Help someone with a disability in your community today! DONATE online at Canada Helps.  Exit disclaimer

 Aidez une personne handicapée de votre communauté! Faites un don en ligne à  Exit disclaimer



Independent facilitation and person-directed planning is a process which develops a community-based network of supports for individuals living with a disability. The essence of independent facilitation and person-directed planning is to support people with varying abilities to exercise their rights, to express their choices and have their decisions respected throughout the entire process.*

Independent facilitation and person-directed planning is about creating and implementing a blueprint for future action: the predominant focus is on the nature and quality of the planning process that is undertaken and not solely on the resulting written plan.*

*Adapted from Ministry of Community and Social Services Person-Directed Planning and Facilitation Guide 2013  Exit disclaimer

When Julie finished high school she spent most of her days alone at home in the apartment she shares with her mother. This caused her to feel frustrated, unhappy and vulnerable. Things changed when the family was offered independent facilitation and person-directed planning.

One of our Independent Facilitators met with Julie and took the time to listen to her hopes and dreams for the life she wanted to lead. Over the course of the next few months Julie, her family and our Independent Facilitator worked together to bring about change.

Julie learnt about and registered in various local programs and activities. She was also taught how to use the bus system. Today, Julie is taking public transit on her own and taking part in activities of her choice.

Independent Facilitation & Person-Directed Planning

Citizen Advocacy has assembled a talented team of skilled, curious and nurturing Independent Facilitators.

The independent facilitation team have well-developed skills as “community connectors” including community mapping, identifying community options as a first resource and connecting people to community-based resources and networks.*

To further hone their skills and develop their practice, the team meets regularly to deepen their learning and share tools, strategies and techniques they have gained while working with individuals, family members and support circle members.

You are encouraged to review the biographies of our Independent Facilitators.  We are confident that you will find one that best fits your needs and personality.

*Adapted from Ministry of Community and Social Services Person-Directed Planning and Facilitation Guide 2013

Emily Taylor-King: is passionate about communication and connection. A trained mediator, facilitator and coach, she feels most at home when helping vulnerable people give voice to their experiences and dreams. Emily’s facilitation style is collaborative; informed by both Insight Mediation (a style of conflict resolution that puts emphasis on transforming conflict through learning) and Social Role Valorization (a lens for achieving the good life through valued social roles). She has training in facilitation tools such as PATHS, MAPS, circles and core gifts. She specializes in graphic facilitation to make meetings more accessible and fun with the use of visuals.



Emily moved to Ottawa from Nova Scotia to work for the public service, but quickly branched into the not-for profit sector. In 2010 she found her true calling of working with people with developmental disabilities.   Prior to working with Citizen Advocacy, Emily worked for L’Arche Ottawa in a number of roles. She is also currently on the roster of skills assessors for Carleton’s Diploma in Conflict Resolution.

Emily lives in Barrhaven with her husband Rob, her step kids Avery, Mikey and Rosie, and miniature schnauzers Buster and Chloe.

Dana Notarandrea: I am so thrilled to be a part of Citizen Advocacy as an Independent Facilitator. I am passionate about working with others to facilitate change, achieve goals, and build on the support in our community. I am excited about continuing my career in a role where I can advocate for others.

I am experienced working with youth, adults, and families living with a mental illness and developmental disabilities. I offer support in education, navigation, and in defining and achieving goals. My values align with personalization, respect, community inclusion and highlighting the strengths of individuals.

I am a great listener and offer a genuine intent and desire to support others in reaching their horizons! I like using creative and innovative approaches to develop new connections and opportunities.

I enjoy spending time with family, cooking, baking, and trying new activities! I was born in Ottawa and am still learning new things about this great city every day. I am honoured to work with such a positive and collaborative team at Citizen Advocacy!

Manon Leblond-Leduc: “You cannot get through a single day without having an impact on the world around you. What you do makes a difference, and you have to decide what kind of difference you want to make.” – Jane Goodall.

I came across this quote many years ago and strongly believe that it has guided me to want to make a difference in my community.

10 years ago my career started with supporting at risk children, youth and their families in Ottawa.  As a founding member of a leadership program for Ottawa’s most at risk youth, the main focus of the program was helping youth envision life goals and plan for their future education and career paths. This experience enabled me to become a strong advocate for youth and their families within the City of Ottawa.

During the past year I had the privilege of working in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan. I worked for an agency where we practiced the teachings of Person-Directed Planning and Gentle Teaching.  These planning and teaching methods inform the work I do to this day.

I have had the honour to volunteer and work within the not-for-profit sector at community and residential organizations.  These positions have involved supporting people with developmental disabilities, mental health issues, communication disorders, and learning exceptionalities.

I have recently purchased a home with my fiancé south of Ottawa.  We share our home with our beautiful dog Scarlett and our silly cat Lily. In our spare time we enjoy road trips, camping, and renovating our new home.

I look forward to supporting individuals with their families, friends and support circles. By thinking outside the box I aim to help individuals discover their values, talents and interests in addition to fulfilling their personal goals.

Erin Levesque: I am elated to join the team at Citizen Advocacy as an Independent Facilitator.  For as long as I can remember I have always been interested in communication and the manner in which we relate to one another. Communication for me is the key to so many doors in life; relationships, connections to community, meaningful roles, and the world around us.

Born and raised in Ottawa, shortly after Graduating as a DSW from Algonquin College, I moved to Melbourne Australia where I spent the past 16 years working alongside people and their families in the areas of communication, and community capacity building. Communication support played such an integral role to access for people and their families. Together, we looked at many different ways that their ideas, dreams and life ambitions could be shared and expressed.

During my time living in Australia, when I was not out and enjoying beach life, I undertook a Graduate Diploma in Social Sciences in Human Services Counselling, and began assisting people with complex communication needs to explore specialized counselling support.

I am enjoying re connecting with my family and my hometown and relishing in all of the changes and newness in my life that comes with moving across the world!  My passions include music (the more electronic the better!) travel and studying different languages. Last year I began studying Arabic, and will continue this learning in Ottawa.

I look forward to connecting with you and learning more about how I can assist you to think deeper about the life you want and aspire to live.

Kimiya Missaghi: I feel privileged to work as an Independent Facilitator at Citizen Advocacy, which allows me to empower individuals and contribute to closer and more supportive communities. I formally studied psychology with a specialization in mental health and well-being at the University of Victoria, to learn about how to better work with people and how dynamic individuals and communities are. I am currently pursuing my graduate studies at Carleton University in Conflict Resolution where I am fortunate to develop my skills and become a certified mediator. I look forward to facilitating a collaborative and empowering process in order to achieve meaningful and sustainable resolutions.

I have a diverse background and have lived in several countries which has helped me thrive in diverse environments. My experiences have taught me to embrace differences and that everyone has their own unique strengths, talents, and contributions. Prior to working at Citizen Advocacy, I worked with youth with various developmental disabilities and mental health conditions, supporting them to obtain meaningful employment and smoothly transitioning to adult support services and other resources. I am grateful as an Independent Facilitator to be able to support individuals in pursuing what is meaningful to their own life, goals, and future.

Some of my hobbies include staying active, making craft coffee, learning French, and volunteering with community building initiatives.

I am eager to work alongside you to achieve what is profound and significant in your life.

Leonard Minni: I began my career as a graphic artist working for non-profit organisations in Rwanda, in the fields of health and education. In 1997, I was awarded a scholarship to study Communications and Art at the Ateneo De Manila University in the Philippines for two years. I continued my studies at the University of Hawaii, and later graduated in Social Sciences from the University of Ottawa.

Since 2014, I have worked with people with disabilities at L’Arche Ottawa, first as a live-in assistant and most recently working one-on-one. In addition to my work, I am passionate about art, photography, learning languages, and travel. I believe strongly in the power of positive interaction between people to change lives. I am bilingual (French and English), and known for my friendly, patient manner and listening skills.

I am a devoted father of two wonderful children, Bradley aged 14, and Wanda aged 12. My weekends are typically spent together with Brad and Wanda, visiting museums, going to church, doing homework, and teaching the children to cook.

Diane Thornton: is a consultant in private practice.   She has provided consultation services in collaboration with:  mental health professionals, support group leaders, education staff, employers, community support workers, lawyers, international adoption agency staff, children’s aid workers, social service staff, foster parents, faith-group leaders and builders (specializing in accessibility construction and design).

Diane holds a Master of Theological Studies from Wilfrid Laurier University (1985) and a Bachelor of Arts from the University of Guelph, (1978). She served as the Director of the Hamilton Conference Leadership Development program for Youth of the United Church of Canada (1977, 1978, and 1980). In 1984, she was a counsellor for the first Ottawa-based Christian Horizons residential home for adults with physical, developmental, intellectual and psychiatric disabilities. From 1986 to 1988, she served on a clinical treatment team for the Children’s Aid Society of Ottawa-Carleton Residential Treatment facility for children with developmental disorders. She provided individual and couple counselling with Family Builders, Ottawa from 1988-1990 and also supported Special Needs Foster Care providers. From 1990-2014, she supported families welcoming internationally adopted children with special needs. Diane has been a consultant in private practice since 1990.

Diane has lived in Ottawa since 1983.  She has been married for twenty-five years and has two adult children.  She and her family are friends of L’Arche, founded by Jean Vanier, winner of the 2015 Templeton Prize. L’Arche is an “international network of communities where people with and without disabilities live and work together as peers” (Templeton Prize, 2015).

Hélène Courchesne: I am thrilled to be part of this dedicated and skilled team of facilitators. My experience supporting people with developmental disabilities has always been rooted in the belief that each person can and should be making their own decisions, and be an active participant about what happens in their everyday life. In my various roles as facilitator, I wish to continue to walk alongside and assist people who may need support to contribute to their own personal and community life.

What do I bring to the team? Well, I realize looking back that my first experience dates from a little more than 30 years ago in the early 1980s, when I was a young student at the Université du Québec à Trois-Rivières. I happened to take a summer job as an assistant counsellor on a Francophone ward of the Rideau Regional Centre. Little did I realize back then, that I would be witnessing an important time in the history of services for people with developmental disabilities in Ontario, as I happened to be there when it was officially announced that the provincial institutions would be closed in 25 years.

Since then of course services continued to evolve and I again happened to participate in this change as a planning facilitator in the late 1990’s, by facilitating planning and transition for some of the very same people I had met 15 years earlier living in the facility. So it only seems natural that since 2012, I have acquired training and experience as a facilitator true to the purpose of being person-directed, and have practiced values of self-determination and community. I have assisted people, in French and in English, who either lived supported by a community agency, with their family or in their own apartment.

For 14 years, I worked as a bilingual Behaviour Consultant at the Ottawa Children’s Treatment Centre. Assessment and Behavioural Treatment plans were developed to support children and adults with developmental disabilities (including people with Autism spectrum disorder or mental health issues) and behavioural challenges. I gained many skills through this employment opportunity, supporting hundreds of children and adults with disabilities, and their families, to help increase their quality of life.

I am from a Francophone background, from the Nicolet area (in Quebec) – though I was born in Labrador City! I have resided in the Ottawa/Gatineau area for 20 years. I am mom to two teenage boys and we have a silly cat named Hippie. We enjoy camping and have experienced many Ontario National parks. I’ve been a Running Room 5k clinic instructor and continue to enjoy running. I ride my bicycle or motorcycle in summer, and I like to garden. I also quite enjoy travelling and have, over the years, been to every continent except Antartica – but I was very close! I’ve been taking Spanish lessons which will help me communicate more fully in some of my future travels.

I am excited to be part of the facilitation team at Citizen Advocacy as a bilingual facilitator for people residing in the Ottawa area. My work and personal experiences continue to strengthen my belief that every person can be a valued member of community through endless possibilities.

Pascal Gagné: I come from a broad range of places and am a jack-of-all-trades. People who met me over the years may say I’m a little queer and elusive, as we constantly change through our journey of self-growth. My friends may describe me as an eccentric artist, an intellectual, a gym bro or a socialite. My nickname : little tornado. As a facilitator, I prefer to work with what one feels and can do rather than perceived or received identities. In fact, I am always a little suspicious of how one defines themselves

I adhere to a few specific values regarding friendship and to what nurtures relationships: listen to people and be generous of your time; ask questions to others about what they love; be thankful for any significant bond; express gratitude whenever you can; find peace and solace in transient moments of grace. Creativity is my greatest strength.

I have a master in organizational communication and pursue a Ph.D. in the same discipline. My experience in non-profit and volunteer work lies mostly in the fields of LGBT human right advocacy and HIV/AIDS outreach and prevention. As a youth, I did art therapy with seniors with dementia, as well as with people with intellectual disability. I love painting and plays the piano every day! I dabble in acting, cooking, and any other means of expression that makes you feel alive! As for sports: I enjoy badminton and alpine skiing. Oh, and I almost forgot: I adore reading. I own more books than I can count.

French is my native language; my Spanish is rusty but comprehensible. I find it important to think through other tongues and explore various cultures. As a matter of fact, I’ve lived abroad for about five years and visited over twenty countries.

Mac Hiltz: I have been a Social Worker over thirty years, and throughout that time I have had the privilege of working very closely with vulnerable children and adults. On a personal level, this experience really allowed me to build upon my existing strengths, and as an extension of that, it also helped the individuals and families with whom I worked realize and develop their own unique strengths in turn.

I sincerely believe in focusing on people’s strengths and capabilities as a way of creating opportunity and exploring new possibilities. By caring for people, showing them that they matter and helping them to see the positive power that family and community networks can offer, we can work together to create life plans as unique as each individual. I’ve often been told that working with me is fun and insightful. I like to take a very practical approach to my work, and I also enjoy creative ways of collaborating by frequently using humour and sharing stories from my own personal experience. I have found this to be hugely valuable in facilitating the planning process as it creates a very comfortable and trusting environment for self-discovery.

Now retired, I volunteer at a group home for adults and a hospice for children. Sharing my time in this way has really helped me to remain grounded and keep a mindful perspective on life and on what really matters. I was raised in a family where giving back and helping one another was one of our most important family values. Being an Independent Facilitator is a wonderful opportunity for me to continue to contribute and give back.

In addition to having a very rewarding career and a wealth of life experience, my professional credentials as a Social Worker have essentially provided me with the solid foundation needed to do this important type of work. I am delighted to be part of the Independent Facilitators’ Network and to have the opportunity to continue helping people to realize their dreams, appreciate their individual strengths and explore all the exciting new possibilities that life has to offer. I believe that individuals and their families have the desire, knowledge and capacity to realize their dreams. They simply need a helping hand to guide them along the way

Ruth Ann Moore: One of the aspects of facilitation that resonates deeply with me is walking along beside someone on their journey through life; to help, care, or share their burden. It is a principle that I intrinsically carry into all aspects of my life; whether that be at home, work, church, or in my community. It is where going the extra mile is the rule, not the exception. My family and I have been the recipients of such care when one of my children faced cancer. It was at that critical junction in life when having a fellow traveller’s presence was an encouragement and gave reassurance during a difficult time.


Other values I have grown to appreciate reflect simple core truths I hold dear.

  • I like to take time to listen and really hear what a person is saying; there is often a story or truth under a statement.
  • I am always willing to learn, as there is much wisdom to be discovered from others through their experiences and personal knowledge.
  • I enjoy looking at a situation from a fresh perspective and find collaborative effort can yield surprising results to make a good idea remarkable.

Ultimately, it is all about taking the time to care about the person first.

I live in the heart of the Ottawa Valley with my husband and our three children. I have had the privilege of teaching literacy and numeracy, working as support staff, and helping individuals accomplish personal goals through Passport Funding. I have thoroughly enjoyed seeing the successes and accomplishments that come through hard work. I also volunteer within my church community, organizing events, developing and leading programs, as well as teaching. I make it my goal to create opportunities for people to maximize their skill set, and to be involved to the level which they are capable.

I am honored to be an Independent Facilitator with Citizen Advocacy. I look forward to having the opportunity to walk along beside individuals and their families within the Ottawa Valley; to help and be an encouragement to them as they develop a new path to achieve their personal goals or dreams.

Amy MacKenzie: I am excited to begin work with Citizen Advocacy!  I enjoy getting to know people; learning what is important to you and what you are passionate about.  Everyone has a story to share and I work hard to help discover your gifts, stories, history, as well as hopes and fears about the future, working together to achieve our full potential as neighbours and community members.

I began my career as a Developmental Services Worker 17 years ago, providing direct support to people through several organizations and schools in Eastern Ontario.  During that time, I participated in many different types of planning with people and their families.  I took a real interest in planning with people to create positive changes in their lives, and was mentored to become a facilitator and trainer through the Learning Community for Person-Centred Practices and Helen Sanderson Associates Canada.  I have also had some wonderful opportunities to learn from People First and other self-advocacy groups, and life “teachers” who showed me the value of community.  In 2015 I was honoured to receive the “Making a Difference Every Day” award for the direct support professional in Ontario who works to improve personal outcomes and quality of life of people and families.

I recently returned to Renfrew County after over 9 years in nearby Lanark County with my husband, our school-aged son, and the family dog, Juneau.  I look forward to getting to know you, the important people in your life, and your community in Renfrew County.




Louise Cayer-Deslauriers: I have been working in the social services field for over 30 years. Most my work life has been with Valoris for Children and Adults of Prescott-Russell. I have worked with adults living with intellectual disabilities in the residences, group homes, day centres and supervised apartment settings. I have also actively participated in many innovative projects and the closure of several institutions.

For the past 12 years, I have worked as the Supervisor within the adult program at Valoris and participated in several regional committees under the auspices of the Ministry of Community and Social Services. I have taken the Path and Maps training and I was a Valoris resource person for the development of residential and community plans for adults with developmental disabilities.

My accomplishments at Valoris include: the Passport program, the new residence scheduling system, the recruitment plan, coaching and training new employees. I also worked closely with the finance department to respect the budgets.

Currently, I am a member of various committees in my community: a trainer at the Valor Institute, a Valoris shared hostel, and chair of the Francophone Community Services.

Sara Rafiei: As a child, I grew up with an uncle who was developmentally disabled. He lived with us and my mother was his guardian. All my life, I’ve grown up with individuals that have had some type of developmental disability. My mother has always advocated for individuals that weren’t heard and that became something that I wanted to do. I have seen and experienced the difficulties that my mother and uncle have had to face. I knew that I wanted to do something that helped and enriched the lives of others. I am very happy and excited to join the team of independent planning facilitators and to join the Citizen Advocacy team.


I attended Carleton University and graduated with a degree in psychology. I’m motivated and dedicated to help the people I’m working with. I’m always looking to help others. Since graduating, I have worked in a group home, as an educational assistant and even as a child and family worker.

I live in the S, D & G area with my husband and my son and enjoy my spare time embracing the outdoors. I look forward to helping individuals reach their goals and to overcome obstacles along the way. Always seeing the positive in everything and strengths in individuals. I look forward to working with you.

Holly and I got to know one another, enjoyed some meals out, did some art and listened to music together.  Together we created a one page profile that identified what people appreciated about Holly, what is important to her and how to support her well.  Through this process she named many things she was interested to do. In February, Holly received word that she would have her Passport funding increased.  Because of the planning, Holly had some solid ideas about things she wanted to do and where she wanted to do them.  Today she makes jewellery or pottery one day each week, does fitness another day, works at the cafe at Y’s Owl Maclure for a day and works at Tim Horton’s on Edgewater each Thursday.   On Friday mornings she is enjoying Zumba and pool exercises at the Kanata Wave Pool.  Holly and her mom are very happy to have participated in the planning process.  It helped Holly realize some of her dreams.

Independent Facilitator

Contact Information

For more information please contact

Team Leader

613-761-9522 ext. 229

Weaving a Story of Change … learnings so far is available on the home page  Exit disclaimer, and in the resources section of articles  Exit disclaimer, where you can download a web version and/or a higher resolution print version.

Frequently Asked Questions
Vision, values and principles

Independent facilitation and person-directed planning is rooted in the following vision, values and principles, which steer the approach and the direction of the work of our Independent Facilitators.


Community inclusion


  • belonging
  • contributing
  • sharing
  • being respected
  • ·     choosing


  • visioning
  • strengths-based
  • person-driven
  • sustainability
  • accountability

*Adapted from Ministry of Community and Social Services Person-Directed Planning and Facilitation Guide 2013

Why does someone need independent facilitation and person-directed planning?
Independent facilitation and person-centred planning is a set of approaches designed to assist someone to plan their life and supports. The ultimate aims are to expand a person’s community engagement and social inclusion.

Working with each person we discover what is most important to them, what opportunities they want to pursue and how to achieve them. This is an ongoing process and it does not end once a written plan is developed, the process can carry on through someone’s life. The intensity of the planning will vary depending on the needs of the person.

What is person-directed planning?
Person-directed or person-centred planning is a process of continual listening and learning. It is focused on what is important to someone now and for the future and acting upon this with the individual’s family and friends. There are five key features of person-centred planning:

  • A person is at the centre.
  • Family members and friends are partners in planning.
  • The plan reflects what is important to the person, their capacities and what support they require.
  • The plan results in actions that are about life, not just services and reflect what is possible, not just what is available.
  • The plan results in ongoing listening, learning and further action.

*Adapted from Ministry of Community and Social Services Person-Directed Planning and Facilitation Guide 2013

What do Independent Facilitators do?
Independent Facilitators work for the person living with a disability, also called the focus person. They take time to understand the wishes, dreams, interests and abilities of the focus person so they can develop a personal plan that meets their particular situation.

What are the benefits of working with an Independent Facilitator?
To help the focus person identify their:

  • strengths
  • interests
  • capabilities
  • dreams
  • goals

To develop:

  • strategies to achieve goals
  • an outline of tasks and schedules to accomplish the goals
  • a circle of support and to maintain it
  • knowledge of services both community-based and government-funded.

How can I get involved in independent facilitation and person-directed planning?
There are three different options for you to consider:

Funding by Developmental Services Ontario [for those with a developmental disability]

Contact Developmental Services Ontario to check if you have already registered an interest in person-directed planning. People already on the list are being contacted on a first-come, first-served basis. If you are not already on the list ask to be added to it. You may be considered for participation if space becomes available before March 2017.

Use your Passport funding [for those with a developmental disability]

Individuals who have Passport funding but have not already expressed an interest in person-directed planning can purchase independent facilitation and person-directed planning with their Passport funding (up to $2,500 per year).

Purchase through personal funding [for any type of disability]

Individuals may purchase independent facilitation and person-directed planning through personal and/or family financing. Contact the team leader by email or by phone 613-761-9522 ext. 229.



6 + 9 =

Tel/Tel. 613-761-9522
TTY/ATS: 613-725-6175

Toll Free/Sans Frais: 1-866-222-2138
Fax/Télécopie: 613-761-9525

312 av. Parkdale Ave.,
Ottawa, ON, K1Y 4X5

Charitable Registration Number/Numéro d’enregistrement d’organisme de bienfaisance
13036 2817 RR0001