Glial Guys and Gals of 2016

It takes big hearts and brains of all kinds to find solutions for neurological disorders such as Parkinsons, Multiple Sclerosis, Depression, Epilepsy etc.  In every monthly newsletter ("The LEAFlet"), Branch Out highlights a special Branchy who's gone above and beyond....

January – Jamie Kirwin


Jamie KirWINNING all the time! WINNING - is that still cool? Charlie Sheen... AMIRITE?

There are people that are good with numbers and there are people that write newsletters. Then there's people like Jamie Kirwin. Jamie is good at everything. I've heard she can solve a rubix cube in one hand while threading a needle in the other and reciting pi to the 30th decimal.

She is also very giving of her time. Despite a very demanding career, she volunteered to join the Branch Out board of directors as the new treasurer. She's the mind behind all of Branch Out's budgets, finances and bookkeeping that are so important for a young charity.

We're extremely happy to have Jamie on the team as we progress towards our goals and vision!


February – Jenn Egroff


You think this bike is colourful? Wait until you see Jenn' spreadsheets...

Jenn is a marketing maven with her fingers in so many pies she could start a bakery. Previous to Branch Out, she was deep into the tech world where she connected entrepreneurs, organized massive speaking events and started some very cool initiatives around women in technology.Now she's bringing her expertise to Branch Out as the event coordinator for both the Snowshoe Tour AND the Bike Tour! Branch Out is pumped to have her onboard to display her skills.What skills? Well her Excel abilities would make Bill Gates blush, she can herd crowds of feral cats and she makes the most mundane meeting feel fun with liberal use of words like 'jazzy'.For bringing her own personal touch to Snowshoe Tour, Bike Tour and for generally being as bright, bubbly and the best, Jenn Egroff is our February Glial Gal!


March – Angie Coombes


Angie C has a future as bright as her smile!


Why be good at one thing when you can be good at a whole bunch of things? That’s what Angie Coombes (link: must have thought on her way to becoming a neuroscientist, singer-songwriter, musician and designer.

Angie earned this month’s Glial Gal award by creating a brainwave-controlled LED dress for the MakeFashion Wearable Technology Gala (Link: held at the Telus Spark Centre on April 2nd. No big deal.

She’s also pledged to donate proceeds from her fashion piece (called “Musethereal”) and her upcoming debut single “City in the Sky” to the Branch Out Neurological Foundation and neuroCAM awareness.

For putting neuro-fashion at the front of mind and being a proud partner of Branch Out, Angie Coombs is this month’s Glial Gal!


April – Alec Janssens


Alec worked as a Disney Prince for 3 years at Tokyo Disneyland until the sushi diet wore him out.


He’s taller than a juvenile Velvet Ash, faster than an English Whippet and more gracious than an indebted spare bedroom guest. He’s Alec Janssens and he has a strong history with the Branch Out Neurological Foundation.

Alec was a major player at the Branch Out SnowShoe tour back in February, getting Without Papers Pizza as a sponsor and delivering it all day with a smile under his distinguished moustache. He also helped spearhead the creation of the Rust Busta fundraiser, sharing in all the duties that go into organizing a big event like that!

While all those feats are impressive, the main reason Alec is month’s Glial Guy is because of his moustache, or rather, his former moustache.

For $100, Alec shaved his very large, very french-looking moustache, poured it in a shot and drank it. Wow.

For dedication to Branch Out so extreme it actually made me gag, Alec is this month’s Glial Guy. Congrats Alec!


May –  Kieran Cooley and Chris Knee


Dr. Kieran Cooley and Dr. Chris Knee - Our first co-Glial Guys have a lot to smile about!

The Legion of Superheroes was a popular kids TV show that went off air about 10 years ago. The cast disappeared, shrouding themselves in anonymity…. until now! Those same superheroes that used to save the world now make up Branch Out’s Scientific Review Panel (SRP).

Two of those members are naturopathic doctors Kieren Cooley and Chris Knee. Both have a tremendous interest in evidence-based naturopathic medicine and both spend many hours reviewing and analyzing research submitted to Branch Out’s grant process.

Two super guys that give a super effort to Branch Out? That's well deserving of this month’s Glial Guy award!


June – Aryn Flette and Mandy Ediger



The original power couple. Here’s Mandy & Aryn manning a Branch Out Bike Tour booth back in 2012.

For every item, action and word that you experience during the Branch Out Bike Tour, you can bet a volunteer had something to do with it. So you can also imagine that it requires quite a person to keep all those volunteers in line! At the bike tour, we’re lucky enough to have two of them!

Mandy & Aryn started volunteering with Branch Out 5 years ago by setting up and running one of the rest stops. Now, they’re the Bike Tour volunteer coordinators and sit on the Bike Tour committee (for the second year in a row)! Both are rising stars in the corporate world at Crescent Point and they bring the same pragmatic, detail-oriented hard work to Branch Out. They are incredible schedulers, managers, organizers and supporters and we can’t say enough, how much we appreciate them!For being dedicated, supportive and incredibly hardworking, Mandy & Aryn are our Glials Gals of the Month!


July – Nikita Burke


Well guess what, Nikita? We think you’re neat!


Not to be confused with the equally cool Nikita from the 1997 Canadian TV series La Femme Nikita, Nikita Burke is one incredible woman.

Currently we have her on loan from Ireland, where she started her laundry list of degrees, research and general brilliance at the National University of Ireland in Galway. Now pursuing pursuing a postdoc at the Hotchkiss Brain Institute, Nikita is focusing on paediatric pain, inflammation and opioids in animal models.

Nikita is also the brain behind the Branch Out Brain Buster Challenge and is working hard as an organizer of the 5th annual Neuron Night (info coming soon).

For fitting in an amazing amount of volunteerism, creativity and effort around postdoctoral studies, Nikita Burke is our Glial Gal of the month!


September –Lindsay Skabar



 If humans ever invent a robot skilled enough to do all the stuff Lindsay Skabar can, we’ll never need to make another invention. When Lindsay is multi-tasking, you spell it like this “mmulti-tasking”. The extra “m” is for “more.”

In one breath, try to say everything Lindsay is currently doing. Ready? Go! Lindsay is the new Branch Out Neurological Foundation Board of Director’s Chair, Vice President of Marketing and Communications at Axia (a fibre optic company), is a mother of three young children, and extraordinary waffle maker and has served on the board of HIV Community Link for 5 years.

Not only that, the smile in her pic above? It’s genuine. She really, really, loves to smile. Just a happy person!

For keeping all the balls in the air, stepping up to chair Branch Out’s board and doing it all with enthusiasm, Lindsay Skabar is our Glial Gal of the month!



October – Phil Brian


Legend has it a small snip of Brewmaster Phil’s auburn beard gives the Branchy Brew it’s red colour! (just a legend though, no actual hair was involved in the brewing of the beer)

Phil Brian is a mad scientist from outer space sent down to Alberta to create incredible stuff. Not only did he invent the Branchy Brew recipe, he’s also the operations manager of Last Best and its three sister breweries in Banff, Jasper and Fort McMurray.

Ok. So he’s not really a mad scientist from outer space, but he does have a background in chemistry and engineering and he’s from Australia… so pretty close.

And he does create other incredible stuff, like his own road bike that he rode 100km at the 2016 Branch Out Bike Tour!

For being an incredible inventor who always has one beer hand and one helping hand, Phil Brian is our Glial Guy of the month!


November – Jordan Domoslai


As positive as the bumpy end of a battery with hair like a unicorn mane.

If Lois Lowry had written a book called The Giver about Jordan Domoslai, it would have been just as popular as her actual book, The Giver. That’s because she’s one of those people with infectious joy and enthusiasm who you just want to know more about.

Jordan is the receptionist at Assembly Co-Working Space (Branch Out’s HQ) and is constantly spreading news and updates about Branch Out to the rest of her co-working friends. She’s an ambassador for Branch Out who has a knack for getting people interested in our events.

Not only that, she continues to support Branch Out off-duty at the Snowshoe Tour and Neuron Night!

For being a cheery, positive voice for Branch Out (and a great volunteer), Jordan is our Glial Gal of The Month!


December - Anna Smith


Anna’s a real 10 outta 10, every time!

Smith may be the most common surname in Canada but finding a Smith as sweet as Anna is a much bigger challenge!

Anna works at INLIV and plays a major role in throwing the “Train the Trainer” fundraiser for Branch Out each year. In the past two years, over $40,000 has gone straight to Branch Out!

Besides leading the charge on fundraising, Anna is quite a connector… like a keystone in an arch, conjunction in a sentence, or scarf that really ties an outfit together. She’s been the catalyst to creating some incredible partnerships for Branch Out.

Finally, she was the banquet coordinator for the 2016 BOB (best banquet yet!) and is keen to take on the Volunteer Coordinator position for 2017!
For being the trunk that ties a whole bunch of limbs together for Branch Out, Anna is our Glial Gal of The Month!