Meet the Speakers

Featured Speakers

Dr. Gordon Martell – Keynote Speaker

Superintendent, Greater Saskatoon Catholic Schools

Presentation: “Tapahtêyimowin: Leadership and Humility in Indigenous Education”

Description: Improving Indigenous student outcomes requires leaders who practice deference to Indigenous people and knowledges. An appreciative stance grounded in relationship and services space for Indigenous models of community development to emerge. These models contribute to sustainable change by challenging complacency and instigating acts of imagination and courage , enlivening a new narrative characterized by Indigenous influence and effective schools. 

Bio: Gordon is from the Waterhen Lake First Nation in Treaty Six Territory. He is a superintendent with Greater Saskatoon Catholic Schools and an adjunct professor in Educational Administration at the University of Saskatchewan. Gordon has 30 years’ experience in Indigenous education. He was the 2017 recipient of the Canadian Association for the Study of Educational Administration’s Thomas B. Greenfield Dissertation Award. He supports First Nations in the development of on-reserve First Nations education systems.


Russell Hunter – Plenary Speaker

Principal, Whitefish Lake 128 First Nation/Goodfish Lake

Presentation: “Leadership from the Heart" 

Description: In his presentation, Russell will share his experiences and philosophy of educational leadership. Although school principals are constantly inundated with vast amounts of information, paper, situations, and people, they still need to maintain a sense of balance and focus. In his opinion, Russell believes that the heart of teaching and subsequently , the heart of leadership constitutes a large part of working with children. The heart of leadership refers to relationships, connections and understandings that truly define our work in education.

Bio: Russell is currently the principal in Whitefish Lake 128 First Nation/Goodfish Lake, the community he was born and raised in. His community is located two hours northeast of Edmonton, near St. Paul/Lac La Biche. He is a father of four children, a grandfather to ten, soon to be twelve, and a husband of 38 years. He has experience working with First Nation and non-First Nation schools. He truly believes in a holistic model of education, and their school is currently doing focused work on trauma, grief and loss, as well as land-based learning. He completed his Master of Education in Educational Studies through the UA in 2011.


Dr. Rob Nellis – Plenary Speaker

Faculty Member, School of Education, Red Deer College

Presentation: “The Love We Remember: Stories, Becoming, and Relationships in Context”

Description: What's at stake in the stories we tell ourselves? This session inquires into the love one brings to their work, its debt and responsibility to context and personal history, and implications for space of pedagogical encounter. The work draws from arts-based approaches, poetic inquiry and life writing. 

Bio: Robert Christopher Nellis is a continuous faculty member in the Red Deer College School of Education and Past Co-President of the Canadian Association for Curriculum Studies. His PhD thesis received the 2008 Canadian Association for Curriculum Studies Dissertation Award, and he is the author of Haunting Inquiry: Classic NFB Documentary, Jacques Derrida, and the Curricular Otherwise (Sense, 2009).

Dr. Rob Nellis – Plenary Speaker







Dr. Mona Nashman-Smith – Closing Keynote Speaker

CEO/Principal, Edmonton Islamic Academy

Presentation: “Executing Outstanding Leadership (You Can't Do it Alone!)

Description: Coming Soon.

Bio: Mona’s leadership extends to public, international and faith based schools in Canada, Germany and Oman. Other leadership appointments include President of the Middle East International Baccalaureate Association; Commissioner for Middle States Association of Colleges and Schools (USA); Governor on the Oman Medical College; and Trustee for the Association for the Advancement of International Education (USA). In 2016 she received an MBE from Queen Elizabeth II and today serves as CEO/Principal for the Edmonton Islamic Academy.




Concurrent Sessions

Dr. Matt Hoven, Associate Professor, St. Joseph's College

Session: "Leadership and the Identity of Catholic and Other Religiously-affiliated Schools

Matt will explore the leadership advantages and challenges within catholic and other religiously-affiliated schools: a common worldview, multiple religious viewpoints, authenticity to self and a religious tradition, a diverse student body, and external pressures from ecclesial, parental and government bodies. Discussion will unpack practical suggestions for future school leadership. 

Bio: Dr. Matt Hoven is an associate professor at St. Joseph's College at the University of Alberta , and also works in the university's Faculty off Education. He has taught in local Catholic schools and now researches about education, religion-usually Catholicism-and sport. He lives in Edmonton with Crystal and their children. 

Carla Babichuk, Field Experience Associate, University of Alberta

Session: "Building, Breaking, and Restoring Parent/Caregiver Trust in Schools: The Importance of Being Proactive and Knowing When to Move On.

In this session I will share with participants what my research showed regarding what matters in building and restoring parental/caregiver trust in schools. Participants will be invited to engage in discussion regarding their own experiences with parental/caregiver trust. I will also share my conceptual framework to support this important work in the Principal Leadership Quality Standard.

Bio: I received my B.Ed. from University of Alberta, my M.Ed. from the University of San Diego, and continue to be involved in post-graduate studies. I have been a classroom teacher (in Alberta and internationally), consultant , assistant principal, and I'm currently on secondment to the University of Alberta from my assistant principal position with Edmonton Public Schools.