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Our Founder and Coordinator: Josh Berger-Viflanzoff

Josh Berger-Viflanzoff is an autistic activist and disability rights advocate whose life has been impacted by many of the issues SOAR aims to address.   Josh is a graduate of the University of Manitoba’s Anthropology program. The social justice and human rights components of this program provided Josh with a strong academic foundation for work in the non-profit sector.  However, it wasn’t until after graduation, when he encountered systemic barriers to pursuing his own life goals and career ambitions, that Josh found his calling as an activist.

After initially focusing his  efforts on enhancing accommodations and supports for neurodivergent people, Josh’s personal experiences eventually pointed him toward what has become his purpose:  combatting the overreliance on psychiatric medications to damp down emotional expression and modify behaviours seen as unacceptable. In 2020, Josh articulated his vision and set out on a singular mission:  to bring together neurodivergent Canadians, caregivers and health professionals to enhance knowledge, create resources and empower people to make more informed decisions about these medications.

 

As coordinator for SOAR, Josh performs a multitude of tasks including building and updating the SOAR website, writing posts for the SOAR blog, managing donor relations, keeping our financial records in order, contributing to our program development and delivery, and much more.

How Do You Recharge?

In his free time Josh likes to walk his dog, Willie, and go for drives in his truck.

Board of Directors:

President:  Dr. Naomi Berger

Dr. Naomi Berger is a registered clinical psychologist with over 30 years of experience providing services  in a variety of settings.  She has taught in the Psychology program at the University of Manitoba and has supervised clinical psychology interns in preparation for their entry to independent practice.  For many years, Naomi chaired the Examinations Committee of the Psychological Association of Manitoba, where she played a leadership role in assessing applicants for entry to the profession.

Naomi and her husband, Greg, are the proud parents of SOAR founder Josh Berger-Viflanzoff. As a parent, Naomi  advocated for her son during his early years.  She is now delighted to move aside and serve in a supporting role, as Josh steps forward to advocate for himself and others.

How Do You Recharge?   

 In her free time, Naomi enjoys  exercising, reading, and attempting to solve challenging crosswords. 

Treasurer:   Greg Viflanzoff

Greg Viflanzoff has worked for the government of Manitoba, Justice for over thirty years, holding a variety of jobs and assignments within the Department.  Not long after starting, Greg became a counsellor, working with inmates.  In that time, he delivered both one-on-one and group programs related to what brought the offender into conflict with the law.   Through this work, Greg developed an enhanced awareness of the role that addictions, abuse and marginalization due to minority group membership often play in offender backgrounds.  He also gained understanding of disability issues, particularly in relation to FASD and other conditions affecting large numbers of inmates.  


Other roles Greg has held within Corrections include staff trainer, recruiter and program coordinator.  In addition, over the course of his career, Greg has taken on specialty roles within the Corrections Emergency Response Unit and Crisis Negotiation Unit, serving a term as coordinator and trainer for the latter.   He has also been actively involved in liaising with volunteers working with offenders, both during their period of incarceration and post-release.   As his career has progressed and Greg has taken on more managerial roles within Corrections,  he has continued to develop his understanding of mental health issues and other barriers facing inmates, as well as resources which can contribute to their wellbeing, rehabilitation and eventual successful re-integration into the community.  He brings a strong know edge of volunteer management as well as a wealth of experience facilitating group dynamics, managing crisis situations and team- building to SOAR.  In addition, Greg is a devoted father to SOAR founder and coordinator Josh  and to multi-talented daughter Rachel.  

How Do You Recharge?
To relax, Greg enjoys cooking, listening to music and working out.  

Secretary: Andree Huberdeau


Andrée Huberdeau is a Sergeant with the Winnipeg Police Service with 24 years of experience in providing community service and leadership.  Andrée is a skilled trainer, mentor and facilitator both within the workplace, and in the community.  

Andrée brings and equity and inclusion lens to her work; she believes that ongoing conversation and action around diversity, equity and inclusion must be integrated into the fabric of an organization to create inclusive environments and develop effective programming strategies.  Andrée has led numerous strategic initiatives including the development of mental health/disability training for the organization.  

As a parent of a son with autism, Andrée has taken a leadership role in developing and leading workshops to increase understanding among police agencies, neurodivergent people, nonprofit organization and the community at large.  Andrée brings a wealth of skills, experience and passion to our SOAR Board of Directors.

How Do You Recharge?
Andree recharges by reconnecting with nature, whether at the golf course or the fishing hole.

Director:   Karen Malczewski

Karen Malczewski is a Human Resources professional with the Winnipeg Police Service specializing in Talent Acquisition.  Karen has worked with the Service for over 19 years and has had an opportunity to hold several different positions over the years,  including Forensic Identification Technician and Volunteer Coordinator.

Aside to her professional life, Karen is a dedicated wife and mother to a teenaged son living with autism. As a family, they keep very active enjoying the outdoors andtraveling to explore all parts of Manitoba, Canada, and abroad. To further expand their appreciation for different cultures, the Malczewski family have hosted several international students from all part of the world, creating long lasting friendships and relationships.

Karen plays an integral role in her son’s life as she passionately advocates for services and continually seeks out opportunities to aid in his development, independence, and overall wellbeing. 

How Do You Recharge?

To destress, Karen enjoys gardening, interior design, Zumba and planning her next trip.

Community Advisory Council

SOAR has developed a Community Advisory Council in order to broaden our base of knowledge and experience.    Our Community Advisory Council is a group of community volunteers who provide feedback and input to our Board, helping ensure diversity through representation of professional expertise as well as representation of neuro-minorities within SOAR's mandate.   The feedback we receive from Council members helps ensure that our programming is suited to the needs of the community and reflects best practice.

Community Advisory Council Member:  Dr. James Ediger

Dr. James Ediger is a registered clinical psychologist with over 30 years of experience providing services in both public and private settings.  He is the former Director of Autism and Outreach Services at St.Amant Inc. and, most recently, has worked as a consulting clinical psychologist with the Winnipeg Regional Health Authority’s Behaviour Resource and Consultation Team (BRaCT).  Additionally, Dr. Ediger operates a private practice where he supports adults presenting with a variety of psychological issues.  He is particularly interested in working with individuals who have been diagnosed with ASD.  Dr. Ediger holds appointments at the University of Manitoba as Assistant Professor in the Department of Clinical Health Psychology, Faculty of Medicine and Adjunct Professor in the Department of Psychology, Faculty of Arts. 

How Do You Recharge?
Outside of work, James enjoys spending time at the lake with his family, reading, and trying to stay physically active.       

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