Meet Our Board of Directors
Shellie Bird is a mother and grandmother and came into child care advocacy by serving on the Board of Directors of her son’s child care centre. Shellie was an early childhood educator for more than twenty years working in the infants and toddlers program of Centretown Parents’ Cooperative Daycare, a non-profit centre in downtown Ottawa. She became active in her union as an advocate for early learning and child care and has led numerous campaigns to improve the working conditions of early childhood educators. Today Shellie works for the Canadian Union of Postal Workers as the National Child Care Coordinator and she co-chairs the National Child Care Working Group of the Canadian Union of Public Employees.
Brianne Goertzen is on the Board of Directors of the Child Care Coalition of Manitoba, and is a mother of her young son, Jackson. She was recently re-elected as a Trustee for the River East Transcona School Division in Winnipeg, Manitoba. She currently works as the Provincial Director of the Manitoba Health Coalition and previously worked as the Manitoba organizer for the Canadian Federation of Students. Brianne is a passionate advocate for strong public services, students, and for high quality public education and health care. She is a dedicated organizer and activist, serving on several community boards, including as Vice-Chair of the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives-Manitoba steering committee.
Lisa Kelly has been active in the Union movement for over 25 years. She is a lawyer by trade, having worked as in-house counsel for the Canadian Auto Workers for two decades. In 2011, Lisa took on the position of Director of Education for the CAW before its merger with the CEP to become Unifor, Canada’s largest private-sector union. Lisa currently works as the Director of the Women’s Department of Unifor and is a frequent speaker on topics such as women and the labour movement in Canada as well as LGBTQ rights at work. She has experienced first-hand the challenges of a piecemeal, expensive, non-universal child care system and wants to be part of a lasting systemic solution.
Diana Sarosi is the manager of Oxfam’s women’s rights policy and advocacy team. She is a long-standing feminist advocate, with over 15 experience working with non-governmental organizations in Canada and throughout Southeast Asia. At Oxfam Canada, she is advancing policy files related to economic inequality, gender budgeting, humanitarian assistance, peace and security, aid and foreign policy, and women’s leadership, all with an emphasis on feminist approaches, targeting the Canadian government and multilateral fora. She is an ongoing analyst and commentator on Canada’s federal budget.
Diana previously worked for the Nobel Women’s Initiative and grassroots organizations throughout Southeast Asia. She lived five years in Thailand and founded a NGO working to protect human rights defenders. She is also a steering committee member of the Women, Peace and Security Network Canada.
Diana holds degrees in Political Science and Conflict Resolution and has published several reports, articles and op-eds. Follow her on Twitter @Diana_Sarosi
Carolyn Ferns is the Public Policy and Government Relations Coordinator for the Ontario Coalition for Better Child Care. Carolyn has a Bachelor’s degree in Early Childhood Education and a Master’s degree in Early Childhood Studies. Carolyn worked for over ten years at the Childcare Resource and Research Unit, where she co-authored the Early Childhood Education and Care in Canada series. She is a founding member of the grassroots collective Advocates for Progressive Childcare Policy.
Sharon Gregson is the provincial spokesperson for the $10aDay Child Care campaign working with the Coalition of Child Care Advocates of BC. She also represented British Columbia at the Child Care Human Resource Sector Council and Canadian Child Care Federation. Sharon is a feminist with a demonstrated history of working across sectors with stakeholders, including non-traditional allies, in child care public policy. She was the Director of the Early Years at a large unionized agency in East Vancouver, and she co-chaired the Vancouver Joint Childcare Council of public partners and non-governmental organizations. Sharon was nominated for a YWCA Women of Distinction award in 2018 for her work on the successful $10aDay Child Care Plan and her work developing Indigenous cultural competency resources for the ECE sector.
Amber is a Registered Nurse, and mother of two young children in Dartmouth, N.S. The lack of inclusive, accessible, high quality, affordable child care has long been clear to her, having a mother who left her own career for lack of inclusive child care. As a parent working a non-traditional schedule, Amber could not find child care when she herself was due to return to work. This meant relying on extended family and long-distance commutes, but also inspired Amber to become a child care advocate. She created and was the project lead for the Employer Sponsored Childcare at her workplace, knowing that research has shown that providing nurses with inclusive and accessible child care options resulted in a drastic increase in recruitment, retention, employee satisfaction and improvement in work/life balance. Through this work, she became involved with Child Care Now Nova Scotia and joined their newly formed Steering Committee in 2021.
Vicky Smallman is the parent of two kids under 10 and has consistently struggled finding quality child care arrangements to help her balance work and family responsibilities. She currently works as the National Director for Women’s and Human Rights for the Canadian Labour Congress. Before starting with the CLC, she worked for the Canadian Association of University Teachers and a variety of labour and social justice organizations. She has served on the board of her local community health centre and currently sits on the board of Equal Voice.
Martha Friendly first encountered child care as a researcher on the US Head Start program in the 1960s. After immigrating to Canada in 1971 and becoming a parent and getting involved with the York University Co-operative Child Care Centre, child care became an avocation rather than an abstract feminist issue. Ever since, Martha has been a child care policy researcher and a persistent activist in the struggle for universal high quality child care. She is executive director of the Childcare Resource and Research Unit, which she founded in the 1980s. Martha’s two biggest thrills in the last few years: becoming a grandmother of twin boys (who are lucky enough to go to excellent public child care in Toronto), and being awarded an honourary Doctor of Laws degree by Trent University.
Jamie Kass spent most of her career as an activist in pushing for universal inclusive high quality child care system. Jamie retired from paid employment in July 2016 without seeing her goals realized. Starting as an educator of young children in a community based child care centre in Ottawa, Jamie focused on supporting the workforce through the strength of unionization. Jamie was a founding member of the Child Care Human Resources Sector Council, which operated between 2003 and 2013 to research and make recommendations with respect to child care human resource issues. The Council was forced to cease operating after the then Conservative federal government ended its funding support. Prior to her retirement, Jamie served as the Child Care Coordinator of the Canadian Union of Postal Workers where she focused on improving quality child care options for parents, especially parents with children with special needs through the CUPW Special Needs and Moving On projects.
Leila Sarangi is the National Coordinator of Campaign 2000: End Child and Family Poverty, and Social Action Director at Family Services Toronto. Her work includes fostering a culture of advocacy and social action in the community social services sector through research, education, policy development, campaign and community building activities. Leila’s experience spans 20 years of building campaigns, programs and services advocating for poverty reduction, and within an intersectional anti-oppression feminist framework.