Program       Speakers      Registration  

 Please note: Speaker details will be added as they are confirmed

Sutha Balasingham
OMSSA Board Member & Head, Strategic Initiatives, Community and Health Services, Regional Municipality of York

Catherine Chambers
Equity and Economic Development Researcher and PhD Student

Catherine Chambers is an organizational learning consultant, social researcher, and Ontario Certified Teacher. Her research is grounded in social change at the intersection of innovation, economic development, and equity. Catherine's involvement in remote-employment and eLearning began in 2001 and includes work with First Nations communities in Ontario and New Brunswick. She currently operates a community makerspace studio in York Region which serves as a key site for ethnographic and curatorial research on entrepreneurship projects involving children, youth, and adults. Catherine has shared her research findings at conferences and workshops on K-University equity in Science, Technology, Education and Math (STEM).

As a consultant, Catherine has worked with numerous child care centres in York Region and with agencies in Northumberland County. Her work in the social and public sectors also includes projects with OMSSA, OCASI, CBC-Radio Canada, Simcoe Muskoka Children's Aid Society, and the Actors Fund of Canada. Catherine has also worked in South Africa and across the United States with Microsoft, BASF, Korn Ferry and JP Morgan Chase. She holds two graduate degrees in education from the University of Toronto (Master of Teaching, Master of Adult Education) where she is currently completing her PhD. 

Dr. Gordon Cleveland 
Consultant Economist, President of Cleveland Consulting: Early Childhood Education and Care Inc. 

Dr. Gordon Cleveland is an economist and researcher in the field of early childhood education. In 2017-18 he was the main author of Affordable for All: Making Licensed Child Care Affordable in Ontario, a comprehensive report to the Ontario Ministry of Education.  Recently, he has been a member of the Expert Panel on Early Learning and Child Care Research and Data, providing advice to the Minister of Families, Children and Social Development.   

Mitchell Davidson 
Executive Director, StrategyCorp Institute of Public Policy and Economy 

Mitchell is the Executive Director of StrategyCorp Institute of Public Policy and Economy, a venture designed to contribute to thought leadership on important public policy issues in Ontario and Canada. He is a Global Fellow at the Wilson Center’s Canada Institute and was a member of the Taskforce for a Resilient Recovery that recommended a set of policies to help the federal government create an environmentally friendly economic recovery plan. Mitchell brings a unique cross-section of public policy experience and political expertise from his nearly six years at Queen’s Park, culminating as Executive Director of Policy to the Premier of Ontario. In government, Mitchell served as the government’s lead policy architect, including responsibility for the 2019 Budget and 2018 Fall Economic Statement. Prior to that, Mitchell was the policy lead and co-author of both recent Ontario PC Party Platforms – The Plan for the People and The People’s Guarantee. Mitchell hails from the small town of Oro-Medonte, Ontario.

Isadore Day
Chief Executive Officer, Bimaadzwin

Isadore Day is the former Chief of Serpent River First Nation and a former Ontario Regional Chief over the span of 15 years involved in First Nation leadership. Isadore was the Chair of the Assembly of First Nations‘ Chiefs Committee on Health and established the AFN Task Force on Cannabis.

He is the Founder and CEO of Bimaadzwin where his main focus is on Nationhood rights and Sovereignty; and specifically, the improvement in First Nation health, social, economy conditions of current and future generations. Isadore is emphatic that the Indian Act is colonial oppression and at the root of what must change in all First Nations – he vows to maintain and refine his life‘s mission to be focused on reconstituting Indigenous Nations on Turtle Island. He works with all levels of government and industry, as well as numerous associates to ensure the economic development and autonomy of First Nations.

Marc Desormeaux
Senior Economist, Scotiabank Economics

Carolyn Ferns
Public Policy Coordinator, Ontario Coalition for Better Child Care

Carolyn Ferns is Public Policy Coordinator at the Ontario Coalition for Better Child Care. Carolyn worked for over ten years at the Childcare Resource and Research Unit, where she co-authored the Early Childhood Education and Care in Canada series. Carolyn has a Bachelor's and Master's degrees in Early Childhood Studies. She is a member of the Board of Directors of both Child Care Now and the Childcare Resource and Research Unit.

Greg Fryer
Executive Director, Habitat for Humanity Grey Bruce

Greg Fryer serves as the Executive Director of Habitat Grey Bruce and over the past 10 years has led the organization to achieve several firsts including the building of the first Habitat house built on First Nations territory in Ontario at Neyaashiinigming with the Chippewas of Nawash Unceded First Nation. In 2018, Habitat Grey Bruce partnered with Nawash to build a 16-home development using a Rent-to-Own program with financing provided by CMHC’s Section 95.  This was the first such arrangement of its kind in Canada, and is now being replicated in several other First Nation communities.

Karen Glass
Assistant Deputy Minister, Strategic Policy Division, Ministry of Children, Community and Social Services

Karen Glass is the Assistant Deputy Minister (ADM), Strategic Policy Division in the Ministry of Children, Community, and Social Services (MCCSS). She brings nearly 30 years of experience in this sector within Ontario. She began her career in the not-for-profit sector and spent her early career in both the Children’s and Social Service Ministries. Before her return to MCCSS, Karen was the ADM Transformation and ADM Mental Health and Addictions in the Ministry of Health. She has also been ADM for the Poverty Reduction Office in Treasury Board and held several positions in Policy and Delivery within the Cabinet Office. She has a track record as a strategic, results oriented leader with significant accomplishments in program delivery, policy development and execution, managing change and achieving results.

Helen Harris
Senior Manager, Centre for Housing Excellence, Ontario Non-Profit Housing Association

Helen Harris is the Senior Manager of the Centre for Housing Excellence at the Ontario Non-Profit Housing Association (ONPHA) where she works with a team of dedicated professionals on policy, research and education initiatives to lead transformation in Ontario’s community housing sector. Helen has focused her career on community housing and has worked in a variety of policy-focused and front-line housing roles. Helen holds a B.A. in Psychology, a Master of Social Work degree and a Master of Public Policy and Administration degree. She has also completed her Chartered Housing Professional Designation through the Chartered Institute of Housing Canada.

Zahra Ismail
Senior Director, Primary Care and Social Determinants, Ontario Health

Zahra Ismail is a results-driven healthcare leader with a track record of building high-functioning teams and implementing complex programs at the provincial and hospital level. She is currently the Senior Director, Primary Care and Social Determinants at Ontario Health. In this role, she provides strategic oversight and direction for program areas including primary care, patient reported measurement and health equity, and is responsible for the development and implementation of evidence-based, person-centred guidelines, performance measures and best practices. Prior to joining Ontario Health, Zahra was the Director of Operations for the Women’s College Hospital Institute for Health Systems Solutions and Virtual Care where she co-led a team of over 60 researchers conducting high impact implementation science and digital health evaluations. Previously, Zahra managed provincial programs at Cancer Care Ontario including psychosocial oncology, patient education and symptom management, and oversaw the development of the first strategic framework for oncology patient reported outcomes and symptom management in the province. Zahra holds a Masters of Health Administration from the University of British Columbia, where her thesis focused on the Cost-Effectiveness of Cancer Care Funding Decisions in Canada, and a Bachelors of Science and Business from the University of Waterloo. 

Jacqueline Johnson
OMSSA Board Member & Director, Community Access, Regional Municipality of Peel

In her current position, Jacqueline is spearheading implementation of the Province's Vision for Social Assistance in Peel; leading and championing the Employment Services Transformation, Life Stabilization and Centralized Intake prototypes as well as other critical modernization and recovery initiatives. Jacqueline is a leader in municipal government with over 16 years of experience. She has successfully led operational teams in the areas of Ontario Works, Early Years and Childcare and Integrated Business Support and managed high profile projects through Strategic Initiatives; having championed and managed the successful development and implementation of a variety of programs and services.

Garima Talwar Kapoor
Director, Policy and Research, Maytree Foundation

Garima Talwar Kapoor is the Director of Policy and Research with Maytree, a foundation committed to advancing solutions to poverty through a human rights approach. Prior to joining Maytree, Garima spent several years with the Ontario Public Service in progressively senior roles. Her work focused on understanding how changes in the labour market and economy impact population health and our social fabric, and helped develop policy initiatives that could help strengthen the income security system. Garima is driven by a passion to understand how civil society organizations, governments and private industry can work together to strengthen communities across Canada. She holds a Master of Public Health from the University of Toronto, and a Bachelor of Public Affairs and Policy Management from Carleton University. 

Jodie Kehl
Executive Director, Manitoba Child Care Association

Jodie Kehl is the Executive Director of the Manitoba Child Care Association (MCCA). MCCA is a non-profit,  non-partisan organization incorporated in 1974.  As the  proud voice of early learning and child care in Manitoba, MCCA is the largest provincial child care association in Canada, and an affiliate of the Canadian Child Care Federation. Its 4000+ members include licensed child care facilities, Early Childhood Educators and Child Care Assistants employed in licensed child care centres, Family Child Care Providers, students and associates who share an interest in high quality early learning and care.  In addition to advocacy, MCCA offers professional development to the ECE workforce through workshops, conferences and pedagogical institutes. MCCA acts as an ELCC advisor for numerous partners including Red River College, University of Winnipeg, the Minister‘s Consultation Table and the Social Planning Council of Manitoba.
Jodie became the Executive Director of MCCA in 2018. She has been extensively involved with the association since 2000. She was the President of MCCA‘s Provincial Board of Directors from 2012 – 2014 and the Manitoba representative to the Canadian Child Care Federation‘s Member Council from 2014 – 2016. Throughout her nearly 30 years involved in ELCC in Manitoba, Jodie has held numerous front line positions directly involved with child care programs. In addition, she worked as a CBA/PLA Advisor for the Province of Manitoba. Prior to her appointment at MCCA, she was the Executive Director of a not-for-profit, multi-site early learning and child care program.

The Honourable Stephen Lecce
Ontario Minister of Education

Stephen Lecce is the Minister of Education for the Province of Ontario and the Member of Provincial Parliament (MPP) for King-Vaughan. 

As Minister, Stephen is fighting for student success and is working to build an education system equipped to support our next generation. It is his mission to ensure that students are given every opportunity to develop the transferable skills needed to lead productive lives and secure good jobs. Stephen stands for an inclusive and equitable education system that believes our future, as a province and country, depends on unlocking the full potential of our youth.

Stephen's first experience in politics came in his hometown of Vaughan where he was involved in the 1999 election of the late MPP Al Palladini. Since then, he has served as the Chief Spokesperson for former Prime Minister, Stephen Harper, as Deputy Government House Leader, the Parliamentary Assistant to the Ministry of Infrastructure, and the Parliamentary Assistant to the Premier. 

Stephen is a community leader, who has devoted over half his life to public service. He continues to give back and support the people of King-Vaughan as MPP, and as the former First Vice President of the National Congress of Italian Canadians, an active member of the Vaughan Chamber of Commerce and former Youth Education Chair of Vaughan’s Royal Canadian Legion (Mackenzie Branch 414). Stephen lives in Vaughan, where he grew up, and remains active in his community.

Justin Marchand
Chief Executive Officer, Ontario Aboriginal Housing Services

Justin is Métis and was appointed Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Ontario Aboriginal Housing Services (OAHS) in 2018. Prior to that, he held the titles of Director of Corporate Operations and Programs Delivery Manager and has been with OAHS since 2009. Justin has 20 years of progressive experience in a broad range of sectors including two publicly listed corporations, a large accounting and consulting firm, and a major crown corporation, and holds numerous designations across financial, operations, and housing disciplines.

He was most recently selected as Chair of the Canadian Housing and Renewal Association’s (CHRA’s) Indigenous Caucus Working Group and is also board member for CHRA.  Justin is also an active board member for both the Coalition of Hamilton Indigenous Leadership (CHIL) as well as Shingwauk Kinoomaage Gamig, located in Bawaating.

Justin believes that Housing is a fundamental human right and that when Indigenous people have access to safe, affordable, and culture-based Housing this provides the opportunity to improve other areas of their life.

Brian Marks
Chief Administrative Officer, Cochrane District Social Services Administration Board

Brian Marks has the privilege of being the Chief Administrative Officer for the Cochrane District Social Services Administration Board (CDSSAB). Brian truly appreciates the opportunity to serve his CDSSAB coworkers as they provide Emergency Medical Services, Affordable Childcare, Affordable Housing, Income Security and Employment Services to the residents of Northeastern Ontario across 140,000 km2 and multiple municipalities.  

Brian has served on numerous provincial, regional and local boards with diverse mandates, from immigration to health care and literacy to addictions treatment.  Brian currently serves as the Chair of Housing Services Corporation, Chair of Living Space, and Chair of the Timmins Youth Wellness Hub. Brian is also the Ontario Chair for the Governor General‘s Canadian Leadership Conference for 2020-22.

Brian is a lifelong resident of Northeastern Ontario, save some time away to obtain his Honours Bachelor of Arts Degree and a Master‘s Degree of Business Administration. Brian is a husband, father and runner.

Dan McCormick
OMSSA Past President and Chief Administrative Officer, Rainy River DSSAB

John Michael McGrath
Staff Writer, TVO

John Michael McGrath is a writer and reporter for TVO.org, the website for Ontario‘s public broadcaster. Prior to coming to TVO, he worked for Queen‘s Park Briefing and his writing has also been published in the National Post, the Globe and Mail and Spacing Magazine. His writing focuses on how policy affects the everyday lives of Ontario residents, as long as MPPs aren‘t misbehaving.

Holly Moran
Assistant Deputy Minister, Early Years and Child Care Division, Ministry of Education

Holly Moran is the Assistant Deputy Minister of Early Years and Child Care Division at the Ministry of Education. Holly is returning to the Early Years and Child Care division following senior leadership roles in the ministry‘s Student Support and Field Services Division and Cabinet Office. She first joined the Ministry of Education in 2015 and led the modernization of child care licensing and enforcement following the passage of the Child Care and Early Years Act

Keith Palmer
Assistant Deputy Minister (Acting), Operational Support, Ministry of the Solicitor General

Keith Palmer began his role as the Assistant Deputy Minister of the Operational Support Division with the ministry on November 30, 2020. Prior to joining, Keith was leading the Social Assistance Operations Division as the Assistant Deputy Minister at the Ministry of Children, Community and Social Services (MCCSS). In his former role, he was a leader in the anti-racism space and partner with the Anti-Racism Directorate.   

Keith is a seasoned leader with 32 years of experience in human services with the past 20 years in various leadership roles within the public sector at both the provincial and municipal operational levels. Keith’s extensive experience leading complex programs, organizations and associations throughout his career has resulted in a focus on modernization and transformational management. He prides himself on being an inclusive and participatory leader who places an emphasis on building relationships, rolling up his sleeves and understanding operational issues from the source in order to develop appropriate solutions. 

Prior to joining the OPS, Keith was the Director of Human Services in Dufferin County where he oversaw a broad human services portfolio, which also included the Emergency Management Office. Keith has worked with multiple levels of government and appreciates the importance of horizontal and vertical stakeholder management.

Originally from Jamaica, Keith grew up in several Toronto Housing Communities across the GTA and shares his life experience to coach, model and mentor others. Keith has a passion for leadership, and truly enjoys seeing others leading with or without titles. 

Josh Paul
Assistant Deputy Minister, Housing Division, Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing

Josh Paul joined the Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing in October 2019 as the Assistant Deputy Minister, Housing Division. In this role, Joshua leads a multidisciplinary team in implementing Ontario’s housing and homelessness programming, supporting legislative and regulatory changes impacting the housing market, negotiating federal-provincial agreements, and managing complex stakeholder relationships across all 49 municipal and indigenous housing service managers. Prior to this role, Josh was the Assistant Deputy Minister of the Ministry of Education’s Capital and Business Support Division overseeing school board capital programs. Josh also served in the Ministry of Finance for 14 years.

Jean Samuel
Principal, Arise International Consulting

Jean Samuel has worked in the Diversity field for over 20 years, and her most recent role was as the Provincial Director of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion for the Ontario Association of Children’s Aid Societies, where she worked to support the development of equitable services, programs and processes for children, youth, families, and staff.  

Jean is a graduate of the University of Toronto and is a Certified Change Management Professional, as well as a trained facilitator of Anti-Racism and Anti-Oppressive Practice.   Jean also holds the designation as a Certified Canadian Inclusion Professional (CCIPTM) from the Canadian Centre for Diversity & Inclusion, and she is passionate about social justice, human rights, and equity.  

Her motto is ‘Be hard on the issues but gentle with people, and she brings a unique perspective, and uses her talents to build awareness and understanding of how unconscious and conscious biases contribute to the marginalization and oppression of individuals in society.  As a consultant, she works with Governors, Senior Executives and staff in the education, healthcare, social service, and legal systems, driving them to better understand their role in creating equitable and inclusive organizations to support the dismantling of individual, systemic, and structural discrimination and oppression.   

Jean is most proud of her work in the area community engagement to support the progress towards more equitable and inclusive workplace environments, to which she nominated and earned a finalist position for the 2019 International Peace Awards under the category of Multiculturalism and Diversity. 

Simone Swail
Manager, Government Relations, Co-Operative Housing Federation of Canada

Simone Swail is the Manager of Government Relations for the Co-operative Housing Federation of Canada (CHF Canada), the national voice for the Canadian co-operative housing movement. With a primary focus on Ontario, she works to raise the profile of affordable housing issues and advocates for better housing policies from all levels of government. She played a key role in the campaign to secure ongoing subsidies for low-income members in federal housing co-ops and collaborated with Ontario Non-Profit Housing Association to create an Affordable Housing Plan for Ontario. 

Armine Yalnizyan
Atkinson Fellow on the Future of Workers

Armine is a leading voice on Canada‘s economic scene. She was senior economic policy advisor to the Deputy Minister of Employment and Social Development Canada in 2018 and 2019, and serves on Ministers Freeland and Fortier‘s Task Group on Women In The Economy. Armine helped shape the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives‘ Inequality Project from 2006 to 2016, and has worked with the Mowat Centre, the Institute of Fiscal Studies and Democracy, and Policy Horizons, the Government of Canada's foresight department. From 2012 to mid-2018 she provided weekly business commentary for CBC Radio‘s Metro Morning and CBC TV‘s premier business show On The Money (formerly the Lang and O‘Leary Exchange). She now writes a bi-weekly business column for the Toronto Star and offers cutting edge economic commentary through her newsletter and vlog, This Minute.