On-Demand Session

Daniel Silverman

Director, IEDC
On-Demand Session

Daniel Silverman

Director, IEDC

Mr. Silverman graduated from Montreal's Concordia University and began his career in 2002 as a Junior Consultant with the CAI Global Group, a Montreal based site selection analysis, business location analysis, jurisdictional marketing, and industrial clustering consulting firm. In 2005, Mr. Silverman joined ROI Research On Investment, a lead prospecting and consulting firm. As Senior Vice President, Mr. Silverman consulted numerous foreign investment agencies on best practices in investment attraction and FDI strategies. Mr. Silverman joined Toronto Global in July 2017 as Executive Vice President, Investment Attraction. Toronto Global is a not-for-profit investment attraction agency that supports the expansion of foreign-owned businesses to the Toronto Region During his time at Toronto Global, the investment attraction team secured more than 100 new foreign investments to the Toronto Region.

In January of 2020, Mr. Silverman joined the newly created division of Invest Quebec, Invest Quebec International (IQI), as Vice President, Foreign Direct Investment to lead a team of 50+ foreign direct investment attraction professionals based in Quebec and 12 international offices.  The IQI FDI team is responsible for attracting new foreign direct investment to the province of Quebec as well as work with foreign multinationals on their re-investment projects throughout the province. In February 2020, Mr. Silverman was renewed for an additional two years as a Director on the International Economic Development Council Board of Directors.

Live Session

Evelyn Paul

MEDI, Manager, Economic Advisory, Deloitte
Live Session

Evelyn Paul

MEDI, Manager, Economic Advisory, Deloitte

Evelyn is a manager at Deloitte’s Economic Advisory Practice. Her experience in economic development has been focused on industry sector analysis, investment attraction, business retention efforts, labour market analysis, and future of work principles. She has facilitated economic development and workforce development strategies for dozens of municipalities and regions across Canada and the United States. Evelyn is focused on providing outcome-based strategies, accounting for the interconnections and intricacies of sector development, investment readiness, talent readiness and skills assessment, place-making, and the entrepreneurial economy.

Evelyn has lived and worked in various countries around the globe and has experienced different cultures and has gained valuable knowledge by performing tasks in a multicultural work environment. She graduated from the University of Waterloo’s Economic Development and Innovation Program in 2017 and is currently pursuing her Ec.D. designation.

On-Demand Session

Dr. Greg Andres

Continuing Lecturer - Department of Philosophy, University of Waterloo
On-Demand Session

Dr. Greg Andres

Continuing Lecturer - Department of Philosophy, University of Waterloo

Dr. Greg Andres has taught courses in business ethics and decision theory at the
University of Waterloo for 15 years. He also works with the University’s Professional
Development Program and has authored an online course on ethical decision-making in
the workplace. He has recently edited With a Clear Conscience, a business ethics text
published by Oxford University Press.

On-Demand Session

Trisha Skoryk

Deputy Director, CanExport Community Investments
On-Demand Session

Trisha Skoryk

Deputy Director, CanExport Community Investments

Trisha Skoryk is the Deputy Director responsible for the CanExport Community Investments program at Global Affairs Canada. Trisha has enjoyed many different roles during her 20+ year career with Global Affairs, including an assignment in Atlanta, Georgia, and an overseas posting in Guyana as Senior Trade Commissioner. She also branched out to work at Canadian Heritage and Treasury Board Secretariat as Issues Manager to the Chief Information Officer.

Trisha is the proud mother of 21 year old twin girls and a 1 year old French Bulldog named Boujee.

On-Demand Session

Donna Gillespie

Chief Executive Officer, Kingston Economic Development
On-Demand Session

Donna Gillespie

Chief Executive Officer, Kingston Economic Development

Donna is an experienced leader who has managed a variety of small and medium enterprises in the public, private and not-for-profit sectors. She has overseen significant community economic development initiatives in investment attraction, strategic planning, brand development, and corporate restructuring.

Under her leadership as CEO, Kingston realized the highest levels of new foreign direct investment in the city’s history with the establishment of Portuguese fruit processor Frulact and Chinese infant formula manufacturer Feihe – Canada Royal Milk. Donna is a founder of the Queen’s Career Apprenticeship: Kingston program for partnerships with post-secondary educational partners and the Kingston-Syracuse Path which is one of four cross-border economic corridors in Canada with a focus on health innovation – both initiatives received gold-rank awards from the International Economic Development Council.  In 2021, Donna was recognized as the Economic Developer of the Year by the Ontario East Economic Development Commission for her contributions to the region and leadership in supporting businesses during the pandemic.

Donna is a Board Member of Tourism Kingston, Advisor to the Kingston Accommodation Partners, sits on the City of Kingston’s Planning and Climate Leadership  Advisory Groups, the Kingston Immigration Partnership Steering Committee and the International Advisory Committee for the International Economic Development Council. 

On-Demand Session

Alison Migneault

Director of Marketing and Communications, Tourism Kingston
On-Demand Session

Alison Migneault

Director of Marketing and Communications, Tourism Kingston

Alison Migneault is an accomplished marketing and communications professional with more than 15 years in the industry. As Director of Marketing and Communications at Tourism Kingston, she is responsible for managing the leisure marketing portfolio, stewarding the Kingston brand, and guiding its agencies of record.

During the COVID-19 pandemic, Alison expertly led the organization’s campaigns to drive much-needed support to local businesses and keep the city top of mind. In the last few years, the Kingston brand garnered several awards under Alison’s guidance, including multiple Creative Summit awards, an EDAC award, a TIAO award, and finalist for a City Nation Place award.

Before joining Tourism Kingston, Alison held a senior marketing role with Queen’s University for a decade. 

On-Demand Session

Cathy Kirkpatrick 

Partner and Senior Strategist, Alphabet Creative
On-Demand Session

Cathy Kirkpatrick 

Partner and Senior Strategist, Alphabet Creative

Cathy has worked across all facets of place marketing, including destination brand development and strategic marketing planning. This includes the development of marketing plans across sectors including business & resident attraction, leisure tourism, sport events, business events, and travel trade.

Cathy provides invaluable input and strategic direction for partnership and product development, creative messaging and brand development,  media campaigns, digital strategy, sales support programs, experiential marketing and more.

Cathy has built a reputation as a trusted advisor with strong leadership and partnership development skills. Her client portfolio of current and past clients include: Tourism Kingston, Kingston Economic Development Corporation, Travel Nunavut, Government of Nunavut, Parks of the St. Lawrence, Resorts of Ontario, Ontario Regional Tourism Organization 9 (RTO9), Ottawa Tourism, Zoom Airlines, and Tourism Industry Association of Canada.

Cathy is a former board member of Algonquin College, an active mentor in the Ottawa Community Immigration Services Organization and the Spark Innovation Project, and has recently been appointed to the Board of Directors of Destination Ontario.

On-Demand Session

Bonnie Brown

Director Economic Development, City of Mississauga
On-Demand Session

Bonnie Brown

Director Economic Development, City of Mississauga

Bonnie Brown is of Director of Economic Development for the City of Mississauga. Bonnie is responsible for leading the implementation of the City's economic development strategy ensuring that Mississauga harnesses its assets to drive the next generation of economic growth and prosperity.

Bonnie has held a number of progressive leadership roles since joining the City of Mississauga. These include Strategic Leader for the City Manager’s Office, Manager of Cultural Planning, and Manager of Sector Development and Economic Partnerships. During her leadership roles in Economic Development, Mississauga’s Life Sciences strategy was adopted representing the first of its kind in Canada; the creation of IDEA Mississauga - a brand to promote the city’s innovation district, and the approval and establishment of IDEA Square One, an innovation hub in Mississauga’s downtown that will service entrepreneurs and scale-ups.

Bonnie holds an Honors B.A from Laurentian University, an Economic Development Certificate from the University of Waterloo, and Economic Developer Certification from the Economic Development Association of Canada and is a member of the International Economic Development Council. Throughout her leadership term in Economic Development, Bonnie and her team have been recipients of numerous international, national and provincial awards and recognition for their work to support the growth of businesses and a strong and sustainable economy.

On-Demand Session

Donna Heslin

Manager, Entrepreneurship & Innovation
On-Demand Session

Donna Heslin

Manager, Entrepreneurship & Innovation

Donna Heslin is a life long learner, a mom and a constant driver of collaboration and innovation. In 2015 she founded ICUBE, U of T Mississauga’s entrepreneurship hub, and is now leading the Entrepreneurship and Innovation portfolio for the City of Mississauga. Donna has over 20 years of experience in roles related to higher education, entrepreneurship, economic development, external relations, experiential learning and executive education. Donna holds a BA in sociology, a BSc in biology, an MSc in Laboratory Medicine and Pathobiology and a PhD in Higher Education from the University of Toronto

On-Demand Session

Kadie Ward

Commissioner / CAO of Ontario's Pay Equity Commission
On-Demand Session

Kadie Ward

Commissioner / CAO of Ontario's Pay Equity Commission

Ms. Ward is a seasoned executive whose career to date has been characterized by successful collaboration across public, private and civil society organizations to design and deliver inclusive economic growth strategies that provide equal opportunities for all to participate in the labour market and ultimately contribute to the economic health of their community.

Her expertise has taken her around the world working with legislators in over 100 cities and 30 countries to establish programs and legislation to support women-led micro and small enterprises as well as women's participation in the economy. Ms. Ward most recently worked with the Federation of Canadian Municipalities to implement aspects of the Federal Government's "Feminist International Assistance Policy" where her work focused on increasing women's participation in the labour market as well as equitable participation of men and women in their local economy and democracy. She currently serves as Commissioner and CAO of Ontario's Pay Equity Commission.

Live Session

Paul Blais, Ec. D.

Managing Director, Deloitte
Live Session

Paul Blais, Ec. D.

Managing Director, Deloitte

Paul Blais is a co-founder and former Executive Vice-President of MDB Insight, which was acquired by Deloitte in April 2022. He has worked to make municipalities more competitive throughout his 25-year economic development career. For 11 years, he held positions of increasing influence for the municipalities of Woodstock, Kingston, and Lennox and Addington.  During this time, he attracted over $300 million in new investment that created 600 direct jobs. Paul served on the Ontario East Economic Development Commission Board of Directors for eight years, including two as President.

Since the mid-2000s, Paul has built on that experience while working with more than 200 businesses, communities, and NGOs.  Most of Paul’s municipal clients are rural communities and his work has received recognition from economic development associations across Canada. He is inspired by sharing and learning from citizens in public forums and community leaders around the boardroom table.

Paul continues to stay on top of the latest trends in economic development. He has completed recertification for his Certified Economic Developer (CEcD) through the International Economic Development Council and has now held that designation for 10 years. In addition, since 2004, Paul has held his Economic Development Certification (Ec.D.) through the Economic Developers Association of Canada. He is often invited to speak at industry conferences, particularly on subjects related to business retention and expansion, strategic planning, approaches to business friendliness, and local economic impact. Paul has been a member of EDAC since 1997 and is also a member of IEDC and several provincial economic development associations as well as Business Retention and Expansion International.

Live Session

Clark Hoskin, Ec. D.

Senior Manager, Deloitte
Live Session

Clark Hoskin, Ec. D.

Senior Manager, Deloitte

Since 1994, Clark has worked in destination marketing and economic development, including over 25 years as a practitioner at the local and regional levels. He is passionate about rural economic development and business collaboration that embraces change, shares ideas, and develops solutions that fit the need. He is a creative problem-solver who strives to find options and opportunities for clients. 

Clark helped found the South Central Ontario Region Economic Development Corporation, and worked closely with the Province of Ontario and nine local tourism authorities to create Southwestern Ontario Tourism Corporation, co-chairing the transition team, and spearheading several priority projects.

His leadership in economic diversification at Norfolk County helped turn around the community’s reliance on a single industry: tobacco production. By listening to farmers, chefs, and travel writers, and collaborating to develop and promote local food and drink, his team created several effective initiatives that won provincial accolades, including the Ontario Culinary Tourism Leadership Award.

Clark joined Deloitte upon its acquisition of MDB Insight in April of 2022. Clark’s prior experience saw him bring advancements in engagement technology and practices to several organizations from small municipal departments to a regional tourism association covering thousands of square kilometres. This expertise is reflected in his current work as a tourism sector specialist and informs his many economic development projects.

Clark is a member of the Economic Developers’ Council of Ontario, Economic Development Association of Canada, and the International Economic Development Council.

Live Session

Trevin Stratton

Americas Economic Advisory Leader & Partner, Deloitte
Live Session

Trevin Stratton

Americas Economic Advisory Leader & Partner, Deloitte

Trevin Stratton is the Americas Economic Advisory Leader at Deloitte and a Partner based in Ottawa, where he applies economic thinking to identify the trends that are reshaping industry and helps business leaders tackle some of today’s most complex and challenging economic issues. Prior to joining Deloitte, he was the Chief Economist and Senior Vice President of Policy at the Canadian Chamber of Commerce, the largest and most influential business association in Canada representing a network of over 200,000 companies. He has advised the Prime Minister’s Office, federal and provincial Cabinet Ministers, Governors and Deputy Governors of the Bank of Canada, senior policy makers and government officials, and C-suite business leaders on economic policy, economic development, and growth, diversification, and competitiveness strategies.

Trevin studied at Carleton University in Canada, as well as at the London School of Economics in the United Kingdom and the Graduate Institute of International and Development Studies in Switzerland. He has held appointments as an International Scholar at Yale University's Jackson Institute for Global Affairs, as an E.C. Harwood Fellow at the American Institute for Economic Research, and as a lecturer in economics, politics and international studies at the American University in Dubai. Trevin also holds a Certificate in Economic Development from the University of Waterloo.

He is currently a Vice Chair of the Business at OECD Economic Policy Committee and he sits on the Board of Governors at Ontario Tech University and the Leadership Council at the Perimeter Institute for Theoretical Physics. Trevin is a frequent media contributor on economic issues and has appeared on programs such as Power & Politics, BNN Bloomberg, CTV National News, as well as providing commentary for the Globe and Mail, Financial Post, Washington Post, Politico, and Macleans.

On-Demand Session

David Parsell

CEO, Localintel Economic Development
On-Demand Session

David Parsell

CEO, Localintel Economic Development

Dave is CEO of Localintel Economic Development. His professional background includes senior roles in consulting and local government where he specialized in economic development and strategic planning.  Dave's career also includes roles with Deutsche Bank, Standard Chartered Bank and the Australian military. He holds a Master of Public Administration, Master of Environmental Planning and Bachelor of Commerce.

Live Session

Ron Bertasi

Chief Executive Officer, GIS WebTech
Live Session

Ron Bertasi

Chief Executive Officer, GIS WebTech

Ron joined GIS WebTech in 2016 and has helped the company become the GIS technology leader in the economic development market. GIS WebTech is the fastest-growing provider of technology to the economic development sector, with a compound annual growth rate of 119% over the last five years.

Ron has served in CEO roles since 2001, primarily in energy and technology businesses, ranging from startups to $300 million divisions of Fortune 150 companies. During this period Ron simultaneously worked as an operating partner with two private equity firms and has served on seven company boards as both a company CEO and as an independent director. Ron worked as a management consultant early in his career.

Ron holds an MBA from Dartmouth, MS from UCLA, and BA from Colgate, and was a summer student fellow at the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution. He and his wife have three grown children.

Live Session

Detlef Engler

Trade Commissioner and Senior Investment Counsellor, Embassy of Canada, Germany
Live Session

Detlef Engler

Trade Commissioner and Senior Investment Counsellor, Embassy of Canada, Germany

As Trade Commissioner and Senior Investment Counsellor at the Embassy of Canada to Germany, Mr. Engler looks back at 25 years of advising German investment prospects on all aspects of site selection in Canada, from providing value propositions, cost analyses, to counselling on financing options and incentive packages.

An award-winning Canadian Trade Commissioner, Mr. Engler is a well-known strategist combining theoretical concepts of foreign direct investment attraction with the experience of counselling senior executives of thousands of German investors. Global Affairs Canada has been using him as a mentor, coaching trade commissioners around the globe and economic developers in Canada on how to convince senior company executives to locate and expand their investments in Canada.

Since 2009, Mr. Engler has held various university teaching assignments in international business, foreign direct investment attraction and site selection management, most notably at the Berlin University of Technology and Business Administration (HTW Berlin).

Mr. Engler was born in Germany and went to Canada in 1988. He graduated in Canadian Studies at Trent University in Peterborough, Ontario. He then obtained post-grad degrees in political science, economic history, public law and EU business administration in Freiburg and Frankfurt, Germany.

Prior to his current position, Mr. Engler held executive positions at private-sector consulting institutions, focusing on regional economic development.

On-Demand Session

Jennifer Ormston

Director of Corporate and Strategic Communications, City of Vaughan
On-Demand Session

Jennifer Ormston

Director of Corporate and Strategic Communications, City of Vaughan

Jennifer Ormston is the Director of Corporate and Strategic Communications at the City of Vaughan. She is an accomplished senior communications and engagement practitioner with progressive experience working in the public sector and media. This has contributed to more than 30 industry awards including CPRS, IABC and MarCom, among others. The Communications team in Vaughan works closely with Economic Development to share their story locally and beyond.

Live Session

Michelle Schurter

Millennial Strategist
Live Session

Michelle Schurter

Millennial Strategist

Michelle Schurter is a sought after community change agent.  Practical, poised and passionate to help communities take it to the next gear, Michelle has worked in both economic development and social services.  Her early career was rooted in children, youth and families.  With a Child Studies undergraduate degree and a Masters in Social Work, Michelle brought her energy, compassion and curiosity to children in early years settings, outdoor treatment programs, hospitals and school counselling.  Michelle knows kids!  Mid-career, Michelle dove into a full-time MBA, and shifted her focus toward downtown revitalization at the City of Kitchener, research to commercialization with the University of Guelph at MaRS, and leadership roles in Innovation teams at the provincial government (Ministries of Child and Youth Services; Agriculture and Rural Affairs; and Education).  In 2017, Michelle took another leap, and started her own consulting practice with keynotes and training on the multi-generations in the workforce, and more dynamic strategic projects that bridge municipalities, industry and all things community growth!   Buckle up, Michelle will have you connecting with stakeholders far outside your typical coffee club, and pushing your limits on what success means for you! 

Live Session

Audrey Ansell, Ec.D.

Director Community Attraction & Promotion, Municipality of Chatham-Kent
Live Session

Audrey Ansell, Ec.D.

Director Community Attraction & Promotion, Municipality of Chatham-Kent

Audrey Ansell graduated with a Master’s Degree in Economics from University College Dublin, Ireland and having worked as an investment analyst/stockbroker in the UK, she then immigrated to Chatham-Kent.  Audrey is a Certified Economic Developer and the Director of Community Attraction & Promotion for the Municipality of Chatham-Kent. With a portfolio focused on attracting and retaining talent/workforce, residents and visitors, Audrey’s work is centered on applying the core principles of economic development to community economic development initiatives. Communities grow when everyone shares a common goal and works toward achieving it and Audrey believes that finding goals is possible when a community’s assets, culture and people are understood. Understanding and hearing the community helps everyone to see where and how they can contribute.

Live Session

Kelly Emery

Director of Children’s Services & Recreation, Municipality of Chatham-Kent
Live Session

Kelly Emery

Director of Children’s Services & Recreation, Municipality of Chatham-Kent

Kelly Emery is a versatile people person and problem solver with over 30 years of experience in the field of social services with proficiencies in project leadership, policy development, budgeting, and operational facilities management.  Kelly is a Registered Early Childhood Educator, who received her ECE from Lambton College straight out of high school.  Kelly knew she wanted to work with children from the start, and was driven to create positive, enriching learning environments where children flourish and families feel they belong.  Not only does Kelly know how to create the conditions that allow children thrive during the early years, she is a ‘big-picture’ systems builder and community champion.  Having worked with the Ministry of Children and Youth Services and Chatham Kent Lambton School Services, Kelly forged relationships among the many players in community systems, while navigating policy, budget and legislation to create local solutions for children and families.  Currently, Kelly is the Director of Children’s Services and Recreation with the Municipality of Chatham-Kent, working with her provincial and local partners to implement the Canada Wide Early Learning and Child Care Agreement within Chatham-Kent.  Kelly is a champion not only of the multiple facets of children’s services within a community, but a passionate mentor for future child care leaders.  If Kelly isn’t making slime with her grandchildren, she is planning her next retail or sunny adventure!

Live Session

Dr. Emis Akbari

Professor, George Brown College / Atkinson Centre
Live Session

Dr. Emis Akbari

Professor, George Brown College / Atkinson Centre

Emis Akbari is a Professor and Program Coordinator in the School of Early Childhood at George Brown College, an Adjunct Professor in the Department of Applied Psychology and Human Development, and the Senior Policy Fellow at Atkinson Centre at OISE/University of Toronto.  A behavioural neuroscientist by training, she now evaluates both current and changes in policy related to early childhood education at all levels of government.  Emis is also the co-author of the Early Childhood Education Report.  This report provides a snapshot of provincial and territorial early education services and performance on various criteria of quality including access to child care programs and investments in early education.  It also compares Canada to other developed economies.  She is ardent and committed to evidence-based change in policy and global development and its connection to improving child education, child development, and outcome.

Live Session

Armine Yalnizyan

Economist, Atkinson Fellow on the Future of Workers
Live Session

Armine Yalnizyan

Economist, Atkinson Fellow on the Future of Workers

Armine Yalnizyan is the Atkinson Foundation’s Fellow on the Future of Workers, and a leading voice on Canada’s economic scene. She was Senior Economic Policy Advisor for the Deputy Minister at Employment and Social Development Canada from 2018 to 2019, and served on Ministers Freeland and Fortier’s Task Group on Women in the Economy in 2021. She helped shape the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives' Inequality Project from 2006 to 2017. Armine provided weekly business commentaries on CBC radio and CBC TV from 2011 to 2018 and now writes a bi-monthly business column for the Toronto Star. She is past President of the Canadian Association for Business Economics.

Jean-Philippe Valois

Account Manager

Jean-Philippe Valois

Account Manager

Jean-Philippe is a Mitacs Account Manager dedicated to municipalities. Passionate about collaborative innovation and work-integrated learning, his role at Mitacs consists in advising partner organizations and educational institutions on how they can benefit from working together to advance of our society through transformative projects.

Iman Yahyaie

Account Manager, Director Business Development

Iman Yahyaie

Account Manager, Director Business Development

Iman Yahyaie received his bachelor’s and master's degrees, both in Electrical Engineering, in Tehran, Iran. In 2007, he moved to Canada to start a PhD in Electrical Engineering at the University of Manitoba and later joined the Centre for Chemical Innovation in Solar Fuels (CCI Solar) at Caltech as a research collaborator. Iman also completed a postdoctoral fellowship studying CMOS-compatible dynamic memory structures based on conducting polymer systems.

Since 2013, Iman has been part of the Mitacs team in different regions including Manitoba, Saskatchewan and Ontario, fostering collaborations between the private sector and academia

On-Demand Session

Brock Dickinson, Ec.D. (F)

Entrepreneur In Residence, University of Waterloo
On-Demand Session

Brock Dickinson, Ec.D. (F)

Entrepreneur In Residence, University of Waterloo

Brock Dickinson has worked in economic development for more than 30 years. He is currently the Entrepreneur-in-Residence at the University of Waterloo, and a partner in the New York-based private equity firm Blue Cardinal Capital. He advises a range of governments and organizations on innovation, entrepreneurship and the economy, including the United Nations, the NAFTA/CUSMA-linked Commission for Environmental Cooperation, and the North American EcoInnovation Network.

Live Session

Jessica Holmes

Celebrated Comedian | Author | Mental Health Advocate
Live Session

Jessica Holmes

Celebrated Comedian | Author | Mental Health Advocate

Beloved comedian Jessica Holmes has been a perennial favourite on Royal Canadian Air Farce for 15 years, and has brought the house down opening for giants such as Ellen DeGeneres, Russell Peters, Jerry Seinfeld, and Oprah Winfrey. Her hilarious take on life’s challenges as well as her unique knack for impersonating celebrities, including Shakira and Celine Dion, have audiences in stitches. Her customized emcee and entertainment presentations — which include motivation and wellness — are always a hit.

Behind the laughter though, Holmes, like millions of Canadians, has struggled both with post-partum depression and, as she puts it, “regular, run-of-the-mill, garden-variety depression”. Hoping to help end the stigma around mental health issues, she openly shares her personal stories with the humour she’s known for, bringing light — and laugh-out-loud laughter — to what can often be a dark topic. Holmes’ funny and inspiring book, Depression The Comedy: A Tale of Perseverance, takes readers deeper into her mental health journey with validation and warmth.

As a performer, Holmes’ productions have garnered her a Platinum Award at The Worldfest International Film Festival, and nominations for Gemini Awards and the prestigious Tim Sims Scholarship. She has starred in her own program, The Holmes Show, and also in the films Welcome to Mooseport, Citizen Duane, and Moonpoint. She also appeared in the pilot for The Communist’s Daughter, which won the JFL ComedyPro competition in 2018, and continues to perform comedy across the country.

Live Session

Rob LeForte

Founder, First Lake Solutions / Founder, The Advocacy Coach / Co-Founder, Push Politics
Live Session

Rob LeForte

Founder, First Lake Solutions / Founder, The Advocacy Coach / Co-Founder, Push Politics

Rob has 13 years of government relations experience at the federal, provincial and municipal levels in Canada. Provincial work brought him to Ottawa in 2011 where he led government relations efforts for the Canadian Alliance of Student Associations (CASA). During that time, he advanced human resources and skills development policy, led intellectual property reforms, and built a strong network in Ottawa’s political community.

Rob earned his Master’s Degree from the Clayton H. Riddell Graduate Program in Political Management at Carleton University. He followed that experience by working with some of Canada’s best lobbyists at the Federation of Canadian Municipalities where he worked on housing and public safety.

He went on to work at a national public affairs firm where he became Vice President. There he delivered billions of dollars in investments to client sectors, significant provincial and national legislative victories, and major regulatory reforms in sectors as diverse as health, construction, retail and supply chains, and skills development.

On-Demand Session

Jason McFarlane

Chair of EDA Board
On-Demand Session

Jason McFarlane

Chair of EDA Board

Jason McFarlane has spent his career working with entrepreneurs, communities, government agencies and investors to deliver transformative economic development projects and initiatives for local benefit. His work focuses on balancing evidence-based analytics with practical strategy to realise real-world outcomes.  Jason has a Masters of Business Administration (California State University East Bay) and a Bachelor of Science (UWA), and is a graduate of the Australian Institute of Company Directors.

Jason is founder and Managing Director of FAR Lane and serves as a Director with Economic Development Australia (Chair) and Pollinators. He also sits on the Advisory Board for the WA AustCyber Innovation hub.

On-Demand Session

Chad Richards

Director, New Nuclear and Net Zero Partnerships
On-Demand Session

Chad Richards

Director, New Nuclear and Net Zero Partnerships

A native of Chesley, Ontario, Chad has been a long-time advocate for Bruce, Grey and Huron. With nearly eight years of experience on Parliament Hill with the Member of Parliament for Bruce-Grey-Owen Sound, combined with time at Queen’s Park with the Associate Minister of Energy and MPP for Bruce-Grey-Owen Sound, Chad has built his career around advocating for local communities.

On-Demand Session

Kate Burns Gallagher

Executive Director of Economic Development, Western Ontario Warden’s Caucus
On-Demand Session

Kate Burns Gallagher

Executive Director of Economic Development, Western Ontario Warden’s Caucus

Kate Burns Gallagher is the Executive Director of Economic Development for the Western Ontario Warden’s Caucus. Kate is currently on secondment to the Western Ontario Warden’s Caucus from Elgin County. Prior to her work in the municipal sector, Kate served as an Executive Assistant to a Member of Parliament.

Kate has her BA in Communications from Wilfrid Laurier University and a Post Graduate in Public Relations and Corporate Communications from Fanshawe College.

Kate has been part of the Economic Development profession for over ten years helping to successfully develop and launch an award-winning culinary program as well as a Community Improvement Plan. Kate believes the key to success in Economic Development is building relationships; with council, staff, the business community and other economic development professionals.

Volunteerism is a passion of Kate’s, as she serves on Elgin-Middlesex United Way’s Board of Directors and is a Director with the Economic Development Council of Ontario.

On-Demand Session

Raphael Costa

Director - Economic Development, City of Vaughan
On-Demand Session

Raphael Costa

Director - Economic Development, City of Vaughan

Raphael is a public management professional with interest and experience in economic development, research and innovation, social entrepreneurship, community development, heritage and historical entrepreneurship, democratic development, and political culture.

He currently works as the Director of Economic Development at the City of Vaughan.

Raphael has worked at the City of Vaughan for more than six years, starting as a Small Business Advisor and holding positions in Economic Development and management.

On-Demand Session

Aileen Murray, Ec.D.(F)

Mellor Murray Consulting & EDAC Past President
On-Demand Session

Aileen Murray, Ec.D.(F)

Mellor Murray Consulting & EDAC Past President

Aileen is Past President of the Economic Developers Association of Canada (2019-2020). Aileen established Mellor Murray Consulting in 2009 after a distinguished career as an economic development practitioner. A trusted advisor and coach, Aileen has assisted municipalities, non-profit organizations and business, combining experience in economic development, tourism, strategic planning, governance and community engagement to provide thorough analysis, practical solutions and achievable strategies and programs.

Aileen is a Past President of the Economic Developers Council of Ontario and a Director of the Southwest Ontario Tourism Corporation. She is a Certified Economic Development Professional (Ec.D.) and Fellow.

On-Demand Session

Jessica Linthorne, Ec.D.

Director - Clean Energy Frontier Program, Nuclear Innovation Institute
On-Demand Session

Jessica Linthorne, Ec.D.

Director - Clean Energy Frontier Program, Nuclear Innovation Institute

With a focus on building relationships, Jessica leads the Clean Energy Frontier program for the Nuclear Innovation Institute. Her background in economic development and communications combined with a collaborative and data-driven approach to problem solving gives her the ability to build and implement effective strategies. Prior to joining NII, Jessica worked in municipal government with a focus on facilitating appropriate growth.

The Clean Energy Frontier program is an advocacy, awareness-raising and economic development program led by Bruce Power and Bruce County, operating within the Nuclear Innovation Institute. It focuses on promoting the valuable contribution that Bruce, Grey and Huron bring to Ontario and Canada in the drive towards a net-zero future, while building on the region’s advantages in clean energy.

On-Demand Session

Chris Fields

Speaker, Writer, Principal at Rynic
On-Demand Session

Chris Fields

Speaker, Writer, Principal at Rynic

Chris is an informative, entertaining, and insightful strategic humorist with a serious message: dare to be different and reach highest aspiration or join the burgeoning ranks of the unnoticed. Chris’ 30 years of award-winning community economic development experience in 90 communities has been dedicated to reconnecting people to the power of community-building. His dry sense of humour and no nonsense, cut-through-clutter style challenges conventions and leaves people with inspiration to “make community-building personal.”

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