OPDI Board of Directors
OPDI has a governance type board whose activities include
- establishing long term strategic plans, based on member identified needs,
- identifying annual goals and objectives for the organization,
- overseeing fiscal accountabilities to membership and funder(s) and reporting of same
- engaging/evaluating an Executive Director who is accountable to the Board, and who in turn is responsible engages/evaluates staff who are accountable to the ED
- bringing forward information about members needs and interests to inform OPDI positions
Directors are not involved in day to day operations and management of the organization.
OPDI’s board model focuses on being “skills-based” as opposed to “representative”. We use a Skills and Diversity Matrix to identify experiences that contribute to the interests of the organization and its members and to assess our bench strength for the nomination process. Although the directors’ role is not to represent specific groups or regions, we aim to reflect the geographic and demographic diversity of our member groups – groups which may operate in urban, rural or remote settings and whose levels of empowerment range from complete independence, through various degrees of autonomy, to being small programs within mainstream mental health service organizations or institutions.
OPDI has nine directors who are elected to two-year terms of office and may be re-elected for up to three terms. The exception to this is when vacant positions are appointed mid-term by the Board. We attach expiry dates to positions in an attempt to facilitate succession and achieve balance between newer and longer serving directors.
Board applicants must be members in good standing of an OPDI member organization. One director may come from the Associate membership. Director applications are considered by a nominating committee which invites applications, conducts interviews, and recommends a slate to the Board which is in turn moved to members at the Annual General Meeting. The Executive (President, Vice President, Treasurer and Secretary) are elected by the Board just after the AGM.
The Board’s current meeting schedule includes two day face to face “retreats” on a quarterly basis, usually at weekends, plus teleconferences as needed. For timely handling of issues we also use email discussion threads and electronic voting where appropriate and possible, with any e-votes ratified at the next board meeting.
We welcome and encourage our members to bring good candidates to the attention of the nominating committee by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org or by speaking to a member of the Board.
Andrea Schaefer / Chair/President (Carleton Place)
Andrea Schaefer is an experienced Peer Support Worker, Mental Health Advocate and Volunteer working for The Mental Health Support Project in Lanark County. Driven by her passion to end shame and stigma around mental illness, Andrea uses compassion, active listening and her personal experiences to support, educate and bring awareness to systemic issues in our Mental Health Care System. With an accomplished 15-year career in the insurance industry as a Chartered Insurance Professional, Andrea brings her acquired business acumen, love of working with people, auditing skills, leadership qualities, problem solving abilities and conflict resolution experience to her role on the board at OPDI. Andrea is a seasoned 200hr Yoga Teacher Registered with Yoga Alliance International and holds advanced training in yoga with mental health and addictions and yoga for trauma.
Andrea envisions Peer Support Workers as the next recognized heath care professionals in Ontario. Andrea believes the most under-used resource in Mental Health is Peer Support. Trained Individuals with lived experience, ready to listen, in a safe way can fit just about any model of care. Access to professional development, standardized certification, and streamlining expectations of Peer Support are areas of special interest.
Andrea is an active member on the Family and Caregiver Advisory Committee for Open Doors Child and Youth Mental Health of Lanark County. She has been a is a Compassionate Inquiry student with Dr. Gabor Mate since 2019. In her spare time Andrea loves spending time laughing with friends, visiting family, taking pictures, walking in nature and listening to music.
Andrea lives in Carleton Place with her husband, 2 girls and mini schnauzer Ruby.
Tyrone Gamble / Vice-President (Ottawa)
Tyrone Gamble is a peer support worker and mental health and addictions advocate in Ottawa. He provides peer support in both the community and in several hospitals. Psychiatric Survivors of Ottawa is his community and source of support and guidance. His passion revolves around supporting people living with voices and/or parallel realities. Part of his interest and passion for hearing voices and parallel realities comes from his own lived experience and the expertise he has gained supporting others who share these and similar experiences.
This is Tyrone’s second go around on the OPDI Board of Directors. He was first time on the OPDI Board of Directors was from 2010-2016. He values the organization, its mission and vision so much that he was eager to sit on the Board again and be of service to it in a way that makes the best use of his gifts and strengths.
Calvin Prowse / Treasurer (Hamilton)
Calvin is a resident of West Hamilton and a social work student at McMaster University, where they use the frameworks of Mad Studies, Critical Disability Studies, and Disability Justice to inform their work. They are a community organizer (and peer supporter!) within mental health, disability, and 2SLGBTQIA+ communities. They believe we should be able to access the supports we want / need in a caring environment that is free of violence and that supports our dignity and autonomy.
In addition, they also work with in/accessibility, in/equity, and dis/ableism, especially within post-secondary education. They enjoy exploring alternate ways of knowing / learning / meaning-making, and the intersections between disability, madness/mental health, and 2SLGBTQIA+ identities.
In their free time, Calvin enjoys eating depression pizza with friends during the solstice, hanging out with their family of cats and plants, chatting with others about our experiences of disability / disablement / psychiatry / psychiatrization, and thinking about magic and time-travel.
They are passionate about leveraging the strengths of lived experience, peer support, storytelling, Madvocacy, and consumer/survivor community/ies through the lens of epistemic justice and as an entry point for building transformative futures.
Percy D'Souza / Secretary (Whitby)
Percy is a husband, father, son, brother and friend. He believes in the uniqueness of everything and every experience as a manifestation of the formless, timeless, eternal. The joy within him finds expression in everything – being with his wife Madonna and son Cyrus, family, friends, chores, sports, music, work, nature…everything.
Until 2016 Percy was groomed in and pursued a path of ‘outward’ success; academic excellence through elite schools and universities, a high-flying career in healthcare sales and marketing with industry-leading corporations, material acquisitions, financial freedom…. Then something gave within. Percy spent most of the next 2 years in what he calls his ‘dark nights of the soul’. This included diagnoses of severe, treatment-resistant, psychotic depression, long stints as a mental health inpatient, two rounds of Electroconvulsive Therapy [ECT], all manners of community mental health services. This was on the outside. Within he was constantly consumed by fear, shame, hopelessness, apathy.
By God’s grace, manifested in the love and perseverance of his wife, family, friends and caregivers Percy came through his ‘dark nights’ around March 2018 a transformed person. Discovered his inner purpose – to apply his considerable skills, talents and experiences to help others, especially the marginalized among us, live full, meaningful lives. Is grateful to be. Takes nothing for granted. Passionately lives in the moment.
Among several roles in the Mental Health Services space Percy serves as a Peer Support Specialist at the Recovery College in CMHA Durham.
Alise de Bie / Director (Hamilton)
Alise has been actively involved in peer support in postsecondary institutions over the last decade: establishing and facilitating a peer support group for Mad students, an accessibility network for employees with disabilities, and teaching courses about Mad/consumer/survivor/peer movements. Alise completed their PhD (Mad Studies, Disability Studies, Social Work, Education) in 2019 and is currently a Postdoctoral Research Fellow at the MacPherson Institute for Leadership, Innovation, and Excellence in Teaching at McMaster University where their research focuses on promoting social justice and service user/peer knowledges in postsecondary teaching and learning. Alise is particularly excited about and committed to building connections between researchers, postsecondary education, and peer movements.
Alise has recently discovered audiobooks and loves "reading" while taking early morning walks around their east Hamilton neighbourhood. They are grateful for their network of lunatikin/crazykin.
Tina Behdinan / Director (Toronto)
Tina is a physician who completed her medical training in 2019 and is currently pursuing specialized training in psychiatry at the University of Toronto. She entered the field of medicine with a desire to work collaboratively with like-minded individuals to provide care to those experiencing psychic pain and/or emotional/mental distress. She plans to practice with a trauma-informed approach in acute and chronic care settings, looking to pioneers such as Judith Herman, Bessel Van der Kolk, and Janina Fischer as role models. Her research interests include therapeutic interventions for individuals with lived experience of interpersonal trauma and its sequelae. She is passionate about social determinants of health and looks forward to a future where access to a variety of community-based supports, including livable income and safe/stable housing, is viewed by governing institutions as an integral, rather than as an adjunct, to traditional models of care. She values human connection and hopes that peer support initiatives become more widely disseminated and accessible as a way of reducing isolation/loneliness and fulfilling needs of individuals seeking different kinds of care than what is encompassed by current systems.
Rachel Bromberg / Director (Toronto)
Rachel Bromberg is the Co‐Founder of the Reach Out Response Network, which is an advocacy focused non‐profit dedicated to supporting the city of Toronto in designing and implementing a civilian‐led mental health crisis service, which will be piloted in January 2022. She is also the Executive Director of the International Crisis Response Association, which is a service providers network connecting folks across Canada and the United States who are building or leading community responder programs in their communities.
Rachel is also a JD/MSW student at the University of Toronto, and she works with the education department at the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health providing trauma‐informed de‐escalation training to inpatient and outpatient staff.