Welcome to CanAge Conversations: Champions for Change 

The CanAge team is excited to launch our new edition of CanAge Conversations: Champions for Change. With this set of programming, CEO of CanAge, Laura Tamblyn Watts hosts fireside chats with influential and inspiring people who work tirelessly in the field of aging. They make remarkable progress that benefits all Canadians. Let’s learn what so many encouraging people are doing to make Canada an age-inclusive country. So grab a cup of coffee or tea, pull up a comfy chair, and join Laura as she chats with new guests every week.

Laura Tamblyn Watts

CEO, CanAge


CanAge Champion for Change: Jane Barratt Ph.D

Secretary-General of International Federation on Ageing (IFA)

Jane M Barratt, Ph.D. is the Secretary-General of the International Federation on Ageing (IFA) an international non-government organization with general consultative status with the United Nations and its agencies including formal relations with the World Health Organization (WHO).


Representing over 75 million older people through the membership of the IFA, Jane has direct responsibility for the corporation’s global operational performance, quality and strategic implementation, and business development.  This includes leadership at the United Nations Economic and Social Council in New York, Geneva and Vienna and the WHO.

Jane is a Winston Churchill Fellow and recipient of the Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Medal in Canada in recognition of her commitment and passion to enhance the understanding of issues relating to ageing and engaging in dialogue with governments and the private sector to improve the quality of life of older people.

Among her many current positions Jane is a Member of Vision Academy, Director, Baycrest Health Sciences and Chair of the Education Advisory Committee, Associate Scientist, Sinai Health System, Member, Global Committee for the DR Barometer Program, and Member of the International Council for Adult Immunisation, and Immunization Policy Task, World Federation Public Health Association, and Member Scientific Board, Institute of Vaccinology, Hacettepe University, and CSO Representative, WHO COVAX Pillar “vaccine strategy”.

CanAge Champion for Change: Kerry Baisley

Consultant in Patient Relations and Long Term Care and CanAge Fellow

Kerry Baisley specializes in relations between patients/residents, family members and health care providers.


In 35 years, Kerry’s work has included interaction with a broad spectrum of clients in a wide range of settings.  He worked with Emergency Child Welfare including time as the social worker on the Vancouver Police Department Car 86.  He has extensive front line experience as a Social Worker in Long Term Care.  He was a Social Development Officer in the Yukon with the federal government in the 1980s. He was the first Manager of Health Care Decisions with the Public Guardian and Trustee of BC, where he played a major role in developing policies regarding Substitute Health Care Decision Making.  Kerry retired as Director of Client Relations and Risk Management at Vancouver Coastal Health – Richmond.


Kerry’s early years in Manitoba developed his friendliness with people and a straight forward attitude towards problem-solving.  Born as the second, by eighteen minutes, of twin sons to a Fireman father and an Operating Room Supervisor mother, he credits both nature and nurture for his ability to assess a situation quickly while being open to developing issues and concerns. Kerry believes that problem identification is at the heart of effective action and applies this philosophy to his work.

Kerry describes himself as naturally curious.  He had the great opportunity to work as a student intern at the UBC Museum of Anthropology.  This ignited his interest in different cultures and different ways of perceiving the world. In retirement, Kerry explored natural dyeing, felting and encaustic painting.

Since retirement, he has performed as a stand-up comedian and storyteller.

He left retirement and returned to Vancouver Coastal Health to work with staff and families on issues related to the COVID-19 pandemic.

CanAge Champion for Change: Helen Hirsh Spence

CEO, Top Sixty Over Sixty

Following her 35 years of increasingly senior leadership positions in both the public and private education sectors, Helen embarked on a journey of social entrepreneurship. In 2017, she founded Top Sixty Over Sixty, a consultancy that provides thought leadership, resources and coaching on age diversity, equity and inclusion; and provides programming for mature adults who are interested in transitioning to their next act by unlocking their true potential.

In 2018, Helen secured support from the Ontario Centre of Workforce Innovation and Ryerson University to carry out research that centered on how to successfully engage older adults with an entrepreneurial mindset. When completed, the study substantiated that those over 55 have much to offer but they had been affected by internalized ageism. The specially designed program, ReSet, continues to be customized for individuals, groups and businesses.  

Helen continues to present at local, national and international conferences and collaborates as a contributor to journals and numerous anti-ageism networks and consortiums. She is a respected facilitator and motivational speaker who conveys a natural enthusiasm for learning.

In addition to training and consulting, Helen is an active volunteer in her community and abroad where she serves on boards and as mentor/life coach to youth and new immigrants. Her leadership as former Chair of the Jane Goodall Institute, Co-founder of Women for Mental Health, Executive member of IWF Canada among other non-profits has provided her with a wealth of governance leadership.

CanAge Champion for Change: Margaret Gillis

President of the International Longevity Centre Canada (ILC)

Margaret Gillis is the founding President of the International Longevity Centre Canada, part of a global alliance of 16 Centres dedicated to the needs and rights of older people. An award winning executive and innovative leader, Margaret played a key role in establishing the Age-friendly Community program in Canada and internationally, this program is now in over 900 Canadian communities and 26 countries worldwide. Other career highlights include a joint government project to protect seniors in disasters including a policy paper presented at the UN. Margaret’s work was acknowledged by Her Majesty the Queen through an award for her international contribution to older people.

Margaret has strong credentials in regard to human rights, working with and speaking at the UN General Assembly on behalf of older people and as Canadian Delegate to the Organization of American States, Institute for Children. She is currently the Chair of the National Advocacy Working Group at the Global Alliance of the Rights of Older People. With a background in health promotion, protection and programming for the aged, women and children, Margaret is committed to improving the rights of older people. Margaret holds a BA in History (Queen’s) and a Master’s in Public Administration (Carleton).

Factor-Inwentash Faculty of Social Work
University of Toronto

246 Bloor Street W
Toronto, ON, M5S 1V4

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