BOARD OF DIRECTORS & ADVISORY COUNCIL
Janelle Breese Biagioni, RPC, MPCC
Founder & CEO
Janelle Breese Biagioni is a Registered Professional Counsellor and Master Practitioner in Clinical Counselling. She is the widow of Constable Gerry Breese. She specializes in traumatic life losses arising from a death or catastrophic injury.
The year before the life-altering loss of her husband, she had lost her brother (39), who sustained a brain hemorrhage. And two weeks before her husband died, one of her closest friends (43) who also suffered a brain injury three years prior, succumbed to a brain tumour. Within 18 months three of the most important people in her life were gone—all due to brain injuries.
Janelle has published seven books including A Change of Mind: One Family’s Journey through Brain Injury and Life Losses: Healing for a Broken Heart. Her vignettes are published in Chicken Soup for the Grieving Soul and Chicken Soup for the Father & Daughter Soul. Janelle’s articles have also been published in the Grief Digest, Living with Loss, Headline and Brain Injury Journey magazines. Janelle also appeared in A Change of Mind; a documentary on the societal impact of brain injury.
Janelle is married to Lyle and resides in Victoria, BC. She is mother of Myriah and Dale and grandmother of Sampson, Atticus and Greyson.
Lyle was born and raised in Penticton, BC. Lyle began working at Casabello Winery (which later became Cartier Wines and then Vincor International) when he graduated from high school and remained with the organization for 18 years. Lyle currently works for BC Liquor Stores.
Lyle is very community-minded. He served on the Penticton Minor Hockey Executive, operating their concession for a number of years and raising over $100,000 for the organization. He organized aid stations and volunteered with IRONMAN Canada Triathlon in Penticton for 13 years. Lyle was also a referee for Minor, Junior, and Major Junior Hockey for 18 years. Lyle is currently a volunteer with the City of Langford Emergency Social Services.
Lyle is married to Janelle Breese Biagioni.
Matt grew up in the Westshore communities of Vancouver Island, spending his childhood in various ice arenas and baseball diamonds, deeply engaged in sport. After losing his father in an abrupt and tragic incident at the age of 7, Matt’s focus started to drift from the competitive nature of sport to a more inclusive desire to aid others who have endured such experiences. Losing his father at a young age and watching his mother with little option, other than to take charge of her 2 young children, had a profound affect on how Matt saw the world. Searching for answers, Matt found himself starting to understand and view music and creative expression in a different light. Using the power of mediums like radio, poetry and literature, Matt found a way to help dissect the experiences of losing his father and the mental health struggles that are so often associated with experiencing trauma at a young age.
Matts first experience with community based charitable non-profits came through his love of music and creativity. It was this love that led him to begin a career in community radio at the University of Victoria campus/community radio station CFUV 101.9fm.
After living out his time in Vancouver, Matt began to uncover a new direction for himself. Matt wishes to continue his work within the community and help in creating a lasting effect on his place he calls home.
Shirley Johnson comes to the board with personal and volunteer experience in traumatic life losses, specifically in brain injury and family death. Her son, Trevor, suffered a traumatic brain injury in 1988 from a motor vehicle crash. In 2009, Trevor lost his life from an interaction of newly prescribed medication.
Shirley dedicated 21 years to advocating for her son’s services and others. She served locally, provincially, and nationally on the Board of Directors for a variety of Brain Injury Associations, including Brain Injury Canada, of which she is Past-President.
Shirley’s professional background includes many years in financial management of not-for-profits and charitable organizations. She is currently a member and serves as a volunteer with eWomen International Victoria Chapter.
Shirley is the proud mother of five children and grandmother of eight.
Myriah has spent the majority of her adult life working in the non-profit sector. She previously worked with the Victoria Women’s Transition House in the Fundraising Department. Myriah’s experience in running direct mail campaigns, grant writing, social media marketing and public speaking have been invaluable in her non-profit career.
Myriah is active in her community with plenty of experience on boards, one of which was the Western Communities Montessori Society where her youngest son attends school. Myriah resides in Victoria, BC, with her husband and two amazing boys, Sampson and Atticus. Myriah is the eldest daughter of Cst. Gerald Breese and Janelle Breese Biagioni.
Director of Strategic Planning & Governance
Jess Gelowsky has been a part of brain injury awareness for over five years. She was introduced to this community by Dr. Katy Mateer and The Cridge Centre for the Family through Survive-Strive-Thrive, an annual conference focussed on engaging the community in important conversations about brain injury.
Jess was so moved by the speakers and survivors that she decided to get involved with the Cridge. The loss of her father from brain cancer a year later further motivated her on this path.
Jess continues to assist every year with Survive-Strive-Thrive, volunteers with the Cridge, supports fundraising events and tries to bring awareness to her community.
Dale Breese, BSW
Director at Large
Dale graduated from high school in Penticton in 1997. She went on to become a Nursing Unit Clerk where she worked in the Psychiatry Inpatient Unit and Day Hospital at Penticton Regional Hospital.
Dale relocated to Victoria, BC, where she entered the Practical Nursing Program at Camosun College and graduated in 2003.
Dale’s nursing background led her to serve as the Clinical Coordinator for the Victoria Fertility Clinic for four years. From 2008 – 2016, Dale served on the management team at Bayshore Health, first as their On Call Coordinator and then as Client Service Manager. She then worked with The Cridge Centre for the Family Brain Injury Services as both the Admin Manager and a Case Manager while pursuing additional education.
Dale recently graduated with her Bachelor of Social Work degree and is currently the FASD Keyworker with Island Métis. She is the youngest daughter of Cst. Gerald Breese and Janelle Breese Biagioni and mom of Greyson.
Director at Large
In 2006 Diana graduated with a Degree from the University of Winnipeg and went on to complete her Masters at Acadia University in 2007. Diana has had a career in health care focusing on health promotion. Her work and interests include sexual health, brain injury, mental health, addictions, and PTSD.
Being a travel and adventure enthusiast brought Diana to Victoria in 2012. After spending time in nearly every province, the west coast seemed the place to settle.
Diana is married, lives in Vancouver and is proud mom of Dominic.
ADVISORY COUNCIL MEMBER
SIIÁM TŦE NE SĆÁLEĆ (My dear respected friends and relatives),
I wish to recognize and acknowledge the Lək̓ʷəŋən speaking people (Esquimalt and Songhees Nations) on whose traditional territories we work, play and live.
My traditional Salish name is TA LIAIS. This name was gifted to me through ceremony in my community in 2016. I carry my name in a way that honours my past Elders who carried it before me. My English name is Trena Black. I am a member of S,OEḰ (T’Sou~ke) Nation in the heart of Coast Salish territory. I also have Paa?čiid?atx (Pacheedaht) and Irish ancestry.
I have been teaching on Lək̓ʷəŋən and W̱SÁNEĆ territories since 1999 mostly in Indigenous Education. The focus of my work is sharing Indigenous knowledge. This is woven together with the social-emotional well-being of the learners. I believe that meaningful learning includes the mind, body and spirit.
I have a teaching degree from the University of Victoria in Education with a concentration in Science and a Master’s degree in Indigenous Language Revitalization. I love learning, educating and sharing knowledge so I created the website beingtsouke.com, where I share my affinity for my culture and languages.
‘SW’K’ALECEN IYES T’ALE’ (It makes my heart happy) to travel and experience the world. A few of my travel experiences include teaching in Japan and touring Europe as a S,OEḰ traditional dancer.
As an Indigenous educator and a trauma survivor I am honoured to walk beside the Heads Together and Traumatic Life Losses organizations in their incredible work. Together we are stronger and wiser in what we create.
“We are story. All of us. What comes to matter then is the creation of the best possible story we can while we’re here; you, me, us, together. When we can do that and we take the time to share those stories with each other, we get bigger inside, we see each other, we recognize our kinship – we change the world.” Richard Wagamese, Ojibwe author
HÍSW̱ḴE SIÁM (Thank you)