Board of Directors

Joanne Keelan

I have a Social Work Degree and a TESOL Diploma (Teachers of English to Speakers of Other Languages) My work in the Lower Mainland, The Comox Valley and other countries has given me a broad-based experience with people of many cultures, ages and income levels. I have largely worked in the non-profit sector with children, parents, adolescents and young adults at risk who face emotional, mental and economic challenges. The skills that I bring to the board are: group facilitation, counseling, empathy, writing and editing, advocacy, knowledge of community and government resources and outreach. My work in government and community agencies has given me an understanding of bureaucracy and workplace policies, and how they affect employees, volunteers and users of the service. As a person with a progressive condition, I have felt the loss of having to give up activities which I enjoyed. In addition to my work with clients with disabilities, that personal loss has underlined the importance of inclusion and participation in the “mainstream” of life. I believe that the Therapeutic Riding Society fulfills this, as well as many other needs and I am happy to be a part of it.


Trudy Beaton

I am a graduate of the UBC program in Occupational and Physical therapy. I have a private practice in Occupational Therapy and have worked locally in private and public healthcare. My introduction to Therapeutic Riding was as a volunteer side walker several years ago. I loved the experience but quickly learned how little I know about horses. I have referred clients in the past and recognize the contribution of therapeutic riding to the wellbeing of clients and families. I look forward to serving on the Board of Directors for CVTRS and sharing my dedication to quality programs and individualized services.


Antonia Botting

Us at Westwood Lake, NanaimoI have lived on Vancouver Island for 16 years, am currently retired, and although residing in Courtenay for a brief 18 months, I’ve come home. Apart from a ten year stint in TV broadcasting (I served on two Boards during this period), my adult life has been spent working in the non-profit sector serving marginalized populations. For me, this is where the real work gets done. That has included sheltering homeless women, supporting victims of sexual assault, assisting street entrenched kids, and AIDS education and prevention.  My fifteen years of employment on the island has been at a youth drug and alcohol clinic in Port Alberni. That work included but was not limited to engaging with youth, their families and supports struggling with problematic substance use, facilitating parenting groups, early intervention programs for youth and an open group for queer and questioning kids.Volunteering at CVTRS gives more to me than I can give back.  I witness the synergistic effect of the alliances formed between clients and horses, staff and volunteers. I’d like to thank those who believe I can make a further contribution to this this exceptional organization. I am committed to working from a place of integrity and mutual respect.


Helen Furgale

Helen website

Helen Furgale is a small business development specialist. She is the owner of Bizworks, Business Training and Support. Her company holds the contract to deliver Self Employment Training in the Comox Valley through Work BC/Job Shop. Prior to this, she managed the Business Futures Program for Community Futures Strathcona. During the 14 years she was with Community Futures, she developed a comprehensive business training package utilizing the Comox Valley’s top business facilitators. She also managed the Business Futures Self Employment program, assisting over 600 clients to get into business for self. Prior to locating to the Comox Valley in 1997, Helen was the Marketing Manager for a large manufacturing firm based in Winnipeg. Helen holds a Masters degree in Community Development from the University of Alberta. She has served on the Board of Directors of Creative Employment Access Society and Mountainaire Avian Rescue Society and is currently serving as Past Chair of the Comox Valley Chamber of Commerce.