Beginnings is professionally managed by the following team:
MSW, RSW, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR
Amanda is the Executive Director of Beginnings. She holds a Master of Social Work Degree and is a Registered Social Worker with the Ontario College of Certified Social Workers. Amanda is also an approved Private Adoption Practitioner with the Ministry of Children, Community and Social Services. Being immersed in the field of adoption for over 23 years, Amanda began her career as an Adoption Worker, helping facilitate over 350 public adoptions. During that time Amanda spearheaded the “Infant Consent Adoption Program” and was instrumental in the leadership of this program. With extensive training in the areas of child welfare, grief and loss, adoption, parenting, attachment, and more, Amanda brings her knowledge and leadership skills to Beginnings and the private field. From the inception of her career, Amanda has embraced the value of openness as a way of celebrating the roots of each child’s story. Her passion for honouring the voices of those most vulnerable and building strong connections between families is at the heart of her work.
BA, DIRECTOR OF ADMINISTRATION
Megan’s interest in the work of Beginnings grew from her personal journey as she and her husband became an adoptive family through Beginnings 16 years ago. Upon completion of her family, she joined the Beginnings board and in 2014 she became a staff member. She has an Honours Bachelor of Arts degree in Sociology with work experience at a Hospital Foundation where she was responsible for events, donor recognition, grants, awards, bursaries, and scholarships. In addition, Megan worked as a Foster Parent/Adoptive Parent Recruiter for the Children’s Aid Society. In her current role of Director of Administration at Beginnings, she is responsible for the management of corporate business including license and accreditation renewals, administration, personnel, human resources, budget management and donor development for the charity side of Beginnings work.
MARY HOWLETT NERO
MSW, RSW, DIRECTOR – EMBRYO DONATION/RECIPIENT PROGRAM
Mary is the Director of the of the Embryo Donor/Recipient Program. She is a registered member of the Ontario College of Social Workers (OCSWSSW), of the Ontario Association of Social Workers (OASW) and of the Canadian Fertility and Andrology Society (CFAS). Mary has been working as an Approved Adoption Practitioner with the Ministry of Children, Community and Social Services since 1997 and has maintained a private practice in which she has assisted hundreds of families with private domestic, international, and public adoptions. Previously, she worked as a Family Service Worker at the Toronto Children’s Aid Society. She has also done vocational counselling and drug and alcohol addiction counselling and was a board member for an organization supporting homeless youth. Mary has always enjoyed working with families to support long-term relationships and she loves sharing information about our one-of-a-kind Open Embryo Donor/Recipient program.
CGA, DIRECTOR OF FINANCE
Aideen is the Director of Finance for Beginnings and currently oversees and manages all finance functions for the organization. She is a Chartered Professional Accountant and has many years of finance and management experience working in a variety of different industries including corporate, small business and non-profit. She is working concurrently as the Director of Finance at King’s Christian Collegiate. Aideen has been with Beginnings since 2013 and appreciates the ongoing efforts of the team in supporting those in need and connecting families across our communities.
MA, DIRECTOR OF STRATEGIC COMMUNICATIONS
Tonya is the Director of Strategic Communications for Beginnings. She has a Master’s Degree in Counselling Psychology and spent the first part of her career working as a counsellor in a variety of roles including private practice with a Clinical Psychologist, Employee Assistance (EAP), and counselling expectant parents across Ontario. Tonya also spent several years as a volunteer facilitator with Bereaved Families of Ontario facilitating programs for children and youth. She continued to focus in the areas of grief and loss, attachment, trauma, and parenting as a P.R.I.D.E. Trainer (Parent Resources for Information, Development, and Education) with the Ontario Association of Children’s Aid Societies and as a Private Adoption Practitioner. As the Director of Education for Beginnings, Tonya worked with our teams to develop education and training programs tailored to the strengths and needs of families. Tonya’s current role provides strategic direction to the organization in the development of programs and policies based on our vision of supporting open communication and honouring relationships with compassion and respect.
MLS, CLINICAL FILE COORDINATOR
Kim is the Clinical File Coordinator at Beginnings. She holds an Honours Bachelor of Arts, Master’s in Library Science and a Certificate in Human Resources Management. Kim has six years of experience working for law firms and four years of experience working for a securities regulator. In her primary role at Beginnings, Kim prepares all the paperwork from the start of the adoption process to the legal finalization. Her background in legal research has been very helpful in navigating both the government and court system in various jurisdictions. Kim enjoys working with all the families who come to Beginnings and helping them through this very important part of their adoption journey.
DEANNA VAN HERK
S.S.W. – CLINICAL FILE ADMINISTRATION
Deanna is supporting the adoption program as Clinical File Administrator. She has a Social Service Worker Diploma and over 15 years of experience working for nonprofit organizations that serve women, children, and families. Most recently, she has worked at a crisis shelter for women in a variety of roles including, administrative support, project coordination, volunteer management and fundraising. She is thrilled to be joining the Beginnings team and is looking forward to being a part of the process of building families.
BA, OFFICE ADMINISTRATOR, DONOR RELATIONS COORDINATOR
Madeline is the Office Administrator and Donor Relations Coordinator at Beginnings. Her studies have provided her with an Honours Bachelor of Arts degree in Social Work, Sociology and Psychology. Her education in combination with many years of clerical experience and office management, makes her a perfect fit for this role. As the first point of contact, Madeline is responsible for the intake of all birth parent inquiries, receiving community referrals, and responding to questions about the adoption and embryo donor/recipient programs. She manages the registration and orientation process for all prospective adoptive applicants. Madeline also plays a key role in stewarding Beginnings’ donors and supporting fundraising initiatives. As the primary handler for all agency wide services and programs, Madeline has a heart for serving others and a passion for her community.
Simona is a recent addition to the Beginning’s team and is covering for our Office Administrator Madeline’s maternity leave. She is responsible for general inquiries for all our services including birth parent inquiries, community referrals, and questions regarding the embryo donor/recipient program. Simona is the main point of contact for our adoption program and manages all of Beginning’s adoptive applicants throughout the registration and active process. She is a graduate from Mohawk College McKeil School of Business with diplomas in Business Administration, and General Arts and Sciences – and has several years of experience in office management, project coordination, marketing, and customer relations. This, paired with her personal drive and love for working in the community makes her an excellent addition to the BFS team!
MScEd, OCT, RSW – EMBRYO DONOR/RECIPIENT PROGRAM COORDINATOR
Julia is the Embryo/Donor Recipient Program Coordinator and has been working with Beginnings since 2019. She is a Registered Social Worker with the Ontario College of Social Workers and Social Service Workers (OCSWSSW) and has memberships with the Ontario Association of Social Workers (OASW), the Canadian Fertility and Andrology Society (CFAS), the Saskatchewan Association of Social Workers (SASW), and the Ontario College of Teachers (OCT). In the Embryo Donor/Recipient Program, Julia supports donor and recipient families and clinics from the initial inquiry to ongoing consultation, coordination, assessment, and planning. With many years of experience in the field of client service and administration, Julia enjoys being able to provide education and oversight for this program. Julia is also an Approved Adoption Practitioner with the Ministry of Children, Community and Social Services. She is excited to be a part of the Beginnings team as she guides clients through the agency’s programs and all the options available.
MSW – EMBRYO DONOR/RECIPIENT PROGRAM COUNSELLOR
Stephanie is a counsellor with Beginnings Embryo Donor/Recipient Program. She is also a Private Adoption Practitioner, approved since 2012 to conduct homestudies for domestic and intercountry adoption and to supervise adoption placements. Stephanie is a Registered Social Worker with the Ontario College of Social Workers and Social Service Workers (OCSWSSW) and has memberships with both the Ontario Association of Social Workers (OASW) and the Canadian Fertility and Andrology Society (CFAS). In her private practice, Stephanie also works as a birth parent counsellor and provides ongoing support regarding adoption, as well as services relating to fertility. Previously, Stephanie has worked in a variety of settings with families and children, including in hospital, a children’s treatment centre, and at her local Children’s Aid Society. She also has extensive experience and training in mental health, alternative dispute resolution and as a clinical investigator with the Office of the Children’s Lawyer. Stephanie is passionate about her work in helping create, support and strengthen families. She is fluently bilingual and offers services in both French and English.
BAA, BSW, MSW, RSW
Elaine is a counsellor with Beginnings Embryo Donor/Recipient Program. She is also a therapist working in the community supporting individuals and families. Her background is in attachment, post adoption, and trauma support – specifically, PTSD, complex and developmental trauma. Elaine is a Registered Social Worker with the Ontario College of Social Workers and Social Service Workers (OCSWSSW) and has memberships in both the Ontario Association of Social Workers (OASW) and the Canadian Fertility and Andrology Society (CFAS). Previously, Elaine worked at the Adoption Council of Ontario (ACO) as well as the Children’s Aid Society in both worker and supervisory roles. Her infertility journey and the experience of adopting her daughter in 2000 inspired a passion for social work and connecting with children who’ve experienced loss as well as supporting parents and prospective adoptive parents. Elaine is thrilled to be a part of Beginnings to help support and guide people through the programs offered.
Janice began her role at Beginnings in 2015 as the Coordinator of the CRC Directory for Classis Hamilton churches. She can now be found in the Beginnings office one day a week working on various additional important administrative tasks such as donor receipting and newsletter distribution. She also works as a church secretary and bookkeeper. Janice has an Accounting Diploma from Mohawk College. She enjoys using her administrative and organizational skills to help those around her and she is proud to be part of a caring and dedicated team.
BScN, RN, PREGNANCY/BIRTH PARENT COUNSELLOR
Bonnie has been a counsellor with the Beginnings clinical team since 2008 and provides counselling and support to expectant parents who are exploring their options and assists families through the adoption planning process. She holds a Bachelor of Science Degree in Nursing. Bonnie has worked in Public Health in the Healthy Babies Healthy Children Program and has extensive paediatric nursing experience. In addition, Bonnie has been a Co-Trainer for the Parent Resources for Information, Development, and Education (P.R.I.D.E.) program and has a deep understanding of the importance of compassion in understanding loss and trauma. Supporting birth parents though their adoption journey and helping families navigate their open adoption relationships is extremely rewarding for Bonnie. Bonnie’s experience with adoption is also personal as her husband is an adoptee, who reunited with his birth family many years ago and together they share a wonderful relationship. They also have built their family through adoption.
BSW, CLINICAL COORDINATOR
Bethany is the Clinical Coordinator at Beginnings. She holds a Bachelor of Social Work Degree and began her career working with at risk children and then training and mentoring prospective adoptive and foster families.. Bethany was delighted to come on board with Beginnings as a counsellor in 2018. In her current role, Bethany implements Beginnings clinical support services including pregnancy and birth parent counselling, birth parent support programs, foster care support, adoptive family check ins, professional outreach, community education and more. Bethany is an adoptee and adoptive parent which makes the work of Beginnings very close to her heart. She feels privileged to work at Beginnings in the small family like environment, which prioritizes doing the very best work while honouring and respecting the wishes and best interests of our families.
B.A.Soc., S.S.W., PREGNANCY/BIRTH PARENT COUNSELLOR
Connie is a pregnancy and birth parent counsellor with Beginnings. She started her career working with the Public Health Unit in the Healthy Babies, Healthy Children Program at its inception. From there, Connie spent 15 years at an agency working with at risk children and their families. Connie then went on to work as a pregnancy/birth parent counsellor in the public sector providing support and counselling to expectant parents. She is passionate about infant consent adoption and is an advocate for birth parent rights to make appropriate, safe plans for their unborn and newborn infants. Connie is delighted to be a part of the Beginnings team.
BA, RSSW – PREGNANCY/BIRTH PARENT COUNSELLOR
Amy is a Pregnancy and Birth Parent Counsellor with Beginnings. She holds an Honours Bachelor of Arts degree, with a specialization in Social Work, as well as diplomas in Social Work and Child and Youth Counselling. Amy is registered with the Ontario College of Social Worker (OCSWSSW) and has extensive training and experience in mental health and addictions, which she gained throughout her career working in a variety of settings including hospitals, schools and community programs. She is passionate about providing support and advocacy to birth parents throughout their adoption journey.
BSW, RSW – PREGNANCY/BIRTH PARENT COUNSELLOR
Kimberly is a Pregnancy and Birth Parent Counsellor with Beginnings. She is a Registered Social worker with the Ontario College of Certified Social Workers (OCSWSSW) and has membership with the Ontario Association of Social Workers (OASW). Kimberly is a Private Adoption Practitioner in Mentorship with the Ministry of Children, Community and Social Services. Kimberly started her social work career 23 years ago working with at risk children and their families. She has been working in the public adoption sector over the past 8 years. She is excited to be part of the Beginnings team walking alongside families.
PREGNANCY CARE CENTRE DIRECTOR, BEGINNINGS WOODSTOCK
Joyce has served as the Director of the Beginnings Woodstock Pregnancy Care Center since 2010. She has a big love for the work of Beginnings and the clients who walk through our doors. Joyce holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in Advertising and brings over 15 years of experience in fundraising, business and event management, and working with non-profit organizations. Prior to joining Beginnings Family Services, Joyce held the position of VP for Operations for Tronco Advertising Company, Inc. in the Philippines. She has also served on the advisory board of various national youth groups and organizations in the Philippines, including her local chapter of the Far East Broadcasting Company (FEBC). Joyce and her husband are the proud parents of two energetic little boys.