Overview February 6 (Pre-Conference) | February 7-8 (Main Conference) | Speakers

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Pre-Conference Presenters

Janet Allingham, RN, BScN, IBCLC, MA,

Janet is the mother of two adult children; grandmother of four children aged 4-9 years old. She graduated from McGill School of Nursing. Janet worked in hospitals and home care in Montreal, for VON in Toronto and as a public health nurse in Eastern Ontario. In 2007 Janet received her Ma from Carleton University, specializing in Health Literacy. Janet has been an International Board Certified Lactation Consultant since 2001. She is a member of the Ottawa Valley Lactation Consultants and has been Meetings Chair since 2014. Janet has experience with several Communities of Practice, Amnesty International, Canadian Parents for French, and Ottawa Valley Lactation Consultants.

Melissa Brinkman, M Sc. OT, OT Reg. (Ont.)
Parent Infant Therapist, Breaking the Cycle program, Canadian Mothercraft Society

Ms. brinkman is a Play Therapy Intern through the Canadian Association for Child and Play Therapy, and a registered Circle of Security Parenting Facilitator. Her clinical experience has been in the area of early intervention, play therapy, parent-infant therapy and attachment based interventions.
Ms. Brinkman is a member of the College of Occupational Therapists of Ontario.

Bindu Cherian
Home Visiting Program For Infants (HVPI)

Bindu Cherian is an occupational therapist and parent infant therapist at CPRI.   She has worked at CPRI for almost 20 years, starting in Children’s mental health and now has been at the Home Visiting Program for Infants for 14 years.  She is based in an office in Stratford, ON and works with families in Huron, Perth and Oxford counties.  The Home Visiting Program for infants, aka HVPI, is an infant development program for babies at risk for or with an identified development delay.  HVPI therapists work with families to provide home programming, connect with local resources and provide information as needed.  Through the infant development program, Bindu has had the opportunity to work with many agencies in collaboration with the families on her caseload.

Karine Collette, BA, MScOT, Erg. Aut. (Ont.)

Karine Collette est une ergothérapeute qui travaille en pédiatrie et qui apporte une vue unique au monde de santé mentale des nouveau-nés et des tout-petits. Récemment, Karine était la Coordinatrice de projet à Infant Mental Health Promotion (IMHP), une coalition professionnelle dédiée à promouvoir la santé mentale optimale des nouveau-nés et des tout-petits, basé à l’Hôpital pour enfants à Toronto (SickKids). Karine travaillait aussi comme ergothérapeute dans la communauté de Toronto, et enseignait au Collège Seneca. Maintenant située à New York, Karine continue à incorporer la science de la santé mentale de la petite enfance dans son travail.

Mary Deleary
Thunderbird Partnership Foundation

Mary Deleary is Algonquin Anishinabe originating from Kitigan Zibi (Quebec). For Mary, a lifelong dedication to the pursuit of Indigenous knowledge and practice is grounded and nurtured through the Midewiwin “way of the heart”. Mary serves in a leadership role within the Thunderbird Partnership Foundation providing expertise in Indigenous Knowledge Exchange Translation and also holds the position of Office Manager. Prior to her current role, Mary served as Executive Director of Nimkee Nupigawagan Healing Centre (a residential youth treatment center). Mary also played a key role in “The Honouring Our Strengths: Indigenous Culture as Intervention in Addictions Treatment (CasI)” research project which has produced the Native Wellness Assessment; a strengths based, whole person instrument that measures the impact of culture in promoting wellness. Mary has also devoted a number of years to the field of Indigenous-based education including the development and establishment of culturally relevant post- secondary programs to meet the specific needs of First Nation individuals and communities. The combination of years of Indigenous learning within traditional lodges, and a mainstream University education along with career and life experience enables Mary to contribute wholistically to Thunderbird Partnership Foundations implementation of the ’Honouring our Strengths Renewal Framework’ and the First Nations Mental Wellness Continuum Framework.

Janet Fox
Life Skills Coach and Trainer

Janet Fox is a life skills coach and trainer and a mother of 4 and a proud grandmother of 8. Janet shares her journey about the lack of parenting skills in her family system which stems from colonization and lack of identity as she attended residential school. She understands the effects from the years and speaks about the lack of bonding and attachment. Janet has been on a mission to end generational cycles in her family and has pursued the knowledge of how our Ancestors raised their children, which today is called by the western world 'the most profound child psychology'. She has taken training with the Native American Fatherhood Association, National Indian Child Welfare Association and the Native Wellness Institute.

Brandon Hay
MES (Business)

Brandon founded the Black Daddies Club in 2007 in response to the isolation he felt as a new Black father as well as to the lack of forums and spaces for Black men to discuss parenting issues and concerns facing the Black community as a whole. The main goals of the organization are to change the image of the “absent Black father” that is prevalent in the media and to assist young Black men to become better fathers. In so doing, BDC aims to support Black children, families and the larger community.
Starting in 2013, Brandon along with two other researchers, led the research project titled, Gathering Our Voices, which was designed to address the paucity of information on the lived experiences of Black fathers in Toronto. The research project sought to inform current literature on the issues, challenges,  opportunities and successes associated with Black fatherhood in the City of Toronto from the perspective of Black fathers themselves, their partners, family members and friends.

Dalton Higgins

Dalton is a celebrity publicist & PR strategist, National Magazine Award-winning journalist, broadcaster and author who has written six books that interweave the worlds of digital culture, hip hop and popular culture into one potent mix. He is also Canada’s foremost expert on hip hop, the leading youth sub-culture of this generation. Dalton has been hailed as an important voice on fatherhood for a new generation of diverse, technology-driven dads. In his book Fatherhood 4.0, which contains candid interviews with some of Canada’s most acclaimed black and racialized personalities, public figures, intellectuals, entertainers and athletes including Argos vice chairman Mike “Pinball” Clemons, best-selling author Lawrence Hill (Book of Negroes), Toronto International Film Festival’s artistic director Cameron Bailey, CBC Metro Morning radio host Matt Galloway, Higgins is credited with helping to kick start a cool “progressive” diverse dads movement – a modern day menaissance! Higgins is a longtime facilitator with the More Than A Haircut barbershop and black fatherhood advocacy program having conducted workshops with black and racialized fathers over the last 10 years.

Heather Kere Quelleng
Senior Policy Analyst, Ministry of Children and Youth Services

Heather is a Registered Social Worker and an award-winning equity advocate, consultant and community development professional with over two decades of experience working with marginalized communities both locally and abroad. With a background in youth justice and education, Heather works to build capacity and create positive systemic change. Heather’s advocacy led to the first-ever Ryerson Task-force on Anti-Racism and the eventual creation of Ryerson’s Office of Equity, Diversity and Inclusion in 2012. In Cameroon West Africa, she helped lay the ground work for a capacity building program for young women entitled Footsteps, which has subsequently mentored some of Cameroon’s most successful youth leaders and entrepreneurs.
Heather is the recipient of numerous public accolades, including the provincial Lincoln Alexander Community Award for her extensive work in the area of antiracism. She holds a Bachelor of Social Work degree from Ryerson University and is currently completing a Master of Social Work degree at Memorial University of Newfoundland – her research interests include anti-Black racism & Black mothering.

Monique Lanthier
EPEI, Conseillère pédagogique, AFÉSEO

Monique Lanthier est une conseillère pédagogique pour l’AFÉSEO (Association francophone à l’éducation des services à l’enfance de l’Ontario). Elle a obtenu son diplôme d'éducatrice de la petite enfance en 1986 et a travaillé dans de nombreux secteurs de la petite enfance: éducatrice, directrice d’un service éducatif à l’enfance, conseillère pour la garde d'enfants en milieu familial, coordonnatrice d’un programme de ressources pour les enfants et familles, spécialiste en alphabétisation, formatrice et enseignante, etc. Au courant des années, elle a apporté de l’appui administratif et pédagogique au sein de divers services à l’enfance. Depuis la création de l’AFÉSEO, elle a travaillé en partenariat avec l’association sur différents projets provinciaux. Cette collaboration a gardé Monique à jour dans le secteur de la petite enfance. Connue pour ses connaissances et expériences multidisciplinaires, elle est considérée comme une leader et une mentore au sein de la communauté de la petite enfance.

Louise Legault, Ph.D., E.A. / C.E.
Chercheure associée, Société de recherche sociale appliquée / Research Fellow, Social Research and Demonstration Corporation

Depuis 25 ans, Dre Legault a géré ou collaboré à plusieurs études et évaluations dans les domaines de l’éducation (du préscolaire au postsecondaire), du développement des enfants/jeunes et des minorités linguistiques francophones. Elle est une évaluatrice accréditée par la Société canadienne d’évaluation.

Margaret Leslie, Dip.C.S., C.Psych.Assoc.
Director, Child and Family Services, Mothercraft

Margaret Leslie is Director of the Child and Family Services at the Mothercraft. Her clinical experience is in the area of early intervention for infants/young children living in conditions of risk. She is currently leading the national replication of Mothercraft's trauma-infornmed intervention for mothers annd children experiencing interpersonal violence.
Ms. Leslie is the co-chair of Infant Mental Health promotion (IMHP) and a member of Ontario's FASD Expert Advisory Group. She is the recipient of the National Harm Reduction Award for Excellence in Mental Health and Substance Use Programming, the Elizabeth Manson Award for Community Service in Children's Mental health, and the City of Toronto Public Health Champion Award.
Ms. Leslie is a member of the College of Psychologists of Ontario.

André Lyn
MCYS, Ontario Black Youth Action Plan (BYAP)

André Lyn currently works for the Ontario Ministry of Children and Youth Services to provide leadership in the implementation of the Ontario Black Youth Action Plan (BYAP) which targets the GTHA as well as Ottawa and Windsor. Andre is the Project Lead for the establishment of a Backbone Entity to support the overall coordination and alignment of initiatives under BYAP. This work will be guided by a Collective Impact, Cultural Identity (CI2) and Anti-Black Racism framework with the goal of improving outcomes for Black children, youth and their families.
Andre is a social justice advocate committed to affordable housing and homelessness. He supported the creation of a documentary on homelessness in Peel and contributed to a chapter on women living in homelessness in Women’s Mental Health.
Andre supported the design and development of a comprehensive website, clearinghouse and virtual library on homelessness research - The Homeless Hub. He teaches in the Community Development program at Sheridan, is a Board member for the Mississauga Community Legal Clinic, was Senior Manager with United Way, and an active member of the Peel Poverty Reduction Strategy Commission. He has extensive academic research and community activism experience with migrant farm workers, immigration and settlement, homelessness, precarious employment and inequality.

Kike Ojo
Project Manager for One Vision One Voice: Changing the Child Welfare System for African Canadian Families

Kike Ojo is the Project Manager for One Vision One Voice: Changing the Child Welfare System for African Canadian Families, a community led project facilitated by the Ontario Association of Children’s Aid Societies.  Kike has worked in the field of child welfare in Ontario for over 10 years, advancing an equity agenda to address services to all marginalized people.  Prior to her child welfare career, Kike worked within multiple social service sectors, and within the community, in both the US and Canada and has presented numerous keynotes, guest lectures and workshops. 
Kike’s work and volunteer efforts earned her the Lincoln M. Alexander Community Award for extraordinary leadership in eliminating racial discrimination in Ontario, and several other awards and recognitions.  Over the past 2 years, Kike has been featured in the Toronto Star, as well as on The Agenda with Steve Paikin (TVO), CBC News, and CBC Radio across Ontario. 
Kike’s formal education includes a Bachelor of Arts in Sociology with a minor in International Justice and Human Rights from McMaster University, a Master of Arts in Sociology and Equity Studies in Education from the Ontario Institute for Studies in Education, University of Toronto and a Bachelor of Education, University of Toronto.  Additionally, Kike is a certified alternative dispute resolution mediator.

Dr. Nancy Poole, PhD
Director, Centre of Excellence for Women's Health and Prevention Lead, CanFASD Research Network 

Dr. Nancy Poole is the Director of the Centre of Excellence for Women’s Health, and the Prevention Lead for CanFASD Research Network.  She leads knowledge translation, network development, and research related to improving health policy and service provision, including advancing trauma informed and gender transformative approaches. She is currently providing leadership on several national projects concerned with addressing trauma, gender and substance use issues in an integrated way.  She has co-edited five books with Dr. Lorraine Greaves, including Becoming Trauma Informed (2012) and Gender Unchained: Notes from the equity frontier (2017).  Dedicated to motivating, connecting and creating new ways of learning and doing, Dr. Poole is a maven of ideas and a respectful and supportive training agent. 

Sonali Sagare
Director, Outreach Services, Jean Tweed Centre.

Sonali Sagare is Director of Outreach services at the Jean Tweed Centre in Toronto. Sonali has a Master of Education degree from OISE, University of Toronto. Sonali is a  Certified Provincial Trainer in the area of F.A.S.D. as well as a PRIMA (Pregnancy Related Issues in the Management of Addiction) Sonali has worked as Physician / Surgeon in India for 5 years before immigrating to Canada.  In past11 years at Jean Tweed, she has been working clinically with Pregnant and Parenting mothers with children as well as building capacity in the community through a variety of partner agencies. The focus of her work has been the provision of services and support to people facing issues of poverty, social isolation, mental health, substance abuse, marginalization, discrimination and homelessness.

Steven Savvaidis
Manager, Program Training and Consultation CentreCancer Care Ontario

Steven is the Manager of the Program Training and Consultation Centre at Cancer Care Ontario where he oversees the planning and delivery of training, and knowledge exchange initiatives to build capacity for community-based tobacco control. Prior to his work at PTCC, Steven worked within the Ministry of Health Promotion, where he supported the roll-out and implementation of the expanded Smoke-free Ontario Strategy. From 2001-2004, Steven was a planning analyst at Cancer Care Ontario.

Mindy Worrad
Home Visiting Program For Infants (HVPI)

Mindy Worrad received her BA/BSW from McMaster University in 1989. She works as a social worker with the Home Visiting Program for Infants (HVPI), an infant development program with the Child and Parent Resource Institute in London, Ontario. Her role, within the transdisciplinary model,  is to help families who have had babies and learned  they have a genetic diagnosis, birth injuries, are premature and at risk of long term challenges, etc., to adjust to this new reality in their lives.
Mindy is married and has four children who are currently (for reasons of hockey, university and a mission opportunity) in three different time zones, which makes for some difficult math when trying to do a family video chat!

Keynote Speakers

Dr. Cindy-Lee Dennis
Professor, Lawrence S. Bloomberg Faculty of Nursing and the Faculty of Medicine, Department of Psychiatry, University of Toronto; Canada Research Chair, Perinatal Community Health; Women’s Health Research Chair, Li Ka Shing Knowledge Institute, St. Michael’s Hospital

Dr. Cindy-Lee Dennis is a Professor in the Lawrence S. Bloomberg Faculty of Nursing and the Faculty of Medicine, Department of Psychiatry at the University of Toronto. She holds a Canada Research Chair in Perinatal Community Health and was recently appointed the Women’s Health Research Chair at the Li Ka Shing Knowledge Institute at St. Michael’s Hospital. She is currently the principal investigator of six large, multi-site studies and is a co-investigator on twenty-four other research projects concerning maternal, paternal, and infant health outcomes with a focus on breastfeeding, perinatal mental health, and preconception health.

Wendy Katherine
Phoenix Health Consulting, The Alliance for the Prevention of Preterm Birth and Stillbirth

Wendy Katherine is the Co-Lead of an Alliance to prevent preterm birth and stillbirth in Ontario. As Principal Consultant at Phoenix Health Consulting, she is a champion of maternal and child health quality projects including the recent OMama Project. Among Ontario’s first registered midwives, Wendy provided reproductive health care before joining the Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care to develop health improvement strategies including the Ontario Midwifery Program, the Better Outcomes Registry and Network (BORN), among others. An alumnus of the Rotman School of Management, volunteer Board Director at Health Nexus, she is passionate about evidence-based health care policy and value in publicly funded health systems.

Dr. Helen Scott, PhD
Executive Director, the Canadian Partnership for Women and Children’s Health (CanWaCH).

Dr. Helen Scott is Executive Director of the Canadian Partnership for Women and Children’s Health (CanWaCH). Under her leadership, CanWaCH has catalyzed collaboration among 100+ members working to improve women and children’s health worldwide. Previously, Helen managed and collaborated on health policy and health care delivery projects, including: WHO projects on childhood injury prevention across 49 countries; a national program for food fortification with folic acid; and, community-wide preterm birth prevention programs. Helen has a doctorate in epidemiology and she holds an assistant professor appointment in the Epidemiology Department, Dalla Lana School of Public Health at University of Toronto.

Barry Zuckerman, M.D., F.A.A.P.
Professor of Pediatrics, Boston University School of Medicine/Boston Medical Center

Dr. Zuckerman and colleagues have transformed pediatric care for low income children through Reach Out and Read, Medical-Legal Partnership for Children, Health Leads and Healthy Steps. He has published over 250  scientific articles and co-edited 8 books including Behavioral and Developmental Pediatrics: Handbook for Primary Care. Dr. Zuckerman was awarded the Joseph St Geme Pediatric Leadership Award, AAP  Child Development Award, APA Policy Award, Sesame Street Sunny Days Award among others.

Concurrent Session Speakers

Stephanie George, BA (Hons)
Midwife, IBCLC, PPSP, Oneida Nation

Stephanie George is an Aboriginal Midwife and an International Board Certified Lactation Consultant, and Postpartum Depression Support Person. She has participated on the Prenatal Key Messages Advisory Committee, the BFI Strategy Implementation Committee, the ILCA Task Force 2017/18, and is on the RNAO Expert Panel as they update their Breastfeeding Best Practise Guidelines. Steph is married to Dave and they have a blended family of 8 who all are involved in the arts.

Heather Fredin, B.A., D.A.T., B.Ed., M.Ed.
Registered Psychotherapist, Workshop Facilitator/Trainer/Student Placement Coordinator/Counsellor for the London Family Court Clinic

Heather holds a M.Ed in Counselling Psychology. She is a registered psychotherapist with the London Family Court Clinic. Heather’s approach to counselling is intimately linked with social justice, feminism and a vision for a healthier community. Many of her clients have been challenged by adverse childhood experiences, poverty, mental health issues, addictions, childhood sexual abuse, neglect, and isolation. Building trust with clients is an ever present challenge. She encourages other service providers to practice from a trauma-informed perspective. She continues to believe that all behaviour has meaning and that we must continue to employ compassion and a non-judgmental approach when working with vulnerable individuals and groups.

Stephanie Moynagh
Community and Family Engagement Coordinator, Macaulay Child Development Centre
Maria Velasquez
Program Supervisor, Special Needs and Early Literacy Specialists, Macaulay Child Development Centre
Sherri Ernst
Program Director, Macaulay Child Development Centre

Maria, stephanie and Sherri are with the Macaulay Child Development Centre, a not for profit agency that offers a full continuum of programs and services that nurture healthy child development and build strong families and communities. In 2016, Macaulay served over 7,000 children, 11,000 parents and caregivers and 1,500 professionals.  Macaulay's programs and services include Licensed Child Care, After School Programs, Early Years Programs, Healthy Babies Healthy Children Home Visiting, Early Abilities Preschool Speech and Language Services,  Specialized Parenting Supports, Early Literacy Specialists and Every Child Belongs Consultation Services.

Andrew Howlett, MD FRCPC
Assistant Professor & Psychiatrist, SJHC & SHS, University of Toronto and fathersmentalhealth.com

Dr. Andrew Howlett is a father, psychiatrist, researcher and co-founder of the Fathers' Mental Health Network. He is an Assistant Professor at the University of Toronto and his innovative clinical program for expectant and new fathers has expanded to include St. Joseph's Health Centre, Mount Sinai and Women's College Hospitals. He is interested in health policy, early intervention and short-term therapeutic interventions that ensure healthy fathers lead to healthy families.

Angela Mashford-Pringle, PhD
Senior Research Associate, Waakebiness-Bryce Institute for Indigenous Health, Dalla Lana School of Public Health, University of Toronto

Dr. Angela Mashford-Pringle is an urban Algonquin woman from Timiskaming First Nation in northern Quebec whose research is at the intersection of Indigenous health and education. She completed her PhD at the Dalla Lana School of Public Health, University of Toronto. Angela was a post-doctoral fellow at St. Michael’s Hospital, worked for many years at Health Canada and Public Health Agency of Canada managing social programs like Aboriginal Head Start Urban and Northern Communities. Angela is the Senior Research Associate at the Waakebiness-Bryce Institute for Indigenous Health at the University of Toronto.

Elizabeth Mitchell
Family Support Coordinator for Autism Ontario

Elizabeth has worked in the field of Autism Spectrum Disorders for more than 30 years.  Her career began at Thistletown Regional Centre where she worked as an Instructor Therapist and Classroom Coordinator within an ABA program, within the Parent Relief Program, and with hard to serve adults in their group home. Elizabeth then moved on to Dufferin Peel Catholic District School Board where she initially worked as a 1:1 CYW with a student with Autism.  She along with Joan Randall created one of the first Autism Teams in education, which now includes more than 10 members. Elizabeth and her collegues created the first set of Modules that educated school staff on” What an Autism Spectrum Disorder Is" and the strategies that help support individuals on the spectrum.  Elizabeth’s’ career then took her to Geneva, Newfoundland, Quebec and Ontario. Currently, Elizabeth is the Family Support Coordinator for Autism Ontario’s Halton, Peel, Waterloo and Wellington Region, where she if often the first point of contact with families who have just received their diagnosis, and also helps with Social Learning Opportunities, does trainings and builds partnerships within the communities.  

Lionelle Morin-Tanguay, NP-PCC
Vanier Social Pediatric Hub

Lionelle Morin-Tanguay NP-PHC has been a nurse, then a primary health care nurse practitioner for a total of more than 10 years with experience in both Scotland and in Ontario where she practiced in rural and urban settings.  Her experience includes hospital acute care, community clinics and outreach care to homeless.  As a nurse practitioner, she has practiced in various settings such as community health care centres, a nurse practitioner-led clinic, family health teams, an aboriginal health care centre and, now, the social pediatric hub.

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.

Lisa Primus, LMSW
Senior Policy Analyst, the Center of the Study of Social Policy

Lisa Primus, LMSW, is a Senior Policy Analyst working to advance the Center of the Study of Social Policy’s public system reform efforts, focusing on the use of data and research to inform policy, decision making and best practices.  She is part of a team responsible for monitoring and providing technical assistance to child welfare systems operating under federal consent decrees to improve practice for children and families.  Ms. Primus also works to promote well-being outcomes for adolescents, expectant and parenting young in foster care, their children and families, with a focus on promoting the protective and promotive factors that children, families and communities need to thrive.  She has extensive experience working within the child welfare and homelessness fields.

Hershel Russell, M.Ed, R.P,
Private Practise, www.hersheltoronto.ca

Hershel has been counseling transgender and gender-diverse people and their families since 1995. Since 2003 he has loved delivering his engaging and practical workshops to a wide range of organizations. In the 1980s he taught pre-natal classes across the GTA and was an apprentice midwife. He also worked for many years teaching young children and training teachers.
Hershel is an older, white, transgender man, involved in program and policy development and contributing to current international debates in transgender health care. He believes that effective learning is always an active process, that respect for everyone’s dignity is key and that shared, well-timed laughter can accomplish much! Participants often comment on how easy it feels to raise difficult or awkward questions in his workshops and to discuss them with complexity.

Deanna Stirling, PHN
Public Health Nurse & Prenatal Educator, Middlesex-London Health Unit

Deanna Stirling is a Public Health Nurse and Prenatal Educator who is an advocate for human rights in childbirth. She believes that equitable prenatal access to credible information, as well as support for informed decision-making plays an important role in reducing unnecessary intervention during labour and birth, thereby optimizing the long-term health of mothers and babies. Deanna is co-founder (2010) and past chair of the Ontario Public Health Association (OPHA) Reproductive Health Workgroup. Her work with OPHA continues as Lead of the Labour & Birth Taskgroup and co-author of the Informed Decision-Making for Labour & Birth position paper. After an initial 10-year acute care career in maternal-child, and labour and birth nursing, Deanna accepted a public health nurse position with the Middlesex-London Health Unit, where, for the last 17 years, she has supported new mothers through the transition from pregnancy to motherhood in various roles; including a 10-year term as coordinator of the Prenatal Education Program. She continues to share her knowledge and passion for prenatal education by providing knowledge translation support for the prenatal program curriculum and prenatal educators, and through development of prenatal online web resources for the public.

Anne van Kleeck, PhD
Professor & Callier Research Scholar, Callier Center for Communication Disorders, School of Behavioral & Brain Sciences, University of Texas at Dallas

For decades, Prof. Anne van Kleeck’s scholarship has made groundbreaking contributions to our understanding of preschoolers’ specific oral language skills that provide critical foundations for their later reading comprehension and more general academic success. In a pioneering and national award-winning paper published in 2014, she discussed the necessity of considering “academic talk” beginning in the preschool years, and created a conceptual framework for the sub-skills involved. This paper won a national award and the framework became the basis for a preschool language and literacy classroom intervention she has developed called Talking About Books Builds Big Brains Intervention or TAB4I.

Jeanell Vanbesien, RN BScN
Public Health Nurse, Healthy Families, Halton Region Health Department

Jeanell Vanbesien is a Public Health Nurse for Halton Region Public Health Department on the Reproductive Years team.  Jeanell graduated from McMaster University with a Bachelor of Science in Nursing, and has been working in public health for 18 years. As a member of the Labour and Birth Task Group of the OPHA’s Reproductive Health Workgroup, she is a co-author of the OPHA’s informed decision making for labour and birth position paper. Her passion is in guiding prenatal families and new parents to trust their intuition to help build their inner confidence in making the right decisions for their family.

Yvonne Wigboldus, RN, BScN, CCHN(C), CCCE
Community Health Nurse, Aboriginal Healthy Babies/Healthy Children, Kettle & Stony Point Health Services
Yvonne Wigboldus has been a Nurse for over 28 years, working in many areas and places including the Northwest Territories. Yvonne currently works in Kettle & Stony Point First Nations where she has been a Community Health Nurse (CHN) in the Aboriginal Healthy Babies/Healthy Children (AHBHC) program for the past 14 years. Yvonne endeavours to offer community-based programs that renew cultural connections and build capacity through a participatory approach to programming. Her passion to empower families utilizes client-centred methods to create sustainable changes and lasting relationships.

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 Michael Garron Hospital for the past six years, during which MGH became re-designated as a Baby Friendly Hospital.