Dr. Deena Kara Shaffer

Dr. Deena Kara Shaffer

Toronto, Ontario
Learning Leader – Harnessing the Power of How to Learn for Transformational Change
Dr. Deena Kara Shaffer, Ph.D. is an internationally sought out learning strategist, the best-selling author of “Feel Good Learning”, and Founder and CEO of Awakened Learning, offering learning strategy coaching to students, parents, and professionals. Adjunct Faculty at Toronto Metropolitan University, Director of the Office of Student and Academic Services at York University's Faculty of Environmental and Urban Change, and two-term President of the Learning Specialists Association of Canada (2019-21, 2021-23), Deena is devoted to making less suffering, and (much!) more ease and access, sustainability and success, and justice and joy in all things learning and teaching.
  • Change Management
  • Communications
  • Leadership
  • Peak Performance
  • Personal Growth
  • Resilience & Adversity
  • Women's Leadership
  • Business Growth
  • Academia
  • Board Meetings & Strategic Advisory
  • Campus & University Speakers
  • Career Development
  • Charities & Foundations
  • Community Engagement Events
  • Conference
  • Conferences & Summits


Dr. Deena Kara Shaffer (she/her) is a national voice in learning, with passion and expertise in holistic, access-prioritizing, justice-oriented, well-being focused learning strategies. Author of the bestselling, “Feel Good Learning,” Deena is a subject matter expert in how to learn, and uniquely, how to learn well—sustainably, equitably, healthfully, and successfully. For over a decade in higher education, K-12, organizations, municipalities, and business, Deena has been sought-after to provide talks and trainings on non-toxic productivity, procrastination prevention, restoring focus, and transformative learning techniques for the school and boardroom.

In every professional path and project, Dr. Deena Kara Shaffer has been immersed in making learning fairer, clearer, and kinder. Deena is the Founder and CEO of Awakened Learning, resilience coaching for learners of all ages and stages, and their parents. Adjunct Faculty at Toronto Metropolitan University (TMU), Deena co-designed and teaches the campus’ popular learning and happiness course. Deena is also the Director, Office of Student and Academic Services at York University’s Faculty of Environmental and Urban Change. Prior, as Manager of Thriving Innovations at TMU, Deena co-created Thriving in Action, an award-winning psychoeducational intervention for struggling students that has spread across Canada and beyond. A certified high school teacher, Deena taught in Toronto and in Valencia, Spain, supporting students with learning disabilities, mental health issues, and addictions. Together, these have instilled in Deena a deep knowing and caring about how learning happens in and beyond formal school spaces, which have in turn led to offering international keynotes, including the UK and New Zealand, trainings for the City of Toronto and March of Dimes, and corporate sessions for engineering firms and hospitals. Whether it’s a local youth leadership program or a global consortium, Deena leads uplifting, experiential, transporting talks.

Dr. Deena Kara Shaffer is a lifelong educator and learner. Deena’s PhD (OISE/UT) focused on holistic learning strategies and transformative education, and has led to numerous academic publications on learning and well-being. Prior, Deena earned a Master’s in Education (OISE/UT), with a focus on equity in learning, and a Bachelor of Education (YorkU), which equipped her to be a classroom secondary school teacher for five years. Deena also has a Professional Certificate in Communications and Public Relations (Western), and is a scholarship recipient for femmebought’s yearlong women in business program.

Deena served as the two-term President of the Learning Specialists Association of Canada, solidifying her status as Canada’s go-to learning strategist—and in this role, Deena hosted and facilitated more than 20 global talks on learning. From Humber College to McMaster University to Mohawk College, and so many more, Deena is continuously invited to speak and consult at post-secondary institutions, along with national organizations, about what makes for good teaching, learning, and working. Dr. Deena Kara Shaffer is the co-author of Thriving in the Classroom, Canada’s resource on resilience in and out of the classroom. Finally, a trained yoga instructor, restorative yoga teacher, and mindfulness meditation teacher, these enable Deena to skillfully integrate embodied practice in her speaking.

A media go-to on holistic education, Deena has appeared on CBC’s The National and CityTV, in National Geographic and The Globe and Mail, and written for The Conversation and University Affairs. An award-winning educator, Deena is continually writing, interviewing, creating, and speaking on all things accessible, just learning, including post-pandemic learning gaps, pedagogies of the workplace, and more.

A mother of three, a published poet, a back-country canoeist, and happiest either sharing a compelling talk or getting muddy with her kids, Dr. Deena Kara Shaffer is genuine, warm, accomplished, and driven to make a difference.




Breaking Brave

Marilyn Barefoot

the nature of learning itself, learning strategies, holistic learning, the connection between learning and mental health

Empowering Workplaces

Sanja Licina

Thinking Differently about Prioritization in the Workplace and Beyond

Dr. Deena Kara Shaffer Topic Presentations

from dream to done: purposeful planning

  • Virtual PresentationKeynote PresentationWorkshop SessionHalf Day TrainingFull Day Training
  • Hopes and wishes are one thing, but as the poignant adage goes, “hope is not a plan”. We all have so much we want to do. Big dreams, aim-high ambitions, poignant goals. Things we long for, strive for, yearn for.

    Yet, doing them—getting there, and materializing those dreams—is another thing altogether.

    This uplifting presentation for professionals of every sector shares buoyant and insightful overview of current, lackluster goal-setting systems—approaches that are ultimately leaving our intentions unfulfilled, and our lives unsatisfied. And, with an inviting and innovative approach, offered are all-new strategies on how to get done all that you are dreaming of. No burnout here, no over-doing it anymore, no spinning your wheels any longer—instead, purposeful, planful techniques to doing, and ultimately to reaching and realizing those hopes and wishes.

    Key takeaways include clarity about the limitations of modern goal-setting methods, and specific alternatives that better support goal-fulfillment.

after back-to-school: three weeks (or months) in, then what?

  • Virtual PresentationKeynote PresentationWorkshop SessionHalf Day TrainingFull Day Training
  • Once the flurry of back-to-school shopping, and excitement over new and rekindled friendships have passed, then what? When a first failed quiz or exam comes home, then what? When a report card or midterm mark is nearing or at a failing grade, then what? When it’s three weeks or three months into the school year and things aren’t going so well, what are learners, families, and educators to do?

    So much hype and hope go into those initial days starting a new school, or returning after summer break. But when those new sneakers aren’t so new anymore, when those school supplies have lost their novelty, and when those “this year will be different” intentions are dashed, then what?

    This riveting presentation reveals the singlemost missing element in teaching and learning today: learning strategies. It’s the one thing that’s never been tried—sharing how to learn with students, from studying to repairing focus to time management—yet could transform academic performance, contribute to greater equity and justice in the classroom, foster more resilient student mental health, and prevent teacher burnout all at once. More than metacognition, richer than learning science, holistic learning strategies, integrated throughout a learner’s course, term, semester, or year, are the key to supporting this generation of learners.

    Hear how learning how to learn can change everything.

    Key takeaways include understanding the power and potential of learning strategies, and specific, success-oriented, micro-interventions to weave in right away.

not everything: how to triage & tackle what’s most important!

  • Virtual PresentationKeynote PresentationWorkshop SessionHalf Day TrainingFull Day Training
  • “Just start with what’s most important!” That’s the usual advice when it comes to prioritizing. But what exactly counts as “most important”? And, what to do when there are more than one “most importants”, or even competing “most importants”?

    Too often, so-called priorities are based on urgency, on obligation, or on undefined values. And, the struggle to sort out which to-do comes first or what project is highest on the importance list leads to shame, procrastination, and very loud self-criticism.

    This energizing and soulful presentation helps professionals in every industry discern what goes into prioritization, how to see and set them, how to know what to do first (and second) (and last), and how to move through them all towards lasting success (and relief!).

    From the trouble with task lists to myths about “managing” time, get ready to deep dive into the pressures implicit in prioritization, and how misunderstanding “priorities” is keeping that sought-after work-life balance out of reach.

    Key takeaways include expanding definitions of priorities beyond what’s most urgent, and introduction to new, holistic, and healthful approaches to productivity.

toxic productivity, ttfn: rethinking tasks, to-do’s & time

  • Virtual PresentationKeynote PresentationWorkshop SessionHalf Day TrainingFull Day Training
  • Does everything feel rushed? Compressed, breathless, scrambling, frenzied? Like there are never enough minutes or days to “get it all done”? There is a lot on the go, all at once, and it seldom lets up—so much to do, so little time, and soaring stress.

    This presentation tackles all things time: our relationship to it, what to do with our extensive to-do lists, how to get more done with less tension, and all the while how to prevent overwhelm, exhaustion, and burnout.

    From energy amplification to reclaiming focus, integrated leisure to refined efficiency, enhanced productivity is possible, and at less of a personal cost. Full of innovative time management strategies, this presentation will leave professionals of every industry feeling more in control of their tasks, more excited about their to-do’s, and more at ease with the demands of their days.

    Key takeaways include a reinvigorated approach to productivity, and a palpable sense of relief.

10 learning strategies for student thriving

  • Virtual PresentationKeynote PresentationWorkshop SessionHalf Day TrainingFull Day Training
  • From belonging-building strategies to joy-based activities, attention restoration to connecting with chosen family, note-taking that nails it to study strategies that build confidence and GPAs, this talk is ideal for whole schools, classroom teachers, and education administrators and leaders. The full arc of academic skills will be flipped on its head, including test-taking, perfectionism, and essay-writing.

    No longer is well-being considered a nice-to-have; instead, it’s never been more clear just how directly mind, body, heart, and spirit nourishing strategies lead to optimal, and equitable, learning performance and success.

    Sustainable, integrative, whole-person strategies that are both good for students and good for professionals will be the focus of this heartfelt presentation. In a storied and poignant journey, learn seldom-shared strategies for holistic learner success that promote well-being, recruitment, and retention.

    Key takeaways include feel-good micro-interventions that support all learners, including early alert, pre- and post-probation, and international learners, and all educators.


I have had the privilege of witnessing Dr. Deena Kara Shaffer’s unwavering dedication and passion for learning. Through her speaking engagements, Deena doesn’t simply educate; she creates a transformative space where participants can explore and redefine their relationship with learning. Her engaging facilitation style, holistic approach, and progressive stance, rooted in the latest research, ensures that her facilitation embodies the clear and compassionate learning experience we endeavor to establish for our students.

Dr. Heather Kelly

Executive Director, Student Life Programs & Services
University of Toronto

Dr. Shaffer’s presentation was an absolute game-changer! It was an exquisite blend of captivating content and seamless delivery that left everyone spellbound. Dr. Shaffer’s expertise was evident in every meticulously crafted story, engaging anecdote, and their ability to effortlessly connect with the audience. It was an enlightening experience that left an indelible mark, leading to transformative change in the classroom and beyond.

Dr. Christina Meredith

Associate Dean, Faculty of Liberal Arts & Sciences
Humber College

Deena was a keynote speaker at the 2022 Association of Tertiary Learning Advisors Aotearoa New Zealand (ATLAANZ) conference. Her focus was to enable participants to channel positive and sustainable strategies that can innovate practices, aiding students, and educators alike to thrive in higher education.  This was consistent and relevant to our theme’s focus: Toitū te tangata – The whole person.

Tania Oxenham

Senior Māori Academic Learning Advisor
ATLAANZ Executive Committee

Dr. Shaffer’s thought-provoking presentations are filled with practical advice that is grounded in evidence-based practices.  Her personal story-telling, wit and empathy come through in her warm delivery.  It’s like having an audience with your clever friend who knows the research and how to explain it to you.

Dr. Joe Kim

Associate Professor, Psychology Neuroscience & Behaviour
McMaster University

Deena’s time management presentation was truly impressive. Her delivery was calm and confident, which made it easy to absorb the valuable information she shared. The presentation was well-designed, and it was clear that a lot of effort went into preparing it. I particularly appreciated how informative it was; I would highly recommend Deena as a presenter.

Donna Walker

Instructional Designer & Director of Learning Strategist Unit
St. George’s University, Grenada

Deena, in her own authentic, kind, and caring way, challenges and inspires her audience to view ourselves and those we teach as whole beings who come to education, leadership, and our professional journeys with a host of needs and wants. She encourages us to look after ourselves and each other in ways that promote both learning and well-being. And, she backs up her message with research from a wide range of sources.

Cathy Ozols

Teaching & Learning Consultant, Mohawk College & Lead Planner
Inspiring Minds Annual Conference

Articles & Media

Females in Focus Understanding women and ADHD


In my work teaching learning strategies to parents and students of all ages, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is increasingly present in the conversation.

Open-Hearted Health Exploring the well-being of emotions and environment


Indeed, for too long in the Western scientific community, matters of the heart were kept separate from our physiological health.

First Book Poets in Conversation: Nyla Matuk & Deena Kara Shaffer

Boxcar Poetry Review

Deena Kara Shaffer, M.Ed., B.Ed., (Hons) BA is a teacher, strategist, and writer, currently working at Ryerson University. Her poems, articles, and essays have appeared in magazines and anthologies across Canada, including Maisonneuve, The Dalhousie Review, and FreeFall. Her debut poetry...

How to build a better (virtual) school year

National Geographic

As students return to school this month after a much-needed winter break, they’ll bring with them lots of lessons honed during a rough 2020 school year filled with challenges and inconsistencies.

NewsTalk 1010



CBC, The National


Spending time in nature helps mental health

Ryerson today

Will Sloan

A new way to help students thrive


Feel Good Learning: On how to prioritise, focus, study, and learn everything better
Feel Good Learning: On how to prioritise, focus, study, and learn everything better
Dr. Deena Kara Shaffer, a nationally recognised learning specialist and sought out speaker, reveals the secrets to learning that sticks, heals, and feels good.
The Grey Tote
The Grey Tote
The Grey Tote, Deena Kara Shaffer's debut, is a collection of elegies on the death, in quick succession, of her father and mother.
Chapter: A Polyvagal Pathway, Women Practicing Resilience, Self-care and Wellbeing in Academia
Chapter: A Polyvagal Pathway, Women Practicing Resilience, Self-care and Wellbeing in Academia
In our personal and professional pursuits, there are demands we fulfil and ambitions we effortfully strive towards, along with missteps and mistakes, accomplishments and accolades, particularly so as female-identifying academics in so-called pursuit of it all.
Chapter: Pendulation Awakening to rest, Creating a Place for Self-care and Wellbeing in Higher Education
Chapter: Pendulation Awakening to rest, Creating a Place for Self-care and Wellbeing in Higher Education
Pendulation is each and every one of our body’s in-built ebb-and-flow regulating system through which humans can experience physiological resilience.
How to book Dr. Deena Kara Shaffer for an event?

Dr. Deena Kara Shaffer keynote speaker is an expert presenter and has a wide range of experience speaking to a wide variety of audiences and organizations. Dr. Deena Kara Shaffer delivers keynotes, workshops & training sessions. They may also host or emcee events. Hire Dr. Deena Kara Shaffer from Toronto, Ontario for your event to inspire the audience to take action and make change in their work and their lives. Your workplace will benefit from our keynote speaker and their keynote talks and speeches will shift the mindsets or behaviours for the audience members in Canada. 

Interested in booking Dr. Deena Kara Shaffer for an event?

Are you looking to hire Dr. Deena Kara Shaffer for your event? Dr. Deena Kara Shaffer Toronto, Ontario is a dynamic and engaging speaker that offers audiences researched content paired with expertise and a dynamic speaking ability. Dr. Deena Kara Shaffer is also a Canadian corporate consultant and coach and facilitates workshops and training sessions for a corporate audience. Dr. Deena Kara Shaffer is an expert keynote presenter and speaks on wide variety of topics. Hiring a great speaker for your event is important and working with a thought leader like Dr. Deena Kara Shaffer from Speakers Canada’s roster will engage audiences into the content of the presentation to bring awareness and a fresh perspective for their approach to their work and their lives. Book Dr. Deena Kara Shaffer to educate, motivate and activate the audience through an interactive and entertaining presentation at corporate meetings and gatherings.

Known as a popular key note speaker in Canada, Dr. Deena Kara Shaffer creates life changing experiences for the participants with practical insights and strategic advice they can implement right after the session. Working with a one our leading expert speaker like Dr. Deena Kara Shaffer from Toronto, Ontario offers organizations a fresh perspective to assist the people of the organization. No matter if it is a government, association, or business crowd, Dr. Deena Kara Shaffer is a perfect speaker for your event. Through unique practical insights for trending topics and years experience speaking to different organizations, Dr. Deena Kara Shaffer focuses on changing individuals to make better decisions at work and their lives. No matter if you are holding an in person or virtual event, having an influential speaker such as Dr. Deena Kara Shaffer will engage, motivate, and activate the audience to make a change in their lives and inspire action for results to meet organizational goals. Your workforce will benefit from Dr. Deena Kara Shaffer’s presentations and speeches, with measurable results set to shift the people of the organization and core direction of the company. Book Dr. Deena Kara Shaffer speaker for your annual general meeting, conference, summit, or convention in Canada.

How much does it cost to hire Dr. Deena Kara Shaffer for a keynote presentation or virtual event?

Dr. Deena Kara Shaffer is an expert professional key note speaker with a lot of experience speaking and delivering engaging talks to organizations and audiences in Canada. Each of Speaker Bureau Canada’s talent have different ways to assess their fees, and Dr. Deena Kara Shaffer speaker fee ranges depending on the size of the audience, event format (in person or virtual), event location, and if the organization booking them is a non profit, association, government department/government agency or business/corporation. The speakers we work with are flexible with their fees, and it is important for us to learn more about your event before we approach them, as it is our role to work for you, and to help you find a speaker within budget. 

Please contact Speakers Bureau of Canada and provide us with your event details so that we can contact Dr. Deena Kara Shaffer to check availability or confirm the pricing and associated costs to hire a great speaker like Dr. Deena Kara Shaffer for your event. As Dr. Deena Kara Shaffer's agent and as a Canadian top speaker bureau and talent agency for speakers, we are able to propose each event opportunity from each host organization’s behalf to try to help you get in touch with Dr. Deena Kara Shaffer and confirm them for your in person or online meeting/event. We can also provide and advise on the booking process and potentially negotiate their fee. Speakers Canada is a client focused speaker agency, and we work for you in finding good speakers for your team meetings and booking processes.

Dr. Deena Kara Shaffer Disclaimer
Speakers Bureau Canada assists companies and event planning teams seeking to hire talent like Dr. Deena Kara Shaffer for speaking engagements, virtual meetings, conference appearances, training sessions and workshops facilitations. Our Canadian speakers bureau does not claim to exclusively represent Dr. Deena Kara Shaffer, however they are represented by Speakers Canada, and we work with them closely for their Canadian speaking opportunities and bookings. As Canada’s top speaker bureau, we represent Canadian motivational keynote speakers and professional guest speakers that will be available on your upcoming events date and location that are withing the budget. Our talented bureau speaker booking agency can help find business speakers or celebrity speakers that aligns with each organization, audience, event theme and the topic themes you hope for the speaker to address in their presentation. 

When SBC receives a request to book Dr. Deena Kara Shaffer we provide you with their speaker fees, travel costs and check their schedules. We work closely with the host organization’s event planning team and the speaker to handle the logistics and to relay or negotiate associated costs. Our talented team members then will work with our talent directly or their agent/manager/assistant to confirm the Canadian speaker fee and travel expenses, so that event planning teams can receive an official quote for the speaker appearing at the event. Speaker fees and travel costs vary per speaker and our role is to contact Dr. Deena Kara Shaffer about your event, after we have connected with the event organizers to learn all the event details and/or conference program. Each booking request is unique since session durations and audience sizes can vary which may affect the speaker’s fees. If you are looking to hire Dr. Deena Kara Shaffer, we recommend filling out the booking request form so a booking agent from Speakers Bureau Canada can get in touch with our talent to help you coordinate with your team to engage the speaker for a successful event.

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