2021 National Award Winners and Finalists: Celebrating extraordinary people who improve the lives of abused, abandoned or neglected children or youth

Lynn Factor Stand Up for Kids logo

The Lynn Factor Stand Up for Kids National Award at the Children’s Aid Foundation of Canada recognizes dedication, effort, service, contribution, impact and extraordinary measures taken to improve the lives of abused, abandoned or neglected children and youth.

The Award spotlights these leaders and amplifies their stories to inspire and encourage others to social action, specifically to “Stand Up for Kids”

Mary Birdsell, 2021 winner, has dedicated her career to advocating for young people facing adversity

Mary Birdsell headshot
Mary Birdsell is the Executive Director of Justice for Children and Youth (JFCY). Mary has been a lawyer at JFCY since she was called to the Bar of Ontario in 1996. Since then, she has been a tireless advocate for young people facing significant adversity.

As the 2021 Lynn Factor Stand Up for Kids National Award winner, Mary selected Justice for Children and Youth to receive a $50,000 grant.

Leaders who have made a big difference in the lives of children and youth

This year’s exceptional finalists have also made significant contributions to improve the lives of abused, abandoned or neglected children and youth.

Jean Clinton headshot

Dr. Jean Clinton

Dr. Jean Clinton is a clinical professor of psychiatry and behavioural neurosciences of the Michael G. DeGroote School of Medicine at McMaster University. Jean is a specialist in child psychiatry and is one of four renowned experts to advise the Ontario government on bold reforms to the province’s publicly funded education system. Throughout her work, Jean has been committed to ensuring that children’s and youths’ needs and voices are heard and respected.

Kelly Holmes headshot

Kelly Holmes

Kelly Holmes is the executive director of Resource Assistance for Youth. The organization, based in Winnipeg, empowers disconnected youth through supports, training, and compassion to encourage them to make the best possible choices for their lives. Kelly has dedicated her career to providing youth with what they need, on their terms, to better their lives.

Heather O'Keefe headshot

Heather O’Keefe

Heather O’Keefe is the founder and executive director of StepStones for Youth. Heather successfully brought this registered charity from a small grassroots volunteer-run organization to a respected industry leader. As well, Heather has developed an innovative solution to address a housing, education and employment crisis that exists for youth transitioning from the foster care and group home system. This program has proven results in significantly increasing employment, educational attainment and support networks and reducing homelessness, criminal involvement, and isolation for youth who have been involved in the child welfare system.

Sam Pothier headshot

Sam Pothier

Sam is the AYA Case Manager at Futures Forward, based in Winnipeg. As a former child in the foster system, Sam has experienced first-hand the barriers that the system creates. Sam has since dedicated their lives to helping the next generation of children and youth who will also experience the system.

Kelly Tallon Franklin headshot

Kelly Tallon Franklin

Kelly Tallon Franklin is the Chief Executive Director at Courage for Freedom, based in St. Thomas, ON. As a survivor of the sex trade, Kelly’s mission is to help victims of human trafficking and sexual exploitation and their families.

Congratulations to Mary, Jean, Kelly Holmes, Heather, Sam and Kelly Tallon Franklin!