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Board Of Directors

As a board of directors, we are a group of dedicated, community-minded individuals working to make a difference.

Why is the Fort Saskatchewan Families First Society and our work on the board important to us?
Karen Sliwkanich

Karen Sliwkanich (chair)

I am a 38 year resident of Fort Saskatchewan who is a retired educator, mother of 4 adult children and grandmother of 4 adorable grandchildren. I have 34 years experience as a volunteer, primarily in social service agencies. On the Families First Board, I work hard to maintain the positive reputation Families First has in the community. Our Board makes decisions that serve our families well and support our work with other organizations to achieve our goals of positive outcomes for all children and their families. As a Board, we support our strong, knowledgeable and dedicated staff team who work together to best serve our families.

Lorraine Hryniw

Lorraine Hryniw (vice-chair)

I am a retired Grandma who loves kids and wants to work for the benefit of all kids.  I feel that I am young and healthy enough to give back to my community.

Doug Rees

Doug Rees (treasurer)

I’m a professional engineer with 30 years of experience (28 with Dow Chemical).  I’m a husband (Rae and I celebrated 25 years in August), and I’m a father to two boys, now grown up.

A community is lot like a flower garden, it takes a little love and care to make to grow and blossom. Families First Society does just that for this community.  It helps it grow and blossom into a vibrant and safe place for all to live. I sit on the board to leverage what skills I have to ensure Families First can continue with this mission. As I’ve said before, “those with the ability to help, have a responsibility to do so.

Joanne Dewart (New)

Joanne Dewart (secretary)

I am a long time resident of Fort Saskatchewan, and I love my community. The programs and opportunities that Families First brings to Fort Saskatchewan and area are truly beneficial to “our village”.  I am proud to be a board member and support the great team at Families First.

Laura Schmidt (new)

Laura Schmidt (director)

I am the Director of Family and Community Support Services for the Town of Gibbons and we partner with Families First to provide Parent Link programs in Sturgeon County.  I choose to be on the Families First Board because I believe in the power of community.


Kirstin Lehmann (director)

I’ve been an Early Childhood Educator, working mostly with children under six, for the past ten years and love seeing the potential of the early years unfold for a child and their family. Since becoming a Mum, I’ve been enjoying my son’s early years and teach a small preschool class a few days a week. In our free time, my family and I love coming to Families First to join in all the new things that are happening and to be part of the wonderful community. I joined the board so that I could give back to the community that has given us so much and helped Fort Saskatchewan feel like home.

Ian Wallebeck (new)

Ian Wallebeck (director)

I am a father of 3 girls and my background includes cooking, military communications and HVAC controls programming. We moved to the Fort about 6 years ago and upon looking for programs for children, were immediately pointed to Families First.

I joined the board because of the incredible support they offer families and I wanted to be a part of the organization as it continues it’s journey.

Annalise Yuzda

Annalise Yuzda (director)

I have been a resident of Fort Saskatchewan my entire life.  For the past 26 years I have been working with children and their families at the YMCA of Northern Alberta. I believe it takes a village to raise children and this is what attracted me to Families First.  The work that Families First does is vital to the success of children and families in our community. My career has been dedicated to Early Learning and Care and volunteering to be on the board of Families First allows me the ability to give back to the community I love and chose to live in.

Heather Boonstra (new)

Heather Boonstra (executive director)

Heather is the Executive Director for the Fort Saskatchewan Families First Society and also one of three Alberta trainers for the Parent-Child Mother Goose Program in Alberta. Her extensive work within the fields of early intervention and community development have fuelled her passion for the importance of healthy connections in families. Heather and her husband, Don, are raising their three children in Fort Saskatchewan and are so proud to call this city their home!

Our Families First Team
staff photo 1