Born and raised in southern Ontario, Michael received a Bachelors of Musical Arts from UWO (University of Western Ontario) and taught 15 years private practice before completing his Masters of Theological Studies at OTS (Ontario Theological Seminary). He Began Chaplain duties at Kitchener Home for the Aged for 7 years before being hired at Edgewood in Nanaimo, BC as a Chaplain. He spent 14 years at Edgewood starting as a Chaplain then moved over to Supervising Extended Care program and eventually taking the position of Director of Continuing Care. This is where his passion lies as he could see the incredible potential for helping so many lives get back on track and live healthy productive lives for themselves and into the next generation. In June 2014, he agreed to move back to Ontario to become the National Director of Continuing Care. Since then; having spent 6 months at Bellwood Health Services as Acting Clinical Director to assist in facilitating program improvements, the position has changed into Program Development and Integration. Over the past several years, he greatly assisted all of our treatment centres, primarily in the role of assisting the clinical teams. He is also a registered CAPM (Certified Associate in Project Management.)
Eileen Kempton, Operations Manager, RPR
Eileen has many years of experience working in Business Management, Finance and Human Resource Management. Having owned and operated her own business, she has a very strong background in operations. Along with being a Registered Professional Recruiter, Eileen is also very knowledgeable in areas of Conflict Resolution, Incident Investigation and Occupational Health & Safety and has level 1 MANDT training. Eileen attended Halifax West High School and Mount St Vincent University. Eileen has a passion for continuous learning and enjoys helping people.
I am Dr Drysdale, M.D. Medical Director
Dr John Drysdale is a family physician in the Annapolis Valley Nova Scotia. He has a keen interest in addictions and withdrawal management, in addition to a full scope family practice. Practicing near a military base, he also has experience with veterans affairs matters, including PTSD, mental health, and chronic pain.
I am Darlene Gavel RN
Darlene graduated the Registered Nursing Program from the Yarmouth School of Nursing in 1986. She has practiced at her full scope in British Columbia, New Hampshire, Arizona and then home to Nova Scotia. Darlene is also trained to teach CPR and first aid and is a Legal Nurse Consultant. She has experience in critical care, occupational health and safety, long term care and most recently in addictions. She also has experience in infection control, ICU and cardiac care. Darlene conducts the telephone intakes on the clients before they arrive at Ledgehill or Oakhill. She approaches the clients in a kind and understanding way, which puts the clients at ease. Darlene prides herself in her sense of compassion and empathy.
I am Kaiti Stanton LPN
Kaiti graduated from NBCC in 2015 with an award for academic excellence. During college she focused her research efforts on substance use and harm reduction. She has a background working with seniors in long term care, acute care, and most recently at a tertiary psychiatric facility in New Brunswick. She has completed continuing education in addiction medicine and maintained a strong belief in life long learning. She has always had a passion for mental health and addiction, the two are greatly intertwined and help make up the complex world our clients face. She believes in a holistic approach to client care and strives to help improve their well being and experience during treatment and recovery.
I am Amanda Carson LPN
Amanda is a native of Yorkshire, England and immigrated to Canada in 1997. She graduated from the LPN program at NSCC in 1999, with an award for excellence in communication. She completed the Mental Health First Aid course in 2016 and has been recertified in Pharmacology in 2014. She is certified in Standard First Aid and in Non-Violent Crisis Intervention. Most recently she has completed the NSHA Palliative Care Course. She has worked in Long Term Care, Dermatology and Research/ Clinical Trials at the Transitional Care Unit of the Victoria General Hospital in Halifax. She uses a positive approach and a sense of humor when dealing with clients.
Agnieszka Gallina MA, RCT-C, CCC
Agnieszka has a BA in Psychology from Dalhousie University where she focused her studies on learning theory and the interplay of environment and behaviour. Following her passion in how unhelpful habits and behaviours lead to dysfunction in interpersonal relationships and connection within, she continued her studies in applied behavioural analysis, completing her advanced diploma in behavioural intervention. She has since worked with young adults with challenging behaviours, and instructed for Dalhousie’s College of Continuing education where she helped students reach academic success through an understanding of how emotional reactions and behavioural patterns can lower one’s ability to succeed in reaching goals in life. With her Masters in Counselling Psychology, Agnieszka works as a counsellor in addiction focusing on compassion-focused therapy that is client directed, utilizing CBT, ACT and DBT. With her experience with treatment for eating disorders, Agnieszka understands the importance of reconnecting clients with their self-identity, self-worth and self-compassion in healing the whole and building emotional and physical health through multidisciplinary approaches.
D. Jennifer Smith, MA, RCT-C, CCC
Jenn’s work as a pastoral care teacher while living in England ignited her interest in counselling. Obtaining her Master of Arts, Counselling Psychology degree has led to the development of a client-based philosophy that acknowledges the importance of a biopsychosocial approach, while addressing addiction and mental health issues. Narrative, cognitive behavioural, cognitive processing, and emotionally focused are among the therapies she draws on, as well as using creative modalities with clients. A life-long learner, Jenn has degrees in business, fine arts and education. Jenn enjoys visiting her grown daughters and also loves spending time with her husband cruising the English canal system on their narrow boat.
Joan Donaldson.S.S, AA Guidance and Counselling
Joan joined Oakhill Treatment and Recovery Centre in September, 2020 as an experienced Therapist with a demonstrated history of working with individuals and families struggling with Addiction and Recovery. She holds the positions of both the Addictions Counselor as well as the House Manager at Oakhill and is skilled in Addiction Treatment; Recovery and After Care, Emotional Wellness, Conflict Resolution, Life Transitions, and Work/Life Balance. Joan has brought to this position previous experience working in both Detox and Treatment and Recovery Centres in Alberta as well as Addiction Counselling here in Nova Scotia. Working as part of a strong team is very important to Joan and she truly appreciates and respects the team approach in addiction treatment and recovery work.
Zarrin Ghaferi, MA. RCT-C
Stacy Darku, MA, RCT-C
Stacy has obtained his Masters of Counselling Psychology degree through Yorkville University. She began her career working at a homeless shelter for women in New Brunswick. She has worked with people that have faced addictions, trauma, sexual abuse, and domestic violence. She uses a variety of therapeutic approaches and will adjust to support the client’s needs. Stacy supports clients facing addiction by unpacking their trauma and help them learn skills to cope with their trauma in a healthier way. She utilizes elements of Narrative Therapy, Trauma Focused-Cognitive Behaviour Therapy, Dialectical Behaviour Therapy, and Focusing. Stacy’s aim is to support our community and support people that are facing trauma and addiction.
Elena Basevich, BA Psy., Recreation and Healthy Living Coordinator
I have been teaching yoga for nine years and have been practicing for over sixteen. During these nine years I have taught yoga in the Annapolis Valley, leading public classes, specialty groups and meditation workshops. I love my work! I have also set up yoga classes in many of the public schools in this area, making yoga part of the gym curriculum and facilitating after school programs for staff and students alike. I enjoy cycling, skating, hiking in the woods with my dog and practice yoga every day. I feel that my calling is bringing health and fitness into people’s lives, becoming aware of their body and moving it as much and as often as possible is the path of happiness and health. Rural Annapolis valley is an amazing place to enjoy nature, the forest, the stars, and the stillness associated with country living. Being close to nature brings us back to ourselves.
Susan MacDonald, Program Assistant
Susan grew up, lived and worked most of her life in Nova Scotia. In the year 2010, after a career in private business and public service she relocated to the Annapolis Valley to begin her journey in recovery. Rather than return to the business world Susan chose to become part of our team as she truly believes part of her recovery is to “pay it forward” by sharing her personal “Experience, Strength and Hope” with others beginning their journeys in recovery. Susan’s passion for life and recovery is reflected in the growth she inspires with each client with whom she shares.
Wally and Olivia, Our therapy dogs
Olivia has just recently joined the team all the way from Texas, with her southern drawl and her the most beautiful brown eyes. We are lucky to have Olivia running around and interacting with our clients, and they are lucky to have her. What a great addition to our family. Wally joined our team all the way from Florida. Wally is a pure breed Standard Poodle. Still a pup he comes from a long line of therapy dogs. The clients love him as much as he loves them. Take Wally snowshoeing on our beautiful trails brings total serenity and is therapy in itself. What a great addition to our team. We all luv you Wally & Olivia