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Alfred Jean-Baptiste has been with the Centre for Community Learning & Development (CCL&D) for the past 18 years, currently as Executive Director and before that as Program and Personnel Co-ordinator. Two of his most notable achievements at CCL&D are the development of the ‘Bridging Program’ with George Brown College and the Immigrant Women Integration Program.

The Bridging Program was the first community-based pathway to higher education for adult literacy learners in Toronto. An articulation agreement between the two organizations facilitated a continuum of learning making it possible for students to access further academic upgrading and for many, a college education.

The initiative also challenged the prevailing values of literacy work in Toronto and focused on ensuring that adults with low literacy skills had access to high quality upgrading opportunities, as well as highly skilled instructors, appropriate learning assessments and supports.

After observing the changing demographics of the community and the requests from newcomers for opportunities that were more responsive to their needs, in 2002 Jean-Baptiste developed a proposal that further expanded the community-based adult education focus of CCL&D to include intensive training for newcomer women (Immigrant Women Integration Program) who would in turn serve as the cultural and linguistic bridge for the diverse communities that now call downtown east Toronto home.

The program provides trainees with tools for community engagement and capacity-building, and helps them develop skills for community assessments, social analysis, theories of change for planning and evaluation. The program also includes an internship component resulting in employment for 95% of graduates. The program has been so successful that it has been expanded to include the so-called 13 priority neighbourhoods.

This critical and pragmatic approach has become a hallmark of Jean-Baptiste’s leadership style and his work in the community-based sector. In 1997 he wrote,

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“Actively embracing a critical approach to tutoring mirrors the process required in the transformation of our organizations, if we are to have even a ghost of a chance of building [[[equity]] and diversity. For it is through a questioning attitude that we build our capacity to see reasons behind facts, purposes behind practices, and values behind principles.”

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During his time at CCL&D he has also worked in the area of organizational development for a variety of Toronto non-profit organizations, including the Ethiopian Association, Toronto Hostels Training Centre, Delta Family Resource Centre, and Central Neighbourhood House, to name a few. Since leading CCL&D into membership with the United Way of Toronto (UWT), 10 years ago, Mr. Jean-Baptiste has also been asked to be on UWT’s Performance Effectiveness Organizational Development Advisory Committee and to participate in the Capacity Building for Community Impact pilot project.

Reflecting his interest in participatory [1]education and critical pedagogy, Mr. Jean-Baptiste is also the author of several publications - Caribbean English and the Literacy Tutor; Equity Across the Curriculum [2]; Peoples As Partners in Health Promotion; A Community Empowerment Approach to Reclaiming Cultural Traditions, and Black Youth Literacy – A Guide for Program Development [3].

Born in St. Lucia, Mr. Jean-Baptiste served as General Secretary of the St. Lucia Teachers’ Union, as well as President of the Caribbean Union of Teachers. He was appointed as Senator in the St. Lucia Parliament in 1982, and served as Minister of Youth, Community Development and Social Services.

He came to Canada in 1985 and worked for the Centre for Caribbean Dialogue, co-ordinating and facilitating workshops for Oxfam-Canada and CUSO. Following that, he co-ordinated the activities of the Participatory Research Group, exploring ways to incorporate community participation into social research and organizational development.

Mr. Jean-Baptiste’s interest in participatory research has continued in his consulting work. Most recently, he served as process consultant for a study conducted by the Department of Occupational Therapy, University of Toronto, funded by the Workplace Safety & Insurance Board. The study, titled From Reflection to Action on Compensation and Return to Work Issues, involved more than 300 injured workers in Southern Ontario. Most of those who conducted the research were themselves injured workers. [4]

A strong advocate of human rights, anti-discrimination, and the promotion of access and equity, Mr. Jean-Baptiste is the author of numerous equity policies which have served as a template for organizational change processes as well as a presenter and workshop facilitator for United Way Toronto and the City of Toronto, among other organizations.

For his dedication, leadership and excellence in the fields of organizational development, community building, adult basic education, and access and equity, Alfred Jean-Baptiste was made an Honorary Member of the Golden Key International Honour Society, Ryerson University Chapter, in 2004.

Golden Key is an internationally recognized academic honour society dedicated to excellence. Founded at Georgia State University in 1977, the society has 13 charter chapters in Canada, including Ryerson University, University of Toronto and McGill University. Membership in the Society is by invitation only to students who earn outstanding academic distinction and to leaders in higher education, business and public service.

And in 2008, Mr. Jean-Baptiste was selected as the 2008 Ontario recipient of Council of the Federation Literacy Award. [5]


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