Academy Speakers

BCSTA looks to inspire both new and veteran school trustees with our lineup of engaging speakers. Carefully selected with the theme of “Building a New Board: Elected, Engaged and Empowered” in mind, we trust that attendees will leave informed and energized.

Please check back for more updates as Academy nears.

Keynote

KEYNOTE

George Couros

Keynote & Pre-Conference

George Couros is a leading educator in the area of innovative leadership, teaching and learning.

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He has worked with all levels of school, from K-12 as a teacher, technology facilitator and school/district administrator, and is the author of the book, The Innovator’s Mindset; Empower Learning, Unleash Talent, and Lead a Culture of Creativity. He is a sought after speaker on the topic of innovative student learning and engagement and has worked with schools and organizations around the globe.

George is a leader in the area of innovation, yet his focus is always on the development of leadership and people and what is best for learners. His belief that meaningful change happens when you first connect to people’s hearts is modeled in his writing and speaking.

Plenary

PLENARY SESSIONS

Flavia Coughlan

Plenary

Flavia Coughlan is currently Secretary Treasurer with the Maple Ridge – Pitt Meadows School District (No. 42) and the Vice President of BCASBO.

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Having worked in the education sector since 2003, Flavia has served on numerous provincial committees.

She holds a Bachelor of Accounting Degree and a Graduate Accounting Degree and is a CGA-CPA.

Renzo Del Negro

Plenary

Renzo Del Negro is the Chief Executive Officer of the British Columbia Public School Employers’ Association (BCPSEA).

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BCPSEA is the accredited bargaining agent for the British Columbia K-12 public education sector and provides a full range of human resource services to the province’s 60 public boards of education.
Renzo is responsible to the Board of Directors for strategic leadership and operational management of the association in accordance with its statutory mandate. Renzo’s extensive background in labour relations and collective bargaining includes acting as spokesperson at provincial bargaining tables during several rounds of negotiations with unionized teaching and support staff, as well as coordinating local bargaining initiatives between individual boards of education and their local unions. Renzo liaises with and advises boards of education, provincial governments in BC and other jurisdictions, and other organizations on legal, labour, and employment matters in the public education sector.
Renzo is also currently performing this role in an acting capacity for the Post-Secondary Employers’ Association.
In addition to his professional responsibilities, Renzo is a frequent guest speaker at various conferences, seminars, and post-secondary institutions. He has a Bachelor of Commerce in Human Resource and Industrial Relations Management from the University of British Columbia (UBC).

David DeRosa

Plenary

David DeRosa became the President of the B.C. Principals’ and Vice-Principals’ Association on July 1, 2018 after five years as a Director.

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He has 27 years of experience in education, including 10 years teaching grades 7-12 and 14 years with the UBC Faculty of Education.

As a Principal, David implemented strategic supports for teachers and students to increase student engagement, graduation rates and successful transitions into life after high school. Under his leadership, eligible graduation rates improved for all students — including students with special needs and aboriginal students — to a 100% success rate in 2015-2016.

David cares deeply about student success and is a champion for innovative and student-centred learning environments. Supporting professionals in achieving work-life balance has become a passion for David, and one that he will pursue through his presidency.

David is married to a master teacher, Christine, and together they have three grown children.

Deborah Jeffrey

Plenary

Deborah Jeffrey is a member of the Tsimshian Nation and the Executive Director of the First Nations Education Steering Committee.

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Deborah has a Master’s in Education and is a lawyer. She has worked for three decades to advance quality First Nations education. Previously, Deborah was president of the Tsimshian Tribal Council, Co-Chair of the National Working Group on First Nations, and Co-Chair of the BC Teachers’ Federation Task Force on Aboriginal Education.

Scott MacDonald

Plenary

Scott MacDonald was appointed Deputy Minister of the Ministry of Education in July 2017.

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Scott has built extensive leadership experience in British Columbia’s education system and broader public sector. He began his career as a teacher with the Vancouver and Victoria School Boards prior to joining the Ministry of Education in 1992. While at the Ministry of Education he contributed to a wide range of policies and programs including the development of the provincial curriculum and assessments, evaluating learning resources, and building information management systems. Before moving to other roles in the provincial government, Scott was Assistant Deputy Minister of Governance and Accountability at the Ministry of Education.

More recently, Scott was Assistant Deputy Minister at the Ministry of Jobs, Tourism, Skills and Training, where he led the skills training and labour market programs across the Province, and Chief Executive Officer of Pacific Carbon Trust, a Crown corporation of the BC provincial government.

A native of Edmonton, Alberta, Scott achieved his Bachelor of Education from the University of Alberta, followed by a Masters of Business Administration from Royal Roads University.

Scott lives in Victoria, BC with his wife and they have two grown daughters.

Andrea Sinclair

Plenary

Andrea Sinclair is currently President of the BC Confederation of Parent Advisory Councils (BCCPAC).

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She is also on the PAC at Sir Charles Tupper Secondary and was a founding member of the Parent Advocacy Network (PAN). Andrea believes strongly that our children’s success is rooted within their education; it’s through working together and leveraging our collective strengths that together we can effect positive change.

Janet Stewart

Plenary

Janet Stewart is the  Chief Operating Officer of the British Columbia Public School Employers’ Association (BCPSEA).

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Janet has held a progression of roles in the K-12 public education sector as a teacher, school administrator, school district human resources/labour relations manager, Director of Make a Future – Careers in Education, and Associate Superintendent, Employee Services in School District No. 39 (Vancouver), leading the employee services department at the province’s second largest school district. In her role as Chief Operating Officer with BCPSEA, Janet brings a solid human resources and labour relations background, strategic leadership and operational management skills, and in-depth understanding of education issues.

Chris van der Mark

Plenary

Chris van der Mark is the current BCSSA President and has 23 years experience in BC’s k-12 sector.

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Chris was raised just outside of Vancouver, but has spent his entire educational career in northern, rural BC. An early highlight was spending 10 years as teacher, vice principal, and principal in the Hazeltons, a predominantly First Nations community with a rich culture and history. Chris has been the Superintendent of Schools in the Bulkley Valley School District for the past 8 years and is currently the Vice President of the British Columbia Superintendent’s Association. Chris is known for being a strong advocate of students and has presented at provincial conferences on topics ranging from Effective Board Governance to Systems Planning to Change and Innovation in Education. Chris and his wife, Cathy, enjoy time with Harvey (their puppy). He spends his spare time coaching high school basketball or fishing.

Concurrent

CONCURRENT SESSIONS

Valerie Adrian

Concurrent

Anatwoqwees (Valerie Adrian) is a Xwisten (Bridge River Band) member from the St’at’imc Nation, in the southern interior and is a member of BCSTA’s board.

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Her father is the late Victor Adrian from the Tsalalh Band. She also has ties to the Nuu-chah-nulth Nation on Vancouver Island through her mother, Fidelia Haipyupis (nee Smith) of the Ahousaht First Nation (formerly from the Ehattesaht First Nation. Valerie is co-parent to seven adult children and grandparent to six children. She works in her community as the education coordinator and her responsibilities include: managing the early learning and education centre that houses a licenced daycare and an Aboriginal Head Start on Reserve program; administrative and counseling services for all students in both K-12 education and post-secondary education for community and band members. She also sits as a director on a St’at’imc Government Services Board and as a member of the Interior Savings Credit Union Community Investment & Member Relations Committee.
Valerie is in her twentieth year as a trustee for school district 74 (Gold Trail) whose Indigenous student enrollment is close to 60%. She currently sits as co-chair of the board. In the past, Valerie enjoyed sitting as a BCSTA director, a member of, and board liaison to, the BCSTA Indigenous Education Committee and board liaison to the BCSTA Finance & Audit Committee.

Education is a passion for Valerie and she believes that all students, given the proper education and high expectations, have the potential to graduate and succeed. She is a firm believer in public education and would not have wanted any of her children to graduate from any other system.

Brad Baker

Concurrent

Brad Baker is a proud member of the Squamish Nation and carries the ancestral name Tsnomot, which he shares with his late grandfather and father.

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Brad has been an educator for 24 years in the North Vancouver School District. For the last 7 years his position has been District Principal with the portfolios of Indigenous Education, Careers, and Safe and Caring Schools.

Brad was recently selected to the 2017 Governor General of Canada’s Leadership Council. He was 1 of 250 leaders from across Canada that came together to develop strategies on how to move Canada forward in the next 150 years. Brad was the recipient of the Indspire Guiding the Journey National Award for Leadership in Indigenous Education in 2014.

Michael Hancock

Concurrent

Michael Hancock acts for clients in the public and private sectors, with an emphasis on education law and labour and employment issues involving school boards.

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Michael represents clients in a variety of forums including proceedings before labour arbitrators, the Labour Relations Board, the Supreme Court of British Columbia, the Office of the Information and Privacy Commissioner and BC Court of Appeal.

Michael previously was General Counsel and Director of Employee Relations for the Insurance Corporation of British Columbia (ICBC). While at ICBC, Michael provided general corporate law advice to executive and senior management on privacy, intellectual property, insurance and regulatory matters. He also acted as counsel and lead investigator on several high profile investigations involving serious allegations of misconduct with corporate impact and public attention. He drafted a new Code of Ethics for employees and contractors, and implemented employment agreements for 800+ management employees.
Michael was also General Counsel for the BC Public School Employers Association (BCPSEA) and the Vancouver School Board (VSB). He acted as lead negotiator and spokesperson for BCPSEA during bargaining, including the illegal teacher strikes. At VSB he was responsible for labour and employment, education, real estate and commercial law matters. He also acted as Head of Public Body for purposes of the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act.

Kim Horn

Concurrent

Kim Horn is the Executive Director of the Funding and Financial Accountability Branch within the Ministry of Education.

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Kim oversees the allocation of almost $7B in operating funding to BC’s 60 Boards of Education and independent school authorities, and also has responsibilities for financial oversight and accountability for public school funding, as well as overseeing the Public K-12 Education Funding Model Review process. Kim has held numerous management positions in the BC public service, including within the Ministries of Finance, Advanced Education, and Economic Development. Prior to working with the BC Public Service, Kim worked in the federal public service, specializing in strategic policy development around learning and education issues. She grew up in the Comox Valley, and currently lives in Victoria where she enjoys spending time with family outdoors. Kim holds a Master’s Degree in Public Policy from Queen’s University in Kingston, Ontario.

Lisa McCullough

Concurrent

With over twenty-eight years of experience in education, Lisa McCullough has been Superintendent of the Sea to Sky School District for the last seven years.

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McCullough is a passionate leader with a strong vision to create safe, purposeful, and powerful learning environments. A recent career highlight includes the fast–improving six-year graduation completion rates of students of Aboriginal ancestry, currently at 86%, and All students, currently at 96%. Committed to diversity as a strength, McCullough works closely with the local Board of Education on the importance of an equitable strategic plan for all students.

Therese Mickelson

Concurrent

Therese Mickelson is an internationally Accredited Business Communicator.

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She has managed a wide range of public relations issues and initiatives in both the public and private sectors over the course of more than 25 years. She has expertise in the full spectrum of communications, ranging from public relations and engagement to media relations and crisis communication.

Eli Mina

Concurrent

Eli Mina, M.Sc., P.R.P., is a Vancouver based Board Effectiveness Consultant and Registered Parliamentarian.

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Eli Mina, M.Sc., P.R.P., is a Vancouver based Board Effectiveness Consultant and Registered Parliamentarian. Since 1984, Eli has advised his clients on chairing contentious meetings, demystifying the rules of order, achieving excellence in decision making, dealing with disputes and boardroom problems, and minute taking standards.

Eli’s clients come from boards of education, local governments, libraries and library systems, aboriginal communities, credit unions, regulatory bodies, and the not for profit sector.

Eli is the author of five published books, including “101 Boardroom problems and how to solve them” and “Mina’s Guide to Minute Taking.”

Rick Price

Concurrent

Rick Price brings a wealth of knowledge and experience to the Board of Education, having spent forty years as a teacher, principal, and trustee with the Sea to Sky School District.

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Price strongly believes that public education is a cornerstone of our democracy and society, recognizing the Board’s responsibility to provide compelling and engaging learning opportunities to students within an education system that is flexible enough to respond effectively to changes in the cultural/societal context.

Pre-Conference

PRE-CONFERENCE

Audrey Ackah

Concurrent & Pre-Conference

Audrey Ackah is BCSTA’s in-house legal counsel. She obtained Honours Bachelor of Arts and Master of Arts degrees in Political Science from UBC.

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Audrey was a BC legislative intern and had the opportunity to work in a government ministry and to work with members of the Legislative Assembly. She then obtained a law degree from the University of Toronto. Audrey practiced law at law firms and at a regulatory agency where she gained experience in the areas of school, employment, human rights, labour, litigation and information and privacy law. Audrey is BCSTA’s privacy officer and provides staff support to the Legislative Committee and the BCTF/BCSTA Group Life Insurance Committee.

Joan Axford

Pre-Conference

Joan Axford is a professional accountant with over 30 years of experience in public education finance.

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Her background includes being the Executive Director of the BC Association of School Business Officials, Secretary-Treasurer with School District No. 63 (Saanich) and Director of School Finance with the Ministry of Education.

Hugh Blackman

PRE-CONFERENCE

Hugh Blackman is BCSTA’s Director of Education Services. He responsible for the planning and organization of events.

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Hugh is also charged with the development of resources in support of professional learning, including the Trustee Academy and New Trustee Orientation. Hugh has obtained a Bachelor of Education, Professional Development Program (PDP), and Master of Education from Simon Fraser University and his background in K-12 public education is extensive, bringing a wide range of skills, knowledge and experience to BCSTA. His most recent assignment was as a senior principal with the Vancouver School District.

Stephanie Higginson

PRE-CONFERENCE

Stephanie Higginson is BCSTA’s vice-president and a trustee in SD68 (Nanaimo/Ladysmith).

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Stephanie is excited to bring her love for public education and advocacy to the BCSTA Board of Directors as vice-president.

Stephanie is a former high school teacher and educational researcher with a master’s in educational studies focusing in social justice in education. Her areas of interest in education are vast and broad. They include, but are not limited to, governance structures that strengthen public education, equity in education, collaborative inquiry in teacher professional development and nature based education.

Stephanie and her family live outside of Nanaimo where they operate a small farm and maple syrup production business. Stephanie’s passion for public education is deeply personal as she is mom to two school aged boys who are just beginning their educational journey in BC’s public schools.

Mike Roberts

PRE-CONFERENCE

Mike Roberts is BCSTA’s Chief Executive Officer. As CEO, Mike is responsible to the BCSTA Board of Directors for the overall staff operations of the organization.

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He provides direct support to BCSTA’s president as well as boards of education. Mike has more than thirty years of experience in the education sector and has an extensive background in teaching, administration, labour relations and all levels of government including local school district, employers’ association and Ministry of Education work.

Gordon Swan

PRE-CONFERENCE

Gordon Swan is the current president of the BCSTA and a school trustee with the SD58 (Nicola-Similkameen) Board of Education.

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Prior to joining the BCSTA Board of Directors, Gordon served as a BCSTA provincial councillor for over a decade and also provided many years of dedicated service to the BC Public School Employers’ Association board. During his term as BCPSEA’s vice-chair, the board achieved its first negotiated collective agreement with the BC Teachers’ Federation. The moment stands as a testament to Gordon’s results-focused leadership style.
In response to being elected President of the BCSTA in 2017, he made the following statement. “I’d like to thank my colleagues for the trust they’ve placed in me and the board of directors. BCSTA is bigger than the sum of our parts – our strength is in our diversity, and we look forward to representing our local communities and addressing the particular needs of students across the province.”