Informing policy, practice, and public debate on higher education

Participants’ Bios


FIONA FOSTER: Fiona Foster is currently the acting Director of the Strategic Policy Branch at the Ministry of Advanced Education and Skills Development (MAESD). The Branch leads the work on a number of strategic initiatives, including access policy, Strategic Mandate Agreements, metrics, and international education.  Fiona joined MAESD as a Manager of the Policy and Project Coordination Unit in 2014. She has been in senior advisor and management roles at the Ministries of Community Safety and Correctional Services, Health and Housing, the Death Investigation Oversight Council and the Cabinet Office. Fiona received her Masters’ degree in Urban Planning from the University of Manitoba and the Bachelor of Arts (coop) from Simon Fraser University. She also studied in an exchange program in Germany and Scotland.

lindaLINDA FRANKLIN: Linda Franklin is the president and CEO of Colleges Ontario. Linda Franklin joined Colleges Ontario as President and CEO in 2007. She has spearheaded a system wide marketing campaign on the value of college education, brought public attention to the impending skills shortage and led advocacy efforts to improve pathways for students. Previously, Linda was CEO of the Wine Council of Ontario.  There, she worked with government on legislation that dramatically improved the economics of the industry, allowing the number of wineries to rise from 20 to almost 200 today. Linda’s early career included time as a partner in a consulting company, the head of communications for a regulatory body and for government MPPs, and Chief of Staff to an Ontario cabinet minister.   She has an MA in journalism from Western University.

As HEQCO’s Executive Director, Data & Statistics, Martin is focused on managing HEQCO’s evidence-based infrastructure and capacity. He builds research findings and policy advice primarily through the lens of data, indicators, their analysis and their application, and brings the experiences of a career with the Government of Ontario largely dedicated to higher education. Martin has also served in the Ontario Cabinet Office and as a senior administrator at Durham College.

smccahanuoftSUSAN McCAHAN: Susan McCahan is currently the Vice-Provost, Innovations in Undergraduate Education at the University of Toronto. She is formerly the Vice Dean, Undergraduate in the Faculty of Applied Science and Engineering. Since 2003, Dr. McCahan has been involved in a large first-year course that uses service learning pedagogy and multiple digital tools to enhance student engagement. She is actively involved in the evolution of the University’s academic technology toolbox, and online learning initiatives. Her research area is in engineering education. She is a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science and has been the recipient of several major teaching awards including the 3M National Teaching Fellowship and the Medal of Distinction in Engineering Education from Engineers Canada.

ERIN McGINN:  Erin McGinn was appointed Assistant Deputy Minister, Highly Skilled Workforce Division for the Ministry of Advanced Education and Skills Development on September 12, 2016.  She provides executive leadership and strategic direction in the implementation of the government’s Highly Skilled Workforce strategy, which will help ensure that Ontario has the workforce it needs for today, tomorrow, and the future.  She is supporting the government’s vision, where all learners, workers, educators and employers have the qualities they need to thrive in the 21st century economy.  Prior to this role, Erin served as Assistant Vice-President, Communications, Government and Community Engagement since April 2013. She joined Ryerson in 2005 as director of the Office of the President. In 2011, she was named executive director representing Ryerson in the transformation of Maple Leaf Gardens – one of the most historic and iconic stadiums in North America – into the Mattamy Athletic Centre, the university’s award-winning multi-purpose athletic centre.  Erin moved to Ryerson from progressively senior roles in the Office of the Premier of Ontario and the Office of the Prime Minister of Canada. She formerly held the position of director of operations and government relations in the Office of the Vice-President, Research at the University of Toronto.

julieJULIE PETERS: Dr. Julie Peters is Vice President Research at Academica Group, a Canadian research and consulting firm focused on postsecondary education (PSE). Her work spans a broad range of subjects, covering all things related to PSE in Canada. One of Julie’s primary areas of focus is work-integrated learning. Julie was a key member of the Academica research team that completed the HEQCO multi-phase study of work-integrated learning in Ontario, collecting and analyzing data from employers, students, and faculty about their WIL experiences and perspectives. As Academica’s Vice President Research, Julie oversees more than seventy research projects each year for postsecondary institutions, sector organizations, and government agencies, and she serves as the editor of the free bi-weekly publication, the Indigenous Top Ten.

slide1MARY PREECE: With a PhD in Education, Mary Preece has been involved in postsecondary education in Ontario for more than 35 years.  Having served as a professor in the School of Business at Centennial College for 15 years, Mary moved into academic administration in 1992 first as a Chair, then Director, and ultimately as Dean of Academic Studies.  In 2002, Mary became Provost and Vice President Academic at The Michener Institute for Applied Health Sciences where she spearheaded a wide range of change initiatives to incorporate simulation education, inter-professional education in health care and the assessment of health care competencies. In 2008, Mary joined Sheridan as Provost and Vice President Academic and began her tenure with the collaborative creation of the Academic Innovation Strategy – The Creative Campus (2010) reflecting Sheridan’s commitment to creativity and innovation.  Mary has been instrumental in the development of Sheridan’s new vision to become a unique undergraduate teaching university focused on applied professional education.  Always a strong advocate for strategies to support faculty development and student learning, Mary is honoured to be part of the Sheridan community and to serve as its President and Vice Chancellor from November 1, 2016.

slide1JUDENE PRETTI: Judene Pretti is the Director of the Centre for the Advancement of Co-operative Education at the University of Waterloo. She led a longitudinal study of the effectiveness of a professional development program for co-op students, resulting in a publication by HEQCO. She led a project for a $300,000 grant from the Ontario Ministry of Training, Colleges and Universities which investigated ways to increase the success of first work term for students and employers. She has provided oversight and guidance on a number of research projects over the past year including an investigation of indicators of quality of experience for co-op students and their supervisors (projects supported by OHCRIF grants), and the connection between co-op and lifelong learning.  She is a contributing author on a number of publications related to work-integrated learning. Ms. Pretti is actively engaged in the work-integrated learning community within Canada, as the chair of the research committee for the Canadian Association of Co-operative Education (CAFCE), and internationally, as a member of the International Research Group for the World Association for Cooperative and Work-Integrated Education (WACE).

anneANNE SADO: Anne Sado has been President of George Brown College since 2004. She is Chair of the Board of ORION and the Toronto Region Board of Trade, and past Chair of the Board for Polytechnics Canada and Trillium Health Centre. In the past, Anne has served as Chair of Colleges Ontario’s Committee of Presidents and on the boards of the Toronto Financial Service Alliance, YWCA of Greater Toronto, Junior Achievement and the Canadian Hearing Society Foundation. Anne was appointed a Member of the Order of Canada in June 2013. Anne holds an MBA from the University of Toronto as well as a Bachelor of Applied Science in Engineering. Anne was also awarded a Doctor of Laws, honoris causa, from the University of Toronto in June 2011.

rogerROGER STRASSER: Dr. Roger Strasser is a leader in the global reform of health professional education. He is currently Professor of Rural Health, Dean and CEO of the Northern Ontario School of Medicine, Lakehead and Laurentian Universities.  Recognizing the importance of context and community in medical education and research, Dr Strasser has gained an international reputation for developing and refining novel strategies to train health professionals in and for rural communities. As a result of his formative work in his field, Dr Strasser has become one of the world’s foremost authorities in rural, socially accountable medical education, as well as a sought-after speaker and advisor. Prior to moving to Northern Ontario in 2002 with his wife of over 30 years, Dr Sarah Strasser, and their five children, Roger Strasser was Professor of Rural Health and Head of the Monash University School of Rural Health in Australia and had an international role with the World Organization of Family Doctors (WONCA) as Chair of the Working Party on Rural Practice from 1992-2004.

valerieVALERIE WALKER: Valerie Walker is Vice President of Innovation and Skills at the Business Council of Canada, a not-for-profit organization composed of the CEOs of Canada’s leading enterprises, which engages in an active program of research, consultation, and advocacy on economic and social issues of national importance. In her role, Val provides leadership on innovation, skills, immigration and labour market issues, and supports the work of the Business Higher Education Roundtable (BHER). Composed of leaders from the private sector, universities, colleges and polytechnics, BHER works to support young Canadians as they transition from education to the workplace, strengthen research collaboration between industry and institutions, and help Canadian employers as they adapt to the economy of the future. Prior to joining the Council, Val was the Director of Policy at Mitacs, where she was responsible for maintaining Mitacs’ reputation as a thought leader on innovation policy. She has a PhD from McGill University and is an alumnus of the Government of Canada’s Recruitment of Policy Leaders Program.