Life is unpredictable… I have committed every day to filling it with things that bring me energy, while helping others, and demonstrating a model for building a caring community.
My passion is for people with disabilities, community health, and opportunities for youth – especially those at risk. I am highly energized by coaching people to take charge of their life and their health, be the leader of their treatment team, and find a way to thrive regardless of the challenges.
My personal experience with arthritis as a child, followed by MS as an adult, has provided me with real-life…. life-long learning in chronic disease. It looked different as a child in primary school, was often overwhelming as a young mother juggling a family and a career, and somehow it all settled in as I continued to age (gracefully). I believe these experiences are the primary drivers that moulded my community action and career choices.
My opportunity to pursue a career in leading community health with seniors, the Juvenile Diabetes Foundation, Arthritis Society, and the MS Society allowed me to engage people/patients directly – I am confident I helped them cope with their disease, learn to navigate the health care system and … along the way learned more for myself from the shared energy.
My leap from community to the private sector, as stakeholder relations manager for a large pharmaceutical company allowed me to strengthen the bridges between patient associations and the company, influenced the culture and understanding around the patient experience and defined models that allowed community and pharma to work together more collaboratively.
I have an unbridled passion for people with disabilities that comes from more than 20 years with Special Olympics as a parent, coach, board member, and finally as President and CEO. Inevitably, working with people with disabilities has kept me close to a healthcare system that sadly allows people to fall through the cracks when the right supports are not in place.
As a member, and now Chair, of the Premiers Council on the Status of Persons with Disabilities I enjoy the privilege of driving policy change, engaging community, and connecting resources for systemic change. I have been allowed to share my views as an Alberta representative in national health policy consultations, in development of the Alberta Health Charter, and the Social Policy Framework. My role with the Premiers Council and my leadership to the Alberta Non-Profit Voluntary Sector Initiative provided many opportunities to influence change, make recommendations, and advise government – particularly through the lens of my community health and disability experience. I am grateful I can continue to be a voice in this space.
Volunteering and a newly formed consultancy business is keeping me close to the social sector, health issues and community development opportunities that will always be a part of my way forward. I continue to work in rural health development, accessible health supports/services/structures and overcoming barriers to employment for people with disabilities, medical conditions, progressive disabilities and women’s health.
My current work with CAREERS: The Next Generation offers me a harmonization of all of the things I care about most. I trust I am shaping the next generation of health care workers, closing gaps for marginalized youth, and connecting community around solutions that could be game-changers.
LIVING with chronic disease is what matters most! I have done well – I eat well, exercise often, love my work, and surround myself with family and friends that inspire and encourage me.
Premiers Council on the Status of Persons with Disabilities
See the stories of each of the Canadian Women Changing Healthcare:
Yael Cohen Braun