Canada: Theory Meets Practice

Due to Zoom fatigue, our conference is cancelled this year, but we’re working with speakers to make their talks available.  Keep your eyes open for sessions by the following.

Alyssia Jovellanos

Alyssia Jovellanos is cofounder of Podmates and a former Product Manager with Microsoft. During her McMaster degree in Computer Science, Alyssia led award-winning projects in educational technology, accessibility and AI. Much of her work aims to bring technology to as many people as possible, whether through the international consultation she has provided on increasing diversity in tech education, the free tech interview mentorship group she launched, the coding modules she developed for children, or the hackathon she co-founded, which remains Canada’s 1st and largest student-run hackathon for change.

Michael McEvoy

Michael McEvoy was appointed to a six-year term as Information and Privacy Commissioner for BC by unanimous motion of the Legislative Assembly in 2018. Immediately prior to his appointment he helped lead the Information Commissioner’s Office of the United Kingdom’s investigation into Cambridge Analytica and Facebook. Commissioner McEvoy joined the OIPC in 2007, adjudicating more than 50 inquiries under provincial access and privacy law before his appointment as Deputy Commissioner in 2013. His service to the community has included chairing his local school board, leading the BC School Trustees Association, and chairing Greater Victoria’s United Way campaign. He obtained a Juris Doctorate from the University of Manitoba in 1985 and a Bachelor of Arts in 1980 from the University of Winnipeg. Commissioner McEvoy has been a member of the Law Society of British Columbia since 1986.

Indira Naidoo-Harris

Higher Education After COVID
Thursday, March 4, 1:00 pm – 2:00 pm

Join us for a 40-minute talk and 20-minute Q&A on COVID and Higher Education (HE). Former Minister of Education Indira Naidoo-Harris will discuss the most pressing issues the pandemic has created for HE and its students, and how we should tackle those issues. She’ll also share some thoughts on how students who are interested in careers in educational policy can start to explore their career interests.

Indira Naidoo-Harris is a trusted public leader, policy maker, former Ontario cabinet minister, well-known journalist and human rights advocate. Currently serving as the Associate Vice President of Diversity & Human Rights at the University of Guelph, Naidoo-Harris is working to foster a culture of inclusion. Elected in 2014 as Halton’s MPP, she held several cabinet posts, including Ontario’s first ever Minister of the Status of Women, and Minister of Education.

Naidoo-Harris has developed and worked on policies, strategies and frameworks that have changed lives including Ontario’s Renewed Early Years and Childcare Policy Framework, the Strategy to Deliver Free Preschool Childcare for Children in Ontario, Ontario’s first Comprehensive Dementia Strategy, and the Ontario Retirement Pension Plan.

As the first official voice for women in the province, Naidoo-Harris headed the Women’s Economic Empowerment Strategy and the Strategy for Gender-Based Violence. She also worked on anti-human trafficking legislation, led consultations across the province with women’s and Indigenous groups, victims of violence and social reformers, and worked with business and government officials on pay equity and other issues.

She also served as Associate Minister of Finance, and Minister Responsible for Early Years and Child Care.

Before entering politics, Naidoo-Harris was an award-winning journalist in Canada and internationally with outlets including NBC, PBS, CBC, OMNI, TVO and CTV.

This event will take place online on Thursday, March 4, from 1:00 pm to 2:00 pm, and will include a 40-minute talk and 20-minute Q&A. Register at

Dr. Samir Sinha

The Future of Long-term Care in Ontario
Friday, March 12, 12:30 – 1:30 pm

Join Dr. Samir Sinha at a talk and Q&A hosted by the Wilson Leadership Scholar Award, on how COVID-19 might shape the future of Long-term Care in Ontario.

Dr. Samir Sinha is the Director of Geriatrics at Sinai Health System and the University Health Network in Toronto and an Associate Professor of Medicine at the University of Toronto and the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine. He is also the Director of Health Policy Research at Ryerson University’s National Institute on Ageing.

A Rhodes Scholar, Samir is a highly regarded clinician and international expert in the care of older adults. He has consulted and advised governments and health care organizations around the world and is the Architect of the Government of Ontario’s Seniors Strategy. In 2014, Maclean’s proclaimed him to be one of Canada’s 50 most influential people and its most compelling voice for the elderly. He can be found at

The event will take place on Friday, March 12, from 12:30 – 1:30 pm. Register at

Laser Session Speakers

Ahmednur Ali

Ahmednur Ali (@MrAhmednurAli) will lead a laser session on building a professional social media presence. He is a Health Policy PhD candidate and winner of the Michael G. DeGroote Doctoral Scholarship of Excellence. As a policy assistant with the Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care, Ahmednur synthesized current research to inform policy development. Through his work with the McMaster Health Forum’s Impact Lab, Ahmednur further helped make available evidence to support policymaking.

Elise Desjardins

Elise Desjardins will discuss how to work effectively with municipal government officials. She co-developed and co-managed an initiative to improve walking and cycling conditions in downtown Hamilton, and co-authored the Friendly Streets Toolkit. As a board member for Student Open Circles, she supported the development of student leaders and the capacity of local non-profits. Her master’s research brought a public health lens to transportation planning by understanding how built environments influence transportation choices, and her PhD focuses on urban planning and children’s mobility.

Gabriela Roberts

Gabriela Roberts will share how she made time for social change, paid employment and studies. She is a recent McMaster graduate with an Honours B.A. in Political Science and Sociology. During her time at McMaster, she took on many leadership positions while also working at Compass for 15-18 hours a week. Through her involvement in the Hamilton/McMaster, she was able to share resources with students, better connect high school students with McMaster students, and support the many initiatives in and around Hamilton to better support racialized and marginalized students. During her undergraduate studies, she was also able to start a chapter of McMaster Global Public Health Brigades, sending 17 volunteers to Honduras, and organized McMasters’ first Black Students Association. Compounded with the other positions she took on over the years, she was awarded, McMasters Presidency’s award of Excellence in Student Leadership.