Speakers' Bureau

The Fountain of Health National Speakers’ Bureau is a composed of leading academics and clinicians who are helping to build a national movement for optimal aging in Canada., The Bureau is able to reach interested audiences from coast to coast, with expert speakers from various regions across Canada. To request a speaker in you area, please contact: info@fountainofhealth.ca

Talks by our speakers are available for a wide range of audiences: professional groups, clinicians including physicians and allied healthcare providers, community organizations and the general public.  Our speakers’ topics include the following:

  • The Fountain of Health Initiative
  • The Biology of Health Aging and Resilience
  • Why Attitudes Matter In Healthy Aging
  • How To Optimize Health with Chronic Illness
  • The Impact of Healthy Aging Behavior on Mental Health
  • Adapting Healthy Aging Initiatives to Primary Care Office Settings
  • Fountain of Health Peer-Led Community Groups: Getting Started
  • Bringing the Fountain of Health to Age Friendly Communities
  • Building Resilience in Psychotherapy: Enhanced Cognitive Behavioural Therapy Groups
  • What is Positive Psychiatry of Aging?

For more information about our speakers from each region of Canada, see below:

Atlantic Canada
Dr. Beverley Cassidy, MD, FRCP(C)

Dr. Cassidy is an Assistant Professor in Geriatric Psychiatry at Dalhousie University. Her academic interests include late life mood and anxiety disorders, the neurobiology of healthy aging, and the application of cognitive behavioural therapy in late life and resilience across the lifespan. Dr. Cassidy pursued her undergraduate degree in neurobiology at Yale University, received her psychiatric training at McGill University, and completed 2 year fellowship at the University of Toronto with a focus on attachment affect regulation and mood disorders.  She has been actively involved in the Fountain of Health Initiative for Optimal Aging for the past five years, and currently spearheads a provincial effort to bring healthy aging tools to primary care clinicians to jumpstart health behavior change in brief 10 minute office visits. She is part of the FOH App development team and co-ordinates the Fountain of Health's National Speakers' Bureau, having presented on the initiative both provincially and internationally.

Dr. Cindy Forbes, MD
Past President of the CMA

Dr. Cindy Forbes, MD, CCFP, FCFP is the 2015-2016 President of the Canadian Medical Association (CMA) is passionate about health promotion and dedicated to leading healthcare system improvement. Dr. Forbes is a family physician practicing in Nova Scotia and a graduate of Dalhousie Medical School. She was  also the recipient of the Dalhousie University Medal for Academic Achievement. Dr. Forbes was the Past President of Doctors Nova Scotia, Member of British Columbia’s Medical Association Council on Health Care and Promotion, Past Chair of the Canadian Medical Association’s Committee on Health Care and Promotion and Member of the CMA’s Political Action Committee. In her current role as CMA President she has overseen the CMA’s National Seniors Strategy and “Demand a Plan,” the largest and most successful public engagement campaign in the history of the CMA.

Dr. Meagan MacNeil, MD, FRCP(C)

Dr. MacNeil is an Assistant Professor in Geriatric Psychiatry at Dalhousie University and full-time staff member of the Geriatric Psychiatry Program. She completed her psychiatric training and fellowship in Geriatric Psychiatry at Dalhousie University. Dr. MacNeil currently leads the Nova Scotia Health Authority’s Seniors Mental Health Network clinician group, and is a supervisor and researcher in Enhanced Cognitive Behavioural Therapy for late-life depression and anxiety. She also teaches, supervises and works collaboratively with a multidisciplinary team that provides outreach services to the elderly in the Central Zone of the Nova Scotia Health Authority.

Central Canada
Dr. David Conn, MD, FRCP(C)

Dr. David Conn is the Vice-President of Education and Director of the Centre for Education & Knowledge Exchange at Baycrest. He is a Professor in the Department of Psychiatry, University of Toronto. He is founding Co-Chair of the Canadian Coalition for Seniors' Mental Health and Past President of the Canadian Academy of Geriatric Psychiatry. He is the author or co-author of more than 100 publications and co-editor of three textbooks. He received the 2005 Canadian Academy of Geriatric Psychiatry Award for Outstanding Contributions to Geriatric Psychiatry in Canada and a Distinguished Service Award from the International Psychogeriatric Association in 2009. In 2010 he was co-recipient of the CIHR Institute of Aging Betty Havens Award for Knowledge Translation in Aging.

Dr. Christopher Frank, MD, FRCP(C)

Dr. Chris Frank MD, FCFP (Care of Elderly); is the Chair of the Health Care of the Elderly Program at the College of Family Physicians of Canada.

He is also an Associate Professor in Department of Medicine at Queen’s University and the Clinical Leader of Specialized Geriatric Services at Providence Care. His clinical interests are palliative care and geriatric rehabilitation.

Dr. Linda Gobessi, MD, FRCP(C)

Dr. Gobessi is affiliated with the Geriatric Psychiatry Community Services of Ottawa and is a consulting Geriatric Psychiatrist to Bruyere Continuing Care.  She obtained her Medical Degree at the University of Toronto, her residency at McGill University and her fellowship in Geriatric Psychiatry at the University of Ottawa.  Currently she teaches, supervises and works collaboratively with a multidisciplinary team that provides outreach services to the elderly in their homes.  She is also a clinical supervisor and lecturer at the University of Ottawa. Her professional interests include psychotherapy with the elderly and providing care for people with dementia and their families.

Dr. Cindy Grief, MD, FRCP(C)

Dr. Cindy Grief, MD, FRCPC is a Geriatric Psychiatrist at Baycrest Health Sciences in Toronto, where she is the Medical Director for Mental Health Services. Her clinical roles include inpatient and outpatient psychiatry. She is also the consultant to Baycrest’s palliative care unit. Bereavement is a particular area of interest, which prompted her to complete a Master’s of Science degree in Medical Anthropology. Dr. Grief is an Assistant Professor at the University of Toronto. She is also a graduate of the Centre for Faculty Development’s Education Scholars program (UofT), and has been active in postgraduate and continuing education. Dr. Grief is currently developing a national education program in geriatric mental health (GeMH) for health care professionals using varied education technologies including videoconferencing, webinars and simulation.

Dr. Kiran Rabheru, MD, FRCP(C)

Kiran is a Full Professor of Psychiatry at the University of Ottawa. In 2014, he was certified as a subspecialist in Geriatric Psychiatry by the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Canada. Also in 2014, he was recertified as a geriatric psychiatrist by the American Board of Psychiatry and Neurology. Currently at The Ottawa Hospital, he serves as Medical Director of the Geriatric Psychiatry and ECT Program, as well as the Behavioral Support Team. 

Kiran obtained his MD at UWO in 1980, completed a rotating internship at Victoria Hospital in London, Ontario, and enjoyed his career as a general practitioner for 5 years, which he maintains has grounded him in “real life medicine”. He became certified in Family Medicine in 1987 and obtained Fellowship in the College of Family Physicians of Canada in 2004. 

Kiran has been passionate and committed to serving the elderly throughout his career. He is recognized nationally and internationally as a Founder of the subspecialty of Geriatric Psychiatry. He is the recipient of Outstanding Achievements in Geriatric Psychiatry in Canada award by the Canadian Academy of Geriatric Psychiatry (CAGP). Kiran has served as President of the CAGP and the Board of the Canadian Psychiatric Association (CPA) for four years. Currently he serves on the OMA’s General Council and the OMA Health Policy Seniors Care Working Group. 

Dr. Vanessa Thoo, MD FRCP(C)

Vanessa Thoo has recently completed her subspecialty training in geriatric psychiatry at the University of Toronto. She is a University of Calgary medical school graduate who did her psychiatry training at Dalhousie University. During her residency, she also completed a Masters of Medical Education at Acadia University. She will be joining the Seniors’ Mental Health team at the University Health Network.


Vanessa has been involved in a number of geriatric psychiatry initiatives, including the Fountain of Health, a national program for primary mental health prevention in seniors, and has won the Canadian Academy of Geriatric Psychiatry Resident Award for her work with this project. More recently, she has also received the CAGP Training Award for her scholarly endeavours in Competence by Design and its implications for geriatric psychiatry training.

Dr. Lisa Van Bussel, MD, FRCP(C)

Physician Leader at St. Joseph’s Health Care, Parkwood Institute, Mental Health Care Building, Geriatric Psychiatry Program and a geriatric psychiatrist with the Regional Psychogeriatic Program, St. Joseph’s Health Care, London and associate professor the Division of Geriatric Psychiatry, Department of Psychiatry, Schulich School of Medicine and Dentistry, The University of Western Ontario.

Dr. Lisa Van Bussel is involved with academic pursuits in the areas of interprofessional qualitative education research and knowledge translation, service delivery models for senior mental health care and evaluating medical students’ experiences of eldercare training.

Her clinical focus is on capacity development in regional communities and enhancing local psychogeriatric expertise and services.  Dr. Lisa Van Bussel has received the Ontario Psychogeriatric Association award in 2009 for Excellence and Advocacy with regarding to older adults with mental health disorders and The Association for Academic Psychiatry Teaching Award 2008.  She was Chair of the Division of Geriatric Psychiatry from 2008-2013 and was a nominee for the St. Joseph’s Health Care/ Canadian Mental Health Association Breakfast of Champions Award for 2010-2012.  

Western Canada
Dr Janya Freer, MD FRCP(C)

Dr. Janya Freer is an Assistant Professor in Psychiatry, a Geriatric Psychiatrist and a Cognitive Behavioural Therapist who has heavily involved with the Fountain of Health Initiative. While at Dalhousie University between 2011-16, Dr. Freer was the subspecialty program training director and she also helped to create the Fountain of Health clinician tools and the website. She has since moved to Victoria BC and she is now helping to bring the Fountain of Health Initiative to the west coast of Canada. 

Dr Stephen Kiraly, MD FRCP(C)

Dr. Stephen Kiraly is a psychiatrist, member of the Academy of Geriatric Psychiatry, Clinical Associate Professor of Psychiatry at the University of British Columbia and past President of the BC Psychiatric Association. His focus is on the interactions of environmental factors and the effects of stress on neurogenesis, neuroplasticity and functional brain health. He has a special interest in Mild Traumatic Brain Injury (concussion) and its effects on the aging brain. He is the founding author of The Healthy Brain Program that grew out of his work with older adult mental health teams in and around Vancouver. Since his initiation of the Healthy Brain Program in 2000 he has delivered well over 400 lectures, workshops and conference presentations on the prevention of brain disease and optimization of brain function. He practices psychiatry on Bowen Island, BC. When not working with patients, he is busy as a Director on the board of the The Caring Circle, updating The Healthy Brain Program or beekeeping.

Dr. Carol Ward, MD, FRCP(C)

Dr. Carol Ward MD FRCPC is a geriatric psychiatrist based out of Kamloops, BC.  She is the Interior Health (IH) authority Medical Director for Geriatric Psychiatry,  Assistant Clinical Professor with the Department of Psychiatry at UBC and a member of the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Canada, Geriatric Psychiatry Sub-specialty Committee.  Her passion for teaching is supported by being co-chair of the IH and UBC P.I.E.C.E.S.TM initiatives, developing and delivering accredited workshops for physicians on dementia-related related responsive behaviours, being the specialist lead for a Specialist Services Committee project  to enhance geriatric psychiatry support within IH residential care and serving on  the Clinical Advisory group for the Call for Less Antipsychotic Use in Residential Care (CLeAR) provincial initiative.  Her current clinical work is with the tertiary mental health team and in-reach residential care consultation. She is really excited to be part of the Fountain of Health initiative and positive psychiatry movement.

If you are interested in joining the Fountain of Health National Speakers’ Bureau, please contact us at info@fountainofhealth.ca