Our Professional Advisory Council

Honourary Ambassadors

Marie Bountiogianni, PhD, ICDD

Marie is an award-winning child advocate, psychologist, and educator for life-long learning and entrepreneurship. She is the former Ontario Minister of Children, Community and Social Services and is Chair of the Board of “Help Us Help”, a charity providing assistance for disadvantaged children and their families and caregivers in Ukraine. She is also a member of the Board of Directors of Northland Power Inc. and the Former Dean of The G. Raymond Chang School of Continuing Education at Ryerson University in Toronto, Ontario.  Marie has received multiple awards including the 2017 Gabby Award in New York City in recognition of her contributions on behalf of refugees, minorities, and people with disabilities.

Patricia Carson B.Sc., B.Ed., MA

Pat is currently a member of the Public Health Agency of Canada’s Covid 19 Response Team, and, is engaged in several research projects, such as a linguistics project for the Island of Teanu and the “More Than Words: Equity, Information and Social Impact Assessment” project. With a 20+ professional research management career, she demonstrates exceptional subject matter flexibility and a broad range of methodological skills including but not limited to, systematic review, policy development and analysis, evaluation, risk identification and mitigation(TRA), cost/benefit, analysis and knowledge translation. I have applied these skills to health, social equity and safety and security issues in research, academic and professional settings.

Dave Davis, MD, CCFP, FCFP, FRCPC (Hon)

Dave recently retired from his position as the Senior Director, Continuing Education and Performance Improvement at the Association of American Medical Colleges. He was a family physician in Ontario for nearly forty years and active in continuing medical education as the Chairman of an interprofessional program at a community hospital; Chair of Continuing Education at McMaster University’s Faculty of Health Sciences; Associate Dean, Continuing Education, and Founding Director of the Knowledge Translation (Implementation Science) Program in the Faculty of Medicine, University of Toronto; and Chairman of Ontario’s Guidelines Advisory Committee, the precursor of Health Quality Ontario. As a researcher, he has held grants totaling several million dollars and he is the author of several fictional books. Dave had the opportunity to explore and test models of clinical practice guideline development, adaptation, and implementation of best evidence on a province-wide basis. He has published over 125 peer-reviewed papers, in addition to dozens of abstracts, bool chapters, two major books on Continuing Professional Development and presentations on four continents. His 1995 JAMA systematic review of the effect of CME interventions is widely cited as the seminal study in this field. Finally, Dave has been the Chair or President of multiple national or provincial Canadian organizations, two North American organizations (the Alliance for CME and the Society for Academic CME) and the Guidelines International Network, a global organization dedicated to the development and implementation of evidence-based clinical practice guidelines.

Elizabeth Ford-Jones, MD, FRCPC

Lee is described as an innovator, advocate, mentor, and recognized leader in social paediatrics and infectious diseases because of her impressive body of work as a pediatrician, clinician, and researcher.  For more than 35 years, she has made tremendous contributions to the lives of countless children and families at the Hospital for Sick Children and across Canada by putting the health and well-being of children at the forefront of her professional life in infectious diseases and social medicine.

Most recently, the focus of Lee’s work has been in social pediatrics, an approach to medical interventions that considers the health of a child in the context of their family, environment, and community, and integrates the physical, mental, and social dimensions of a child's health and development into any diagnosis and/or treatment plan. In other words, a physician who practices social pediatrics is as likely to inquire about a parent’s stress levels related employment, income, or food security as they are about their child's height, weight, and developmental milestones.

Philip Hébert, MD, PHD, FRCPC

Philip is a Professor Emeritus at the University of Toronto, a family physician who has taught professional ethics for more than 25 years, and the author of a textbook for physicians and other healthcare professionals, "Doing Right - 3rd editor, 2014".  He received the 2nd Annual William Marsden Award from the Canadian Medical Association for his contribution to medical ethics teaching in Canada.  The College of Family Physicians of Canada named him Ontario's Family Physician of the Year.  In retirement from his position at Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre, Philip continues to influence ethical practices for all professionals.  In 2020, he released the book, "The Trusted Doctor: Medical Ethics and Professionalism".  

Anna Jarvis, MD, FRCPC, MEP

Anna’s major leadership contributions include collaborations with the University of Toronto, Department of Paediatrics, The Hospital for Sick Children, the Royal College Specialty Examination Boards, the Canadian Paediatric Association’s Paediatric Emergency Medicine Section, the Canadian Association of Emergency Physicians, the Toronto Emergency Services,  The Michener Institute for Applied Health Sciences, Life Support Program, the  American Academy of Pediatrics, Greater Toronto Child Health Network, and the Credit Valley Hospital. The Anna Jarvis Award for Teaching in Emergency Medicine was established in 1993 to recognize excellence amongst the faculty in Emergency Medicine at the University of Toronto. While the Associate Dean Health Professions, Student Affairs, Toronto, she developed and coordinated student support services. Dr. Jarvis’ major educational contributions at The Hospital for Sick Children have been the creation and development of a wide variety of Paediatric Emergency Medicine, Continuing Education and Life Support Educational Learning Opportunities.

Jonathan Kakegamic, BoE

Jonathan is Oji-Cree from the Keewaywin First Nation and with years of experiences as a teacher, school principal, and a consultant. At that early age, he dreamed of a world where he would ensure that all of his students received the attention they needed to succeed. Over the course of time, his dream to be a teacher came true and he became known for his “student-centred approach” in all of his interactions as a teacher and as he took on leadership roles. He also was the Principal of the Indigenous School in Thunder Bay. Within one year, he had implemented all of the educational recommendations of the Inquest into the missing young Indigenous youth. He then became the Principal of the Toronto Indigenous School and built upon the original high school to establish a school that engaged young people in a culturally sensitive curriculum from pre-school to grade twelve.

Rita Karakas, BoE

Rita is the Founder of RSK Associates Inc., an international consultancy with over 30 years of global experience in both the government and non-government sectors. She has expertise in strategies for corporate planning, organizational change, and strategic management planning with a substantive track in bringing about continual and recognizable transformation. Currently, she is acting as Organizational Development consultant to EQUAL MEASURES 2030, a UK based coalition supported by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, tracking mega data on gender within the United Nation's Sustainable Development Goals. Among her many volunteer activities, Rita serves as a member of the Board of La Chapelle, the Scenes Contemporaines and The Theatre Museum Canada.

Walter Rosser, MD, CCFP, FCFP, MRCGP

Walter is a Professor Emeritus at Queen’s University and a well-recognized healthcare visionary and pioneer in family medicine research. As the President of the Ontario College of Family Physicians, he led a visioning exercise in 1998 that has been realized in the creation of the Northern School of Medicine, and health system reform that is currently described as “Ontario Health Teams”. He transformed family medicine research and education during his terms as the Chair of four departments of family medicine at the University of Ottawa, McMaster University, the University of Toronto and Queen’s University. Walter is best recognized as a beloved practicing family physician whose practice focused on the most vulnerable of patients. He is the recipient of multiple research awards including the Maurice Wood Award from the North American Primary Care Research Group, the Order of Canada and the OCFP’s Jan Kasperski Leadership Award. Prior to finishing medical school, Dr. Rosser’s research endeavours were published in leading peer reviewed journals and he was presented with his first of many “Best Research Paper” awards. Walter also helped found the Canadian Primary Care Sentinel Surveillance Network, with the intent to collect health information from electronic medical records across Canada. Having supported the establishment of the Healthy Child Development Committee and its involvement in enacting many of the recommendations of the Mustard and McCain Early Years Report, his involvement with Resilient Kids Canada reflects his dedication to the health and well-being of Canada’s young people.

Professional Advisors

Ewa Antczak, PhD, C. Psych

Ewa is a registered child and youth psychologist in private practice at the Core Centre and at the Catholic District School Board. She is the Founder and CEO of the “IdealMe Enrichment Foundation” that promotes excellency and positive change through education, technology, and art. The Foundation created Talk2Alex, an innovative App that provides kids with a robo-friend that helps them to feel better and shows them how to take care of themselves. Ewa is affiliated with the Ontario Psychological Association’s Section on Psychology in Education, a member of the Learning Disability Intensive Support Programming Committee, the Learning Disability Programming Recommendations Committee, as well as the Alternative Curriculum Committee where she is responsible for the development and implementation of specialized programs for students who have cognitive and behavioural problems.  Ewa is an author and co-author of several research papers and has presented at multiple conferences, workshops and training sessions on subjects such as social intelligence, anxiety, alexithymia, negative attitude changing, narrative mode, child development, cognitive and behavioural disabilities, and mental health. For many years, she has been affiliated with the pre-doctoral psychology internship consortium and provides supervision for several practicum and internship students at the Catholic District School Board.

Diana Arsenyan, MBA, CPA (c)

Diana is an Asset Manager for the Asset Management/Growth Fund at Starlight Investments. Previously, she was a Senior Consultant at Ernest & Young Orenda Corporate Finance Inc., a transaction real estate advisory group.  She is also an Executive Committee Member of the Schulich Financial Alumni Association and coaches and mentors recent MBA graduates. She is a former volunteer for North York General Hospital and Queen’s University.

Celia Atkinson, MSc, PhD, MD, RCPSC

Celia is Chief of Paediatrics and the Medical Co-Program Director of Maternal, Newborn, and Child Services at Michael Garron Hospital. Dr. Atkinson oversee the neonatal and paediatric services for east Toronto’s diverse population. She supports an expert team of paediatricians, neonatologists, nurses, dietitians, pharmacists, speech language pathologists, social workers, lactation consultants and child life specialists to provide comprehensive care to children from birth to 18 years of age and their families. She is a paediatrician in the Division of Clinical and Metabolic Genetics at Sick Kids Hospital and a Lecturer at the University of Toronto. Celia has many peer-reviewed publications in glucose transporter research and the molecular mechanisms of type II diabetes. She is also the recipient of many teaching awards. She received her medical degree from the University of Toronto and completed her paediatric residency at Sick Kids Hospital. She also has completed a master’s degree and a Doctorate in Biochemistry and Cell Biology at the University of Toronto.  Celia has many peer-reviewed publications in glucose transporter research and the molecular mechanisms of type II diabetes. She is also the recipient of many teaching awards.

Bruce Ballon, BSc, MD, ESPC, FRCPC

Bruce is an award-winning psychiatrist with over two decades of experience in experiential education, creative clinical program development for complex populations and evidence-base care with specialities in addictions, youth, and family psychiatry. He is an Associate Professor of Psychiatry and Public Health at the University of Toronto and an Adjunct Professor at the Ontario Institute of Technology’s Faculty of Health Sciences. As the Director of Education for SIM-one, he developed numerous programs and fostered the next generation of simulationists. Dr. Ballon works with industries involved in technology and games to understand their impacts on people’s lives, has written books for children, parents and the public on mental health issues and functions as a media consultant to create accurate portrayals of psychiatric issues. Bruce is an illusionist who performs to educate the public on mental health issues. In addition to performing at Stratford and Canada Stage, he collaborates with professional illusionists from around the world. The games he has created dealing with mental health issues have gardened awards from the Games Manufacturers Association and international literary and academic associations. He has launched a small board game company to develop “off screen” games that involve an understanding of the human condition and to raise awareness of mental health issues.

Kathryn Bouey

Kathryn is the Founder and President of TBG Strategic Services. She is a recognized as a high performing senior Executive and board director. She has a proven record of excellent leadership, sound judgment and reliability in achieving results and first-rate customer satisfaction. She has strong conceptional abilities and interpersonal skills, as well as skills in planning operations and project management. Kathy has led a wide-range of complex projects and programs in the public sector involving millions of dollars, and has had extensive experiences with large scale business transformation projects and the associated project management, such as the Canadian Partnership Against Cancer, Public Health Ontario and Computer Ontario. During a stellar public service care at the provincial and federal , Kathryn rose to the rank of Deputy Minister of the Ontario Management Board Secretariat, where she made recommendations on all the Ministries’ business plans and government risk, expenses and performance management. Kathryn is currently on the Board of the Canadian Revenue Agency Board of Management and has served on the boards, including Hydro One, Sheridan College, the Ontario Pension Board, the Ontario Power Generation Board, the Ontario Pension Board, the Ontario Financing Authority, the Canadian Comprehensive Auditing Foundation and St. Joseph’s Health Care Centre (Toronto).

Barb Chrysler, MA, PhD

Barb is a Professor at the Conestoga College, a PhD Graduate Student at the University of Waterloo, the author of several popular children’s books and the founder and of her own publishing company. Her career and educational pursuits have focused on how to facilitate change and increased revenues for social enterprises. As the Managing Director of BDC Research & Consulting, Barb has had opportunities to work on several local and international projects. She has had experiences at various levels from the frontlines to planning, education, management, director and acting executive director. She has worked in the fields of homelessness, mental health, addictions, hospital restructuring, Aboriginal healthcare and criminal justice. Her professional experiences include roles as Director for the Southwest Ontario Aboriginal Health Access Centre, and Program Manager/Bail Supervisor with Community Resources for People in Conflict with the Law. Having achieved an undergraduate degree and a master’s degree in Psychology, Ms. Barb is pursuing a Doctor of Philosophy with the University of Waterloo’s Environmental Studies Planning Department, in the arena of homelessness for Indigenous Peoples. Her research interests include understanding processes to facilitate change in communities and organizations, community economic development, social enterprise development, revitalization of marginalized neighbourhoods, active transportation, food waste management and social justice. Currently, she is completing her Ph.D. in housing for Indigenous peoples.

Bernice Downey, RN, MSc, PhD

Bernice has led the Faculty of Health Sciences’ Indigenous Health Initiative at McMaster University since 2017 and was recently appointed as the Faculty’s first Associate Dean, Indigenous Health.  She oversees the development of an Indigenous Health Learning Lodge, encourages the development and support of Indigenous health programming, addresses barriers to Indigenous faculty recruitment, and works with associate and assistant deans to integrate Indigenous health education into program curricula. She is also the Acting Director of McMaster’s Indigenous Research Institute and an assistant professor at the School of Nursing and the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioural Neurosciences.  She has a 40-year+ career as a healthcare leader, educator, researcher and joined the McMaster Faculty in 2017.  

Jennifer Johnson B.A., B.Ed., M.A

Jennifer is the co-founder of Captains and Poets, a unique K-12 curriculum that bridges Social Emotional Learning (SEL) with Inclusion programming.  As a parent, a former educator, an entrepreneur and a passionate change-maker, Jennifer is on a mission to empower young people to be their best selves to create a better world. She has an M.A. in Education in Curriculum, Teaching and Organizational Learning and has been a curriculum writer and designed and implemented numerous transformational programs over the span of her career. As a parent of two children, her focus is on nurturing self-leadership skills and the ability to navigate an increasingly dynamic world with compassion, resilience, and authenticity. Captains & Poets programming highlights the importance of the Superpowers of empathy, compassion, curiosity, gratitude and courage and how they all work together to help us be resilient! The organization is on a mission to catalyze the sense of belonging and agency young people feel and to ignite their innate abilities to thrive in a complex world. 

Heather Knoepfi, PhD

Heather is a renowned advocate for young children and their families.  For over 41 years, she has been the Director of Brant Children’s Centre, a large childcare centre in Burlington, Ontario. Her aim is to provide a safe, healthy environment where children can develop their knowledge and skills for success in primary school.  Heather has served as lecturer at the University of Toronto, followed by positions at Fanshawe College, Sheridan College, University of Guelph, and for over 20 years at Ryerson University in the Early Childhood Department. While at Ryerson, she evolved a course, Children’s Television, in association with the Radio and Television Arts Department, and conducted several research studies on the viewing habits of children and the impact of television violence on children. She is a well-respected consultant to several TV stations in Canada and focused her research on the impact of television of young minds. As a Board member of the Vanier Institute of the Family, Dr. Knoepfli assisted with the evolution of the Institute’s programming direction, emphasizing the importance of family on the socio-emotional development of children.  Dr. Knoepfli was a consultant to ADCO’s Early Year’s Project, developing a practical guide for parents and childcare professionals regarding alternative Early Years’ Learning Approaches.  As a consultant to the Early Literacy Project conducted by the Kiwanis Club of Ottawa, she helped develop a video and guide, “Precious Minds: Nurturing Literacy in the Early Years”.  Dr. Knoepfli was a member of the Steering Committee for the Federal Government’s Sector Study on Child Care.  She has been a consultant and keynote speaker at conferences related to children, and written guides and manuals for parents around issues such as “Daycare: A Crucial Issue for Parents” and “Communicating with Children”.

Dr. Jill Konkin, MD, CCFP

Jill is a family physician who was the first Associate Dean, Admissions and Student Affairs at the Northern School of Medicine.  She is the Interim Rural Integrated Community Clerkship Coordinator and Co-Lead of the Social Justice Community of Services and Scholarship at the University of Alberta.  Previously, she was the Associate Dean and Division Director of Community Engagement with a focus on health equity, social justice, and social accountability.  She also served as the Associate Dean, Rural and Regional Health.  She currently provides a rotating service in Fort Chipewyan and locums for comprehensive rural family physicians.

Karen J. Scott, BA, PMP, ITI:V3

Karen is the Executive Director of Muslim Children’s Aid and Support Services.  She is also Founder of Karen J. Scott PMP Solutions.   Previously, she was a project manager with EDS Deutschland GmbH where she spearheaded multiple international projects.  She has served on the board of several organizations devoted to the needs of vulnerable people including Sleeping Children Around the World and the Emajjim Children’s Foundation that supports children who are disabled or disadvantaged.

Jayne Morrish, BA.H, MA

Jayne is the Knowledge Mobilization Officer at Brock University’s Centre for Lifespan Development Research Institute. Knowledge translation and mobilization is an emerging field of research that affords her the opportunity to become a key member of the Centre for Lifespan Development Research Institutes’ team. The Lifespan Institute is focused on community-engaged research and partnership initiatives. Jayne engages with the community leaders and various stakeholders to support their organizations to utilize the Lifespan Institutes’ research findings in practice, policy, and public health. The focus of her work is translating and co-creating new knowledge while building strong and authentic connections with the community/partners. Jayne has received multiple awards, including the SSHRC Joseph-Armand Bombardier CGS Master’s Scholarship, the Certificate of Academic Excellence from the Canadian Psychological Association, Brock University’s President’s Distinguished Staff Service Award, and a 40 Under Forty award.  She is Chair of the Board of the Niagara’s Learning Disabilities Association and Vice-President of the Brock University Alumni Association Board of Directions. Jayne volunteers with Habitat for Humanity and has spent time in Vietnam and Bali helping to build housing for families in need.

Michael Ungar, PhD

Michael is the Canada Research Chair in Child, Family and Community Resilience and a Professor of Social Work at Dalhousie University. His role at Dalhousie University includes the Scientific Lead Researcher, Founder and Director of the Resilience Research Centre and President of the Resilience Research Centre Evaluation and Translation Institute. The Resilience Research Centre collaborates with local, national and international institutions to carry out innovation research that explores pathways to resilience across cultures to explain how children, youth and adults thrive in family, school, workplace and community settings under stress.  Dr. Ungar is also an acclaimed family therapist with experience working with marginalized populations of youth. He has published over 200 peer-reviewed articles and book chapters on resilience and is the author of 16 books for mental health professionals, researchers. and parents. His publications include Change Your World: The Science of Resilience and the True Path to Success, a book for adults experiencing stress at work and at home, Working with Children and Youth with Complex Needs, a book for professional counselors, and I Still Love You: Nine Things Troubled Kids Need from Their Parents, an inspiring story of family resilience written for caregivers and educators. His blog, Nurturing Resilience, can be read on Psychology Today’s website.

David Waitzer B.A., B.Ed., M.Ed.

David is an international educator who has a strong passion for youth empowerment, social intelligence and curiosity. His intellectual passions include social psychology and systems of inclusion, as well as organizational change. Currently a Regional Director at Synthesis School, David has helped lead international schools as well as startups related to online education and insect agriculture. With teaching and educational leadership experience in six countries, David brings a global perspective to our team. He is currently working on his Doctorate in Educational Leadership and Administration.

Christine Wekerle, PhD.

Christine is a clinical psychologist, an Associate Professor in Pediatrics and an Associate Member of the Offord Centre for Child Studies, McMaster University. She has been an active scientist, publishing in peer-reviewed journals since 1987. Her research focuses on youth who have had adverse childhood experiences and their current mental health and resilience. Christine and team have developed a youth resilience app, JoyPopTM, to support day-to-day resilient functioning. Her new book with colleagues, Child Maltreatment (2nd Edition), is targeted to those whose practice engages them in the issues of child maltreatment. She also is Editor-in-Chief of the premier international journal, Child Abuse & Neglect, and founding editor of the open-access journal, International Journal of Child and Adolescent Resilience. She led the Maltreatment and Adolescent Pathways Research Study partnered with Canada’s largest child welfare agencies to track youth outcomes across adolescence. Her team grant (#CIHRTeamSV) focuses on the impact of sexual violence victimization among male youth and young adults, seeking to understand components of resilience and developing intervention innovations. This work is ongoing with ECPAT International as a key partner (End Child Prostitution, Child Pornography, and the Trafficking of Children for Sexual Purposes).

Youth Advisors

Maria Shaikh

Maria is an honour roll high school student in Oakville, Ontario.  She is interested in a career in healthcare and psychology.  She recently completed a work placement at Resilient Kids Canada sourcing resources for the website.

Chanice McANuff

Chanice is an experienced peer advisor with a history of working for the child welfare sector as an expert consultant and advocate with lived experience. As a student at McMaster University focused on Social Psychology, Neurosciences and Behaviour with a minor in business She was a primary consultant to Children First Canada, and is currently serving on the Youth Steering Committee at the Ontario Association of Children's Aid Societies, the Founder and CEO of Project Outsiders and an advocate and Board Member of the York Region Children's Aid Society - a peer mentor with CHEERS at the Parkdale Queen West Community Health Centre.

Manush Patel

Manush is a high school student in Burlington, Ontario. He recently developed an App for young people encouraging them to get active and enhance their mental health.  He has been coding since Grade 10 and wishes to pursue a degree in computer sciences.  He is a web designer and developer for UnjhaSpice Inc., a volunteer assistant tabla instructor, and a volunteer with Canadian Blood Services.

Resilient Kids Canada

We do not provide mental health services.  If you require assistance, we recommend you contact:

Crisis Services Canada:  to help you to find distress centres and crisis organizations across Canada.  You can assess immediate help by calling 1-833-456-4566 (toll-free and available 24/7) or by Texting 45645 (4 pm – 12 am ET).

Kids Help Phone: available 24 hours a day for young people aged five (5) to twenty-nine (29).  Phone 1-800-668-6868 (toll-free) or text Connect 686868.

Hope for Wellness Helpline: a 24/7 crisis counselling helpline for Indigenous people across Canada who are suffering from mental health issues. Contact them at 1-855-242-3310 or visit their chat line at www.hopeforwellness.ca

Resilient Kids Canada’s Registered Charity Number 718447477 RR 001

Land Acknowledgment: Our lands spanning from Lake Ontario to the Niagara Escarpment are steeped in the Indigenous History and Modern Traditions of the many Firsts Nations and Métis. The territory is mutually covered by the Dishwith One Spoon Wampum Belt Covenant, an agreement between the Iroquois Confederacy, the Ojibway and other allied Nations to peaceably share and care for the resources around the Great Lakes. We would like to acknowledge that the land on which we gather is part of the Tready Land and Territory of the Mississaugas of the Credit.