The Keynote Speaker session is named in honor of Dr. Thomas Grace who served as one of the founders and chair of the conference committee for 17 years, until his retirement in 2016.

2020 Conference Speakers

Bailey Parnell

Bailey Parnell


Bailey Parnell is the Founder & CEO of SkillsCamp and was named one of Canada's Top 100 Most Powerful Women. Bailey is a TEDx speaker with more than 1 million views, an award-winning digital marketer, and a businesswoman with a talent for helping people develop the skills they need for success. Her work and expertise have been featured in Forbes, CBC, FOX News, Flare Magazine, and more. 

Bailey’s company SkillsCamp is a soft skills training company that works with businesses and educational institutions to help their staff and students develop the essential skills needed for personal and professional success - skills like personal branding, stress-management, emotional intelligence, and more. Before this, she built up her career bringing digital student engagement to Canadian higher education through her work at Ryerson University - models that has since been shared globally.

Bailey frequently speaks about social media and mental health, soft skills, intergenerational understanding, and being a woman in business. She guest lectured my first MBA class at 21 and has since spoken to over 100K people.

Bailey is finishing up her MA in Communications and Culture, part-time at Ryerson University with research focused on social media’s impact on mental health, the results of which have been shared at the World Youth Forum in Egypt. She is also an honors graduate of the the RTA School of Media majoring in Media Production and double-minoring in News Studies and English. 

Previously, she has worked in social media marketing at CBC and Bell Media; assisted instructors in Seneca College's Social Media: Graduate Certificate Program; taught English abroad, and has worked as a local news reporter on Rogers TV.

Though the rest of her family is from Nova Scotia, she was born and raised in Brampton, Ontario, and now lives in Toronto. 

Bailey Parnell

Robert Hawkins


Robert Hawkins is the McSilver Associate Professor in Poverty Studies at NYU Silver and serves as Assistant Dean and Director of the School’s undergraduate program. Dr. Hawkins has expertise in poverty and welfare, social capital use and development, race and social policy, community participatory research with mixed methodologies, and social policy analysis. He also has extensive programming, research, and teaching expertise in race and racism, diversity, oppression, and privilege. Dr. Hawkins has approached the study and understanding of poverty from many perspectives. He conducted research with low-income families in New Orleans following Hurricane Katrina, engaged in in-depth studies with single mother-led households, and led international work in poor communities in the Philippines. His current research focuses on racism and poverty as trauma, and addresses the link between social position, negative life events, and social capital usage marginalized and low-income individuals and families. He is particularly interested in the structural, sociological, and psychological barriers faced by low-income people trying to make a successful transition from poverty and welfare to positions of economic sustainability.

Dr. Hawkins has been an administrator and trainer in agencies addressing family needs for both children and older adults. He has worked with the Family & Children's Resource Center and the Center for Aging Research and Educational Services in North Carolina, the American Geriatrics Society in New York City, People for the American Way, and the University College of Citizenship and Public Service at Tufts University. He served as an ethnographic researcher with Welfare, Children, and Families, a three-city longitudinal study lead by researchers from Harvard University, University of Texas-Austin, Penn State University, and Brandeis University. This study examined in detail the lives of low-income single mothers, their neighborhood and community networks, and how the women survive under welfare reform.

Dr. Hawkins has served as an adviser and consultant for numerous other community, nonprofit, and for-profit organizations, and speaks, writes, and presents nationally and internationally on a range of related topics. He was selected by The Robert Sterling Clark Foundation to join the Sterling Network NYC, a multidisciplinary network of New York City leaders working together to tackle the challenge of increasing economic mobility.

Dr. Hawkins received his PhD in social policy with an emphasis on low-income families and children from the Heller School of Social Policy and Management at Brandeis University in 2002. In addition to his doctorate, he holds a master's degree in social policy from the Heller School for Social Policy and Management at Brandeis University, a Master's in Public Administration from the School of Government at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, and a Bachelor of Arts in communications from Appalachian State University in Boone, North Carolina.

Jonathan Chin

Jonathan Chin

Jonathan Chin is an educator and a poet, 2nd dan blackbelt, software engineer, and social entrepreneur.

His greatest concern is how to leverage breakthrough technology to address the human condition in illuminating ways. His classrooms are often attended by laughter, sometimes so much that they’re asked to pipe down.

He teaches literature, computer science, math, and martial arts to ages between 5 and 65. He taught in high risk neighborhoods in New York City, including Rikers Island. And he loves every minute, every lesson.