Jeff is the founder of higherunlearning.com, a comprehensive online space where you can read written pieces, listen to podcast conversations, and watch interviews with exploring healthy masculinities and how limiting ideas of gender impact us all in everyday life. Drawing on over ten years of advocacy, his presentations and workshops inspire accessible and transformative conversations. Jeff is a gifted storyteller and has spoken to tens of thousands of people across North America including delivering two TEDx talks on subjects related to the construction of gender, helpful versus harmful ideas of manhood, race and masculinity, empathy-building, and men helping end gender-based violence (‘Words Speak Louder that Actions’ and ‘The Ladder of Manhood’). He founded and curated the What Makes A Man conference and previously worked for the White Ribbon Campaign, the world’s largest grassroots effort to engage men in ending violence against women. Whether in the boardroom, on campus, or the locker room, Jeff prides himself in creating brave spaces for real discussion and in inspiring self-leadership in men and boys to create a positive impact on the world and to become models of possibility for others. He is also a facilitator with Captains & Poets where he brings a warm and engaging approach to self-exploration and discovery in young people.
Michael Salvatori Advisory Board Member
Career educator and author, Dr. Michael Salvatori currently serves as Associate Professor in the College of Education at Niagara University Ontario. He earned a PhD in Curriculum, Teaching and Learning from OISE / University of Toronto and holds M.Ed. and B.Ed. degrees from the University of Western Ontario. Long a champion of second language education, he is fluent in French, Italian, English and German and is author and co-author of numerous textbooks and teacher resources. Michael previously served as the Chief Executive Officer and Registrar of the Ontario College of Teachers, Canada’s largest self-regulatory body from 2009-2021. His extensive career included being an elementary and secondary school core French and French immersion teacher, a vice-principal, principal, and as an assistant professor at Glendon College of York University, jointly appointed to the Faculty of Education and the Department of French Studies. He has also taught in international settings in France and Italy and frequently speaks at international conferences on topics related to professional regulation, board governance and second language acquisition. In his spare time, Michael enjoys travel, reading, cinema and cooking.
Jennifer Laidlaw is a transformational leader, advisor, and coach specializing in strategic innovation by leveraging partnerships, strategic stakeholder alliances and networks to transform organizations and build campaigns. With over 20 years of experience in the corporate, regulatory, government, and nonprofit sectors, she has successfully led change initiatives for some of Canada’s largest organizations in banking, technology, governance and customer service. Jennifer is currently serving as an Executive in Residence at Ryerson University as well as the Country Head for the 30% Club Canada, leading the evolution of the campaign to a sustainable and inclusive model, alongside Canadian Chairs and CEOs. Her efforts resulted in the establishment of strategic partnerships with over 20 organizations that continued to strengthen gender-balanced leadership with a focus on intersectional diversity and levelling the playing field for all women across Canada. Jennifer currently serves as Board Director for Informed Opinions and previously with the Human Resources Professional Association (HRPA) and Chaired Surrey Place Centre’s Board. In addition, she has served on the Advisory Committees for the 30% Club Canada, the Canadian Women’s Foundation Economic Development Committee and the Women Get On Board Mentorship Program.
B.A., B.Ed., M.Ed.
An educator for over 30 years, Simon worked tirelessly to create inclusive environments for those he served. Whether a teacher, Vice Principal, Principal or Chair of the Toronto School Administrators’ Association, Simon always found ways to connect people. Opportunities he had to train adults in the Tribes Learning Community , Second Step-Violence Prevention and True Colors programs led to students, staff and parents alike feeling welcomed and safe at the schools he led. Now retired from the Toronto District School Board, Simon works as a mediator and is a member of the Captain and Poet’s Advisory Board. He believes that Captains and Poets is a breakthrough program designed to allow each young person to truly understand who they are as they contribute positively to the world they live in.
Stephanie Woolley is focused on giving back to her community as Vice-Chair of the Toronto Trans Coalition Project which works to improve employment opportunities for the trans community. As the co-founder and host of the transSocial Collective she builds community through social events, and as a board member and facilitator at Toronto Pflag she helps families with queer and trans kids accept and affirm their children. Stephanie also serves on the Trans Pride committee of Pride Toronto. She is happily retired after a 30+ year career in software development at IBM and is now focusing on being a loving mum to three beautiful cats, and being an avid film and theatre fan.
Rumeet Billan, Professional,Headshot
Dr. Rumeet Billan is an award-winning, internationally recognized entrepreneur, learning architect, speaker, author and humanitarian. She is the President and CEO of Viewpoint Leadership and an expert on Psychological Capital. Dr. Billan completed her PhD at the University of Toronto and has designed and facilitated programs, courses, and training sessions across industries and sectors. She led the groundbreaking national research study on Tall Poppy Syndrome which reveals the impact of the silent systemic syndrome on women in the workplace. In 2020, she co-led the Canadian Happiness at Work study, in partnership with the Canadian Mental Health Association. Dr. Billan was named Canada’s Top 10 Power Women in 2020, and has been twice named one of Canada’s Top 100 Most Powerful Women. Recently, she released her first award-winning and bestselling book, Who Do I Want To Become?, designed for children and adults who are struggling with the question of what they want to be when they grow up. She is the Chair of the Board at Fora: Network for Change and serves on the Board of Directors of CODE.
Jeff is a former TDSB superintendent and an experienced educator with over 30 years in public education. He has a proven track record of developing the leadership of administrators, teachers and students in classrooms and schools, across a District with a focus on inclusive classrooms and enriching the learning of relevant social justice issues. In pursuit of shaping young lives and making a difference, Jeff dedicated the first 25 years of his career to teaching in some of the most underserved environments. As the former Head of Educational Partnerships at WE Schools, Jeff worked to empower students to make a worldwide impact by igniting the powerful combination of innovation and empathy. He is currently Senior Director at Fair Chance Learning where he is passionate about aligning services to deliver innovation, impact, and success within school systems across North America. Jeff is a published author, a father to three grown men, a basketball coach and a meditation teacher.
CYW., B.S.W., M.S.W.
Candies Kotchapaw is the Executive Director of Developing Young Leaders of Tomorrow, Today (DYLOTT) focusing on Black diplomacy. Candies has designed proven experiential learning programs prioritizing Black young professionals’ talent while consulting with senior federal government representatives on opportunities for strengthened diversity, equity and inclusion strategizing. As a tenacious change-maker and advocate, she is a Top 25 Women of Influence, Top 75 Canadian Immigrant and Top 100 Accomplished Black Canadian Woman. Candies continues to expand on her brand of evidence-based change-making through her primary work in mitigating the impacts of precarious work on Black communities by designing solution-focused programs to overcome systemic barriers within public and corporate employment spaces. Candies is credited with advancing Black diplomacy in foreign and domestic policy positioning and has spoken in front of academic, government and civil society audiences internationally. She expertly applies her structural social work theory of practice to analyze public policies, including those relating to the United Nations Decade for People of African Descent and the United Nations General Assembly’s recently adopted Permanent Forum for People of African Descent. She is also a G20 Young Entrepreneurs Alliance (YEA) Canadian delegate to the G20 summit 2021 and sits as the Vice-Chair of the Coalition for Inclusive Municipalities under the Canadian Commission for UNESCO and is also a legacy board member of Captains & Poets.