1` About Us | Rustic Mama Retreats

Our Story

The idea for Rustic Mama Retreats was conceived from a fairly simple desire… The desire to getaway, to relax, to refresh and to reconnect with what’s important to you in this life. To remember what it was like to not have a care in the world. To be that kid with the sun in her face and the wind in her hair. To Laugh, Dance, Cry, Run, Jump, Craft.. whatever your heart and soul desires.

That idea grew to include opportunities — opportunities for adventure, excitement, passion, reflection, self-discovery, education and creativity; a chance to embrace life in all its wonderful facets, and do so in the company of other like-minded adventure seekers. If there is one thing we have learned, it’s that when women gather… something magical happens!

  Team Members

Jennifer James

Founder/Executive Director

As a busy mom to 5 kids, an entrepreneur and an outdoor adventurist, Jennifer is known for embracing the chaos and for running with a new idea. Although focusing specifically on Retreats is a fairly new venture, she has been involved in large number event planning for over 20 years.

Growing up in a small town, she spent her teenage years volunteering at summer camps, and then began running her own day-camp programs for youth in her late teens. Later, trained as a social worker, she spent many years facilitating events for special needs children and adults before launching her own small business that focused more on her creative side. 

Jennifer also has a passion for volunteering and works with many organizations. As a leader in Girl Guides, the Chair of the local School Council and a very involved mother to her 5 children,  she has planned many large events for over 200+ people including outings, camps, sleepovers, fundraisers, reunions and parties.

Find out more about how Jennifer created RMR here!

Susan Abraham

Assistant Director

Susan knows first-hand the importance of taking time for herself. When it comes to juggling work, 2 children – one with higher needs, homework, family time and managing the household, she understands that the struggle to find the precious time for herself, for a cup of tea and even for reading a single chapter is challenging.

She enjoys learning and self-discovery. Her favourite self-care manta is “you can’t pour from an empty cup!” The outlet of journaling has recently become a passion of hers and taking a few minutes every day to reflect on her family, her successes or her challenges has allowed for greater stress relief and deeper reflection. Susan uses her skills to teach Bullet Journalling and Vision Boards at each weekend retreat to encourage other women to carve out time for themselves and follow their own dreams.

Richard Briant

Creative Director

Richard, otherwise known as The GoPro God and founder of Atom the Pug Media, has been shooting up a storm since childhood! He grew up in the suburbs of Mississauga and due to the limitation of beautiful scenery, it forced Rich to get super creative with his work. He has shot everything from the grass growing to having  his dog, Atom, drive an Army Tank. Rich is always finding a way to capture the moment in a way we don’t normally see it. 

Armed with a pile of GoPro cameras, Drones and just about everything in between. His unique style continues to captivate audiences across the globe. Whether it be still photography or video, this guy has you covered! Rich and his incredible sense of humour will be on hand at every Rustic Mama Retreat to capture all the moments you won’t want to forget!

Jennine Profeta

Social Director

For over a decade, Jennine has led workshops on self-empowerment, team-building and clear communication using the techniques of improvisation as seen on “Whose Line Is It Anyway”. Jennine is also an actor (The Second City National Touring Co., “Howie Do It” w/Howie Mandel) and writer (CBC, Chatelaine, Today’s Parent, and Best Health magazines) and tours the country as part of the all-women comedy show, Girls Nite Out!

Jennine joins us at every Rustic Mama Retreat to get the party started! She hosts the Wine Social Welcome Gathering on Friday evenings and ramps up the Themed Dance Parties every Saturday night by hopping on the dance floor and giving away some incredible prizes throughout the evening!

Jennifer Vanclief

Program Facilitator

After 30 years working as a full-time Reserve Force Senior Office with the Canadian Cadet Program, Jennifer retired and was looking for an exciting new experience when she joined the Rustic Mama Retreats team in 2019. Mother to 1, and Grandma to 2, Jennifer is passionate about fitness and the great outdoors. She holds certificates in Personal Training, Active Aging and is a Balance Habits Master Coach. In her free time, she spends it hiking the various trails across Ontario.

Jennifer joins us at every Rustic Mama Retreat to run a variety of fitness inspired workshops. Everything from stretch and flex, to Nordic Pole walking to perfecting your posture.

Alex Anchor

Event Manager

This incredible lady brings events to life at Rustic Mama Retreats. Alex spent years running her own business in Peterborough, ON before coming on board at the RMR head office. She is a mom to 2 adorable young boys and is the behind the scene genius who organizes all the workshop leaders, event post workshops, session selections and the marketplace.

During Retreats, Alex runs the incredibly popular sign and tray making workshops. Sign designed are unique and change multiple times throughout the year so there is always a fresh new sign for you to create. She has a unique eye for design and attention to detail, making her a valuable member of the RMR creative team!

Kirsti Munn

Program Facilitator

Active and always smiling, Kirsti is a mom to 4 children and focuses on leading a healthy and active lifestyle.  After relocating from Toronto to the small town of Warkworth, Kirsti realized how important it is to have a support network and those girlfriends you can count on for anything! Loving the outdoors, Kirsti runs several wilderness workout groups and values the time she gets to connect with her deeper self. 

At every Rustic Mama Retreat, Kirsti is the do-it-all girl. She will be one of the first people you meet when you check in and will solve any issues that arise over the weekend. She also runs workshops, handles the evening campfires, is your weekend bartender and will dance the night away with you! She is a friendly face always ready to help!

Nicole Gagnier

Program Facilitator

Mother to a beautiful daughter, and a high school teacher by day, Nicole is incredibly active in her community and thrives on helping others. She spent 3 years running the children programming on cruise ships before she transitioned into running the family studies program in her hometown of Woodstock ON. An avid camper and lover of nature, Nicole also has a passion for food, nutrition and wellness.

Nicole runs a variety of creative and crafty workshops at Rustic Mama Retreats. Activities include cooking classes, soap making, essential oil workshops, designer chocolates, wood burning and so much more. 

Heather Aire-Gibbs

Program Facilitator

Heather is the newest member of the RMR team but her love and passion for the retreats started long before she was an official team member.

Heather first attended a women’s retreat back in 2018 and became a repeat retreater soon there after. Having attended 5 retreats of all varieties (women’s, mama and daughter, mama and son) over the course of 2 years, we got to know her quite well and knew that her dynamic personality, infectious laugh and outgoing nature would be such an asset to our team!

Heather is a mom to 3 kids, a very active Girl Guide leader and a hospital clerk by day, but at retreats she is the smiling face waiting to greet you upon arrival. She also runs a variety of crafting workshops and will be the one on the dance floor with you until the party ends!

Vanessa Dinesen

Office Manager

Born and raised in East City Peterborough, Vanessa joined Rustic Mama Retreats following the birth of her 6th child. While juggling motherhood, being a wife and running her own successful business, she understood first hand the importance of weekend getaways for women!

Vanessa handles some of the behind-the-scenes activities that make Rustic Mama Retreats a success. Vanessa holds a Business Administration – Accounting Diploma from Sir Sandford Fleming College and a BBA Honours Degree from Trent University and also runs her own business, Dinesen Financial.