With Master’s degrees in Social Work and in Healthcare Administration, Tom enjoyed a storied career in community services and in mental health care and planning in Manitoba and in Ontario, before being named CEO of the George Jeffrey Children’s Centre in Thunder Bay. Tom has been recognized for his many professional contributions with the Queen’s Golden Jubilee Medal, the Elizabeth Manson Award for Community Service in Mental Health, and the Thunder Bay City Council’s Citizen of Exceptional Achievement Award. While he is moving on from his professional career, Tom continues to contribute as an active and dedicated volunteer with regional, provincial and national organizations.
Nagham is a Social Worker in Developmental Pediatrics and Rehabilitation at McMaster Children’s Hospital, a position that brings an understanding of the complex psychosocial needs of children and their families.As an Arabic speaking and visibly Muslim clinician, Nagham connects with many non-English speakers in their first language and is passionate about meeting the needs of newcomer children and their families. She is committed to ensuring that vulnerable children and families have their voices and needs represented at decision-making tables. Nagham has non-profit board experience and is the founding president of Mishka Social Services, a social service organization that aims to provide culturally relevant services for Muslim and Muslim-adjacent peoples and cultures. Nagham is committed to bringing an intersectional approach to the work of the board to create equitable and inclusive pathways for those experiencing marginalization and systemic barriers to accessing care. She brings this focus on equity, diversity and inclusion, together with corporate experience in EDI, to Empowered Kids Ontario.
Paul is a communications and marketing professional with experience in the not- for-profit, fundraising, health care, education, and government sectors. He currently leads all marketing and communications activities for Toronto Metropolitan University’s Ted Rogers School of Management, Canada’s largest English-language business school. Prior to his work in communications, Paul served as a daily newspaper reporter in Winnipeg, Ottawa and Toronto.
A passionate, student achievement oriented educator, Lisa is known for creating learning cultures, monitoring for improvement, and building policies and practices for inclusion. Lisa brings deep experience as a teacher and principal to her current role as a superintendent of education, responsible for 17 schools, as well as the safe and caring schools policy agenda focused on what works best to support students in feeling safe and included in schools. She has also served as the system principal at the Toronto District School Board Virtual School, providing extensive professional development opportunities and implementing strategies to eliminate systemic barriers for students and parents.
Kevin is President and CEO of Easter Seals Ontario. Born with cerebral palsy and having served as a Provincial Easter Seals Ambassador in 1976, Kevin has the ability to relate to the children Easter Seals serves and often acts as a mentor, empowering others to reach their full potential. As President and CEO, Kevin works diligently to ensure the children, teens and families Easter Seals Ontario serves experience greater independence, freedom and dignity through funding for essential mobility and accessibility equipment, fully accessible summer camp and online camp programs, public awareness and post secondary scholarships. Along with serving for over 18 years as Executive Director at We Care, Kevin has many years of experience in the hospitality sector and has been an active community member with a strong background in strategic planning and Board governance.
A senior healthcare executive, Andra brings lived experience as the mother of a child with disabilities and a pediatric physiotherapist. She worked at Grandview Children’s Centre before transitioning into a leadership role on the Board of Directors. Through her life and work experience, she knows very well what it is like to treat children with disabilities and their caregivers, both the triumphs and the challenges. Her advanced education and professional skills have enabled Andra to quickly influence positive change as she led portfolios in acute care, community care and tertiary care. Patient and family engagement is near to her heart, and she has a record of successfully embedding lived experience into quality councils, team meetings and hiring panels to radically push the quality of services offered.
Tina is a lawyer with over 30 years’ experience in professional regulation and governance. She currently acts as General Counsel for the College of Medical Radiation and Imaging Technologists of Ontario. Tina also has a master’s degree in education and is passionate about providing effective and engaging training and education for board and committee members in the regulatory sector. Tina was first introduced to the child development and rehabilitation sector when her son was diagnosed at Children’s Treatment Network of Simcoe-York. She later served as a Board director for CTN for six years, including three years as Board Chair.
As the Chief Operating Officer at Halton Healthcare, Carole is committed to ensuring an exceptional patient and staff experiences; and improving patient outcomes. Carole holds a HBsCN from Lakehead University and MBA from Wilfrid Laurier University with many years experience as a health care leader. She is a passionate advocate for improving the care continuum for children and youth with disabilities bringing the parent voice to her work in this area. Carole is a dedicated volunteer serving the boards of several organizations including Children’s Treatment Network of Simcoe-York and DeafBlind Ontario Services. She also volunteers as a skating coach with special needs speed skaters. As a parent, Carole considers herself “a long-time customer” of Ontario’s child development sector and its services.
Lois is a Chartered Professional Accountant and a recently retired audit partner at KPMG LLP, after 39 years. She is a life-long resident of St. Catharines, a mom, and grandmother to a handsome grandson who lives with cerebral palsy and is a client of Niagara Children’s Centre.Through her day job Lois worked with not-for-profit organizations and is familiar with their unique needs and challenges. Lois assisted her clients with developing good governance policies and processes to provide oversight to the organization’s employees. She has served on a number of boards including Alzheimer Society Niagara, and Niagara Children’s Centre. Lois is currently Treasurer and a board member at Lifepointe Bible Church, and also provides volunteer bookkeeping services to Living Waters Life Centre.
As Director of Information and Instructional Technology Services at the University of Toronto Scarborough, Zoran is responsible for IT infrastructure, services and information security for the campus with over 13,000 students and more than 650 staff and faculty.Zoran holds an M.A. and M.I.St. from the University of Toronto and has over 15 years of experience in various IT roles. Recently, he has been focusing on the implementation of continual service improvement methodology and has been pursuing ITIL and LEAN Six Sigma certifications. During his career he has received UofT’s Excellence through Innovation Award in 2011 and in 2016.Zoran is an avid basketball supporter—both of Toronto’s Raptors and of players who enjoy the sport just for fun. He has been involved with his community basketball organization for 15 years, including as a board director and 10 years as a head coach. In 2008, he was recognized by the Toronto Raptors as a BMO Community Hero of the Game for his contributions as a volunteer basketball coach.
Sara wears many hats—including writer, speaker, and educator. Sara says thatwhile she and her partner Ralph celebrate all four of their children’s unique gifts andabilities, they are often challenged by the complex care needs of their two youngest.These challenges have fed a passionate interest with child development and familyengagement. Sara has been involved in the child development and rehabilitationsector through Niagara Children’s Centre as a support parent, and she has servedin several roles alongside CanChild Centre for Childhood Disability Research. Sara iscommitted to the vision of cultivating communities of belonging, with families, careproviders and support organizations collaborating to provide, affirm and encourageideas that help children, youth and families flourish.
Jessica Sartori is the CEO of the John McGivney Children’s Centre in Windsor. Before joining JMCC in Oct. 2019, Jessica served as the Director of Quality Assurance at the Windsor-Essex Children’s Aid Society and as the Manager of Community Impact and Learning at the United Way Windsor-Essex County. Prior to this she held several other research and leadership roles, and has been heavily involved in the community, including serving as a Trustee for the Greater Essex County District School Board for 8 years, where she was elected Chairperson in 2019. Jessica holds a PhD in Applied Social Psychology from the University of Windsor, and lives in Windsor with her husband, Doug, daughter, Kat, and their two cats, Stormy and Rocky.
Susan Vanagas-Cote is passionate about empowering children and youth with disabilities and their families. Susan dedicated her career as a Speech- Language pathologist to treating individuals with communicative disorders— early on working with adults before moving to administration, clinical supervision, and treatment for kids with language, speech and feeding issues. As Executive Director for THRIVE Child Development Centre in Sault Ste. Marie, Susan made significant contributions to building the agency’s governance and operational structures in order to deliver high quality, consumer- oriented services. In her retirement, Susan volunteers her time in tutoring little people, in companionship and conversation with senior citizens and In her retirement, Susan volunteers her time in tutoring little people, in companionship and conversation with senior citizens and serves as a director on several local Boards.
Dr. Mohammad Zubairi is a physician, researcher, teacher and advocate. He is currently a Developmental Pediatrician at Ron Joyce Children’s Health Centre and Medical Director for the McMaster Children’s Hospital Autism Program in Hamilton. Dr. Zubairi is an Associate Professor of Pediatrics and Program Director for the Pediatric Residency Program at McMaster University. He also serves as Chair for the Physicians of Ontario NeuroDevelopmental Advocacy (PONDA) Network. He is a frequent presenter at conferences, and his work has been presented in journals, editorials, and webinars.
As CEO of Empowered Kids Ontario-Enfants Avenir Ontario (EKO), Jennifer Churchill leads the association through a significant period of growth and change, as the province continues to innovate in its approaches to the delivery of community based health care in child development and rehabilitation. She is respected as a collaborative partner by colleagues in a sector for which Ontario is known across Canada and around the world as a leader in both child disability research and care. During her tenure at EKO the association has modernized its governance, expanded its membership, and developed relationships that ensure EKO’s voice represents a broad range of stakeholders. Jennifer joined EKO after more than 25 years in the health and government sectors. She has a degree in Social Work, a Master’s Certificate in Municipal Management and Executive Leadership Certification.