Elysia Ackroyd, MCIP RPP, Planner, Fotenn Planning + Design

Elysia is a Planner in Fotenn’s Kingston office with a background in land use planning and government policy. Elysia has experience in both provincial and municipal policy planning, and has contributed to a range of planning projects in urban and rural environments. In her work at Fotenn, Elysia supports a variety of planning applications for residential, commercial, and industrial development projects including official plan and zoning by-law amendments, and subdivision applications. Elysia is passionate about the relationship between people and land, which benefits her evolving understanding of the planning process.


Marc Appleby, Senior Innovation Advisor, Innovation Canada (Accelerated Growth Service)

Marc is a Senior Innovation Advisor with ISED’s Accelerated Growth Service, and has been with the federal government for over 4 years now.

Before joining ISED, Marc compiled 20 years of entrepreneurial experience leading a handful of his own successful start-ups.

These companies ranged in focus from NHL hockey analytics, to retail industrial goods, to indigenous development, to recently inventing a new golf game app.

Nigel Bellchamber, Amberley Gavel Ltd.

Nigel Bellchamber has been a CAO for two Counties, and a City Treasurer. A former President of the Ontario Municipal Administrators’ Association, and Past Chair of the Public Sector Accounting Board of Canada, and AMO Board member his municipal association contributions have been significant.

With Fred Dean, he has delivered hundreds of municipal training sessions and continues a consulting practice that includes recruiting CAOs and other senior municipal staff.

Nigel and Fred have been responsible for dozens of Investigations of municipal closed meetings and have also served as Integrity Commissioner through their firm Amberley Gavel Ltd.


Ron Black, Deputy Mayor, Township of Selwyn

Ron Black has called Selwyn Township home for 42 years, started a career as a Registered Respiratory Therapist and then entered the home healthcare business in 1986. Before entering municipal politics in 1994 he helmed the Selwyn-based company Breox Medical Inc. before selling it in 1993.

In 1994, he was elected to the former Smith Township council as councillor at large. In 1997, he was acclaimed to what eventually became Smith-Ennismore Lakefield Township. Throughout his second term, Black participated in the municipal restructuring and amalgamation of Smith and Ennismore townships and the Village of Lakefield.

After selling the business, Black worked as Director of Business Development and Productivity at Medigas/Praxair Canada Inc.

Eight years ago, Ron retired from Praxair to, among other things, volunteer in his community. In 2023, Ron was acclaimed to be Deputy Mayor of the Township of Selwyn and serves on the Peterborough City/County Board of Health and the Otonabee Region Conservation Authority.Additionally, Ron Chairs the Loans Committee for Community Futures Peterborough, Vice Chair of Four Counties Addiction & Treatment Service, member of Client Services Advisory Committee for ALS Society Ontario and a member of the Peterborough Region Angel Network.


Jean-Benoit Trahan, Director Eastern Region Operations, Enbridge Gas Inc.

Mr. Jean-Benoit Trahan is an economist by training and holds an MBA from the Université de Sherbrooke. He has over 28 years’ experience in the energy field as a consultant and expert at national, provincial and international levels, in addition to 5 years as a municipal councillor. He also worked at the Régie de l’énergie early in his career before joining the industry, including 10 years with Gazifère and Enbridge. In December 2020, he was appointed Director of the Eastern Region (Ontario) of Enbridge Gas and President of Gazifère. Jean-Benoit is an innovator and a developer, both in people and in the energy sector. In addition to ensuring the development, safety and reliability of the gas networks in Eastern Ontario and Western Quebec, he has engaged his teams in Quebec and Ontario in the production, reception and use of renewable natural gas, as well as working on one of Canada’s most ambitious green hydrogen projects.


Nick Thurler, Dairy Farmer, South Dundas

Nick Thurler and his family own and operate a 500 cow herd dairy farm in South Mountain, Ontario. In addition to being a dairy farmer, Nick previously co-owned a milk transportation company for over 12 years. He is now diversifying his dairy operation by building an anaerobic digester that will use the organic wastes from his own and his neighbouring farms to produce renewable natural gas (RNG). Nick is founder and President of Green Energy Trading Corporation (GET Corp.), an agribusiness that plans to build and operate anaerobic biodigesters on farms across Canada. Nick has played an active role in industry boards and committees since 2000, including serving as an executive board member of Dairy Farmers of Canada, and past Vice-Chair of Dairy Farmers of Ontario. He is a recognized leader in the dairy industry and believes agriculture plays an important role in the green energy transition for future generations.


Justin Egan, Renewable Natural Gas Specialist, Enbridge Gas Inc

Justin Egan is a RNG Specialist with Enbridge Gas Inc. He focuses his time on helping municipalities, farmers, and commercial institutions meet their sustainability goals, create a low carbon source of energy, and generate additional revenue from their waste products. Justin is passionate about both educating his audience on the benefits of renewable natural gas in a low carbon energy portfolio and conveying the need for a diversified and creative approach to achieving aggressive climate change goals while managing cost. Justin values relationships and strives to create innovative solutions to the industry’s challenges. He believes that it is through effective collaboration and leadership that success can be achieved and impacting change can occur. Justin holds degrees in electrical engineering and mathematics. When he is not on a landfill site or dairy farm, Justin enjoys spending time with his wife and five kids, coaching soccer, spending time outdoors, and volunteering in his community.


Irene Cameron , CPA, CGA, President and CEO, Geo-Registry Integrated Datachain Inc. (GRID)

Irene Cameron CPA, CGA is the founder, President and CEO of GRID Geo-Registry Integrated Datachain Inc. She is a professional accountant and a licensed Real Estate Representative. Irene has over 12 years experience as a Real Estate Representative working with Re/Max Affiliates Marquis. And, she has over 25 years in the real estate industry as a land developer and residential contractor. Irene is a serial entrepreneur, experienced with funding large projects, business plan development and implementation. She is passionate about real estate, an avid problem solver. Throughout her career, she has been driven by her intellectual curiosity to find strategic solutions to challenging problems, to create efficiencies when possible, to identify and mitigate risks, and most of all to add/create value for her clients, her colleagues, and her community. Her broad industry experience has given her a unique skillset and a deep understanding of the real estate industry that helps her help individuals and corporations achieve their goals while ensuring compliance with rules and regulations.


Heather Candler, Director of Economic Development, City of Belleville

Heather Candler is the Director of Economic Development at the City of Belleville. She leads the Economic Development Division which is part of the Chief Administrative Officer’s Department. Heather has had a diverse career in economic development working in the public, private, and not-for-profit sectors. She comes to the City of Belleville from the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs where she led a provincial team of economic development and agriculture development professionals as Manager of Community Economic Development Programs for Rural and Agri-Food. Heather also led the redevelopment of Batawa as General Manager of the Batawa Development Corporation for nine years. Prior to this, she held roles as the Corporate Administrator of the Belleville Family Medical Centre, the Executive Director of Volunteer and Information Quinte, past Chair of United Way Quinte, as well as temporarily working within the City’s Economic Development Division.


Laurie Caouette, Industry Partnership Officer, Loyalist College

Laurie is a graduate of the Loyalist College Print Journalism Program and spent 15 years as a reporter in communities throughout Eastern Ontario.

In 2010, she opened a small children’s clothing & accessories store in Brighton – growing it from a home-based business to a thriving location in the downtown. Based on her experience as an entrepreneur and desire to support other small businesses, Laurie accepted a position with the Municipality of Brighton Economic Development Department in 2014. Her primary responsibility was to facilitate the downtown revitalization project.

Laurie’s municipal career continued at the City of Quinte West, where she held positions as an Event Coordinator, Grant Research Analyst and Community Partnership & Engagement Officer. In the latter role, she helped launch and facilitate the City’s Community Safety & Well-Being Plan.

In March 2023, Laurie was hired as one of three new Industry Partnership Officers for Loyalist College. Along with her colleagues, Laurie will help to foster a culture of interdisciplinary applied research, forge partnerships with industry to drive future economic prosperity and competitiveness and aim to build a robust start-up and scale-up ecosystem in Eastern Ontario.


Dan Cardinal, Senior Provincial Engagement Coordinator, Skills Ontario

With over 20 years of experience in the field of employment and education, Dan has worked with many employers and education representatives. Whether it was through Employment Ontario as a Job Developer and Regional Coordinator, or as representative of 2 major colleges in Ontario (Algonquin College and Collège La Cité), those of you who have had the opportunity to work with Dan (or meet him) are aware of his passion and enthusiasm for helping others achieve their employment and educational goals! For the past seven years, Dan has worked tirelessly with Skills Ontario to promote careers in the skilled trades and technologies as viable first choice career options for students and youth!

Doug Cleary, Clearydale Farms

Doug Cleary; Douglas operates a 1450-acre dairy and cash crop farm at Spencerville and is well-known for his advanced approach to agriculture through innovation and service to the agricultural community.

He serves as an advisory member of the Ontario East Wood Centre and is a strong proponent of the bioeconomy in Eastern Ontario. He puts advanced theory and research into practice with a long list of successful innovations. Well respected throughout Ontario, he is serving or has served as Chair of the County Milk, Travel and Hospitality Committee for provincial Junior Farmers, County Federation of Agriculture, Soil and Crop Committee, Land Stewardship Committee, Federation of Agriculture for over 30 years and on the Advisory Board for Kemptville Agriculture College.

Doug served two 3-year terms on the Agriculture Research Institute of Ontario, advising the Minister of Agriculture on research direction for the Provincial $50 million plus annual agricultural research fund.

The Cleary family has owned and operated Clearydale Farms since 1845. Doug represents the sixth generation that now operating this large successful endeavour.


Charlotte Craig, Rural Housing Information System (RHIS) Data Trainer, Rural Ontario Institute (ROI)

Charlotte brings a variety of non-profit program administration and data management to the Rural Housing Information System Data Training Coordinator position. Her focus of work has varied from helping communities adapt to climate change to electric car adoption in Ontario. She holds a masters of Science from the University of Toronto and is passionate about community engagement.

Fred Dean, Amberley Gavel Ltd.

Fred Dean is a former municipal solicitor with over forty years of experience in the field. He spent 23 of those as solicitor for the City of Sudbury and over twenty years as a sole practitioner serving municipalities. He has served Councils across Ontario and continues to provide in person and electronic training for Councils and staff as the situation warrants.


Nadia De Santi, MCIP, RPP, Practice Lead, WSP

Nadia De Santi, MCIP, RPP, Practice Lead at WSP in Ottawa, has over 20 years of professional planning experience including municipal policy and land development approvals. Her diverse experience ranges from federal government campus master planning, provincial government highest and best use analyses, and a wide range of planning projects for municipal governments. Her experience in municipal policy projects includes preparing Official Plans and Zoning By-laws, developing Community Improvement Plans, Age-Friendly Community Action Plans and Land Use Plans and Zoning By-laws for Indigenous communities, and providing planning services to municipalities. She is passionate about community engagement and facilitation and makes it a priority to understand and address local community issues and values. Nadia has obtained a Certificate of Completion “Working Effectively with Aboriginal Peoples™ for Governments” and has IAP2 certification.


Alysha Dominico, CEO & Co-Founder, Tangible Words

Alysha Dominico is CEO & Co-Founder of Tangible Words, a Growth Agency that has won awards for leadership of women, digital success and innovation, quality of writing, and for sales growth. Alysha is a highly trained sales person, has been a finalist for Entrepreneur of the Year and has led Tangible Words from a 1 person service provider to a 15-person agency. Tangible Words serves sales, marketing & customer service departments who feel overwhelmed. Our team of growth experts build Hubspot automation systems to grow your revenue and to help you scale with less chaos.


Ken Doyle, Executive Director, Tech-Access Canada

With two decades of professional experience in federal public policy development and government relations, Ken brings a deep knowledge of the history of Canada’s college applied research and innovation ecosystem. Since 2016, Ken has served as the Executive Director of Tech-Access Canada, the national network of Canada’s Technology Access Centres (TACs). Ken’s knowledge and experience, his management skills, and positive attitude make him a strong leader for the TAC network. Ken is responsible for ensuring the network achieves its mandate of facilitating the sharing of best practices between member TACs, and promoting the adoption of comparable service excellence standards. Based in Ottawa and originally from New Brunswick, Ken held progressively senior roles within different postsecondary associations. Ken holds a master’s degree in Public Policy and Administration, a bachelor’s degree in Public Affairs and Policy Management, and the CAE designation from the Canadian Society of Association Executives.


Sean Dyke, CEO, St. Thomas Economic Development Corporation

As CEO of the St. Thomas Economic Development Corporation, Sean works under the guidance of a dedicated volunteer Board of Directors to improve the quality of life in St. Thomas by helping companies succeed and grow, with a focus on Manufacturing, Tourism and Entrepreneurship. Following the significant impact of the economic downturn, Sean led a team in the development and marketing of the #stthomasproud campaign, resulting in numerous awards, including the most prestigious economic development marketing award in the Province – the Lieutenant Governor’s Award – but more importantly, mobilizing the community to spread a grassroots message of positivity and strength. In 2023, Sean’s team was fortunate to win this award for a second time in 7 years as a result of the work that was done to support the community through public art and beautification throughout the COVID lockdowns.

In March 2023, it was announced that St. Thomas was the successful bidder for what will be the largest automotive investment in Canadian history as VW/PowerCo will build their 13 million square foot gigafactory in the community. This will further solidify the prosperity of the community for decades to come and is a testament to the hard work being done by the EDC to ensure that St. Thomas remains an attractive location to invest.

Sean is a Certified Economic Developer through the Economic Developers Association of Canada and the International Economic Development Council, sits as the current President of the Economic Developers Council of Ontario and is a Board Member of the Southwestern Ontario Marketing Alliance and the Japan Society. Sean is an active volunteer in St. Thomas as the Past-President of the Youth Employment Counseling Centre, Past-Chair of the St. Thomas and District Chamber of Commerce, Board Member of the St. Thomas Sports Spectacular (Special Olympics fundraising event) and a strong supporter of the local United Way.

Born and raised in Uxbridge, Ontario, Sean holds a Business Degree from the University of Toronto, is married with three children and is proud to lead one of Canada’s first economic development corporations, building on over 60 years of history in St. Thomas.


Abdul Razak Jendi, Director, Director Kingston Economic Development

Abdul Razak is a seasoned international economic developer with over a decade of expertise in international trade and FDI in North America, Europe & Asia. He currently holds the position of Investment Manager for sustainable manufacturing at Kingston Economic Development in which he oversees programs to support companies to grow and expand. Abdul is leading the development of a localized battery materials supply chain and technologies ecosystem in Kingston.

Before joining the Kingston Economic Development team, Abdul held the position of the Deputy Director for the Global New York Canada Office and the Economic Development Manager at a Montreal-based consulting firm, playing a pivotal role in managing and delivering lead generation programs, in-market representation, and industry analysis for domestic and international clients in Canada, the USA, and Europe. Abdul worked in several sectors including Steel Manufacturing, Shipping, and Utilities where he managed over 100 contracts worth $6.5 billion.


Peter Emon, Chair, Eastern Ontario Wardens’ Caucus

The Eastern Ontario Wardens’ Caucus Chair, Peter Emon, is the Warden of the County of Renfrew; during his time as Warden, he has served the EOWC for five consecutive years, once previously as Chair in 2016. Since 1988, he has enjoyed serving his community as a Municipal Councillor for the Town of Renfrew. Chair Emon also sits on the Association of Municipalities and Rural Ontario Municipal Association’s Board of Directors. He holds an Honours degree in Social Work from the University of Windsor and was employed as a Child Protection Worker 25 years. Peter is presently employed as Community Mental Health Crisis Worker.

Nadia Faggiani, Outreach Officer, Dedicated Service Channel, Domestic Network, Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada

Nadia Faggiani is an outreach officer with Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) for the National Capital Region and Eastern Ontario. Outreach officers across Canada provide up-to-date information about economic immigration initiatives. Nadia’s role is to demystify work permit and permanent residence programs, and explain how Canadian employers can use the immigration system to attract and retain talent, fill skills gaps in the workforce, and help drive economic growth. Nadia has over 10 years of operational experience with IRCC. Her areas of expertise include the Global Skills Strategy, recruitment of skilled foreign workers, work permits through the Temporary Foreign Worker Program and International Mobility Program, and permanent residence through Express Entry. She can provide the federal perspective on how immigration contributes to workforce development, and practical tools for employers to attract and retain foreign workers. She welcomes your feedback about how federal immigration programs could better meet your needs.


Cat Fisher Andrews, Coordinator, Quinte Local Immigration Partnership

Catherine “Cat” Fisher Andrews, has worked in settlement, immigration, and related international fields for over 18 years. In her current role as the Quinte Local Immigration Partnership (QLIP) Coordinator at Quinte Immigration Services (QUIS), in Belleville, Cat coordinates partnerships with over 80 stakeholders in the Quinte region including Hastings and Prince Edward Counties, Cramahe, Brighton, and Greater Napanee. The Quinte Local Immigration Partnership endeavors to strengthen the role communities play in serving and integrating immigrants in the region, including promoting community awareness about newcomers and their needs, as well as supporting coordination efforts of newcomer settlement and integration. Cat has worked in several roles at QUIS including settlement services and coordination of several QUIS programs. She has also worked for the International Student Centres of Queen’s University and Loyalist College. Her work experience has given Cat insight into the unique barriers faced by newcomers to Canada and especially the Quinte region.


Kent Fitzhugh, Senior Business Advisor, Ministry of Economic Development, Job Creation and Trade

Kent Fitzhugh is a Senior Business Advisor with the Ministry of Economic Development Job Creation and Trade, based in Kingston Ontario and covering the Frontenac, Lennox & Addington, Quinte West, Prince Edward and lower Hastings Counties as well as the City of Kingston and Tyendinaga Mohawk Territory. Kent has held positions with several provincial ministries including; MMAH (Local Government Advisor), OMAFRA (Rural Economic Development Advisor) and MEDJCT (Senior Business Advisor). Prior to his work in the public sector, Kent worked with Crown-Indigenous Relations and Northern Affairs Canada (CIRNAC) as Technical Trainer and as an Economic Development Officer for a municipality located in Eastern Ontario.

Tony Fleming, Cunningham Swan LLP

Tony Fleming is a Partner in the Land Use Planning and Development Group, Environmental Group and the Municipal Group at Cunningham Swan. Tony is recognized by the Law Society of Upper Canada as a Certified Specialist in Municipal Law (Local Government/ Land Use Planning and Development). As a Certified Specialist, Tony has demonstrated expertise in the fields of municipal law and land use planning and development law.
Tony provides advice to municipalities and private sector companies on all aspects of land use planning and development as well as environmental law. Our municipal clients consult Tony on all aspects of municipal governance and complex land use planning matters. Tony appears frequently before the Local Planning Appeal Tribunal to defend decisions of municipal Councils and Committees of Adjustment. Tony also appears regularly before the Assessment Review Board and the Environmental Review Tribunal. In addition, Tony appears in all levels of Ontario Courts on administrative law matters, including defending challenges to municipal by-laws.
Currently, Tony is appointed as the Integrity Commissioner for more than 45 municipalities. Prior to joining Cunningham Swan, Tony was Senior Legal Counsel with the City of Kingston. Tony focused on providing advice on land use planning and development and environmental law with the City of Kingston, building on his experience in private law firms in Toronto where Tony practised as a land use planning and environmental lawyer.


Ramona (Ciparis) Gallagher, Main Street Matters

Ramona Gallagher is a seasoned professional with over 25 years of experience in business advising, consulting, and coaching. She is a subject matter expert on micro-business, ‘mom and pop’ retail and service businesses, and business start-ups for those limited by income, (dis)ability, or access to resources. She has collaborated with numerous Small Business Enterprise Centres, Community Futures offices, Business Improvement Associations, and several not-for-profit agencies and organizations. Aside from her advisory roles, Ramona is a renowned international speaker, facilitator, writer, and trainer. She is also an entrepreneur in her own right, successfully launching a global e-commerce site during the early stages of online commerce and owning multiple product and service-based companies. As the Program Manager for My Main Street, Ramona directly engaged with over 650 business owners across the province and played a crucial role in providing funding, resources, and valuable referrals to support the ongoing development of vibrant “main streets”. She holds a Bachelor of Commerce degree from McMaster University and now teaches Global Business Management at Conestoga College.


Arya Hejazi, Planning Assistant, Township of Havelock-Belmont-Methuen

Arya Hejazi is currently the Planning Assistant at the Township of Havelock-Belmont-Methuen. He has education and background in land use planning and development. Arya’s professional experience in land development is inclusive of land and property valuation analysis working for the Municipal Property Assessment Corporation (MPAC) on a variety of different property portfolios ranging from residential and commercial to light and heavy industrial. In his work with the Township of Havelock-Belmont-Methuen, he supports and processes development applications inclusive of minor variances, zoning by-law and official plan amendments, site plan applications, consents, and plans of subdivision. While the majority of the Township of Havelock-Belmont-Methuen is considered rural “cottage country”, there are a multitude of urban settlement areas which have provided Arya experience in both rural and urban planning. Arya’s particular interests are in municipal government, community improvement, economic development, as well as environmental preservation. He is passionate about forming strong relationship with key stakeholders in land development, inclusive of the private sector, indigenous communities, government agencies, and the public. His primary objective is to uphold the public interest and offer guidance and expertise throughout the planning process.


Laurie Heuff, Director, Distribution Engineering and Asset Management | Hydro Ottawa

Laurie currently serves as the Director of Hydro Ottawa’s Distribution Engineering and Asset Management group, a role she has held since July 2019. During her tenure in this role, Laurie successfully defended Hydro Ottawa’s 2021-2025 Rate Application with the Ontario Energy Board and also led the team in attaining a coveted ISO 55000 certification, exemplifying Hydro Ottawa’s excellence in Asset Management. Prior to joining Hydro Ottawa in 2017, Laurie held a number of leadership and continuous improvement roles within the manufacturing industry, most notably with Kraft Heinz (formerly Kraft Foods). Laurie holds an undergraduate degree in mechanical engineering from Carleton University and is also a black belt in lean six-sigma. With her diverse background, Laurie brings a unique approach and perspective to the utility industry, which is currently undergoing significant transformation. Laurie is passionate about continuous improvement and is committed to driving change in a collaborative manner that leads to long-lasting and positive outcomes.


Denise Jamal, Director, Stakeholder and Community Engagement | IESO

Denise Jamal currently serves as the Independent Electricity System Operator’s Director of Community and Stakeholder Engagement. Denise brings more than 17 years of experience as an award-winning public affairs and engagement professional to the position. Throughout her career, she has held several senior leadership roles with Hydro One in the areas of community relations, customer experience, corporate communications and public affairs, and has a deep understanding of the electricity sector.


Ahmed Maria, Director, Transmission | IESO

Ahmed Maria has worked at the Independent Electricity System Operator (IESO) for close to 20 years and is a registered Professional Engineer in the Province of Ontario. He holds an undergraduate degree and two post-graduate degrees in Electrical Engineering, and an MBA from the Rotman School of Management.

He currently serves as the IESO’s Director of Transmission planning and leads the team responsible for identifying, based on electricity forecasts, the electricity transmission infrastructure that will be needed in the future.

Over the past three years, Ahmed’s planning team initiated the development and construction of new electricity transmission infrastructure to support the growing agricultural sector in western Ontario, new mining development in northern Ontario, growth of major load centers, economic development and electrification across the province, and to support changes in Ontario’s generation supply mix.

Ahmed’s team is presently planning Ontario’s electricity transmission system to not only meet near term needs but also to enable the longer term energy transition, which includes developing power system plans to support the actions outlined in the Ontario Government’s Powering Ontario’s Growth report.


Christian Kaiser, Asset and Administrative Project Manager at the Town of Deep River

Christian Kaiser is employed by the Town of Deep River as Asset and Administrative Project Manager. With an extensive background in engineering and management consulting, Christian is responsible for several portfolios, including planning, development, and economic growth. Christian made the big-city-to-small-town move from Johannesburg, South Africa, a few years ago, and hopes to make a difference in growing Deep River’s vibrancy and vitality.


Mike Keene, MCIP RPP, Principal, Planning and Development, Fotenn Planning + Design

Mike is a Principal of Planning and Development. He has over 20 years of professional planning experience in land development, policy planning and facilitation and has completed land use evaluations and planning approvals for private sector developers. Mike’s policy work is far-reaching and covers a range of topics including: rural and small-town planning, shoreline development and community improvement. His unique approach to planning demonstrates a special understanding for creating appropriate and relevant public consultation opportunities. Mike is also routinely called upon as an expert witness for Ontario Municipal Board hearings.


Chris King, CEO, Quinte Economic Development Commission

With over 25 years’ experience as an Ontario East member, Chris serves as Chief Executive Officer of the Quinte Economic Development Commission (QEDC) where he oversees investment attraction and retention activities for this regional economic development organization that represents the City of Belleville, The City of Quinte West (Trenton) and the Municipality of Brighton.

Chris is a Certified Economic Developer (Ec.D.) and has been recognized for his success in attracting many new employers to the Bay of Quinte region in various industry sectors. He has earned several awards at the regional, provincial, and international levels for his work with QEDC.

Chris is active on a number of boards and committees and has lead a number of initiatives including: workforce development, investment missions to international locations, and Ontario East team leader food and advanced manufacturing sector, He is a past chair of the Ontario Food Cluster, former board member of Launch Lab and Trenval Community Development Corporation. He is currently past President of the Trenton Rotary Club and a Paul Harris Fellow.


Vikram Khurana, Chairman, Toronto Business Development Centre

Vikram (Vik) Khurana is the Chair of Toronto Business Development Centre (TBDC) – a leading business incubator that has been locally, nationally, and internationally recognized for its efforts in nurturing the growth of new and emerging businesses in Ontario. Mr. Khurana serves on the Board of Trustees of the Canada Post Community Foundation, Board of Directors of Ontario Capital Growth Corporation and the Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corporation. He is the founder of a number of multinational businesses including Prudential Consulting, Inc. and Leading System Consultants and has advised multinational organizations in Information Technology (IT) and IT-enabled services, and business process outsourcing.

Prior to becoming an entrepreneur, Mr. Khurana worked at TD Bank and served on the Board of Directors of Export Development Canada, FinDev Canada, the Dean’s Council of Ted Rogers School of Management at Ryerson University, the Technical Standards and Safety Authority, Asia Pacific Foundation of Canada and the Advisory Board of the Indo Canada Chamber of Commerce. He was an honorary member of the Board of Governors at Mount Sinai Hospital Foundation in Toronto. Mr. Khurana is an active participant in a variety of fundraising activities for development-related causes and Covid relief.


Sébastien Labrecque, Deputy Director and Chief Economist, StrategyCorp Institute of Public Policy and Economy

Sébastien is the Deputy Director and Chief Economist of the StrategyCorp Institute of Public Policy and Economy. In his role with the Institute, he leads the firm’s thought leadership and contributes to its presence in the marketplace by authoring public policy and economic material for both clients and StrategyCorp. Sébastien also hosts the Intended Consequences podcast. Sébastien previously worked in the federal government in Ottawa. During his time at Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC) and Innovation, Science and Economic Development Canada (ISED), he worked extensively on housing finance policy as well as the digital economy and skills. Sébastien holds a Master of Public and International Affairs from the University of Ottawa and a Bachelor’s degree in Economics and Political Science from Université Laval. He also has a Certificate in Economic Development from the University of Waterloo.

Dr. Henry Lickers, Commissioner of IJC

Henry Lickers, a Haudenosaunee citizen of the Seneca Nation, Turtle Clan is a commissioner with the International Joint Commission. Throughout his career, Dr. Lickers has been instrumental in incorporating First Nation knowledge into economic development and environmental decision making across Canada. Prior to his appointment as IJC Commissioner, Dr. Lickers was also a member of the IJC’s current Great Lakes Science Advisory Board (SAB). He has been principle investigator on the EAGLE (Effect on Aboriginal in the Great Lakes Environment) Project and the Naturalized Knowledge Systems Project and the First Nations’ Community Health Indicators Project.

Henry has been Director with the Ontario Professional Foresters Association, Scientific Co-Chair of The Haudenosaunee Environmental Taskforce, Vice President of the Board of Directors, St. Lawrence River Institute of Environmental Sciences and a founding member of the Board of Directors for the Eastern Ontario Model Forest. The recipient of a number of awards recognizing his lifelong service to the St. Lawrence River, and service to many environmental and government organizations over his career, Mr. Lickers received an Honorary Doctor of Science Degree from the State University of New York Syracuse. He holds a Bachelor of Science (Biology and Geography) and undertook graduate studies at the University of Waikato in New Zealand, and was a Trent University Ph D. Elder Council member. He resides in Akwesasne, Ontario.


James Lynn, Senior Business Advisor, Ontario Ministry of Tourism, Culture and Sport

James has worked with the Ontario Ministry of Tourism, Culture and Sport since 2003, and currently serves as Senior Business Advisor with a dedicated focus on tourism investment attraction.

James has been invited to speak to Mayors, Councillors and Economic Development Officials throughout Ontario about making the case for tourism investment, and the importance of tourism as an economic driver.

During his time with the Ministry, James has led international missions involving Ontario municipalities to showcase tourism investment opportunities to global investors.

James is currently managing the 2023 Tourism Development Fund and the “Meet the Tourism Investment Dragons” event on October 5, 2023.


JP Melville, Executive Director, Abbeyfield Canada

JP Melville currently holds two positions related to seniors in Canada. JP is Executive Director of Abbeyfield Canada, which supports seniors’ shared accommodation housing at 20 locations across the country and is actively developing five additional houses in Ontario. He is also under contract to Bronson Centre, where he and a team of five are delivering a federally supported seniors inclusion project. Both organizations are based in Ottawa.

Through Abbeyfield Canada, JP promotes community based, seniors housing across the country. In an Abbeyfield house, independent seniors living on low to moderate income, choose to live together in shared accommodation. Each house is an independent, volunteer run social enterprise and is home to about 15 seniors. Since the pandemic, interest in the Abbeyfield model has skyrocketed. New houses are in development in rural and urban centres across Ontario.

Bronson Centre is an independent, revenue positive charity, a 45,000 sq ft, dynamic community hub in downtown Ottawa, situated on 3/4 of a city block. It is home to 30 + not-for-profits, two performance venues, a food bank, and housing for women. JP and his team are in the process of implementing a new business model for on-site housing (200 units estimated), additional institutional space (30,000 sq ft), and cultural organizations.

JP has an MSc in Planning, grew up farming, and has worked widely in the construction industry. For ten years, he worked outside of Canada in countries such as Azerbaijan, Thailand, Bhutan, China, Benin and Mali. He is currently based in Ottawa, Canada, where he actively supports the arts and partners with organizations, individuals, and the private sector to assist them with achieving mission.

If JP is missing in action, you will find him in the bush – off-grid – watching the trees, listening to the birds, and puttering about on his 40 acres of Canadian Shield.


Scott McFadden, Council Coach, CouncilCoach.ca

Scott McFadden graduated with honours from Queen’s University with a Bachelor of Applied Science in Electrical Engineering. He then spent time in related fields in the private sector in Canada and the U.S.A, built a technology based business and then sold it.

Upon returning home to his roots, Scott served as Mayor with the Township of Cavan Monaghan, and Councillor with the County of Peterborough.

During his 12 years in office with Cavan Monaghan, the municipality experienced significant growth pressures associated with being a small rural municipality within the Greater Golden Horseshoe.

Staff and Council managed the challenges together, and created significant opportunities for their small municipality. They successfully modernized existing infrastructure and delivered new large infrastructure projects without relying on property taxes to primarily fund them.

Scott now provides advice to municipal Councils, through the lens of a former member of Council. He offers solutions to Council’s proverbial question, “How do we get there from here?”


Nour Mazloum, Marketing & Communications Manager, Kingston Economic Development and Chair of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Committee at Economic Developers Council of Ontario

Nour is the Marketing & Communications Manager at Kingston Economic Development, in her role, she leads the development, writing and production of business collaterals, media strategies and public relations. Nour is also a Director at the Economic Developers Council of Ontario’s (EDCO) Board of Directors and the Chair of its Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Committee. Nour is the recipient of the EDCO’s 2021 President Award and the 2022 Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Influencer of the Year Award.


Chief Michael Nolan M.A., Dip. Ed, CCP(F) Chief, Paramedic Service & Director, Emergency Services, County of Renfrew

Chief Nolan’s passion for providing care to people living in rural and remote communities began while living in Sioux Lookout, Ontario serving rural and remote indigenous communities as a Critical Care Flight Paramedic for the Ontario Government.

Experiencing the health, social and economic challenges facing Canadians and healthcare providers in rural and remote communities, Nolan was inspired to identify opportunities for Paramedics to contribute to a solutions-based approach to promoting inter-professional practice in prevention programs acute care and primary care settings.

As a pioneer of Community Paramedic practice across Canada and Internationally, Nolan carried forward his rural experiences, learnings, and the voices of his patients to create co-design models and international standards to guide programs servicing the specific needs of rural, remote, and indigenous Paramedic practice.

With the support of the County of Renfrew, Province of Ontario, Ontario Health and health system partners, Nolan co-lead the creation the Renfrew County Virtual Triage and Assessment Centre ensuring that all residents of Renfrew County have access to a primary care physician for a virtual visit and community paramedics for in person care. Having served over 100,000 patients since the beginning of the COVID19 pandemic Nolan is very proud of the team’s achievements and that VTAC continues to ensure that nobody has to suffer in silence.


Rejane Padaratz, B.Arch. Urb., OPPI Candidate Member Principal, Urban Design at Fotenn Planning + Design

Rejane is the Principal of Urban Design in Fotenn’s Ottawa office. With extensive experience in architectural and urban design practice, Rejane has participated actively in various stages of the design process for residential and commercial buildings and urban developments. She has successfully led the Manor Park Estates Master Plan through concept development, public engagement and approvals process. Currently she is the lead urban designer in the Confederation Heights Master Plan, one of the largest collaboration Master Plan projects between Canada Lands Company and Public Services and Procurement Canada. Rejane has a balanced view of the urban landscape with consideration to environmental, social, economic, and heritage factors. Having worked for both private and public clients, Rejane’s design experience in Brazil and Canada is complemented with a research background in Universal Design and Accessibility as well as a Graduate Certificate in Sustainable Architecture. These experiences have helped Rejane develop a sense of how important it is to develop projects that are not only aesthetically pleasing but are also energy efficient, minimize impact on the environment, and are economically viable.


Sarah Marsh, OALA, BCSLA, CSLA Associate Landscape Architect, Fotenn Planning and Design

Sarah is an Associate Landscape Architect in Fotenn’s Ottawa office. She has over twenty years of experience working for a variety of public and private sector clients, and has been involved in projects relating to community enhancement and revitalization, parks and open space, site planning and design, and stormwater management. Sarah has successfully lead multidisciplinary teams requiring coordination of specialist sub-consultants, and believes strongly in an integrated approach to design.

Sarah is also particularly interested in projects involving public consultation. In her experience the most exciting, engaging and rewarding projects are community driven. She has facilitated brainstorming sessions, open houses and public meetings, and is able to gather, interpret, and incorporate community input into the final project deliverables.

Cyndy Palleske, Executive Director, Community Futures Eastern Ontario (CFEO)/Southern Ontario Fund for Investing in Innovation (SOFII)

Cyndy Palleske is the Executive Director of the Community Futures Eastern Ontario Network (CFEO), supporting the 15 Community Futures Development Corporation (CFDC) offices across southeastern Ontario and delivering the regional Southern Ontario Fund for Investing in Innovation (SOFII) program. Prior to joining CFEO, Cyndy was a volunteer Board Director with Community Futures Peterborough and since joining the Network in 2022, Cyndy has worked with the CFEO team to create positive impact across the region including the launch of a CFEO “Spotlight ON” campaign, free Peer Councils for staff and Board Chairs of the Community Futures offices, a SOFII Rural initiative and a high-profile 10-Year SOFII Celebration in collaboration with Community Futures Western Ontario (CFWO). As a Board Director on the Eastern Ontario Leadership Council (EOLC), Cyndy ensures the needs of the region are communicated at appropriate levels of government. By working closely with both CFWO and the Community Futures Ontario (CFO) Association, she participates in collaborative advocacy initiatives for the Community Futures program on behalf of the CFDCs that deliver the program locally. With an education in Business Administration / Operations Management, she has accumulated credentials in Leadership, Strategic Planning, Lean Six Sigma, Logistics Management, Supply Chain and more. Starting off her career working in the pharmaceutical industry, she went on to hold progressively higher operations management leadership roles in the automotive and aerospace & defense sectors. After decades of working in manufacturing, and running a small business in rural Ontario, she found her footing in the not-for-profit space as Vice-President of Canadian Manufacturers & Exporters, discovering the power of words to influence real-world change in helping businesses grow across Canada.

When not out supporting the Community Futures offices and businesses across Eastern Ontario in her current role, she can be found hiking and running the trails of the Northumberland Forest.

Jeff Passmore, Scaling Up

Jeff Passmore, has worked in the renewable energy and renewable chemicals space for more than 30 years, both as a consultant, and, for 12 years, as Executive Vice President of Iogen Corporation (1998–2010) where he directed the firm’s new market development, project site screening, communications and government liaison operations in Canada, the U.S.A. and Europe.

In 2016, Passmore launched Canada’s signature bioeconomy conference – “Scaling Up.” The theme of the 2016 conference was “Delivering Canada’s low carbon, bio-based economy through sustainable innovation.” In 2017, attended by 240 registrants, the theme was “Making the global bioeconomy mainstream.” And in 2018 the theme is “Competing in the global bioeconomy market.”

Jeff’s Qualifications include:
• Past Member, CleanTech Advisory Board, Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade Canada (2009–2011)
• Past Chair (2009), Canadian Renewable Fuels Association
• Past Member, National Advisory Board on Energy Science & Technology (1997–2008)
• Past President, Canadian Wind Energy Association
• Past President, Solar Energy Society of Canada
• Past President, International Association for Energy Economics, Ottawa Chapter
• Past Senior Vice President, Independent Power Producers’ Society of Ontario

He is a Post Graduate Journalism program, Carleton University, 1977

Jeff holds a Bachelor of Arts (Honours), Political Science, McMaster University, 1973 and he grew up in the rural Township of Augusta in Eastern Ontario.


Jim Pine, CAO, Hastings County

Jim Pine has spent the past 43 years working the municipal affairs sector in Ontario. Thirty four of those years were as a CAO in a variety of municipalities including his last 21 years as the CAO of Hastings County. Jim retired from the County earlier this summer. Jim was involved with the EOWC over those 21 years supporting the Caucus on policy and program developments. He helped create the Eastern Ontario Regional Network and served as a Co-Lead on EORN’s first regional broadband project and on its current Cell Gap Project until he took on the role as its Indigenous Lead. As the Indigenous Lead he is supporting EORN’s consultation work with 18 Indigenous communities and First Nations.

Jim is also now supporting EORN and the EOWC as it works to bring its latest regional effort, the EOWC’s regional housing plan or the 7in7 Project as it is known to fruition. During his career he was a member of a number of different panels and task forces establish by the Association of Municipalities and worked directly for the Provincial Government in examining Ontario’s Water and Wastewater sector as member of a 3 person expert panel. More recently he served as Special Advisor to the Minister of Health during its review of Public Health and Emergency Health Services in Ontario.

Kelly Landriault, HR Manager, Alexandria Moulding

Kelly Landriault – HR Manager of Alexandria Moulding located in Alexandria, Ontario. She has been with the company for over a year and has been in the field of HR for 25 years specializing in manufacturing, production, telecommunications.


Jeff Poapst, Chief Manufacturing Officer, Ross Video

Jeff Poapst is Chief Manufacturing Officer, Ross Video. He is responsible for the company’s global manufacturing operations, taking customer engagement from order placement through delivery. Using Lean/Six Sigma principles, Jeff has implemented significant changes at Ross. Improvements based on quality, flow, technology and teamwork take effect daily. Even with the rollout of significant new products, Ross achieves global best-in-class lead times and customer service.

Jeff is a licensed Industrial / Mechanical Engineer with an extensive background in manufacturing and process improvement methodologies, and he holds an Executive MBA from Queen’s University. Jeff has more than 30 years of experience in electronics manufacturing and business management. Prior to joining Ross in 2006, Jeff worked in a variety of roles with both Canadian and multinational organizations including Sanmina-SCI, Nortel Networks, Thomson Consumer Electronics, and Siebe PLC.

A resident of Johnstown, Ontario, Jeff splits time among growing Ross Video facilities in Iroquois, Ontario, and Ottawa, as well as various international sites as acquisitions dictate.

He shares many, sometimes expensive and occasionally painful interests, with his wife Gayle, their 4 adult children and their dog.


Ruth Walker Scott, Economic Development Officer, County of Simcoe Economic Development Office

Ruth Walker Scott (she/her) is an Economic Development Officer with the County of Simcoe. Ruth lives in Treaty 16 territory (Orillia) and is passionate about indigenous allyship, environmental rights, and supporting sustainable economic growth. She has a Master’s Degree in the History of Medicine specializing in socio-economic influences on institutionalized care and is a designated Project Management Professional (PMP). Ruth has over 15 years of experience delivering Economic Development, Regeneration and Workforce Development projects in Canada and the UK.
As a Program Coordinator for Tourism Simcoe County Ruth coordinated the development of the Simcoe County Barn Quilt Trail that created and installed over 160 barn quilts throughout the county. She also led the creation of a comprehensive Agritourism Toolkit and established and currently chairs the Simcoe County Agritourism Working Group. Ruth continues to support the agricultural sector in her current role with the County of Simcoe Economic Development Office in addition to leading a number of talent attraction and retention projects. As such she works closely with the county’s 16 member municipalities, school boards, post-secondary institutions, and other partners to deliver dynamic, collaborative programs.


Karen Poste, Manager of Physician Recruitment and Retention, Belleville

Having graduated top of her class in Business Administration from St. Lawrence College, Kingston, Karen has enjoyed working in municipal government for the last 34 years.

Starting her career as a land use planner, but having experience in by-law enforcement, emergency planning, budgeting and project management, Karen used this experience to help her in her daily tasks as the Manager of Economic and Strategic Initiatives for the City of Belleville for almost 25 years. In January, 2023 Karen took a new position as the City’s very first Manager of Physician Recruitment and Retention where she is responsible for recruiting family doctors, nurse practitioners, ER doctors as well as managing a scholarship program for BScN students at Loyalist College.

Karen was previously awarded the Ontario East Economic Developer of the Year Award by her peers and was also named “Business Woman of the Year” for the Bay of Quinte Region. She has also received the President’s Award from the Belleville Chamber of Commerce and the Partnership Award from the Belleville Downtown Improvement Area and was named the Woman of Distinction in the City in 2023.


Cher Powers, Manager, Business Development & Commercialization, Ontario Centre of Innovation

Cher is an experienced professional with extensive project management, operations management and partnership development experience in the Canadian innovation ecosystem, including 14 years working with start-ups and SMEs to develop and scale up their operations and technologies. She has a degree in Global Development Studies (Queen’s University), a Chemical Engineering Technician Diploma (Loyalist College) and is currently pursuing an MBA through the Carleton University Sprott School of Business. Cher is a Manager of Business Development and Commercialization at Ontario Centre of Innovation (OCI) for the Eastern Ontario region, focusing on the geographic area from Quinte West to Brockville. LinkedIn profile, https://www.linkedin.com/feed/.


Sophia Rubimbwa , Director, Inclusivity and Community Development, FedDev Ontario

Sophia Rubimbwa is the Director of Inclusivity and Community Development at the Federal Economic Development Agency for Southern Ontario (FedDev Ontario). With over 15 years of experience working in the federal government, Sophia has enjoyed working in stakeholder relations and issues management in various government departments including Immigration, Refugee and Citizenship Canada, the Department for Women and Gender Equality, the Canadian Border Services Agency and more recently at Health Canada working on the COVID-19 Taskforce. In August 2022, she joined FedDev Ontario to support the Agency’s efforts to increase its regional presence in southern Ontario as well as oversee the Community Futures Program, the Black Entrepreneurship program and the Economic Development Initiative, which supports official language minority communities. Sophia has also been working on developing and strengthening relationships with underrepresented communities, including Indigenous businesses and communities in southern Ontario. After completing a Bachelor of Commerce degree with a double concentration in International Business and Marketing at Carleton University, Sophia settled in Ottawa. She is a wife and proud mother of two children and enjoys being active and spending her time in nature with her family.


Bonnie Ruddock, Executive Director, South Eastern Ontario Region

Bonnie has been with the RTO9 since the inception of the Regional Tourism Organization in 2011. Bonnie was appointed to Executive Director in 2017 after 6 years as Operations Manager for RTO9. With a background in finance and a passion for the tourism industry, Bonnie is a true leader. In 2020 Bonnie completed her MBA in Community Economic Development. Prior to her career with RTO9, Bonnie was Executive Director for the 1000 Islands Gananoque Chamber of Commerce for 10 years, where she was instrumental in growing membership and launching the first official Bi-lingual Visitor Guide for her destination. Bonnie currently serves as a Board member on Festival and Events Ontario and the Ontario East Economic Development Corporation.


Kurstin Salisbury, Research Coordinator, Loyalist College

Kurstin Salisbury joined the Applied Research & Innovation Office (ARIO) at Loyalist College in June 2023 as Research Coordinator. She is also a faculty member of the School of Media, Business & Access at Loyalist College. As Research Coordinator, Kurstin is responsible for coordinating and operationalizing the activities of ARIO. She also assists in planning of research priorities and recommends practices to support a research culture across the College. Kurstin completed a MSc in Aging & Health at Queen’s University and a Bachelor of Arts degree in Sociology from Trent University.

Stefano Sanguigni, Director, Invest Ontario

Stefano, through his work with Invest Ontario, has oversight and responsibility for FDI lead generation and outreach to strategic investment clients. Previously, he was responsible for Ontario’s international marketing programs and Ontario’s network of international trade and investment offices. He works closely with several key industries in supporting the development and delivery of public policy, domestic investment and trade programs as well as attracting foreign investment to the province of Ontario.

Specialties: Public policy development and implementation, investment generation, trade promotion and contract negotiation.


Lynn Saunders, Director of Human Resources, Plaintree Systems Inc.

JAt Plaintree Systems Inc Lynn holds the position of Chief Operating Officer (June 2023), formally the Chief Financial Officer (2007 to 2023). From 1997 to 2007 she held positions within Finance and Operations within Plaintree, a multi divisional Canadian manufacturer. Lynn currently serves on the Board of Renfrew Community Futures Development Corporation as the Treasurer. She calls McNab Township in Renfrew County her home where she and her husband also run Saunders Well Drilling Ltd since 1988. A proud and blessed mother of three grown daughters (and son-in-laws) and seven amazing grandchildren. Interests largely revolve around enjoying and working on her family and home.


Thiago Santos, B.Arch Urb., MBA Associate, Urban Design at Fotenn Planning + Design

Thiago is an Associate of Urban Design at Fotenn’s Ottawa office. His extensive experience in architecture and urban design firms as well as international Real Estate Developers has granted him a distinct and integrated perspective of the entire process regarding business, clients and design needs. Thiago has participated actively in various stages of the design process for master plans, subdivision plans, concept plans for mixed-use complexes and urban developments in Canada as well as having managed Real Estate developments in collaboration with innumerous stakeholders in Brazil. His academic background was recently complemented with a Master of Business Administration focused on Real Estate Development. This experience has helped Thiago develop new methodological tools to enhance both business and design performance meeting aesthetical, budget, communities and clients’ needs.


Jason St.Pierre, CEO, Eastern Ontario Regional Network

Jason St.Pierre is a leader with 25 years of experience in the telecommunications field delivering complex and high-value projects, while working to improve connectivity throughout Ontario. Throughout his career, Jason has been involved in project management and procurement of a variety of large-scale, high-profile ventures, and in his current role as CEO of the Eastern Ontario Regional Network (EORN) he oversees the delivery of a $300 million project to close the gaps in cell service in eastern Ontario. Jason is presently assisting the Eastern Ontario Wardens’ Caucus (EOWC) in the development of a business case for a project aiming to greatly reduce municipal waiting lists for affordable housing.
Twitter: @EOWC_ON


Alex de Wit, Economic and Business Advisor, OMAFRA

Alex de Wit is an Economic and Business Advisor with the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs. Alex has considerable experience working in Community and Workforce Development, including almost a decade as the Executive Director of the Social Development Council of Cornwall and Area, before joining the Ontario Public Service.

Alex joined the Ontario Public Service first with the Ministry of Labour, Immigration, Training and Skills Development where he worked on workforce initiatives and oversaw funding agreements with Service Providers. Throughout his career, he has been an advocate of equality, diversity, and inclusion and continues to pursue these principles. His experience has led him to this his current role where he is focused on helping Eastern Ontario municipalities build resilient, vibrant communities..


Dr. Brendan Sweeney, Managing Director, Trillium Network for Advanced Manufacturing

Brendan Sweeney is the Managing Director of the Trillium Network for Advanced Manufacturing, a research organization located at Western University. Prior to his appointment with the Trillium Network, Dr. Sweeney served as the Project Manager and Research Director of the Automotive Policy Research Centre (APRC) at McMaster University, where he also taught in the DeGroote School of Business and the School of Labour Studies. Brendan holds a Ph.D. in Geography from Queen’s University and a B.A. in Labour Studies from McMaster. He has also held appointments in the School of Policy Studies at Queen’s University and the Department of Economics at the University of Manitoba. He also spent a year at the University of Washington as a Visiting Fulbright Scholar.


Bruce Takefman, Founder & CEO of ResearchFDI

Bruce Takefman, Founder & CEO of ResearchFDI is an award-winning, serial entrepreneur and philanthropist who began his company in 2010 while working out of his bedroom. A decade on, and ResearchFDI, a marketing firm specializing in investment attraction services for economic developers, has over 75 full-time multilingual consultants and partners in key market hubs across the globe that have helped secure over $5 billion USD in new capital investment.

In the past decade, Bruce’s team of economic development consultants have helped his clients uncover new inward investments across industry sectors. Bruce executes a hands-on leadership style, overseeing major projects and strategically advising his operation’s team throughout mandates. Recent project wins that were uncovered under Bruce’s leadership include the 2019 announcement of a major win in Northern Virginia, which has begun the construction of a Data Center over a 500,000 sq. ft. site and culminating in over 500 jobs. In 2018, Bruce’s team identified a manufacturing prospect based in Canada looking to invest in the U.S. Bruce initiated introductions to 9-county regional group in Kentucky, resulting in a project yielding over $19.6 million in new capital investments for the region and the creation of 265 jobs.

Bruce is also recognized internationally as a thought leader on foreign direct investment trends and lead generation strategies. He has published several topical thought pieces through ResearchFDI’s monthly research reports and is regularly commissioned to participate on panels at leading events such as the International Economic Development Council, SelectUSA Canada, and the Economic Developer’s Council of Ontario. Most recently, Bruce launched a podcast, Research Uncensored under the ResearchFDI umbrella, acting as co-host, Bruce interviews his extensive array of contacts, consisting of the top economic developers and site selectors in the country and uncovers their tips for success in the field. In addition, Bruce remains an active role in the follow industry associations, IEDC, SelectUSA, EDCO, Southern Economic Development Council (SEDC), Texas Economic Development Council (TEDC), Oregon Economic Development Association (OEDA), Utility Economic Development Association (UEDA), and the Washington Economic Development Association (WEDA).

In 2016, Bruce expanded his company and created a new division, ResearchB2B, an export and trade advising consultancy that helps companies navigate domestic and international markets. ResearchB2B clients consist of Trade Partnerships, Chambers of Commerce, and private enterprises. Key services and programs include the development of international business relationships, primary and secondary market research, supplier and distribution introductions and sales plan development.
In 2017, Bruce tasked his business intelligence and IT team to develop a software that would develop a customizable lead platform to revolutionize the way we collect and analyze growing-company data to ensure accuracy, quality, and reliability. The result was FDI365, a leading business intelligence platform that matches clients with companies primed for immediate expansion based on their project target criteria. Coupled with advanced, proprietary tech, the platform’s data is also human-curated, backed by the ResearchFDI business intelligence unit, who analyze key growth indicators and combine these factors with primary data collection techniques to determine which investors are viable and elite prospects to target.

Bruce’s passion for economic development is matched by his innate desire to give back to his community. That passion saw him co-found Avodah, a Montréal-based annual program that helps young adults with neurodevelopment conditions find ability-specific jobs and receive ongoing training and support through target programming and networking opportunities. In addition, Bruce supports and funds a local Montréal NGO, Demoskratos whose mission is to educate at-risk youth about civics and advocate for civic engagement. Furthermore, Bruce leads his company on the principles of diversity and inclusion. Boasting a firm with over a dozen different nationalities and supporting social causes such as the Old Brewery Mission, the Black Business and Professional Association (BBPA), and Project Rainbow Railroad.

Bruce earned his Bachelor of Commerce, majoring in Marketing from the globally recognized John Molson School of Business at Concordia University. He currently resides in Montréal, Québec with his loving wife Kim and young son, Jacob.


Raed Kadri, Vice-President, Strategic Initiatives and Head of the Ontario Vehicle Innovation Network (OVIN)

Raed Kadri is Vice-President, Strategic Initiatives and Head of the Ontario Vehicle
Innovation Network, at the Ontario Centre of Innovation.

The Ontario Vehicle Innovation Network (OVIN)Network (OVIN), an initiative by the Government of Ontario to ensure Ontario’s leadership in the future of the automotive and mobility sector.

At the helm of OVIN, Raed drives Ontario’s presence on the global stage, leading programming that supports research and development (R&D) funding, talent development, technology acceleration, business and technical supports through testing and demonstration sites.
In addition to that, Raed leads province-wide coordination of activities and resources, public education, research, analysis, and thought leadership.

Bringing together stakeholder groups and raising awareness around the opportunities for Ontario and for its partners, Raed is cementing Ontario’s leadership in the future of the automotive and mobility sector globally.


Dominique Tremblay, Director of Planning, Building, and Economic Development, Township of Russell

Dominique Tremblay, Director of Building, Planning & Economic Development for the Township of Russell, has over 22 years of professional experience in the municipal sector. Director of Planning and Building for the last 18 years for the Township of Russell and Eco Dev director since 2014. Dominique worked on numerous projects including Official Plan and Zoning By-law reviews, Community Improvement Plans, Heritage designation, industrial land development and sales, subdivision plans, municipal services and events and many more. Her experience in a smaller community reemphasizes the need and importance of land use planning and economic development. Dominique has a Bachelor’s Degree in Planning from the Université du Québec à Montréal (UQAM), completed the Economic Development Program University of Waterloo and she is CPTEP level 2 certified.


Sanjeev Verma, International Applications Manager, Toronto Business Development Centre

Sanjeev is a dynamic and visionary leader with a proven track record of delivering exceptional results in various officer and management roles, both domestically and internationally, representing the Government of Canada. With over 32 years of experience in administering immigration rules and regulations, including border management, he possesses a deep understanding of the factors critical to the successful establishment of newcomers in Canada. He is also an expert in navigating the complex compliance requirements of various governmental departments and agencies, providing invaluable guidance and advice to his clients. As an accomplished professional, Sanjeev excels in decision-making, strategic planning, risk management, conflict resolution, resource deployment, trend analysis, and report writing. He has a remarkable talent for training, mentoring, networking, relationship building, risk mitigation, and analytical thinking. Having lived and worked in an international context, including Hong Kong, USA, China, India, and Thailand, Sanjeev has a broad perspective and an exceptional ability to deliver results-driven client service while upholding the highest ethical and professional standards. Sanjeev’s extensive experience in collaborating with all levels of government, law enforcement agencies, foreign authorities, domestic and foreign security services, and non-governmental organizations has enabled him to build long-term bilateral and multilateral relationships, delivering exceptional outcomes for his clients.


Nicole Whiting, Executive Director, Ontario’s Highlands Tourism Organization

Nicole has always had a deep appreciation for the value travel experiences bring to people’s lives and communities. Her diverse background as a competitive whitewater kayaker, event manager and entrepreneur, afforded her opportunities to visit, live and work in popular tourism destinations all over the world before settling down in the Ottawa Valley 20 years ago.

In 2010, the Ontario Government, through the Ministry of Tourism Culture and Sport, created 13 tourism regions across the Province. Each region would be responsible for establishing a separate not-for profit organization that would work with their respective tourism industries towards increasing visitation to Ontario. Over the past 13 years as Executive Director of what is now known as Ontario’s Highlands Tourism Organization (OHTO), Nicole has had the privilege of working with a fantastic team of staff, Board members and tourism champions to develop partnerships and innovative tourism strategies that seek to inspire visitors to enjoy the many uniquely rural tourism experiences available in the region.


Brenda Wood, Executive Director, Regional Tourism Organization 8

Brenda Wood has spent much of her life in the tourism industry. Working as a destination representative for a large tourism operator in Mexico, Cuba and Spain, she oversaw the arrivals of over 1,200 land and cruise passengers from Canada each week. Once back in Ontario, she focused on marketing and sales for hotels, attractions and themed restaurants and then moved to the technology field with an online reservation system company. Prior to joining RTO8 nine years ago, she worked as a DMO in Southern Ontario and specialized in travel trade. With RTO8 her focus has been on supporting the development of unique and authentic consumer experiences and the development of Canada’s First Waterway Trail Town program.


David Zavarise, Customer Program Manager, Hydro One

David is a Customer Programs Manager within Hydro One’s Customer Strategy team. David is responsible for Hydro One’s Conservation and Demand Management (CDM) program portfolio and solutions to help meet customer affordability and energy transition needs. In twelve years at Hydro One, David has led the delivery of CDM pilots and programs for the residential, commercial, institutional and industrial sectors.


Kyle Mersky, Director of Growth, Hydro One

Kyle is a Director within the Growth team at Hydro One and General Manager of Aux Energy. In this role, Kyle is responsible for unregulated growth within Hydro One and the development and management of Aux Energy. Prior to this role, Kyle provided support managing the regulatory application of Hydro One’s attempted $6.7B acquisition of Avista, and managed Hydro One’s investment in Ivy Charging Network, of which he was a founding member. Prior to joining Hydro One, Kyle practiced as a litigation attorney in New York City.

Dan Levitan, VP of Stakeholder Relations, Hydro One

As Hydro One’s Vice President of Stakeholder Relations, Daniel Levitan is responsible for Government Relations, Stakeholder and Industry Relations, Public Policy, and Community Relations. Prior to his appointment, Daniel served for six years as Manager and then Director of External Relations, primarily responsible for Hydro One’s relationship with the province and forging new relationships with the Company’s diverse stakeholder groups.

Daniel is responsible for broad and project-specific community relations, and community and stakeholder consultations, ensuring Hydro One’s plans are meaningfully socialized with communities and that community needs are advocated for within the company.