Meet the

Beginnings Team

Beginnings is professionally managed by the following team:

AMANDA BAIGENT


MSW, RSW, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR

Amanda has a Bachelor of Social Work Degree (1988), University of Windsor and a Masters of Social Work Degree (1996), Wilfrid Laurier University. Amanda is a Registered Social Worker with the Ontario College of Certified Social Workers. She has worked in the field of adoption for the past 18 years. In January 2018 Amanda joined the Beginnings team as the Clinical Director, and initially completed the intakes of many new waiting adoptive families, and welcomed them onto our active list. In July 2018 Amanda moved into the role of Executive Director, which also includes overseeing the Beginnings Pregnancy Care Centres in Northumberland, Guelph and Woodstock. Between the years of 2000-2017 as an Adoption Worker, Amanda completed over 350 public adoptions. During that time Amanda spearheaded the “Infant Consent Adoption Program” and was instrumental in the leadership of this program. She has completed extensive training in the area of Child Welfare and Adoption as well as Attachment Issues. Amanda embraces openness in adoption and has done so since the inception of her career. She is thrilled to bring her experience into the private adoption sector. She is a parent of 3 teenage boys and has the full support of her children and her husband, Raj as the Executive Director of Beginnings Family Services.

megan-dunlop-elms

MEGAN DUNLOP-ELMS


BA, DIRECTOR OF ADMINISTRATION

Megan has been part of the Beginnings family for over 10 years. In her current role she is responsible for the management of corporate business including license and accreditation renewals, administration, personnel, human resources, budget management and donor development for both charities. Prior to this position Megan was the Manager of Administrative Services for Beginnings, and previous to that she served on the Beginnings Board of Directors. Megan has a wealth of adoption experience as she and her husband have adopted two children through Beginnings. Megan also has worked at a local Children’s Aid Society as a Foster Parent/Adoptive Parent Recruiter. In earlier years she worked in donor stewardship at a Hospital Foundation, where she was responsible for events, donor recognition, grants, awards, bursaries and scholarships. Megan holds an Honours Bachelor of Arts in Sociology.

MARY HOWLETT NERO


MSW, RSW, EMBRYO DONATION PROGRAM COORDINATOR

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. In 2009, Mary joined Beginnings Family Services as their Adoption Practitioner. In 2010, she took on the role of managing the agency’s Embryo Donation Program and assists clients interested in donating or receiving embryos. Mary 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).

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, around issues related to grief and loss, trauma, attachment, adoption, parenting, and special needs. Tonya has been working in the field of adoption for over 20 years and was a P.R.I.D.E. Trainer (Parent Resources for Information, Development, and Education) with the Ontario Association of Children’s Aid Societies for 10 years. 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 Beginnings locations with a focus on growing strong and healthy families.

AIDEEN HENNESSY


CGA, DIRECTOR OF 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 King’s Christian Collegiate. Aideen is a Chartered Professional Accountant and a Certified General Accountant. She currently oversees and manages all finance functions at Beginnings.

KIM WACHTA


MLS, CLINICAL ADMINISTRATIVE ASSISTANT

Kim’s primary role at Beginnings is to prepare all the paperwork from the start of the adoption process right up to the legal finalization. Kim enjoys working with all the families and helping them through this very important part of their adoption journey. Kim has six years of experience working for law firms and four years of experience working for a securities regulator. Kim’s background in legal research has been very helpful while navigating through both the government and the court system in various jurisdictions. Kim holds an Honours Bachelor of Arts, Masters in Library Science and a certificate in Human Resources Management.

MADELINE SLUMP


BA, ADMINISTRATIVE ASSISTANT

Madeline’s studies at Redeemer University have provided her with a Bachelor of Arts Honours degree in Social Work and Psychology. In combination with her many years of administrative and clerical experience, this makes her a perfect fit in her role at Beginnings. Madeline is responsible for the assessment of all incoming inquiries and referrals. She also works with prospective adoptive couples and helps guide them through the first stages of the adoption process. Madeline has always had a heart for serving others, which she puts to good use as the first point of contact for all agency programs at the Beginnings Hamilton office.

JULIA MILMINE


BSW, MScEd, OCT, EMBRYO DONATION PROGRAM ASSISTANT

Julia joined Beginnings in May of 2019 and is covering for our Administrative Assistant’s maternity leave as well as working with our Embryo Donation Program. She is a graduate of Brock University, Niagara University and the University of Calgary and studied sociology, social work, and education and has many years of experience in customer service and administration. Julia is excited to join the Beginnings team as she guides clients through the agency’s programs. 

JANICE SANDERSON


OFFICE SUPPORT

Janice begin 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 Hamilton office one day a week working on various additional important administrative tasks such as donor receipting and newsletter distribution. She also works as the church secretary and bookkeeper at First Hamilton CRC. Janice has an Accounting Diploma from Mohawk College. Janice is married, has three adult children, and enjoys gardening, ball hockey and being outdoors.

BONNIE ARCHER


BScN, RN, BIRTHPARENT COUNSELLOR

Bonnie holds a Bachelor of Science Degree in Nursing and has worked with Birth Parents for the past 13 years. Bonnie has been with the Beginnings team for over 10 years. Bonnie finds supporting birth parents though their adoption journey, and following their open adoption relationships to be extremely rewarding. Bonnie has worked in Public Health in the Healthy Babies Healthy children program and also has extensive paediatric nursing experience.  Bonnie also has been a Co-Trainer with for the Parent Resources for Information, Development, and Education (P.R.I.D.E.) program. Bonnie is married to Mark who is an adoptee. They reunited with Mark’s birth family 14 years ago and share a wonderful relationship together. Bonnie and Mark have three children together, two of whom are adopted.

LYNN GOUIN


M.S.W. R.S.W., BIRTHPARENT COUNSELLOR

Lynn has a Masters of Social Work Degree and has worked as a birth parent counsellor with Beginnings Family Services since 2013. She provides counselling and support to birth parents considering an adoption plan. Prior to working at Beginnings Lynn had gained experience in bereavement counselling through CMHA. Lynn is a great supporter of both Hospice and the MS Society through her fundraising and volunteer work.

BETHANY VIDICAN


BSW, BIRTH PARENT COUNSELLOR

Bethany has a Bachelor of Social Work Degree and is delighted to be a part of the Beginnings team as a birth parent counselor. Bethany is an adoptee and adoptive parent which makes the work of Beginnings very close to her heart. Bethany began her career employed by a government agency working with at risk children and then training and mentoring prospective adoptive and foster families. Bethany 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.

CONNIE BARRETT


B.A.Soc., S.S.W., BIRTH PARENT COUNSELLOR

Connie 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 a government agency working with at risk children and their families. Connie then worked as a pregnancy/birth parent counsellor in the public sector providing support and counselling to expectant parents. In that capacity, working alongside Amanda, they successfully completed numerous adoptions. Connie 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 and excited to join the Beginnings team.

ALLISON EATON


BSW, MSW, RSW, BIRTH PARENT COUNSELLOR

Allison has over 14 years of combined experience in the field of social work, working with both individuals and families. She has a Bachelor of Social Work Degree and a Masters of Social Work Degree. Allison is a registered member of the Ontario College of Social Workers and Social Service Workers (OCSWSSW) and belongs to the Ontario Association of Social Workers (OASW). She provides counselling and support to birth parents considering an adoption plan. Prior to working at Beginnings, Allison had gained experience in the area of
adoption as a P.R.I.D.E. Trainer (Parent Resources for Information, Development, and Education) with the Ontario Association of Children’s Aid Societies, a SAFE home study worker and a supervisor of home assessments. Allison is trained in Brief Solution Focused Therapy, Cognitive Behavioural Therapy and Dialectical Behaviour Therapy. She strives to ensure the well-being and best interests of children and families by supporting openness agreements and family connectedness. Allison has extensive experience working with children and youth, and is a proud mother to her daughter.

JOYCE SCHULTZ


PREGNANCY CARE CENTRE DIRECTOR, BEGINNINGS GUELPH & WOODSTOCK

Joyce has served as the Director of the Beginnings Woodstock Pregnancy Care Center since 2010, and in 2020 became also the Director of the Beginnings Guelph Pregnancy Care Centre. 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.

JEAN HAASE


MSW, RSW, INFERTILITY COUNSELLING & EMBRYO DONATION CONSULTANT

Jean has 25 years experience 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. Jean founded a support network for families created from donor insemination and egg donation – the Donor Conception Network of Southwestern Ontario, which meets in London and Toronto. At a national level, Jean is an active member of the Canadian Fertility and Andrology Society (CFAS). She was a founding member and past chair of the Canadian Special Interest Group for Counsellors. In 2009, Jean completed a 2 year Executive Interchange secondment with Assisted Human Reproduction Canada, the Federal agency formerly 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. Jean 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).

Join In. You’re In The Family

Support the Beginnings family in a range of wonderful ways.
How COVID-19 is Affecting BeginningsLearn More