Beginnings Family Services

Management Team

Beginnings is professionally managed by the following team:

  • Kerry Vandergrift
    Kerry Vandergrift MSW, RSW, Executive Director

    Kerry is a social worker with 25 years experience working in the field of women’s health, infertility and adoption. She has worked in maternal care and fertility clinics in the hospital and community health centre settings providing individual counseling, group work, and education programs. As an Approved Adoption Practitioner with the Ministry of Child and Youth Services, Kerry conducts home studies for domestic and international adoption, supervises adoption placements, and provides post-adoption counselling services for child welfare agencies. Her private practice includes infertility counseling and assisted reproductive technology (ART) third party assessment services.  Since 2005, Kerry has been the Executive Director at Beginnings Family Services located in Hamilton, Ontario.  She also oversees Beginnings Pregnancy Care Centres in Cobourg, Guelph and Woodstock.  She is a parent of 4 children, 2 of whom are in open adoption relationships with their birth families. She obtained Open Adoption certification from the Open Adoption Institute in Anaheim,California and has been practicing open adoption since 2001.  Kerry is member of the Ontario College of Social Workers & Social Service Workers (OCSWSSW), the Ontario Association of Social Workers, and a member of the Canadian Fertility and Andrology Society (CFAS) Counsellors Special Interest Group (SIG).

  • Carol Lavell
    Carol Lavell M.A., Clinical Director, Adoption Services

    Carol has a Masters in Counselling Psychology.  From 1975-1984 Carol worked in the child welfare system at Halton Children’s Aid Society.  Carol worked as a volunteer coordinator and adoption worker, doing homestudies, placements and follow-up support; specializing in special needs placements. While there, Carol also developed and facilitated a training program for applicants adopting older special needs children as well as one for infant adoptions.  She also helped develop a unique program in which experienced adoptive parents helped assess and mentor new adoptive parents.   In 1984 she became Supervisor of Adoption, Foster Care and Halton Homecare for the Handicapped.  In 1990 Carol became the Director of Adoption Agency and Counselling Service (Ontario), a private adoption agency where she completed domestic placements as well as inter-provincial and international adoptions.  Throughout much of her career, Carol has maintained a private practice as an Approved Adoption Practitioner conducting homestudies and supervising adoption placements. Carol joined Beginnings in 2003 as Acting Director and now serves in her current role, as Clinical Director of Adoption Services. Carol was a member of the Private/Public Adoption Committee from 1996-1999 and Chairperson for the Association of Private Practitioners in Adoption from 1996-1997.  Carol was also the co-founder and co-director of Austin School, a non-profit, private school for children with special needs.

  • Aideen Hennessy
    Aideen Hennessy CGA, Director of Administration & Finance

    Aideen is a professional accountant with many years of finance and management experience working in a variety of different industries including corporate, small business and non-profit.  Aideen is working concurrently as the Director of Finance at United Way Oakville.   Aideen is a fellow member of the Chartered Certified Accountants UK.  She currently oversees and manages all finance functions at Beginnings.

  • Tonya Noble
    Tonya Noble M.A., Director of Education

    Tonya Noble has a Master’s Degree in Counselling Psychology.  She has spent many years working with families, couples, individuals, adolescents, and children, addressing issues related to grief and loss, parenting, special needs, adoption, addiction, anger and conflict, anxiety, depression, self-esteem, trauma and attachment. Tonya has particular expertise in bereavement work and has facilitated groups for adolescents and children through Bereaved Families of Ontario. She has a National Community Crisis Response certificate from NOVA (National Organization for Victim Assistance). Tonya has been working in the field of adoption for over 15 years and is an approved Trainer for Parent Resources for Information, Development, and Education (P.R.I.D.E.) with the Ontario Association of Children’s Aid Societies. Tonya has counselled birth parents and adoptive families throughout the adoption process, providing ongoing support and education for families pre and post-placement.  As the Director of Education for Beginnings Family Services, Tonya supervises and facilitates education and training programs for all the Beginnings locations.  She has recently initiated a Beginnings Healthy Choices and Decision Making Program for youth in high school settings.

  • Mary Howlett Nero
    Mary Howlett Nero MSW, RSW, Embryo Donation Program Coordinator

    Mary has been working as an Approved Adoption Practitioner with the Ministry of Children and Youth Services since 1997. Previously, she worked as a Family Service Worker at the Toronto Children’s Aid Society. While there, she assisted in the development of the Cocaine Impact Reduction Program to assist parents with drug addictions. She has also done vocational counselling with individuals with physical, emotional and psychiatric disabilities, done group work with individuals with drug and alcohol addictions, and been a Board Member for Wyndham House, an organization supporting homeless youth. Since 1997, Mary has maintained a private practice in which she has assisted over 230 families with private domestic, international, and public adoptions. She has personal adoption experience as an older sibling to two adopted children. In 2009, Mary joined Beginnings Family Services as their Adoption Practitioner. Since then she has taken on the role of managing the Embryo Donation Program and assists clients interested in donating or receiving embryos. Mary is a registered member of the Ontario College of Social Workers & Social Service Workers (OCSWSSW) and belongs to the Ontario Association of Social Work (OASW) in addition to being on the Advisory Committee for AdoptOntario.

  • Jean Haase
    Jean Haase MSW, RSW, Infertility Counselling & Embryo Donation Consultant

    Jean has 23 years experience of working as a social worker in the fields of reproductive health, infertility and adoption.  During this time she has specialized in third party conception, such as egg and sperm donation, infertility counselling, and the policy issues related to assisted human reproduction.  Her clinical interests also include domestic and international adoption, and she maintains a private practice in this area.  Jean founded and facilitates a support network for families created from donor insemination and egg donation. At a national level, Jean is an active member of both the Canadian Fertility and Andrology Society (CFAS) and the American Society for Reproductive Medicine (ASRM).  She was a founding member and past chair of the Canadian Special Interest Group for Counsellors. In 2009, Jean completed a secondment to Assisted Human Reproduction Canada, the Federal agency responsible for overseeing the legislation pertaining to fertility treatment in Canada.  Jean is the author and co-author of several articles and book chapters on issues related to assisted human reproduction.  She has been an invited speaker at conferences in Canada, USA, United Kingdom, Hong Kong and Australia. Jean is registered member of the Ontario College of Social Workers & Social Service Workers (OCSWSSW) and belongs to the Ontario Association of Social Work (OASW).

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