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. Dean is a Chartered Mediator with the Alternative Dispute Resolution Institute of Canada. He received his Diploma in Nursing from Sir Sandford 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 educational and coaching initiatives. With nearly two decades of investigation experience including criminal, insurance, regulatory, workplace, and human rights investigations, Brenda is a wealth of information. Her strong investigative background, coaching expertise, and passion for learning allows her connect with people and mentor them as they as they navigate the sometimes confusing, and complex world of investigations.  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 10 years of experience in the investigations industry having worked as a private investigator and insurance investigator. Ziggy 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 completed courses through the Chartered Insurance Professional (CIP) Program. Ziggy manages a variety of investigations including: regulatory investigations, workplace harassment / violence investigations, locating individuals of interest, conducting background searches, asset investigations, surveillance investigations, undercover operations, and insurance fraud investigations.


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. Stefanie 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. 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. 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 12 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. She is a graduate of 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. In addition to investigating regulatory matters, Lauren is also Benard + Associates locate and background investigations specialist.


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 will be 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. Outside of work Angie is involved in the community and works with the Royal City Roller Girls and the Hillside Festival.


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

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