Franco Lupo, President

Franco Lupo

A heroic story in his own right, and very fitting one, Frank worked for one of Canada’s largest industrial contractors, and later a self-employed industrial business success story. Becoming addicted to prescription drugs after a work-related injury, Frank lost everything.

Lupo’s story is inspiring, having everything in the world, including his family, and then losing it to prescription drug addiction. After turning his life around, and being clean for several years, Frank worked at various recovery centres prior to dedicating his life and funds to help others who like him were on the verge of despair and suffering from addiction.

Today, Frank is a leading force at Freedom, the leading recovery centre in the GTA, and is very active in the community with those less fortunate. Franco helped open the centre to help others just like him get better and live their dreams, establish themselves, help mend broken families, and live productive lives. Frank has a fun sense of humour, and is a loving and proud dad and husband.

Mandeep Sandhu, Executive Vice President – RP , CCAC, CCS-AC

Mandeep Sandhu

With over 14 years of comprehensive experience managing Addiction Treatment Centres, Mandy oversees Freedom’s operations and its respected programs, achieving business objectives through principled leadership. She is a dynamic and versatile results-proven project leader, Executive Vice President and Registered Psychotherapist.

Mandeep is a registered psychotherapist with The College of Registered Psychotherapists, a Motivational Speaker and is also a Canadian Certified Addiction and Clinical Supervisor with the Canadian Certified Addiction Counselling Federation. Furthermore, Mandy sits on the board of York Region Violence Against Women Coordinating Committee, a member of: the Aurora Chamber of Commerce, and Committee Member of the Economic Development Committee

Among many achievements, Mandy continues to develop and implement various initiatives to support the execution of effective business strategies. Her dedication, commitment and advanced interpersonal and communication skills continue to leverage the collaboration with top-tier executive management, frontlines personnel and end-user satisfaction. Leading the team through Accreditation twice and being Accredited with a Commendation demonstrates her commitment to operating an exceptional center and team. In her spare time Mandy enjoys spending time with her family.

Dr Markus, Medical Director MD MPH&TM FRCPC CMRO

Dr Markus

Dr. Markus is a specialist in occupational medicine, addiction medicine, public health, and tropical medicine. He is a medical graduate (MD) of the University of Toronto and holds a Masters of Public Health and Tropical Medicine (MPH&TM with honours) from the Tulane University School of Public Health and Tropical Medicine. Dr. Markus completed his five year residency program in Occupational Medicine from the University of Toronto where he held the position of Chief Resident and now holds a Fellowship in the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Canada (FRCPC) in this specialty. Dr. Markus is a Certified Medical Review Officer (CMRO) for drug testing in the workplace and has experience in medical surveillance, independent medical evaluations and industrial toxicology. He has been actively involved in treating opiate dependence in the workplace and in the clinical setting since 2009, and has completed the Opiate Dependence Treatment Certificate Program at the University of Toronto. His interests include health and safety in the workplace, workplace addictions, emerging infectious diseases, as well as prevention of diseases related to global travel and high-risk environments. He c0-founded Vector Medical Corporation in 2013 remains the Chief Medical Officer.

Kate Pindera, Clinical Manager B.A (CCAC)

Kate Pindera

Kate has been with Freedom from Addiction since 2016and has served as executive assistant, intake coordinator and certified addiction counsellor. Her current position as Clinical Manager is reflective of the skills, hard work and determination she has garnered along the way. Kate has earned a B.A.H in Psychology with a Minor in Family Relations and Human Development from the University of Guelph. Kate has also earned a Post-Grad Certificate in Addictions: Treatment and Prevention from Georgian College. Kate has been successfully certified with Canadian Addiction Counsellors Certification Federation (CCAC).

Her educational and past work experience has allowed Kate to gain the tools and capabilities to work in the Addiction and Mental Health field. The most rewarding aspect of working in the social service field is being able to see the profound growth in clients throughout, and following, implementation of a program or service – particularly those aimed at supporting significant mental health concerns and reintegrating clients into their community. As such, Kate is truly passionate and empowered to help others lead a healthy recovery.

Lisa Herron, Nurse Manager (RPN)

Lisa Herron

Lisa Herron (RPN) is a tactful and very caring individual, that is professionally trained as a Registered Practical Nurse. Lisa earned her Practical Nursing Diploma at Georgian College. Lisa obtained her certificate for Pre-Health Sciences. Lisa has her HCP/CPR certificate and is also a member of the Registered Practical Nurses Association of Ontario (RPNAO).

Lisa has had clinical experiences in Medical Complex care , Obstetrics, and at Mental Health units at a variety of different hospitals in the region. Lisa is a compassionate individual that thrives on caring for others. Lisa career path of life-long learning continues to challenge her to upgrade her competencies and provide excellence in nursing practice. And, as a nurse with experience in a variety of practice settings she has a firm understanding of the realities of the front-line Nurse.

Brianne Flaherty, Intake Coordinator/Executive Assistant B.A, CCAC

Brianne Flaherty

Brianne is an Intake Coordinator/Executive Assistant with Freedom from Addiction. She holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in Psychology from the University of British Columbia and is currently enrolled in the Post-Graduate Addiction Careworker Program with McMaster University.

Brianne is recognized as an Associate Addiction Counsellor and is working towards her full certification. Her previous roles in the mental health and addictions field have provided her with extensive experience in intake and administration. Brianne’s positive attitude and empathic approach to care creates a warm atmosphere for all clients. She is a new mom and enjoys spending time with her family.

Jason Lemos, Lead Counsellor (CCAC)

Jason Lemos

Jason received his Diploma in Addictions and Community Service worker from CDI College Mississauga. Jason is a member of the Canadian Addiction Counsellors Certification Federation (CCAC). He has training in Applied Suicide Prevention Skills Training (ASIST). Non-Violent Crisis Intervention (NVIC), mental health in diverse populations, First aid and CPR.

Jason a recovering addict himself suffered from drug addiction for over a decade. He understands the impact addiction can have on an individual and their families. Since deciding to get clean Jason has pursued an education and career in the field of addictions. Jason is compassionate and dedicated to working with those suffering from the disease of addiction.

Vincent Roberts, Addiction Counsellor B.A (Hons)

Vincent Roberts

Vincent has over 15 years of practical experience in the mental health and acquired brain injury field and is certified as a Cognitive Behaviour Therapist who incorporates practical strategies to encourage, educate, and support clients so they can manage their addiction and (re)build meaningful and connected lives.

Vincent holds a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Psychology from York University, and is also is a graduate of Centennial College. Certified in Suicide Prevention through the A.S.I.S.T program, Vincent also possess specialized training through Ontario Brain Injury Association (OBIC). Clients can expect to Vincent to be honest, open, and willing to work with them on the many facets of recovery behaviours.

When not at work, Vincent takes time to manage and model his own self-care regime by playing golf with friends and spending meaningful time with his immediate and extended family.

Terri Van Tassel, Addiction Counsellor B.A(Hons)

Terri Van Tassel

Terri holds an Honours Bachelor of Arts degree in Sociology from Laurentian University, as well as a Graduate Certificate in Addictions: Treatment and Prevention from Georgian College. She is a member of the Canadian Addiction Counsellors Certification Federation. Terri has taught at the college level, teaching courses in Mental Health, Social Psychology, Family Dynamics, Organizational Behaviour, and Brain and Behaviour. She presently leads many of Freedom’s education sessions.

Terri is also trained in hospice and palliative care counselling, SafeTALK©, and is an Advanced Literacy and Essential Skills Tutor. Using a client-centered and solution-focused approach in building therapeutic relationships with clients, Terri emphasizes open and honest communication, genuine care, and a sense of humour in her recovery and relapse prevention messages.

Komal Preet, Registered Psychotherapist RP, B.A.(Hons), M.A, LMHC

Komal Preet

I am a Licensed Mental Health Counselor in the state of New York and a Registered Psychotherapist in Ontario and hold Master’s degrees in Mental Health Counselling. I have a great deal of experience in working with clients dealing with a variety of issues including: depression, anxiety, mood disorders, and post-traumatic stress disorder.

I use a variety of treatment techniques in my counseling sessions depending on the needs of the individual client. Among the approaches I employ are: Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, Person-Centered and Solution-Focused therapies

Madison Smith, Addiction Counsellor B.S (hons)

Madison Smith

Madison earned a Bachelor of Science degree in Honors Psychology and Biology from Wilfrid Laurier University. She then completed a Post Graduate Certificate in Addiction Counselling from Georgian College.

In addition to her education, Madison completed an internship working with Addiction Services: Withdrawal Management at the Royal Victoria Hospital in Barrie. Madison is passionate about the field of addiction and strives to be an ally for individuals struggling with addiction by helping them on their journey of recovery.

Rachel Ferry, Addiction Counsellor B.S

Rachel Ferry

Rachel is an Addictions Counsellor at Freedom from Addiction. She graduated from Brigham Young University with a Bachelor of Science degree in Family Studies as well as completed one year of Optional Practical Training in the field of Social Work. Rachel has experience working in addiction and mental health in Provo, Utah as a Recovery Assistant at the House of Hope treatment centre, as well as volunteer work at the Utah State Hospital. Rachel’s combined work experience and schooling has allowed her to receive practical and valuable training in the field of Social Work. Rachel is certified in CPR/first aid, and has a strong passion for counselling and helping those recovering from addiction.

Andrew Taylor, Addiction Counsellor

Andrew Taylor

Andy is on staff as a Counselor here at Freedom. He holds a membership with the Canadian Addiction Counselors Certification Federation and is a professional member of the Ontario Association of Child and Youth Care. He received his CYW DEP from Centennial College and has attained other certifications over his years of service, such as; Applied Suicide Prevention (Assist), Mental Health First Aid, Understanding and Managing Aggressive Behaviour (U.M.A.B.). Andy is also certified as a Life Skills Coach.

For over 30 years Andy has been serving people in a variety of milieus. He has worked with clients street level contact, Residential Group Living Programs and in Therapeutic Treatment facilities.

Andy, a recovering addict himself, knows the pain and chaos caused when in active drug addiction. He understands the impact addiction can have on an individual, their friends and families. Andy is passionate about supporting others to stay clean and is determined to share his strengths, experiences and hope with the clients here at Freedom from Addiction.

Jay Albi, Sober Coach

Jay Albi

Jay is a counselor assistant and sober coach at Freedom – he works with clients on the 12-step program. After experiencing his own struggles with addiction for many years which impacted his life and his family, Jay found himself and began his successful road to recovery.

Clean for over a decade now, Jay uses his personal experiences to help those who now struggle from drug and alcohol addiction. Jay’s experiences are very inspiring and he knows exactly what a client is going through – because he’s been there. Jay is also very active in the community with those less fortunate. At Freedom he works with clients to get better, set goals, establish themselves, and get back to leading the life they should be leading.

Andrea Hughes, Nurse (RPN)

Andrea Hughes

Andrea started her career in health care when she obtained her Personal Support Worker certificate. She completed her Pre-Health Sciences and continued on to her Practical Nursing Licence from George Brown College where she was awarded the Clinical and Academic Excellence Award. Andrea graduated from Centennial College’s Bridging to University Nursing Program with honours and is currently enrolled in Ryerson University working on her BScN. She has experience in Long Term Care, Home Care, Complex Continuing Care, Rehabilitation, Medical-Surgical and Acute Step-down. Andrea is a great example of how through sobriety you can achieve anything! By using the 12 steps; Andrea has worked through her own problems with addictions and codependency and has achieved many personal goals as a result. Andrea prides herself on her ability to include clients as stakeholders in their health using a client-centred and holistic approach. Andrea’s professional practice values include education, compassion, empathy, trusting nurse-client therapeutic relationships and exceptional clinical skills.

Gabrielle Prieto, Nurse (RPN)

Gabrielle Prieto

Gabrielle is a Registered Practical Nurse who earned her diploma at George Brown College. She is currently attending Ryerson University to obtain her Bachelor of Science in Nursing to become a Registered Nurse. Gabrielle has a certificate in HCP/CPR and is a member of the Registered Practical Nurses Association of Ontario (RPNAO).

Gabrielle has experience working in paediatric and geriatric mental health, neurological and complex continuing care in hospital, community as well as nursing home settings. She has maintained an excellent reputation with clients and their families. She is known for providing friendly and dignified care to everyone here at Freedom.

Denise Lia, Nurse (RPN)

Denise Lia

Denise Lia is trained as a Registered Practical Nurse and earned her Practical Nursing Diploma at Seneca College. She has her CPR (HCP) and First Aid certificate and is a member of the Registered Practical Nurses Association of Ontario (RPNAO).

Denise has had clinical experiences in orthopedics, trauma and burns, and long-term care.

Denise is passionate and always looking to learn and expand her education in addiction and mental health. She is caring, understanding and nonjudgmental treating each client with dignity, kindness, respect and compassion.

Luke Parsons, Nurse (RPN)

Luke Parsons

Luke Parsons obtained his nursing license in 2013, since then Luke has taken on a number of different nursing roles from mental health, long term care, oral surgery, to homecare and beyond. Luke has a certificate of mental health nursing, and he brings his knowledge and skills into his care here at Freedom. Luke joined the Freedom team in 2015. During that time Luke has provided compassionate and knowledgeable care to all of our clients here at Freedom.

Nicole Gould, Nurse (RPN)

Nicole Gould

Nicole Gould is trained as a Registered Practical Nurse and earned her Practical Nursing Diploma at Seneca College. Nicole has her CPR (HCP) and First Aid certificate and is a member of the Registered Practical Nurses Association of Ontario (RPNAO).

Nicole has had clinical experiences in Medical Complex care , Neurology Rehab, and musculoskeletal units. Nicole is always looking for new opportunities in her career to advance her knowledge and skills and work in areas of the field she is new to. Nicole brings compassion and a love of caring for others and a willingness to learn something new everyday. Nicole brings the skills she has learned from her clinical experiences and applies them in order to care competently as a nurse in a new setting.

Jerek Bowman, Chef Manager (CWC)

Jerek Bowman

Jerek is red seal certified as a cook and was one of the first Canadians to be awarded the certified working chef (CWC) designation through Humber College and the Canadian Culinary Institute in 2010.

Jerek discovered his passion for the culinary field at an early age and held his first position in a kitchen while in high school. Jerek did his formal chef training at Conestoga College, graduating in 2002, and completed the advanced chef program at Humber College, graduating in 2010.

Originially recruited by the Chateau Lake Louise in Alberta, Canada, Jerek progressed through the ranks of some of the culinary industries most prestigious kitchens, including time spent at ‘Colborne Lane’ under Claudio Aprile, ‘Le Bernardin’ with Eric Ripert, and ‘Daniel’ with Daniel Boulud.

Jerek was an integral part of the Fairmont Royal York Hotel’s kitchen management team. During his tenure, he was instrumental in the hospitality needs of the G20 delegations and was the private chef to numerous members of visiting royalty, dignitaries and heads of state.

Most recently, Jerek managed the strong culinary team at Schulich School of Business, York University, where he supervised the daily operations of a hotel, banquet and catering facility, and multiple restaurant outlets.
Jerek’s culinary drive is just a branch of his passion for serving people and being part of the greater good. On his spare time, he can be found serving those in need at soup kitchens and taking up his hobbies of horticulture and mountain biking

Nicolai Polsinelli, Chef

Nicolai Polsinelli

With over 6 years of culinary experience, Nick excels as a leader at Freedom from Addiction. He takes pride in his work and cooks every meal with integrity. His thoughtful and healthful approach to nutrition provides a customized experience for each client. Nick is a dedicated member of our team, always willing to help others inside and outside of the kitchen.

Nick not only excels as a member of our team but values and supports our clients. His personal experience with recovery is an inspiration to all. While working closely with clients, Nick stands as a model for positive self-care, determination and perseverance.

Dale Hickey, Personal Trainer I.S.S.A

Dale Hickey

Dale Hickey is a Certified Personal Trainer and holds a certificate in Fitness Therapy. He has played a versatile role in the health and fitness industry, inspiring and building a network of followers. During his career, Dale has contributed to building the confidence and strength of youth in specialized Martial Arts Training. He has also excelled in one-on-one Personal Training and Group Facilitation, building vitality, power and energy for individuals of all fitness levels. When he’s not supporting the fitness goals of his clients, Dale is passionate about sports and can be found on the field playing football with his closest friends. Dale’s empathic and energetic approach to training has supported the recovery of many individuals. He continues to work hard in his passion and is always seeking to expand his knowledge.