Deborah has a professional background and training in Social Work and Law. As a private consultant, she has worked in the areas of respectful workplace, human rights, and conflict management offering mediation, investigation, and training. Deborah served as Panel Chair for the Alberta Human Rights Commission and as a Sitting Justice of the Peace in the Provincial Court of Alberta Traffic Division.
Following the death of her mother from a potassium mix-up in 2004, Deborah became a very committed patient safety advocate. She has been a founding member of the Calgary Health Region’s Patient/Family Safety Council, Patients for Patients Safety Canada, and the Alberta Health Quality Council Patient/Family Safety Advisory Panel. She also served two terms as a board member with the Canadian Patient Safety Institute.
Deborah has played a significant role in speaking about her family’s experiences to advance patient safety culture, policies, and procedures. She has worked with many providers, including those involved in her mother’s death, and other patient/family members in sharing experiences and opportunities to advance the voice and participation of patients and families in safety efforts across Canada and internationally. She has extensive experience in supporting families who have experienced an adverse event, in conducting and training in disclosure processes to healthcare providers, and in patient/family engagement at all levels of the healthcare system.
In July 2014, Deborah was appointed as the first permanent Alberta Health Advocate. Her responsibilities include implementing the provincial Health Charter, the first of its kind in Canada. This position brings together Deborah’s background and experience in law, social work, and healthcare in the pursuit of promoting a responsive quality healthcare system. Deborah holds a Bachelor of Arts from the University of Alberta, a Bachelor of Social Work from the University of Calgary, a Master’s in Social Work from the University of British Columbia, and a Bachelor of Laws from the University College Cardiff.