Empowering Minds: Our Team


Our Teen Leadership Program Team Members

At Empowering Minds™, we all hold different backgrounds, personalities and quirks but there are two things we are all passionate about: working with teens and personal development.


Rowena Browne

Executive Director

Rowena leads and directs all Empowering Minds™ activities to enhance and expand evidence-based leadership and empowered educational learning tools, practice, research, communications, and development.

She is an accomplished business leader with a long track record of success in the business and educational sectors. Since growing up in Hawai’i, Rowena has been involved in philanthropic projects and youth education. She’s spent nearly 20 years in the classroom and outdoors teaching teenagers, young adults, and professionals. Rowena has delivered strategic projects and educational initiatives with the Lily Claire Foundation, Boys and Girls Club, Impact Society, Compassion Canada, Empowering Minds™, Mount Royal University, and the US Department of Education.

A graduate of the University of Nevada, Rowena she studied Organizational Development and minored in Psychology in Behavior Modification, and studied her Master’s in Business Administration. Since 2011, Rowena has instructed and developed programs in leadership development and business strategy for Mount Royal University. Her most favored moments are spent with her family visiting her hometown in Hawai’i, spending time on the beach, farming fruits, playing soccer and spending quality time appreciating the heritage of Hawai’i.


Cleopatra Kierstead

Director of Programs

A self-professed gypsy and opportunity-chaser, Cleopatra’s background is rooted in education, training and empowerment of teens and youth. Most recently, she was living and teaching in remote Aboriginal communities. When she is not busy with her three children (which almost never occurs), you will find her shopping for what she deems “necessary”, writing music, or cooking up a storm in her kitchen.


Nicole Langton

Manager, Program Planning, Partnerships, and Events

Nicole loves it when a good plan comes together. She is a dedicated communications planner and project manager with a passion for events. From the original brainstorm to the BIG REVEAL Nicole adds creativity, analytical and logistical know how to every project she works on. With more than 10 years of experience in not for profit, post-secondary and corporate environments Nicole brings a wealth of skills to the table. Look forward to hearing from Nicole as she works to create a comprehensive communications and engagement strategy for Empowering Minds.

Our Teen Leadership Program Coaches

In order to run our programs, we need Coaches! They all have different histories, stories and years of personal development and training. They spend two and a half days out at a camp, on a bunk bed with barely any access to electronics or the outside world. They empower teens with heart and it’s inspiring to see them in action!

Grant McLarnon

Head Coach

Grant has been with Empowering Minds™ since our beginning in 2008. His passion for empowering youth and giving them the tools to be all that they can is unparalleled. Grant has a dynamic professional background, spending much of his earlier career in at-risk youth programs. Now Grant has one of those nerdy professional careers and is actually really important to his company ADXStudios. He's also important to his family and we thank his wife, son and daughter for allowing us so much time with him. Our Empowered U program would not be possible without our only Head Coach. If Grant does have a moment to relax, he's probably on the move anyway. He and his family enjoy travelling, great friends and good music.

Jessica Gurnsey


Fireball of energy, plain and simple. Jessica is one of our coaches for the Teen Empowered U Program, has a diploma in theology and is on her way to becoming an oncology Nurse at Mount Royal University. Originally a teen graduate of the Empowering Minds™ program, Jess has been committed to the organization in one way or the other since she was 17. Living by the words “Though she be but little, she is fierce”, Jessica is constantly bringing her drive, enthusiasm, and heart to the table.

McKenna Simpson


McKenna is someone with a unique personality, always putting everyone first and doing what she can to make others smile. She finds the positive in every situation and makes a difference every day. McKenna works hard for everything she has and won’t stop until the job gets done.

She has two amazing children ... her turtle and her snake! McKenna has been a part of the Empowering Minds family in different ways for 6 years.

Our Board

We are extremely excited to attract and retain such well-respected and influential group of leaders to our Board of Directors.


Vince Aliberti

Senior Consultant at Veris

Barbara Atkinson

Vice President Human Resources and Client Services at Werklund Capital

Steve Bloxom

Vice President Corporate Development at Enbridge Inc.

Patti DeDominicis

Principal at Firmus Contracting Inc.

Wilf Gobert

Co-Chair, MAKE History Capital Campaign at Fort Calgary

Grant McLarnon

CEO at Adoxio

David Mears

CEO of Qwest Diversified Capital Corporation