Deb received her BSW at the University of Minnesota Moorhead and her MSW at the University of Manitoba. Her focus of study for her MSW was the application of group work as an intervention approach with older adults dealing with addiction. She has been a registered social worker with the (now) Manitoba College of Social Workers since 1994.
Deb pioneered the first program in Manitoba for addicted older adults 25 years ago, which included the establishment of the only prevalence data on substance abuse among older adults, creation of an intervention model specific for older adults, and development and implementation of a group treatment program. She also pioneered the first ever provincial coalition that addresses mental health and addiction among older adults called Partners Seeking Solutions with Seniors. For 15 years, Deb was the only provincial prevention education consultant specializing in older adults and addictions. She has served on a number of advisory groups related to older adults and addictions and provided consultation of many professionals in Manitoba and elsewhere.
Deb initiated the only prevalence study and key informant studies done in Manitoba on problem gambling and older adults that included a family component. She coordinated the application of theatre as a means to raise awareness about problem gambling in many ethno-cultural communities. In 1994, she was one of the first problem gambling counsellors in Manitoba and had been a Canadian Certified Problem Gambling Counsellor for 14 years.
In her spare time, Deb loves reading fiction, singing in church (and the car), and acting in her church dinner theatre.