Champions for Change

Laura Tamblyn Watts

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.

Champions for Change Interviews


CanAge Champion for Change: Leanne Kaufman
President and CEO of the Royal Trust Corporation of Canada and The Royal Trust Company

As President and CEO of the Royal Trust Corporation of Canada and The Royal Trust Company, Leanne Kaufman is responsible for the strategy and overall management of the business which provides wealth protection and transfer solutions across generations to high-net-worth Canadian families.

Leanne serves as a director on the Royal Trust Board, and as a member of the RBC Wealth Management Canada Operating Committee. She is a lawyer by profession and brings more than 20 years of experience, knowledge and client-centric focus to the RBC Royal Trust.

Leanne joined RBC Royal Trust in 1999 as a Trust Officer, prior to which she was a lawyer practicing commercial litigation. Since her initial role, she has continued to provide in-depth solutions for clients and their families. As Vice-President of the Professional Practice Group, she led a team of professionals responsible for technical expertise, analysis and policy development, along with the education of the RBC Royal Trust staff at all levels. As Vice-President and Head of Indigenous Wealth, Leanne and team were dedicated exclusively to establishing long-term planning and legacy solutions for Indigenous communities across Canada.

Leanne earned her Bachelor of Laws from Queen’s University and a Master of Laws from Osgoode Hall Law School, York University, where she is a former Adjunct Professor. The author of the fourth edition of The Executor’s Handbook published by CCH, Leanne is also a contributor to the Financial Post, and a sought after contributor to numerous industry publications on the subject of estates and trusts. She is a member of the STEP Worldwide Council, a member of the National Institute on Ageing Advisory Board, and serves on several sports and education boards and committees in her community.


CanAge Champion for Change: Vickery Bowles
City Librarian - Toronto Public Library

Vickery Bowles is the City Librarian at Toronto Public Library (TPL), a library system serving 2.9 million residents through its 100 branches and online network. She believes passionately in the difference public libraries make in the lives of individuals, in communities and cities. Vickery is currently working to advance TPL’s new strategic plan, with a focus on new service models, digital literacy and inclusion, workforce development and innovation. Vickery is Immediate Past Chair of the Urban Libraries Council headquartered in Washington, DC, sits on the boards of the Canadian Research Knowledge Network and the Federation of Ontario Public Libraries, and is a member of the Canadian Urban Libraries Council.


CanAge Champion for Change: Gregor Sneddon
Executive Director of HelpAge Canada

Gregor was appointed as Executive Director of HelpAge Canada in 2019, formerly serving as a priest with the Anglican Church of Canada. Gregor’s background in theology and serving the marginalized and underprivileged has fed his passion to challenge social convention on human worth and to work for justice, freedom, and dignity for all people. HelpAge Canada is a Canadian charity exclusively dedicated to providing support and assistance to seniors in Canada and internationally since 1975, a founding partner of HelpAge International. HelpAge Canada was the first pan-Canadian COVID-19 responders for Seniors funding emergency relief through sixty local community partners across Canada.

CanAge Champion for Change: Greg Shaw
Director of International and Corporate Relations for the International Federation on Ageing (IFA)

Greg Shaw is the Director of International and Corporate Relations for the International Federation on Ageing (IFA) .

Greg Shaw has a science and health administration background and is the Director, International and Corporate Relations for the IFA. Prior to joining the IFA, he held senior management positions within the Australian Government in the Department of Health and Ageing. He has held appointments with the Ontario Securities Commission Senior Expert Advisory Committee (SERC), the Toronto Police Service Community Advisory Committee and the City of Toronto Advisory Committee on Long-Term Care & Services.

​His earlier work focused on policy development and program implementation for the Australian aged care reforms, quality assurance and supporting the aged care needs of rural and remote communities throughout northern Australia. An advocate of the aged care needs of marginalized community groups in the 1990s, he worked with many Aboriginal and ethnic communities resulting in the establishment of aged care homes and community aged care services specifically designed and targeted for those communities. ​

Since joining the IFA in 2003 he has had responsibility for the development of the Building Capacity in Health Care Programs in Africa, worked closely with the South African Human Rights Commission to establish an older person’s forum in that country and in 2010 worked with the Government of Mauritius on the establishment of an Observatory on Ageing.

He represents the IFA at the United Nations, works closely with the government and has responsibility for IFA elder abuse initiatives. Elder Abuse initiatives have included the development of educational toolkits targeted towards youth, an International Forum on Sexual Safety of Older Women and in 2013 lead a high-level meeting to examine issues of financial abuse of Canadian seniors.

Greg has worked with other Civil Society Organizations on the Global Thematic Consultations on Population Dynamics (Post-2015 Development Agenda) to ensure the needs of older people are recognized. A current priority for 2020-21 is a possible IFA Summit and Global Think Tank on Long- term Care Design and Standards - Best Practice to Mitigate Pandemics Post COVID-19.

​His responsibilities include Age-Friendly Cities/Communities (AFCC) initiatives within the IFA and providing technical advice and support to the government and others engaged in age-friendly program development. A recent Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) for new city development in China, ongoing AFCC work with the city of Akita in Japan and more recently delivering a series of AFCC workshops in the Republic of Iran is a testament to his expertise.

Jane Barratt Portrait

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”.

Kerry Baisley

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.

Helen Hirsh Spence

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.

Margaret Gillis

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).

282 Wright Avenue,
Toronto, ON, M6R 1L5

Factor-Inwentash Faculty of Social Work
University of Toronto

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