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Alumni Profiles

Karen Chan

Karen Chan

Faculty of Applied Health & Community Studies
Year of Graduation: 1974
Program: Early Childhood Education (ECE)

Dedicated to Public Service

As I reflect on my life and career, I always remember my days at Sheridan as the foundation to my learning. My diploma in Early Childhood Education provided me the ability to work, grow and develop. From there I was able to work on my undergraduate studies and then my graduate studies, finally graduating with a Masters of Public Administration in 1993. This ended over 11 years of formal post high school educational studies. Sheridan provided me with the practical skills necessary to enter the workforce and the academic skills to further my education.


From 1974 to 2004, I worked in various positions all related in some way with children, families and community. Since 1981, I have worked as a public servant either at the municipal or provincial level.

Fresh out of college I began my career in community development working to establish a cooperative nursery school in Burlington, Ont. From 1974 to 1981, I worked on a variety of community development initiatives, including child care in a high school with a parenting program associated with it, a program for parents involved with child welfare (one of the first resource centres in the province- in Milton Ont.), and a child care centre in a home for the aged with an intergenerational component. To my absolute delight, all of these programs or initiatives are still operating.

In 1981, I began my career as a public servant. I believe it is the absolute best career. Where else can you influence public policy, implement programs and try to make our province a better place to live and work? Within a democracy, it is our job as civil servants to implement the policy and programs of those who are elected by the citizens.

After joining the public service, I continued to be actively involved in my community, by sitting on parent councils, volunteer boards, and sports organizations.

In my days at Halton Region, I was privileged to head up the development of integrated services for children with special needs (there were only segregated programs available), enhancement of child care subsidy, establishment of a support for child care development, programs to support quality child care, integrated health and social service programs, two child care studies, healthy babies programs, and programs to support families on social assistance. In addition I was involved in many projects including land use policy and streamlining approvals between the lower and upper tier municipalities.

Since arriving at the province of Ontario, I have worked in a variety of Ministries including: Ministry of Health and Long Term Care, Ministry of Community and Social Services, Children’s Secretariat, Ministry of Community, Family and Children Services, Ministry of Children and Youth Services, Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing, and Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs.

During my time at the province, I have had the opportunity to develop, implement and deliver a series of programs and initiatives including: Healthy Babies Healthy Children, the Early Years Challenge Fund, Ontario’s Promise, Canada Ontario Municipal Rural Infrastructure Fund (COMRIF), re-profiling of the Rural Economic Development Program, Broadband initiative, and other initiatives to support rural and agriculture.

I have the honour of receiving awards related to my work over the years. I have been nominated twice for the Premier’s Award by Sheridan. I have received the Halton Children's Services award, the Award of Merit from the Ontario Municipal Social Services Association, a federal award for the COMRIF initiative and the highly sought after provincial Amethyst Award for COMRIF.

My husband of 31 yeas and I have two wonderful children. Our daughter is a JK/SK teacher with the Halton Board of Education, her boyfriend is working in the field of biochemistry, and our son is taking Business at University of Ottawa. We are very proud of them.

My husband and I enjoy committing our time to managing hockey and baseball teams. This involvement allows us to interact with parents and children of a younger age, and hopefully positively influence them in their job of parenting. It is really a positive experience.

The foundation of learning I received at Sheridan College has been an important element of my career. I am a dedicated public servant. When I retire I have another career goal: to teach in a community college environment.

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