Board of Directors
Current as of 2023
Bev Gradidge RPN, BScMH
Bev graduated from Brandon Mental Health Centre (BMHC) in 1982, and completed her BScMH (post diploma degree) at Brandon University in 2004. Bev provided acute in-patient services as a Registered Psychiatric Nurse at BMHC and worked as an Adult Community Mental Health Worker in Central Region, moving into management in Southern Health, and subsequently at the Crisis Response Centre, WRHA prior to her retirement in 2018. Bev was gold medalist (BScMH) as well as recipient of the Kay Armstrong Scholarship (BScMH), RPNF Award of Excellence (Leadership), Mental Health Hero Award (Central Region), and Quality Service Award (Southern Health). Areas of interest have included Recovery-Oriented practice, Dialectic Behaviour Therapy, Peer Support and Offender Treatment. Bev believes that the RPNF’s support of the profession through scholarships and awards promotes psychiatric nurses as front-runners in achieving best-practice mental health service across Manitoba and Canada.
Jennifer Adair, BA (Adv), BScPN, RPN
Jennifer graduated from the BScPN program at Brandon University’s Winnipeg Campus in 2009. She started her career as an RPN at St. Boniface Hospital in the inpatient adult mental health unit. From there she moved to the Addiction Foundation of Manitoba’s Methadone and Suboxone treatment program. Jennifer is a student in the Master of Psychiatric Nursing program at Brandon University, specializing in Education. She is currently working as an Instructional Associate with the Brandon University Department of Psychiatric Nursing at the Winnipeg Campus.
Cindy Giesbrecht, CPA, CGA, Hons. Comm.
Cindy is a Chartered Professional Accountant with several years of experience in senior financial roles both within government and for non-profit organizations. Cindy is currently the Director of Finance with the University Medical Group which is a non-profit organization that supports its membership of doctors with financial administration. Past positions with the Province of Manitoba include the Director of Support Services with the Office of the Fire Commissioner (Special Operating Agency), Manager of Risk for Manitoba Housing and Renewal Corporation and Senior Manager, Financial Planning and Review for the Department of Family Services.
Arlene MacLennan, RPN, RN, BScMH
Arlene graduated from the Selkirk School of Psychiatric Nursing in 1990, Red River Community College School of Nursing in 1993 and from Brandon University in 2013 with a Bachelor of Science in Mental Health. Arlene was gold medalist recipient at BScMH and also received the RPNF Award of Excellence in Leadership. Arlene worked on the acute psychiatric inpatient unit, medical unit and as a psychiatric liaison nurse at Misericordia. In the community Arlene worked with the Salvation Army Mobile Crisis Team and was manager at the Salvation Army Crisis Stabilization Unit. She was the lead nurse at the Program of Assertive Community Treatment (PACT) Hargrave and team leader for PACT Leila and PACT Winnipeg West. Arlene became the manager of Specialized Mental Health Services for the WRHA which included the PACT Teams and the Early Psychosis Prevention and Intervention Services (EPPIS). After a brief retirement in 2022 she returned to Shared Health Mental Health & Addictions programs as the Interim Manager for the Manitoba Opioid Support and Treatment (MOST) program where she currently works. Arlene was a member of the CRPNM Investigations Committee for a number of years. Arlene feels fortunate to have been part of the initial PACT team in Winnipeg and to have seen the teams grow. She believes that psychiatric nurses are well trained to work alongside individuals in their recovery journey and in the area of mental health and addictions.
Dana Naismith, RPN, BScPN, MHS
RPNF Scholarship Committee
Dana graduated from the BScPN program at Brandon University in 2003, part of the first class to complete the whole four-year program at the Winnipeg campus. She had her first son after graduation so started her career working part-time at the Manitoba Adolescent Treatment Centre. Eventually she moved into a full time position and after about 5 years began working at the Addiction Foundation of Manitoba’s Methadone and Suboxone Program. It was during that time that she began and completed her Master’s degree in Health Studies through Athabasca University. When she completed her MHS in 2015 she went to work at Brandon University in the Psychiatric Nursing program, Winnipeg campus. She is currently on a tenure track as Assistant Professor.
J. Renée Robinson, PhD
RPNF Scholarship Committee
Renee graduated from Brandon Mental Health Centre with a diploma in psychiatric nursing in 1978 and completed the Bachelor of Science in Mental Health program at Brandon University in 1991. She continued her education, obtaining a Masters (1996) and PhD (2005) in Community Health Sciences from the University of Manitoba. She taught at Brandon University in the undergraduate (BScPN and BScMH) and graduate (MPN) programs in Psychiatric Nursing for 25 years until retirement in 2023. She undertook a range of responsibilities during that time including Department Chair and Coordinator of the Master of Psychiatric Nursing program. Renee served on numerous committees at the local, provincial and national level in service of Brandon University, the profession of psychiatric nursing, and the scientific/policy community. In 2010 she was awarded the RPNC award for professional leadership. She continues to be deeply committed to promoting the profession.
Mallory Schmitz RPN BScPN
RPNF Awards Committee Chair
Mallory completed her B.Sc.P.N. from Brandon University in 2005. Since that time she has worked at Selkirk Mental Health Centre as an RPN in both the Geriatric and Rehabilitation Programs. Mallory currently works with Education Services as a Mental Health Nurse Educator supporting the 230 nurses at SMHC in their professional development. She coordinates the placement of student nurses completing their mental health clinical rotations, is a Mental Health First Aid trainer and facilitates the Applied Suicide Intervention Skills Training (ASIST) program.
Marg Synyshyn RPN BHS (Psych. Nsg.), MA.
RPNF Awards Committee
Marg Synyshyn worked in the area of child and adolescent mental health as a clinician, manager and director for over 30 years. Marg recently retired as the CEO of the Manitoba Adolescent Treatment Centre (MATC), a position that she held from 2014 – 2019 and Director, Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services, WRHA Mental Health Program. Marg has done many presentations, locally, nationally and internationally, on the topics of child and adolescent mental health, mental health service delivery and gender issues in the area of mental health. From 2007 to 2012, Marg had an appointment to the Child and Youth Advisory Committee for the Mental Health Commission of Canada. As well, Marg is a knowledge user on a number of CIHR funded research projects provincially. She is sought out by for commentary and advice on the topic of child and youth mental health by other service providers, government departments and the media. Marg has held the position of President of the College of Registered Psychiatric Nurses of Manitoba, as well as National President of the Registered Psychiatric Nurses of Canada. She was the 2008 Manitoba recipient of the Registered Psychiatric Nurses of Canada award for Professional Leadership. Marg has served on various committees with the RPN. In 2010, Marg received the Marlene Fitzsimmons Scholarship for her presentation overseas.
Marycia Kruk BA, LLB
Marycia graduated from Brandon University in 2005 with a Bachelor of Arts. She attended law school at the University of Manitoba and graduated in 2009 with her Bachelor of Laws. Marycia went on to article with Manitoba Prosecutions at their Brandon office and was Called to the Bar in Manitoba in 2010. She continued to work for Manitoba Prosecutions until 2013. Through her work she received experience and training relating to mental health, addictions, FASD awareness, and psychiatric reports.
Danah Bellehumeur, C.Mgr
Danah is a Chartered Manager with the Canadian Institute of Management and has an Advanced Accounting Certificate from the University of Manitoba. She is the Executive Director for the University Medical Group (UMG) which is a business office for more than 600 doctors. UMG is a non-profit association of doctors that are faculty members in the Max Rady College of Medicine at the University of Manitoba. UMG doctors teach students and other learners, conduct research on behalf of the University, lead/manage programs, and provide clinical services at one or more of its affiliated teaching hospitals. Prior to UMG, Danah worked at the Selkirk Mental Health Centre (SMHC) for 12 years, starting as the Manager of Financial Services, then the Manager of Support Services, and finally as the Chief Executive Officer for her last 8 years. Danah is committed to lifelong learning and is passionate about helping organizations find ways to achieve excellence. Danah is most proud of being part of the team that lead SMHC from ‘Accreditation with Condition’ to ‘Accreditation with Exemplary Standing’ during her time as CEO.
Yvonne Savard RPN, BScN, MAED/CI
Yvonne graduated as a psychiatric nurse from Alberta Hospital, Edmonton in 1984. She was accepted into the University of Alberta’s Bridging Program for psychiatric nurses and graduated in 1994 securing her RN and BScN degree. She graduated from the University of Phoenix in 2007 with her Master of Arts in Education. Yvonne has continued to pursue educational opportunities and has an Advanced Citation in Concurrent Disorders and a Post Degree Diploma in Psychosocial Rehabilitation. Her commitment to and passion for the psychiatric nursing profession grew throughout her 40 years of practice in various psychiatric settings, including secure ICU units, forensic services, youth corrections, emergency mental health, community services, and education. Yvonne’s been engaged with British Columbia health care regulation and governance since June 2012, when she was elected to the College of Registered Psychiatric Nurses of BC (CRPNBC) Board of Directors. Currently, Yvonne embraces being an active member of the British Columbia College of Nurses and Midwives (BCCNM) Board of Directors. She sees this as an opportunity to continue promoting public safety noting this to be consistently reflected through her work and involvement in formal and informal leadership capacities on various committees.
Anna Helewka, RPN, RN, BSN, MSN, Faculty Emerita
Anna has practiced in various contexts throughout her career (acute in-patient psychiatry, acute medical/surgical, transitional care units and critical care units). As an educator, Anna taught in BSN Program
(UBC and Douglas College) but predominantly her teaching career spanned 30 years in the Department of Psychiatric Nursing (DOPN) at Douglas College wherein she taught across the curriculum, teaching theory, lab, therapeutic communication and clinical practice courses. Anna also took on various leadership and administration roles at DC (Program Coordinator, Curriculum and Program Evaluation Coordinator in the DOPN Program, Interim Associate Dean of Health Sciences, Interim Director of Nursing of the BSN Program).
Anna retired recently from full time employment and now has a part-time position as the Facilitator of the Mental Health Programs in the DC Continuing Education Dept. Anna sits on the BCCNM Quality Assurance
Committee (Vice-Chair) as the RPN/RN representative. Anna’s current research and practice interests include cultural differences and trauma informed education / practice. Personally, Anna lives on a five-acre
farm with her husband and a variety of critters. Anna loves gardening, camping, road trips, cooking and baking and making wine.
Bonny Wynnobel, PN (retired)
RPNF Past President
Bonny is a retired registered psychiatric nurse with 39 years of experience in the field of mental health. The majority of her career was leading the Selkirk Mental Health Centre (SMHC) through major transformation initiatives. From Education Services to Continuous Improvement, to MB Health Policy and Planning to her unique role as Redevelopment Coordinator, Bonny lead projects with a patient safety and recovery-oriented lens. She consistently consulted the people with lived experience, families, staff, leadership, stakeholders, community partners and other national and international people to discover and implement new ideas and create new best practices.
Some of the projects included: establishment of the Family Advisory at SMHC, construction of the Tyndall Building and Acquired Brain Injury Residence; development of the acquired brain injury program; evaluation of the Psychosocial Program; implementation of a new pharmacy medication dispensing system; implementation of a comprehensive electronic clinical record (including Resident Assessment Instrument for Mental Health (RAI-MH) and National Rehabilitation Reporting System (NRS); participation in the Canadian Mental Health & Addictions Quality Initiative; assisting Artists in Healthcare to provide clients a range of opportunities in art, music, dance, and Playback Theatre; and completed the 2015 Selkirk Mental Health Centre’s Consultation Strategy and Environmental Scan to assist SMHC in its ongoing strategic directions.
In 2017, Bonny was one of 150 Canadians chosen as a “Difference Maker” in mental health and addictions and in 2019 won the Manitoba Government Service Excellence Premier’s award.
She has been a RPNF Director since 2015.