Council Members

  • Bio picture of Neil Pierce

    Neil Pierce, Chair

    Neil Pierce of Edmonton has served in leadership roles with Workers’ Compensation Boards of Ontario and North West Territories, the Canadian Paraplegic Association (Alberta), Alberta Paraplegic Foundation, Multiple Sclerosis Society of Alberta, Muscular Dystrophy Canada (Western Canada) and the Parkinson’s Association of Alberta. He helped develop programs that continue to benefit those with spinal cord injuries and other physical disabilities, including the Alberta Neurotrauma Initiative, the Champions Career Centre, the Way Forward MS Strategy and the Alberta MS Regional Research and Training Centre. Neil has received the Canadian Paraplegic Association’s Honourable Lois Hole Community Development Award, an Alberta Civil Trial Lawyers’ Association social justice award and the Council’s Gary McPherson Leadership Award. Contact Neil

  • Bio picture of Alison Cutknife

    Alison Cutknife

    Alison Cutknife of Maskwacis is an Anishinaabekwe of the Aamjiwnaang First Nation (Ontario), which is a member of the Samson Cree First Nation. One of her daughters has cerebral palsy. Over the past 25 years, Alison has been an active advocate for families of children with disabilities who live on reserves. Her work includes developing the first Early Childhood Intervention Program on reserve, establishing an annual community National Child Day event and conducting culturally appropriate indigenous parent programs. Teaching is Alison’s profession and lifelong learning is her pastime. Contact Alison

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    Ann Nicol

    Ann Nicol of Red Deer has more than 30 years of experience in the human services field with the City of Calgary, Government of Alberta and non-profit sectors throughout Alberta. She has worked directly with, and on behalf of youth, children, families and adults with disabilities. This has included roles with Alberta Social Services, the Alberta Council of Disability Services and the Office of the Children’s Advocate. She has also assisted with community initiatives to establish mental health support groups in rural central Alberta and networks for youth in government care. Ann holds bachelor’s and master’s degrees in social work and received the Queens Diamond Jubilee medal for her community work. Contact Ann

  • Bio picture of Cam Tait

    Cam Tait

    Cam Tait of Edmonton is a columnist with the Edmonton Sun, the special project advisor for Challenge Insurance and the community content coordinator for the Oilers Entertainment Group. For 33 years, he was a reporter and columnist. Cam has cerebral palsy and has made connections with disability groups around the world through his writing, speaking, volunteerism and comedy. He wrote extensively about people with disabilities and spoke to countless groups on disability, volunteerism, and in 1995, he competed nationally in 1995 for Canada's Funniest New Comic and in 2015 published his autobiography, "Disabled? Hell NO! I'm a Sit-Down Comic". He has been a member of the Council since 2014 and is also a member of the Lieutenant Governor’s Circle on Mental Health and Addictions. Cam has honorary degrees from the Northern Alberta Institute of Technology and MacEwan University. Contact Cam

  • Bio picture of Cathy Smith

    Cathy Smith

    Cathy Smith of Barrhead is the parent of a child with a rare disability known as Angelman Syndrome. In caring for her daughter, Cathy has furthered her education in a way that was both extremely challenging and far more rewarding than any educational institution could provide. Through their experience, she feels her family has become more understanding, giving and nurturing when it comes to those with special needs. Cathy’s has been inspired to give to others by her former work with Alberta Children’s Services and being part of a community that offers so much to persons with disabilities. Contact Cathy

  • Bio picture of Cheryl Cunningham-Burns

    Cheryl Cunningham-Burns

    Cheryl Cunningham-Burns of High Level has a Master in Social Work and many years’ experience in social work practice including Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder diagnostics clinics, community and forensic mental health, and disability service coordination. Cheryl works compassionately with the socio-economically disadvantaged and with persons with disabilities, advocating for access and necessary supports and services. She brings to the Council knowledge and awareness of Alberta’s northern communities and their unique needs and strengths. Contact Cheryl

  • photo Darby Lee Young

    Darby Lee Young

    Darby Lee Young of Calgary is a former para-alpine ski racer who was born with mild cerebral palsy. She created Level Playing Field (LPF) in 2015 to mitigate the barriers people like her face every day. As a Principal Accessibility Strategist, Darby works to ensure spaces are universally accessible. Darby received the Calgary Stampede’s Western Legacy Award for Innovation for her work with LPF. As co-chair of the City of Calgary’s Advisory Committee on Accessibility, she spearheaded efforts to support inclusive workplaces, accessible services and usable facilities for everyone. Darby has volunteered with Hockey Canada since 2010 and at the 2010 Olympic and Paralympic Games. Contact Darby

  • Bio picture of D. John te Linde

    D. John te Linde

    D. John te Linde of Calgary is a retired registered psychologist. He has published research articles, reports and book chapters on psychology, program evaluation, needs assessment, social planning and social policy. John has also served on local and national boards for organizations involved in education, social policy and community service. In addition to numerous academic scholarships, John was awarded post-doctoral fellowships from the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada and the University of Calgary. John held teaching positions at the University of Western Ontario and the University of Calgary before joining the City of Calgary in 1984. He retired in 2013. Contact John

  • Photo of MLA Garth Rowswell

    Garth Rowswell

    Garth Rowswell, MLA for Vermilion-Lloydminster-Wainwright, is a current member of the Legislative Assembly of Alberta. Prior to serving with the Legislative Assembly, Garth was a financial adviser for over 16 years and has an extensive background in agriculture business. Garth is actively involved in his community. He has served as board member and president of various clubs and organizations including the Rotary Club of Lloydminster and the Canadian Association of Agri-Retailers. Garth holds a Bachelor of Science in Agriculture from the University of Alberta. Contact Garth.

  • Bio picture of Inara Samoylove

    Inara Samoylove

    Inara Samoylove of Calgary is originally from Tanzania. A mother of a severely disabled young adult, she has advocated for her son’s needs, from education to health care and everything in between. Inara is employed within the municipal government and has focused on asset management, cost management, technology initiatives and enterprise systems. She is a holistic thinker who believes in linking corporate vision to desired results by empowering people and using processes, procedures and technologies effectively. Inara is passionate about her continued involvement with initiatives for persons with disabilities and new immigrants. Contact Inara

  • Bio picture of Nabeel Ramji

    Nabeel Ramji

    Nabeel Ramji of Calgary lives with Cerebral Palsy and merged his unique personal and professional experience to found Accessibility for all Albertans. This initiative is helping real estate developers, architects and the public understand accessibility issues to ensure that new and existing public spaces are truly accessible for all citizens. Nabeel holds a bachelor of commerce in Finance (Honours with Distinction) and has been a member of the City of Calgary Advisory Committee on Accessibility for the past 3 years. Recently, the federal government appointed him as local champion to provide input into its accessibility law. Nabeel has also received the Council’s Award of Excellence for Public Awareness. Contact Nabeel

  • Bio picture of Regan Treewater-Lipes

    Regan Treewater-Lipes

    Dr. Regan Treewater-Lipes of Edmonton has been legally blind since birth. Growing up visually impaired, Regan has learned to overcome the daily obstacles the legally blind face. She is fluent in English, Russian and Japanese and works as an instructor in the Department of English at MacEwan University. Regan is also a freelance author and holds a PhD in comparative literature from the University of Alberta. As an active community leader, she has organized events, initiatives and fundraisers. Previous work with people living with severe physical disabilities, cognitive and intellectual barriers, and moderate learning challenges has enhanced her commitment to make Alberta’s diverse communities accessible to all. Contact Regan

  • Bio picture of Shino Nakane

    Shino Nakane

    Shino Nakane of Calgary has been a volunteer board member for a variety of organizations over the past decade. As a mother of a son with a developmental disability, she has a passion for helping non-profit groups that strive to meet the unique needs of families like hers. Her work experience includes communications, advocacy, research, stakeholder engagement and project management. Shino manages community relations for Autism Society Alberta. Contact Shino

  • Photo of MLA Tracy Allard

    Tracy Allard

    Tracy L. Allard, MLA for Grande Prairie, is a current member of the Legislative Assembly of Alberta. Prior to serving with the Legislative Assembly, Tracy franchised Tim Hortons restaurants in British Columbia and in Grande Prairie. Active in her community, she served as a director with the Tim Horton Children's Foundation. She was board president of the Grande Prairie Boys' Choir and sat on the Grande Prairie Regional Hospital Foundation Capital Cabinet. Tracy holds a Bachelor of Commerce and a Certificate in Disability Management from the University of British Columbia. Contact Tracy.


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