Our team of consultants have extensive experience in the field. Most consultants have backgrounds in Early Childhood Education and have worked as caregivers and administrators in child care programs. They have a wealth of knowledge regarding the issues facing newcomer children and their families, with areas of expertise that range from special needs and inclusion to language learning and program development. In addition, many are skilled in leading workshops and training sessions.
When needed, we draw on our large network of subject matter experts within the child care and settlement communities.
CMAS works with an extended, accomplished team of researchers, educators, writers, graphic artists, web developers and online curriculum designers.
Meet the Team
Susan Hoo (Manager) has worked in the family service field both overseas and in Canada for over twenty-five years. She has a Bachelor of Social Work degree and TESL (Teaching English as a Second Language) Certification. Susan started her career working in child protection in Toronto, and then she worked in the Cayman Islands developing services for families.
As manager of CMAS since 2000, she has led a team in the monitoring and support for Care for Newcomer Children’s programs across the country. Susan has overseen the development of three generations of childminding standards – including Care for Newcomer Children Requirements (CNCR) and the design and implementation of the monitoring model for CNC. Susan also managed the research, design and development of a number of programs, operations manuals and handbooks for administrators and staff. She is the coordinator and co-author of Summer Programs for Children New to Canada and The Childminders’ Resource Guide.
Tricia Doyle, Assistant Manager and Registered ECE, worked in the licensed child care field for over thirty years as a general manager of multiple child care locations. Tricia is an experienced presenter in classroom, workshop and conference settings. She has been with CMAS since its inception, working as part of the team that developed Care for Newcomer Children (CNC) as well as the two sets of requirement standards that previously governed the care of immigrant children across Canada (NLCR and OCCR).
Tricia uses her expertise and experience with programs across Canada to help build program quality. She has been a key team member in strategic planning and organizational development for CMAS, and has developed a number of publications that support program implementation. These include From Selection to Set-up (a guide to starting a new program), and An Observation Checklist for CIC (a resource that explains the basics of observing a child minding program).
Tricia is also the primary author of Caring for Syrian Refugee Children: A Program Guide to Welcoming Young Children and Their Families.
With over 23 years of experience, Donna Thomas is a true leader in the field of newcomer child care. Donna is a Registered ECE with certificates in Adult Education and Staff Training and Development. She worked directly with newcomer families for almost ten years before becoming one of the first consultants to join the CMAS team in 2000.
Since then, Donna has been a key team member in providing training and support to the Care for Newcomer Children community. She is also co-author of the Resource Guide for LINC Childminding Programs, Summer Program Guide for Children New to Canada, and Making a Difference: The Community Response to Working with Newcomer Families.
Heather Savazzi believes in making a difference—one child and family at a time. Over the last twenty years, she has worked with children with special needs, with newcomer families across Canada and as an Early Literacy Specialist in Northern Ontario. She has seen first-hand how tapping in to children’s potential for resilience and growth in the early years can lead to lasting change and improved settlement outcomes for newcomer families.
Heather has taught and coordinated a variety of college- and certificate-level adult education programs, including programs for women who are new to Canada. Most recently, she has had the honour of working with leading experts in childhood trauma, resilience and settlement; and has travelled coast-to-coast, visiting Care for Newcomer Children’s programs.
Wherever her work takes her, Heather’s goal is to collect the best research and promising practices, simplify the complex, and translate knowledge into action by sharing stories and strategies with early childhood educators.
As part of the CMAS team, Heather has led the development of a multilingual newcomer parent resource series and is the primary author of The Resilience Guide: Strategies for Responding to Trauma in Refugee Children, and Care for Newcomer Children: A Step-by-Step Guide for New Programs. She is also co-author of Caring for Syrian Refugee Children: A Program Guide for Welcoming Young Children and Their Families.
Helen Crouch has been in the field of early childhood education for over thirty five years, and a member of the CMAS team since 2007. She has worked with Service Providing Organizations in British Columbia, Alberta, Manitoba, Nova Scotia and Ontario. She was part of the project team that successfully developed the CNC program, the Implementation and Risk Review processes and the CNC Assessment process.
An RECE, Helen has a wide variety of experience in daycare, has worked as a home child care advisor, and was actively involved in the establishment of an Ontario Early Years Centre in Toronto. While Helen calls Toronto home, she has also lived in Calgary, Ottawa and Montreal. She brings to her work at CMAS not only her extensive background with newcomer families, but also her own experience as an immigrant to Canada.
Kim Faber earned her ECE certification from Seneca College in 1994, where she is now a faculty member teaching courses with a focus on health, safety and child development. Before she joined the CMAS team in 2010, Kim spent over 15 years in different management roles within the child care field. From working directly with the Ministry of Children and Family Services to opening and managing brand new childcare programs, she has worked with children of all ages in inclusive classroom settings, and developed and implemented programs for child care centres and recreation programs in Toronto and York Region. As well, she has assessed licensed home child care programs to ensure they are implementing health and safety standards.
In her role at CMAS, Kim provides monitoring, assessment, advisory and support services to CNC programs.
Jackie Cunningham joined the CMAS team in 2015 with diplomas in Aboriginal Child Care, Daycare Management and Montessori Education. Jackie is an Early Childhood Educator III with twenty years of experience in the ECE field and over twelve years as a director. Jackie is the CMAS consultant for Manitoba and Saskatchewan CNC programs, teaches in the Early Childhood Education program in Manitoba, and is currently in the fourth year of her Family Social Sciences degree at the University of Manitoba.
Danielle Desmarais was an elementary teacher and principal as well as a secondary teacher for over thirty nine years before joining the CMAS team in 2017. She holds a Biology Teaching degree from Université du Québec à Montréal as well as a Bachelor of Education from YORK University. She brings a vast variety of experiences from the classrooms as well as managing small and large schools. Over the course of her career in education she has helped implement French language programs in numerous communities. Danielle’s first language is French and she had to learn English when she moved to Toronto, so she understands first hand the challenges of navigating a new city without knowledge of the language.
Shanda Burnett strongly believes in creating opportunities for all children to learn and grow.
As an Early Childhood Educator and Resource Teacher, she expertly promotes inclusion of children with special needs in the child-care community and has a wide range of expertise in supporting children’s social and emotional development, including children with Autism Spectrum Disorder. Shanda’s in-depth knowledge of child development and assessment methods, coupled with her experience facilitating workshops for professionals, parents and children, makes her an invaluable member of the CMAS team.
Tricia Kassotis is a retired school-age program teacher and program supervisor turned college instructor from Ottawa.
After graduating with her BA in English and Psychology, ECE education with Resource Teaching and Teaching English as a Second Language, she maintained her first love, the education of children, by inspiring her students about the importance of simple high-quality programming.
Through her social media platform, Mindfulness and Purpose in Early Childhood Education, she provides other ECEs with new ideas and insight on how to return to the basics and pure joy of working with children.
While completing her Continuous Professional Learning goal planning, she developed the Professional Development Workbook, a hands-on, living document for ECEs to develop their own professional goals, expand their expertise, and chronicle their growth and improvement in the field.