LIVING the Dementia Journey is supported by a talented Program Coordination team and Master Trainers certified in adult learning principles and facilitation skills.

Program Coordination Team

Emma Bender

Program Assistant, Schlegel-UW Research Institute for Aging (RIA)

Kate Ducak

LIVING the Dementia Journey Program Coordinator and Project Officer, Schlegel-UW Research Institute for Aging (RIA)

Michelle Grouchy

Senior Director of Operations, Schlegel-UW Research Institute for Aging (RIA)

Lisa Loiselle

Associate Director, Murray Alzheimer Research and Education Program (MAREP), University of Waterloo

Barb Sutcliffe

Senior Manager of Sales and Marketing, Schlegel-UW Research Institute for Aging (RIA)

Master Trainers

Barb Masse

Bio coming soon!

Heather Luth

Heather Luth is the Dementia Program Coordinator for Schlegel Villages where she focuses on working collaboratively to explore and develop practices to honour and support the well-being of persons living with dementia. Previously, Heather provided leadership to the Recreation team at The Village of Wentworth Heights in Hamilton, Ontario, looking for creative ways to put living first for each resident, enabling them to engage in the leisure and life choices that bring them joy and meaning. She enjoys facilitating learning opportunities that create a better understanding of dementia, building on her prior teaching experience at Sheridan College in the Social Service Worker Gerontology program. Heather has been invited to share her learnings with audiences at a variety of conferences. What Heather treasures most are meaningful moments of connection with people and she is blessed to find those in each day!

Jodie Walker

Jodie Walker has a degree in Kinesiology and Health Science and began her professional journey at the Village of Taunton Mills as the Retirement Kinesiologist. It was working alongside residents where she learned that the facts in textbooks are only a small piece of the puzzle when looking at solving a problem. Jodie enjoyed being a true part of the daily lives of the residents. Teaching the LIVING the Dementia Journey program has made such a difference in her own life as well as in the lives of those who have taken the training. Jodie has become a better friend to those who open the door for her to be a part of their life.

Julie D’Alessandro

Julie D’Alessandro has been a Registered Nurse for 13 years and has spent the majority of her career in the long-term care sector. She started her career in an Assistant Director of Nursing role and left that role to become a Director of Behaviour Supports. Julie spent 3 years in this role supporting people living with personal expressions related to cognitive changes. In this role, she also helped to build capacity within long-term care home teams through the use of non-pharmacological accommodations. Julie is currently the General Manager at The Village at St. Clair in Windsor, Ontario. She has a passion for facilitating and is thrilled to be a part of a team that will be making the world a better place for persons living with dementia. When she is not at work, Julie really enjoys spending time with her family, spoiling her nieces and nephews, and reading.

Leah Sadler

Leah Sadler has over ten years experience working in recreation settings with people living with dementia and their care partners in both community and long-term care settings. As the former Associate Director of Education for the Murray Alzheimer’s Research and Education Program (MAREP), Leah is a passionate educator and advocate for all those impacted by dementia. She is happy to be part of the LIVING the Dementia Journey team and have the opportunity to share the valuable approach to care that it has to offer. More recently, Leah has been exploring other areas of interest as well including aromatherapy, the impacts of early life trauma on brain development and the connection between movement and learning for all ages.

Sharon Button

Bio coming soon!

Tamara White

Tamara White is a Neighbourhood Coordinator at the Village at University Gates which is built on the north campus of the University of Waterloo. Tamara’s role as a Neighbourhood Coordinator has provided her with ongoing opportunity to implement training and guide educational development through the LIVING the Dementia Journey and Neighbourhood Team Development programs, and Schlegel Signature Programs that encourage culture change in long-term care. Being a Neighbourhood Coordinator has further enhanced her understanding of relationship building, earning trust, and modelling open communication with team members, care partners, families and residents so we can all put living first in our Villages.


Tricia’s journey into dementia care started with a summer job which included making friendly phone calls to individuals still living at home but who needed a checkup a couple days a week. She was inspired by the thought that she could have a career helping people feel less alone. A school placement with Schlegel Villages led to being invited to join the Recreation Team where she spent 8 years building and developing relationships and supporting residents (mostly living with dementia) to live life! When her grandfather was diagnosed with dementia, she was especially grateful for the particular lens that LIVING the Dementia Journey and her experiences at Schlegel Villages had taught her to see dementia through, and gained a deeper appreciation for the values and concepts of the program. She currently supports her Village in an administrative capacity, and continues to share meaningful moments with residents when they stop by, or while she’s out and about! Outside of work, she spends time working toward becoming a nurse, volunteering in her community, people watching at the coffee shop, reading, writing, soaking up the sunshine, and spotting humour in the everyday!