inuit frontline workers. In addition to her work, Roda undertook various courses to develop more training skills, including:
- Applied Suicide Intervention Skills Training (ASIST)
- Best Practice in Suicide Intervention Trainer
- Mental Health First Aid Inuk Instructor
Roda sees Kid Help Phone as another resource that would help youth in Nunavik. She would like to contribute to the enhancement of services for more young people.