Our Leadership Team

Executive Team

Chief Executive Officer

Karen Olivier

A Calgarian since 1975, Karen is the CEO and co-founder of Closer to Home Community Services. Karen is an alum of Queen’s University, holding a B.A. Honours in Psychology and has provided services for children and families for over 30 years. Karen has served in numerous leadership positions in Alberta, most recently as a Board member for a provincial advocacy association for children and families and serves as a Board Director of the Teaching Family Association. For the past 10 years, Karen has also provided consultation and development services to social service agencies in the United States and New Zealand to support their efforts in implementing an evidence-based best practice models for children, youth and adults in both group care and educational day treatment settings.

Director of Strategy & Community Services

Arlene Oostenbrink

Arlene has been with Closer to Home since 1998. Arlene has an extensive history of managing and directing all Teaching Family Model program service deliveries. She brings significant clinical, and programmatic and outcome focused expertise to her role at Closer to Home. Arlene supervises community services managers and their staff, oversees our Indigenous services, works closely with funders, collaborates with other agencies and partners, develops new proposals and initiatives and provides her expertise and knowledge into the major decisions for the organization. Arlene is a qualified evaluator and peer reviewer of Teaching Family Association organizations at an international level, and is an expert consultant in supporting other agencies to implement the Teaching-Family Model.

Director of In-Care Services

Erin O'Reilly

Erin is a born and raised Calgarian and has worked at Closer to Home Community Services since 1999. She has worked with children and families for nearly 25 years and has served on regional and provincial committees regarding child and family services. Internationally, Erin has served as Chair of the Teaching Family Association Accreditation and Ethics Committee, and is a trainer of peer reviewers and an established agency development expert. Through this work, Erin has supported agencies from the United States and New Zealand in their implementation of the Teaching Family Model – an evidence-based, and trauma-informed best practice treatment approach for children, youth, adults and families.

Director of Finance

David Quach, CPA

David manages Closer to Home’s financial resources and facilities. Before joining us in 2021, David gained financial and operational experience while at Benevity, working with international donor-advised funds to disburse over $1 billion of donations annually through their donation platform. He holds a Bachelor of Commerce degree from the University of Saskatchewan along with his CPA designation in Alberta.

Director of Philanthropy

Suzan Valenta

Suzan brings extensive expertise from the for-profit and non-profit sectors to her role as the Director of Philanthropy of Closer to Home since 2021. She is an engaging leader with a values-based approach to building relationships and connections to a cause and the community as a whole and is a passionate mission advocate. Over the last two decades, Suzan has held leadership and fundraising roles in social service, education and health sectors. She is thrilled to now have this opportunity to be “closer to home” and drive towards a future where every child is thriving within supportive family and community relationships. In addition, Suzan is a lifelong volunteer.

Board of Directors

Chair

Trish Bronsch

BSN

Consultant Non-Profit Sector

With over 20 years of experience in senior leadership roles within the not for profit sector, Trish is committed to giving back to the community and sharing her expertise. As CEO for the Canadian Breast Cancer Foundation, she served on national and international committees related to the cause. She consults with various organizations in the areas of board governance, fundraising and strategic direction. Currently she is involved with board roles, committee initiatives and national not for profit best practices.

Vice Chair

Dean Mullin

Ph.D, MBA, P.Eng.

Vice President & Integration Leader, Stantec Consulting Ltd.

Dean is a father of two boys.  He loves biking and skiing. He has volunteered in the community for many years and is passionate about helping others.  As a volunteer, Dean saw Closer to Home making life changing impacts in the community and he was compelled to contribute more as a board member. As a VP Integration Leader with Stantec Consulting in Calgary, he brings years of experience and knowledge in management and leadership to the Board of Directors for Closer to Home.

Treasurer

Mark E. George

BBA

Managing Partner & Founder, EdgeMark Capital & Advisory Services Inc.

Mark is a proven business leader with global experience in multiple industries.  Prior to starting EdgeMark, a strategic and financial advisory services firm that focuses on raising capital and assisting companies with transformational activities, he had a distinguished career in high-tech, residential/commercial construction and professional services.  Mark has served on several private company and not for profit boards. He brings financial expertise and a willingness to contribute personal and professional resources to help Closer to Home grow and serve the community.

Board Director

Shannon Friesen

CPHR

Principal and Sr. HR Consultant, ACTivate HR

Shannon brings over three decades of knowledge and expertise across all areas of Human Resources. Now a partner in an HR consulting company, she assists organizations to develop effective human resource practices to create exceptional workplaces. Shannon is a licensed professional investigator for workplace investigations. Shannon has served on boards and volunteered extensively in helping organizations. Notably, she served as a Director as well as the Chair of the Board of the Chartered Professionals in Human Resources (CPHR) association.

Board Director

Sarah Itani

MSc

Business Development Manager, Cidex Group of Companies

Sarah is a Business Development Manager with Cidex Group of Companies and has over 15 years of professional experience in land development, construction and operations. She brings her passion for community building, integration and preserving diversity in gentrifying neighbourhoods to our Board of Directors. Sarah is a lifelong volunteer in our community and had previously served as a Board Member for the Alberta Network of Immigrant Women.  

Board Director

Colleen Potter

BA

Government and Community Relations Consultant

With over 15 years of experience in industry, politics, and the non-profit sector, she has a passion for helping people understand what matters, and why.

Colleen has worked in the energy industry, on the Vancouver 2010 Olympics, and in federal and provincial politics. While living in Vancouver, she became involved with a non-profit focused on serving vulnerable populations in the Downtown Eastside, building capacity for outreach and engagement. She continued her engagement with the sector upon returning to Calgary in 2012, working for Inn from the Cold and the City of Calgary.

Colleen serves on the boards of Closer to Home Community Services, The Public Affairs Association of Canada – Alberta Chapter, and the Executive Committee for the Global Energy Show, and is a soprano singer in the Calgary Philharmonic Orchestra Chorus.

Board Director

Erin Viala

LLB

Partner, HMC Lawyers LLP

Erin is a Partner with the Calgary boutique litigation and employment firm HMC Lawyers LLP. She has been practising principally in the areas of Employment, Insolvency, Commercial Debt Recovery and Commercial Litigation since 2006. Volunteering is an important part of Erin’s life. In addition to being a volunteer member of the Closer to Home Board of Directors, Erin volunteers with the Canadian Women’s Foundation and Canadian Bar Association.

Medical Advisor

Paul Ratti

M.D.

Dr. Paul Ratti is a Physician and has been a physician with Alberta Health Services since 2014. He became a board member for Closer to Home (CTH) in 2016, and through his work with CTH and AHS, is very passionate about increasing support for disadvantaged people especially young people and their families.