Plenary Session Speaker Biographies

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Toni MorganTONI MORGAN’s perspective on issues ranging from poverty to education and youth employment were refreshing additions to the media and at civic roundtables. She became a contributor and blogger for the Globe and Mail and the Toronto Star, as well a featured activist in NOW Weekly and Chatelaine Magazine.

After being inspired to complete her high school diploma, Toni attended Ryerson University and earned her Bachelor of Arts in Equity & Diversity in 2008. Still committed to her community work, Toni divided her energy between school and her youth work in Toronto’s west end. In 2005, Toni was also chosen as a Canadian guardian of the Women’s Global Charter, rallying over 20,000 women to speak out against injustice in Canada.

At the age of 22, only a year after starting her program at Ryerson, Toni was hired to launch and manage Women Moving Forward (WMF), a $1M initiative designed to inspire young mothers to pursue post-secondary education. Toni transformed the program using her personal experiences and commitment to diversity and equity in education. To date, WMF has helped hundreds of women and their children breaking the cycle of poverty through post-secondary education and training. The program received critical acclaim and was awarded by the Toronto Community Foundation as a “Vital Idea”, bridging the gap between the rich and the poor.
Following her work at WMF, Toni moved to the social housing sector, becoming the youngest senior manager in the organization. Her work in partnerships, social enterprise and strategy helped to change the conversation about affordable housing from a peripheral one to central one. When asked about her unconventional career path, Toni credits her unique brand of activism, her entrepreneurial spirit and her unwavering dedication to fairness and equity in systems. Toni has also founded Medina, a media literacy collective for young women interested in bringing feminist voices to pop culture. Today Toni is the head of strategy and programs at The Beat Academy, an arts and tech academy serving youth in Canada and the US. She has also become a sought-after speaker on Leadership, Community Mobilization, and Fundraising, after crowdfunding $71K in 48 hours to attend Harvard University, where she is now pursuing a Master’s in Education.

Martin NakataProfessor MARTIN NAKATA, Ph.D., is an internationally recognized published scholar – both in terms of learning and teaching, and research. He has delivered keynote and plenary addresses in PNG, Malaysia, Taiwan, South Africa, Norway, Scotland, Greece, Iceland, Peru, New Zealand, United States and across Australia.

Prof Nakata has worked in Australian Indigenous education for over thirty-six years, challenging the established ways of understanding the contemporary position and possibilities for Indigenous Australians in education. His areas of focus have included higher education curriculum areas, the academic preparation of Indigenous students, and Indigenous knowledge.
As one of Australia’s top Indigenous scholars, Prof Nakata leads the James Cook University’s Australian Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Centre, as Pro Vice Chancellor. Prof Nakata was one of JCU’s inaugural Outstanding Alumni, and the first Torres Strait Islander in Australia to graduate with a PhD. Previous to JCU, Prof Nakata served as Director of Nura Gili at the University of New South Wales. He is a Torres Strait Islander, one of Australia’s first people.

John FinkJOHN FINK is a Research Associate in the Community College Research Centre of the Teachers College at Columbia University. He conducts research on student course-taking and enrollment patterns, two- and four-year institution transfer partnerships, high school dual enrollment students, and implementation and impacts of “guided pathways” reforms.

John led analysis and co-authored​ with Davis Jenkins​ the 2016 Tracking Transfer​ report (http://ccrc.tc.columbia.edu/publications/tracking-transfer-institutional-state-effectiveness.html) presenting new metrics and national findings on state and institutional transfer performance. He subsequently co-authored the Transfer Playbook​ (http://ccrc.tc.columbia.edu/publications/transfer-playbook-essential-practices.html) detailing the essential practices of high-performing transfer partnerships.

John's research is published in the Journal of American College Health, Journal of Student Affairs Research & Practice, New Directions for Student Services​,​​ and the NASPA Journal About Women in Higher Education. He regularly presents at national conferences and has been invited to give keynote and plenary addresses at the National Institute for the Study of Transfer Students, AACC Fall Meeting, and regional conferences in New York, Florida, Ohio, Maine, Pennsylvania, and Ontario.

Prior to joining CCRC, ​John​ advised transfer students and created a comprehensive support program for community college transfer students at the University of Maryland, College Park where he also earned a M​​A​​ in College Student Personnel. Previously, he earned a B​A​​ in Psychology and Sociology from the University of Wisconsin​, Madison​​.

, Ph.D., is an associate professor and the William G. Davis Chair in Community College Leadership at the Ontario Institute for Studies in Education, University of Toronto. Prior to arriving in Canada at the beginning of 2014, Leesa was an associate professor in adult and vocational education at the University of Melbourne in Australia. She started her career in postsecondary education as a college teacher in 1994 (called technical and further education institutes – or TAFEs). In 2002, she led a project which developed Australia’s first set of Recognition of Prior Learning Principles and Policies in the Australian Qualifications Framework, and was one of Australia’s leading researchers on pathways and credit transfer. She has published widely on these topics in journals, book chapters, the daily media and practitioner publications. Leesa has worked as a pathways and credit transfer practitioner in Australia, where she had responsibility for developing partnerships between universities and TAFEs, and for developing institutional frameworks to support pathways. Since arriving in Canada, Leesa has led several research projects on pathways, including an ONCAT funded project last year which led to the development of a ‘decision-making tool’ to support policy makers, institutional leaders and departments in developing pathways. She is currently leading the ‘Pathways to Education and Work Research Group’ at OISE (https://www.oise.utoronto.ca/pew/).

, Ph.D., a senior associate with the Institute for Higher Education Policy (IHEP) since October 2006, plays a senior role in the organization’s expansive national and international portfolio of research projects focusing on assessment, higher education access, and student mobility. He also expands upon subjects that have been a focus throughout much of his career including degree completion rates, standardized testing, transfer patterns, and the role of community colleges.

Prior to coming to IHEP, Adelman served nearly 30 years as a senior research analyst at the U.S. Department of Education. Adelman contributed to key background studies of the high school curriculum to the landmark, A Nation at Risk (1983) report; and designed the higher education follow-up to that report, Involvement in Learning (1984), which served as a platform for the assessment movement in higher education over the following decade. During his tenure at the Department of Education, he authored several studies that served as benchmarks in education and set agendas for policymakers.
Before working in the government, Adelman served in academia as an administrator and educator. He has held positions at City College of New York, Roosevelt University, William Paterson College of New Jersey, and Yale University. Additionally, he is the author of three commercially published books, and a member of various education-focused committees. Adelman holds a bachelor’s degree from Brown University as well as master’s and doctorate degrees from the University of Chicago. An IHEP expert on various higher education issues, Adelman is well versed in access and success; degree completion rates; standardized testing and assessment; student mobility and transfer patterns; the role of community colleges; secondary/postsecondary transitions and curricular alignment; international issues on participation, attainment, and degree qualifications; and course-taking, curriculum, and majors.

is a published author, conference speaker, researcher, and consultant in higher education with an interest in advancing next generation practices in support of learner success and mobility. Currently, she is the project lead for an ONCAT funded research study focused on examining exemplar credentials and practices that provide evidence of academic learning outcomes achievement as a mechanism to facilitate recognition of prior learning and transfer. She is also the primary author and project lead for a national transcript and transfer guide that was funded by nine provincial and national funders. A first for Canada, this guide launched in December 2015. Joanne has received recognition from her peers both nationally and provincially for her volunteer, research, and leadership work in higher education all of which has resulted in her being granted honorary membership status in both ARUCC and OURA. Through Duklas Cornerstone Consulting, she brings her clients over two decades of expertise in strategic enrolment management, registrarial and student service delivery, business process redesign, research, and policy work. In her practice, she routinely leads large scale change projects and research studies in the pursuit of evidence based standards development and best practice that puts the learner at the forefront.

, Ph.D., is the Associate Dean for Teaching and Learning in Dublin City University’s Institute of Education. Justin is also director of the Further Education & Training Research centre (FETRC) in DCUs Institute of Education. He is the former Chair of the BSc in Education & Training, Education & Training Foundation Programme and the BSc in E&T Flexible Learning strand. Justin Rami is a lecturer and researcher in the School Policy & Practice at Dublin City University. At undergraduate level, he teaches in the areas of Teaching & Learning Methodologies, Advanced Teaching Strategies, Curriculum Implementation & Assessment, Feedback, Microteaching and Teaching Preparation & Developing a Research Perspective. Added to these modules Justin also delivers lectures and workshops on Academic Writing and using Critical Voices in academic writing. At postgraduate level, he teaches in the area of Organizational Behaviour and Organizational Communications. Justin coordinates the Professional Management Skills area of the MSc in Education & Training (Leadership Strand), which covers areas such as Intercultural competence, Lean Six Sigma, Positive Psychology, Talent management, Coaching, Reflective practice and Communication and Perception.