17th Annual Summer Institute on Early Childhood Development
The Early Years: From Disruption to Recovery and Beyond
The Summer Institute is an annual collaboration between the School of Early Childhood at George Brown College and the Atkinson Centre for Society and Child Development at the Ontario Institute for Studies in Education/University of Toronto. The Institute strives to offer timely information to inform early childhood research, policy, and practice. As Canada and the world have been rocked by the COVID-19 pandemic, the Institute examines the impact on the early childhood education and care sector, including issues of equity, and the infrastructure necessary to support recovery and beyond. Join Canadian and international experts in identifying challenges, and proposing the solutions to building and sustaining high quality early education.
Day One - Building Equity in Early Learning and Child Care
May 31, 2021 | 10:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m.
Vice President, Deputy Chief Economist, RBC Royal Bank
Dawn Desjardins joined the Royal Bank Economics team in January 2006 as a senior economist. She is responsible for the macroeconomic and interest rate forecasts for Canada and the U.S. Previously, Dawn worked as a reporter for Bloomberg Financial News in Toronto covering the Canadian bond and currency markets. She was also the Canadian bond market strategist for a major U.S. bank for ten years.
Research Associate, Ryerson University
Nicole is an Anishinaabe (Oji-Cree) scholar and educator whose work focuses on Indigenous experiences of social systems, understandings of land-knowledge, and community-based research. She completed a Bachelor of Arts degree in Early Childhood Studies with a minor in psychology from Ryerson University before continuing graduate studies in Early Childhood Studies. Currently, Nicole is a doctoral student at OISE in the Social Justice Education program, specializing in Indigenous health. Nicole works as a Research Associate and Contract Lecturer cross-appointed between Early Childhood Studies and Child and Youth Care at Ryerson University. Her work centers on Indigenous youth, families, and communities and seeks to support selfdetermination and Indigenous resurgence. Nicole is particularly interested in supporting Indigenous youth to connect with their ancestry, land, and cultures. Nicole is also the director and founder of Finding Our Power Together, an Indigenous-led nonprofit organization supporting youth in realizing their own goals.
Director, Service System Planning & Policy Development, Children’s Services, City of Toronto
Karen has been a leader for 35 years in the municipal and provincial early years sector, she is currently the Director of Service System Planning and Policy Development for Children's Services at the City of Toronto. In this role she is the lead for service system management for Toronto's Early Years system which is the largest child care system in Canada, outside of Quebec. In this role she is responsible for planning, policy, asset management, quality and capacity building, EarlyON programs and risk management. She is the co-creator and co-chair with the Provincial Regional Director, of the Toronto Child and Family Network that focus on improving outcomes for children and families through the use of data, Raising the Village.
Day Two - The Public Advantage of Early Learning and Child Care
June 1, 2021 | 1:00 p.m. to 3:00 p.m.
General Manager, Children’s Services, City of Toronto
Shanley McNamee has been the General Manager for Toronto Children’s Services since July 2019. Prior to this, she held a few senior positions within the Division where she led the development and implementation of a number of key initiatives including a new system-wide funding model for the City’s child care sector, and Council’s Child Care Growth Strategy. Shanley is committed to driving improved service access for families and advancing implementation of an integrated system of early learning and care services for Toronto’s children and their families. Shanley holds a Diploma in Early Childhood Education, from Centennial College, and a Bachelor of Arts, Psychology “With Distinction” degree from York University. Shanley began her career working in the non-profit child care sector and continues to value input, insight and collaboration with a broad range of community and government stakeholders.
Isabelle Vinet, M.SC.
Executive Director, Centre of Excellence for Early Childhood, Development/Centre de Psycho-Éducation du Québec
Isabelle Vinet, M.Sc., is the Executive Director of the Centre of Excellence for Early Childhood Development (CEECD) hosted at Université Laval and Université de Montréal. Within the scope of her functions, she has been leading all knowledge mobilization activities, with the main focus being the development of the Encyclopedia on Early Childhood Development (EECD), a unique, current free access, and up-to-date source of information on ECD. She also oversees the production of all derived products and works in close collaboration with key partners to ensure the science contained within the EECD serves concrete and impactful actions for young children and their families. She also has spent the last 15 years leading another knowledge translation unit, affiliated with the Université de Montréal, the Centre de Psycho-Éducation du Québec. CPEQ’ core activities are to support and evaluate the implementation of Social-Emotional Programs for young children based on a highly impactful prevention program derived from the Montreal Longitudinal and Experimental Study and to train early childhood educators on best practices across Canada.
Superintendent of Reading/Literacy and Early Learning, British Columbia Ministry of Education
Maureen has spent her career in Education. She has worked as a teacher, university faculty associate, principal, and assistant superintendent. As the Superintendent of Reading/Literacy and Early Learning, at the British Columbia Ministry of Education, Maureen has been a team member supporting the redesign of BC’s 2019 Early Learning Framework, K – 12 curriculum, and core competencies. Maureen currently works with the BC Ministry of Education as the Early Learning Child Care Strategic Consultant. Maureen leads the Ministry’s professional early learning initiatives: Changing Results for Young Children (cr4yr.com), and Strengthening Early Years to Kindergarten Transitions which involves participation from 51 BC School Districts and Communities, Early Childhood Educators, and Primary Teachers. Maureen is currently called upon to provide advice on policy, practice, and process with the purpose of cultivating a BC continuum of care and learning system from child care to primary school years and beyond, aligning with BC’s Early Learning Framework. Maureen has an unwavering commitment to public education to ensure that all children and families can enact their right to a quality, inclusive integrated system of early learning and child care.
Day Three - The Workforce
June 2, 2021 | 6:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m.
Senior Economist, The Atkinson Fellow on the Future of Workers
Armine Yalnizyan is a leading voice on Canada’s economic scene. Recently serving as senior economic policy advisor to the Deputy Minister of Employment and Social Development Canada, Armine was senior economist with the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives’ Inequality Project from 2008 to 2017. Armine has contributed economics columns for the Globe and Mail’s Economy Lab from 2010 to 2013, and 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 is also a frequent contributor to CBC Radio, TVO’s The Agenda with Steve Paikin, BNN’s Bloomberg Markets. You can read her in the Toronto Star and Maclean’s Magazine.
Alana Powell, RECE
Executive Coordinator, Association of Early Childhood Educators Ontario (AECEO)
Alana Powell is a proud Registered Early Childhood Educator, and the Executive Coordinator at the Association of Early Childhood Educators of Ontario (AECEO). Alana completed her MA in Early Childhood Studies from Ryerson University where her research engaged in critical exploration of care discourses in Ontario’s 2014 and 2018 elections. Prior to her role at the AECEO she was a contract lecturer at George Brown College’s School of Early Childhood. In her current role at the AECEO, Alana is committed to listening to and advancing the voices of educators in the movement for professional pay and decent work and breaking down barriers that exclude them from advocacy and policy spaces. Alana engages in the reconceptualist movement and continues scholarly work which seeks to reposition care as central in politics, practice, and advocacy.
Fellow in Early Childhood Policy, Atkinson Centre for Society and Child Development, Ontario Institute for Studies in Education, University of Toronto
Kerry McCuaig co-developed and produces the Early Childhood Education Report, which tracks provincial/territorial progress in early years program development. She co-authored Early Years Study 3, Making Decisions, Taking Action with Margaret McCain and the late Fraser Mustard. Kerry has had a long involvement in early childhood policy including as a founder of Toronto First Duty, a pioneer in the integrated delivery of early childhood programming. She has authored several publications, including those commissioned by the Senate of Canada, the Toronto Board of Trade, and the governments of Manitoba, New Brunswick, the Northwest Territories, British Columbia, Ontario, and the City of Toronto as well as reports for labour, women’s and community organizations. Kerry is a frequent speaker at national and international conferences, her articles have appeared in major publication including the Globe and Mail and Toronto Star.
Day Four - National and International Lessons
June 3, 2021 | 10:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m.
Policy Officer, Early Childhood Education and Care, European Commission
Géraldine Libreau is the policy officer for Early Childhood Education and Care (ECEC) in the Directorate general Education, Youth, Sport and Culture of the European Commission. She currently coordinates an expert group, bringing together ministerial representatives from 34 European countries and representatives of trade unions, cities, children’s interests, etc. The group explores efficient policies and practices to professionalise further ECEC staff as well as to increase inclusiveness of ECEC systems and settings. Géraldine graduated in European and international public law and dedicated all her career to management and evaluation of European policies, programmes and projects in the field of education, training and youth.
Emis Akbari, Ph.D.
Professor and Program Coordinator, School of Early Childhood, George Brown College, and Senior Policy Fellow, Atkinson Centre for Society and Child Development
Dr. Emis Akbari is a professor and program coordinator at the School of Early Childhood at George Brown College. She is also an Adjunct Professor in the Department of Applied Psychology and Human Development and the Senior Policy Fellow at the Atkinson Centre for Society and Child Development at OISE at the University of Toronto. Emis’ initial research examined issues surrounding early life adversity on brain and behavioral development in animal models. Her more recent work evaluates current and changes in policy at all levels of government. Emis is the co-author of the Early Childhood Education Report. This report provides a snapshot of provincial and territorial preschool services and performance on different criteria including access to child care programs and investments in early education. She is ardent and committed to evidence-based change in policy and global development and its connection to improving child education, development and outcome.
Director, Consortium for Social Development and Research, The University of the West Indies Open Campus
Ceceile Minott is the Director for the Consortium for Social Development and Research at The University of the West Indies (The UWI) Open Campus. She holds a Master in Education with specialization in counselling from the University of South Florida, Tampa, Florida, USA. Her interest centres on early childhood education and counselling and have published in these areas in peered review journals. She developed and implemented the first laboratory preschool in Jamaica at The UWI lead the team that developed the Continuing Education Programme (CPE) in Early Childhood Education as well as the first online MPhil/PhD research programme in Child, Adolescent and Youth Studies for The University of the West Indies Open Campus. She has collaborated with researchers, practitioners and policy makers in developing policies, curricula and the training of early childhood teachers and teacher trainers in the region.
Award Recipient: Jane Mercer
Please join us in recognizing the contributions of Jane Mercer, champion for equity and quality in early childhood education and care.
Jane Mercer is an early childhood educator and a graduate of George Brown College. Her early career in the early childhood sector was as director of the St. Lawrence Co-operative Daycare. She developed her love of community and community organizing in what turned out to be one of Toronto’s biggest triumphs in a highly successful, fully-functioning, mixed-use, mixed-income community. The program grew to 3 centres and over 200 children aged 0-12.
Best known for her work as the executive coordinator of the Toronto Community for Better Child Care (TCBCC), Jane was a strong voice for child care, families, and educators for 20 years. In retirement, Jane continues to advocate on behalf of families in Toronto and the need for affordable, transit, housing, and child care.
The Annual Summer Institute on Early Childhood Development is presented by: