Speaker Bios


Andreas Schleicher 

Director for the Directorate of Education and Skills and Special Advisor on Education Policy to the Secretary-General,

Mr. Andreas Schleicher has been appointed Director of the Directorate for Education and Skills. He took up these duties on May 19, 2014.

As a key member of the Senior Management team of the organization, Mr. Schleicher will support the Secretary-General’s strategic orientations in the area of education and skills, ensuring that they fully reflect the multidimensional nature of OECD and deliver analysis and policy advice that promotes economic growth and social progress. He will provide leadership and strategic direction to promote the work of the directorate on a global stage and foster horizontal co-operation both within and outside the OECD.

Mr. Schleicher joined OECD in 1994 as an analyst in the Centre for Educational Research and Innovation (CERI) and in 1997 became the Deputy Head of the Statistics and Indicators Division of the OECD Directorate for Education, Employment and Social Affairs. In 2002 he was appointed Head of the Indicators and Analysis Division of EDU, where he was responsible for the design implementation and analysis of OECD’s comparative assessments of the performance of education systems, including the Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA), the Programme for the International Assessment of Adult Competencies (PIAAC), and the Teaching and Learning International Survey (TALIS), as well as for the OECD Skills Strategy. In 2009, he was appointed Special Advisor on education policy to the Secretary-General, and in February 2012 was appointed Deputy Director of EDU.

Before joining OECD, he was Director for Analysis at the International Association for Educational Achievement (IEA).

Mr. Schleicher, a German national, has a Master’s degree in Mathematics and Statistics from Deakin University in Australia and holds an honorary Professorship at the University of Heidelberg.

Alex Usher 

Higher Education Strategy Associates

Alex Usher is President of Higher Education Strategy Associates (HESA), a consulting firm that advises governments, institutions, and corporations in the higher-education sector on policy and strategy.

Alex’s early career included periods as National Director of the Canadian Alliance of Student Associations, as Senior Policy Analyst at the Association of Universities and Colleges of Canada, and as Director of Research and Program Development at the Canada Millennium Scholarship Foundation. In 2003, he left the Foundation to head the Canadian office of the Educational Policy Institute, an organization which, six years later, became HESA. Since becoming a consultant, Alex has continued to work in student aid, providing assistance to Canadian governments as well as the World Bank, the Inter-American Development Bank, the European Commission, and governments in Tanzania, Indonesia, and the Solomon islands. He has also written a number of important global comparative works on cost-sharing in higher education.

In addition to his work on student assistance, Alex has also worked extensively in the field of rankings, quality measurement, and performance indicators. For six years, he partnered with Toronto’s Globe and Mail on its Canadian University Report rankings and, in 2012, published Canada’s first-ever field-normalized research rankings. He was a founding board member of the International Rankings Expert Group and is a member of the Advisory Committee for Shanghai Jiao Tong University’s Academic Rankings of World Universities. He works frequently for the World Bank and other development agencies in Asia and Africa and regularly partners with international companies such as Interbrand and Ernst & Young on various higher-education projects. He also writes a popular daily commentary on Canadian higher education called One Thought to Start Your Day. Alex is based in Toronto, Canada.


Nathaniel Bagnell 


Nathaniel Bagnell is the co-founder of Physicalytics, a real-world analytics company based in Toronto, Ontario. He is responsible for the overall business strategy and direction of this fast-growing, ever-adapting firm that is on a mission to make every physical space a smart space.

Prior to starting his company, Nathaniel worked as a top-tier, customer-facing software developer for some of the biggest brands in the world, including the likes of Microsoft, Netflix, BlackBerry, Rogers, CIBC, CBC, McCain Foods, WestJet, and CTV.

With a formal educational background in business management and entrepreneurship at Ryerson University, and several years of professional software development experience though self-learning, Nathaniel has leveraged the benefits of formal education and self-development to create Physicalytics.

Paul Bélanger 

Professor, Faculty of Education Sciences
Université du Québec à Montréal (UQAM)

Paul Bélanger is a Professor in the Faculty of Education Sciences at Université du Québec à Montréal  (UQAM). He has a doctorate in sociology from the Sorbonne and has held the position of director of the Institut canadien d’éducation des adultes  [Canadian institute for adult education] (1972–84); the Institut de recherche appliquée sur le travail  [Institute for applied research on work] (1988–89); and the UNESCO Institute for Lifelong Learning (formerly the UNESCO Institute for Education) in Hamburg, Germany (1989–2000). Prof. Bélanger subsequently joined UQAM as a professor specializing in lifelong learning, and has been director of the Centre interdisciplinaire de recherche et développement sur l’éducation permanente  [centre for interdisciplinary research and development on continuing education] since 2000. In 2009, with the support of the Commission des partenaires du marché du travail  [commission of labour-market partners], he created the Observatoire Compétences-Emploi  [skills and employment monitoring centre]. He received an honorary doctorate from the University of Surrey (UK) in 1988, another from Université de Montréal  in 2012, and a third from St. Francis Xavier University (Nova Scotia) in the same year.

Kelly Betts 

Skills Canada BC
South Island Partnership

Kelly Betts is President of Skills Canada BC. She is also Coordinator of the South Island Partnership working on behalf of Camosun College and local school districts on southern Vancouver Island to support the smooth transition of secondary-school students to employment opportunities and postsecondary education. Kelly began her career at 18 as an apprentice welder working in the Alberta oil patch. As a Red Seal Journeyman with a B Pressure welding ticket, she was one of very few female tradespeople on the work site until age 30. With a passion for experiential learning and after further formal education, she earned an education degree and taught high-school trades-training programs, then went on to the BC ministries of Education and Advanced Education to promote careers in trades throughout the province, encouraging collaboration between postsecondary institutions and school districts. In the past decade, Kelly has had the privilege of leading the South Island Partnership in developing a broad range of dual-credit postsecondary opportunities for secondary-school students in trades, technologies, business, health and human services, arts and science, and sport and exercise fields as a collaboration between secondary-school teachers, schools, and Camosun College instructors and departments.

The Honourable Shirley Bond 

MLA Prince George-Valemount
Minister of Jobs, Tourism and Skills Training and
Minister Responsible for Labour
Government of British Columbia

Shirley Bond was elected in 2001 and 2005 as the MLA for Prince George-Mount Robson, and re-elected in 2009 and 2013 as the MLA for Prince George-Valemount. She was appointed Minister of Jobs, Tourism and Skills Training and Minister Responsible for Labour on June 10, 2013. In this role, she will be leading the acceleration of the BC Jobs Plan, ensuring that British Columbians are first in line for the jobs of today and tomorrow by developing a comprehensive 10-year skills-training plan, and working closely with Destination BC to meet the targets laid out in the province’s tourism strategy, Gaining the Edge.

With over 12 years of Cabinet experience, Shirley has served as Deputy Premier, Minister of Transportation and Infrastructure, Minister of Education, Minister Responsible for Early Learning and Literacy, Minister of Advanced Education, and Minister of Health Services. She was also the first woman to hold the position of Attorney General in British Columbia — a title she held while Minister of Justice.

Annette Comeau 

LearnSphere Canada Inc

Annette Comeau is CEO of LearnSphere Canada Inc, an aggregator of training and consulting resources that brings together all the content, services, and technology required to provide innovative solutions to multi-faceted, complex problems in the area of training and skills development. As a consortium of over 35 companies and institutions, LearnSphere provides training and consulting solutions to government, corporate, and international development markets.

With over 25 years’ experience in the private and public sectors in leadership positions, Annette continues to have a keen interest in economic development. Most recently, she was appointed to the Board of Directors of the New Brunswick Innovation Foundation.

Annette holds a Bachelor of Commerce in Marketing/Management from Mount Allison University and is training for her fifth marathon (Chicago).

Lawrence Daniels

Chief Executive Officer
FireSpirit Inc.

Lawrence Daniels is the Chief Executive Officer of FireSpirit Inc. and serves as the company’s lead developer for curriculum and program design. Lawrence strives to deepen his understanding of indigenous knowledge and practices while recognizing the challenges and opportunities of our Aboriginal peoples. With this knowledge, he has collaborated with others to combine both modern concepts and indigenous frameworks to create very special tools within FireSpirit. These tools include unique Holistic Job Coaching models and Indigenous/Experiential Essential Skills curricula, and, ultimately, lead to better employment outcomes for the clients. Lawrence is currently a committee member of Manitoba’s Strategy for Sustainable Employment and a Stronger Labour Market and is part of the Manitoba Chambers of Commerce Aboriginal Task Force and other ad hoc working groups that focus on the development of marginalized populations.

Michael Davis

Chief Executive
UK Commission for Employment and Skills

Michael Davis is the Chief Executive of the UK Commission for Employment and Skills. He previously held the position of the commission’s Director of Strategy and Performance.

Before joining the commission, Michael was Managing Director of the Leicester-based Centre for Enterprise (CFE). He led CFE from start-up to becoming a national specialist in policy for skills, employment, and economic development.

Previously, Michael was Chairman of Lastolite Ltd, a leading manufacturer of backgrounds and lighting control systems for the photo and video industry. He also served as Chair of Governors at Leicester College.

Michael holds a B.A. (Honours) in Economics from Lancaster University.

Line Doiron 

Executive Director
New Brunswick Association of Community Business Development Corporations (CBDCs)

Line Doiron is Executive Director of the New Brunswick Association of Community Business Development Corporations (CBDCs). Over the last 10 years, she has brought to this job her passion for economic development, her commitment to the advancement of rural communities, and her ability to listen to the needs of others while developing long-lasting relationships.

Among Line’s many roles, she ensures that the strategic objectives of the Association are met, provides guidance and support to her 10 CBDCs members, and works with provincial and federal government organizations and other economic development agencies to help promote strong and vital rural communities in New Brunswick. Line also sits on several national, regional, and provincial committees and advisory groups, organizing conferences and launching new programs, all in the name of promoting and fostering job creation and small and medium-sized businesses in rural communities.

Don Drummond

Matthews Fellow in Global Public Policy
Adjunct Professor, School of Policy Studies
Queen’s University

Don Drummond is the Matthews Fellow in Global Public Policy and Adjunct Professor at the School of Policy Studies at Queen’s University. In 2011–12, he served as Chair of the Commission on the Reform of Ontario’s Public Services. Its final report, released in February 2012, contained nearly 400 recommendations to provide Ontarians with excellent and affordable public services.

Mr. Drummond previously held a series of progressively more senior positions in the areas of economic analysis and forecasting, fiscal policy, and tax policy during almost 23 years with the Department of Finance Canada. His last three positions were, respectively, Assistant Deputy Minister of Fiscal Policy and Economic Analysis, Assistant Deputy Minister of Tax Policy and Legislation and, most recently, Associate Deputy Minister. In this latter position he was responsible for economic analysis, fiscal policy, tax policy, social policy, and federal-provincial relations and coordinated the planning of the annual federal budgets.

Mr. Drummond subsequently became Senior Vice President and Chief Economist for the TD Bank (2000–2010), where he led TD Economics’ work in analyzing and forecasting economic performance in Canada and abroad. For Canada, this work was conducted at the city, provincial, industrial, and national levels. TD Economics also analyzes the key policies that influence economic performance, including monetary and fiscal policies. He is a graduate of the University of Victoria and holds an M.A. (Economics) from Queen’s University.

Glenn Durnford 

Field Service Advisor
Excellence in Manufacturing Consortium (EMC)

Glenn Durnford is the Field Service Advisor for the Excellence in Manufacturing Consortium (EMC).

Glenn’s training and background in mechanical design have allowed him to enjoy an exciting career in which manufacturing has always been central to his activities. Born and raised in Nova Scotia, Glenn currently resides in beautiful Lunenburg with his wife, Joan, and, on occasion, one or more of his three university-age kids.

His passion for design and innovation allowed him to travel the planet extensively, working with clients on five continents, and to develop skills in international marketing and customer relations.

Glenn’s current role with EMC in Nova Scotia continues his connection to manufacturing, only now it is to assist regional manufacturers to share best practices and experiences to help to enhance their capabilities.

Dr. Glenn Feltham

President and CEO
Northern Alberta Institute of Technology (NAIT)

Dr. Glenn Feltham was appointed President and CEO of the Northern Alberta Institute of Technology (NAIT) in 2011. Born and raised in southern Alberta, Dr. Feltham believes in the essential role of NAIT as a polytechnic in strengthening the Alberta and Canadian economy through hands-on, technology-based education and applied research in partnership with industry. He is a dedicated proponent of NAIT’s relevant and responsive programs delivered through its four educational pillars: science, technology and the environment; health; trades; and business.

Prior to joining NAIT, Dr. Feltham was Dean of the I.H. Asper School of Business at the University of Manitoba. His extensive background includes law, taxation and finance, teaching, and institutional administration. He has penned numerous articles in academic and professional journals and has served as President of the Canadian Academic Accounting Association.

Josh Hjartarson 

Vice President, Policy & Government Relations
Ontario Chamber of Commerce (OCC)

Josh Hjartarson is Vice President, Policy & Government Relations, at the Ontario Chamber of Commerce (OCC).

Prior to joining the OCC, Josh was the Policy Director at the Mowat Centre, where he helped build one of Canada’s most prolific and respected public-policy think tanks.

Josh earned a Ph.D. in Political Science from the University of Toronto in 2005. He has written and lectured extensively on Ontario politics and government, public-sector transformation, and regulatory reform. He was appointed to the faculty of the University of Toronto’s School of Public Policy & Governance in 2012.

Josh has extensive policy and management experience in the public sector, having held positions at Intergovernmental Affairs, the Cabinet Office, and the Ministry of Finance of the Government of Ontario.

Prior to beginning his Ph.D., Josh lived in Central Europe and worked for Bank Austria in its financial markets research division. He was born and raised in a small town in Alberta and is married, with two children.

Sandi Howell 

Director of Essential Skills (ES) and Recognition of Prior Learning (RPL), Industry, Training and Employment Services
Department of Jobs and the Economy
Government of Manitoba

Sandi Howell, B.A., M.Ed., is Director of Essential Skills (ES) and Recognition of Prior Learning (RPL), Industry, Training and Employment Services, Department of Jobs and the Economy (Manitoba). In her current position (as of 2001), Ms. Howell develops and implements ES and RPL responses targeting multi-barriered clients and occupation- and sector-specific needs, as well as apprenticeship ES upgrading. Over the last 27 years, she has been responsible for groundbreaking and award-winning workplace training and training systems, especially in the fields of essential skills and programs for under-represented groups. Prior to her current position, Ms. Howell worked for Canada’s Department of National Defence in the development of paper-based, Web, and multimedia training materials, serving as project manager, instructional designer, and editor.

Ron Keefe 

BioVectra Inc.

Ron Keefe is CEO of BioVectra Inc., a dynamic and innovative player in the global biotechnology and pharmaceutical industries.

Ron is also President of the Regis Duffy BioScience Fund Inc., a private venture fund targeting science-based businesses. He is a director of PEI BioAlliance Inc. and BIOTECanada, entities dedicated to the advancement of Canadian biotechnology. He is past Chair of the Atlantic Provinces Economic Council (APEC), an independent think-tank dedicated to economic progress in Atlantic Canada. He is a member of the board of governors of the University of Prince Edward Island and a member of both the Institute of Chartered Accountants and the Law Society of Prince Edward Island. Ron was recently named one of the Top 50 CEOs in Atlantic Canada.

Carolyn Peckham 

Partnership Coordinator
RISE Partnership, Wisconsin

Carolyn Peckham founded Smooth Transitions LLC in 1999. Through her company, she provides planning, training, systems design, and mediation services to governmental and non-profit agencies, businesses, labour organizations, and communities.

One of her current roles is as Coordinator of Wisconsin’s Regional Industry Skills Education (RISE) Partnership. This partnership consists of several state and regional agencies that are working together to increase the number of low-skilled adults earning a postsecondary credential. The RISE strategy is to implement career pathways statewide. This requires changing policies, modifying systems, and building capacity across the technical college, workforce, and economic development systems.

Prior to starting her company, Carolyn spent 13 years as an intermediary for major manufacturing firms and the United Automobile Workers (UAW) union. She has worked in at least a dozen states to help organizations form and manage complex alliances and systems, and has over 25 years of experience working with employment and training programs for low-income and displaced workers.

Carolyn has a Master’s Certificate in Alternative Dispute Resolution from Marquette University. She is married and raises and trains horses.

Normand Pelletier 

Assistant Deputy Minister for curriculum development and student support
Ministère de l’Éducation, du Loisir et du Sport
Gouvernement du Québec

Normand Pelletier earned a master’s degree in economics from Université de Montréal in 1988. He began his career in the Quebec public service in 1985 and joined the ministère du Travail  [Ministry of Labour] in 1998 as coordinator of economic studies. He held various management positions within the same ministry and was ultimately appointed Assistant Deputy Minister for policy and research on March 12, 2008. Since May 27, 2013, he has held the position of Assistant Deputy Minister for curriculum development and student support in the ministère de l’Éducation, du Loisir et du Sport.

Laurie Rancourt 

President and CEO
Northern Lights College (NLC)

Laurie Rancourt has served as President and CEO of Northern Lights College (NLC) since February 2011. In addition to fulfilling its regional college mandate, NLC also provides leadership to the BC Centre of Training Excellence in Oil & Gas. Laurie joined NLC after holding several senior administrative positions, including Vice-President Corporate Services, Vice-President Academic, and Registrar over a 15-year career at Collège Boréal in Sudbury, Ontario. Laurie holds a Master of Arts degree in Integrated Studies from Athabasca University, a bachelor’s degree in Liberal Science from Laurentian University, and a diploma in Medical Radiation Technology. She is currently working on her Doctor of Distance Education (Ed.D.) degree at Athabasca University. Laurie is an active community volunteer and holds positions on a number of boards and working groups nationally, provincially, and regionally. She is also a member of the Board of Directors of Colleges and Institutes Canada and a member of the BC Campus Strategic Council.

Dr. Baljit Singh 

Professor and Associate Dean, Research, of Veterinary Biomedical Sciences at the Western College of Veterinary Medicine and Special Advisor to the Provost on Experiential Learning,
University of Saskatchewan

Dr. Baljit Singh is Professor and Associate Dean, Research, of Veterinary Biomedical Sciences at the Western College of Veterinary Medicine, University of Saskatchewan. He trained in India before coming to the University of Guelph for his Ph.D. This was followed by postdoctoral training in the United States. Dr. Singh has published more than 85 research papers and trained nearly 75 research students. He has developed teaching programs, including a nearly $3.5-million NSERC- and industry-funded training program in infectious disease, food safety, and public policy. As Special Advisor (Teaching and Learning) to the Provost, he led the development of campus-wide experiential learning programs. Dr. Singh has received many teaching and research awards, including the prestigious 3M National Teaching Fellowship, and is a Fellow of the American Association of Anatomists. For more information: http://www.usask.ca/wcvm/wcvm_people/profiles/Singh_Baljit.php.

Peter Sutherland

President and Chief Executive Officer
Canada-India Business Council

Peter Sutherland is President and Chief Executive Officer of the Canada-India Business Council. He is also Senior Business Advisor, Asia, to Aird & Berlis LLP in Toronto, Canada.

Mr. Sutherland joined Aird & Berlis LLP in 2007 after a distinguished diplomatic career, which included serving as the High Commissioner of Canada to the Republic of India as well as ambassadorial appointments to Saudi Arabia, the Philippines, Yemen, and Nepal. He also worked in various capacities in Canadian missions to the United Nations in New York, Ivory Coast, and Hungary and as an attorney for the Inter-American Development Bank in Washington, DC. In Canada, Mr. Sutherland has held senior executive positions responsible for international business development and trade policy in the departments of Foreign Affairs and International Trade, Industry, and Agriculture and Agri-Food.

Asia Advisory Council of Alberta
Royal College Canada International (Director)
Schulich School of Business, International Advisory Council
Canada-India Research Centre of Excellence (Director)

Honours B.A., University of Toronto
J.D., University of Toronto
M. Sc. Admin., George Washington University
International Fellow, Harvard University

Jean-Luc Trahan 

Commission des partenaires du marché du travail  [council of labour market partners]
Government of Quebec

Jean-Luc Trahan holds a graduate diploma in management from l’École des hautes études commerciales  and has been Chair of the Commission des partenaires du marché du travail  [council of labour market partners] since February 23, 2009.

Prior to becoming Chair of the council, Mr. Trahan was CEO of Quebec Manufacturers and Exporters from December 2006 to February 2009. He also held the position of chief of staff to the mayor and the executive committee at Montreal City Hall from 2001 to 2006.

In the course of his career, Mr. Trahan has been the founding president of an advertising agency, a strategy consultant, and assistant chief of staff to the Quebec minister of Industry, Science and Technology as well as his director of communications.

Over the years, Mr. Trahan has been active on the boards of various organizations, such as la Fondation du père Eusèbe-Ménard  [the Father Eusèbe Ménard foundation] and the American Marketing Association, and was a member of the Community Advisory Committee of Aéroports de Montréal. He is a member of the provincial Board of Directors of the Canadian Cancer Society (Quebec division).