Who We Are

At Radiance, our core purpose is to help heal the human spirit.

Guided by a powerful vision of a future without violence, we stand as a beacon of hope and transformation. Our values, deeply ingrained in everything we do, are courage, empathy, innovation, collaboration, and care.
For more than four decades, Radiance has been a steadfast partner on the journey towards healing for women and children affected by domestic violence. Through a comprehensive array of residential and outreach programs, we provide a safe haven where individuals can rebuild their lives and mend their spirits. Our commitment extends beyond mere assistance; we are dedicated to nurturing healthy relationships and fostering enduring positive change.
Radiance isn’t just an organization; it’s a source of light in the darkness, a catalyst for growth, and a testament to the strength of the human spirit. We stand united in our mission, driven by the values that define us, and resolute in our pursuit of a future where violence is replaced by compassion and understanding.

Our History

Radiance Family Society (formerly Sonshine Community Services) began it’s journey over forty years ago in 1978 with a couple named Betty and Herman Vanderburg. The Vanderburgs (both social workers) responded to a newspaper ad seeking “people with a vision” for a Christian residential centre. At that time the Centre was envisioned as a residence for people moving to Calgary during the boom who found themselves without affordable housing. It was expected to remain open for two years. Herman served on the Centre staff for the following 13 years, while Betty remained active as a volunteer while raising their six children. The Vanderburgs’ home was always open to the Centre’s residents for dinners, holiday celebrations, Sunday drop-ins and just to talk. In 1998 the couple returned to Sonshine (now Radiance) to provide individual and family counselling and workshops to residents.

Leadership

Collectively, our leadership team embodies expertise, industry thought-leadership, and an unwavering commitment to care, propelling us toward our mission of fostering thriving communities and empowering individuals to reach their full potential.

Barbara Feit

Board Chair

Barbara Feit’s impactful contributions as Chief Operating Officer at Eau Claire Distillery and her role on several boards exemplify her dedication to leadership.

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With a wealth of experience spanning over two years in the Alberta Craft Distillers Association, two years on the board of Aquatera Utilities Inc., and an impressive 17 years as a board member of Western Sky Land Trust, Barbara’s commitment to various causes showcases her industry prowess and caring nature. Her multifaceted involvement, from land conservation to corporate operations, enriches our team with diverse perspectives and a holistic approach to leadership.

Dr. Kelly Dean Schwartz

PhD RPsych – Board Vice Chair

As a respected Associate Professor in the School and Applied Child Psychology program, Dr. Kelly Dean Schwartz brings a wealth of expertise to our leadership team.

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With a background in Social Psychology and Educational Psychology, his distinguished career has spanned various roles, from working directly with children and adolescents with complex needs to leadership positions within educational and psychological institutions. Dr. Schwartz’s commitment to child and family well-being is evident through his extensive involvement with professional associations and organizations focused on mental health, education, and psychology. As Board Vice Chair, his insights guide our strategic direction and ensure our services align with best practices.

Richard Semenyna

Treasurer

Richard is a retired professional with an extensive background in accounting, predominantly in public practice catering to small to medium-sized businesses.

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Throughout his accounting career, Richard held a significant role as the lead auditor for audits within larger not-for-profit organizations within education and ministry sectors. In his final years before retirement, Richard assumed the position of Financial Controller for a small airline management company. Richard holds a Bachelor of Commerce degree from the University of Alberta and is a Certified General Accountant (CGA, now CPA). Additionally, he possesses a diploma in General Bible Studies from the Peace River Bible Institute. Currently, Richard actively serves as treasurer on a church board and holds a position on the board of Village Missions Canada, where he leads the Audit and Finance Committee. Richard has also contributed to cross-cultural ministry in Japan, overseeing a Mission Guest House and acting as a speaker for a pastor during a 3-month sabbatical. Beyond his professional endeavors, Richard has a passion for photography, cooking, and woodworking.

Dr. Heather Bensler

Board Member

Dr. Heather Bensler is an Associate Professor, Faculty of Nursing, at the University of Calgary. She holds a doctorate in Educational Research (University of Calgary) and an MSN (Trinity Western).

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As a nursing leader for over 25 years, Heather works in the field of Indigenous health, anti-racism, nursing education, global health, and women’s health. Her clinical work ranges from hospital obstetrics to medical work in the jungles of South America.

Rebecca Blain

Board Member

Rebecca is a lawyer who practices in the areas of family law and wills and estates. Before law school at the University of Calgary, Rebecca pursued an education in…

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the arts and obtained a BA in English (with a minor in Music) from Ambrose University, and an MA in English from the University of Alberta. She decided to pursue law as a career after working at a boutique law firm that helped survivors of Indian Residential Schools through the Independent Assessment Process, and learning about her own family’s history and attendance at Indian Residential Schools. Always learning, Rebecca is currently in the process of becoming certified as a mediator and a collaborative lawyer as the practice of family law has many opportunities to work with and help others through listening, peace-making, and conflict resolution. When she is not working, she can be found spending time with her family, reading and talking about books, or treasure hunting at a thrift store looking for her next great find.

Scott Wall

Board Member

Scott serves on the pastoral team of Commons Church. Prior to moving (back) to Calgary, he studied at the University of British Columbia (MA) and the University of Waterloo (PhD). 

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Scott’s academic research and writing focused on social change in Canada, with particular emphasis on the impact of federal immigration policies on religious communities. He has volunteered in migrant advocacy in three different provinces since 2007. In addition to these areas of professional interests and personal service, Scott is an avid hiker and apprenticing fly-fisherman.

Jeremy Nixon

Board Member

Jeremy is an accomplished non-profit leader, with political acumen. Before his foray into politics, Jeremy worked for over 15 years in the non-profit sector with some of the most vulnerable members of society.   

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From managing over 10,000 volunteers at the Mustard Seed as the Manager for a decade, he then took those skills to help the Boys and Girls Club as a Manager of their Youth Shelter. Jeremy has years of experience in conservative politics and served as the Executive Director of the Wildrose Party from 2015-2017. Jeremy was elected in 2019 as the United Conservative Party MLA for the Calgary Klein. Jeremy’s experience in the non-profit sector made him a natural fit as Minister of Seniors Community and Social Services. Some of his accomplishments include the first raise for disability sector workers in over 10 years, much needed investment in affordable housing and setting up stable funding for our provinces foodbanks. 

Susan Herman

MSW – Executive Director

With a career spanning over two decades as a dedicated social worker and leader in Calgary, Susan Herman stands at the forefront of the industry, propelled by her unwavering vision of fostering an inclusive city where every individual can thrive.

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Susan is deeply passionate about elevating the quality of life within the community. Her extensive expertise encompasses a diverse array of fields, including youth services, victim support, poverty reduction, housing, family mediation, forensic mental health, women’s health, and as a former pastor leading a compassion and justice ministry. As the driving force behind Radiance Family Society, Susan has consistently demonstrated her commitment to enhancing program delivery to expand impact and innovate for meaningful change.

Throughout her career, Susan’s leadership has been characterized as a true collaborator with a relentless pursuit of continuous improvement. Her resolute commitment to creating a just and caring world positions her as an inspiring force for change. Susan Herman is not just a social worker; she is a catalyst for positive transformation, embodying the principles of compassion, justice, and progress in her tireless pursuit of a stronger community.

Our Impact

Through nurturing an environment of healing, empowerment, and compassion, we facilitate lasting transformations that reverberate far beyond individual lives, building stronger, more resilient communities in the process. Our commitment to fostering a world free from violence and oppression drives us to advocate tirelessly for change on a systemic level.

In 2022, our stage 2 shelter became a beacon of hope, offering solace and support to 42 women and 54 children. Through industry-leading practices in early childhood development, we nurtured not only the physical but also the emotional well-being of these families, resulting in profound benefits that resonate long after their time with us. Our commitment to holistic healing extended beyond shelter walls, as women and children engaged in diverse activities designed to strengthen relationships, foster community connections, and empower them to heal together.

These efforts are underpinned by remarkable outcomes. A staggering 96% of follow-up clients achieved their safety-enhancing goals, a testament to the effectiveness of our programs. Further, 85% of clients received essential support for stable housing, breaking the barriers that often perpetuate the cycle of abuse. The transformative journey for parents was evident, with 80% showing a decrease in parental stress, promoting a healthier environment for their children. Despite challenges, our determination remains unshaken, as we stand side by side with our clients in the face of danger, actively working to counteract an increase in danger of femicide.

One client’s words encapsulate the essence of our impact:

“I wanted a better life for myself. I liked the program because it enabled me to learn life skills and stay out of domestic violence. I was willing to be pro-active and I chose to take advantage of everything that was offered.”

These words echo the success stories that embody Radiance’s profound influence on vulnerable lives, serving as a guiding light toward a future where healing, empowerment, and safety flourish for all.

Careers

At Radiance, we are caring and humble with great aspirations to build a world free from domestic violence. Our team is all about supporting people and families to create positive change and thrive, with our eyes set on a future free from violence.

Our professional support comes from a dedicated team with unwavering integrity and a strong sense of purpose. Our work environment reflects the atmosphere we create for those we serve, promoting a trauma-informed place of support.

We are building a community of fun, caring, adaptable team members. Together, we take on meaningful challenges, and in return, you get an opportunity to join a team that’s all about growth, flexibility, support, and camaraderie.

 There are currently no opportunities available.