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Keynote Biographies

Shirlee Sharkey, CHE, MHSc, BScN, BA, President & CEO, Saint Elizabeth 

Shirlee Sharkey is president and chief executive officer of Saint Elizabeth, a leading national health care organization known for its social innovation, strong financial performance and pioneering practices. As an award-winning and diversified not-for-profit, Saint Elizabeth delivers more than six million health care visits annually and employs 8,000 people providing a wide variety of services. 

Shirlee's commitment to community advancement and health policy is evident in her leadership and involvement on many boards. In January 2014, Shirlee was appointed to chair the Ontario Health Technology Advisory Committee, a standing committee for Health Quality Ontario. She also serves on the Ontario Health Innovation Council and the CD Howe Health Policy Council. 

Academically, Shirlee is appointed to the University of Toronto's Lawrence S. Bloomberg Faculty of Nursing and the Institute of Health Policy, Management and Evaluation as an adjunct professor. She has appeared on a number of media panels and is widely published on home and community-based health care, health transformation, social innovation and breakthrough leadership. 

Peter Ashby, Physiotherapist and Stroke Survivor 

Peter has a very unique view of the rehabilitative process. He has experienced the medical side of therapy and rehab as a physiotherapist for over 20 years. He has held administrative positions ranging from a staff PT, APTA Clinical Instructor, multi-disciplinary Clinical Director, to owner of various private clinics. He has acquired clinical experience in all aspects of physiotherapy.

After a stroke 2½ years ago, Peter has now experienced therapy and rehab from the patient's perspective. This experience has changed his approach to patient care from what he thought was effective to what he now knows is effective. 

Dr. Geoff Fernie, PhD, PEng, CEng, FCAHS. Institute Director, Research, at Toronto Rehabilitation Institute-University Health Network

Dr. Geoff Fernie has a primary appointment at the University of Toronto as Professor in the Department of Surgery with cross appointments that include the Institute of Biomaterials and Biomedical Engineering, Department of Mechanical and Industrial Engineering, Department of Physical Therapy and Department of Occupational Science and Occupational Therapy. He has led the creation of the most advanced product development and testing environment in rehabilitation technology in the world. He has a track record of taking inventions from the laboratory and making them available on the market. He currently has 8 commercialized products and 4 currently in clinical trials, and has helped to launch several companies.

In addition to his investigative work as a world class scientist, and an outstanding and progressive engineer, Dr. Fernie has served on numerous committees to inform and advance public policy pertaining to persons with disabilities; he has chaired a number of influential conferences to further advance the profile and the need to address issues related to disability and aging. Dr. Fernie has over 140 peer-reviewed journal papers and book chapters, 22 awarded patents and an additional 13 patent filings.

Dr. Fernie has received several awards for his achievements in improving the lives of people with disabilities and exemplary dedication to the creation and design of modern technology, most recently the Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Medal in 2012, the Inaugural 2014 Honourable David C. Onley Award and the Canadian Society of Biomechanics Biannual Career Award in 2014.


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