Maytree Policy School

Karim Bardeesy, Co-Founder and Executive Director, Ryerson Leadership Lab

Karim BardeesyKarim Bardeesy is a public service leader who has worked in progressively senior roles in public policy, politics, journalism and academia in Toronto and the United States since 2001. He is the Co-Founder and current Executive Director of the Ryerson Leadership Lab, an action-oriented think tank at Ryerson University.

He is also a board member of The Atmospheric Fund and Corporate Knights, Inc., a member of the Banff Forum, and a founding faculty member of Maytree Policy School, and a co-founder of DemocracyXChange, Canada’s democracy summit, and the pandemic publishing project First Policy Response.

Karim was previously Deputy Principal Secretary for the Premier of Ontario, the Honourable Kathleen Wynne, and served as Executive Director of Policy for Premiers Wynne and Dalton McGuinty. He has worked as a journalist, an editorial writer at The Globe and Mail, and as an editorial assistant at Slate magazine, and his policy writing has also been published in The Toronto Star, The Washington Post, and Maclean’s. He has also taught narrative and leadership at the University of Toronto’s School of Public Policy and Governance and was a DiverseCity Fellow with the Greater Toronto Civic Action Alliance.

Karim holds a Bachelor of Arts from McGill University, and a Master in Public Policy from Harvard’s John F. Kennedy School of Government. He grew up in Bathurst, New Brunswick and is the son of immigrants from Egypt and England. He and his wife Rachel Pulfer are raising their children in Toronto’s west end.


Jennifer Robson, Associate Professor, Riddell Graduate Program in Political Management, Carleton University

photo: Jennifer RobsonPrior to joining Carleton, Jennifer Robson was director of policy for the non-profit SEDI (now Prosper Canada) and worked in the federal public service. Between 1994 and 2000, she worked in several political (exempt staff) roles. In 2016, Jennifer served as a member of an Advisory Panel on Tax Expenditures to the Minister of Finance. From 2015 to 2018, she was a member of the National Research Committee on Financial Literacy for the Financial Consumer Agency of Canada. She is currently a member of the board of a non-profit  foundation and is a member of the Advisory Committee on Learning at Employment and Social Development Canada. Jennifer also regularly collaborates with community-based organizations through the Asset-Building Learning Exchange.

Robert Steiner, Director, Dalla Lana Fellowship in Global Journalism, Dalla Lana School of Public Health, University of Toronto

Rob SteinerRobert Steiner is Director of the Dalla Lana Fellowship in Global Journalism, Dalla Lana School of Public Health, University of Toronto. The Fellowships are a fundamentally new type of post-graduate training in global journalism, for starting journalists with advanced knowledge of complex disciplines. Robert began his career as a global finance correspondent for The Wall Street Journal with postings in New York, Hong Kong and Tokyo, where he was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize, won two Overseas Press Club awards and the Inter-American Press Association Award. After leaving The Wall Street Journal he received his MBA from the Wharton School of Business at the University of Pennsylvania and then worked as a business strategy executive, first at The Boston Consulting Group and later as Group Vice President in charge of Strategic Planning for Bell Globemedia, parent of the Globe and Mail and CTV. From 2006 to 2010, he served as Assistant Vice President of the University of Toronto in charge of Strategic Communications. Robert has also held a number of senior campaign positions in Canadian politics. In 2003 and 2002, he served as health policy advisor and principal speechwriter for Hon. Paul Martin, during his candidacy for the premiership of Canada and during his subsequent tenure as Prime Minister-designate. In 2000, he managed the Liberal Party of Canada’s new media campaign in the period leading to and during the federal general election, working for Prime Minister Jean Chretien. Outside of work, Robert is engaged in independent writing projects focused on the role of religion in secular society. He lives in Toronto with his wife, daughter and son.


The program will also feature guest speakers and contributors from across sectors with a variety of experiences in public policy.

Hear from participants

“[Maytree Policy School] is professional development par excellence! Changing the world does take “relentless incrementalism” and this program should be mandatory for every leader.”

Bruce Pitkin, Executive Director, ArtStarts (MPS ’20)

Hear from participants

"[Maytree] Policy School represents a rare opportunity to learn how to successfully advocate for policy change directly from folks who've done it before. The program is worth it for the content alone. But what really has me energized is the community that Maytree is building through this work. The insights of those in my cohort not only rounded out the learning experience, but will also offer a wealth of experience, advice, inspiration, and friendship for years to come."

Terence Hamilton, Policy Specialist, UNICEF Canada (MPS ’20)

Hear from participants

"Maytree Policy School is the perfect program to learn and enhance one’s skills and understanding of strategies to effectively influence government actions and decisions. Thank you to the fantastic faculty, superb speakers, and remarkable non profit colleagues for creating a vibrant community for growth and development."

Carol Zoulalian, Executive Director, St. Jude Community Homes (MPS ’20)

Hear from participants

"Maytree Policy School provided very practical tips and advice to effectively influence policy. Perhaps most importantly, the program connected me with a cohort of incredible peers that I can count on for mutual support as we continue our policy careers."

Talia Bronstein, VP, Research and Advocacy, Daily Bread Food Bank (MPS ’20)

Hear from participants

"A thoughtfully-designed program that provides access to an incredible group of faculty and subject-matter experts. A powerful experience that has improved my ability to influence."

Sibel Cicek, Senior Manager, Government Relations, YMCA Ontario, YMCA of Greater Toronto (MPS ’20)

Hear from participants

"For grassroots and small non-profit organizations trying to enhance the scope and impact of their work through policy, Maytree Policy School is a powerful place to enhance the capacity of senior leaders to deliver results for the communities we serve. From the faculty to the Maytree Policy school peers, everything is designed to increase your impact."

Paul Bailey, President, Black Health Alliance (MPS ’20)

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“Maytree Policy School completely surpassed my expectations. It's a course anyone should take who strives to be a strategic influencer at any level of government and regardless of who's in power.”

Brian Davis, Executive Director, Houselink Community Homes (MPS ’19)

Hear from participants

"Maytree Policy School brought together a highly skilled and generous group of instructors. My organization has gained new tools and resources, and connections to fabulous peers and organizations."

Shelagh Pizey-Allen, Executive Director, TTCRiders (MPS ’19)

Hear from participants

“Maytree Policy School was invaluable. It helped me systematize and move forward our policy work. The faculty were knowledgeable and engaging, and the other participants have now become a close network I can call on.”

Sasha McNicoll, Policy Manager, Community Food Centres Canada (MPS ’19)

Hear from participants

“Having the focused time along with the incredible depth of knowledge from the presenters and other participants made this program worth every minute. The shifts in our approach and development of a policy strategy will have long-term impact for our organization and our mission at Pillar.”

Michelle Baldwin, Executive Director, Pillar Nonprofit Network (MPS ’19)

Hear from participants

“Maytree Policy School brought together an expert faculty team who generously shared their wealth of knowledge and experiences. I really appreciated how each session was meticulously planned and specifically tailored for us in the non-profit sector.”

Tesfai Mengesha, Executive Director, Success Beyond Limits (MPS ’18)