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 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.
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.
(Currently on Maternity Leave)
Kate Blair manages People for Education’s Future of Public Education initiative. Kate’s commitment to evidence-based decision making and passion for exploring themes related to access, retention and opportunities for lifelong learning have guided her career. Now working at the nexus of research, project management, and stakeholder engagement, Kate’s efforts focus on designing and ensuring the successful implementation of PFE’s multi-year national initiative.
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, Kate 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.
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.
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 anti-racism, social justice, fostering community among racialized teachers, and the potential of a universal public education in preparing 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), a BEd from the Ontario Institute for Studies in Education, and an Honours BASc from McMaster University. Located in Toronto, Robin believes that the east end is the best end, which is where she lives with her partner and two kids.
Sumaiya was born in a small town in Bangladesh and grew up in both Canada and Qatar. She has previously worked as Senior Project Coordinator for a Canadian Holocaust education and commemoration registered charity. Sumaiya also serves as Co-Board Chair for Sisters Across Oceans, a Toronto-based non-profit serving Bangladeshi women of the diaspora. Previously, Sumaiya has worked in the consulting, education policy, and infrastructure policy sphere. Sumaiya is also a researcher and writer at a 501(c) non-profit that focuses on increasing education rates for Indigenous youth of the Chittagong Hill Tract while challenging the decline of Indigenous languages spoken in the region. In this capacity, Sumaiya is able to support OGH’s commitment to creating culturally relevant education material for more than 4,300 students, design curriculum in accordance with the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, and train local educators in Indigenous languages.
Sumaiya holds an MSc in Comparative Social Policy from the University of Oxford and a BA (Hons) in Public Policy and English Literature from the University of Toronto. Her master’s thesis explored the role of foreign credential recognition in redressing the education-employment mismatch of high-skilled immigrants in OECD countries.
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.
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.
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.
Carina graduated with an Honours BA from Western University in 2018. During her four years at Wester, Carina served as the president of Arts and Humanities Faculty Student’s Council, held the position of Gender Equality Network for the University Students’ Council (USC) of Western University, and worked on multiple gender-equity projects in the London community. In her fourth year, Carina campaigned and was elected as the USC Student Programs Officer for 2018/19. In this full-time position, Carina worked to address and prevent gender-based violence on campus, and to elevate the voice and integration of women in politics through various campaigns. For Western’s Orientation Week, Carina developed an original campaign to address sexual violence and educate Western’s incoming class about consent. As a capstone to her work at the USC, Carina developed and executed a successful pilot project to collect data about the viability of providing free menstrual products permanently in campus washrooms. Carina is currently pursuing a Master of Public Policy at the University of Toronto’s Munk School of Global Affairs and Public Policy.
Claire’s experience spans the private and charity sectors, beginning with a 12 year career at KPMG in Toronto and the UK in audit and human resources. For over twenty years Claire’s professional training as an accountant has provided her with the opportunity to work, in a voluntary capacity, with a variety of charities and not-for-profits, in both Toronto and the UK across a variety of sectors including education, health, social services and the arts. Claire’s passion for working with these organizations led her to obtain her Masters in Charity Accounting and Financial Management at Cass Business School in London. Claire has returned to the Board of People for Education after 6 years living in the U.K. and continues to support the ongoing work and expanding reach of the organization and it’s mandate to ensure that public education is a pillar of Canadian society.
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.
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.
Mirka Macalik says, “We are fortunate to have an independent organization working not only to guide Ontario parents through the issues in the public system, but also one who’s research on education is internationally recognized. Students need a strong foundation, People for Education is helping build it.” Mirka has been a member of the Board of Directors since 2014. After several years working in Capital Markets for various financial institutions she has been actively involved in her local community schools and more recently with People for Education.
Scott Nowlan joined the Board in 2015 and did so because he believed that “the work that PFE is doing is critical. As a strong and independent voice that provides invaluable research and priorities for policy makers and citizens, PFE must continue to be a strong advocate for public education – it is a much needed and valued voice for everyone who believes that public education is one of the pillars of our community”. Scott has three children in the public system. He has been a volunteer with other community organizations for many years. Scott is the founder and President of The Saunus Network, an Ottawa-based management consulting firm.
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
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.