Sean McGrath has been involved in supporting individuals with disabilities since 2009, when he was an activity assistant at Friends Housing Inc. Sean started at New Directions for Children, Youth, Adults and Families as a DSP in 2011, and now is employed in a supervisory role in the Shift Staffed Homes Program providing 24/7 residential supports to youth and adults. Sean graduated from Red River College in the Disability and Community Support Program in June 2019, and is planning to finish up his Bachelor of Disability Studies Degree at the University of Winnipeg. Sean understands and is aware of the critical impact that education, training, and fair wages can have on the quality of care and longevity of DSPs in the field, and believes that the continued reach for recognition will have long-term benefits for DSP staff as well as the people they support.
The Alliance of Direct Support Professionals of Manitoba is a volunteer-run Board that stands for re-election during the Annual General Meeting in May.
The ADSPM Board of Directors consists of dedicated professionals who perform many different roles in support of people living with disabilities.
Jessica Yestrau (Past-Chair) has been working in the field for nearly 10 years. She started in the field as a respite service provider and eventually became a support worker while she completed her Bachelor’s degree in Criminal Justice. Jessica is currently a Team Leader at St. Amant in the Supported Independent Living program and works with the individuals she supports and their support networks to ensure that they are achieving their goals within their community. In June 2019, Jessica graduated from the Disability and Community Support program at Red River College and plans to combine the knowledge she has gained through the program with her Criminal Justice degree in the future.
Michelle Tomchak (Vice-Chair) started her career in human services in 2007, providing direct support to people with lived experience of disability. She spent some time studying in the Disability and Community Support Program at Red River College and currently holds a dual role with St. Amant in the Community Residential Program. Michelle supports a team of direct support professionals in a residential setting, as well as conducts interviews using the Personal Outcome Measures. Most recently Michelle was certified as a POM trainer with the Council on Quality and Leadership and acts as an Advisor for People First of Manitoba. Michelle is passionate about providing quality supports to people with lived experience of disability and joined the ADSPM board in 2019 in hopes of becoming more involved in the professionalization of the direct support profession in Manitoba.
Pauline Alexander (Treasurer) is currently a Team Leader at St. Amant in the Supported Independent Living Program. Pauline has a Bachelor of Social Work from Booth University College and has worked in the disability sector for over 10 years in various areas including residential, day services, outreach, respite, and employment services. Pauline has a passion to serve the people supported and believes in every person’s right to self-determination. Pauline believes that if we work together, we can make a difference.
Michelle Lodewyks is a full-time Instructor in the Disability and Community Support Program at Red River College. She has a Master’s degree in Disability Studies from the University of Manitoba and a Bachelor of Arts (Honors) degree in Sociology, and Justice and Law, from the University of Winnipeg. Michelle has supported people with disabilities through Muscular Dystrophy Canada, Campus Life Manitoba, St. Amant, the Canadian Centre on Disability Studies, the Society for Manitobans with Disabilities, the YMCA-YWCA of Winnipeg, and In the Company of Friends (ICOF). Michelle was part of the ADSPM’s original steering committee. As an Instructor, Michelle understands the value of education in ensuring quality support and longevity within the disability field.
Alisha Nickel (Chair) is currently a Manager with enVision Community Living in Steinbach, MB at the Eastman Employment Services location, and leads a team that supports individuals who have a focus on Supported Employment. Alisha has supported people living with disabilities since 2008 in residential settings, day service locations, independent living settings, through job coaching in employment, and by providing respite services. Alisha is a 2015 graduate (Honors) of the Disability and Community Support Program at Red River College and is an advocate for the field of direct support. Alisha has been involved on the Board of Directors since 2015 and has held the position of Secretary for two non-consecutive terms.
Maryrose De Souza has been a Direct Support Professional in Winnipeg since 2015. She provides support in the Community Residential Program with St. Amant. Prior to migrating to Canada from Ghana in 2011, Maryrose also served as a volunteer Support Worker with seniors in local communities. In her studies in Medical Office Administration at Robertson College, Maryrose had the opportunity to interact with patients of different demographics in a clinical setting. She has acquired over two decades of experience in Banking and Human Resource Management, and holds a Bachelor’s degree in Business Administration (Human Resource Major) from the Methodist University College. In 2018, she took the Foundations in Disability and Community Support at Red River College. Maryrose believes ADSPM is a vehicle for advancing professionalism of Direct Support Professionals in the province of Manitoba.
Sandy Weiten is currently a Coordinator for Epic Opportunities and has provided support in residential, home health care, schools, independent living, and day programs since 1992. Sandy is a graduate of the Disability and Community Support Program at Red River College. She has been a member of the ADSPM’s Board of Directors since its inception, holding the position of Chair in several terms. Sandy looks forward to increasing the professional recognition for DSPs in Manitoba and believes that DSPs can have a powerful impact on the people they work with and for. She is grateful to have an opportunity to support others in achieving their dreams, goals, and outcomes while encouraging others to live their best possible lives.
Ashley Zuk started her career in 2002, supporting individuals in her hometown of St Claude. Ashley has worked in various sectors in the field, working and managing homes both rurally and in Winnipeg, working in a day program, and respite care. In 2013, Ashley was asked to sit on the steering committee of the then-named MADSP, which later became the ADSPM. After being a director on the first official board, Ashley took a year off to spend with her daughter. A year was long enough, and Ashley has remained in the board since then. Ashley has a passion for this field, and wants nothing more than to have it fully recognized as a valuable career choice.