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staff

Briana Hagen

Dr. Briana Hagen

Chief Executive Officer | Lead Scientist

After completing her Master’s of Science in Community Health and Epidemiology, Dr. Hagen completed a PhD in the department of Population Medicine at the Ontario Veterinary College at the University of Guelph. Using both survey and qualitative data, she examined how farmers and their farms are impacted by mental health outcomes, with a focus on perceived stress and the barriers and facilitators of help-seeking for farmers. Dr. Hagen is passionate about collaborative research approaches and building strong partnerships with the agriculture community to co-design research projects and mental health programming. After completing her PhD in July 2020, she completed a two-year Mitacs Elevate Post-Doctoral Fellowship to continue her investigations around farmer mental health in Canada and expand access to ‘In the Know’: mental health literacy training for Canadian agriculture, which she co- developed. Dr. Hagen has won several awards for this work, including the 2020 Brigid Rivoire Award for Champions of Agricultural Mental Health, the 2021 Research Achievement Award from the International Society of Agricultural Safety and Health, and the 2022 University of Guelph Innovation of the Year award for the development of ’In the Know’.
Deb VanBerkel

Deborah VanBerkel

Chief Programming Officer

As a Registered Psychotherapist and dairy producer, Deborah has a strong passion for mental health and agriculture. After 15 years of working in the non-profit sector, Deborah was thrilled to start her own business, Cultivate Counselling Services. The work done in this private practice led to the development of the Farmer Wellness Program in partnership with the Lennox and Addington Federation of Agriculture. The Farmer Wellness Program offers a safe and flexible way for farmers and their families to access the mental health support they need with a therapist/counsellor who understands the unique challenges of farming.

In 2021, Deborah was the recipient of the prestigious Bridgid Rivoire Award given to “champions of agricultural mental health” for her work with the Program.

Deborah also added author to this career change and wrote the resource manual for the In the Know Mental health literacy program whilst becoming its national trainer.

Deborah’s drive to help and foster growth in the ag community, coupled with her experience and passion for mental health ensures that she will maintain focus to bridge all gaps, fulfill the needs and increase accessible services for those in ag.

Marnie Wood

Marnie Wood

Chief Operating Officer

Marnie’s ground up agricultural experience began as a participating member of a dairy farming family. Her love of cows started early and her passion for agriculture grew quickly! Marnie attended the University of Guelph and received a BAH in Sociology and Rural Extension. After graduating, she had the privilege of working in the agricultural industry, gaining experience in a variety of roles and particularly loved being the Ontario Dairy Educator at Dairy Farmers of Ontario.

In 2014, Marnie returned to academia and completed the three-year graduate program at the Toronto Centre for Counselling and Psychotherapy Education (as part of a Master’s degree at the University of Toronto) and became a Registered Psychotherapist with the College of Registered Psychotherapists of Ontario in 2017. At the same time, she and her partner Brian began a dairy operation as DFO New Producers, which required designing and building a barn from scratch and putting together their own herd of Holsteins. They are thrilled to be farming in the Region of Durham.

Marnie is the Program Manager for The Guardian Network – a suicide prevention network for the agricultural community – at the Canadian Mental Health Association-Ontario Division’s initiative, Agriculture Wellness Ontario. She is enthusiastic about her work in public mental health, community programming, ag communication, research, and policy development and enjoys being a graduate student at UofT.

Marnie is very grateful to be an Ontario farmer and is a passionate member of Canada’s agricultural community.

KRISTEN KELDERMAN

Lead Trainer & Engagement Officer

Kristen is a dedicated and compassionate mental health professional with a profound understanding of the unique challenges faced by individuals in the farming community. Growing up on her parent’s dairy farm, she has firsthand experience feeding calves, milking cows, and picking rocks – that all shaped her farm-kid work ethic and intimate understanding of farm life.

With a Master of Science in Psychology and Neuroscience of Mental Health from King’s College London and a Bachelor of Science in Agriculture from the University of Guelph, Kristen combines extensive knowledge of mental health with farm realities.

Through a personalized and culturally sensitive approach, Kristen strives to create a trusted and empathetic space for farmers to navigate their emotional challenges and understand the basics of mental health. She is skilled in implementing evidence-based programs to increase literacy and awareness within the farming community.

Having worked closely with farmers in various rural settings, Kristen is a passionate advocate for destigmatizing mental health issues within the agricultural sector. She actively collaborates with farming organizations and community groups to raise awareness, provide education on mental health resources, and promote the importance of self-care and emotional well-being in farming communities.

Kristen and her husband are rurally raising their twins and fur baby in the beautiful landscape of Prince Edward County.  

The CCAW has partnered with several organizations across the country, including the Government of Canada, Canadian Federation of Agriculture, Canadian Agricultural Safety Association, and Farm Management Canada, and all are working together to support the wellbeing of the farming community.