“...You all care about and love the children back to wholeness...It is so painful to be separated from your child, but when you know how much they are being cared for, and you know where they were headed, they could not be in a better more loving place.”
Vaughan Dowie CEO
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.
John Fallis Executive Director of Operations
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.
Dr. Victoria Lynn Creighton, PsyD, C.Psych Clinical Director
Victoria has a doctorate in clinical psychology and has been practicing for over twelve years. She has training and experience in treating drug and alcohol abuse, disordered eating, autism, ADD/ADHD, and self-harm, and has a sub-specialty in treating adolescent women. Her clinical work incorporates Experiential Therapy, Dialectic Behavioural Therapy, Object Relations, and Family Systems treatment. Dr. Creighton has been a therapist in private practice, as well as clinical supervisor at Montana Academy and at Hope Ranch, both residential treatment facilities for adolescents in Montana. Her other passions include horse riding and training, growing roses, and oil painting.
Amanda Rodgers Director of Admissions
Amanda graduated with honors as a Community Outreach and Development Worker from Sheridan College. Her extensive professional development training has included suicide prevention and awareness, leadership, coaching, gang awareness, promoting self-esteem and self-awareness. Within the capacity of Correctional Officer, Volunteer Coordinator and Case Manager within the Ministry of Correctional and Community Services, she participated in peer support counseling, group facilitation, mediation and conflict resolution, program development with a multiplicity of clients and stakeholders. Amanda feels that growing a healthy community is vital and she has been involved in a vast range of community and volunteer work, including building a local youth shelter, developing and implementing a support community for families with children who have cerebral palsy, counseling and family support with Victims Services, and program co-ordination with Hospice Dufferin. Amanda enjoys the benefits of a healthy lifestyle for her family and participates in several recreational activities throughout the year. As a mother of a child with special needs, she advocates widely for her son and other families. She considers recovery and a balance of healthy eating and physical fitness to go hand in hand. She believes in the positive community culture that Pine River Institute upholds and the potential of every student that lives within it.
Suzy Pollard, MS OLE Therapist
Suzy holds a bachelor’s degree in Environmental Science from NENE University, England and a Master’s Degree in Recreation Administration from Aurora University, with a focus on Outdoor Pursuits. Originally from Zimbabwe, Suzy has lived between England, USA, Australia and Canada. For over ten years, across North America, Suzy has been working in adventure and wilderness- based therapeutic programs for youth-at-risk. Suzy lives in the “Near North” area close to the Outdoor Leadership Experience Program. In her free time, she enjoys scuba diving and travelling.
Emily Erchick, MSW Therapist
Emily completed her Master’s degree at Smith College School for Social Work. She has trained in a wide array of settings including alternative high school programming, experiential work programs for youth, wilderness-based therapy, adolescent day treatment, intensive home-based clinical services, and in an outpatient psychiatric clinic. Her education has focused on adolescent engagement and intervention, which has included training in individual and family facets of development and maturation. Her treatment approach is eclectic and relational, with a strong foundation in psychodynamic assessment. Often in her work, Emily will incorporate narrative therapy, interpersonal psychotherapy, trauma-focused cognitive behavioral therapy, and motivational interviewing. A baseline optimist, she assumes a stance of solution-focused intervention and is often asking, ‘How does environment allow for personal growth?’. Emily has a Bachelor of Arts degree in Philosophy. She also likes to read, travel, and run.
Elizabeth van Ryn, M.Sc. Therapist
Liz is trained as a Couple and Family Therapist and is a Clinical Supervisor with the American Association of Marriage and Family Therapy. She has spent the past 15 years working in Children’s Mental Health as a therapist, behavior consultant, and more recently as a clinical manager. Her clinical interests focus on how to assist youth and families to re-define themselves in ways that open up space for change and growth. 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.
Tara McGee, MSW, RSW, Dip TIRP Therapist
Tara completed her Master’s degree in Social Work at the University of Toronto and her Psychotherapy Diploma with The Toronto Institute for Relational Psychotherapy (TIRP). Before becoming a psychotherapist, Tara worked as a counsellor in women’s transitional shelters in B.C., at homeless shelters for youth in Toronto and has guided countless adolescents on canoe trips in northern Ontario and Quebec. Tara has been working as a psychotherapist in both private practice and at a community mental health agency that serves teenagers and their families for the past seven years. She works from a relational therapeutic perspective and uses attachment, intersubjective, and self psychological theories to guide her work. Tara has experienced the amazing therapeutic benefits of both the natural world and the psychotherapeutic process and is passionate about the immersion into both realms as a means to create positive individual and group change. Tara loves to garden, bike, canoe trip, cook, walk in the woods, read books by the lake, and wake up very early to get some yoga in before her two wonderful children emerge from their rooms bleary eyed and ready to play.
Eric King, MSW, RSW Director of Family Programs
Eric has been passionate about his work with adolescents and their families throughout his career. He has an extensive background in systemic and strength-based family therapy with teens in a range of contexts including mental health clinics, residential treatment centers, schools, and hospital settings. He has maintained a private practice with families, couples and individuals since 1990. In addition to his role at Pine River, Eric is a trainer at Brief Therapy Training Centres – International, operating out of the Hincks-Dellcrest Institute, a post-graduate training centre for mental-health professionals. He has a cross-appointment with the Department of Child Psychiatry at the University of Toronto, and teaches online courses through the continuing education program at the University of Toronto. Eric’s current interests include multiple family therapy, adventure-based therapy, and mindfulness-based approaches to adolescent anxiety and depression.
Meghan McIntosh Program Manager
Meghan has been working with youth since 1999 when she began a career at a successful outdoor therapeutic program in Alabama. Throughout the 10 years she was in Alabama, she took on the role of a front line counselor, supervisor, and unit director and eventually became Adventure Risk Manager for the company. She received extensive training in outdoor instruction and ultimately became a white water rafting guide, ropes course trainer, adventure trip leader, wilderness EMT, and Wilderness first responder instructor. In order to stay connected to youth, Meghan focused on the aftercare process when she moved out of the front line and still connects with students from the day she started 10 years ago. She has a strong belief in the healing power of the outdoors and is happy to be bringing her skills and experience back to Canada. Meghan grew up in the Orangeville area and is excited to be back ‘home’ to continue her journey at Pine River Institute. Meghan holds a BA in Recreation from the University of Waterloo.
Ron Gray, MSW, RSW Aftercare Coordinator
Ron has worked with “at risk” adolescents, young adults and their families in residential, outdoor and educational settings for over thirty years and takes great joy in helping them make significant life changes. As an educator, Ron taught English, worked in the guidance area and was central to the development of an alternative high school. As a school social worker, he developed expertise working with grief and depression and assisting young people and their families cope with the turbulence of this life stage. Ron is an avid outdoorsman, and enjoys several sports, reading and dabbling in the arts. He claims he is happiest when there is no roof over his head.
Laura Mills, M.A., PhD (Candidate) Director of Research & Evaluation
Laura is completing her PhD in Psychology in the area of Quantitative Methodology (Statistics). As a consultant to schools and programs, Laura provided expertise on evaluation and program research. Her previous research includes a study of alcoholism, and analytical methods for clinical research. Laura is a Research Analyst/Associate at Simcoe County District School Board, where she consults on research projects including program evaluation, student success tracking, professional development, standardized testing outcomes, and predictive elements of transition vulnerability to high school. Laura's professional interest focuses on vulnerable students, and strategies to reduce risk behaviours and school drop-out. She has a passion for photography, running, and the outdoors.
Our staff members spend most of their time working directly with the students. They are role models – experienced professionals committed to the families, the program, and their own personal and professional development.
With a 1:4 staff to student ratio, our staff have the opportunity to build strong relationships with our students and families as they experience all aspects of the program together. We have a strong front-line with a diversity of expertise - click through to meet them here:
Board of Directors
Shauneen Bruder, Chair
Executive VP Business & Commercial Banking, RBC Financial Group
Senior Advisor, Norton Rose Ogilvy Renault LLP
Former Ontario Attorney General
Mark Greenberg, OC, MBChB, FRCP(C)
Medical Director, Pediatric Oncology Group of Ontario
Former CEO, Ontario Medical Association
Co-Chair, Human Rights Watch Canada
CEO, Executive Coaching Associates
Stuart P. Hensman
Harvey Schipper, MD, FRCP(C)
Professor of Medicine, University of Toronto
Jay Swartz, Vice-Chair
Davies Ward Phillips & Vineberg LLP
PRI Honorary Board Members
Ronald A. Crane
PRI Honorary Patron
The Honourable R. Roy McMurtry
Former Chief Justice of Ontario
Director of Camp Towhee, Integra Foundation
Bradley, R.N., B.A.
Executive Director, The Jean Tweed Centre
Executive Director, Covenant House
Drache, C.M., Q.C.
Partner, Drache Aptowitzer LLP
Former Dean of Medicine & Dentistry, University of Western Ontario
Director, Community Life, Greenwood College School
Principal, Upper Canada College
Former Chair, Donwood Institute
Executive Director, Operation Springboard
Former Federal Deputy Minister
CEO, Todres Leadership Counsel
PRIVACY STATEMENT: Pine River Institute values its relationship with its students (including potential students), their parents, and alumni, and is committed to the protection of their personal information. Accordingly, we adhere to the privacy principles that have been developed in accordance with the Personal Information Protection and Electronic Documents Act (Canada) (the “Act”).