Insights Ontario - 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.
Anthony Costa, Dean of Students, Teacher, Health & Physical Education, Greenwood College School
Anthony Costa has been with the Greenwood College School for over 16 years. He has worked continuously as a teacher, also acting as Director of Grade 7 and 8 Programs and now as Dean of Students. In his role as Dean of Students, Anthony oversees student support, creation and implementation of Action Plans, Student Support agreements, Academic Contracts, and Behaviour support plans with accountability towards Individual Education Plans.
Brenda Gabriel, Superintendent of Curriculum & Instruction, Athabasca Denesuline Education Authority
Throughout Brenda’s 30-year career in education she has held several Educational Leadership roles. She has worked as a school-based administrator in elementary, middle and secondary levels and been responsible for curriculum, assessment, innovative program initiatives, technology, and professional development. During this time she also worked with the Saskatchewan Professional Development Unit providing Leadership Training for school-based administrators in both Saskatchewan and Manitoba. In 2016, she began her work with First Nations Schools in northern Saskatchewan as a Literacy Consultant. Since starting her current position with the Athabasca Denesuline Education Authority in 2020, she continues to work passionately to support opportunities for learning for all staff to ensure all A.D.E.A. students will be successful and have the skills they require to follow the paths they choose.
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.
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.