Advisory Committee Members and Family Consultant
Families want to know that our Ensemble Advisory Committee members understand their experiences, so that is why all of our members are family members of someone with a disability.
In addition, our committee members are all passionate caregivers and advocates for their loved ones and desire to provide support to family caregivers.
Lois is a married, mother of two children. Her eldest daughter lives in Nova Scotia and her younger daughter, Stacy, is 41. Stacy lives with her and has Down’s Syndrome. Lois has one grandson.
Lois has been involved with Ensemble for many years. The sharing of experiences is a great support in dealing with issues that are specific to our kids with special needs. She looks forward to the rebranding of Ensemble and meeting new families. Her and her husband became involved with C.L.E.C. when Stacy was very young. They fought for inclusion for Stacy in their hometown of Amherstburg’s public school system in the mid 1980s. During their 3rd year of challenging the public board, they changed their taxes and Stacy attended the separate school board. For their family this was a happy conclusion to a long battle.
Since her retirement, she has been tying to develop a plan for a home for Stacy when they are no longer able to manage her care. Lois likes to travel to warm places and wrote this bio from Florida. She is looking forward to restarting pickleball.
Dee is glad to be back after a few busy years. She is a mom of 3 adult children, one who has severe global developmental delays, autism/mental health challenges, cerebral palsy/gait challenges, is non-verbal and has had to deal with the COVID-19 lockdown that has impacted him mentally and physically.
She is a Nurse Practitioner with over 40 years of nursing experience in family practice of all ages, mental health, disability management, chronic disease, chronic pain, addiction, homecare and community health, workplace health and safety to name a few.
“Strengthening Families together” She is a strong advocate for her son. The supports for adult children like her son are not available and families like hers continue to struggle to manage and support people like her son on their own, especially as they age and head into retirement. The golden years are not looking so golden these days. We need to have a louder voice for all types of abilities so that the quality of life can be maintained, no matter what.
As part of Ensemble, Dee will continue to help strengthen partnerships, advocate and provide a voice for children, adult-children, and families. As a collective voice, we will learn to navigate the political void that continues to pose barriers to our adult children with multiple needs and their families. Real time needs must be a priority, not a back burner issue that falls at the bottom of agendas or triage systems.
As the co-founder of Ensemble in 2000, Marilyn has been actively involved for 21 years. Marilyn is a resident of Harrow and understands issues of rural living. As a mother of 3 adult daughters, one with complex challenges: an intellectual disability, unique communication, epilepsy and limited mobility. Marilyn likes to say, “We live the life. I get it!” Marilyn is a retired educator who continues to educate by volunteering to teach immigrants English as a second language. Regularly travelling to France gives Marilyn an open mind that embraces diverse cultures. By actively engaging community members in the realities of the lives of those impacted by disability, Ensemble will open doors with the potential to create lives of possibilities.
Diane joined Ensemble in September 2013. She resides in Belle River and is a mother of 3 adult children, one of whom has multiple physical & intellectual disabilities requiring 24/7 in-home care. Diane is employed full-time as an Executive Legal Assistant for a Windsor lawyer. She is a past director of the Board of Directors for Community Living Essex County. She enjoys spending time with her husband, children and two dogs. Diane loves music, cooking a fabulous meal, reading a good book and time alone travelling with her husband.
As a mother of a child with multiple disabilities Diane found herself thrown into a lifelong journey that would change her life forever. Navigating blindly through the world of disabilities, learning and understanding how to successfully advocate for her son was and continues to be one of her greatest challenges. She often found herself feeling scared, isolated and alone. When she discovered Ensemble it was like having a life raft thrown her way – a group of mother’s who understood her life, who provided tools, life experiences and emotional support that made this lifelong journey manageable without losing herself. She doesn’t want any parent or family member to experience that isolation, loneliness or fear. Diane truly believes that with the voices of families, we will have a greater opportunity to empower each other with knowledge to advocate for our children and ultimately provide guidance to each other in helping them to live meaningful lives full of possibilities.
Karen Pickle lives in Kingsville, Ontario with her husband, Chris, and her son, Andrew Banar. She enjoys yoga, reading and watching a great movie. But her true passion is helping her son, Andrew, who was born with Down Syndrome, run his own business – Group Hug Apparel since 2007. Together they manage print, sell and ship Andrew’s personally designed apparel all over the world. What started out as an idea to raise money for Andrew’s college fund, has turned into a thriving company that not only supports Andrew’s future, but also supports many charities and support groups. Recently, Karen and Andrew began organizing local activities for young adults with physical and intellectual disabilities. The group enjoys swimming, cooking, dancing and other daily outings. You will also find Karen and Andrew out in the community sharing their story, advocating for families and individuals and most importantly, sharing HUGS!