About Us
Who We Are

Heart Valve Voice Canada is a non-profit patient advocacy organization that works to improve the health and quality of life of people living with heart valve disease. Our mission is to educate and advocate for early detection and diagnosis, along with innovations in treatments, so that Canadians with heart valve disease get the best possible care over the entire patient journey. We have an advocacy network that includes patients and their support systems, a multi-disciplinary group of health care professionals, and other cardiac and patient advocacy and service organizations.

Aims & Objectives

Heart Valve Voice Canada aims to educate and advocate for early detection and diagnosis, along with innovations in treatments, so that Canadians with heart valve disease get the best possible care over the entire patient journey.

Our core objectives are:

1. Raising awareness of the symptoms and severity of heart valve disease in Canada in order to save lives and improve quality of life.

2. Improving the recognition and diagnosis of heart valve disease by educating all those involved with heart valve disease patients on the symptoms and severity of heart valve disease.

3. Working to ensure there is a clear and effective treatment pathway between primary care and specialists to ensure optimal treatment of the disease.

4. Effectively campaigning for the early detection and optimal treatment of heart valve disease across Canada.

5. Providing credible, independent, and practical advice to patients, health care professionals, and policy-makers about heart valve disease.

6. Representing Canada’s heart valve disease patients to ensure they receive the right treatment at the right time, improving the quality of life and overall outcomes for each individual.

Board of Directors

Our Board of Directors is comprised of patients and health care professionals who are committed to guiding Heart Valve Voice Canada, including:

Dr. Charles Peniston

Dr. Peniston is a senior cardiovascular surgeon at Southlake Regional Health Centre in Newmarket, Ontario where he has been in practice since 2004. Prior to that, he was a staff surgeon and Assistant Professor of Surgery at the Toronto General Hospital and the University of Toronto. Dr. Peniston works with adults in need of heart surgery or Transcatheter Aortic Valve Implantation (TAVI) procedures. He has served as the Division Head and Medical Director of Cardiac Surgery and Co-leader of the Structural Heart Division of Southlake Regional Health Centre. He is also a former Residency Programme Director of Cardiac Surgery at the University of Toronto and examiner for the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Canada. Dr. Peniston is an active member of the Society of Thoracic Surgeons, American College of Surgeons, Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Canada, and the Canadian Cardiovascular Society. In addition, he has served as the Section Head of Cardiac Surgery for the Ontario Medical Association. Outside of his regular clinical duties, he has also provided care to citizens of Ghana on multiple occasions as part of the Ghana Rural Integrated Development mission.

Jacqueline Little, NP-PHC, MsCN

Jacqueline Little has been in nursing for over 20 years with an extensive background in cardiac care, mental health and addictions. Jacqueline practices as a Primary Care Nurse Practitioner at Carea Community Health Centre. She received her Master of Science in Nursing and her Primary Care Nurse Practitioner degree from Athabasca University. Her experience has led her to competently engage with vulnerable and marginalized populations, leaning on her vast knowledge base to care for clients with highly complex medical needs and manage chronic diseases in conjunction with mental health. Jacqueline strongly believes that the practice of quality community medicine results in positive health outcomes.

John Stott

John Stott is a surgical recipient of an artificial aortic valve who is currently living a full and energetic life. Born with a bicuspid aortic valve, John knew the odds were that he would have to address the issue of heart surgery at some point in his life. That point arrived in Fall 2013 when he was just 54. John was an active participant in his entire patient journey, and he is a strong advocate for others facing similar, life-impacting cardiac experiences. John’s professional career includes 25 years of human resource leadership roles in several fields and he is a graduate of Douglas College, the University of Winnipeg and Ivey Business School. John holds his Chartered Professional in Human Resource (CPHR) designation and International Certified Mentorship Practitioner (ICMP) certification. Now retired, John focuses his energy on travel and his work on several Boards of Directors.

Rima Styra, MD, MEd, FRCPC

Dr. Rima Styra is an Associate Professor of Psychiatry at the University of Toronto and works in the Medical Psychiatry Program at the University Health Network, Toronto General Hospital.  She is a graduate of the University of Toronto Medical School, and has a Masters of Education degree from OISE.  She has a staff appointment in the Psychiatry, Health and Disease Program, and a secondary cross appointment in the UHN Cardiac Surgery Department, as well as member of the Toronto General Research Institute.  Her research is focused on the interface between mental health issues and cardiac disease and in quality of life in minimally invasive cardiac procedures. Dr. Styra is presently involved both in the clinical care of cardiac patients as well as research in the area of quality of life.

Dr. Jessica Forcillo

Dr. Forcillo is a cardiac surgeon who works at the University of Montreal Hospital Centre (CHUM), focusing on valvular heart surgery and aortic surgery. She is the first formerly trained cardiac surgeon in Canada in surgery and percutaneous valve procedures having completed a two-year fellowship with Emory University Hospitals in the U.S., which is one of the highest volume centres in transcatheter valve therapies. Research is also a big part of Dr Forcillo's career. She received her Master’s in Biomedical Sciences and Master’s in Public Health. She is part of a research team at Cape Town (South Africa) that works with the African Union to increase cardiac surgery programs and access to heart valve therapies in Africa. She also has a special interest in women's cardiovascular health as she is one of the co-founders of the Cardio-F clinic at the Centre Hospitalier de l'Université de Montréal (CHUM). Dr. Forcillo is eager to participate in the development of new technologies, especially heart valve therapies, in order to offer what is best for her patients.

Dr. Benoit Daneault

Dr. Daneault is an Interventional Cardiologist, Co-director of the Transcatheter Aortic Valve Implantation (TAVI) Program, and Associate Professor of Medicine at the Université de Sherbrooke (CHUS) in Quebec. He is a graduate of the University of Sherbrooke Medical School, where he also received his postdoctoral medical education and cardiology specialist certificate. Dr. Daneault also completed Interventional Cardiology Fellowship programs with both the University of Sherbrooke in 2010 and the NYPH/Columbia University Medical Center in New York in 2012. Dr. Daneault has been published extensively, nationally and internationally, for his work and research on heart valve disease, diagnosis, and treatments and is actively involved in ongoing cardiology research initiatives.

Lorraine Montoya

Up until 2018, Lorraine Montoya served as Program Coordinator and Advanced Practice Nurse (APN) for the Transcatheter Aortic Valve Implantation (TAVI) Program at the University of Ottawa Heart Institute. During her tenure in this role, Lorraine worked with multiple stakeholders to ensure TAVI patients and their family members were supported and engaged through each stage of their care trajectory. Lorraine holds a B.Sc. in Nursing from the University of Victoria and a Master of Adult Education from St. Francis Xavier University. Throughout her career, Lorraine has worked in nursing roles across Canada and internationally and has received multiple awards for her work in both nursing education and practice. Currently, Lorraine works as a Corporate Coordinator of Professional Practice at the Ottawa Hospital.

Dr. Philippe Pibarot

Dr. Pibarot obtained a doctorate in veterinary medicine (DVM) in 1987 at the University Claude Bernard in Lyon, France and a PhD degree in biomedical sciences from the University of Montreal in April 1995. He is a full-time professor with the Department of Medicine of Laval University and holds the Canada Research Chair (Level I) in Valvular Heart Disease (VHD), is the head of Cardiology Research, and the Director of the Echocardiography Core Laboratory at the Québec Heart & Lung Institute. The objective of Dr. Pibarot’s research program is to develop and validate novel patient-oriented approaches to improve the diagnosis, prevention, and treatment of VHD.

He is currently the principal investigator of several multicenter studies and trials funded by Canadian Institute of Health Research and has published more than 650 articles and presented at over 900 invited conferences throughout the course of his career. He is the Associate Editor for structural heart pieces with EuroIntervention and Imaging Section Editor for the Journal of the American College of Cardiology. Dr. Pibarot has received various awards for his work in the field of cardiology.

Bryan Socranksy

Bryan was born with Mitral Valve Prolapse (MVP) and in 2014 it made him susceptible to a bacterial infection, which resulted in an acute case of infected endocarditis. Bryan's medical journey included four misdiagnoses at several clinics and hospitals, and by the time he received a proper diagnosis he was in full heart failure and hospitalized for over eight weeks. This included a lengthy stay in the ICU on life support. One year later he had a successful heart valve repair surgery at Toronto General Hospital. As a result of his experiences, Bryan is passionate about improving early detection and proper diagnosis of heart valve disease to help prevent what happened to him from happening to other people.

Bryan’s professional experience spans over 25+ years in the technology industry and he is the Founder and CEO of Disruptive Consulting Group. This is a boutique consulting firm that helps B2B technology companies grow. Bryan has a Bachelor of Arts in Economics / Political Science from McGill University and a Masters of Business Administration (MBA) from the University of Ottawa.

Nancy Bagworth

Nancy Bagworth brings a patient perspective to the Heart Valve Voice Canada Board. She received open heart surgery when regular monitoring of the bicuspid aortic valve and an aortic aneurism she was born with revealed it was time to have them surgically repaired.  Nancy is a communications professional, who holds a degree in Communications from the University of Ottawa. Her career includes roles in a public relations agency, pharmaceutical corporation, management consulting firm, pharmacy association, food industry association, and as a college instructor.

She has served on the Advisory Boards of the Mount Saint Vincent University Communication Studies, and the International Association of Business Communicators (including as president of the Toronto chapter). In 2010 she established and operated a small retail business for ten years. Nancy now provides financial and communications management services to small businesses, and in her spare time tries to fulfill her desire to explore the world.

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