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Why Choose Us

Our Team

We are truly grateful to have a team of amazing people, who are committed to excellence and show it every day in their work. The team at Benard + Associates has the individual and collective knowledge, experience and expertise to provide a blend of services that is truly unparalleled in the industry. In addition to being highly skilled investigators and mediators, our entire team is educated in Anti Black Racism, Mental Health First Aid, and Trauma Informed Practice.

Dean Benard

Over the past 25 years, Dean has earned a reputation as an expert in investigations and mediation. He is a highly recognized figure in professional regulation throughout Canada and the United States. Dean has been awarded for his exceptional skills and abilities and is routinely sought after for speaking engagements, mentoring and training. In addition, Dean has had an equally impressive impact in the sensitive area of workplace harassment and discrimination. Dean is often called upon to develop, co-create, and deliver workshops and educational seminars in the areas of investigation, harassment prevention, communication, and conflict resolution. His passion for inspiring change and developing innovative strategies have led him on his mission to raise awareness and assist others in developing as investigators, conflict resolvers, and leaders. Dean has written a book on investigation essentials, developed several educational videos, which he shares openly on the Benard + Associates YouTube channel, and developed the We’ve Seen a Thing or Two Podcast, that allows him to assist other experts in sharing their knowledge. His eclectic career history prior to starting Benard + Associates, includes positions as a Registered Nurse, Police Officer, and Manager of Investigations. He holds a certificate in Strategic Intervention Coaching and is a Chartered Mediator with the Alternative Dispute Resolution Institute of Canada. He received his Diploma in Nursing from Fleming College in Peterborough, his Bachelor of Arts in Health Administration and Ethics from York University, his Master of Laws & Letters from Osgoode Hall Law School, and a post graduate certificate from Cornell University in Diversity and Inclusion.

Brenda Benard

Brenda’s belief in constant and never-ending improvement is what makes her the ideal operational leader. With nearly two decades of investigation experience in criminal matters, insurance, regulatory, workplace, and human rights investigations, Brenda has a wealth of experience. She has conducted hundreds of regulatory investigations into issues spanning the scope of regulatory concerns such as misconduct, practice issues, incapacity, and registration. Her workplace investigations experience includes matters for small and very large businesses and organizations where she has been instrumental in assisting our clients to bring matters to resolution and make lasting change that enhances people’s workplaces. Brenda holds a certificate in Strategic Intervention Coaching, and uses her skills as a coach as she guides and mentors our investigative staff.  During her career in policing she received several commendations for her investigative work. Brenda also oversees all of our internal quality assurance initiatives, ensuring all of the Benard + Associates team provide consistent and dependable service to our clients.

Stefanie Blacker

Stefanie brings to the clients of Benard + Associates a sharp analytical approach and international experience in regulatory investigations. Prior to joining our team, Stefanie was a Senior Case Investigation Officer for the Nursing and Midwifery Council in the United Kingdom. In this role Stefanie conducted investigations concerning various issues such as misconduct, criminal convictions, incapacity / health cases, and competency issues. Stefanie also provided guidance and feedback to junior colleagues on their investigative work. As the Director of Regulatory Solutions, Stefanie oversees all the day to day work of our regulatory investigators, and acts as the main contact for our regulatory clients. She is an important resource for our team, and also ensures policy and procedures on our regulatory work is up to date and staff are well informed of the varying expectations we manage from client to client. On top of all of this Stefanie still carries her own caseload of investigations. She holds a Bachelor of Arts (Hons.) in Geography and English from Wilfrid Laurier University in Waterloo, Ontario, a Master of Science from the University of Edinburgh, Scotland, and a Qualification in Investigative Practice from Queen Margaret University in Scotland.

Paul Nicholson

Paul is an experienced HR professional with a background in the manufacturing, logistics, sporting events and non-profit sectors. Paul believes in aligning a tailored workplace conflict resolution solution to each organization’s unique organizational culture. He has assisted workplace parties to manage and resolve a wide range of workplace conflicts in both unionized and non-union workplaces. He has been recognized for his contributions to organizations’ employee and labour relations, policy development, and strategic HR projects. As the Director of Workplace Solutions, Paul oversees all things workplace. He is the main contact for our workplace clients and he is a key resource for our workplace investigators. In addition to his oversight role, Paul carries his own caseload of investigations, mediations, and human resources consulting projects. He has successfully investigated workplace issues related to harassment, health and safety, poisoned workplaces and theft. Paul has worked on some massive projects and assisted many of our clients through difficult challenges. The combination of his human resources background, investigation, and mediation skills have resulted in unique approaches and positive outcomes that have made our clients very happy. Paul holds a BA from the University of Toronto, a Graduate Certificate in HR Management from Sheridan College, and a Certificate in Alternative Dispute Resolution from the University of Toronto. Paul also holds the Q.Med designation issued by the Alternative Dispute Resolution Institute of Ontario, and the Workplace Fairness Analyst designation from the Workplace Fairness Institute.      

Ziggy Bardel

Ziggy has over 12 years of experience in the investigations industry having worked as a private investigator and insurance investigator, prior to joining the Benard + Associates team in 2015. Ziggy has been conducting regulatory investigations for many of our clients. He is frequently asked for by name due to his ability to take on the most complex regulatory investigations. He is known for his attention to detail and tenacious approach to obtaining the information required. As the Manager of our regulatory investigations group, Ziggy is a key resource of support and guidance for our team, and our clients. His expertise in managing many challenging investigative scenarios is greatly appreciated by our team, and he is always ready and willing to help when needed. Ziggy a go-to person when anything needs to get done, and that reputation among our clients grows a little more every year. He attended the Sheridan Institute of Technology and Advanced Learning, earning a diploma in public and private investigations. He also holds a Bachelor of Arts from the University of Toronto, majoring in Criminology. Ziggy has also completed courses through the Chartered Insurance Professional (CIP) Program.

Lauren DeVriese

Lauren has been a licensed private investigator for over 14 years, and has specialized in locating people of interest, conducting background checks, and researching corporations and their activities. As an accomplished senior investigator, Lauren has also managed other investigators, overseeing their work and providing them with support and guidance. Lauren has also conducted undercover investigations and surveillance to assist her clients in getting the information they need. Lauren is a prolific regulatory investigator, having completed an exemplary number of investigations while still providing the support to all of our clients and our investigators on locate and background work. On top of being a great investigator, Lauren is also a good photographer, and the evidence is in the profile pictures of our team! Lauren graduated from Carleton University, with an Honours Bachelor of Arts majoring in criminology and criminal justice, and she has a post graduate certificate in advanced investigations and enforcement.

Andrew Gale

Andrew is a former police officer who spent 18 years serving his community with distinction. Most of his policing career was with the Investigative Services Division working in the Drug & Intelligence, and Digital Forensics units.  In 2014, Andrew was awarded the ‘Chief’s Commendation for Policing Excellence’ for contributions he made to a major drug project investigation. Andrew has received training in various areas of criminal investigations including interviewing, warrant writing, mobile surveillance, and undercover operations.  His work in the Digital Forensics unit focused on acquisition and analysis of digital evidence related to various criminal investigations including homicides, drugs, child exploitation, and sexual assaults.  Andrew’s qualifications in digital forensics have enabled him to prepare expert reports and provide expert witness testimony for both the Crown, and for the Defense, in both provincial and federal court proceedings. Andrew applies his vast breadth of skills and knowledge to our Workplace Solutions Group but also serves as a consultant on cases handled by our Regulatory Solutions Group around search warrants, digital forensics, and undercover work. He graduated with distinction from the University of Guelph with an Honours BA in Psychology and Sociology and has a diploma in Network Engineering. Andrew also holds several industry certifications in computer networking.

Julie Meier

Julie was a police officer for approximately 18 years and had attained the rank of Sergeant before making the decision to leave policing to pursue a different path in investigations. Her exemplary career included assignments to three different criminal investigative units, where she investigated sexual assaults and major crime matters such as homicides, sudden deaths and various violent crimes. Julie has twice been part of an investigative team (2015 & 2019) that received the Award of Excellence in Criminal Investigation.  In two instances, her work producing warrants in investigations facilitated search measures that had previously never been used in prosecuted criminal investigations, changing aspects of investigative work and search warrant applications in the Province. Julie has received a vast amount of training in a variety of approaches to interviewing, including trauma informed interviewing and interviewing children and vulnerable people. Julie does both regulatory and workplace investigations for our clients, and her ability shift between these two investigative roles so smoothly is a further testament to her skills and abilities. Julie holds a Bachelor of Arts degree from the University of Guelph and graduated top of her class from the Ontario Police College.

Lacey Desjardin

Lacey is a former police officer with the Waterloo Regional Police. During her career in policing, Lacey was engaged in a number of areas, as most police officers do. A highlight of her policing career, and something Lacey is proud of is her work with girls living in group homes, she was also very involved in the Adopt a Group Home Program. Lacey worked with sexual assault victims and human trafficking victims. She also received a citation of commendation during her policing career for her exceptional work in a crisis situation. Prior to her policing career Lacey volunteered for 4 years with Victim Witness Assistance Program (Ministry of the Attorney General). In this role she attended court once a week, did court preparation with witnesses and victims, and offered support to them. Lacey has experience in all types of investigations and is going to work primarily in our regulatory investigations team. She attended the University of Windsor where she received an Honours BA in Criminology and Psychology, and is a graduate of the Ontario Police College.

Valerie Henderson

Valerie brings to Benard + Associates her keen analytical, problem solving, and report writing skills that she has acquired both through her educational journey, and her experience in the fields of regulation and education. Most recently Valerie was the Director of Student Development overseeing the academic progress of over 150 students across three facilities. Valerie has been involved in professional regulation working in the areas of credentialing and exams. She has investigated the full range of investigative matters since joining Benard + Associates, and has developed her skill and knowledge in these investigations to the point where any matter that comes through our doors can be competently and skillfully managed by Valerie.  Valerie graduated with a Bachelor of Science in Honours Bio-Medical Science from the University of Guelph and has been acquiring additional skills through the completion of various investigation courses.

 

 

Lindsay MacDonald

Lindsay is an experienced regulatory investigator with experience investigating all forms of misconduct with particular emphasis on fraud, conflict of interest, money laundering, and misrepresentation matters. In addition, she has routinely handled cases about competency issues. Lindsay has handled many serious cases including multiple complainants and very large matters. Prior to her work as a regulatory investigator she was a fraud analyst in the financial services industry where she cut her teeth on analyzing patterns of behaviour and extrapolating those patterns to possible fraud activities. She holds a bachelor of Arts from University of Toronto in criminology, and a paralegal diploma from Sheridan College.  

Sophia Tucker

Sophia is a Registered Practical Nurse who has who has experience managing a team of nurses that gather essential information related to clients’ ability to return to work after injuries. As part of this role she assesses a number of factors and information to assist her in making decisions on workers’ ability to return to work. In addition to determining return to work, Sophia also investigates workers’ accommodation requests to determine whether such requests are legitimate and reasonable. Prior to this role she worked as a nurse in the long term care setting. Sophia holds a practical nursing diploma from Conestoga College, and a certificate in general arts and sciences, also from Conestoga College.

Avon Giddings

Avon is an experienced Senior HR Business Partner, and HR professional, across several industries and multiple business units of a multinational insurance company. He has a long history working as a member of the senior management team of a very large employee benefits provider.

He is recognised for contributions through mergers and acquisitions, corporate restructuring and other large scale change leadership initiatives involving the attraction and retention of key and critical employees and functions. 

Drawing on his wealth of experience, Avon has managed numerous complaint mediations in area of professional regulation through his innovative strategies and superior conflict resolution skills. Regulators from across Canada have applauded Avon’s work and consistently ask for him to assist them with complaints matters.

In addition, Avon has also successfully conducted numerous workplace interventions for our private and public sector clients, including transportation organizations, educational institutions, and healthcare facilities.  He has assisted with issues of one to one workplace conflict matters including team dynamics, and interpersonal conflict and harassment.  His unique background in human resources, business management, and employee benefits, allows him to bring creative solutions to various employee and team workplace conflicts and issues.

Avon holds several university certificates in change, and change leadership, finance for the non-financial manager, and several alternative dispute resolution certificates.  He is a licensed private investigator and holds a Group Benefits Associate (GBA) designation from IFEBP (International Federation of Employee Benefits Plans) and Dalhousie University.  On top of his work at Benard + Associates, he currently is a Director on the Board of a mutual property and casualty insurer in Ontario.

Vanessa Chaves

Vanessa is the newest addition to the team and we are very happy to have her. Vanessa’s background as an administrative assistant and legal assistant allows her to provide the support our investigators require for a variety of things, including report preparation, scheduling, compiling data, and assisting our clients on many administrative issues. In addition, Vanessa handles our accounts payable and receivable, and keeps the office organized on all levels. Vanessa’s role is indispensable to each and every member of the team, and she does it all with a smile and a willingness to do whatever is needed.   

Industries We Work With

Professional Regulators

Professional Regulators

Healthcare Institutions

Healthcare Institutions

Law Firms

Law Firms

Educational Institutions

Educational Institutions

Municipal and Provincial Governments

Municipal and Provincial Governments

Manufacturers

Manufacturers

Service Industries

Service Industries

Utility Companies

Utility Companies

Law Enforcement Agencies

Law Enforcement Agencies

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