Alumni Spotlight: Katherine Moxness

Katherine Moxness

Katherine Moxness

Director of Youth Services at IUHSSC
Ph.D Educational Psychology and Counselling


Ms. Katherine Moxness has a doctorate in psychology. She was appointed Executive Director of the West Montreal Readaptation Centre (WMRC) in 2013. Over the years, she has also held positions as director of professional services and of quality in rehabilitation centres. She has published many papers on pervasive developmental disorder, intellectual disability and autism spectrum disorder.


What is your current professional role? What are some of your career highlights?

Katherine is currently working as the Director of Youth Services at CIUSSS de l'Ouest-de-l'Île-de-Montréal (The Montréal West Island Integrated University Health and Social ServicesCentre IUHSSC). Her role extends to cover all services for expecting mothers and children; this includes prenatal care, birthing centers, postnatal visits, vaccination for newborns, and children up to seven years old. She leads a team of social workers and psycho-educators that help support youth and their families. She is responsible for the Youth and Difficulty Program, which includes a team that responds to children who face difficulties at home. The primary goal of this program is to find solutions for the challenges that youth face to stay in school, find pre-employment, and remain out of Youth Protection.

Another exciting program that Katherine is responsible for running is an early detection program that screens for developmental disabilities in children. Her team is responsible for running the screenings, supporting families through the process, and providing early stimulation for children with developmental disabilities.

Finally, Katherine is responsible for children in youth protection called BATCHA, a regional mandate that protects Anglofone or Jewish-Francophone children in Montreal. She currently has 211 youth in her department's care. This department ensures that children's security and development are not compromised by living in stressful or highly unstable homes.

Her department aims for youth protection to not be the norm but the exception; they have created a trajectory that promotes prevention by collaborating with youth, parents and schools.


When you were first carving your path, what made you choose McGill, and specifically McGill’s Faculty of Education?

When Kathrine embarked on her Ph.D. journey at McGill, the field of educational psychology was not well carved out yet, and she did not know how her time at McGill was going to play out. She initially wanted to become a psychologist, but she found a new passion while working at Douglas Hospital, where she worked with children with intellectual disabilities and autism. Katherine realized that teaching was an essential component in supporting kids to develop coping strategies, talk about their emotions, and manage behavior. From then, she shifted to the world of disabilities, where she worked with Professors Ingrid Sladeczek, Jake Burack, and Jeff Derevensky in the department of Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA). Additionally, during her time at Douglas Hospital, she was able to bring in a new multi-modal diagnosis for people with intellectual abilities that had a more holistic approach. Her team was able to deinstitutionalize over 200 clients who were institutionalized at the Douglas Hospital.

She decided to become a teacher at the network of health and services, where she trained large groups of psycho-educators in implementing ABA. She worked with teachers who support children ages 0 - 5 with learning disabilities to get all the necessary skills before starting school. In 2009 she became a leader in ABA training in Montreal and became one of the province's trainers. In 2009, she became a significant contributor to bringing in ABA English literature and materials from the United States to the Province of Quebec and had the opportunity to train over 800 professionals to deploy an Early Intensive Intervention program for children with autism. Katherine and her team provided each child with 20 hours of intensive service per week; this had a lasting impact on their developmental trajectory.


How did studying education prepare you for your career?

Katherine's academic journey during her time at McGill was in invaluable experience. McGill taught Katherine the importance of transmitting knowledge and sharing it with the community and to be innovative. The mindset and knowledge that she developed while completing her doctoral thesis still emits through the work she is doing today. She still believes in the importance of conducting literature reviews and always returns to the literature before making decisions and is up to date with current research in the field through Dr. Ingrid Sladeczek. Another valuable skill that she learned during her time at McGill was how to teach new skills and practices to professional staff and children. Finally, Kathrine learned at McGill how to evaluate the effectiveness of a program taking into account what the research says about best practices and data.


What advice would you give to someone considering an undergraduate or graduate degree in Education now?

Katherine offers two pieces of advice for anyone considering pursuing a graduate degree in education. First, she advises anyone considering a graduate degree in education to gain practical work experience before committing to a graduate degree. That way, they can develop an area of interest before starting a program; this will provide them with a chance to bring back new knowledge and skills learned during graduate school to a practical work setting. Second, Katherine encourages students to knock on mentor’s doors and to utilize their guidance. It is crucial to get advice to ensure students make the most out of their learning journey at McGill. Seeking guidance from more experienced professionals in the field will allow students to recognize what roles they want to pursue after completing their studies at McGill.

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