Insights Alberta - Presenter Biographies
Leveraging data to support equity and well-being
Hear stories of practice in the field that will inspire, motivate, and strengthen your learning.
Dr. J. Douglas Willms, President & Founder, The Learning Bar
Dr. Willms is the Founder and President of the Learning Bar Inc. He is the Past President of the International Academy of Education, a Member of the US National Academy of Education, and a Fellow of the Royal Society of Canada. From 2002-2017, he held the Tier 1 Canada Research Chair in Literacy and Human Development at the University of New Brunswick. Dr. Willms has published over 200 research articles and monographs pertaining to youth literacy, children’s health, the accountability of schooling systems, and the assessment of national reforms.
Dr. Willms developed the model, Educational Prosperity, an assessment framework that jurisdictions can use in their capacity-building efforts and the development of educational policy. The model was adopted by the OECD for PISA for Development, an initiative aimed at building capacity for low- and middle-income countries to monitor progress towards national targets for improvement. Dr. Willms and his colleagues have developed the questionnaires and the analysis plan for this international study.
Joanne Pitman, Superintendent: School Improvement, Calgary Board of Education (CBE)
Joanne holds a Master of Education (Educational Leadership) from the University of Lethbridge. Before joining the CBE, Joanne held the position of Assistant Superintendent Universal Design & Learning in the Medicine Hat Public School District. She began her career with the Grande Prairie Public School District as a teacher, principal, district principal, and director. Joanne’s career has focused on intentional practice, developing and leading effective collaborative teams, and the use of school and system evidence to support a responsive learning environment.
Jonathan Kaiswatum, Director of Education, Tsuut’ina Nation Board of Education
Jonathan Kaiswatum, nehiyaw (Cree) from the Piapot First Nation (Treaty 4), is rooted in his language and culture. His ideology as an educator and administrator have been guided by Indigenous worldviews of leadership.
He received both his Bachelor of Education (2012) and Master of Education (2019) from the University of Saskatchewan. Much of his work focuses on integrating his ideology into data-driven approaches to create educational sustainability.
Currently, Jonathan is the Director of Education for Tsuut’ina Nation (Treaty 7) and an advocate for Indigenous Education.
Karen Power, Leadership Development Consultant
Karen is a consultant and former teacher, principal, superintendent, and senior advisor for professional learning and leadership. She has won multiple awards and authored books related to her work which focuses on leadership coaching in schools and districts, building collaborative practices through professional learning community (PLC) implementation, district strategic planning, and developing effective instruction, assessment and evidence-based decisions for long-term sustainability.
Karen is now working as a consultant with The Learning Bar to support leadership development within schools and districts.
Andrea Sarson, System Principal, Calgary Board of Education (CBE)
Andrea Sarson is an educational leader committed to leading in such a way that learning, curriculum, and current educational structures can be adjusted to support a more equitable and inclusive learning society. Andrea approaches her work through a social justice lens and is passionate about finding ways to support young people who care deeply about the Land, human rights, and their education. She currently works as a System Principal of Core Curriculum and Assessment in the Calgary Board of Education. As a guest in Moh’kins’tsis, Andrea makes her home in Treaty Seven territory.
Neil Debassige, Indigenous Educational Consultant, The Learning Bar
Neil is a former principal and a member of the M’Chigeeng First Nations, located on Manitoulin Island on Lake Huron. Neil has held principal positions at Kashechewan, Wikwemikong and M’Chigeeng First Nation and Rainbow District School Board.
He was awarded the prestigious Meritorious Service Medal by Governor General for service supporting Indigenous Education and is now working as a consultant at The Learning Bar.