Board of Directors

Michelle Briegel
President, Certification and Education Committee, Legislation Committee

Michelle has been practicing in the field of child and youth care for over 25 years; with front line and management experience in residential services, community programs, treatment programs, and youth criminal justice programs. Michelle is currently an assistant professor at Mount Royal University in the Department of Child Studies and Social Work (Child and Youth Care Major).

Michelle is one of two CYCAA Board Members on the Steering Committee of FACT-AB, guiding legislation and working on the development of the College of Counselling Therapists Registration process. Michelle has been with the CYCAA in the role of Director of Research and Development, developing the online learning program; a member at large, Vice President, and Acting President.

Karlana Noel
Vice-President

Karlana has 18 years of experience in the helping professions working front line and currently in the role of Provincial Manager for Roots and Seeds of Empathy and Program Manager Beaver County Victim Services. Her previous experience includes working with and volunteering on several boards while working as a Director of a Family Day Home Agency.  She enjoys working collaboratively and in partnership with various community agencies to support families and children with accessing services and supports. Prior to this, she worked with an early intervention organization in various capacities supporting families and their children to reach their full potential.

She is a certified CYC Counsellor since April 2019, Qualified Mediator, Certified Infant massage teacher, trained Roots of Empathy Instructor, Mentor, KPP, and trainer.  While completing her practicum in my Master of Arts in Counselling Psychology through Yorkville University. 

Kylie Schneider
Secretary/Treasurer, Financial Committee Chair

Kylie is a recent graduate of MacEwan Universities Bachelor of Child and Youth Care degree program. Throughout her time at MacEwan University, her passion for Child and Youth Care continued to grow through her diverse practicum experiences. So much so, she intends on continuing her studies in September via Strathclyde’s Masters in Child and Youth Care program. Kylie's past work experience includes time spent working in group care, recreation and activity programming, and mental health programming.

She currently employed with Chimo Youth Retreat Centre in Edmonton as a Family Wellness Permanency Coordinator in their Collaborative Service Delivery, Family Wellness program. This is a newly created position that she is excited to help develop alongside the Family Wellness team. She excited to be a part of the Board of Directors for the Child and Youth Care Association of Alberta as she is eager to get involved with the development and expansion of the Child and Youth Care field.

Pamela Mullins
Director, Public Relations Chair

Pamela has been in the field of Child and Youth Care since 1992. Her experience has encompassed youth justice, child protection and in recent years, a focus on trauma informed care primarily in foster care. This has included experience in residential services, community programs, and youth criminal justice programs.

She has a passion for working with children, youth and families from a trauma informed lens and supporting complex needs. Pamela has supervised and trained CYC and other professionals; facilitated training and program development.

Pennie Sibbald
Director, Certification and Education Committee Chair

Pennie has been in the Child and Youth Care field for over 30 years, primarily with Hull Services in Calgary. Pennie became a Certified Child and Youth Care Counsellor(CCYCC) in 1996 and has worked in multiple programs, including group care, school, family work, foster care, mental health, and staff development.

In 2007 Pennie became involved with the Child and Youth Care Association of Alberta and since has had several roles, including the Board of Directors, Chairperson of the Certification and Education Committee, as well as the Alberta representative on the Canadian Council of Child and Youth Care Associations, where she has held positions as Director, Chair of the Communications Committee, Conference Committee member, Vice President, and currently, President.

Carrie Gross
Interim Director

Carrie was born in Lethbridge, Alberta and grew up with many challenges that have shaped who she is today. Her challenges have also been a catalyst in how she views the world around her and a catalyst in choosing her career in the Human Service Field.

Her life experiences were challenging however, they were critical in laying the groundwork for the passion Carrie has, to empower others to reach their potential. She knows, from her own personal journey, that challenges do not define or limit one in achieving success.

Carrie believes that when people “know better, they do better”, especially when that knowledge is supported by healthy support systems.

Today, her focus is to use her personal/professional growth and learning to support others in recognizing their strengths and using their strengths to empower themselves, to believe in themselves and to move forward with confidence and skills in achieving their personal goals. She also understands how empathy can shape change, transform relationships, perspectives, and one’s well-being. Empathy and love are the hall marks of helping and making a difference one person at a time.

Carrie graduated in May 2021 from the Child and Youth Care Program with a two-year diploma from Lethbridge College.

Throughout her educational journey, her passion to work in a Human Service field resonated and grew exponentially with each learning experience the CYC program provided me as a student. The program increased her learning/professional curve and more.

She is excited to have been selected to serve on the board of the CYCAA at the beginning of her career. She is honored to be a part of such an exciting time in the field of CYC and to be part of facilitating the growth of this profession. As a beneficiary of the Child and Youth Care efforts of the last 30 years, Carrie is thrilled to have the opportunity to give back to the community by using her lived experiences and her learning in a meaningful and in a purposeful way that will facilitate growth and empowerment of individuals affected by trauma and other adverse experiences.

Donna Jamieson
Director, Certification and Education Committee

Donna retired as the chair of the MacEwan University Bachelor of Child and Youth Care program in Edmonton at the end of June 2019. She has been in the field of Child and Youth (CYC) for well over forty years—as a practitioner, supervisor, consultant, administrator, author and educator. Her formal education includes a diploma in psychiatric nursing and a master’s degree in educational psychology (counselling). She became both a registered psychologist and a certified child and youth care counsellor in Alberta in the early 1980s.

She is now retired from active practice but continues to be involved with the Child and Youth Care Association of Alberta (CYCAA) where she continues to serve on the board, on specialized committees and as a certification examiner.

Asha Kumari
Interim Director

Asha was born and raised in India, where she founded a non-profit organization to support women and children escaping domestic violence. Nine years ago, when she immigrated to Canada and wanted to continue working with children and youth. That is how she ended up enrolling in the Child and Youth Care Program at Grand MacEwan University. Her international experience working with children and youth, coupled with a CYC diploma, prepared her for the beautiful yet challenging journey ahead.
Her work experience includes but is not limited to a Family support worker, Intervention Case Worker with Children’s Services, group care, and other community programs. Asha can fluently speak and understand Hindi, Punjabi, Urdu, and English language. Presently, she is working as a Foster Care Program Supervisor with Mountain Plains Family Services in Edmonton. She is also currently completing my practicum for the Bachelor of human services administration degree through MacEwan University.
She is a certified child and youth care counsellor since August 2020 who is passionate about working with children and youth. Asha is eager to learn and evolve as a professional by learning and contributing to the CYCAA Family.

Leah Schmidt
Interim Director

Leah graduated from the Child and Youth Care program from the Lethbridge Community College in 1992. Her experience includes residential group care, alternative junior and senior high school and early intervention and prevention work with the Parentlink Centre initiative.

Currently, Leah is a Programs Manager with McMan Youth, Family and Community Services Association in Medicine Hat; overseeing Children’s Services contracts and utilizing her experience to assist with policy revision, service delivery consultation and leadership development. Leah completed her Master of Arts in Leadership from Royal Roads University in 2018 and values continuous learning as well as personal and professional growth.

Arian Sweet
Director, Public Relations Committee

Arian has been practicing in the field of child and youth care for 15 years; with front-line child welfare experience including management, supervisory and specialized roles in assessment and case management. Arian has experience in residential group care and treatment programs, with Catholic Social Services and Chimo Youth Retreat. Throughout Arians CYC career he has primarily focused his areas of interest in child welfare assessment and intake. Arian has extensive training in forensic interviewing of sexually exploited children, violent risk threat assessment and working with Indigenous peoples. Arian is well known in Treaty Six as an advocate for Indigenous peoples' cultural values and traditions. He works tirelessly in supporting truth and reconciliation and improving the way child welfare works and supports Indigenous service recipients. Arian is a Certified Child and Youth Care Counsellor and graduate of two programs from Grant MacEwan University, Bachelor of Child and Youth Care and a Diploma in Mental Health and Addictions. Currently, Arian is Manager with Government of Alberta Children’s Services Edmonton Region CS. Arian's passion for this work has seen him glean and hone his craft from working in all areas of Alberta learning from Elders, leaders and First Nations community members. Arian has always been known for his exceptional relational skills and practice, as well as, his ability to connect and build relationships by creating great partnerships through solid collaboration and team building. Arian honoured to be on the Board of Directors for the Child and Youth Care Association of Alberta and looks forward to moving the Association in the future to support all CYC practitioners in their field.

Penny Thwaites
Office Adminstrator

As the Office Administrator, Penny ensures the smooth operation of the office and website. She also serves as the primary contact for the office. With over 20 years in both public and private sectors, Penny has experience in website development and maintenance, technical support, administrative duties and customer service.

Penny skillfully manages administrative duties and member relations for the Board and Committee Members at CYCAA. She assists members with understanding membership and certification requirements.

Growing up in Colorado, she always wanted to have an accent, who knew that she had one all along by moving to Canada. When she is not knee-deep in work, she can be found reading, gardening, sewing and enjoys time with her husband and their giant doggo.