Board of Directors

Rich Veldhoen, President, Calgary

Rich is a retired detective who served a total of 24 years in law enforcement. His career began with the Royal Canadian Mounted Police and ended with the Calgary Police Service.

As a detective Rich specialized in behavioral sciences where he consulted extensively with federal, provincial, and local governments on violence risk and threat assessment across a broad spectrum of areas including familial violence, homicide, stalking, sexual violence, workplace violence, school violence, and extremism.

Rich’s passion for collaborative approaches to education and awareness about justice issues has been a great fit with the ACJA

Tamara Valstar, Treasurer, Calgary
Tamara is a Mental Health Clinician with the Southern Alberta Forensic Psychiatry division of Alberta Health Services. She holds undergraduate degrees in psychology and social work, and a Masters of Social Work in clinical practice.
Nearing twenty-five years of direct practice experience in the criminal justice system, Tamara has extensive experience in the areas of forensic mental health, violence, trauma, assessment, treatment, advocacy, program development, and mentorship. She was involved in the implementation of Calgary’s Specialized Domestic Violence Court (currently known as Homefront).  She is a sessional instructor with the Faculty of Social Work at the University of Calgary. Areas of interest include resiliency, neuroscience and social work, trauma and violence-informed practices, and therapeutic jurisprudence.


Clarissa Johnson, Secretary, Edmonton

Clarissa Johnson began her career in Corrections over 25 years ago. She currently works for the Edmonton John Howard Society as the Director of Adult Residential Services and has been with the Agency for over 22 years. She has a degree in Psychology and has gained a wide-range of experience working with mentally ill, high risk, violent and sexual offenders.

Gordon Wright, Director, Red Deer

Gordon Wright lives and works and plays in Red Deer and has been a part of the John Howard Society of Red Deer since 2009. As Executive Director, he enjoys the challenge of moving the John Howard vision forward in the community and to provide opportunities for citizens in the Red Deer area to lead productive, pro-social lives. Prior to taking the helm, Gordon acted as Client Intake and Liaison Caseworker for 9 years and began his John Howard Society tenure in Horizon House as a casual caseworker.

When he isn’t at work, Gordon enjoys making music, outdoor activities and the occasional board-game night with his family and friends.

Kevin Horbasenko, Director, Edmonton

Kevin works for Correctional Services of Canada as a Parole Officer Supervisor in the Alberta/Northwest Territories District Parole office. His post-secondary education includes a Criminal Justice Degree from the University of Athabasca, a Correctional Services Diploma from Grant MacEwan College, and 2 years at the University of Alberta in the Faculty of Arts.

For the past 28 years, Kevin has worked with Native Counselling Services of Alberta at the Stan Daniels Healing Centre, the National Parole Board and most now Correctional Services of Canada, enjoying a variety of positions including Correctional Officer, Parole Officer, Program Officer, and Hearing Officer.

Director, Northern Alberta, Vacant

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Dr. Sarah MacDonald, Director, Calgary

Sarah specializes in Memory and Forensic Interviewing in Calgary. She is an award-winning forensic interview specialist who trains leaders across the country on how to spot, stop and prosecute child abuse.

Her research on human behavior in the justice system, which she presents internationally, has been recognized through SSHRC J.A. Bombardier top National awards, which she presents internationally.

Sarah is a TEDx speaker and in 2021 was selected by Calgary Avenue as a Top 40 Under 40

Erin Gibbs van Brunschot, Director, Calgary

Erin Gibbs Van Brunschot is a Professor of Sociology and Director of the Centre for Military, Security and Strategic Studies at the University of Calgary. Her primary research interests are in the realms of crime, risk, security and social control, with specific interests in how individuals, organizations, agencies and states orient to risk and how responses diverge and converge.

Gibbs Van Brunschot is the co-author of two books – Risk Balance and Security (Sage, 2008) and Risk in Crime (Rowman & Littlefield, 2009) – along with having written a number of journal articles, book chapters and research reports. Her most recent book on high risk offending over the life-course, Pathways to Ruin (with Dr. Tamara Humphrey), is forthcoming in 2021.


Peter Copple, Past President, Calgary

Peter is the ACJA’s esteemed former-President and current Vice-Chair of the Policy Review Committee for the Canadian Criminal Justice Association.

Since retiring as Deputy Chief with the Calgary Police Service where he enjoyed a lengthy, distinguished career that focused on community policing, Peter helped found the Canadian Justice Academy.

Peter remains active in the community and enjoys sharing his vast experience in Public Safety and Criminal Justice through teaching, research and writing, and as a keynote speaker for public and private events.



Election to the Board of Directors

Membership in the Canadian Criminal Justice Association (CCJA) automatically provides an associated membership with the ACJA which is the base requirement for consideration of election to the Board of Directors. Board members are elected by the membership at the Annual General Meeting for a term of one year. In addition, the Board of Directors may fill any vacancies occurring between Annual General Meetings by appointment. The names of the prospective candidates are put forth by a residing Board member and an accompanying biography of that candidate’s accomplishments and merits for consideration. Board vacancies are filled with the best candidates for the coming year through a process of voting by the current board members.

Members of the Board of Directors are required to be members in good standing of the ACJA, must be willing to attend monthly meetings (excluding July and August), and willing to assist the Board with various positions, tasks, and workshops. All members of the Board of Directors attend a yearly retreat that usually spans two days. This annual retreat affords the ACJA Board an opportunity to plan for the upcoming year and to review aspects of our operation that may require change. Board members additionally have the opportunity to influence what is needed in their community and be active in the planning of ACJA workshops.