Our Story

Our story starts in 1966 when Dr. Wolf Wolfensberger embarked on a project in the United States to assist individuals with intellectual disabilities move from institutions back into community life. At that time there was a growing realisation that institutionalisation was rarely the best solution and that individuals with disabilities could, with support, be valuable contributing members of society. The citizen advocacy project was started as a response. The project’s aim was to find volunteers from within a local community who would offer help on a one-to-one basis to an individual who lived with an intellectual disability. 

The citizen advocacy concept spread to Canada in 1971 and in 1974 was established in Ottawa by David Hall. At that time ABLE2 was known as Citizen Advocacy of Ottawa-Carleton and Eileen Scotton was the first Executive Director. 

From 1985 to 2018 the organisation was led by Brian Tardif. During this time support was offered to more people across the disability spectrum and other programs and supports were added such as Lifetime Networks (now Build Community), Independent Facilitation & Person-Directed Planning (now Person-Directed Planning & Facilitation), the Fetal Alcohol Resource Program and Sibling Groups. 

In 2020, under the leadership of Heather Lacey, the organisation was renamed and rebranded. Other programs were added such as the Funding Brokerage and the Education Series. The Communications, Engagement and Fundraising team was also formed with a mandate to diversify and solidify the agency’s funding and to increase awareness of the agency, its work and the impacts on the community.

In January 2023, Reach Canada merged with ABLE2. Reach Legal Services is an ABLE2 service, and the excellent legal education workshops continue as part of ABLE2’s Grow Education Series.

Reach Canada was incorporated in 1981 as a response to the United Nations’ International Year of Disabled Persons. From the beginning, hundreds of legal professionals and volunteers have donated and continue to contribute their time and expertise to provide excellent and timely legal advice and educate the community on disability-related topics.  

Reach began by taking on a case for an individual who became inspirational for the creation of Reach – Rod Carpenter. Through determined effort, a bank account was arranged for Rod, which permitted him to use his thumbprint as a signature. Today individuals with all types of disabilities call upon Reach regularly.

Throughout the years, ABLE2 has directly supported more than 5,000 people with disabilities to build lives of meaning and joy. It is estimated that support has been indirectly given to three to four times as many people – family, professionals and community members.

In Ottawa, more than 600 people volunteer their time and skills with ABLE2, contributing more than 40,000 hours yearly.

A network of national, provincial and local governments and foundations funds the work of ABLE2. However, that funding is not secure, and ABLE2 relies heavily on generous donors and fundraising. Its signature fundraising event is Evening in the Maritimes. This event has existed for more than 25 years and has raised more than $3,000,000 for ABLE2.

Other key events held by ABLE2 include:


Email Address: info@able2.org

Phone Number: 613-761-9522

TTY: 613-752-6175

Toll-Free: 1-866-222-2138

Address: 1 Community Place, 312 Parkdale Ave, Ottawa, ON K1Y 4X5

Staff Team

Administrative Team

  • Heather Lacey, Executive Director [Extension 225]
  • Kathleen Lee, Executive Assistant & Database Manager [Extension 226]
  • Helen Yu, Finance Officer [Extension 247]
  • Min Li, Finance Assistant [Extension 233]

Programs Team

  • Thony Jean-Baptiste, Director: Programs [Extension 228]
  • Michael Song, Manager: Programs [Extension 231]
    • Julie Lamoureux, Social Service Worker, Matching Program [Extension 230]
    • Vacant, Social Worker, Matching Program [Extension XXX]
    • Azra Alibhai, Social Worker, Matching Program [Extension 224]
    • Lenka Stevanovic, Social Worker, Matching Program [Extension 223]
    • Sabrina Peacock, FASD Worker [Extension 416]
    • Sara Rafiei, FASD Worker [Extension 408]
    • Vacant, FASD Coordinator [Extension 411]
    • Vacant, FASD Clinical Lead [Extension 254]
    • Hélène Courchesne, Team Lead: Family Support, Planning & Funding Brokerage [Extension 229]
  • Jennifer Mbang, Manager: Reach Legal Services [Extension 451]
  • Cheryl Bateman, Administrative Assistant: Programs [Extension 201]

Matching & Support Programs Team

  • Thony Jean-Baptiste, Manager: Matching & Support Programs [Extension 228]
  • Julie Lamoureux, Social Service Worker (Matching Program) [Extension 230]
  • Vacant, Social Worker (Matching Program) [Extension XXX]
  • Azra Alibhai, Social Worker (Matching Program) [Extension 224]
  • Hélène Courchesne, Coordinator: Planning & Funding Brokerage [Extension 229]
  • Lenka Stevanovic, Coordinator: Family Support | Social Worker Matching Program [Extension 223]
  • Jessica Franklin, Administrative Assistant [Extension 201]

Fetal Alcohol Resource Program Team

  • Michael Song, Manager [Extension 231]
  • Sabrina Peacock, FASD Worker [Extension 416]
  • Sara Rafiei, FASD Worker [Extension 408]
  • Tara Cummings, FASD Coordinator [Extension 411]
  • Joyce Hamelin, FASD Clinical Lead
  • Jessica Franklin, Administrative Assistant [Extension 201]

Communications, Engagement & Fundraising Team

  • Nancy Oakley, Director: Development & Community Engagement [Extension 219]
  • Susan Campbell, Community Engagement Coordinator [Extension 243]
  • Sinead Shortt, Fundraising & Partnership Coordinator [Maternity Leave]
  • Elsbeth Farrell, Events Coordinator [Extension 221]
  • Jessica Franklin, Administrative Assistant: Communications, Engagement & Fundraising [Extension 235]

Our Values-Driven Workplace

ABLE2 Staff’s Workplace Commitment