Overview | February 17 (Pre-Conference) | February 18-19 (Main Conference) | Speakers

Pre-Conference Presenters

Andrea Bodkin, MPH
HC Link Coordinator,  Health Nexus

Andrea has been working in the field of health promotion and public health for twelve years and is the Coordinator at HC Link. HC Link works with community groups, organizations, and partnerships to build healthy, vibrant communities across Ontario. One of Ontario’s 14 government funded Health Promotion Resource Centres, HC Link has considerable experience in supporting public health units and other organizations in the areas of partnership development, coalition building and community engagement.

Andrea holds a Master’s degree in Public Health with a specialty in Health Promotion.  Andrea is passionate about developing and maintaining effective and meaningful relationships to further health promotion and public health goals. She believes that the health of children, families and communities can only be positively affected if we all work together. Recently Andreas has been working with several breastfeeding/BFI networks and coalitions to support the development of community partnerships. As an experienced facilitator and presenter, Andrea specializes in working with groups to identify their learning needs and the context in which they operate. She uses active icebreakers and innovative facilitation techniques to present material and engage participants in their own learning. Andrea believes in harvesting the wisdom of the groups that she works with and encourages them to think creatively.

Wendy Katherine
Project Director, OMama Project

Wendy Katherine is the Project Director of the OMama Project, started by BORN Ontario with the support of eHealth Ontario. She is an alumnus of the University of Toronto’s Masters of Business Administration program and is currently Principal Consultant at Phoenix Health Consulting.  Among the first regulated midwives in Ontario, Wendy provided reproductive health care for 15 years before joining government to lead health care improvement programs and strategies. Wendy is passionate about improving care for families and, as an innovator and advocate of quality and value in policy, led ministry projects that included the Ontario Midwifery Program, the Better Outcomes Registry and Network (BORN), the Provincial Council of Maternal Child Health, Prenatal and Newborn Screening Ontario, the Health Equity Impact Assessment, the Integrated Cancer Screening Strategy, among others. Wendy is a published author and speaker on the subjects of healthcare quality, midwifery, child health and maternal health.

Gillian Kranias, M.E.S.
Bilingual Health Promotion Consultant,  Health Nexus

Gillian has worked in community health for 25 years. As a health promotion consultant with HC Link, she shares creative perspectives, key insights and practical approaches to help groups and programs develop better plans, stronger partnerships and relevant evaluations. Recently, she co-led a series of HC Link webinars on Collaborative Partnerships which explored the six activities of effective partnerships and featured collaborative leaders from across Ontario. She has also taught tailored workshops to health unit teams on topics such as partnership development and community development approaches.

Prior to joining Health Nexus, Gillian worked as a health planner at a large Community Health Centre. She helped the organization to refine its strategy for nurturing effective, mutually beneficial referral partnerships with physicians and pharmacists. As an adult educator, Gillian leads with a participatory style. Her learning events build on the group’s prior knowledge, add simple theory/tools, and support participants to problem-solve their challenges and identify practical next steps to achieve better outcomes within their initiatives.

Sharon Lobo
Physician Outreach Specialist, Peel Public Health

Sharon Lobo is currently the Physician Outreach Specialist at Peel Public Health. She has an Honours Bachelor of Science in Molecular Genetics and Molecular Biology and a Masters in Biotechnology from the University of Toronto. She has seven years of experience in the pharmaceutical industry where she has held positions in Regulatory Affairs, Reimbursement, Business Development and Sales. She has spent the last five years with Peel Public Health as their Physician Outreach Specialist based in the Office of the Medical Officer of Health and has a centralized role serving all five public health divisions in matters involving physicians.

Kathleen Patterson
Gestionnaire, programme La Passerelle, Centre francophone de Toronto

Formée en psychologie, en santé mentale infantile et en éducation, Mme Patterson travaille dans le domaine de la santé mentale auprès des enfants, des jeunes et des familles depuis 15 ans. Elle a œuvré à titre de conseillère, psychothérapeute, coordonnatrice et gestionnaire de programme, ainsi que de consultante en santé mentale. Les défis comportementaux, les troubles de l’apprentissage, les troubles de l’attachement ainsi que les enjeux liés au développement de l’enfant sont ses principaux champs d’intérêts. Le souci de travailler selon une approche systémique et collaborative afin d’inclure tous les partenaires impliqués dans la vie et le bien-être de chaque enfant sont au cœur de sa pratique.

Jo-Anne Robertson
Health Promotion Consultant,  Best Start Resource Centre

Jo-Anne Robertson is a Health Promotion Consultant with a background in early child development and public health. Jo-Anne is committed to working with community stakeholders to promote the optimal development of young children. Her areas of interest include infant mental health, equity issues and healthy weights.

Ruth Schofield, RN, BScN, MSc(T)
Associate Professor, School of Nursing, McMaster University; past President and current Chair, Leadership Competencies for Public Health Practice, Community Health Nurses of Canada (CHNC); Co-chair, Canadian Association of Schools of Nursing (CASN) Task Force on Public Health

Ruth Schofield is a nursing professor with experience in undergraduate curriculum development, implementation and evaluation of community health nursing education for the past 15 years.  Her research is in community health nursing, nursing education, and mental health and housing with a number of peer-review publications. Ruth has over 23 years of public health nursing practice and administration in various programs including Heathy Babies Healthy Children (HBHC). Ruth has held professional nursing leadership roles as President of Community Health Nurses of Canada (CHNC) and Community Health Nurses Initiatives Group of the Registered Nurses of Ontario (RNAO); Member of the RNAO and Ontario Public Health Association Board of Directors; and currently is the Co-chair of the Canadian Association of Schools of Nursing (CASN) Task Force on Public Health and CHNC Chair of the Leadership Competencies for Public Health practice in Canada, Steering Committee. She has participated in the development of the CASN Entry-to-Practice Public Health Nursing competencies for undergraduate nursing education (2014), revisions of the Canadian community health nursing standards of practice (2011) and development of the Canadian Community Health Nursing professional practice model visual (2013); and the development of the public health nursing discipline specific competencies (2009).

Matthuschka Sheedy, RN, BNSc, ICCE
Health Promotion Consultant - Prenatal Education, Best Start Resource Centre

Matthuschka Sheedy is an RN and ICEA certified childbirth educator who joined Best Start in February 2014 as a Health Promotion Consultant focusing on Prenatal Education. She has extensive experience in the maternal infant health field as a Labour and Delivery Nurse, childbirth educator and Coordinator of the Prenatal Education Program at Mount Sinai Hospital in Toronto. She is passionate about providing expectant families with the most current, evidence based information available to ensure they are able to make informed decisions throughout their pregnancy, birth and beyond.

Penny Simkin, PT
Physical Therapist, Author, Doula, Childbirth Educator, Birth Counselor

Penny Simkin, PT, is a physical therapist who has specialized in childbirth education and labor support since 1968. She estimates she has prepared over 13,000 women, couples and siblings for childbirth. She has assisted hundreds of women and couples through childbirth as a doula. She is author or co-author of books for both parents and professionals, including “The Labor Progress Handbook;” “Pregnancy, Childbirth and the Newborn: The Complete Guide;” “When Survivors Give Birth: Understanding and Healing the Effects of Early Sexual Abuse on Childbearing Women;” “The Birth Partner: A Complete Guide to Childbirth for Dads, Doulas and All Other Labor Companions”. She has developed teaching materials for birth classes and produced several videos for educators, doulas and families, the latest of which is for siblings-to-be, “There’s a Baby.” She is co-founder of DONA International (formerly Doulas of North America) and PATTCh (Prevention and Treatment of Traumatic Childbirth). Currently, she serves on the editorial board of the journal, Birth: Issues in Perinatal Care, and serves as senior faculty of the Simkin Center for Allied Birth Vocations at Bastyr University, which was named in her honor. Today, her practice consists of childbirth education, birth counseling and labor support, combined with a busy schedule of conferences and workshops. Penny and her husband, Peter, have four grown children and eight grandchildren from 11 to 28 years of age, two grandchildren-in-laws, and a pug, Lola. Find out more about Penny at her website: www.pennysimkin.com.

Teri Sousa
Public Health Nurse, Region of Waterloo Public Health

Teri Sousa has been a Public Health Nurse (PHN) in the Healthy Babies Healthy Children Program (HBHC) with the Region of Waterloo for 15 years. During her time in HBHC, Teri has functioned as a Team Co-ordinator, Hospital Liaison, and currently as a Screening Liaison PHN. Teri enjoys working with many community partners to ensure families are screened in order to identify how they would benefit most from the HBHC Program. Teri is very passionate about empowering parents through evidenced-based knowledge and by providing access to services to assist them in feeling confident as parents and making the best choices for their families.

Penny Van Esterik
Professor Emerita of Anthropology, York University

Penny Van Esterik is Professor Emerita of Anthropology, recently retired from York University, Toronto, where she taught nutritional anthropology, advocacy anthropology and feminist theory. Her fieldwork was primarily in Southeast Asia (Thailand and Lao PDR). She is a founding member of WABA (World Alliance for Breastfeeding Action) and has developed advocacy materials on breastfeeding and women’s work, breastfeeding and feminism, environmental contaminants and infant feeding and breastfeeding as infant food security. Her publications include varied academic and advocacy articles on breastfeeding.

Mary-Jean Watson, RN, MSc., CCNH(C)
Program Manager, Simcoe Muskoka District Health Unit

Mary-Jean Watson is a Healthy Babies Healthy Children Manager at Simcoe Muskoka District Health Unit. Throughout her extensive career as a manager, public health nurse and as a Catholic Children’s Aid Society Health Specialist she has engaged in developing and strengthening partnerships.  She has been actively involved in Infant Mental Health Promotion and is a Director on a CAS Board. She currently participates on the Child, Youth and Family Services Coalition of Simcoe County, Planning Table and Best Start Network. Mary-Jean obtained her Masters of Science from University of Toronto and Bachelor of Nursing from University of Manitoba.

Keynote Speakers

Dr. Cindy Blackstock
Executive Director, First Nations Child and Family Caring Society of Canada; Associate Professor, University of Alberta 

A member of the Gitksan First Nation, Cindy has 25 years of social work experience in child protection and Indigenous children’s rights.

Her promotion of culturally based and evidence informed solutions has been recognized by the Nobel Women’s Initiative, the Aboriginal Achievement Foundation, Frontline Defenders and many others. An author of over 50 publications and a widely sought after public speaker, Cindy has collaborated with other Indigenous leaders to assist the United Nations Committee on the Rights of the Child in the development and adoption of a General Comment on the Rights of Indigenous children. She also recently worked with Indigenous young people, UNICEF and the United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues to produce a youth friendly version of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.

Cindy is currently completing a Master of Jurisprudence in Children’s Law and Policy at the Loyola University Chicago.

Daniel Flanders, MDCM, FRCPC, FAAP
Pediatrician; Childhood Obesity Specialist; Owner/Executive Director, Kindercare Pediatrics

Dr. Flanders is the owner and executive director of Kindercare Pediatrics, a multi and inter-disciplinary pediatric outpatient centre in Toronto.  He has special interest in pediatric primary care, nutrition, obesity and feeding disorders. He has nearly 10 years of experience providing clinical care to children struggling with childhood obesity, initially out of the North York General Hospital's Pediatric Nutrition Program, and more recently, the Kindercare Pediatrics Nutrition and Healthy Lifestyle program. Dr. Flanders completed his undergraduate and medical education at McGill University and pediatrics training at the University of Toronto's Hospital for Sick Children. He is on staff at the North York General Hospital and is an adjunct lecturer at the University of Toronto's Department of Pediatrics, Faculty of Medicine.

Pierre Harrison, M.Sc, B.Ed, OCT/EAO

Pierre grew up in the vast forest wonderland of Northern Ontario, Canada. He enjoyed a playful childhood filled with bumps and scrapes, wonder and adventure, and eventually earned a B.Sc in Biochemistry, a M.Sc in Protein Chemistry and a B.Ed with qualifications to teach at the junior, intermediate and senior levels in Ontario. Pierre has been involved in non-formal and informal science education since 1985 and has workked at various education centres in the province of Ontario as well as in Europe and the USA. In 2003, Pierre launched PLAYLearnThink, a social enterprise focused on promoting the importance of play as an essential stepping stone towards a life of learning.

Pierre has spoken on the topic of play and learning for various audiences in Canada, the USA and Europe. In 2014, Pierre toured the province of Ontario with the Ministry of Education training kindergarten teachers, educators, school principals and school board and ministry personnel on the importance of play and learning through play. Pierre knows that play is a cornerstone of children's healthy cognitive, emotional, social and physical development and he is dedicated to fostering creativity, nurturing innovation, promoting science literacy and encouraging life-long learning through play and science communication. Pierre is the current chair of the Canadian branch of the International Play Association. He lives with his partner Susanne and their 6 year old son Tom (from whom he learns much) in an off-grid, straw bale house nestled within 10 hectares of the most beautiful natural playground: the Boreal Forest and Canadian Shield of Northern Ontario, where adventures abound and imagination soars.

Vicki Van Wagner, RM, PhD
Member of Council, Provincial Council for Maternal and Child Health; Associate Professor, Midwifery Education Program, Ryerson

Vicki is a registered midwife in Ontario and Quebec and practices in both Toronto and in Nunavik (Quebec).  She was the first director of the Ryerson Midwifery Education Programme from 1993-1998 and is currently an Associate Professor at the Ryerson Midwifery Education Program.  Vicki was part of the team that advocated for and developed midwifery regulation and education in Ontario as part of the AOM and CMO and has been practicing midwifery since 1980 in Toronto. She was co-chair of the 2004-5 Ontario Maternity Care Expert Panel and currently sits on the Provincial Maternal and Newborn Advisory Committee to advise the Ministry of Health on maternity care policy.  Vicki is currently working on her PhD, exploring the application of evidence-based practice in maternity care.  Other research interests: northern and remote midwifery, the debate about CS by choice, “normal” childbirth, clinical education.

Concurrent Session Speakers

Dr. Kristi Adamo
Associate Professor, Faculty of Health Sciences and Faculty of Medicine's Department of Pediatrics, University of Ottawa; Founding Member, Healthy Active Living and Obsesity (HALO) Research Group, Children's Hospital of Eastern Ontario Research Institute (CHEO RI)

Dr. Kristi Adamo is an Associate Professor with the University of Ottawa Faculty of Health Sciences and the Faculty of Medicine’s department of Pediatrics. She is also a founding member of the Healthy Active Living and Obesity (HALO) Research Group at the Children’s Hospital of Eastern Ontario Research Institute (CHEO RI). She has a multidisciplinary background that includes an undergraduate degree in Human Kinetics, a Master’s degree in Physiology and a Doctorate in Cellular and Molecular Medicine. Dr. Adamo’s research program, Power of Prevention in the Early Years, focuses on early lifestyle intervention and upstream prevention of childhood obesity. Specifically, her research team explores the applicability of healthy active living intervention strategies during key phases of growth, development and determination of long term health (intrauterine, preschool, elementary school). Dr. Adamo’s unorthodox background has uniquely positioned her to undertake lifestyle intervention trials that look at traditional physiological, anthropometric and metabolic outcomes but also incorporate biochemical or cellular aspects where appropriate. She was a member of the leadership team for the development of the 5As for Healthy Pregnancy Weight Gain. Kristi currently holds a Canadian Institutes of Health Research New Investigator Award from the Institute of Human Development, Child and Youth Health and is the 2015 recipient of the Canadian Obesity Network’s Faculty Supervisor Award and the Canadian Society for Exercise Physiology’s Young Investigator Award. Her most successful experiments to date have resulted in the birth of her two daughters, Kysia in 2007and Mallea in 2009.

Candace Aqui
NRC Consultant, Ontario Public Health Association, Nutrition Resource Centre

Candace Aqui is the NRC consultant and joined the NRC in September 2015. Previously, she has worked for Ministry of Health and Long Term Care, as well as for Cancer Care Ontario in research/coordinator roles. She holds a BSc in Psychology from the University of Waterloo, BASc in Nutrition and Food from Ryerson University and is currently completing her Master’s in Public Health at the Dalla Lana School of Public Health at the University of Toronto. Candace’s primary responsibilities include overseeing program and resource development, building and maintaining communication strategies, conducting research projects and supporting communities of practice.

Joanne Beyers, MA, RD
Foundational Standard Specialist, Health Promotion Division, Sudbury & District Health Unit

Jo has worked as a hospital Registered Dietitian, a Public Health Nutritionist and Researcher for the past 30 years in northern Ontario. Her areas of interest include: public health performance management and accountability measures; healthy weights and primary prevention of eating disorders; and child and family health. As one of the co-founders of NutriSTEP®, jo has been part of a successful academic and public health collaborative research team which has dozens of partners in public health, education, primary health across Canada. Jo’s skills are in knowledge mobilization - bridging policy, practice and academia. Current academic appointments are at the Northern School of Medicine, the University of Toronto, and Laurentian University. Working for almost 15 years at a provincial teaching health unit has taught her the importance of fostering relationships with many sectors – researchers, policy analysts, government officials, local and provincial grounded public health staff, primary health care providers, NGOs, and non-traditional stakeholders. Her latest position at the Sudbury & District Health Unit is as one of four Foundational Standard Specialists whose primary function is to guide staff to make evidence-informed decisions to ensure effective and efficient programming.

Sonya Boersma
Health Promotion Consultant, BFI Implementation for Ontario

Sonya has extensive experience as a lactation consultant in numerous settings, particularly breastfeeding clinics and independently. As a registered nurse she has worked in public health for 12 years and has taught nursing students postpartum clinical. In recent years she completed her Master’s of Science in Nursing where she led and implemented a hand expression quality improvement project at a large, multi-site teaching hospital. Sonya joined the BFI Strategy for Ontario team as a health promotion consultant in 2014. Prior to that she was involved with the Best Start Resource Centre in drafting the BFI Implementation Toolkit, and researching evidence for the BFI Evidence Informed Key Messages and Resources Manual. She is passionate in supporting best practice in working with families, front line staff and service providers.

Marie Brisson
Bilingual Health Promotion Consultant, Best Start Resource Centre

Marie has extensive experience in training development and delivery, and facilitation to respond to the needs of individuals, families or communities. She worked in numerous public health programs as well as in the private sector. Marie has a degree in Nursing and diplomas in adult education and workplace health and safety.

Louise Choquette
Bilingual Health Promotion Consultant, Best Start Resource Centre

Louise has been with the Best Start Resource Centre since 2005, where she has led initiatives such as reaching Francophones, reproductive and child health of newcomers, physical activity, prenatal education and tobacco control. Her formal education is in Communications and Educational Technology. Louise has two adult children.

Cam Collyer
Executive Director, Programs, Evergreen

Mr. Collyer oversees community programming at Evergreen, a national charity and leader in the development of dynamic, nature rich outdoor play and learning environments for children. Cam has led the development of a national network of landscape designers, pioneered partnerships with Canadian school boards, overseen research collaborations, co-founded the International School Ground Alliance and has been on the design team of high profile children’s spaces in Canada including Ryerson’s Early Learning Lab and the Children’s garden at Evergreen Brick Works.

Kara DeCorby
Senior Product Development Advisor, Health Promotion Capacity Building, Public Health Ontario

Kara DeCorby is a Senior Product Development Advisor working on the Health Promotion Capacity Building team at Public Health Ontario, which she joined in 2014. Kara directs the development of all knowledge products at a departmental level to build the capacity of Ontario’s public health and health care intermediaries. Kara is responsible for quality control, usability testing, evaluation and translation. Kara brings over twelve years of experience developing and managing research projects in health sciences, leading and contributing to evidence synthesis, information exchange, methods development and critical appraisal. She aims to bring an evidence-informed approach to communications strategies, operating procedures and developing knowledge products.

Katie Fleming
Knowledge Broker, Canadian Centre on Substance Abuse

Katie Fleming is a Knowledge Broker at the Canadian Centre on Substance Abuse, which has a legislated mandate to provide national leadership and evidence-informed analysis and advice to mobilize collaborative efforts to reduce alcohol- and other drug-related harms. In this role, Katie is responsible for developing relationships and networks with relevant stakeholders and partners by providing linkages and knowledge sources to organizations in CCSA’s network. She earned a MA in Criminology from the University Of Ontario Institute Of Technology in 2012. Her focus at CCSA is in the areas of cannabis use, drug-impaired driving and prescription drug misuse.

Dr. Laura Haiek
Direction Générale de la Santé Publique, Québec’s Ministère de la Santé et des Services Sociaux; Assistant Professor, Department of Family Medicine, McGill University

Dr. Laura Haiek is a Montreal family physician with masters’ degrees in Human Nutrition and Epidemiology and Biostatistics. She works since 2009 for Québec’s Ministère de la Santé et des Services sociaux. She is an assistant professor at McGill's Department of Family Medicine and her teaching activities are based at St. Mary’s hospital. Dr. Haiek also has a part-time Family Medicine practice that includes a Baby Clinic and a Breastfeeding Clinic. Among her research interests, she has developed a methodology to monitor compliance with the Baby-Friendly Initiative (BFI). She also participates in a Nordic-countries working group that has expanded the BFI to neonatal wards.

Gwen Healey
Executive and Scientific Director, Qaujigiartiit Health Research Centre (AHRN-NU)

Gwen Healey was born and raised in Iqaluit, Nunavut and it is in this community that she continues to live and work with her family. Gwen is the Executive and Scientific Director of the Qaujigiartiit Health Research Centre (AHRN-NU) in Iqaluit, NU. She completed her PhD in Public Health at the University of Toronto in 2015, where she studied youth and parent perspectives on sexual health and relationships in Nunavut.

It is well-known in Canada that northerners face a number of challenging circumstances when it comes to health. There are also tremendous strengths in communities to address local health concerns, such as a willingness to work together, traditions and customs that support healthy lifestyles and activity and strong cultural pride. Drawing upon existing community strengths and resources, and building capacity to conduct research in the North, is the key to addressing a number of health concerns presently and over the coming years. For this reason, Gwen founded the Qaujigiartiit Health Research Centre (AHRN-NU) in 2006. The goal of the Centre is to enable health research to be conducted locally, by northerners, and with communities in a supportive, safe, culturally-responsive and ethical environment, as well as to promote the inclusion of both Inuit Qaujimajatuqangit and western sciences in addressing health concerns, creating healthy environments and improving the health of Nunavummiut.

Since Qaujigiartiit's inception in 2006, Qaujigiartiit has successfully brought over $8 million dollars in research and training grants into Nunavut, and more than 400 Nunavummiut have led, partnered on, or participated in research projects and training workshops in Nunavut during that time.

Dr. Chaya Kulkarni, BA, M.Ed, Ed.D
Director, Infant Mental Health Promotion (IMHP), The Hospital for Sick Children, Toronto

Dr. Chaya Kulkarni is Director of Infant Mental Health Promotion (IMHP), a professional coalition dedicated to promoting optimal mental health outcomes for infants, based out of The Hospital for Sick Children in Toronto.  Prior to joining IMHP, Chaya was VP, Parent and Professional Education at Invest in Kids, and has also served as Senior Policy Analyst and Researcher for the Office of the Official Opposition, Queen’s Park. Chaya is also a Professor at Seneca in the Bachelor of Child Development degree program.

Sharon Lobo
Physician Outreach Specialist, Peel Public Health

Sharon Lobo is currently the Physician Outreach Specialist at Peel Public Health. She has an Honours Bachelor of Science in Molecular Genetics and Molecular Biology and a Masters in Biotechnology from the University of Toronto. She has seven years of experience in the pharmaceutical industry where she has held positions in Regulatory Affairs, Reimbursement, Business Development and Sales. She has spent the last five years with Peel Public Health as their Physician Outreach Specialist based in the Office of the Medical Officer of Health and has a centralized role serving all five public health divisions in matters involving physicians. 

Laurie McLeod-Shabogesic
Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder Program Coordinator, Union of Ontario Indians

Laurie McLeod-Shabogesic is an Ojibwe member of the Nipissing First Nation. She has been the Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder Program Coordinator for the Union of Ontario Indians, for the past 13 years, providing prenatal, health and cultural programming to 39 First Nations in Ontario.

Jackie Muresan
Analyst, Research & Policy, Family Health Division, Peel Public Health

Jackie Muresan is an Analyst, Research & Policy working in the Family Health Division at Peel Public Health.  Jackie also has experience working as a prenatal educator and public health nurse in the prenatal and early post-partum period.  Previously, she worked as a Knowledge Broker at the National Collaborating Centre for Methods and Tools (NCCMT) where she developed and facilitated educational activities to build capacity for evidence-informed decision making in public health.

Kristina Niedra, MA
Project Manager, BFI Strategy for Ontario and City of Toronto MCIT Program

Kristina Niedra has an MA in Public Policy and Administration from Ryerson University. She has worked at Toronto East General Hospital for the past five years in various roles, most recently as the Project Manager for the BFI Strategy for Ontario.

Alice Ordean, MD, CCFP, MHSc, FCFP, DABAM
Medical Director, Toronto Centre for Substance Use in Pregnancy (T-CUP), St. Joseph’s Health Centre;
Associate Professor in the Department of Family and Community Medicine, University of Toronto

Dr. Alice Ordean is the Medical Director of the Toronto Centre for Substance Use in Pregnancy (T-CUP) at St. Joseph’s Health Centre and Associate Professor in the Department of Family and Community Medicine at the University of Toronto. She has been a principal investigator in numerous research projects including the development of a comprehensive reference guide for health care providers and national data collection relating to methadone maintenance during pregnancy. She has also contributed to international, national and provincial guidelines on the management of problematic substance use in pregnancy, perinatal opioid dependence and smoking cessation during pregnancy. 

Amy Porath-Waller
Director of the Research and Policy Division, Canadian Centre on Substance Abuse

Dr. Amy Porath-Waller is the Director of the Research and Policy Division at the Canadian Centre on Substance Abuse, which has a legislated mandate to provide national leadership and evidence-informed analysis and advice to mobilize collaborative efforts to reduce alcohol- and other drug-related harms. In this role, Amy is responsible for ensuring that CCSA advances knowledge in the substance abuse field to inform national policies and professional practice, and to respond to gaps in knowledge. She demonstrates leadership in encouraging collaborations with and among researchers linked with the addictions field to monitor emerging trends and bring multi-disciplinary perspectives to substance abuse research. She earned a Ph.D. in Psychology from Carleton University in 2008, and has focussed her program of research on substance abuse issues for the past 14 years, particularly in the areas of the health effects of cannabis use, drug-impaired driving and more recently, prescription drug misuse.

Brian Russell
Provincial Coordinator, Dad Central Ontario

Brian Russell is the Provincial Coordinator of Dad Central Ontario.  He is passionate about encouraging fathers’ relationships with their children and teaching others to do the same.  He is married with three teenage daughters.

Dr. Sonia Semenic
Associate Professor, Ingram School of Nursing, McGill University; Nurse Scientist, McGill University Health Centre

Dr. Sonia Semenic is an Associate Professor at the Ingram School of Nursing, McGill University (Montreal, Canada) and a Nurse Scientist at the McGill University Health Center. She has a background as an IBCLC and clinical nurse specialist in maternal-child health and holds a PhD in Nursing. Dr. Semenic’s research program focuses on contextual influences on the implementation and sustainability of evidence-based practices in perinatal health.

Lindsay Siple
Health Promotion Consultant, Best Start Resource Centre

Lindsay is a Health Promotion Consultant with Best Start, with a focus on physical activity and young children. She has been working in the field of health promotion for over 10 years, developing resources, implementing programs and facilitating trainings which promote active and healthy living. Prior to Best Start, Lindsay spent 8 years with Ophea and the Physical Activity Resource Centre (PARC). Lindsay has a degree in Kinesiology and Health Science and is working towards her Masters in Health Studies. When Lindsay isn’t sharing her expertise and passion with others, she likes being active with her two young children.

Heather St. Bernard-John, MS, RD
Nutrition Promotion Consultant, Toronto Public Health

Heather St. Bernard-John has been working in the field of nutrition for over fifteen years. She has been with Toronto Public Health since 2005 and holds a Master's of Science degree in Nutrition. As a Nutrition Promotion Consultant focusing on the Peer Nutrition Program and the Early Years stream, Heather played a key role as lead in the implementation of the NutriSTEP® program at Toronto Public Health and continues as lead for the program. She has supported several important initiatives, including developing various resources such as Nutrition Grab and Go Modules and Food Replica Kits for Early Years staff. Heather is a member of Dietitians of Canada and the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetic (formerly the American Dietetic Association) and is passionate about using evidence-based knowledge in nutrition practice.

Victoria Tenasco
Culture Program Coordinator, Wabano Centre for Aboriginal Health

Victoria Tenasco is Anishinabekwe (Algonquin) from Kitigan Zibi Anishinabeg, Quebec. She moved to Ottawa, Ontario after high school to pursue a post-secondary education. She is currently pursuing a PhD in Education at the University of Ottawa. Victoria is the Culture Program Coordinator at the Wabano Centre for Aboriginal Health in Ottawa, Ontario where she provides cultural support to both internal and external partners. Victoria also continues to work on the advancement of Wabano’s Cultural Safety initiative.

Linda Young, MScN, EdD
Director, Maternal Newborn Child Mental Health, Interprofessional Practice and Organizational Learning

Linda Young developed her knowledge and expertise with breastfeeding as a clinical nurse specialist at Women’s College where she focused on enhancing breastfeeding and family-centered care.  Linda has worked in Director roles across the GTA for over 20 years and has been the Director of Maternal Newborn Child, Mental Health, Interprofessional Practice and Organizational Learning at Toronto East General Hospital for the past five years, during which TEGH became re-designated as a Baby Friendly Hospital.