Research Team

Principal Investigator

Shari Brotman

Shari Brotman is Associate Professor at the McGill School of Social Work and a member of CREGÉS. Shari has worked extensively, as an educator, researcher and practitioner in the fields of social gerontology and anti-oppressive social work practice. Her scholarly activities center on questions of access and equity in the design and delivery of health and social care services to older adults from marginalized communities, including work addressing the experiences of neurodiverse older people and their carers. Her research incorporates an intersectional lens exploring the ways in which interlocking oppressions shape the everyday lives of people and communities. She undertakes qualitative, community and arts-based research.

[email protected]

Co-investigator (Montreal)

Tamara Sussman
Tamara Sussman is Associate Professor in the School of Social Work at McGill University and an affiliated researcher at Centre for Research and Expertise in Social Gerontology. She is a social gerontologist whose program of research examines how health and social services can improve outcomes for older adults with chronic health conditions and their families. While Dr. Sussman has conducted studies across the health and social service network including home care, hospital settings, and long-term care (LTC) homes, her expertise and contributions have been, increasingly directed towards improving interventions and services within the context of congregate living environments such as LTC.

Co-investigator (Montreal)

Laura Pacheco

Laura Pacheco is Assistant Professor at the School of Social Work, Memorial University and an Adjunct Professor at the McGill University School of Social Work. Previously she was a clinician-researcher and coordinator of a specialized evidence-based parenting service for persons with intellectual disability in Montreal. She is a consultant for workers in the government, community and legal system. Laura’s research interests include intersecting levels of oppression on the lines of ability/dis- ability, gender, culture, service provision to families headed by parents with intellectual disability, participatory approaches and reproductive justice. Laura has been in the helping profession within the field of disability for over 15 years and has worked with individuals, couples and families from birth to the aging population.

Co-investigator (Montreal)

Lucyna Lach
Lucy Lach is Associate Professor in the School of Social Work, McGill University and Associate Member of the Departments of Pediatrics and Neurology/Neurosurgery in the Faculty of Medicine, McGill University. She has a special interest in health-related quality of life and parenting of children with chronic health conditions and disabilities. Working closely with parents, clinical and institutional leaders, and policy makers, Dr. Lach uses her expertise to increase awareness of what constitutes parenting, what makes a difference to how parents parent their child, and what difference parenting makes to child outcomes. Dr. Lach began her professional career as a front- line social worker working with families and children with Cystic Fibrosis and neuro-developmental diagnoses at the Hospital for Sick Children in Toronto.

Co-investigator and Team Leader (Quebec City)

Marie-Hélène Deshaies

Marie-Hélène Deshaies is an Assistant Professor at École de travail social et criminology of Laval University. She teaches community organization and the study of social movements. Her research interests focus on the social and political organization of care work, health and social service system, collective action and social movements and the fight against poverty and inequalities. In her work, she mobilizes collaborative and participatory research processes with community and social organizations.

[email protected]

Co-investigator (Quebec City)

Émilie Raymond
Émilie Raymond is Professor at École de travail social et criminology of Laval University, where she teaches community organization and qualitative research methods. She is responsible for the FRQSC’s Participation sociale et villes inclusives research team and a CREGES researcher. Dr. Raymond is interested in the social and civic participation of older adults, particularly people with disabilities. She mainly uses collaborative research approaches, working with community, association and governmental partners to improve older adult's inclusive access to social participation spaces.

Co-investigator (Quebec City)

Élise Milot
Élise Milot is an Associate Professor at École de travail social et criminology of Laval University and co-director of the Inclusive Communities Laboratory of the Centre interdisciplinaire de recherche en réadaptation et intégration sociale (CIRRIS) in Quebec City. She is a co-researcher in this project. Her research interests focus on the development of more inclusive environments for adults and seniors with intellectual disabilities and on experimenting with innovative practices to promote their participation in community life. Her research projects are participatory in nature, and all carried out with partners from various communities.


Anna Andrianova

Anna Andrianova has degrees in psychology and social work and is currently a doctoral candidate in social work at Université Laval. She is a collaborator on this project. As coordinator of the Domain of Expertise in Caregiving at the Centre de recherche et d'expertise en gérontologie sociale (CREGÉS), Anna Andrianova is responsible for the development of projects aimed at improving practices to support intervention in the field of caregiving. In collaboration with community and health practitioners, as well as with the CREGÉS team of professionals and researchers, Anna Andrianova, who plays a coordinating role, contributes to (1) the development and implementation of innovative leading-edge practices, (2) knowledge transfer and outreach activities, (3) and research and knowledge development in the field of caregiving.


Zelda Freitas
Zelda Freitas is a social worker (MSW) and the past coordinator of the area of expertise in caregiving at the Centre for Research and Expertise on Social Gerontology, CIUSSS CCOMTL. She recently joined the professional practice team as a clinical advisor at the CIUSSS. As a research practitioner, she is interested in issues related to psychosocial practice and family care, bereavement, loss and grief. She plays a crucial role in accessing and consolidating partnerships within the health and social services network and with community partners. She has been recently named as an Adjunct Professor at the McGill University School of Social Work. Zelda is a proud caregiver to her parents.


Daniel Dickson
Daniel Dickson is a PhD candidate in Political Science at Concordia University. His dissertation project is related to the development of a cross-provincial policy index to compare effectiveness in implementing social inclusion policies for older Canadians with neurodiversity. Drawing from his past experience in the social services sector, his primary interest is in analyzing the effects of public policies designed to reduce social marginalization and exclusion, with a specific focus on disability and population aging.


Julien Simard
Julien Simard holds a master’s degree in Anthropology (Université de Montréal) and a PhD in Urban Studies (INRS-UCS). He is currently a Postdoctoral Research Fellow at the McGill School of Social Work under the supervision of Shari Brotman, and is the recipient of a CMHC Housing Research Scholarship. His current work, informed by critical social gerontology, housing studies and urban anthropology, is centred around understanding the many facts of housing precarity among older low-income tenants in gentrifying neighborhoods. He will use his expertise to contribute to the conceptual framework and analysis of the data, along with anchoring the research into the legislative and policy housing context of Quebec.

Research Assistant (Montreal)

Waleed Al-Ahmad

Waleed lived, studied and worked in 4 different countries which gave him the enriching exposure to different cultures. He has a master's degree in social work and a second master's degree, in couple and family therapy. He has diverse work experience in different settings including, child psychiatry, community-based social services, and youth protection, and with different populations including neurodiverse adults, refugees, LGBTQ+ and Indigenous people. He’s now a licensed psychotherapist with his own private practice.

Research Assistant (Montreal)

Lauréanne Lacasse

Over the last few years, Lauréanne has been working for Répit Emergo - Autisme et autres T.E.D., which has as a mission to offer respite services to families living with autistic people or people having pervasive developmental disorders. As a counsellor, she accompanied the participants in all activities of daily living, striving to meet all their needs. She is currently enrolled in a bachelor of architecture program at McGill University, and intends on researching, understanding and including the needs of neurodiverse adults in modern building and conception.

Research Assistant (Montreal)

Rachel MacKenzie

Rachel MacKenzie (pronouns she/her/elle) is currently an undergraduate student at McGill. She is majoring in Psychology and minoring in Indigenous Studies. She is fluent in both English and French. Rachel is responsible for transcribing interviews, reviewing literature, and translating documents from French to English. Rachel's research interests are Indigenous methodologies, neurodiversity, and intergenerational trauma. She hopes to pursue a field where she can affect positive change that aligns with her values.

Research Assistant (Montreal)

Aglaé Mastrostefano
Aglaé Mastrostefano is completing her Master’s in Social Work at McGill University. Her research interests center around neurodiversity, specifically looking at the life experiences that neurodiverse adults and older adults go through in their lives. Her work experience has mostly been with this population within community organizations and the health care system. She enjoys getting to know individual’s life stories and she is glad to be part of this project.

Research Assistant (Quebec City)

Éloise Pelletier
Eloïse has recently graduated from University of Laval with a bachelor’s degree in social work. Since then, she has been working as a researcher assistant on projects concerning social participation and social inclusion of senior citizens. Relating to Eloïse’s professional life, her interests are social inclusion, equity, feminism, politics and teaching. While working as a research assistant, Eloïse is also pursuing her DESS (Diplôme d’études supérieures spécialisées) in teaching. She is grateful to have the opportunity to join this project in order to continue her learning in the field of research.

Research Assistant (Montreal)

Samuel Ragot 

Samuel Ragot is a doctoral student at the School of Social Work at McGill University and works as a Senior Policy Analyst and Advocacy Advisor at the Quebec Intellectual Disability Society. In the context of his work, Samuel has worked on major pieces of legislation in the province, such as the reform of the guardianship regime and the creation and implementation of the Basic Income Program. Trained as a political scientist (UQAM) and holding a graduate degree in bioethics (UdeM), Samuel is interested in financial support programs for persons with disabilities in Canada. His goal is to establish a set of best practices and public policy options to reform these programs to foster the inclusion and economic participation of persons with disabilities.

Research Assistant (Montreal)

Évelyne Tanguay-Sela

Évelyne Tanguay-Sela is completing her Bachelor of Social Work at McGill University. She has experience working with patients and their families in a pediatric hospital setting. She is interested in the individual experiences of neurodiverse older adults and in the provision of social services best suited to the realities of this population and their families.

Advisory Group

Camille Demers

Camille Demers is a project officer at Sans Oublier le Sourire (SOS) where she works with a consultant and several partners on the project "Pour une "re" connaissance des personnes vieillissantes ayant une déficience intellectuelle (DI) et/un trouble du spectre de l'autisme (TSA)" (2021-2023). She is currently co-leading the production of a toolbox with the goal to centralize all the existing tools on aging and intellectual disability and/or autism spectrum disorder, as well as the definition of a new transition model - the "Transition vers un âge d’or concerté" (TAOC). Prior to SOS, Camille worked for two years as a research assistant at the Institut du Savoir Montfort and for five years at the Société franco-ontarienne de l'autisme. She strongly believes in the collaboration between research and field-led community work to find concrete solutions towards a more inclusive society. Sans Oublier le Sourire is very happy to be involved in this committee. We hope we can bring our hands-on experience and a community organization perspective on the subject. 

Carmela de Lisi

Executive Director of AVATIL
Carmela de Lisi is the Director of AVATIL, a community based, non profit organization that provides a continuum of services in support of community living including: adolescent to young adult outreach, a transition to independent living program, and long-term support services for clients living on their own in the community. Social development services are accessible to all clients and include groups, activities and events. Carmela has worked for AVATIL in various roles for the past 35 years.


Elaine is a woman in her 60s who currently lives independently in the community. She previously lived in a group home for a short period of time. She participates in activities at the Cummings Centre for Seniors, including a drama program and pet program. She enjoys reading and taking long walks. Elaine cares about people and enjoys being social. She is happy to contribute her ideas to the research project and believes that everyone should accept and care about people with disabilities.

Jessica Levine

Social Worker
Jessica Levine has worked in the field of neurodiversity since 2003. She was a personal support worker (PAB) for 5 years at the Miriam Home where she developed a passion for working with neurodiverse people and their caregivers. She has worked as a special educator at the CLSC Rene Cassin and CLSC Benny Farm in the DI-TED program, and at Centre de Réadaptation de l'Ouest de Montréal (CROM). After completing her MSW in 2011, Jessica worked with the Douglas Burgess II program and then transferred back to CROM to continue her work with neurodiverse people and their caregivers and families. In 2012, she designed an emotional regulation program where adults with neurodiversity learn to adapt coping strategies in an applied setting by playing floor hockey. She currently is a trainer for completing global evaluations for adults with loss of autonomy and supervises McGill social work field placement students. She is the co-president for the executive advisory committee for the Center for the Arts in Human Development. Jessica is the mom of two daughters, who keep her busy and grounded and provide her with a purpose and meaning.

Leslie Dickie

Leslie Dickie came to Canada from New Zealand to pursue a doctorate in Physics; He wanted to see the world so went to Winnipeg. He taught at John Abbott College from its founding in 1971 until he retired. During that time he participated in student focused research such as the student experience in transitioning from high school to college, and the persistence of women and men in science, technology, engineering and mathematics. He has long been involved with the lives of people with neurodiversity as a parent, a volunteer, and a board member of community-based organizations.


Lynn is a proud single mother of two adult children. Her family is very important to her. She has a learning disability and considers herself an older adult. Lynn is happy to participate in this research project as she has experienced issues with housing many times in her life and hopes this research project and her participation will help the project and improve people’s situations.

Matthew Charbonneau

Specialized Educator
Matthew Charbonneau is a specialized educator working under the ID-ASD-PD Direction of the West Montreal Readaptation Center, on the Specialized Integrated Services Team, for children and adults. He possesses a very creative mind, an imagination without limits and often finds himself with the head in the clouds. He is passionate about his work and wear his heart on his sleeve.

Sandra Asselin

Executive Director, SAIRAH (Québec)

Sandra Asselin is the director of SAIRAH, a non-profit community-based organization that offers recreational activities for autonomous adults with disabilities. The activities offered by SAIRAH are also a place to meet and socialize with other people with similar profiles. Special needs educator by training, she attends all activities offered to the clientele. She is deeply committed to providing an enriching environment that responds to the needs of all those who use the organization’s services.

Sandy Neim

Program Manager at Cummings Center

Sandy Neim is currently the Program Manager of Intake Services at Cummings Centre where she is also a representative in the area of Disability Inclusion. She has 10 years of experience working in Residential Services at Miriam Home and Services with neurodiverse adults. She also has many years of professional experience as a Case Manager working with vulnerable individuals and families in community based social services at Agence Ometz. She is a supportive and proud aunt of her teenaged nephew, living with Autism.

Susie Navert

Advocacy Consultant
Ms. Susie Navert has been working for the Société québécoise de la déficience intellectuelle for over 17 years. Her main role has been to represent people with an intellectual disability and their loved ones before various authorities in order to make their needs and interests known and to have their collective rights respected. As far back as she can remember, she has always defended people who were ostracized because of their difference. With a master's degree in education, she first worked for several years in employability with people with physical, neurological or sensory disabilities.