Joined Pine River in: 2011
Vaughan has more than 30 years of experience as a senior manager in public sector and community organizations, including as President of La Commission de Protection des Droits de la Jeunesse; Executive Director of Batshaw Youth and Family Centres; and Assistant Deputy Minister in three different ministries for the Government of British Columbia. Prior to joining Pine River, he was the Executive Head of Public Affairs at McGill University. Vaughan has two children.
Executive Director of Operations
Joined Pine River in: 2008
John was a member of the Advisory Committee for three years before becoming Executive Director of Operations, and has been an enthusiastic supporter of Pine River in the educational community, and in our local neighbourhood. Before joining Pine River, he was Principal of Banting Memorial High School in Alliston for five years. He spent 20 years in outdoor education, first as a teacher and then Vice Principal of Boyne River Natural Science School. His three decades in education include teaching experiences in Australia, British Columbia, Michigan, and New York State, and he has been involved in provincial “at-risk” youth initiatives. An avid canoeist with extensive experience in Canada’s Arctic, John is passionate about outdoor and environmental education. His broad range of interests includes photography, architecture, local history, and music.
RUTH ANN SPITSE
Director of Finance
Joined Pine River in: 2006
With more than 20 years of experience, Ruth Ann provides accounting and financial services.
After attending Carleton University and Calvin College, Ruth Ann went on to a career in finance, mainly in the marketing and advertising sector. In 2004, she started her own financial management and consulting company, working with various clients including charitable and not-for-profit organizations.
DR. VICTORIA CREIGHTON, PsyD, C.Psych
Joined Pine River in: 2009
Victoria brings 25 years of experience in the field, and a fresh, dynamic approach to her work with our youth, their families, and with her therapists. She completed her master’s degree in 1996 and her doctorate in clinical psychology in 2000.
Victoria came to us from Montana where she worked as clinical supervisor at Montana Academy and Hope Ranch, both residential treatment facilities for adolescents. Her mentor is Dr. John McKinnon, and she brought to Pine River his maturity model for working with adolescents who struggle with addictive behaviours. It is not so much ‘treatment’ as it is a sustained push to help troubled kids catch up – to grow into mature adults.
Victoria is passionate about helping families to grow and heal, empowering them to find themselves, to communicate and relate more effectively. Youths and their families are inspired and motivated to work hard together, guided by Victoria and her team.
TARA MCGEE, MSW, RSW, DIP TIRP
Joined Pine River in: 2013
Tara has 20 years of experience working with youth, and enjoys the Pine River community as it allows her the opportunity to continue to be challenged, to learn and grow.
Tara spent many summers working in Northern Ontario and Quebec guiding youth on extended canoe trips with both Wapomeo and Project CANOE. After her undergraduate degree at UVic, Tara travelled to Cuba where she worked on an organic farm in Havana for 4 months. She also completed an organic farming program in B.C’s Gulf Islands, worked at homeless shelters for youth and transition homes for women and children, and travelled to India where she studied yoga.
Tara eventually settled in Toronto where she pursued her passion for understanding human interactions through her MSW at the University of Toronto, and a Psychotherapy Diploma from The Toronto Institute for Relational Psychotherapy (TIRP). For seven years, Tara worked as a therapist in both private practice and at a social service organization that works with high-risk youth providing long-term therapy. When she was invited to join the Pine River team, she was excited to be able to combine her love of wilderness with therapeutic work with youth. She and her husband have enjoyed their move out of the city to a small town where there is more space for their kids to play and for their garden to grow.
ELIZABETH VAN RYN, M.Sc.
Joined Pine River in: 2012
Liz is a registered psychotherapist, and a Clinical Fellow and Supervisor with the American Association of Marriage and Family Therapy. Liz’s career path began in the field of outdoor adventure and eventually gravitated towards her curiosity about people and families. She completed Master’s training in family therapy, and developed a strong interest in how to be collaborative in the process of therapeutic change.
Before coming to us, Liz spent 15 years working in children’s mental health as a therapist, behaviour consultant, and clinical manager. Working in the trenches of the publicly-funded mental health system taught her how to support parents and kids through some very challenging family, social, and mental health issues. Discovering the maturity model through PRI consolidated and enriched Liz’s work in a way that she finds highly gratifying. Combined with her knowledge of family dynamics, the maturity model allows her to help the PRI students and families make sense of the process of human growth and development.
Liz is an avid outdoors person; she teaches whitewater canoeing, volunteers with the Canadian Ski Patrol, and can be found on a remote river or the side of a mountain when she is not working.
EMILY ERCHICK, MSW, RSW
Joined Pine River in: 2011
Emily holds a Master of Social Work from Smith College School for Social Work, and a Bachelor of Arts in Philosophy and Humanistic Studies from Saint Mary’s College. She has trained in a wide array of settings, including alternative high school programming and experiential work programs for youth in the lavish greens of Oregon, wilderness-based therapy in the high deserts of Utah, adolescent day treatment in the rolling hills of Colorado, and intensive home-based clinical services and outpatient therapy in the urban landscapes of Connecticut. Emily is an Ohio-born Canadian import who loves to read and travel. Her education has focused on adolescent engagement and intervention, which has included training in individual and family facets of child development and maturation. A baseline optimist, Emily assumes a stance of solution-focused intervention and often asks, ‘How does environment allow for personal growth?’
Dr. ELIZABET OREKHOVA, M.Sc, PsyD
Joined Pine River in: 2015
Elizabet moved to Canada from London, UK, where she worked in a variety of settings including the National Health Service, acute mental health, residential and outpatient centers, and charitable organizations. She has a master’s degree in personality and behaviour, and a doctorate in counselling psychology. Having worked across different contexts afforded Elizabet the opportunity to learn to work effectively with a diverse range of individuals in an empathic and person-oriented way. She believes it is crucial to approach every individual in a flexible and sensitive manner, which helps to foster a deeper and more connected relationship.
Elizabet enjoys various aspects of psychology such as research, clinical, and academic work, and aims to combine them into an integrated practice. She is passionate about helping young people through their struggles and empowering them to achieve their fuller potential.
Having lived in several different countries, Elizabet loves travelling and exploring different cultures, as well as getting to know people from all over the world.
SUZY POLLARD, MS, MA
Therapist, Outdoor Leadership Experience (OLE)
Joined Pine River in: 2010
Suzy holds a bachelor’s degree in environmental science from NENE University, England, a master’s degree in recreation administration from Aurora University with a focus on outdoor pursuits, and a Master’s in Counselling Psychology. Suzy brings a strengths based perspective to her work with youth.
Originally from Zimbabwe, Suzy has lived in England, USA, Australia, and Canada, and has travelled extensively through Europe and Asia. She worked in adventure and wilderness-based therapeutic programs for youth-at-risk, across North America, for over ten years prior to joining us. Suzy currently lives in the “Near North” area, where she is free to roam the woods and explore the rivers.
JOHN MALLON, MA
Joined Pine River in: 2012
John started at PRI as relief staff, and in a short time became Weekend Shift Supervisor. He became Interim Director of Admissions in July 2015 and Director in 2016.
John studied political science in the UK, and has a master's with a specialism in Japanese Politics and Society. He lived in Japan for four years, working for a local government office in the deepest countryside as an international event organizer, translator, and was attached to two high schools teaching English. He also lived in the center of Tokyo, so got to see this wonderful country from both ends of the spectrum.
John trained as a teacher when he returned to the UK with a specialism in Japanese Language, and subsequently taught at Tavistock High School in Devon. Japanese is on the curriculum in a few state schools in the UK.
When John emigrated to Canada in 2008, he changed career paths and became a police officer in the region of Peel, working in the city of Brampton. After a short while, he concluded that this wonderful occupation was not for him, and found Pine River. John is passionate about sports, and received university colours for both rugby and cricket, awarded for outstanding achievement.
LAURA MILLS, PH.D
Director of Research & Evaluation
Joined Pine River in: 2009
Laura has a PhD in Psychology in the area of Quantitative Methodology (Statistics) from York University. Her professional interest focuses on increasing treatment effectiveness through client-oriented success measures. Laura conducts regular evaluation here at PRI to determine the immediate and sustained effectiveness of our program. She is dedicated to broadening the impact of PRI by contributing to the literature in the youth addiction sector. She is also helping other programs across Ontario to increase their capacity to conduct and utilize evaluation, and has secured several grants to support this work. Laura has a passion for photography, running, and the outdoors.
VAL M0NK, PH.D
Joined Pine River in: 2016
Val's passion is to join people in life's journey of learning, discovery and growth. For over 35 years, she has been working with families, couples, and individuals. She started her career in the school system in 1976 and soon after created her own business, offering private therapy, personal growth workshops, practicum supervision, and consultation. Her PhD in Therapeutic Counselling is combined with many years of experience using the Family Systems Model developed by Virginia Satir, and the teachings of Dr. Wm. Glasser in Choice Theory.
Her husband, Ted, is a retired high school teacher. They have 2 sons.
Joined Pine River in: 2017
Zoë holds a Masters of Social Work from McGill University as well as a Bachelor of Social Work and a Bachelor of Arts in Theatre and Film from McMaster University. Zoë has spent the last 10 years working in a variety of settings with youth – from directing wilderness programming to supporting youth in crisis at an emergency shelter. Most recently, Zoë has been supporting community driven program development for youth in First Nation communities across Ontario. Zoë takes a strengths based approach to working with youth and is passionate about empowering youth to become leaders for their peers and their communities. When she’s not at work Zoë enjoys travelling, yoga, a good crossword puzzle, and spending as much time as possible adventuring outside.
Joined Pine River in: 2012
Barb’s professional background began in teaching where she has, for over ten years, worked with students from 4 years of age to 18, including in Special Education. She has served as a Special Assistant to a Federal Minister of Citizenship and Immigration, as well as the Minister of Revenue. In 2012, Barb led and coordinated Pine River’s re-accreditation with the Council on Accreditation, and in 2013, she started as PRI’s Director of Communications. Barb is also a PRI alumni parent.
Barb holds an Honours BA in english and philosophy from the University of Guelph, a Bachelor of Education from the University of Ottawa, and she is a few courses shy of her Master’s in Education. She loves to hike, ski, paddle, and swim in lakes.
JAIME SILK, MA
Joined Pine River in: 2015
Jaime joined Pine River in April 2015 as Interim OLE Therapist. Having completed her term, she is now (January 2016) in the position of Aftercare Coordinator. Jaime holds a Master’s in Counselling Psychology and an Addictions Certificate. Her background includes over a decade of clinical work specializing in teenage mental health. Jaime is a free spirit who loves the outdoors and finds adventures at every angle of life.
Pine River staff are highly qualified, well-trained, caring professionals. They are as likely to be found ice fishing, caring for farm animals, riding horses, tapping trees for maple syrup, beekeeping, making ice rinks, or camping with the students, as they are involved in individual, group, or family therapy sessions, leading groups, teaching, programming, maintaining the property, cooking, or running operations. All are passionate about providing the best possible care for our youth and their families.
MORE PHOTOS COMING SOON!
Outdoor Leadership Experience (OLE) Staff
Residential Youth Counsellors (RYC) - Campus
Residential Youth Counsellors (RYC) Overnight - Campus
HR / Accounts & Payroll
Administration / Reception
Maintenance / Custodial
JOHN KILLEN, Maintenance Coordinator
JOANNE KILLEN, Custodial Supervisor
PAUL CARDELLA, Cleaner/Maintenance
CHANTELLE DAVIS, Custodian
Student Health Care
Creative Arts / Music
DAVID WIPPER, Music Teacher
HAZEL WIPPER, Vocal Teacher