People for Education is a unique organization in Canada: independent, non-partisan, and fuelled by a belief in the power and promise of public education. We create evidence, instigate dialogue, and build links so that people can see — and act on — the connection between public education and a fair and prosperous society.
Annie began her advocacy in education during her second year of high school by getting involved in teacher-led campaigns to support positive growth in her school district. From there on, she became outspoken about systemic issues in the local public education system and how they were impacting herself and those around her. Being drawn to teaching, she volunteered as a Teacher’s Assistant in her local elementary school and earned a US Figure Skating Coaching Certification at 17. After moving to Canada, Annie spent three years earning her Honours B.A. in International Development and Educational Studies at York University. Her academic background has led her to examine education as a key component to human development and wellbeing, inspiring her to advocate for positive change that focuses on the needs of youth.
Annie Kidder is the Executive Director and a founder of People for Education. Formerly a theatre director, Kidder became involved in public education in Ontario in the late 1990’s and since then has become an expert on education policy and funding. She regularly provides advice to policy-makers and government, and her writing on education has been published in a range of media. She is the recipient of numerous awards, including the Ontario Principals’ Council 2004 Outstanding Contribution to Education Award, the Canadian Teachers’ Federation 2005 Public Education Advocacy Award, and in 2018, an honourary doctorate from York University. She has spoken at conferences in Canada, the United States, Europe, Africa and South America. She is regularly quoted in the media as an expert on education issues. She lives in Toronto.
Govind is a 2020 McCall MacBain Loran Scholar who is enrolled in the Bachelor of Science program at the University of British Columbia; he is majoring in microbiology. Govind has a strong passion for working with children and community development. Throughout high-school, Govind volunteered with multiple community organizations. Recently, Govind was a member of the Surrey Centre Constituency Youth Council, he is a Rotarian, and he volunteers with SAF International. Govind is currently leading an initiative to expand SAF International into the Okanagan region through UBC and other community organizations. In 2021, Govind was awarded Surrey’s Top 25 Under 25 Award for his community involvement. Govind is a believer in the fact that all children should have the chance to explore their passions and pursue their dreams. Through his work with People for Education, he wants to help fight barriers that students face, such as mental health, racism alongside discrimination, and financial barriers, to assist in making our world an equitable place for all.
Izzah was drawn to being a youth advisor at People for Education due to her intersecting interests in education and systems change. She is currently in her final year of the Bachelor of Sciences Program at McMaster University, specializing in Child Health, and is working alongside the Hamilton-Wentworth District School Board on their Safe Schools project for her thesis. In her spare (and also not-so-spare) time, she can be found listening to her favourite artists on repeat.
Guided by a background in the arts and a love of film, Jasmine believes that research can be used to tell a powerful story and has the potential to incite hope for change. Her research interests concentrate on queer youth, 2SLGBTQ+ inclusive education, equity in schools, and community-engaged research. She is passionate about making research more accessible, while working toward an equitable public education system where all youth have the opportunity to succeed. Jasmine holds an MA in Educational Leadership and Policy from the Ontario Institute for Studies in Education, a BA in Sexual Diversity Studies from the University of Toronto, and a BFA in Film Production from York University. Her master’s thesis explored teacher experiences of Day of Pink in Ontario schools.
Manager, Youth Engagement and Partnerships
Jen Pearson is a knowledgeable, curious, and skilled researcher, advocate, and educator. She is a highly collaborative project manager with a deep appreciation and critical eye toward public education, its flaws and, most importantly, its potential.
In her previous role with Hamilton Community Foundation, Jen leveraged her past experience working with youth to oversee a $15M systems change initiative that ignited collaboration between classrooms, communities, and institutions. Jen is passionate about creating a high quality, equitable public education system that disrupts and dismantles deeply rooted systems of oppression.
In addition to her work at PFE, Jen is a Sessional Faculty Member at McMaster University, teaching courses in community-based research, community engagement, and group process. Her interests include bridging the policy-dissemination gap, international education policy, and youth engagement. In her spare time, Jen loves to hike, bake, and talk about her cats.
Jen holds a BHSc from McMaster University and an MSc from the London School of Economics.
Kate Blair Hagerman
Manager, Evaluation and Improvement
Kate Blair is People for Education’s Manager of Evaluation and Improvement. She has focused her career on critically and collaboratively exploring big questions related to access and retention in education, and opportunities for lifelong learning. Kate is committed to using evaluation to measure and understand impact, and to create spaces to continuously reflect, learn and plan using evidence.
In her previous roles with the Higher Education Quality Council of Ontario (HEQCO) and the Evaluation Centre for Complex Health Interventions (TECCHI), Kate honed her research, evaluation and coordination skills. In these spaces, she identified and assessed programs in place to support access to education and healthcare for underrepresented groups, explored challenges to program implementation, and identified opportunities for ongoing program development in both sectors. In her spare time, Kate enjoys being outside with her husband, son and dog and designing spaces in their home (the older, more it has to be fixed up, the better!).
Kate holds a Master’s degree from the University of Western Ontario where her thesis focused on the educational transitions of d/Deaf youth in Ontario.
Having previously worked in education-related research across sectors in England, Scotland and Sri Lanka, Kaushi Attygalle strives to take an interdisciplinary approach to understanding the complex issues facing public education today. Her experience working in vastly different contexts and settings has allowed her the space to take a comparative view of education and thoughtfully apply that knowledge to local contexts. Prior to joining People for Education, Kaushi worked at the Youth Research & Evaluation Exchange, based at York University, engaging in equity-based education and youth sector research. She is passionate about the role of the arts in creating space for transformative learning both in and outside the classroom and continues to contribute to various arts-based education projects in Colombo, Sri Lanka, where she grew up. She holds a Master of Arts in Education from the Institute of Education, University College London. Outside of work, Kaushi enjoys hiking, is a film and theatre enthusiast, and a full-time foster to rescue dogs in Ontario.
Policy and Research Fellow
Maryam is a non-profit professional who is passionate about women’s and children’s rights, racialized communities, and Canadian-Muslim affairs. She completed her studies at York University and the University of Waterloo, where she obtained her Master’s degree. Her academic background in political science and global governance has very much shaped the way she views the world. By using her personal and professional experiences, Maryam hopes to one day make an impactful change in society. Maryam lives in Niagara Falls with her husband and son.
Robin Liu Hopson
Director, Policy and Research
Robin has worn many hats in the field of education: classroom teacher, policy researcher, published author, and curriculum designer. She joins People for Education after spending seven years at the Council of Ministers of Education, Canada, where she supported pan-Canadian policy and data development in collaboration with all 13 provinces and territories. Her research interests focus on social justice, fostering community among racialized teachers, and the potential of public education to prepare future generations to build and thrive in an equitable society. She holds a PhD in Curriculum, Teaching, and Learning from the University of Toronto, a MA in French Literature (donc elle est bilingue et vous invite de lui contacter en anglais ou en français) from McMaster University, a BEd from the Ontario Institute for Studies in Education, and an Honours BASc from McMaster University. Located in Toronto, she spends her free time trying to keep up with her two kids.
Sharon is a passionate communication professional who believes that words have the power to motivate and inspire people to take action and that’s what drives her work. She is keen about working towards creating a more equitable society, be it promoting access to education for children of marginalized communities in India or advancing women-owned businesses in Canada through supplier diversity.
Sharon has a Masters degree in Communication from Leeds Beckett University in the United Kingdom. In her free time, she enjoys cooking and learning about food and recipes from other countries. Luckily her husband is a big eater! She loves to write (mostly inspired by her own life growing up in a small town in India), go on walks and explore the neighborhood (unfortunately she can’t follow google maps too well and often finds herself lost and forced to ‘explore’), and train her pup, a 10-month-old wheaten terrier (definitely a work-in-progress!).
Having worked in various roles across the nonprofit and education sectors, Stephanie is passionate about what happens behind the scenes to bring transformative action to life. Stephanie was born in Brantford, Ontario and moved to Mexico City with her family as a young girl. She attributes her passion for social progress to her multicultural upbringing. She holds a double major in International Development and Political Science from the University of Toronto Scarborough, and upon graduating worked in the nonprofit sector representing a variety of international, national, and local nonprofits in her work in fundraising. She recently graduated from the Ontario Institute for Studies in Education with her Master of Education and is eager to help transform public education in Canada in becoming more accessible and equitable for all students and communities. In her spare time Stephanie is an avid reader, painter, and volunteer.
Alexis is Director of Health and Human Services for Sidewalk Labs and is based in the Toronto office. Most recently, Alexis worked at MaRS, North America’s largest urban innovation hub, where she lead the Centre for Impact Investing’s health practice and supported the Health Systems Innovation team.
Born and raised in Toronto, Alexis is an experienced management consultant. Alexis has first-hand experience as an entrepreneur in her role as co-founder of a Canadian employee support and education company. Alexis has also worked as a civil servant in the role of Pricing Strategy Lead for Monitor, the regulators for the National Health Service in England.
Alexis is a graduate of the Richard Ivey School of Business at the University of Western Ontario and completed her MBA at London Business School, both with distinction. She is also a proud mother to three awesome kids. In her free time, Alexis enjoys downhill skiing, yoga, and exploring new places and cities.
Anne-Marie Armstrong is an architect and educator. She is a co-founder and principal of architecture and design practice, AAmp Studio, and an Assistant Professor, Teaching Stream at University of Toronto’s Daniels Faculty of Architecture, Landscape and Design. Anne-Marie is also a founding member of BAIDA (Black Architecture and Interior Designer’s Association) where she focuses on mentorship and education within the organization.
Anne-Marie holds a Master of Architecture from Yale University, where she studied on a Fulbright Scholarship, and an Honors Bachelor of Architectural Studies from the University of Waterloo. She is a registered architect in California, Ontario and Maine.
Diavin is a people leader with over 20 years of experience in the networking, telecom and financial services industries. He is passionate about finding inclusive ways to deliver profitable growth. He is currently the Chief Operating Officer for BPTN, where his focus is on creating opportunities for their 60,000+ Black tech and professional members across North America via networking, skill building and barrier elimination. His consulting teams also work with BPTN’s corporate partners to embed inclusive practices into their organizations and help them deliver on their DEI commitments.Diavin is most proud of the work he does volunteering and advocating for his communities. He is the coordinating chair and OHTN primary investigator for the Black Gay Men’s Network of Ontario. He is also a board member of HQ, Canada’s first community health centre focussed on the holistic health needs of queer men and trans people. Diavin is also the board vice-chair and a volunteer mentor with Stepstones for Youth, a non-profit focussed on improving success rates for young people exiting foster care in Ontario. He has also previously served as the co-chair of the Rogers LGBTQ+ employee resource group.
Gerry Connelly is the former Director of Education, Toronto District School Board and Director of Curriculum and Assessment Policy Branch in the Ontario Ministry of Education.
She is an adjunct professor at York University and has also served as Special Advisor – Education for the Learning Partnership and as Vice Chair of the Education, Quality and Accountability Organization (EQAO).
Gerry’s career includes teaching and administration in both rural and urban environments in Alberta, the Northwest Territories, the United States and Ontario, at both the secondary and post-secondary levels. She has worked in South Africa, China and Estonia providing advice on inclusive schools, teaching and learning, curriculum development and second language learning.
Gerry served on several boards including WE Charity, the Children’s Aid Society of Toronto, Humber College, EQAO, Jump Math and ALPHA Education. She co-chaired the Sustainability and Education Academy which provide leadership training and support both nationally and internationally in the area of Education for Sustainable Development.
Gerry is the recipient of many awards including the Distinguished Educator Award from OISE/University of Toronto, the Government of Ontario Teacher Dedication Award by the Royal Conservatory of Music, Learning Through the Arts, the Ontario Supervisory Officers provincial award for Leadership in Public Education. Several other awards have acknowledged her commitment to equity, and community engagement. These include the City of Toronto Bob Marley Award, the Fraser Mustard Award and the University of Toronto Arbor Award. She is recipient of the Science Teacher of the Year Award, Lifetime Achievement Award as a Leader in Science and Phi Delta Kappan/UToronto Outstanding Educator Award.
Helen Davies is currently Vice President Talent Management for TD Bank. Prior to moving to Canada in 2013, Helen was Vice President, Human Resources, TD Wealth International in the UK, where she led the HR, Learning, Communications, and Corporate and Social Responsibilities programs.
Helen holds a BA in Human Resources from the University of Stirling, Scotland and has a Diploma in Employment Law. She lives with her husband and their two young children in Toronto. Helen is an active contributor with ACCES employment, mentoring professionals who are new to Canada, helping them to find employment in their professional field.
Jack Luong is currently Head of Asset Liability Management within the Treasury Department for TD Bank. Where he is responsible for structural interest rate hedging and deposit investment strategies on TD’s large and complex balance sheet. He is a seasoned banking executive with over 17 years of experience in Risk Management, Finance and Treasury. Jack holds a Master of Finance Degree from Queen’s University, as well as a Bachelor of Business Administration degree from the University of Toronto. Additionally he is an Ontario designated Chartered Professional Accountant since 2010.
Jack resides in GTA Toronto with his wife and two young boys, they enjoy giving back to the community through different programs in their personal time. He is passionate about contributing to the vision of a strong, equitable and prosperous Canada where universal public education is enhanced.
Kate Gatto is the National Program Director at the Youth and Philanthropy Initiative Canada, a public charitable foundation that offers a youth-led participatory grant-making program in schools across the country. With ten years of experience in the non-profit sector managing education programs locally, nationally, and globally, Kate is dedicated to empowering youth to be civically engaged leaders in their communities. She approaches this work through social justice education programming in collaboration with students, educators and community partners. Through this work, Kate has served at organizations like TakingITGlobal, IDRF, YMCA, and CAMH, and is currently a member of the Advisory Council at Rawlinson Community School.
Kate earned an M.Ed from Brock University, where she studied the social and cultural contexts of education, and completed her B.A. in English Literature at the University of Toronto. She lives in Toronto in the Corso Italia neighbourhood with her husband and daughter.
Vincent is currently leading revenue strategy and business development for a bespoke digital marketing agency in Toronto, Ontario. Prior to this, Vincent started Canada’s largest financial literacy education organization, which taught tens of thousands of students across the country about the basics of personal finance, and conducted national research on outlying gaps in Ontario’s public education curriculum. In 2017, the company was acquired for its reach across the country and Vincent joined the acquiring firm to support new user acquisition strategy. Vincent chairs the NextGen committee of People for Education’s Board of Directors, which sources feedback and perspective from young professionals on the charity’s vision and initiatives.
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“Your presentation really informed everyone there – and helped us to focus on the key issues in a connected way – that felt grounded in both the facts and heartfelt common sense.”
—Elementary Teachers’ Federation of Ontario
Our strategic plan
A strong, equitable, and prosperous Canada where universal public education fulfills its role as a cornerstone of our society.
To strengthen a universal public education system that graduates all young people with the skills and competencies they need to contribute to a fair and prosperous society, and to live happy, healthy, economically secure, civically engaged lives.
Our strategic priorities
People for Education will:
- Instigate a dialogue, both in Ontario and nationally, about the purpose, value, and future of public education.
- Build links among key constituencies both inside and outside the education sector to enhance a shared understanding of goals for public education.
- Provide evidence and use research to advance public education’s promise, and to ensure that all young people have an equitable chance for long-term success.
People for Education is a registered charity. We are funded through generous donations and grants from individuals, corporations and foundations.
Thank you to the many individuals and organizations who support our work.