Board of Directors
President (Medicine Hat)Kent became a director on VAD's board in 2013. In 2015, Kent was elected to be the new president of the board.
“Volunteering gives me a chance to give back to the community and make a difference,” says Kent. And give back he does. He is president of his local Elks Club. Before joining VAD he was the chair of the Advisory Committee on Disability Issues (ACDI) for the City of Medicine Hat, and representative for ACDI on the Social Development Advisory Board.
Kent is particularly interested in raising awareness about the employment barriers faced by many people with disabilities. To this end, he was involved with the Alberta Disabilities Forum’s employment working group for two years and has served on the Employment Equity Committee at the bank for the past 13 years. He is pleased to be a part of the VAD board because he “wants to be involved in an organization that is set up to represent the interests of people with disabilities.”
Kent has been using a wheelchair for 26 years and was involved in wheelchair sports for some of that time. When he called Edmonton home, he played basketball with the Canadian Wheelchair Basketball League and trained for field events at the Rick Hansen Steadward Centre.
Treasurer (Wabamun)Art became a member of VAD's board in 2011.
Art knows Alberta well. He grew up in Canmore, made Airdrie home for 20 years and more recently has lived in Fort McMurray and Wabamun. As well, in his recent stint as a Community Development Coordinator with the Canadian Paraplegic Association, he visited more than a dozen Alberta towns, raising awareness about disability issues.
No matter where he hangs his hat, Art strives to make a difference in his community. Currently, he chairs the West Yellowhead MS Society’s community advisory board and is treasurer on the VAD board. He is continuously impressed by the people he meets through his work with disability organizations. He says, “I’m always so amazed by the breadth of knowledge and depth of experience I encounter. The get-it-done attitude is something we can all learn and benefit from.”
Art has worked in a variety of jobs. He has been a blaster, an equipment operator, a water quality specialist, a military policeman in the Canadian Armed Forces, a communications cable electrician and, after his workplace injury in 1988, a freelance writer and corporate communicator.
Recently, Art became interested in municipal politics. From 2007 to 2009, he served as a councillor for the Village of Wabamun. In this role, he represented the municipality on the Capital Region Board during the development of the Capital Region Growth Plan. He reprised his role on Wabamun’s council in the October 2013 election.
Art grew up in Canmore, where he developed his love of the outdoors. When he and his wife need a break from the day-to-day busyness of volunteering and work, they continue to explore the province that Art has come to know so well. They’ll point their Jeep in a new direction and travel Alberta’s back roads or find a river to float in or a lake to sail on.
Director (La Crete)Denise Braun has served as a director on VAD's board since 2015.
Denise lives a busy life as a rancher, wife, and mother of five. She enjoys working with horses on their ranch.
Director (Edmonton)Ian became a director on VAD's board in 2013.
Ian brings a unique combination of humour and hope to his work as a motivational speaker, where he often says that "a brain injury is easy to die from . . . but harder to live with."
Most recently, Ian has spoken to occupational health students at the University of Alberta, City of Edmonton bus drivers at City Hall, and new employees at the Glenrose Hospital. At these events, he encourages understanding and acceptance and advocates for accessibility. In 2009, Ian undertook a cross-country train trip, from Vancouver to Montreal, on behalf of the Brain Injury Association of Canada. Along the way, Ian spoke to various groups about injury prevention—with his most notable address taking place at the House of Commons in Ottawa.
Ian advocates for persons with disabilities through a variety of volunteer activities. He served on the Advisory Board for Persons with Disabilities for the City of Edmonton, the Brain Injury Society of Alberta board (for two terms), the Friends of Medicare board and is a member of the NAIT-Glenrose Steering Committee. As well, he writes a monthly column called Community and Ability for Boyle McCauley News. In 2008, Ian received the Glenrose Award of Courage.
Ian considers himself a proud Canadian, an avid writer, a self-advocate and a humanitarian. He is a five-star cook and appreciates fine music. He credits his parents for raising him and his two older sisters in a warm and loving home and teaching them the value of good humour and fair play.
In spite of his daily battles with the aftermath of his brain injury, which he sustained in 2004, Ian says he "will never be a victim, only a survivor."
NominatingMichelle Bissell came onto the board of directors of the VAD in October 2014 as an advisory board member. She has since been elected as a full board member on May 29, 2015.
Michelle has worked as the Education Team Leader at the Cerebral Palsy Association of Alberta. She also participates with an occupational therapy class at the University of Alberta as a panelist for their sexuality workshop. Recently, Michelle has taken an active role in VAD's school education awareness program. She is keenly interested in talking to the students about disabilities and has spoken to the four and five year olds at kindergarten classes. Michelle takes pictures of herself as a young girl to show the students what she looked like when she was of a similar age to the students. This always starts interesting questions and gets the students more involved. Michelle loves the innocent and honest questions and comments that the kindergarten students ask her.
As a person who grew up with a disability, Michelle knows fully the challenges that people with disabilities face on a daily basis. She believes people with disabilities can contribute to their communities with the proper supports in place.
Michelle is a Mutual Fund Representative with the World Financial Group, specializing in Registered Disability Savings Plans. RDSP is a specialty of Michelle’s and her knowledge in this area is extensive.
Michelle serves as chairperson of the DATS Advisory Board in Edmonton and has a history of volunteering in schools as a teacher’s aide and also was involved with Little Bits Riding Club.
Director (La Crete)Betty became a member of the VAD board in 2015.
Betty and her husband own and manage their own company. She encourages those with a disability to keep going in life.
Director (Calgary)Ava Morasch became a member of the VAD board in 2015.
When her sister became paraplegic as the result of a horrific accident, Ava became aware of accessibility needs. Her caring nature and compassion make her a strong advocate for anyone with a disability.
Ava has volunteer experience in many areas but particularly in fundraising to protect our environment. She enjoys our Alberta wilderness and is passionate about preserving and protecting endangered animals and their habitat. She enjoys camping with her husband and son and spends free time making artistic creations, especially with stained glass.