Archived Spotlights

Archived Spotlights

Vanier Children's Services is pleased to announce Dr. Jeff Carter in new role, "DIRECTOR OF QUALITY IMPROVEMENT"

On September 29, 2014, Dr. Jeff Carter assumed the senior leadership role as our Director of Quality Improvement.  During the past 14 years, Dr. Carter has practiced clinical psychology, supervised psychology students (Western), residents (London Psychology Consortium), and psychologists in supervised practice (College of Psychologists), overseen research initiatives and partnerships, and has provided strong direction in outcome evaluation/performance management at Vanier.

We are very pleased to welcome Dr. Carter into this important leadership role, as Vanier Children's Services begins its journey as the "Lead Agency for Children and Youth Mental Health" for London-Middlesex County.

Joanne Sherin
Executive Director

Vanier Children's Services has a new Director of Clinical Services!

We are very pleased to welcome Leo Desjardins back into the Vanier fold on February 6, 2013, as the incoming Director of Clinical Services.  Leo previously worked on the Community Mental Health Service Team (formerly the Family School Team) for many years, providing bilingual family counselling services.  During this time, Leo deepened his practice in trauma work, specifically with immigrants and refugees who had experienced political/war trauma.  Leo initiated Vanier's Francophone Crisis-Intake Service and was instrumental in advocating for additional bilingual mental health services for children and families in our community.  He has provided fee-for-service bilingual counselling to the agency during the past year.

Leo Desjardins was born and raised in Sudbury, Ontario.  He completed a B.A. in Psychology at Laurentian University and an M.A. in Sexology at the Universite du Quebec a Montreal.  Leo pursued his studies in marriage and family therapy at the Interfaith Pastoral Counselling Centre in Kitchener - Waterloo and at the Family Service Thames Valley in London, Ontario.  Leo brings to Vanier a rich work experience in the area of child, couple, and family therapy.  He has considerable knowledge in the area of male victims of sexual abuse, and fatherhood.  He has also been a strong advocate for the development of French language services and has been a community member with the Mother Reach Coalition.  Leo has worked in the field of children's mental health both in his home town of Sudbury and previously at Vanier Children's Services.  For the past five years, Leo pursued private practice and his artistic endeavours.

The Management and Staff are delighted Leo will be contributing his unique perspectives and clinical acumen to Vanier in February 2013!!

Joanne Sherin, Executive Director


Vanier Welcomes Joanne Sherin as its new Executive Director!

Vanier Children's Services is pleased to announce that Joanne Sherin has accepted the role of Vanier's newest Executive Director, effective immediately.

Joanne Sherin first laid the foundation for her career in public service when she attended at Queen's University in Kingston, King's University College and Althouse College at the University of Western Ontario where she earned her B.A., B.S.W. and M.Ed. (Counselling Psychology).  Since obtaining her professional qualifications, Joanne has dedicated her life, both professionally and as a volunteer, to helping the most vulnerable members of our society.

Joanne practiced clinical social work in community mental health settings for over twenty-five years.  During that time, she specialized in working with survivors of child sexual abuse and woman abuse and provided training services to her fellow professionals in these service areas.  Joanne is also credited with founding a range of Adult Survivor of Child Sexual Abuse therapy services in her private practice in addition to the Adult Survivor Services Coordinating Committee during the early 1980's.

In addition to working on many community initiatives and committees to improve the social services network within London-Middlesex, Joanne has also volunteered her time and expertise to organizations and causes close to her heart.  In 1983, she served as a founding member of the Changing Ways, Inc. Board of Directors.  From 2003 to 2009, Joanne served as Chair and Board Member of the Sexual Assault Centre London.

Not only does Joanne possess an impressive clinical background with a history that exhibits a commitment to volunteerism, she brings a repertoire of relevant management experience.  Joanne began to build on her management experience when she assisted in the opening of Women's Community House's Wellington Street Shelter in 1992.  She also served as Director of Community Counselling at Family Service London (now Family Services Thames Valley) for a number of years prior to focusing her attentions on the Children's Mental Health Sector.

Joanne's relationship with Vanier Children's Services began in 2005 when she accepted the position of Director of Clinical Services.  Since that time, she has served Vanier and its families with an unparalleled level of professionalism, integrity and compassion.

Since becoming Vanier's Interim Executive Director in January of 2012, Joanne has excelled in the role, displaying the combination of compassion and strength of character Vanier was looking for in its new Executive Director.

On behalf of the Vanier Children's Services Board of Directors and the rest of the Vanier community, we wish Joanne all the best as she takes on this new role.  We look forward to working with her in the years to come.

Janice Straub, President, Vanier Children's Services Board of Directors

May Court Award - Champion/Advocate

The May Court Club of London was instrumental in establishing Vanier in 1965.  During the subsequent 46 years they have continued to provide funding and have always been represented on the Vanier Board of Directors.

The Champion/Advocate for Children's Mental Health Award is presented to a person, agency or group that has had a positive impact on the emotional health of children/youth in the London/Middlesex community.

The Award this year was presented at Vanier's Annual General Meeting, held June 27, 2012 to Carman Dawson.  Carman was nominated by Vanier staff, Terri Lane and Devonne Strachan.

Carman Dawson - May Court Award

Terri Lane, Carman Dawson, Devonne Strachan


2012-13 United Way Funding - "Focused Family Therapy & Internship Training Program"

United Way London-Middlesex continues to lend its support for "Focused Family Therapy & Internship Program!"  We received an allocation of $69,000 for 2012-2013 which allows Vanier to plan for the program's future.  The program had a busy year in 2011-2012 serving many families having children with mental health concerns and behavioural issues.  Interns and students have provided countless hours with these families while they were honing their family therapy skills.


At the end of February 2011, we received confirmation from the United Way of London & Middlesex that Vanier would be 1 of 3 new organizations to receive program funding!! The United Way will be adding their support ($65,000) to the "Focused Family Therapy & Internship Training Program". Approximately 120 children age 7-14 years and their families are served in this program annually, while at the same time providing in-depth clinical training for up to 12 interns & students in children's mental health interventions. This program has existed primarily on grant funding since its inception in 2006, so this funding will assist in further program development. Our CAFAS results and outcomes are clinically significant, as most children experience a reduction in their symptoms and families develop more resiliency and quality of life. More than 75% of our interns & students go on to employment, improved employment and/or further education in the field. Vanier thanks the United Way for their vote of confidence in this agency and their support for our community's well-being!

RBC Donation

On October 19, 2011 Vanier Children's Services received a generous grant of $32,000 from RBC: Donations to support French language counselling services.  The RBC Foundation has supported Vanier's services since 2007.  The grant will contribute to bilingual Crisis-Intake and family counselling services during the next year.  We thank Gus Kotsiomitis, Brian Henderson and their colleagues for their vision in raising the profile of children's mental health issues in Ontario.

Subsequent to this announcement, Vanier also learned of a second grant of $9,000 from the Ministry of Children & Youth Services under the "Canada-Ontario Agreement on French Language Services" to support specialized group training for Francophone families.

We look forward to enhancing our bilingual service capacity in the months ahead!

RBC Presentation 2011

L to R Brian Henderson, Anne Cyr, Joanne Sherin, Willy Van Klooster,
Gus Kotsiomitis

The Honourable Michael J.L. Kirby

On September 28, 2011, The Honourable Michael J. Kirby spoke at Vanier's 4th Annual Breakfast - Child and Youth Mental Health:  Successes Today Mean Brighter Futures. Click here for more information.

2011 Willy & M KirbyWilly Van Klooster, Executive Director, Vanier; The Honourable Michael Kirby

May Court Recognition Award

The May Court Club of London was instrumental in establishing Vanier in 1965.  During the subsequent 46 years they have continued to provide funding and have always been represented on the Vanier Board of Directors.  This award is presented to a person, agency or group that has had a positive impact on the emotional health of children/youth in the London-Middlesex community as:
- a Champion/Advocate for children's mental health.
- an Unsung Hero whose contributions have improved the lives of children and families.
- a Partnership (formal or informal) with Vanier in serving client needs.
Today, at the Breakfast, an Award was presented in each category.

May Court 2011 Helen Lowe

CHAMPION/ADVOCATE Awarded to Helen Lowe, program supervisor (retired).  Peter Steckenreiter, Regional Director, Ministry of Children & Youth Services, accepting from Sheila Hughes, President, May Court Club, on behalf of Helen Lowe.

May Court Dave

UNSUNG HERO Awarded to David Jamieson, Vanier driver; accepting Award from Sheila Hughes.

May Court 2011 Chelsea Green

PARTNERSHIP Awarded to Chelsea Green Children's Centre.  Geri Doerr, Executive Director (right) accepting award from Sheila Hughes.


The Krista Sepp Memorial Award

Vanier supports the Krista Sepp Awards and this year we were delighted to nominate Sandra Pontes for the HORIZON Award! An enthusiastic troupe of 11 colleagues plus Sandra's husband, mother, and sister attended the Awards ceremony in Toronto.   Click here to read more ........Congratulations Sandra!


Ontarians are making a difference!

Each year the Ministry of Citizenship and Immigration, through the Honours and Awards Secretariat, honour Ontarians who make our province a better place to live.  They celebrate the contributions of seniors and young people, recognize the bravery of those who serve as police officers and firefighters and acknowledge outstanding achievement in education, health care, business, science and medicine, community service, the arts, and many other fields.  They honour the volunteers of every age who contribute selflessly to building caring communities across Ontario.  These individuals serve as an example to us all.
This year (2010) Vanier nominated six individuals for the Volunteer Service Awards:

  • Elise Feightner
  • Sherry Foran
  • Joanne Reid
  • Susan Tanner
  • Wendi Waters
  • Stephen Bolton

We are very fortunate to have such amazing volunteers at Vanier Children's Services!



Don Efron receives the 2009 Elizabeth Manson Award for Community Service in Children's Mental Health!  Read more on the Award. (PDF download)

Don has been an employee of Vanier Children's Services since 1978, holding down a number of roles over the past 30 years.  His area of practice has been primarily focused on the provision of family therapy within a children's mental health setting.  Don developed and facilitated groups for children of alcoholics in the Outpatient Clinic at Vanier in the late 1980's.  Don has also acted in the role of Team Leader within the Residential Treatment program at Vanier, providing direction and clinical expertise to a multidisciplinary team.  He has stepped in to support the work of the Early Years Team, Intensive Family Services program and leads the community of practice group for the Child & Family Therapists at the agency.  During the past four years, Don has been the cornerstone of an innovative clinical training program for professionals and students, known as the "Focused Family Therapy Program".  This program also provides valuable Canadian experience and intensive supervision for new Canadian professionals.  His widely recognized acclaim in the field has drawn both staff and clinical trainees to Vanier over many years.

In 1980, Don developed "The Journal of Strategic & Systemic Therapies" published by Guilford Press, N.Y. USA.  He held the position of Senor Editor for over 20 years.  It is now known as "The Journal of systemic Therapies" with Don being the "Editor Emeritus".  This journal has had many contributing editors and writers including established leaders in the field:  Steve deShazer, Insoo Berg, Michael White, Harlene Anderson, Harry Goolishan, Bill O'Hanlan, Evan Imber-Black, Karl Tomm, and Eve Lipchick, to name a few.  Due to Don's influence, a number of experts in the field have come to London to share their knowledge with community professionals.  In 1986, Don was the editor of "Journeys, The Growth of the Strategic-Systemic Therapies" (Brunnel/Mazel Press N.Y. USA).  He also co-authored the "Strategic Parenting Manual" in 1989.

During 1988, he led a two year trial of strategic family therapy known as the "Tiger-Shark Model".  Around this time, Don initiated a professional consultation group in London, Ontario involving many local therapists, many of whom continue to participate in the process.  Don also taught courses in the extern program at the Hincks-Dellcrest Centre throughout the 1980's - 1990's.  During the last few years, Don's interest and clinical work became grounded in Emotionally Focused Family Therapy.  He has provided ongoing EFFT training at Vanier and other Southwestern Ontario agencies.

Don engages children, families and professionals using an authentic and warm curiosity about human behaviour which builds the platform underlying what is in the best interests of the child.  His rather self-effacing style is non-threatening and allows families to voice their own experience as co-creators of the path towards health.  He is a team player and has gained the admiration and respect of all those who have worked with him.


Vanier Wins Award!

In March, Vanier Children's Services was awarded the 2010 London Race Relations Advisory Committee Award in the Social & Community Services category.   We were nominated by "Partners in Diversity"- a local Children's Mental Health Inter-agency Committee.   Receiving the award were Joanne Sherin & Judy Jones (Co-chairs, Vanier's Diversity Committee) and Willy Van Klooster, Executive Director.