CQR Centre For Opportunity

Our Mission

To offer a structured, meaningful, inclusive and community-based environment where young adults with developmental disabilities can continue to thrive and grow socially, physically, emotionally and intellectually while focusing on the next steps- employment, volunteerism and/or community integration.

Our Vision

To provide a unique and holistic approach to transition from high school to adulthood for young adults with developmental disabilities.

Our History

Calgary Quest Children’s Society (CQCS) was established in 1980 by a group of caring parents of students with challenges. These parents formed a non-profit society and wrote a philosophy for Calgary Quest School (CQS) that continues to this day. In 1995, CQS approached the Alberta Government to become a Designated Special Education Private School. Once this designation was granted, CQS took its place as a fully sanctioned school designated to bring dignity and respect for education of students with significant challenges.

Calgary Quest Children’s Society currently has only one area of focus, Calgary Quest School (referred to as CQS), which is guided by the philosophy of allowing children to maximize their potential in all areas of their lives, with a learning program tailored to the individual’s needs. Our experience with students and their families during the K-12 school years, as well as research we conducted with parents of children with moderate to severe disabilities (our “target population”), indicates that once children graduate from high school there are limited opportunities available to allow them to develop the necessary skills to progress to adulthood and reach their potential in society. As a result, this was identified as one of the critical goals in our 2019 Strategic Plan.

Through the new Strategic Plan, the Board is committed to developing a community access program, the Centre for Opportunity, which will provide participants ages 18 to 25 diagnosed with moderate to severe developmental disabilities the chance to maximize their potential by providing a holistic approach, to develop life skills, including self-reliance at home and in the community, health and wellness and self development, as well as offering programs specific to developing employment skills, enhancing community integration and supporting the dedication to volunteerism.

Our Team

Our staff is committed to meeting the unique and individual needs of our participants by embracing the values, mission and strategy to achieve full inclusion within our community. Our staff wants to ensure that we focus on what matters to the people we support and their families.

Program Director: Lisa Norris

Lisa Norris is originally from Saskatchewan, but has recently relocated to Calgary with her family. She has her Master of Science in Special Education with a focus on Autism Spectrum Disorders and Developmental Disabilities. Lisa has over 10 years of experience supporting adults, children and families living with developmental disabilities and mental health diagnoses. Prior to relocating Lisa was responsible for leading a Government of Saskatchewan crisis program with Outreach and Prevention services that supported adults living with complex needs rehabilitate back into the community for the Centre Region of Saskatchewan. She is passionate, creative and dedicated to strengthening the disability services sector in the Calgary area.

Life Planning Coordinator: Kristy Malone

Kristy is originally from Ottawa, Ontario and recently moved to Calgary. She has an Advanced Diploma in Child and Youth Care Counselling in addition to a certificate in Community Studies and Social Sciences. Kristy has been working with youth with complex mental health disorders as well as supporting families with an individual with autism or disabilities for over 6 years in a variety of roles and environments. Before moving to Calgary, Kristy worked within an afterschool program supporting children and youth with complex needs as a program supervisor. She is passionate about implementing Therapeutic Programming as well Cognitive Behavioural and Dialectal Behavioural Therapy

Board of Directors:

Calgary Quest Children’s Society Board of Directors volunteer countless hours of their time and bring many years of valuable experience to the organization. The Board of Directors sets our direction, takes responsibility for financial decisions and performance, and is accountable for overseeing the achievement of the organizational objectives. Their diverse skillsets, experience, and areas of influence are critical in helping us build a resilient and caring organization that is committed to the community.


Thomas holds a Bachelor of Science Degree from McMaster University, and is a Chartered Professional Accountant. Thomas is currently the Director, Finance, and Special Projects at Calfrac Well Services Ltd. where he has worked since 2007 in various senior finance positions in both Canada and the United States. Prior to this, Thomas spent a number of years working in the audit and assurance group of PwC, a major accounting firm. Thomas has a daughter attending Calgary Quest School.

PAMELA ALKIER, Vice President

Pamela has a Bachelor of Arts (Sociology, Psychology), a Bachelor of Social Work, and Human Resource Management Certificate from the University of Manitoba. Pamela started her career as a child protection social worker, and over the last 17 years has worked in Human Resources (Total Rewards, Talent Management and Communication & Risk Management).  Pamela currently supports employees’ health and well-being at Canada’s largest integrated energy company.  Pam has a son who attends CQS.


Scott has a Bachelor of Commerce Degree from the University of Alberta, and is a Chartered Accountant. He brings with him years of experience as a Chief Financial Officer and as a Partner with PwC.  Scott is currently Chief Financial Officer of UFA Co-operative. His charitable Board experience includes; Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation, Calgary Chapter; Children’s Link Society; FSHD Society (Muscular Dystrophy).  Scott has a son who attends CQS.


Sue Crawford holds degrees in science and nursing, and is in her final year of her Master of Nursing degree at the University of Calgary.  She is the Nurse Clinician with the Neurodevelopment team at the Child Development Centre, a capstone position she is excited to fill thanks to her 9 years of experience working with high risk children and youth.  With Between Friends, she is the Camp Director for Camp Fun’zAmust in partnership with Easter Seals. Sue teaches Pediatric Nursing and Health Education at Bow Valley College, and is also the co-founder and CEO of Enable, a social enterprise that matches individuals with disabilities to support workers.


Wendy has a Bachelor of Education degree from the University of Calgary. Her professional background is as a teacher for over 20 years, splitting time between teaching on a Metis Settlement in Northern Alberta, and teaching for various schools in the Calgary Public School system. She has taught grades 1-3 and grades 5-6.  Her teaching experience includes teaching students with both Autism Spectrum Disorder and Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder. She has a daughter who has attended CQS for over a decade.

Ellen Embury, DIRECTOR

Ellen holds a Bachelor of Arts, a Bachelor of Laws, and a Master of Public Administration. Ellen has 19 years of extensive litigation experience and splits her practice between employment and general litigation matters. She has a strong interest in reproductive technology and fertility. Ellen became a partner at Carbert Waite LLP in 2019. She enjoys spending time in the mountains and keeping active with her family by participating in a variety of activities including skiing and biking.


Barbara began her career as an elementary school teacher.  After a decade she joined the Faculty of McMaster University DeGroote School of Business where she taught both graduate and undergraduate classes in organizational development, human resources, and strategy.

After a decade, she left the university and co-founded a start-up company, joined Price Waterhouse Coopers to build the Ontario provincial consulting practice and then the national practice. Alberta Health Services subsequently recruited her as the Senior Vice President of Strategy and Performance. 

Currently Barbara serves on the Board for YMCA Calgary, PFM Scheduling, and Therapalz.  Barbara holds a BA (Sociology), BEd (Elementary), MBA (Human Resources & Labour Relations), CMC (Certified Management Consultant) and the ICD.D designation in Board governance (University of Calgary).