Breakout sessions



Chris Lowney

Chris Lowney has lectured in more than two-dozen countries on leadership, business ethics, decision-making and other topics. He is the author of seven books, including the bestselling Heroic Leadership. His other books include Pope Francis: Why He Leads the Way He Leads; and Everyone Leads: How to Revitalize the Catholic Church. His most recent book, Make Today Matter: 10 Habits for a Better Life (and World), won an Independent Press Award for 2018. 

A one-time Jesuit seminarian, Chris also served as a Managing Director of JP Morgan & Co on three continents. He currently chairs the board of Catholic Health Initiatives, which is one of the largest healthcare systems in the United States, with more than 100 hospitals. 

His efforts in philanthropy and social entrepreneurship have included helping to launch an innovative collaboration to offer online university education in refugee camps in Africa and elsewhere. He founded Pilgrimage for Our Children’s Future, which supports education and healthcare projects among severely impoverished, marginalized communities. He also co-founded Contemplative Leaders in Action, an emerging leader formation program now active in a half-dozen cities. 

Chris was raised in Queens, NY, graduated from Fordham University summa cum laudeand passionately roots for the New York Mets.


Breakout description

Discernment, Decision Making and Catholic Leadership

This practical and application-based breakout session will offer participants the opportunity to consider how our faith shapes decision making. You will leave with practical strategies that you can apply to your day-to-day work as a Catholic school leader.

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Alex Russell

Dr. Alex Russell is a clinical psychologist who provides assessments and psychotherapy to children and adults, in addition to consulting with schools, teachers and psychologists.He has addressed many parent and counsellor groups over the years and he is intimately familiar with the culture of the school system and the relationship that parents, educators and counsellors share with regards to the children we are raising.

Dr. Russell offers a fresh perspective on raising children that is reassuringly familiar and strikingly sensible. The heart of his message is that children learn through the experience of non-catastrophic, painful failure and it is through the process of these failures that they mature into resilient, resourceful and emotionally balanced individuals. Parents need to see failing – whether it’s a test, a course, or a tryout for a team as a normal part of growing up and not a sign of parental incompetence.

A father of two, Alex lives in Toronto and is an avid hockey player and coach.


Breakout description

Leadership and Anxiety:  Supporting achievement and wellbeing through the Student-Parent-Teacher Triangle

The current acute rise in mental health struggles among students is occurring within a culture of marks-based competition and parent over-involvement. By creating a culture shift, Principals and Vice-Principals can help teachers and parents support children’s emotional growth, through: 

  • Reframing anxiety as a healthy essential emotion, and the development of adaptive anxiety in a student as a key goal of learning.
  • Building and supporting a strong parent-teacher alliance in which a sense of responsibility is gradually shifted onto students.
  • Developing a culture of student engagement by directing parents and teachers to focus more on intrinsic aspects of a student’s experience (“flow”; character or personality; likes/dislikes) and less on extrinsic factors (marks, ranking, “likes” on Facebook).

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Paul Davis

Paul Davis has spoken to over 470,000 students over four Provinces and four States in just under seven years. Besides speaking to kids, he also listens to them, and their real life stories. 

Paul has delivered his message to the Ontario Provincial Police, Canada Border Services, Alberta RCMP and Department of National Defence. He brings 28 years of IT experience to his audiences of students, educators, parents and law enforcement.

Paul is also the proud father of two girls (elementary and high school).


Breakout description

Digital Leadership and Cyber Bullying

Fact vs Fiction vs Belief: Accountability and Responsibility in a Digital WorldThis presentation will discuss Social Media Truths, Online Safety, Digital Trails vs Digital Footprints, and Privacy for Educators & Students. Cyberbullying is never an accident or mistake, when you understand how tech works.

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Michael Higgins

Michael Higgins is an author, scholar, educator, columnist, Vatican Affairs Specialist for The Globe and Mail, Papal Commentator for the CTV Network and CBC Radio documentarian. He has served as President and Vice-Chancellor of two Canadian Catholic universities, St. Jerome’s University in the University of Waterloo, Ontario, and St. Thomas University, Fredericton, New Brunswick, and as Vice-President for Mission and Catholic Identity at Sacred Heart University in Fairfield, Connecticut, where he is currently Distinguished Professor of Catholic Thought. 

Michael has edited, co-authored and authored scores of books including The Jesuit Mystique, Power and Peril: The Catholic Church at the Crossroads, The Muted Voice: Religion and the Media, Genius Born of Anguish: The Life and Legacy of Henri J. M. Nouwen and Jean Vanier: Logician of the Heart. Many of these books have been translated into multiple languages and won awards, as well as being national bestsellers.

A columnist over the years for The Toronto Star, Telegraph-Journal, The Record, andThe Catholic Register on media matters, literary issues and Catholicism, he currently has a monthly column on the American Church for the Dublin-based Irish Catholic. He is also a regular contributor to Commonweal (New York), The Literary Review of Canada, and The Tablet (London).

Michael is the recipient of many awards, including two honorary doctorates and an Affiliate Graduate Professor of the Oblate School of Theology in San Antonio, Texas.

A native Torontonian, Michael is married to Krystyna, a liturgical musician and writer, and they have four adult children.


Breakout description

The Ministry and Compassion as a Pathway to Catholic Leadership

Using Henri Nouwen as a model of the Ministry of Compassion, we will explore the role of imagination, empathy and compassion and how critical they are to the creation of new Catholic leaders in Ontario