Calgary Learns - newsletter
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October 1, 2015

Connecting our Adult Learning & Literacy Community


In This Issue

Mark Your Calendar

Professional Development workshops
Dates to be announced soon

Networking event
December 2, 2015
2 - 4 PM

Welcome Bill

We are pleased to announce that Bill Brandon will be our interim executive director while Nancy is on leave.

Bill is an organizational change and development consultant with more than twenty five years of experience.  During his career, he has been a leader in the not-for-profit sector, an executive with a national consulting firm and a senior manager in government. Bill works with organizations to build capacity, increase effectiveness and implement change. He has provided a variety of governance, mentoring and Board development services to more than 50 organizations in the Alberta non-profit sector.

Bill is very familiar with Calgary Learns. He is a past Board member and stepped in for a year as our Interim E.D. in 2003. Some of you may remember Bill from his more recent work with us - our 2013 Needs Assessment process and our 2015 Community Consultation on program evaluation.

You can reach Bill at 403-266-6444 ext. 1 or

More professional development on the horizon

We need your input

The adult learning community is sending us a clear message: educators want to find better ways to serve diverse and complex adults who have foundational learning needs. Educators also wanted to learn with and from each other.

For the past few years, Calgary Learns worked to honour these requests by offering various professional development workshop. Going forward, we'd like to hear from you. Please answer the 5 questions in our SURVEY so we can serve you better.

LOLA profile - Learning Champion

This years Life of Learning Award (LOLA) in the Learning Champion category went to Debbie Wiebe.
Debbie Wiebe & Kathy Talon

Debbie Wiebe is a champion of mental health consumers. Specifically, she’s a national leader in peer support and learning for individuals with mental health issues.

During her twenty years at the Canadian Mental Health Association, Debbie has been instrumental in creating and leading Calgary’s Peer Options/Art of Friendship program. This innovative peer-mentoring program teaches foundational thinking and communication skills that help participants make social connections. The model allows participants to transition over time from entry-level learners to peer facilitators and on to reintegration into community.

Recently, Debbie adapted the Art of Friendship peer mentor model to address the social needs of downtown residents displaced by the 2013 flood. Another adaptation serves individuals isolated in long-term care facilities. Yet a third adaptation is aimed at helping mental health clients focus more deeply on recovery and the actions that can lead them there.

Debbie works at many levels to pave the way for learners with mental health issues. She’s in the background renewing the peer mentor model, securing funds, leading and training staff, and managing facility use. She has also served on the national Canadian Mental Health Commission and subsequently as a founding member of the Peer Support Accreditation and Certification Canada committee.

In the words of a colleague, “Debbie has a unique vision. Fundamentally, she is passionate about seeing someone else find the dignity to become an encourager.” Debbie helps those who are well along in recovery find ways to encourage others who may be at the beginning of their journey.

Mental illness is filled with issues of stigma, marginalizing and isolating individuals. Debbie stands up to that stigma, helping mental health clients learn from each other and become friends.

In case you missed it

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