President and Founder
Amanda is the volunteer president and founder of C.A.R.E. Jeunesse. She spent 5 years in a variety of placements and aged out of care in the early 2000s. Amanda initially got involved in the alumni movement to address issues in psychiatric care that affected her personally and which she is determined to change. Along the way she realized that a small group of concerned individuals can change more than just psychiatric care in foster care, they can change the entire youth protection system, one small policy at a time. She believes the biggest limitation of care is love or the lack thereof and she hopes C.A.R.E. Jeunesse can serve as a source of friendship for youth from care for the foreseeable future. Amanda holds a bachelor’s degree in psychology, a masters in psychiatry, and works full-time with youth in difficulty. Amanda is also a mom, a gardener, a television addict, a shower singer and amateur comic.
Jennifer is the Vice President and a founding board member. She is also an alumni from care in Quebec. Having seen the challenges that the system faced, as well as the opportunity to make a difference in the lives of others, Jennifer decided to pursue a career in Social Work. She obtained a DEC in Social Services at Dawson College and a Bachelors and Masters in Social Work at McGill University. Jennifer has worked as an Educator in group homes, a Social Worker and as a Youth Empowerment Liaison, a position designed to give a voice to youth in care, to allow them to have a say about the services that they receive and to effect change and to open the dialogue between youth and the adults providing services to them.
Hobbies: Writing-I hope to write my own book one day. Travelling, cooking
Favorite food: Poutine…and cheese
Favorite dessert: Strawberry shortcake
Favorite movie: The Pursuit of Happiness (one of many favorites)
Favorite pastimes: Spending time with my kids and my dog…a little pug named Pugsy
Favorite quote: “Let me believe in you until you can believe in yourself”
Board of Directors and Founding Member
Marly is a founding board member. She is a 25-year-old alumni of care who was placed in youth protection for 12 years. Marly aged out of youth protection but stayed living in her foster home. Marly currently works as a daycare educator and plans to start a CÉGEP program in special need care counselling. Marly loves helping special need children and wants to advocate for special needs children in care.
Board of Directors Secretary
Melanie is originally from New Brunswick, where she was placed in foster care between 1994 and 1998. After ‘aging out’ of the care system at age 18, she pursued post-secondary education and completed her Bachelor in Applied Arts in Criminal Justice at St Thomas University in 2004, and later on a Master in Interdisciplinary Studies at the University of New Brunswick (UNB) in 2008. Prior to pursuing her graduate work, Melanie worked as a Research Assistant at the Canadian Research Institute for Social Policy (CRISP) at UNB alongside Dr. Doug Willms, and most recently as a Project Officer for the Government of New Brunswick’s Integrated Service Delivery for Children and Youth project until July 2014. Melanie has also been involved in various youth engagement initiatives, such as the New Brunswick Youth in Care Network (NBYICN), and is very passionate about providing youth currently and formerly in care with opportunities to voice their opinions and influence government policies and approaches to service delivery. She was a panelist and presenter at the N.B. Youth in Care Hearings at the provincial legislature on November 29th, 2012 and has been working closely with the N.B. government on child protection services policy reform efforts via the network.
Melanie is a PhD candidate in social work at McGill University’s School of Social Work and is a member of the Centre for Research on Children and Families (CRCF). Stemming from her unique childhood experience as a child in care, her research focuses on youth ‘aging out’ of the child welfare system in Canada. She teaches a Master’s of Social Work Youth Justice course at the School of Social Work, is a student member of the Centre for Research on Children and Families and is a recipient of the 2014 Trudeau Foundation Doctoral Scholarship as well as the SSHRC Doctoral scholarship. Melanie is also the co-founder of a support group for youth in care alumni who are attending post-secondary institutions in the Montreal area, which has been in place since fall of 2015. She is involved as a Youth Leader in the SSHRC longitudinal Study of Youth Leaving Care in Quebec and France, under the leadership of Martin Goyette at l’École nationale d’administration publique (ÉNAP).
Melanie continuously aspires to become a university professor, a research consultant, an author, a motivational speaker, and a mentor to and advocate for disadvantaged children and youth, especially those involved in the child welfare system.
Fun facts: Melanie has a passion for tattoos and has several large and colourful pieces relaying stories about significant events in her life. She has also been Djing since 1999 under the moniker ‘Mizz Maxine’, and has played various music festivals and clubs in North America alongside internationally renowned DJs. Her musical style is grounded in electronic music genres, such as house, breakbeats, drum and bass, and ‘French Touch’.
Board of Directors Treasurer
Having worked with adolescents for many years, Jessica knows having a supportive community can make all the difference to youth. With experience in non-profit management, communications and marketing, Jessica hopes that she can help increase awareness about C.A.R.E. Jeunesse in order to fulfill its mission and serve the Quebec community. Jessica is also a licensed pilot, loves chocolate and has two kids!
Honorary Board Member
My name is Varda Mann-Feder and I am a Professor in the Department of Applied Human Sciences at Concordia University where I teach Youth Work and Counselling. I have worked for more than 30 years as a psychologist in the care system in Montreal and my research program documents the experiences of youth aging out of care in Quebec.
I was honoured to meet Amanda Keller 3 years ago, and have been an “ally” to the CARE JEUNESSE board since they began. It has been an inspiring process! I believe with all my heart that this organization will do amazing things for and on behalf of all youth in care in Quebec.
I love eating, talking and laughing…all of which we do at CARE JEUNESSE functions! Hope to see you there!!