Compassion Series Council
The Compassion Series Council is a small select group of inspiring educators and inspired parents who serve as a creative think-tank and advisory around original resources, projects and the development of the Compassion Series.
Annie Brandner has worked in international human rights and religious freedom for over a decade. After an internship with the International Justice Mission in Washington, DC, Annie earned her MA in Political Science, where she examined the pursuit of justice and reconciliation after genocide. Annie has worked in policy and advocacy roles in Ottawa and Toronto, addressing issues including extreme poverty, religious persecution and peace building. Most recently, she worked as Director of Policy and International Relations for Toronto-based Global Peace Initiative, concurrently serving on the international Leadership Team of the Religious Liberty Partnership. Annie’s work has taken her around the world, from refugee camps on the Eritrea-Ethiopia border to the US State Department, from the streets of Hong Kong to the United Nations Human Rights Council. With a degree in Communications, Annie is also engaged in freelance writing and editing. She lives in Toronto with her husband Paul and their two awesome kids.
Marisol Brisbin is a teacher who pursued her formal education both in Halifax and Toronto, including additional formal teacher’s qualifications. While most of her teaching career has been with young elementary school aged children with both Halton and Peel public school boards, Marisol also has experience teaching Junior High students. Additionally, she has had unique experience in helping implement the Ontario Institute for Studies in Education’s “Equity Continuum” in a brand new elementary school. Happily married and mother to three young children, Marisol’s journey has also included participation in social justice and hands-on relief trips to South Asia, South America and East Africa.
Jan Fukumoto is highly respected and uniquely experienced in the field of public education, having worked or volunteered for more than three decades almost exclusively with students with exceptionalities. Currently she works for the Toronto District School Board in the role of Central Coordinator of Autism Services. Jan was involved in the development of the initial Compassion Series and contributed the parent and teacher guide to Book 2 in the Compassion Series, “Its Hard Not To Stare.” Jan is married to Bob and actively supports him in his work with Impact Romania, an organization that develops Romanian orphans to grow in character and influence in the world. They are the parents of three adult children and first time grandparents.
Susie Griffin has a rich history of activity and leadership in community engagement, social justice and parenting. This includes several years teaching parenting courses with Relationship Central Canada, and serving as an Ontario advisor for the organization. Susie has also been active both on the front lines and behind the scenes with Loving Arms, a Canadian charity serving in Guatemala, and as a member of the Board of Directors for Alpha Canada. As the mother of four teenagers, Susie has led and participated in numerous school initiatives and parent councils. Additionally, Susie helped pioneer and develop the inaugural Compassion Series’ interactive classroom sessions.
Len Janzen has been a dedicated elementary teacher since 1991, teaching for nine years in a private Montessori school before moving over to the public system. Introducing students to social issues and encouraging thoughtfulness and action have always been central to Len’s curriculum. This might include a visit from a homeless friend or helping out at Community Care. A firm believer in hands on learning, Len challenges his students to make a real difference in their world, awarding a large trophy each year (the Veigh/Niven Cup) to a student who has contributed substantively to their class and community. Outside the classroom, for over six years Len has loved volunteering in his local church’s homeless shelter. Every Tuesday night, he goes indoor rock climbing with his friends who are exiting life on the street. Len and his wife, Laurie, have three great kids Sennet, Kai and Ephram, and they love to go on adventures.
Melissa Morrissey is a registered Social Service Worker who has been working with children, youth, and their families in various capacities for over 15 years. Most recently she has enjoyed 8 years with Youth Unlimited, founding and coordinating the Doxa Journeys (DJ) program, which aims to create ‘globally conscious and locally active’ young people through service projects and leadership initiatives. DJ has seen hundreds of youth participate in their teams and currently serves in Toronto, the Dominican Republic, and among First Nations communities in Northern Ontario. Melissa is also a professor at Seneca Collage in the faculty of Community Services.