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Staff & Board

Peter Farrell
Program Manager

Peter starts every morning wondering about what he's going to learn that day. This curiosity has led him to some interesting places from completing an engineering degree to working as a lighting designer to supporting cities take action on climate change. More than anything Peter loves to foster that inner drive to learn in others and strives to keep that top of mind in his work as Program Manager at Compass. Peter is a trained SafeTALK suicide prevention trainer and pursuing his Masters in Educational Foundation through the University of Saskatchewan. Peter ends every day by reminding himself of the need to listen, ask questions, to not assume that he knows the answer, to laugh while acknowledging in what ways he has power, and to push himself to apologize when he has made mistakes. Peter is of largely Irish settler ancestry, from Country Leitrim, and was born on Robinson-Huron Treaty territory Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario.

Manon van Mil
Education Director

A graduate of Carleton University’s Cognitive Science and Queen’s University’s Outdoor & Experiential Education programs, Manon takes most pride in being a self-directed learner. She taught her first class as a volunteer at Compass in 2014 after directing an outdoor education program. The teens taught her that the same enthusiasm with which many young people approached learning camp craft could sustain them in developing skills including literacy and numeracy (in a different environment than most classrooms provided!). Manon has also worked in public and private education in capacities including teaching, programming, and curriculum development in different countries: Canada, The U.S.A., Korea, and Luxembourg.

Stephanie Sewell
Board Chair

Stephanie loves kids. Winding itself through all of her professional and personal projects is the belief that all people, regardless of age, are self-directed learners. When people can be together with this understanding, great things happen. A homeschooling parent of two teens, Stephanie is also a former school teacher, and current founding Musical Director of the Chelsea Youth Choir. A dedicated community contributor, Stephanie has organized homeschooling classes, community festivals, co-founded and chaired the Board of the Chelsea Toy Library, and continues to collaborate with her Municipality on community projects. All of which have at their core the authentic well-being of children. She can also be found hiking and skiing in the Gatineau Hills - the very special part of this world that she calls home.

Alex Robison
Board Secretary

Alex Robison is a long time homeschooling mom of three teenage boys. She is a strong advocate for self-directed learning. Watching her children grow and learn, they have taught her that allowing them to follow their passions leads to a deeper understanding of the subject matter as well as a greater sense of self knowledge and self worth. Alex has a professional and educational background in video, photography and journalism. She and her husband also ran a small home-based business for a few years. Alex and her family enjoy spending time outdoors together. In the winter they can often be found cross-country skiing. Summer months are spent on the water or in the woods. Quieter moments are spent with a good book.

Zoë Knox
Board Treasurer

A lifelong learner and mostly self-taught high-tech professional, Zoë is always looking for a new learning opportunity or challenge! She currently spends most of her time managing multiple development projects and staff for a global software company, parenting her children, and trying to make the world better. Zoë believes that everyone has an innate desire to learn, grow, and contribute, and that people thrive when encouraged to be authentic, and find and use their unique strengths. When not herding employees or children, Zoë can usually be found baking sourdough bread, learning Swedish, reading, programming, gardening, enjoying the forest, or making music. She also has an unhealthy love of Netflix.

Brenda Vellino
Board Member - Policy, Grantwriting, Fundraising

Brenda Vellino has been a homeschooler/Compass member for the past five years. She is the proud mom of two daughters and a strong advocate for LGBTQ+ youth and for youth mental wellness. As a professor of English and Human Rights at Carleton for the past 26 years, she has prioritized student centred and experiential learning practices. She brings her experience of writing grants, sitting on many committees and organizing many events at Carleton to her work as a Compass Board member. Working as an ally alongside Indigenous peoples is another of her strong commitments. She also loves teaching graphic novels. For fun, she reads YA fantasy and loves hiking, x-country skiing and swimming in lakes, and walking her lovely border collie-retriever Bonnie.

Justin Van Leeuwen
Board Member

Justin is a freelance photographer with a background in fundraising. He has a passion for supporting small, grassroots charities that directly benefit at-risk, and marginalized parts of our city. He likes coffee, dogs, and the abstract concept of "free time".

Abby Karos
Co-Founder

Co-founder of Compass, Abby has several years of teaching experience in a variety of settings both public and private. She also has worked as a project manager and editor in the not-for-profit sector. Abby holds a B.A. in history with minors in Women’s and Asian Studies from St. Olaf College, a Masters in Educational Philosophy from McGill University, and teaching certifications from the University of Ottawa and the National Coalition of Alternative Community Schools.