Two women discussing

Past Steering Committee Members

Bakker, Colleen

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Colleen Bakker is a Registered Psychologist who has taken an interest in domestic and sexual abuse issues for many years. Her undergraduate degree was from the Faculty of Human Ecology and master’s degrees from both the University of Manitoba and the University of Rochester.  Colleen has served on the Domestic Violence Action Team in Lethbridge for over six years including one year as co-chair. She was also the chair of the Sexual Violence Action Committee for a year and served as a member for many years.  Currently Colleen works as a Clinical Supervisor with AHS--Lethbridge Family Violence Services. Her clinical interest is in treatment for offenders that utilizes what we know about trauma, attachment, personality and motivation.

Breen, Rebecca Hudson

image of Rebecca Hudson Breen


Rebecca Hudson Breen is an Assistant Professor in the Counselling Psychology program in the Faculty of Education at the University of Alberta. Her research interests are in the area of work, career-life development, and wellbeing, including the intersections of parenting and paid work; addictions recovery and work; and the role of hope in career development for supporting mental health.

Duffett-Leger, Linda

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Dr. Duffett-Leger is an assistant professor at the University of Calgary in the Faculty of Nursing. Her program of research recognizes a fundamental paradigm shift, from treatment of disease to wellness promotion, by focusing on reducing the economic and human costs associated with chronic illness through the development of innovative health promotion and disease prevention strategies and technologies.

Dr. Duffett-Leger is currently leading an interdisciplinary study investigating how wearable devices can empower nurses to better monitor and maintain their back health. Linda is currently a member of the Biomedical Engineering (BME) Steering Committee and the Academic Committee on Entrepreneurship and Innovation (ACEI).

She is also a Teaching Scholar at the Taylor Institute for Teaching and Learning for her work in implementing a team-based learning approach using innovative e-learning technology. Dr. Duffett-Leger was identified as a Rising Star in Chatelaine magazine, acknowledged as one of the Top 5 Women Revolutionizing Healthcare in Canada.

Kennedy, Dione

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Dione is currently the Director of Program Delivery with the Ministry of Community and Social Services. Dione has been with the Government of Alberta for over nineteen years, having worked on key initiatives that address significant social issues in Children’s Services, Human Services, and Alberta Justice.  

In her current role, Dione is responsible for leading cross-government efforts to prevent and address family violence through the development of legislation, policy and programs. Some recent career highlights include the introduction of Clare’s Law to Alberta and the development and implementation of the Safer Spaces program, a provision of the Residential Tenancy Act.  Dione’s portfolio also includes oversight of the Protection Against Family Violence Act, and supporting Alberta’s Family Violence Death Review Committee to make recommendations to government after careful systemic examinations of family violence-related deaths. Dione is passionate about working with community and government partners to design and deliver effective programs and services, and creating the social conditions whereby all forms of violence are eradicated. 

Kharat, Priyadarshini

photo of Priyadarshini Kharat


Dr. Kharat has more than thirteen years of experience working with marginalized communities of Canada to address concerns of family violence. Working in various capacities, Dr. Kharat had the opportunity to work with new immigrants and refugees resettling in Canada. In order to better understand the influences of resettling in Canada on incidences of domestic violence among immigrant South Asian community, Dr. Kharat successfully completed her PhD that included the perspectives of perpetrators of domestic violence. The findings of the research were presented at the Joint World Conference of Social Work and Social Development at Seoul, Korea in June 2016. Apart from working with the wellness centre at the University of Calgary as a counsellor (Instructor), Dr. Kharat serves as the co-chair of the Ethno-Culturally Diverse Communities Committee of Calgary. Dr. Kharat will be joining the Steering Committee beginning in January 2017.

McCracken, Linda

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Linda McCracken has 40 years of nursing experience, 32 of which were in rural and urban emergency rooms.  She also received a full certificate in Forensic Studies from Mount Royal University and serves as a Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner.  Linda championed healthcare provider training across the province on universal screening for domestic violence and sexual assault since 2001.  She is a core educator in the Alberta Health Services (AHS) Calgary Zone on Domestic Violence Intervention, acute care & community and she developed a Train-the-Trainer curriculum for the Calgary Zone Maternal & Child Health portfolio and sexual assault response training for the Victim Assistance Unit of the Calgary Police Services and the Victim Services of the RCMP in rural Alberta.  Also, Linda has been published in an emergency and forensic nursing journal on the forensic aspects of trauma care. 

In 2007 Linda became the Domestic Violence Program Coordinator for AHS-Calgary Zone.  She received the 2012 Government of Alberta Inspiration Award on Leadership in Family Violence Prevention as well as an Honorary Lifetime Award for longtime service and contributions to the National Emergency Nurses Affiliation of Canada.  In addition, Linda serves as a consultant for frontline staff and various AHS clinical policy/procedures and guideline domestic violence working groups and Workplace Health & Safety required operational practices committees.  

Morley, Heather

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Heather Morley is proud to serve as Executive Director of Inn from the Cold, one of Alberta’s largest family homeless-serving agencies.  Heather brings almost 30 years of progressive experience in the human services sector and has worked for numerous community-based and government organizations across Canada and in the United States in front line, clinical and leadership capacities. The focus of her work has always been families. 

Most recently Heather was the Vice President of Programs & Services at the YWCA Calgary,  She has also served as the Vice President of Development and Community Relations for Western Canada with the Canadian Women’s Foundation and as the Director of Programs at Discovery House Family Violence Prevention Society in Calgary, Alberta.  Heather was a member of the Canadian Women’s Foundation National Violence Prevention Advisory Committee from 2010 – 2012 and has presented nationally and internationally at conferences focused on domestic violence and homelessness.

Heather holds a M.A. degree with a specialization in marriage and family therapy from the University of San Francisco and has completed undergraduate studies at Queen’s University, the University of Manitoba and the University of Waterloo.  Additionally she holds a Certificate in Strategic Leadership from The Banff Centre.

Nepinak, Josie

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Josie Nepinak is the Executive Director of Awo Taan Healing Lodge Society, the only aboriginal urban women’s shelter in Alberta, and has a strong 25 year  background steeped in complex, social issues working with Aboriginal organizations and advocating for aboriginal women and families affected by family violence.  She has a degree in Women's Studies with a graduate studies in Management.  Josie is Anishinabe from the treaty four area and believes in a balanced approach, with teachings of Aboriginal wisdom and healing in combination with contemporary western methodologies in promoting the health and well-being of First Nations, Inuit and Métis individuals, families and communities.  Josie brings focus, clarity, creativity and inspiration to ensure Awo Taan Healing Lodge Society achieves results.

Radtke, Lorraine

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Lorraine Radtke, first appointed in 1982, is a Full Professor in the Department of Psychology. Over the years, she has taught courses in a number of different areas, including statistics, research design, introductory psychology, and social psychology. Currently, however, her teaching focuses primarily on Psychology of Gender and Qualitative Inquiry in Psychology. For the 2013-2014 academic year, she will serve as the Director of Undergraduate Studies in the Department of Psychology. Other administrative posts have included Associate Head, Department of Psychology and Associate Dean (Student Affairs and Academic Programs), Faculty of Social Sciences. Her research interests centre on the psychology of women. She is the Alberta academic provincial coordinator for the Healing Journey project, a longitudinal study of women living in the Prairie Provinces, who have experienced intimate partner abuse. Data collection for this project is completed, but data analysis is ongoing. She is also a member of an interdisciplinary research team conducting a randomized controlled trial of an educational intervention aimed at young women at university, a group that is known to be at high risk of sexual assault. The intervention is aimed at reducing completed sexual assault rates, and participants will be followed for up to two years after they complete the program. Other research interests include mothering and women’s identities in relation to discourses of femininity and feminism.

Silverstone, Andrea

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Andrea is the Executive Director of Peer Support Services for Abused Women (PSSAW), Co-Chair of the Calgary Domestic Violence Collective (CDVC), Shalom Bayit Coordinator at Jewish Family Service Calgary (JFSC) and Vice-President of Calgary Action Committee on Housing and Homelessness (CACHH). She is a highly respected community partner and a collaborative leader.

Andrea has been working in the domestic violence sector for 15 years. Andrea has a background in Social Work and Judaic/Talmudic Law, having attended Lindenbaum College in Jerusalem and York University in Toronto. In recognition of her development and implementation of innovative programming that addresses bullying, violence and domestic abuse in the Jewish community Andrea was awarded the Association of Jewish Family and Child Agencies 2013 Goodman Award.

Beginning her career in Calgary at the Awo Taan Native Women’s Shelter, Andrea later transitioned into her current role as the Executive Director of Peer Support Services for Abused Women (PSSAW), a Calgary based agency that is focused on the elimination of domestic violence through both individual and systemic change. Andrea is also involved in supporting the Jewish Community in Calgary to address domestic violence through her role as the Shalom Bayit Coordinator at JFSC. (Shalom Bayit means peace in the home in Hebrew, one of the highest values in Judaism)

In addition to her position at PSSAW and JFSC, Andrea Co-Chairs the Calgary Domestic Violence Collective (CDVC) which has been an active committee in Calgary’s domestic and sexual violence continuum of care for over 30 years. Beginning as a small committee, the group has grown into a collective of over 50 Partners in and around Calgary committed to ending family violence. Together, CDVC represents a coordinated response and a united voice in response to family violence in Calgary. In 2013 CDVC was awarded the United Way’s Together We Can Spirit of Gold award.

“It is not incumbent upon you to complete the work, but neither are you at liberty to desist from it"
Rabbi Tarfon – 2nd century CE

Tomlinson, Debra

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Deb Tomlinson MSW, RSW
Chief Executive Officer
Association of Alberta Sexual Assault Services

For over twenty years, Deb has worked passionately with community and government stakeholders to raise awareness of sexual violence and to increase access to services and support for Albertans affected. Her leadership and social change work has been recognized with awards from the Alberta College of Social Workers as well as the Government of Alberta. Most recently, Deb was named one of 20 Compelling Calgarians for 2018 by the Calgary Herald.

In 2004, Deb and her colleagues fostered a partnership with the provincial government which resulted in government funding for specialized sexual assault services – a first for Alberta. More recently, in response to a historic increase in survivors coming forward for help, Deb and her colleagues were successful in receiving $8.1 M to increase services for sexual assault survivors in Alberta. Deb played an instrumental role in the award winning “I Believe You” public awareness campaign and the creation of Alberta’s first Sexual Violence Action Plan. Deb is serving her second term on Alberta’s Family Violence Death Review Committee and also co-chairs a national organization, Ending Violence Association of Canada and is a member of the Advisory Council on the Federal Strategy to Prevent Gender-based Violence.

Warthe, Gaye

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Dr. Gaye Warthe, RSW, is an Associate Professor and Chair of the Department of Social Work and Disability Studies at Mount Royal University. Prior to coming to Mount Royal Gaye has extensive practice experience including child welfare, Louise Dean School, the Calgary Board of Education, and Alberta Children’s Hospital.  As a private consultant she contributed to the development and implementation of domestic violence screening protocols, was involved in establishing the domestic violence court in Calgary, and was the lead consultant on the Family and Sexual Violence Sector Review. Gaye is the principal investigator on a dating violence prevention project at Mount Royal called Stepping Up, she developed the Dating Relationship Scales to measure dating violence in a young adult population, and is the principal investigator in a multi-year dating violence prevalence study. Gaye serves on the steering committee for RESOLVE Alberta, is a member of the board with Discovery House Family Violence Prevention Society, the board representative on the Alberta Council of Women Shelters, and is on the Advisory Committee of Shift: The Project to End Domestic Violence.