Presenter Bios

We are pleased to share our list of confirmed speakers and performers for the 50+ Festival held Wednesday, June 1 through Saturday, June 4, 2016. Additional presenters will be added as they are confirmed. Check out our Festival Program for session details and reserve your tickets now!

David Chandross RESIZEDDavid Chandross (PhD) is a researcher and educator working in the fields of learning in seniors and gamification in higher education and health sciences. He is the Program Coordinator for the Baycrest Learning Academy, which provides continuing education courses for long-term care residents. He currently serves as a lead Ryerson University contact for AGE-WELL Network of Centres of Excellence, in the field of social connectedness and technology for seniors. He has held academic positions at the University of British Columbia, Simon Fraser University, Ryerson University, the British Columbia Institute of Technology, the Michener Institute for Applied Health Sciences, and the Canadian College of Naturopathic Medicine.

Olivier CourteauxOlivier Courteaux holds a PhD in contemporary international relations from the Sorbonne, with an emphasis on war and conflict studies. He has taught at York University, Ryerson University, and the Royal Military College of Canada. Olivier is the author of a number of scholarly articles, conference papers, and book contributions on foreign policy and terrorism. His most recent book, Canada between Vichy and Free France, 1940–1945 was released in 2013 (English) and 2015 (French).

Neel Desai is a technology entrepreneur and co-founder of, a website that finds others interested in discussing common topics and provides you with a face-to-face video platform with which to have a live conversation.  Neel is driven by his passion for exploring the new psychology of aging and challenging current stereotypes. In addition to launching, in 2013 he developed a technology learning program for seniors at Belmont House in Toronto. The following year, he produced the first Nuit Blanche art exhibit by seniors’ home residents (“Belmont House Homes for the Aged: This Light of Mine”) that was visited by over 1,500 people at Toronto’s 401 Richmond gallery. He is currently enjoying his first year as a member of the Board of Directors at Belmont House.

Resa Eisen RESIZEDResa Eisen holds a Master of Social Work (MSW), and has been in private practice as a trainer, consultant, and mediator for more than 35 years, working both in the public and private sectors. She is also a co-founder of the Essential Conversations Project.

Dr. Alexandra Fiocco received an MSc in psychology from Carleton University in 2002, followed by a PhD from McGill University in 2008. After completing her doctoral studies, she pursued post-doctoral training in clinical and epidemiological research at the University of California, San Francisco. She also completed a second post-doctoral fellowship at Baycrest hospital in Toronto, where she gained experience with imaging techniques.  Dr. Fiocco’s research interests centre around healthy aging and brain health in late life, focusing on exploring the biological, psychological, and social factors that determine cognitive function. She is also interested in researching preventive measures that enable healthy aging.

Mitch Frazer is Partner and Chair of the Pensions and Employment Practice at Torys LLP. He is also the founder of the Pension Innovation and Research Centre at Ryerson University. His involvement in the pension industry includes serving as former chair of the International Pension & Employee Benefits Lawyers Association, as well as the Pensions and Benefits sections of the Canadian Bar Association and Ontario Bar Association, and the Association of Canadian Pension Management’s National Policy Committee. Mitch is also an advocate for educational and health causes. He is a member of Ryerson University’s Board of Governors, Chair of Toronto French School’s Board of Directors, a former vice-chair of the North York General Foundation Board, and a former trustee of the Ontario Science Centre.

Mark Handelman was called to the Ontario Bar in 1978. Until 2001, he practised law in London, Ontario, including civil litigation, criminal defence, and prosecution.  Mark holds a Master of Health Science (MHSc) in bioethics from the University of Toronto Joint Centre for Bioethics. He was a member of the corporate ethics committees for both William Osler Health System and Humber River Hospital, and wrote the first versions of the information brochure “A Guide to Substitute Decision-Making” for both hospitals. He has recently joined the Research Ethics Board at North York General Hospital. His articles on powers of attorney, mental health law and ethics, substitute decision-making, and end-of-life process have been widely published.

Justin IngraldiJustin Ingraldi graduated from Queen’s University with a Bachelor of Art Honours degree in Film Studies. His career has led him to the Edinburgh Film Festival in Scotland and a long-standing relationship with the Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF), first as a volunteer and then as an intern. Currently in his role as the Senior Manager of the Volunteer and Intern Resources department at TIFF, he manages a team of up to 10 staff and over 3000 volunteers annually in order to support TIFF’s diverse programs and initiatives.

Dr. Arne Kislenko is an associate professor with the Department of History at Ryerson University and an adjunct professor in the International Relations Program at Trinity College, University of Toronto. He has also frequently served as a visiting professor at the Freie Universität Berlin. He teaches modern international relations, including courses on the world wars, the Cold War, the history of espionage, the history of terrorism, comparative foreign policy, and modern Southeast Asia.  Dr. Kislenko has won numerous teaching awards, including the prestigious 3M National Teaching Fellowship, Ryerson’s first President’s Award for Teaching Excellence, the inaugural Province of Ontario Leadership in Faculty Teaching Award, and was named an honorary member of the Golden Key International Honour Society.

Angela Lachowski is in the final year of her PhD in the Clinical Psychology program at Ryerson University. Her research specialty focuses on the cardiovascular consequences of insomnia and the relationship between sleep, hunger, and nutritional choices. Angela has been treating clients with insomnia for five years in the contexts of clinical trials and private practice.

Sifu David Leopold has been practicing, studying, researching, and teaching martial and healing arts since 1994. Sifu David obtained his black belt in Shaolin Kung Fu in 1999. Since then, Sifu David has achieved numerous certifications in Taichi, Qigong, and is a Reiki Master. Sifu David earned two gold and one bronze medal in 2012 at the “International Wushu Competition” in Shanghai, China. His unique style of teaching blends technique, philosophy, practicality, and a fun atmosphere.

Wendy Mayhew is an accomplished businesswoman with a flair for helping first-time entrepreneurs establish successful businesses.  She has been a professional advisor and a long-time volunteer contributor to Futurepreneur Canada, a writer for Startup Canada’s Pivot Magazine, a guest blogger, and a sought-after speaker at colleges, universities, and other organizations focused on entrepreneurial development. Wendy continues to share how-to advice and success strategies with business start-ups across Canada.

Alex Mihailidis (PhD, PEng) is the Barbara G. Stymiest Research Chair in Rehabilitation Technology at the University of Toronto and Toronto Rehab Institute. He is also the Scientific Director of the AGE-WELL Network of Centres of Excellence, which focuses on the development of new technologies and services for older adults. He has been conducting research in the field of pervasive computing and intelligent systems in health for the past 15 years, and has published over 150 journal papers, conference papers, and abstracts in this field.

Terry PoultonTerry Poulton is a former journalist and author who now focuses on encouraging people to write their life stories and helping them do so (  She has moderated LIFE Institute’s Recording Recollections course for several years.

Tom Sandler Ruth Lowe _0008Ruth Lowe’s son, Tom Sandler, is a freelance photographer and musician.

Clayton Scott holds an ARCT diploma in Piano Performance from the Royal Conservatory of Music, and a BA from the University of Toronto. She has taught piano, harmony, and music history since 1969. Clayton is a Member of the College of Examiners at the Royal Conservatory of Music. In 1992, she developed the lecture/performance series “Music through the Ages,” a music appreciation and history course now consisting of over 75 titles that she has presented in both Canada and the United States.

Iain Scott left the business world (Shell, Deloitte, and Mercer) a decade ago to pursue his passion – teaching people how to appreciate opera, and taking them to the great opera houses of the world through his company, OPERA IS. He lectures extensively throughout North America each fall and winter, and travels throughout Europe and South America in the spring and summer.

Dr. Samir Sinha is a passionate and respected advocate for the needs of older adults. He currently serves as the Director of Geriatrics at Mount Sinai and the University Health Network Hospitals in Toronto. He is a Rhodes Scholar, with great breadth of international training and expertise in health policy and the delivery of services related to care of the elderly. In 2012, he was appointed by the Government of Ontario to serve as the expert lead for the Ontario’s Seniors Strategy. He has further consulted for and advised hospitals and health authorities in Britain, Canada, Iceland, the United States, and China. In 2014, Toronto Life named him one of Toronto’s Best Doctors, while Maclean’s chose him to as one of Canada’s 50 most influential people and its most compelling voice for the elderly.

Julia SpaniolDr. Julia Spaniol is an associate professor and the Graduate Program Director of the Department of Psychology at Ryerson University. She directs the Memory and Decision Processes Lab, which conducts research into the influence of motivation and reward on cognitive processes in younger and older adults. Dr. Spaniol holds a Canada Research Chair in Cognitive Aging, and her work is supported by the National Science and Engineering Research Council (NSERC) and the Ontario Ministry of Research and Innovation.

Where Have All the Folk Songs Gone is a tribute to the timeless songs of the folk revival of the 1950s and early 1960s. In recreating the atmosphere of Greenwich Village coffee houses and college hootenannies, the band’s faithful sing-along renditions bring the era’s music to life once again for audiences of all ages.  While this legendary folk revival happened over 50 years ago, the songs of hope and social justice that defined it still resonate today. The band takes the audience on a musical journey, sharing stories and providing historical context that reveals the importance of the songs and the times. In doing so, they bring generations together in a collective celebration of song.  Where Have All the Folk Songs Gone is a four-piece ensemble comprised of Sue and Dwight, Michelle Rumball, and Tony Laviola.

Brenda Wong is a third-year PhD student in the Psychology program at Ryerson University, and a member of its Cognitive Aging Lab. She completed her MA at Ryerson University and her BSc at the University of Toronto. Brenda’s research interest focuses on age-related changes in attention and memory, as well as the social and cultural factors that affect these changes. Her recent studies examine the relationships between levels of social engagement and cognitive health among older adults.