Chief Executive Officer
Laura joined Renascent in the role of Chief Executive Officer in September 2016. As a passionate leader of addiction and mental health care services, Laura is committed to working with the Renascent team in helping people affected by addictions achieve a life of physical, mental and spiritual health.
Prior to working at Renascent, Laura held senior executive roles at Toronto-based addiction treatment centre, Bellwood Health Services, including the position of President from 2009 until 2015. Laura’s career also encompasses marketing management in the private sector and working with the hospital sector for the Ontario Ministry of Health. Laura earned a B.A. in Psychology (Honours) at Queen’s University, an MBA in Health Services Management at McMaster University and a Certificate in Addiction Studies, also at McMaster. She is a member of the Board of Directors, York Region and South Simcoe, Canadian Mental Health Association.
“It is a privilege to work with the Renascent team, offering much needed quality treatment to the thousands of people in our communities struggling with addiction. With over 40 years of experience, and over 45,000 people helped, Renascent has played a historic role in breaking down barriers and helping Canadians find recovery from this disease. Today and in the future, we are committed to bringing the best treatment to those who need it.”
Laura has a track record of driving quality excellence and client-centred care, and fostering an environment of community engagement. She believes strongly in the power of people to come together to beat addiction, and create pathways to recovery and renewed health and hope.
Dennis James M.Sc
Director of Programs
Dennis joined Renascent in 2012, following his tenure as Deputy Clinical Director, Addictions Program, at the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH).
He holds a Masters degree in Psychology from the University of Missouri and has worked for more than 40 years in the field of mental health and addictions as therapist, educator, program director and senior manager.
Dennis has been a leader in promoting population-specific and culturally competent addiction treatment for diverse populations including LBGTI, people of African descent, Portuguese, Spanish and Aboriginal people.
“Renascent’s abstinence-based treatment through the 12-step modality is extremely well-suited for our Aboriginal clients, encouraging them to honour their own spiritual and cultural framework in recovery.”
Dennis has consulted with a number of ethno-cultural communities in the Greater Toronto Area including the Tamil, Afghan, Ethiopian, Eritrean, and Somali communities, assisting in developing public awareness, volunteer training, and culturally-specific substance use services.
Director, Business Development
Tania is responsible for our business development, she works to develop and support business initiatives and fosters key relationships with corporate and community partners. Also, Tania oversees our client care access and engagement team, the initial point of contact and entry for all those seeking Renascent’s services.
“My goal is to foster a client-centric approach to access to Renascent’s programs and services and to uphold excellence in all of our interactions with clients. They reach out to us at the most vulnerable point in their lives — we take that trust seriously and honour it every step of the way.”
Tania began her career at Renascent in 2011 as Alumni Care Manager, after achieving her certificate in Addictions and Community Services. Prior to joining us, Tania was a sales and marketing specialist for one of the world’s largest brands for 20 years.
John Andresen CFRE
Director of Development
A certified Fundraising Executive since 2000, John works with Individual, Corporate and Foundation donors to create greater capacity for the fellowship’s work in the community.
“It will be my aim to use the values which have enabled Renascent’s excellent reputation for high quality treatment programs and a client centred approach and extend those to our relationships with funders, donors and alumni.”
John has worked extensively in the charitable community over the past two decades as a consultant and as a staff member, specializing in the creation and implementation of fully integrated Fundraising and Development plans.
Manager, Graham Munro Centre
A long-time friend of Renascent, Gail came to us in 2012 as Human Resources Manager. Shortly after her arrival, she became the Acting Manager of the Graham Munro Centre, Renascent’s residential treatment centre for women, and was then appointed House Manager.
“Women have unique needs in recovery, and our women’s centre is dedicated to meeting those needs. Here women are counselled by women, in a safe, healing environment. Witnessing these women learn, change and grow is an absolute privilege.”
Gail holds an Addictions Counselling Certificate from George Brown College as well as Project Management Profession (PMP) certification.
Prior to joining Renascent, Gail worked as a Project Management Professional in the consumer goods industry.
Manager, Paul J. Sullivan Centre
Kevin came to us from Salvation Army Harbourlight where he held positions as Intensive Treatment Counsellor and Discharge Planning & Aftercare Counsellor, and also facilitated the “For Life Group,” a concurrent disorder support group.
“My goal is to provide client-centred care for all clients that enter Renascent for treatment and to ensure that all clients are treated with respect and dignity.”
He also worked at the Salvation Army Men’s Homeless Shelter / The Gateway as an Addiction Counsellor, where he started the “Let’s Talk About Life” support group for homeless men struggling with addiction.
Manager, Punanai Centre
“It takes courage to enter treatment and step out of the painful, yet familiar chains of active addiction. Renascent is a home for men and women who have made a decision that their life as they have been living it is no longer acceptable. It is beautiful to see the glimmer of hope appear in the eyes of an addict who has begun to believe the miracle of recovery is possible for them as well. I feel privileged to be able to participate in creating a safe, supportive, and encouraging environment for men to assume responsibility for their lives and become husbands, fathers, sons, and members of society they can be proud of.”
Prior to coming to Renascent Michael worked as a chef in fine dining restaurants and had a passion for training and mentoring young men and women entering the culinary industry.
Sunil Boodhai MSW (RSW), BEd.
Manager, Family Programs
Sunil is the manager of Family Programs at Renascent. His is currently the lead therapist in the Children’s Program and provides individual counselling sessions for those with substance addictions, their family members and loved ones, families, couples, and children.
Before coming to Renascent, Sunil was a front-line counsellor with Warden Woods Community Centre’s Substance Use Outreach Program. He was deeply touched by how often his clients would express great concern for how their addiction was affecting their family members. This resonated with Sunil on both a human and a personal level; members of Sunil’s family have experienced their own struggles with addiction.
Sunil’s experience with his Warden Woods clients led him to look for an environment in which he could work with families impacted by addiction. His search led him to Renascent.
“Walking into Renascent, it literally felt like magic. Discovering that my own lived experience with the addicts in my life could be useful, realizing that family members had a place here where their own needs could be met, and that I would be able to hear them and help them, gave me such a feeling of comfort and peace. This is the place for me.”
Sunil did his undergraduate work and MSW at Ryerson University, as well as a Humanities degree and Bachelor of Education degree at York University. He has been working as an addictions counsellor for over 12 years.
Manager, Client Care Access and Engagement
In 2016, Glen became the Manager of Client Care Access and Engagement. He provides clinical supervision and oversees the daily operations pertaining to client screening, intake, and comprehensive assessments of clients seeking to enter inpatient treatment, as well as providing support for business development initiatives.
“The most fundamental of all questions is whether clients are suffering from a disease? The answer unequivocally is yes! At Renascent, we instill this knowledge in each and every client, which allows them to discern that there is required management involved. It also helps to alleviate the incredible guilt and shame that is associated with addiction, as a great deal of the symptoms appear as bad behaviour. They have first hand experience that if they do not manage their disease, their disease will manage them. We hand them the tools to ensure this need not happen ever again.”
Glen came to Renascent as a student intern in 2009. After completing his placement, he filled the role as Alumni Manager until becoming a Counsellor at the Paul J. Sullivan Centre in Brooklin, ON. During this time, Glen continued with his education and certifications, becoming an International Certified Alcohol and Drug Addiction Counsellor and a Registered Psychotherapist specializing in concurrent disorders.
Manager, Program and Strategic Initiatives
Ed is part of the heart and soul of Renascent.
Ed originally came to Renascent in 1981 as a weekend volunteer. He had previously volunteered with the Ministry of Correctional Services as a probation officer, where many of the individuals he worked with had problems with alcohol and drugs and were referred to Renascent’s residential treatment program.
After joining the full-time ranks at Renascent in 1985 as an addictions counsellor, in 1987 Ed was appointed as Assistant to the Executive Director and assumed the position of House Manager for Renascent’s Bayview House for men and later the Phillips House for men.
As Program Manager from 1991 to 1998, Ed was instrumental in the development of most of Renascent’s programs and materials. From 1998 to 2014 he managed the Punanai Centre for men.
“There are a million reasons why I love Renascent, but I’ll just give you three: One, Renascent has always recognized addiction as a family disease. Two, Renascent’s approach to working with the whole family through the 12-step philosophy is key to the recovery of the individual. Three, the dedication of all staff to the work of Renascent is second to none.”
Prior to joining Renascent, Ed’s background was in supervisory and management positions. He studied supervisory techniques at Humber College as well as the Certified Management Accounting course at York University.
Dr. Vera Tarman
Dr. Tarman, MD, FCFP, ABAM, is a Medical Director at Renascent. As an addiction specialist, she also works as consultant for Salvation Army’s The Homestead and The Harbourlight treatment programs. She has worked in the field of addiction medicine since 1992 and is committed to her patients’ care and full recovery.
Dr. Tarman is a strong advocate for recovery from all addictions and has a special interest in promoting a better understand of food addiction. She is author of “Food Junkies: The Truth about Food Addiction” and has been instrumental in launching Renascent’s ground-breaking Food Addiction Program.
Dr. Mark Weiss
Dr. Mark Weiss, M.D., MCFP (AM), joined Renascent in the role of Medical Director in December 2019, as part of Renascent’s expanded medical response to the increasingly complex medical and mental health needs in the communities we serve. Dr. Weiss provides clinical and leadership services across Renascent, and oversees medical care at our Paul J. Sullivan Treatment Centre in Brooklin, Ontario.
Dr. Weiss comes to Renascent with over 20 years of specialization in Addiction Medicine, including impressive leadership experience within specialized inpatient addiction treatment settings, with prior roles including Chief of Addiction Medicine at Homewood Health Centre, and Medical Director at Bellwood Health Services.
Dr. Kelly McShane
Consulting Clinical Psychologist
Dr. McShane completed a BSc with a research specialization in psychology at the University of Toronto in 2001 and earned her MA and PhD in clinical psychology from Concordia University in 2007. She joined the Department of Psychology at Ryerson University in 2009 and has developed an evolving program of inquiry focused on evaluation, community-collaboration, and clinical service enhancement. She is a licensed Clinical Psychologist and a Credentialed Evaluator.
She is most passionate about interdisciplinary collaborations and community-engaged approaches to research and evaluation. She has developed long-standing partnerships with Renascent and Progress Place, who have undertaken a number of evaluation projects aimed at better understanding recovery and wellbeing, and identifying ways to enhance services. She is currently pursuing a project examining an Addictions Treatment Court in Brampton, as well as developing partnerships to support work in social innovation and the use of design thinking.
In her time away from work, you are likely to find her outside hiking or playing basketball with her husband and three young children.