Our Team

Our team consists of parents of premature babies and neonatal health care professionals from across Canada. 

We are pleased to introduce you to our team.

 

Fabiana Bacchini

Executive Director

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Fabiana is the Executive Director of the Canadian Premature Babies Foundation. She is a journalist and the published author of From Surviving to Thriving, a Mother’s Journey Through Infertility, Loss and Miracles.

 

While in the NICU with her surviving twin, born extremely preterm, she participated in the study of Family Integrated Care (FICare). This led her to the extensive volunteering in the NICU at Mount Sinai Hospital and to become an ambassador for FICare, travelling across Canada and internationally to share her experience with this model of care. Her son was diagnosed with cerebral palsy which continued to empower her to be a strong voice and advocate for premature babies and their families.

 

Currently, Fabiana serves as an advisor on the National Steering Committee for FICare, the Critical Care Services Ontario (ONICAC group), Child-Bright Network.  She also sits on the CIHR Institure Advisory Board of the Institute of Human Development, Child and Youth Health. She is a member of the founding committee of Global Alliance for Newborn Care, (GLANCE).

She lives in Toronto with her husband and 2 sons. 

Past committees: Cultivating Change Committee at Sinai Health System, The Change Foundation Caregiver Project, Life With a Preterm Baby.

 

Doris Sawatzky-Dickson

Board Chair

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Doris worked in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit at the Health Sciences Centre in Winnipeg for 34 years. She was a Clinical Nurse Specialist in the NICU for 20 years. She holds an appointment as a lecturer in the Rady Faculty of Health Sciences University of Manitoba. She has been a Certified Lactation Consultant, International Board of Lactation Consultant Examiners since 1999. Doris was on the board of directors of the Canadian Association of Neonatal Nurses from 2010-2019. She as also on the exam development committee for the Canadian Nurses Association Neonatal Nursing Certification Exam, and obtained her certification in 2018. In 2018 Doris joined the Board of Directors of the Canadian Premature Babies Foundation.

Doris has a passion for parents of sick and vulnerable infants. Doris led key initiatives to change how the healthcare team involved parents in decision-making and in the team. She chaired the regional Family Integrated Care initiative and conducted parent groups weekly for more than 10 years.

 

Dr. Jennifer Toye

Director

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Jennifer is a Consultant Neonatologist in the Northern Alberta Neonatal Intensive Care Program at the Stollery Children’s Hospital in Edmonton. She was born and raised in Saskatchewan. She completed her pediatrics training at the University of Saskatchewan and her neonatal perinatal medicine training at the University of Alberta. Jennifer attended the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine in London, England to obtain her Masters in Public Health.

Her special interests are maternal and child public health, family centred care, perinatal epidemiology and early childhood development. As a neonatologist, Jennifer works with premature infants and their families on a daily basis; although she believes that medical advances will continue to help individual patients, she believes the key to reducing prematurity will be prevention at the community level.

She feels privileged to have been a member of the NICU Family Advisory Care Team (FACT) at the Stollery Children’s Hospital, Edmonton in 2010-11. It is during this experience that she discovered the power and enthusiasm of parents of premature infants to advocate for their children and educate the public. Therefore she is very excited to become involved on the Board of Directors of the Canadian Premature Babies Foundation to collaborate with parents and contribute to advocating for the interests of premature babies.

 

Jan Marin

Director

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Jan Marin is a lawyer specializing in Health Law and Medical Malpractice Litigation. She is a Senior Associate at Gluckstein Personal Injury Lawyers.  Jan has a passion for serving individuals and families affected by disability, including families of injured pre-term and term infants.  She has been inspired by these experiences and is a passionate advocate.

 

Currently, Jan serves on the Ontario Trial Lawyers Board of Directors.  She is also a regular volunteer with Pro-Bono Ontario.

 

Jan lives in Toronto with husband and two children.

 
 

Karen Netzel

Director

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Karen has recently returned to Canadian Premature Babies Foundation after a period away. Karen worked alongside founder, Katharina Staub, beginning in 2012, participating in the first two parent consultative meetings our organization hosted. Karen has worked hard to develop a sustainable Family Support Program for families in Manitoba. Although it has had its challenges, Karen has been able to revamp the program over recent years and has developed a volunteer recruiting and training program, increased awareness of this program through media and promotion and has built strong partnerships throughout the hospital. Karen is a participant on committees involving FiCare, Patient Care and planning for Manitoba’s new hospital. 

 

Karen Beatie

Director

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Karen Beattie is an Associate Professor in Medicine at McMaster University and Director of Research in the Division of Rheumatology.  On faculty since 2008, Karen’s research covers a variety of rheumatology diseases that affect both adult and pediatric patients.  She is passionate about her research, the trainees who she mentors and supervises and engaging with patients and families in research.

In 2013, Karen’s son was born at McMaster Children’s Hospital at 29 weeks weighing 830 grams.  Three years later she joined the McMaster NICU’s Quality Improvement steering committee as the Parent Advisor.  She has been an active parent volunteer in the NICU ever since, providing peer support in the unit, helping with special projects, developing and improving educational materials for parents and families and helping to organize special events.  In addition, Karen is the Chair of the McMaster Children’s Hospital Family Advisory Council and is working to improve and expand the engagement of patients and families in education, research and clinical care.  

 

Dr. Yenge Diambomba

Director

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Dr. Yenge Diambomba completed her medical school at Laval University in Quebec, where she continued with a Paediatrics residency.   She then moved to Toronto in 1999 for a neonatology fellowship at the University of Toronto. She started as a staff neonatologist at Mount Sinai Hospital in 2002 and became Clinical Director of Nurseries in 2009. She is passionate about improving the quality of care for babies and their families and maximizing the clinical team’s operational efficiency with patient care through quality improvement initiatives.  

Scientific Advisory Committee

 

Marsha Campbell-Yeo

Chair

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Dr. Marsha Campbell-Yeo, a neonatal nurse practitioner and clinician scientist, is a Full Professor at the School of Nursing, Faculty of Health, Dalhousie University and holds cross appointments in the Department of Pediatrics, and Psychology and Neuroscience. Her Canada Foundation of Innovation funded research lab, MOM-LINC (Mechanisms, Outcome and Mobilization of Maternally-Led Interventions to Improve Newborn Care) is located at the IWK Health Centre. She primarily holds grants examining maternally-led interventions to improve outcomes of medically at-risk newborns specifically related to pain, stress and neurodevelopment as well as novel knowledge synthesis and dissemination methods, and digital e-heath interventions aimed at enhancing parental engagement. 

  

She has been recognized for her contributions to the field via numerous training, leadership, and research awards. Most notably, she was invited as a member of the Royal Society of Canada's College of New Scholars, Artists and Scientists, the recipient of the Inaugural Dalhousie University President’s Award for research excellence,  was named one of 150 Nurses championing innovation in health for Canada by the Canadian Nurses Association to mark the 150th anniversary of Confederation, a Canadian Institute of Health Research New Investigator Awardee, the Canadian Pain Society 2015 Early Career Awardee, and a Career Development Awardee of the Canadian Child Health Clinician Scientist Program. She is the current Treasurer and a Council Member of the Pain in Childhood Special Interest Group of the International Society for the Study of Pain, the past Secretary of the Canadian Pain Society Board of Directors and is an Executive member of the Council of International Neonatal Nurses. 

 

Dr. Nancy Feeley

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Nancy Feeley RN PhD FCAN is a Professor at the Ingram School of Nursing, Faculty of Medicine at McGill University. She also holds appointments as a Senior Researcher at the Lady Davis Institute and the Centre for Nursing Research of the Jewish General Hospital in Montreal Quebec. For the last twenty years her program of research has focused on the psychological adjustment and parenting of mothers and fathers of newborns requiring neonatal intensive care. This work is relevant to the current preoccupations of neonatology: the central role of parents in their infant’s care during hospitalization and promoting parental mental health to optimize the development of children requiring neonatal intensive care.

 

Dr. Thierry Lacaze

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Dr. Thierry Lacaze-Masmonteil assumed leadership of the Maternal Infant Child Youth Research Network (MICYRN) in May 2018. He received his medical degree from the University Paris 5 - René Descartes in 1993 and a PhD in biological sciences at the University Paris 7 - Pierre et Marie Curie in 1995. He completed a fellowship in Neonatology in 1997 and a Master in Epidemiology in 2000. He was appointed professor of Pediatrics at the University Paris 11 in 1997. Thierry moved to Edmonton, Alberta, in 2003 to become the inaugural director of the Women and Children Health Research Institute (WCHRI) in 2006. In 2010, He was recruited as a senior scientist at the Children's Hospital of Eastern Ontario (CHEO) Research Institute and was the scientific director of the Clinical Research Unit at CHEO from 2011 to 2015. Since 2016, Thierry has been the section head of Neonatology at the Cumming School of Medicine, and the regional program director of Neonatology at Alberta Health Services. His areas of study include clinical trials with an emphasis on medications.

 

Dr. Michael Narvey

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Michael Narvey, MD, FRCPC, FAAP

Section Head, Neonatology; Medical Director of the Child Health Transport Team; Health Sciences Centre, Winnipeg, Manitoba

 

Dr. Narvey began his training in Pediatrics at the University of Manitoba in Winnipeg where he completed a year of further training in Neonatology.  This was followed by two years of Neonatal fellowship at the University of Alberta in Edmonton. Afterwards he began his career as a Neonatologist in the same city and over the 6 years he spent there, his career included both clinical and administrative duties including 4 years as the Fellowship Program Director and two years as the Medical Director for a level II unit.  In late 2010 he accepted a position in Winnipeg to become the Section Head of Neonatology and continues to hold this post.  In 2016 he took on the additional role of Medical Director of the Child Health Transport Team.  In 2015 he became a member of the Canadian Pediatric Society’s Fetus and Newborn Committee and in 2019 took over as Chair of the same.

His interests predominantly lie in the use of non-invasive technology to minimize painful procedures during an infants stay in the NICU. He is active on social media and has a passion for fundraising and is an active board member of the Children’s Hospital Foundation of Manitoba.

 

Dr. Steven Miller

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Dr. Steven Miller is Head of the Division of Neurology and the Centre for Brain & Mental Health at the Hospital for Sick Children, Professor of Pediatrics at the University of Toronto, and Senior Scientist in the Neuroscience & Mental Health Program at the Research Institute of SickKids. He holds the Bloorview Children’s Hospital Foundation Chair in Pediatric Neuroscience.

 

Dr. Miller and his team focus on improving the clinical care of newborns requiring intensive care such as those born preterm or with congenital heart disease or born preterm. Findings from his research program inform new strategies to promote optimal brain development and neurodevelopmental outcome. Most recently, he co-directs Child-Bright (https://child-bright.ca/), an innovative pan-Canadian network that aims to improve outcomes for children with brain-based developmental disabilities and their families through Canada's Strategy for Patient-Oriented Research (SPOR). 

 

Dr. Karel O'Brien

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Dr. Karel O’Brien is a staff neonatologist at Mount Sinai Hospital and Associate Professor of Paediatrics at the University of Toronto. She is a clinical teacher and neonatologist at a very busy perinatal center that specializes in fetal diagnosis and therapy and also works in the follow up clinic. She has trained in Clinical Epidemiology and Health Care Research.  Her current research has focused on the development of Family Integrated Care, a model that changes how we deliver care to families and their infants in the NICU, and she has recently completed an international trial of this model of care. Going forward Karel is passionate about the importance of including families in the care of their infants, and investigating how best to support the entire team, nurses, physicians and parents to provide this care in a way that improves staff, family and infant outcomes.  Her motto is “Be the change you wish to see”.

Family Advisor Committee

 

Rebecca Pearce

Chair

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Rebecca Pearce is the mother of Maren, who was born at 25 weeks gestational age in 2009.

 

She is a long-time member of the équipe Partenariat Famille (PAF) Sainte-Justine, a team comprised of a group of veteran parents at CHU Sainte-Justine in Montreal, Québec, who act as a resource for families new to the NICU and who contribute to improving clinical care, research, and teaching by offering a critical parental viewpoint.

 

Rebecca has published several opinion pieces about how existing outcome research fails to meet the needs of parents or preterm children.

 

Rebecca is a secondary science teacher in Montreal and is a third-year Ph.D. Candidate in the Department of Integrated Studies in Education at McGill University, where she is studying preterm children as mathematical learners and doers.

 

Cristina Galifi

Family Advisor

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Cristina is a Toronto based mom of 3. Her youngest son was born at 29 weeks after having spent 5 weeks on bed rest in hospital from PPROM in 2018. Her son spent a total of 9 weeks in the NICU and was able to come home just before his due date. 

Cristina would love to help other preemie parents during their journey in the NICU and beyond. Her son Fabian is her inspiration. Because of his strength she is committed to helping other preemies and their families in their fight. 

 

Jenna Morton

Family Advisor

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Jenna Morton & her twin boys survived Twin-to-Twin Transfusion Syndrome thanks to a surgery performed at 20 weeks at Mount Sinai Hospital in Toronto. The boys were born at 32 weeks and spent 35 days in the NNICU at The Moncton Hospital in New Brunswick. Jenna, her husband, the twins and their older sister have all taken part in various advocacy and awareness projects and programs since then. Professionally, Jenna is a parenting journalist & podcaster; she hosts & produces the CPBF's podcast, With You in the NICU, as well as NeoChats, produced for the Canadian Association of Neonatal Nurses. 

 

Kojo Mensah

Family Advisor

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Kojo is father of twin boys who were born in 2017 at Toronto’s Mount Sinai Hospital weighing 950 grams and 940 grams. The boys spent four months and five months respectively in the NICU. During that time, they endured a variety of challenges related to neonatal respiratory conditions. 

One of Kojo’s proudest achievements is his participation in family integrated care and helping nurture his children to full health. The quality care provided by NICU staff inspired him to volunteer his time in support of the neonatal community.

 

Cynthia Sanders

Family Advisor

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Cynthia is mother to a premature baby who was born at 28+5 shortly before COVID-19 arrived in Saskatchewan. Her son spent 93 days in the NICU at Regina General Hospital. During that time she actively participated in her son’s care, including Kangaroo Care. She became aware of CPBF when one of her friends, who is a NICU nurse, recommended the CPBF’s COVID Care program, which offered two sessions of mental health therapy for caregivers of premature and NICU babies during these challenging times.  Since then she has participated in CPBF’s weekly virtual support group. 

 

Cynthia is grateful for the support and educational resources provided by CPBF.  She believes that information empowers caregivers to feel confident in their journey with a premature baby.  Her experience as a premature baby and now her son’s prematurity motivated her to volunteer for CPBF. 

 

Michelle Peltier

Family Advisor

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Michelle is the mother of Olive, a 29+0 weeker born in 2011 due to unexplained preterm labour.

Olive is big sister to Finn, born full term in 2013.
She spent the first two months of motherhood and Olive’s life in level 3 and level 2 NICU’s in Vancouver, BC. Having experienced two different hospitals, with differing supports available for families, Michelle learned to advocate for consistent, involved, family centred care. 
Soon after arriving home from NICU, Michelle learned there was very little support for parents once discharged. Out of this need to build community and connect with other parents of premature infants, she founded an online forum, the Vancouver Parents of Preemies which also hosts monthly in person meet ups. The group grew quickly from a few friends made in hospital to now over 330 members from across Greater Vancouver. Now, with with the support from the Vancouver Infant Development Program, the group hosts a monthly connection opportunity with guest speakers such as a dietician, librarian, physical therapist, occupational therapist, sleep educator and more to discuss developmental considerations for babies born premature.
Michelle had spent 16 years working closely with families as an Early Childhood Educator before starting her own birth and postpartum doula company in 2016. Currently, she is balancing her part time doula work with a part time position at BC Women’s Hospital as a Patient & Family Engagement Advisor. Working as a family advisor has allowed her to continue to develop her passions in advocacy, family centred policy change and improvement work.

Michelle began her time with Canadian Premature Babies Foundation at the Second National Family Consultative Meeting in Toronto in 2013 and looks forward to continuing the incredible work of CPBF through the Family Advisor Committee.

 

Aruna Boodram

Family Advisor

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Aruna Boodram is a queer, cis-gendered community organizer and legal worker from the Caribbean diaspora based in Tkaronto (Dish with One Spoon Wampum Covenant). She has been a community DJ and facilitator that specializes in anti-oppression, decolonization, consensus, facilitation training and strategic planning sessions for organizations over the past 12 years. She is the autonomous-single parent of Surya Amaris, a thriving and resilient 24-weeker. Surya spent 3 months in two NICUs in Toronto. Aruna is also the advice columnist for Shameless Magazine and council member for the Children's Peace Theatre in Toronto. 

 

Tiffany Richards

Family Advisor

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I’m a 29 year old single mom by choice to a very busy little boy named Knight who is 18 months and 15 corrected. I’m a phlebotomist at Canadian blood services. Knight and I have a little dog and bunny. My life revolves around Knight, having him being born so early has ignited a passion for helping and guiding other parents who find themselves on an unexpected NICU journey. I’m excited to bring my knowledge and passion to the committee.

Family Support Committee

 

Kate Robson

Chair

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Both of Kate’s daughters were born preterm; one was a 500 gram 25 weeker born in 2005, and the other came at 32 weeks in 2007. Inspired by her own experiences, she came back to the NICU in 2010 to work with families as a Neonatal Intensive Care Unit Family Support Specialist. Since then, she has developed programs for hospitalized families and trained peer counsellors across Canada. She went back to school in 2018 to become a therapist, and now has a private practice in Toronto where she offers support to NICU parents and clinicians.

Family Ambassador Committee

 

Marianne Bracht

Chair

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Marianne has 43 years of nursing experience in neonatology, as a bedside nurse, in the neonatal follow-up clinic, subsequently the NICU parent resource nurse as well as the RSV nurse coordinator in the NICU, Mount Sinai Hospital, Toronto. Throughout her nursing career she advocated for parents, provided education and support created and co-led parent education programs and participated in international research on Family Integrated Care. Her experience has given her insight into the struggles parents encounter in the NICU as well as following discharge.

Since her retirement, she is the project coordinator for an ongoing research pilot, looking at improving the transition of families and infants to home and the community.  She is an active member on the national family integrated care committee. As a member of the Canadian Premature Babies Foundation, she is currently working on the Family Ambassador program, a program to continue to increase the support for NICU families. 

 

Pam Kai

Alberta

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Pam is the mother of two children – a dynamic 8 year old Amaya and a miracle 5 year old preemie Sawyer.  Sawyer was born 10 weeks early, critically ill and medically complex requiring him to spend  the first 112 days of his life in the NICU at Alberta Children’s Hospital.  During this time, Pam found her voice as she became a strong advocate for her son and his care.   Over the past 5 years, her family has navigated many areas of the medical system from homecare, to surgeries, feeding tubes and tracheostomies. Through these experiences, she has found deep connections with other parents going through similar journeys and has realized how valuable a connection with other parents is. Pam has a passion for Patient and Family Centred Care (similar to FiCare) and is trained as a Peer Mentor through the ACH volunteer program where she facilitates bedside connections and family teas in the NICU, has one to one connections with other trach families and co-leads PFCC sessions for new nurses.  She is also the Co Chair of the Family Advisory Council and sit on various other committees across the hospital. One highlight of Pam’s is having the honour of being a part of the Stories for Caregivers series (her episode is called Being There: Pam’s Story) and having a digital story made of her journey that started in the NICU with her son Sawyer.  Pam is grateful to be a part of the Canadian Premature Babies Foundation as a family ambassador and sharing her voice to improve the care and outcomes of premature babies and families across Canada.  

 

Stacey Killam

New Brunswick

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After a 5 year long battle with infertility, Stacey and her husband, Jamie, were thrilled to finally hear the words "You are pregnant!" after their 2nd round of IVF.  To their surprise, although they had just transferred a single embryo, it was discovered that not only was Stacey carrying one baby but she was in fact carrying two!  That one strong little embryo split and resulted in beautiful identical twin boys!  Stacey and Jamie's twin boys were born at the Dr. Everett Chalmers Hospital in Fredericton, NB at 32 weeks.  Born premature but healthy, they spent 4 weeks in the NICU where they thrived thanks to the amazing care of nurses and doctors.  

 

Jayden and Colton are now healthy, strong and very tall 5 year olds who are just beginning to read in Kindergarten!  Stacey recognizes that the level of care they received as infants in the NICU contributed to their overall well being today and she is very grateful for the support of hospital staff.

 

For that very reason, Stacey always wanted to give back in some way to express her gratitude and support other parents experiencing a premature birth.  She is very excited to begin her volunteer work in the Family Ambassador program with the CPBF where she is able to support NICU parents who maybe require a little extra love.

 

Stacey works as an elementary teacher and she and her family reside in Fredericton, NB.

 

Anna Stevens

Newfoundland

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Anna is the mother of a 25-weeker, Charlie, who she and her husband, Jason, welcomed in 2017 at the Janeway Children’s Hospital in St. John’s, Newfoundland and Labrador. Charlie has always had a flair for the dramatic and kept his parents and his medical team on their toes for nearly five months in the NICU. Once home, day-to-day life with Charlie has included many specialist and therapy appointments, yet has also been filled with love, laughter, learning, and so many other much-hoped for moments.  

 

A lifelong learner, Anna’s experience in the NICU led her back to graduate school to complete a Master’s in Public Health. Her research team is working with families, community services, and healthcare professionals to make maternal mental health a priority in Newfoundland and Labrador.  Her goal is for the next phase of the research to focus on NICU families, working with staff and families to provide supportive programming both during and after NICU stays. She has welcomed opportunities to offer educational sessions to the NICU team on how to best include and support families and has been fortunate to learn from experts at FiCare and EPIQ conferences. 

 

Anna is thrilled to be in such wonderful company as she joins the Canadian Premature Baby Foundation as one of their ambassadors. 

Project Coordinators

 

Shakeera Baker

CovidCare Program

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Shakeera Baker is a former preemie, born at 26 weeks gestation weighing 1 pound 10 ounces. Now at 29 years old, she has achieved an abundance of success and is passionate about working with persons with developmental disabilities.

 

Her message to parents is to document your journey and never give up even during the challenging moments because you and your babies are much stronger together.

 

Andrea Wiebe

Milestone Cards

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Andrea's personal experience with prematurity began in 2017 when her son was born early and unexpectedly. He spent 10 weeks at the NICU at St. Boniface Hospital in Winnipeg, Manitoba. She is forever grateful for the hospital staff who took care of her son during this time. Andrea struggled with PPD and PPA during her son's first year and worked through anxiety and fear when she became pregnant again a few years later. Her second son was born healthy and just shy of term in 2020. 

 

Andrea coordinated a support program for NICU families at St. Boniface Hospital. She is passionate about supporting mothers and fathers and believes strongly in the benefits of peer support, both during and after a family's time in the NICU. 

 

Andrea lives in Winnipeg with her husband and two kids. When they're not in the city, you can find them frolicking on the shores of Lake Winnipeg.