The people who drive our success.
john milakovic, co-founder & president
Born and raised in Edmonton, Alberta, as the youngest with three siblings: two beautiful sisters, and a very special brother with Down Syndrome, Matthew. It is John and Matthew’s close relationship that inspired the idea of HEAL. Like two peas in a pod, the brothers grew up as the best of friends. Matthew taught John many lessons. The most important being that deep down, we are all the same. That it's what's inside that counts. As a result of his disability, Matthew is unable to effectively communicate and verbalize his thoughts. So, John was his personal translator – his voice, for others to understand him. It is John's belief that he is here to be a voice for his brother, and others like him. To speak up for anyone dealing with physical or mental health issues. This is the inspiration for HEAL. To create a platform that encourages people to speak and rise up for themselves and for others; supporting and working with the incredible people that make up our great city of Edmonton. John began by sharing his dream with Jori West, the other co-founder of HEAL, whose inspiration is also her brother. Together, they aim to help and inspire as many people as possible with the help of their team.
He is currently the head of Marketing & Business Development, Safety, and Project Manager at Lionsgate Builders. John has also been a musician for most of his life and pursues this passion, among others, in his spare time.
“HEALYEG is a platform for us and our network of friends, family, business owners, and everyone else we can inspire in our city to rise up and do good for others. We all face challenges in our lives everyday and it’s not fair to think that any one of us is in this alone. We are in this journey together. So, let’s come together and be the positive change that we want to see!”
jori west, co-founder & vice president
Jori is a young HR professional born and raised in St. Albert. While successful in her professional endeavours, it was the creation of HEAL YEG that inspired her and gave her the platform she so desired to give back to her community. When you meet her, it doesn’t take long to see that Jori has a passion for Edmonton and its people.
“HEAL YEG is an organization we created to be able to help others. Plain and simple. To me, being in the service of those in need gives me purpose. I want to support, teach and lift our community and I am so grateful that I have these amazing friends who have the same vision as I do. I’m stoked for our future and I can’t wait to see the positive impact we can build”
It is Jori’s mission to create awareness and build a network to support people and families affected by mental illness as she grew up with family members who continue to be affected.
evan gallant, director of events
Born in Edmonton, Alberta and raised in St Albert, Evan has grown up in a family that has been very active in the community, through volunteerism and philanthropic endeavours.
He currently works in Business Development, at Spectrum Safety Services. He is also a board member of Urban Spirits Rotary Club and holds a position as an Action Partner for the Gender Based Violence & Sexual Assault Prevention Initiative. For five years, after he graduated from MacEwan University, he was working in healthcare where he gained many passions and relative experience which HEAL YEG initiatives.
“HEAL YEG to me is simply using our experience, connections and drive to create more responsible events and spread awareness to a selective demographic in our city. All of the other projects that I am apart of have established roots both nationally and globally, so it is fantastic to be building something local that is truly our own.”
His experience was one of the reasons why he was initially approached to join HEALYEG by his friends Jori West & Johnny Milakovic, to start what HEALYEG has grown to be today.
kurtis watts, director of funding development
Kurtis grew up in St. Albert, Alberta where he works at Enterprise Rent-A-Car. Over the past 2 years he has worked his way through the management trainee program. All of his hard work has paid off and he now holds a management position within the company.
“Heal to me is being able to give back to the community and end the stigma associated with mental illness by giving a voice and support to those in need. Having dealt with mental health issues due to sports trauma myself, and seeing family members who have suffered, it opened my eyes to how Important the discussion on mental health is. I was lucky to have support when I needed it and I want to make sure everyone has the opportunity to receive the support they need as well. I also really look up to my Mom who has been heavily involved in mental health, both in our community in St. Albert and with her role with the RCMP and first responders. I want to follow in her footsteps.”
Previously, Kurtis was a part of a local, student founded business that operated out of St. Albert called Sods & Odds. With the help of 3 of his lifelong friends, they founded, operated and eventually sold their business. Kurtis has always had a passion for volunteer work and was fortunate to win an AACL Award for inclusion in 2014 as part of the St. Albert Merchants, for his work with an individual with down syndrome. After HEAL’s successful first year, it didn’t take long for them to spark his interest. With the need for new blood within the organization, Kurtis took the opportunity to jump on board. He is very excited to bring his entrepreneurial drive and desire to the organization and to his new team. He looks forward to helping HEAL YEG grow, and provide the help that those in need deserve.
andrea scanlon, director of marketing
As our Marketing Director, Andrea is responsible for communicating HEAL YEG’s vision strategy as we expand throughout the city.
“I have always had a strong desire to use my voice to stand up for what I know is right. Specifically, due to witnessing friends, family and my own personal struggles with mental illness, I felt compelled to help break the stigma surrounding such a common but silenced topic. It has taken me some time to understand my own anxieties and since opening up about it, I was overwhelmed to hear the amount of “ me too’s”. I soon realized just how prevalent this is. HEAL YEG gives me a platform to use my learning experiences, knowledge and energy to help make the difference I know is needed. I don’t want to see people suffer in silence and shame any longer; especially considering over 50 percent of our population will have experienced a mental illness at some point in their lives. This affects us all. It’s time to talk about it.”
Andrea enjoys learning new things and taking on new roles and experiences , therefor has a diverse background in everything from management in oil and gas to fashion design/ styling. Andrea loves to travel and has spent time journeying though out Europe and Asia. To add to her list of new experiences, Andrea is most excited about becoming a new Mom.