• Mark John Stewart

Wentworth Strategy Group Appointed to Review HWDSB Board Governance



Hamilton‐Wentworth District School Board (HWDSB) Trustees confirmed at their Board Meeting on May 31 that a Governance Review will be facilitated by Wentworth Strategy Group.


In October 2020, HWDSB Trustees approved a motion to conduct a review of their governance practices by an independent third‐party consultant specifically from an Anti‐Oppression and Anti‐Racism framework. The Independent Code of Conduct Review, released in February 2021, also recommended a Governance Review and emphasized its focus on equity, diversity, and inclusion.


“As stewards of public education in Hamilton, Trustees know that our decisions made in the boardroom directly impact student success,” said Dawn Danko, Chair of the Board. “This year in particular, we learned that we need to deepen our understanding of equity, inclusion and diversity and create a more positive culture. By welcoming this highly respected and deeply experienced team to guide the review, we will be more effective in our leadership and utilize improved governance practices.”


The Governance Review will elevate equity, diversity and inclusion and confront systemic barriers through anti‐racism, anti‐oppression, and anti‐colonial lenses. The project team will update policy frameworks, revise the HWDSB Board of Trustees Handbook, and engage in training and professional development opportunities for Trustees.


Commencing in June, Wentworth Strategy Group will complete a four‐phased plan to be delivered in 2021‐22:


1. Initiation of governance review

2. Initiation of updating of policy framework

3. Trustee training and development program

4. Project completion and submission of final report


Monitoring reports and updates will be provided to the Governance Committee throughout the 2021‐22 school year. A final report will be delivered to the Board of Trustees in June, 2022.


The Governance Review Project Team assembled by Wentworth Strategy Group has significant and relevant experience with education, our local educational ecosystem, equity, diversity, and inclusion, anti‐racism and anti‐oppression, anti‐colonialism, and governance:


Catherine Raso, Lead Project Consultant, is an internationally recognized practitioner, consultant, author, and speaker on board governance. Based in Hamilton, Catherine has more than 30 years of experience in the non‐profit sector—as a CEO, board member and highly skilled facilitator consulting with more than 600 boards around the world. Her most popular governance book, “The OnTarget Board Member: 8 Indisputable Behaviours”, is in its 5th edition, with over 15,000 copies sold worldwide. She has co‐authored “The Board Administration Handbook”, “The Policy Governance Fieldbook” and others.


Leo Nupolu Johnson ‐ Project Consultant, is an experienced non profit executive, entrepreneur, human rights specialist, public speaker, and United Nations Fellow. He is currently the Executive Director of Empowerment Squared and Senior Advisor, Equity, Diversity and Inclusion, and Nonprofit Management with Wentworth Strategy Group. Under Leo’s leadership as Executive Director at Empowerment Squared, the organization has assisted over 2000 newcomer youth and families with settling in Canada, many of whom are now giving back to their community. The organization has also made significant progress towards opening the groundbreaking Liberian Learning Center, which will house the first and only public library in post‐war Liberia. Leo is active in Canada, Liberia, Ghana, and South Africa, and his expertise has been recognized for its impact all over the world. His specific expertise includes nonprofit startups and management, international development, immigration and resettlement, fundraising and financial management.


Troy Hill ‐ Project Consultant | Shé:kon sewakwékon Troy Hill ni iónkiats, kanienkehake, ni wakonwentsioten, Ohswé:ken kherihonnyén:ni (Translation: Greetings In Mohawk to everyone, Troy Hill is Mohawk from Six Nations of the Grand River where he is an educator). Troy Hill held many positions in education have included roles as Vice‐Principal, Principal, and Learning Resource Teacher. Troy recently completed his Masters in Education, focusing on “Cultural Competency, through the lens of Indigenous Knowledge''. Troy has participated and facilitated policy writing for accreditation courses offered through the Ontario College of Teachers. Along with his policy writing experience he recently co‐authored; Psychopathology in the Offspring of Indigenous Parents with Mental Health Challenges: A Systematic Review, in the Canadian Journal of Psychiatry (2020).


Dr. Bonny Ibhawoh ‐ Project Consultant, (M.A. Ibadan; Ph.D Dalhousie), teaches Human Rights History in the Department of History and the Centre for Peace Studies. He also teaches in the McMaster Arts & Science Program and the Institute on Globalization and the Human Condition. He is the Director of the McMaster Centre for Human Rights and Restorative Justice. He was previously Associate Dean of Research, and Acting Associate Vice‐President for Research at McMaster University. He is the author of several books on human rights and peace studies including Imperial Justice (Oxford University Press, 2013) and Imperialism and Human Rights (SUNY Press, 2007) [named Choice Outstanding Academic Title]. Dr. Ibhawoh is a member of the College of New Scholars of the Royal Society of Canada, a recipient of the McMaster Student Union Teaching Award and the Nelson Mandela Distinguished Africanist Award.