Our Team

We are truly blessed to have a team of amazing people, who are committed to excellence and show it every day in their work. Our people have the knowledge, experience and expertise to provide a blend of services that is truly unparalleled in the industry.

Dean Benard – President and CEO

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 deliver workshops and educational seminars aimed at prevention and conflict resolution in the workplace. His passion for inspiring change and developing innovative strategies have led him on his mission to build a coaching platform for guiding others to excel as investigators, conflict resolvers, and leaders. Dean has an eclectic career history prior to starting Benard + Associates, including 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, and holds a Master of Laws & Letters from Osgoode Hall Law School.


Brenda Benard – Vice President

Brenda’s belief in constant and never-ending improvement is what makes her the ideal leader of our operations and coaching initiatives. 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, 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 brings 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.


Ziggy Bardel – Manager of Investigations

Ziggy has over 11 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 coordinates and manages the flow of work assignments and is an amazing resource for our investigators. 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.


Debbie Johnson – Office Manager

Debbie is the glue that holds it all together at Benard + Associates. With over 20 years of administrative and office management experience, Debbie manages our internal workflow, assists investigators in report management, and keeps everyone in line! This is Debbie’s first role in a smaller office with the majority of her career being in the aerospace sector. She has experience in the areas of marketing administration and sales operations, which had her skillfully managing many competing priorities and ensuring everyone else did the same. Debbie has a certificate in Business from Conestoga College and a wealth of experience and knowledge we all benefit from daily.


Stefanie Blacker – Senior Investigator

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. Stefanie assists our clients in conducting both regulatory and workplace investigations. She is an important resource for our other investigators as she shares her experience in a manner that enhances the work of the whole investigations team. 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.


Valerie Henderson – Investigator

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.



Paul Nicholson – Investigator / Mediator / HR Coach

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. Paul has successfully investigated workplace issues related to harassment, health and safety, poisoned workplaces and theft. His focus at Benard + Associates is on workplace investigations, mediation, and HR Coaching and Consulting services. He 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.




Lauren DeVriese – Investigator / Locate Specialist

Lauren has been a licensed private investigator for over 13 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. While much of her time at Benard + Associates is spent performing location and background checks, 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. 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.


Angie Ferreira – Investigator

Angie has been a licensed private investigator since 2015 and in the past four years has distinguished herself as a reliable investigative researcher, adept at using a variety of resources including interviewing, online research, and critical analysis of information.  Angie has conducted background checks, asset searches, and been engaged on many corporate investigations. With Benard + Associates Angie is focused on conducting  regulatory investigations related to allegations of professional misconduct, incompetence and incapacity. Angie graduated from the University of Guelph with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Sociology. She was able to develop her critical thinking, organization, and research and analytical skills in courses such as Criminology, Qualitative and Quantitative Research Methods, and Law and Society. She graduated from Mohawk College’s Protection, Security, and Investigations course in April of 2015 where she made the Dean’s Honours List.


Julie Meier – Senior Investigator

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) who 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 holds a Bachelor of Arts degree from the University of Guelph and graduated top of her class from the Ontario Police College.

Lindsay MacDonald – Investigator

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 – Investigator

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 – Mediator / Investigator

Avon possesses a wealth of experience as a senior human resources and organization development leader in the insurance and financial services industry. He brings his considerable experience and expertise to our clients through the provision of mediation and investigation services. Prior to joining Benard + Associates, he was the Assistant Vice President, HR Business Partner for Sun Life Financial Canada. Avon has been recognized for his skill in building relationships, facilitating change and building employee engagement. Avon holds a GBA (Group Benefits Associate) from Dalhousie University and the International Foundation of Employee Benefit Plans. He holds certificates from Harvard Business School and the University of Southern California in Change Leadership, Financial Management from the Wharton School, as well as Conflict Management from the University of Waterloo.


Industries We Work With

Professional Regulators

Healthcare Institutions

Law Firms

Educational Institutions

Municipal and Provincial Governments


Service Industries

Utility Companies

Law Enforcement Agencies