Meet our team

Who We Are

Executive Director
Ilona Boyce, MSW

Ilona Boyce founded the Heartland Agency in 1995 after a long career with the government in the area of Children’s Services. She holds a Master’s Degree in Social Work.


Ilona’s professional goal has been to advocate for all children, regardless of their circumstance , to ensure that each child is given the benefit of an “even start” in life. While working toward this goal, Ilona has developed a variety of programs for both children with exceptional challenges as well as those children who simply need care while their parents work.


Ilona has studied brain development, the effects of trauma on brain development and what makes for healthy children. She has built this knowledge into both the Heartland and Evenstart programs.


She has also spent time studying children’s environments, seeing these environments as the “third teacher”. Ilona looks forward to a time when these environments are reflected in all their programs and facilities.


She has been a recognized advocate in her field, and has received the Early Childhood Professional Association Service Award in Alberta. Ilona has been recognized for her work by Global TV as a Woman of Vision, by ATB, as a Mistress of the Modern and by the Premier of Alberta as the recipient of the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee Award.

Ilona is a volunteer Chair for the EvenStart Children’s Foundation of Calgary.

Director of EvenStart  and ELCC Programs and Services
Brianna Parkhill, Dip B.A.

Brianna is responsible for overseeing the operations of the EvenStart program as well as the Imagine ELCC Daycare Centres. She works with the clinical staff, site managers and professional consultants in managing the EvenStart Program. Brianna also coordinates the EvenStart Annual Christmas Hamper program, which provides hampers for over 130 families each holiday season. Brianna has worked at Heartland since 1995.

Brianna also enjoys camping, quadding, snowmobiling and spending time at the lake with her family. Brianna is married with twins, she has a boy and a girl and together they love to travel.

Director of Administration and Finance;
Director of Community Programs and Services
Mandy Goldau, Dip B.A.

Mandy has worked with the Heartland Agency for over 15 years. She began her journey with Heartland as a summer camp counselor and from there became the Site Manager of the SW locations. Mandy currently holds a Diploma in Business Administration specializing in General Management. She has a passion for paper work and loves the financial aspects of business.


Outside of the Heartland Agency, Mandy is also a Certified Personal Trainer and a mother of two fabulous young children.

Manager of Operations; Program Manager – EvenStart Foundation
Denise Lindsay

Denise joined the Heartland Agency in 2009 as a Site Manager, where she coordinated operations of the EvenStart Program at Heartland’s Monterey Park location. In her new role as Manager of Operations, Denise works closely with all centres across the Agency, collaborating with other Managers to develop and implement best practices and initiatives that support Heartland’s diverse group of children and their families. Denise is also involved with the
EvenStart for Children Foundation as the Program Manager, liaising with community partners and stakeholders and working to raise community awareness of the initiatives undertaken by this grassroots charity. She is passionate about connecting with and supporting families and staff, and loves the opportunity to develop and integrate new ideas and resources to build a sense of community within the Agency.

Denise enjoys spending time with her husband and two active boys. Together, they have a love for baseball, adventuring, and live music.

Product Management & Marketing Communications Manager
Brandylynn Phillips

Brandylynn is responsible for all aspects marketing, from public relations, to graphic design, advertising, eCommerce, partnerships, social media and so much more for the Heartland Agency. In addition to overall Marketing efforts she also provides necessary support to the programs at Heartland and EvenStart for children with diverse needs.

Brandylynn likes enjoys travelling and spending time with her family. She also spends her time enjoying hockey and her three dogs.

Education Coordinator
Shannon Jensen, B.Ed.

Shannon is responsible for supporting classroom teams across the agency. This includes collaborating with staff individually regarding the classroom environment and program delivery. She offers support with regards to Individual Program Plan creation and student assessments. In addition to individual classroom support Shannon also collaborates with and assists members of the management team with the task of planning and implementing a variety of professional development opportunities that benefit the entire agency as a whole. Shannon brings many years’ of experience to Heartland in the areas of education and supporting child development.

Shannon has received her education from both Mount Royal University and the University of Calgary in the areas of Communication and Culture and Education.

Shannon is a mom of two outstanding children and is passionate about learning. She enjoys spending her free time with those close to her.

Site Manager, Mayland Heights
Dee-Ann Chibry

Dee-Ann has been with Heartland Agency since 2014 and is responsible for coordinating operations within the EvenStart program and the Imagine ELCC daycare at our Mayland Heights location. This includes tasks such as overall site management, facilitating volunteer opportunities with community partners, liaising with parents and the community, staff support and training.

In her spare time she enjoys studying brain development, child development in the early years, the effects of trauma on brain development, universal learning strategies and the importance of trauma informed best practices.

She loves to spend time with her family and friends and can often be found at their seasonal land in the East Kootenays, BC from early spring to the start of winter. Dee-Ann is a lifelong learner who is known for her numerous book stacks and expert Googling skills. A quote that sums up her personal philosophy is: “Learn from yesterday, live for today, hope for tomorrow. The important thing is to never stop questioning.” (Albert Einstein)

Site Manager, Signal Hill/Westside
Becky Friedrich

Becky got her start with Heartland fresh out of university in 2008 and has been with our agency ever since. Throughout her years at Heartland she has been a summer camp counsellor, Education Assistant, Assistant Site Manager and now in the role of Site Manager she is responsible for coordinating operations for our Signal Hill and Westside locations. Her role includes overseeing programming, staffing, bussing, parent communication, as well as general support to families. She is a first point of contact for registration into Heartland’s ECS Enhancement program, before and after school care programs and Summer Camps.


She holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in Behavioural Science. Originally from British Columbia she has made Calgary her home. Becky has a love for the Alberta backcountry and can often be found hiking and camping whenever possible.

Site Manager, Monterey Park
Nytasha Mayell, B.S.

Nytasha has been at Heartland since 2010. She is currently the Site Manager at our Monterey Park location. Working with children has always been a passion of hers and she enjoys helping create an exciting and caring environment in which the students can flourish.


While living in the United States, Nytasha received her Bachelor of Science, but moved back to Calgary after missing the sunshine and mountains! She enjoys spending her free time with her amazing family and friends.

Home Visitation & Behaviour Support
Haley Dunwell

Haley oversees Family Oriented Programming visits and creates resources for the visits based on Individual Program Plan (IPP) Goals and family concerns for the student. These visits help to foster continuity of strategies between the home and school, promote positive parent-child relationships, and improve parenting skills and knowledge. Haley helps families access the network of services and supports available in their own communities and provides information on child health and other aspects of positive family functioning. Haley is also responsible for supporting the classroom staff and learners and assisting with the children’s behavioural needs.

Haley has been working with the Agency since March 2015. First as an Educational Assistant, then as the Speech and Language Therapy Assistant. Haley has a passion for art, playing outside with our learners, taking trips to the mountains, and going to soak up the sun in B.C. during the summer. Haley is looking forward to her continued growth within the Agency, and is excited to see where her future takes her!

Home Visitation & Behaviour Support
Sarah Pearce

Sarah has been a part of the Heartland team since 2018. Originally from Hampshire in England she moved to Calgary in 2015. She started her teaching career in 2010 at a Special Education Secondary School, where she taught woodwork and crafts. Upon moving to Canada she started working with Preschool and Kindergarten aged children in a Montessori setting. Sarah found her way to The Heartland Agency looking to get back into a special educational setting.

When away from the Heartland setting, Sarah spends her time with her husband and three wonderful children. She prides herself on being a Mum, finding time for yoga, random dance parties and walks with the family dog.

Administative Assistant
Brooke Ruhan

Brooke is responsible for providing administrative support to management. This includes student registration, submission of subsidies and claims for students, accounting and maintaining office supplies and managing calls. Brooke has over 12 years of experience in office administration. When not at work Brooke can be found on the snowfields snowboarding, travelling to parts of Canada looking for the perfect camping spot, listening to live music or planning my next Canadian adventure.