Wendy Nelson

Wendy is Senior Fellow within the Institute of Health Policy, Management and Evaluation at the University of Toronto and an experienced executive in the health and social service sectors, possessing an established track record leading positive organizational and health systems change.

As a mentor and advisor, Wendy helps people and organizations build capacity and “readiness for action,” where business strategy is turned into positive, tangible action. Change and transformation requires leaders who are curious about the unknown, have empathy and possess equal amounts of courage and common sense. Wendy brings these qualities to her work with teams and organizations that want to lead change and transformation – even in the most complex environments.

Vernissage Health – a dialogue series for emerging health care leaders – is the intellectual creation and an innovative leadership development initiative Wendy is currently leading on behalf of IHPME with input and co-creation by Blake Poland from the Dalla Lana School of Public Health. With graduate degrees in management from both University of Toronto (1983) and McGill University (2014), Wendy is committed to incorporating contemporary ideas and available evidence to assist leaders facilitate positive, sustainable change within complex systems. Her graduate research at McGill focused on the critical success factors for large scale health system transformation – recent international efforts, emerging evidence, and implications for Ontario.

At the University of Toronto, Wendy served as President of the Alumni Association for the Department of Health Administration where she was recipient of the President’s Achievement Award in 1999. Wendy is one of a handful of Canadian graduates of the Leadership Academy offered through Parker Palmer’s Centre for Courage and Renewal in Washington (2014).

Wendy has served as a senior executive in a broad range of settings in the public and private sector including North York General Hospital, Trillium Health Centre, St. Joseph’s Hospital in Hamilton, and the Ontario Public Service. For eight years, Wendy served as President and CEO of Rx Canada, a private start up company eventually serving over 6000 community based retail pharmacies in all provinces.


Dr. Blake Poland

Blake Poland is an Associate Professor in the Dalla Lana School of Public Health at the University of Toronto, Director of the Collaborative Graduate Specialization in Community Development (cdcp.ca), co-lead of the Healthier Cities &
Communities hub 
(http://www.HealthierCitiesCommunities.com), co-director of the WHO Collaborating Centre in Health Promotion, and former interim director of the Transformative Learning Centre at OISE. His areas of
specialization include community resilience, transformative social change, qualitative and dialogical methods, the settings  approach in
health promotion, ecological determinants of health, social 
movements, community development as an arena of
practice for health and social care professionals, and the relationship between inner and outer change. His current and recent research includes the emergence of the Transition movement in Canada, the role of civil society in healthy public policy making (and implementation) on active transportation, and the racialization of the emerging new ‘green economy’ (www.GreenGap.org). Blake teaches courses in generative dialogue, community development in health, and building community resilience.