Jideofor Ahaneku, Business Developer, University of Waterloo

Jideofor, based in Ottawa, is a dedicated Business Developer on the University of Waterloo’s East team. His primary focus is on facilitating co-op placements, connecting students with local employers in the National Capital Region. With extensive experience and expertise, Jideofor is passionate about nurturing partnerships that benefit students and employers alike. His strategic approach and commitment to excellence enable him to navigate talent acquisition complexities and create valuable opportunities for career growth. Having been an entrepreneur for 15 years and worked globally in Nigeria and China, Jideofor brings a multicultural perspective to his role. With an aptitude for learning languages, he is a strong advocate for continuous learning and personal development.


Greg Belmore, Manager of Human Resources, The County of Renfrew

Greg Belmore is the Human Resources Manager with the County of Renfrew. Greg holds a Bachelor of Commerce from Carleton University, as well as his Chartered Accountant and Chartered Professional Accountant designation and his Certified Human Resource Professional designation. At the County, Greg leads a dynamic HR team, overseeing talent acquisition, performance management, employee relations and the implementation of effective HR policies and procedures.

In his role, Greg leads a team of HR professionals to manage recruitment, onboarding, training, and development programs. He championed the introduction of international recruitment for the County to address healthcare labour shortages within the County’s department of long term care. He also enhanced employee engagement with the introduction of engagement surveys, and by introducing recognition and reward programs for County staff. Greg spearheaded the development and implementation of comprehensive HR strategies aligned with the company’s goals, including the successful implementation of numerous policies and of a human resources information system.

Greg is known for his strong interpersonal skills, integrity, and ability to build lasting relationships with employees at all levels. He is a strategic thinker with a passion for fostering a positive and productive work environment. Greg is dedicated to continuous learning and improvement and staying updated with the latest industry trends and best practices through ongoing professional development and networking opportunities.

In addition to his work pursuits, Greg also serves as a volunteer on the board of Community Living Renfrew County South as president and former treasurer, where his contributions align with his philosophies on being a connected and contributing member of the community in which he lives and works.


Sarah Benčić, Program & GIS Innovation Coordinator, The Centre for Research and Innovation in the Bio-Economy (CRIBE)

Sarah Benčić is a multidisciplinary GIS & Environmental professional with a great eye for cartography, design, & compelling analysis. She joined Cribe after completing an undergraduate in Environmental & Biological Sciences, & a post-graduate in GIS Cartographic studies. With years of experience in the Silviculture, Forestry, and Energy sectors she’s a well-rounded interdisciplinary critical thinker with a passion for creating user-friendly cartographic products. She loves working with our Nextfor partners to configure new tools & datasets to steer our pursuit of geospatial decision-making with our partners in Ontario & around the world. ‍

Jodi Bucholtz, Manager, Local Immigration Partnership – Lanark & Renfrew

Jodi Bucholtz manages Local Immigration Partnership – Lanark & Renfrew. A results-driven leader, she is always ready to create genuine connections. She leads a team of dedicated professionals working with community partners to establish goals and objectives and deliver on these expectations through activities and events supporting newcomers to the region. With over 15 years of experience in higher education, her background in seeing people succeed and community development brings a wealth of knowledge to her role. Jodi is committed to cultivating a welcoming environment for newcomers, seamlessly integrating their distinct needs and contributions into the vibrant tapestry of the region. Her passion for empowering newcomers and collaborative approach has led to successful programs and initiatives that enhance integration, strengthen community ties, and celebrate cultural diversity. Jodi’s profound belief in the transformative power of intercultural connections drives her compassionate leadership as she works closely with stakeholders, government agencies, and non-profits to create inclusive spaces for all.

Clara Chan

Clara Chan, Assistant Deputy Minister, Small Business and Program Delivery Division, Ministry of Economic Development, Job Creation and Trade (MEDJCT)

Clara Chan is the Assistant Deputy Minister, Small Business and Program Delivery Division, in the Ministry of Economic Development, Job Creation and Trade. Working across government, she leads the development of small business policy and manages a number of key economic development programs and services such as Business Advisory Services, Regional Development Program and funding for Small Business Enterprise Centres. She has over twenty years experience in the Ontario Public Service in policy development and program administration in the Ministries of Community and Social Services, Education, Economic Development and Treasury Board/Ministry of Finance. Clara has a B.A. in Economics from McMaster University and a Masters in Public Administration from Queen’s University. She lives in the Toronto Danforth area with her partner and two children and loves to shop, eat and play locally!

Loan Duong

Loan Duong, Director of Sales & Marketing, Cloud Metric Inc./ Server Cloud Canada/ Telecom Metric Inc.

Loan Duong is the Director of Sales and Marketing at Server Cloud Canada, Cloud Metric Inc., and Telecom Metric Inc. He is an expert in cloud solutions, cybersecurity, and VoIP technologies, dedicating his career to enhancing digital security and infrastructure resilience. Loan’s deep understanding of cybersecurity challenges and solutions enables him to provide innovative strategies that protect sensitive data and systems from emerging threats. He has successfully led teams to implement robust security protocols that align with organizational growth objectives. At the OEMC conference, Loan will delve into the vital role of advanced cloud technologies in protecting municipal data and infrastructure, sharing key strategies to bolster cybersecurity measures for municipalities.

Tracey Eso

Tracy Eso, BFA, CIP, ACI, Risk Assessment and Solutions Specialist, Intact Public Entities

Tracy Eso is the Risk Assessment and Solutions Specialist in the Risk Management Department at Intact Public Entities with expertise in insurance claims, risk management, and captive insurance. She has over 20 years’ experience in the insurance industry. Tracy is an instructor for the Insurance Institute of Canada and has spoken at various industry conferences on topics ranging from climate change to liability claims. Her focus at Intact Public Entities is to research risks that municipalities across Canada are facing, develop ways to mitigate those hazards and educate municipal clients in best-practice solutions to create resilience in the face of an ever-changing risk landscape.

Nadia Faggiani, Outreach Officer, 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. 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.

Scott Felman, Outreach Officer, Immigration, Refugees, and Citizenship Canada



Karen Fischer, Economic & Business Advisor, OMAFRA

Karen Fischer is an Economic and Business Advisor, working as part of a very dynamic team of Community Economic Development (CED) professionals with OMAFRA. She has worked with rural municipalities, organizations, Indigenous communities and businesses for 23 years, as a coach, facilitator, trainer, and collaborator, building partnerships and providing resources and tools to help increase economic and community development capacity. She has an in-depth knowledge and is very passionate about helping to build vibrant and vital rural communities using numerous CED tools, programs and resources. She has particular expertise and interest in business retention and expansion, strategic planning and organizational development, business and community development, Teeny Tiny communities, and supporting the local food sector. Karen has demonstrated a significant commitment to learning, unlearning and facilitating conversations about diversity, equity and inclusion within her unit, branch and Ministry, and is working with her CED team to deliver programming to external clients using a DEI lens.

Karen is a white settler, and resides on the traditional lands of the Huron-Wendat and Haudenosaunee Nations, adjacent to Tyendinaga Mohawk Territory in the rural village of Consecon on beautiful Wellers Bay. She is an avid volunteer in the community and beyond, and has a great love for the outdoors, kayaking, hiking, cycling, photographing cool nature stuff, camping, and finding joy and wonder in the moment.

Tony Fleming C.S., Certified Specialist in Municipal Law (Local Government/Land Use Planning & Development), Cunningham, Swan, Carty, Little & Bonham 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.


Mathieu Fleury, Chief Administrative Officer, City of Cornwall

A community leader and housing champion, Mathieu Fleury is a passionate advocate for municipal issues that affect the National Capital Region and Eastern Ontario. In his role as Chief Administrative Officer for the City of Cornwall, Mathieu leads a team dedicated to providing exceptional services to residents. He is passionate about Cornwall’s unique role as a “Hub City” and sharing the lifestyle and the potential the community has to offer. Prior to his arrival in Cornwall, Mathieu represented the City of Ottawa as an elected official for 12 years. He was Councillor for “Ottawa’s Manhattan”, a neighbourhood with a highly respected university, embassies, the tourist mecca that is the Byward Market. He is known for his strong advocacy for new investment in affordable housing solutions. Mathieu is passionate about modern government and helping people. He is a listener who puts high value in effective governance.


TJ Flynn, Investment Attraction Officer, Northumberland County

T.J. is currently the Investment Attraction Officer for Northumberland County and serves as the Ontario East Economic Development Council Vice President and Treasurer. T.J. also serves as a Founding Board member of Northumberland County Community Development Initiatives Corporation, Intelligent Northumberland Inc., and Northumberland Workforce Housing Corporation. Prior to these roles, he served in a volunteer capacity for several Economic Development projects, including, the Cobourg Downtown Vitalization Committee, the Cobourg Economic Advisory Committee and the Business & Entrepreneurship Northumberland Faster Forward Coaching program. Before becoming involved in economic development in eastern Ontario, T.J. worked for 30 years in the private sector, his last position as Sr. Vice President, Sales at Transcontinental Media.

T.J. holds a B.A from the University of Toronto and an M.A. in Eighteenth Century English Literature from Queen’s University.

In addition to his volunteer role with Ontario East Economic Development Council, T.J. volunteers as Board Chair for Northumberland County Habitat for Humanity.


Ramona Gallagher, CEO, Main Street Matters

Ramona Gallagher is a seasoned professional with over 25 years of experience providing common-sense advice to uncommon entrepreneurs. Her expertise lies in placemaking, micro-businesses, ‘mom and pop’ retail and service businesses, and business start-ups—especially those with limited funds who need to learn the ropes themselves. As an internationally recognized speaker, facilitator, writer, and trainer, she has shared her insights across the globe. Not only did she successfully launch a global e-commerce site during the early days of online commerce but she’s owned multiple product and service-based companies and has consulted with many local community members and organizations. To say she’s passionate about Main Streets would be an understatement. Her commitment to Main Streets burns brighter than a neon “Open” sign at a 24-hour diner.


Joe Gallivan, Director, Planning & Economic Development, County of Frontenac

Joe Gallivan is the Director of Planning & Economic Development for Frontenac County and a member of the County Planning Directors of Ontario and has been with Frontenac since 2009. Joe has over 35 years experience in planning with municipal, regional, and provincial governments both in Nova Scotia and Ontario. Joe has a Master’s Degree in Urban and Rural Planning from Dalhousie University.

Wassim Hafsa

Arman Giloyan, an Area Director for ICT and Advanced Manufacturing in Europe/Senior International Marketing Consultant, Ministry of Economic Development, Job Creation and Trade (MEDJCT)

Arman Giloyan currently serves as an Area Director for ICT and Advanced Manufacturing in Europe/Senior International Marketing Consultant at the Ministry of Economic Development, Job Creation and Trade. With over a decade of experience in business development, program management, and stakeholder relations across two countries, he specializes in advising on trade development strategies, assessing commercial viability, and identifying export opportunities. Arman is recognized for his successful facilitation of trade missions and his contributions to strategic business development plans.

Wassim Hafsa

Wassim Hafsa Hafsa, Senior Business Advisor, Ministry of Economic Development, Job Creation and Trade (MEDJCT)

Wassim Hafsa Hafsa is aSenior Business Advisor with the Ministry of Economic Development Job Creation and Trade, based inEastern Ontario and covering the Ottawa East region. Wassim is fluent in both English and French and has over 14 years of experience in business transformation, crisis management and employment services. Graduated in business administration and holding certificates in Leadership, Organizational Leadership and Lean management. Wassim began his career in the manufacturing sector where he helped develop trade and export opportunities. He has worked internationally in the aviation sector helping to create business partnerships, establish business transformation models, explore and consolidate markets, and develop expansion strategies. He also worked in high impact operational crisis management in the mining and IT sector. Wassim spent several years helping companies grow and secure top talent through his work with the Employment Ontario program.

Bassel Kazzaz

Bassel Kazzaz, Director of Research & Market Intelligence, Future of Canadian Automotive Labourforce (FOCAL) Initiative

Bassel is an industrial policy expert with a focus on supply chains, automotive vehicle and manufacturing technologies, and labour markets. Bassel is currently the Director of Research and Market Intelligence at the Future of Canadian Automotive Labourforce (FOCAL) Initiative and the Automotive Policy Research Centre (APRC). Prior to joining FOCAL and the APRC, Bassel held a research position with the Department of Economics at McMaster University. Bassel holds a Master of Engineering and Public Policy from McMaster University, and a Master and Bachelor of Mechanical Engineering from the American University of Beirut. Bassel is also a published author in policy and engineering journals.

Joe Kraan

Joe Kraan, Plant Manager, TS Manufacturing

Joe Kraan is the Plant Manager at TS Manufacturing, a 50-year-old company that designs, manufactures, installs and services advanced industrial processing and conveying equipment. TS employs over a hundred people, including Welders, Engineers, Machinists, Millwrights, Designers, Machine Operators, Software Developers and many others. Joe started his career in the automotive industry, where he developed a specialty in Lean Manufacturing techniques. He then applied these concepts to several manufacturing facilities over the next 20 plus years, including 5 years building large motors at General Electric. Most recently, Joe has been a part of attracting, developing and retaining talent in a very challenging climate. This includes working with high schools, colleges, local Economic Development, and non-profit organizations to find solutions for filling open roles.


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

Sébastien Labrecque is the Executive Director and Chief Economist of the StrategyCorp Institute of Public Policy and Economy. He is responsible for the development and the execution of the Institute’s editorial calendar and thought leadership. 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 and the digital economy. 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.


Elisha Maguire, Manager of Economic Development, City of Belleville

Elisha has grown in the field and held several economic development roles over the past 17 years of her career. She is currently employed by the City of Belleville as the Investment Attraction Officer. Prior to this appointment Elisha held the role of Development & Tourism Coordinator, executing a wide variety of economic, tourism and strategic functions including tourism product development. Elisha began with the City of Belleville as Build Belleville Projects Coordinator with the City’s Engineering and Development Services Department where she played an integral role in the multi-year $40M City Centre Revitalization Project. Before joining the City of Belleville in 2015, Elisha was Manager of Economic Development and Communications for the Municipality of Brighton, and began her economic development career in the Township of Stirling-Rawdon where she was proudly part of the Kraft Hockeyville 2012 championship.

Elisha is a graduate of the Business Sales and Marketing Program at Loyalist College, has a certificate in Managing and Leading in a Municipal Environment from Loyalist College, has completed her certification in Economic Development through the University of Waterloo, and has obtained her certificate through the Ontario Association of Committee’s of Adjustment & Consent Authorities for Planning. Elisha has contributed to the private sector, supporting clients through business and strategic planning initiatives and grant applications for funding procurement. She lives in Belleville and enjoys her time outside of work with her two children.


Erik Marko P.Eng., PMP, Principal, Colliers Project Leaders

Erik Marko, Principal – Eastern Ontario & Northern Canada, Colliers Project Leaders Erik Marko is an experienced Senior Project and Program Manager with over 12 years of construction and project management experience on large-scale industrial and municipal projects and has led multiple emergency recovery mandates in remote and isolated communities. Erik thrives on challenging projects and uses his education and practical experience to inform his detail-oriented approach to crisis management, planning, design and construction, claim and schedule review and analysis, and reporting. He leverages his calm demeanor and conflict management skills to great effect for his clients

Melissa Marquardt

Melissa Marquardt, Manager of Economic Development, County of Renfrew

Melissa has almost 30 years of private/public tourism and economic development experience working in Ottawa and the Ottawa Valley. Melissa began her career in Ottawa’s tourism sector with Destination Canada and the Tourism Industry Association of Canada before moving to the Ottawa Valley with her husband to manage a family-owned fishing campground on Muskrat Lake. Melissa joined the County of Renfrew’s Economic Development Division in 2006 and in 2022 was named Manager of Economic Development, which includes management of the Ottawa Valley Tourist Association and Enterprise Renfrew County. She is a current director and past Chief Governing Officer for the Ontario’s Highlands Tourism Organization’s (RTO-11) Board of Directors and past secretary for the Round Lake Property Owners’ Association and Renfrew County ATV Club. Melissa is passionate about connecting people and places and uncovering the hidden gems that make a community tick. When not on the job, she can usually be found wandering the backcountry of Ontario or Québec, on water or land, with her husband and dog.


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?”


Mike Moffatt, Senior Director, Policy and Innovation, Smart Prosperity Institute

Dr. Mike Moffatt is the Senior Director of Policy and Innovation at the Smart Prosperity Institute and an Assistant Professor in the Business, Economics and Public Policy group at Ivey Business School, Western University. Mike’s research at SPI focuses on the intersection of regional economic development, building child-friendly, climate-friendly housing and communities, and clean innovation. In 2017, Mike was the Chief Innovation Fellow for the Government of Canada, advising Deputy Ministers on innovation policy and emerging trends. He has also previously held the titles of Director (Interim) of the Lawrence National Centre for Policy and Management, Directory of Policy at Canada 2020, and Chief Economist for the Mowat Centre at the University of Toronto. Mike has worked with politicians and policymakers of all political stripes in several countries to craft more effective public policy. From 2013 to 2015, Mike served as an economic advisor to Liberal leader Justin Trudeau. Mike holds a Ph.D. in Management Science from Ivey Business School and an M.A. in Economics from the University of Rochester. Outside of his clean economy work at SPI, Mike is a disability-rights activist.

Gail Moorhouse, CEO and Consultant, Recharge Solutions

Gail Moorhouse is a business strategist with over 20 years of experience in corporate leadership. She has earned the nickname “POWERHOUSE” for her ability to lead and get things done. Her expertise is in sales and finance, and her strength is helping organizations grow their bottom line. She has worked with technology resellers, entrepreneurs, and community organizations across Canada, developing strategies and action plans to drive business growth and performance. Gail is dedicated to fostering strong leadership within the volunteer community. She brings a balanced approach to Board Governance, having served on boards with a governance structure that work through management, as well as on Non-Profit Boards that work together to complete the tasks. Gail has also led organizations from all perspectives, including as a Board Chair, CEO, and Executive Director reporting to the Chair.

Frank Nieuwkoop

Frank Nieuwkoop, Owner & Vice-President, Valecraft Homes

Frank Nieuwkoop is a Dutch, Canadian entrepreneur and homebuilder who was born in Kingston, Ontario. He is the current owner of Valecraft Homes, a leading residential construction company in Ottawa, Canada. Frank has had a lifelong passion for construction and design, which led him to pursue an education in Business Marketing.

After completing his studies, he became a licenced Realtor in 1984 selling Real Estate and became part of the construction industry, gaining valuable experience and knowledge that he would later apply to his own business ventures. He has become a director and has served on several Condominium boards and continues to keep up to date on the current Condominium act.

In 2019, Frank took ownership of Valecraft Homes with his partner Diane Brunet. Together, they have continued to uphold the company’s long-standing commitment to building high-quality, sustainable homes that meet the needs of modern families. Under Frank’s leadership, Valecraft Homes has continued to thrive, earning recognition for its innovative designs, energy-efficient practices, and commitment to customer satisfaction. Frank is deeply involved in all aspects of the business, from overseeing the design and construction of new homes to managing the company’s land acquisitions and marketing strategies.

Despite his busy schedule, Frank remains committed to giving back to the community. He has supported a variety of local charities and organizations over the years, including the Ottawa Food Bank, Habitat for Humanity, and the Ottawa Hospital Foundation, The Heart Institute, Cheo and many more…..

With his extensive experience in the construction industry, combined with his passion for innovation and sustainability, Frank Nieuwkoop has positioned Valecraft Homes as a trusted name in the Ottawa housing market. He is dedicated to continuing the company’s legacy of excellence and providing families with homes they can enjoy for generations.

Emilio Ojeda

Emilio Ojeda, Settlement Services Coordinator, Northumberland County

Originally from Caracas – Venezuela, Emilio Ojeda graduated as a Business Administrator in College and University with majors in Commercial Sciences and Business management. Moved to USA in 2000, navigated through the almost impossible US immigration world and decided to move with his family north to Toronto, Canada in 2007. He graduated as a Trained Chef in George Brown College and opened a small gelateria, creating his own job, like many newcomers. After living in Toronto for 4 years, he moved to Northumberland where he finally settled.

Emilio is the Settlement Services Coordinator for the County of Northumberland, a wonderful fit as an Immigrant and new Canadian and he is fluent in Spanish and English. He has been in charge of producing the Multicultural Day, Multicultural Festival the series of Northumberland Diversity Festival and Citizenship Ceremonies in conjunction with the IRCC.

Professionally, he was professor in several colleges and University in Caracas in the area of Administration. In Canada, Emilio had the opportunity to train people in ESL trough culinary experiences and Ontario Works recipients turning attention to culinary, food safety and opening a food business. His passion for education directed him to hold the Trustee position for Township of Asphodel-Norwood, Township of Havelock-Belmont-Methuen and the Municipality of Trent Hills until November 2022. In terms of community development, Emilio helped formed the Skills Advance Ontario advisory committee with the Community Training and Development Centre. He is on the municipality of Trent Hills Community Development Advisory Committee, the Housing Solution Lab with the Community Training & Development Centre with Ryerson University.

In addition, the Housing Solution Lab with the Community Training & Development Centre with Ryerson University, as well as former Chair of the 7 Hills Community Pantry, Chair of Trent Hills Pride, director of RTO8, Vice-chair of the Trent Hills Auto & Motorcycle Club and chair of the board of the Northumberland Hispanic Cultural Club, where he has produced 7 Heritage months with a variety of events, including the writing of grants to secure funding from the federal government. In 2021, Emilio completed the Diversity and inclusion Foundations Certificate with the Canadian Centre for Diversity and Inclusion which is an ongoing training.

Adrian Pepper

Adrian Pepper, CEO, Northumberland Workforce Housing Corporation (WHC)

Adrian Pepper is the CEO of Northumberland Workforce Housing Corporation, Aside from WHC Adrian Pepper is a Licensed Realtor with Remax Lakeshore Realty in Cobourg and has over 10+ years experience both as an agent & investor with respect to rental housing, rental dwelling development, Land Development & Land Use Planning. Before moving into the real estate industry, Adrian worked in the Textiles industry for 10 years in Sales Management, specializing in the PPE & Flame Resistant Garment space across Canada.

Adrian holds a Diploma in Business Marketing from Mohawk College and a Bachelors Degree from the University of Western Sydney in Business & Commerce.

Northumberland Workforce Housing Corp (WHC) is a new program in Northumberland striving to build affordable housing options for working families in Northumberland County to achieve their goals of homeownership. WHC aims to partner with local municipalities on excess lands for development of affordable housing stock while partnering with local developers to build at price points for moderate income families while providing interest free down payment support to allow working families to achieve home ownership.

Cyndy Phillips

Cyndy Phillips, Executive Director, Renfrew County Community Futures Development Corporation

Cyndy has over twenty years of experience working as an economic development professional in the Ottawa Valley, both in the public and private sectors. Born and raised in Ottawa, Cyndy moved to the Valley in 2000, completing her Business Administration with honours at Algonquin College Pembroke. Her professional career encompasses thirteen years of leading economic development for the Town of Petawawa, owner of TRAID Consulting working with both public and private sectors, Director of Economic Development Services for Pontiac County, and her current role as the Executive Director for Renfrew County Community Futures Development Corporation. Cyndy’s passion for development and desire to contribute to her region has seen her hold volunteer director roles with various organizations such as the Ottawa Valley Tourist Association, the Upper Ottawa Valley Chamber of Commerce, and the Ontario East Economic Development Commission, among others. Cyndy is accomplished at public speaking, strategic planning, tourism and business development, and has spoken at numerous conferences over the years. When she is not busy with work, Cyndy enjoys country living on her hobby farm with her husband Cory and their two boys.


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.


Carolyn Puterbough, Economic & Business Advisor, OMAFRA

Carolyn Puterbough works as a Business & Economic Advisor with the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs. Carolyn’s work supports the process of communities identifying and initiating their own solutions to building healthy, economically viable rural communities. Carolyn leads OMAFRA’s Downtown Revitalization program, co-leads the Teeny Tiny Economic Development Summits along with delivering the other community economic development programming such as the Rural Economic Development funding program and agriculture economic development. Carolyn has worked in economic development for 20 years at both a local and provincial level and in her community is an active volunteer.

Emmanuel Rey

Emmanuel Rey, Economic Development Officer, City of Ottawa’s Economic Development Services

Emmanuel Rey is an Economic Development Officer, leading the City of Ottawa’s Labour Market Assessment study. His focus is on evaluating Ottawa’s talent supply to identify gaps and opportunities that enhance workforce diversity, retention, and attraction, meeting employment demands in today’s competitive marketplace. Findings will help advance Ottawa’s labour market readiness and competitiveness.

With extensive experience in workforce and economic development, Emmanuel supports the City of Ottawa’s Strategic Initiatives department, delivering on Council’s priorities in economic development, housing solutions, investments, and climate change resilience.

Emmanuel is committed to helping develop thriving and vibrant communities by driving positive change in Ottawa’s economic landscape.


Marcus Sargent, Vice President, BFL Canada

Marcus Sargent serves as Vice President at BFL CANADA, where he focuses on providing tailored insurance solutions to business owners across Canada. With a robust background in Commercial Insurance, including specific expertise in Property & Casualty as well as Professional Lines insurance, Marcus brings a unique perspective on risk management and cyber insurance. During the OEMC conference, he will highlight the importance of cyber insurance as an essential component of comprehensive risk management strategies for municipalities, aiming to provide security and peace of mind in an increasingly digital governance landscape.”


Lindsey Schoenmakers, Economic Development Officer, Business, City of Kawartha Lakes

Lindsey Schoenmakers works for the City of Kawartha Lakes as an Economic Development Officer for business development, specializing in business retention, expansion, investment attraction, and supporting local workforce development. She focuses on programs and initiatives that help expand the capacity of local businesses and the organizations that support them. During her time with the City, Lindsey has led the development and implementation of the Development Concierge Program, the Welcome Home Relocating to Kawartha Lakes campaign, Manufacturing Doors Open, and has assisted with the development of the Kawartha Lakes Ecosystem Network.


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 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 the County of Simcoe, Ruth oversaw the creation and installation of over 160 barn quilts throughout the county, led the development of a comprehensive Agritourism Toolkit and established and chairs the Simcoe County Agritourism Working Group. Ruth continues to support the agricultural sector in her current role as an Economic Development Officer and leads the Talent Attraction and Retention portfolio. She works closely with the region’s school boards, post-secondary institutions, and social service providers to deliver dynamic, collaborative programs. Ruth lives in Treaty 16 territory (Orillia) and is passionate about indigenous allyship, environmental rights, and supporting sustainable economic growth. s such she works closely with the county’s 16 member municipalities, school boards, post-secondary institutions, and other partners to deliver dynamic, collaborative programs.


Aaron Sloan, Manager, Municipal Law Enforcement and Licensing, City of Kawartha Lakes

As a graduate of the Fleming College Police Education Program, Aaron has maintained his general interest in law enforcement for many years. Currently, Aaron Sloan is the Manager of Municipal Law Enforcement & Licensing with the City of Kawartha Lakes. In his management role and over the last 9 years, Aaron has shown a keen interest in the areas of research, development, and management of municipal policy and politics and is proud of their Short Term Rental program. He leads a team of dedicated individuals responsible for the provision of municipal enforcement services that include general regulatory bylaws, parking, property standards, animal control, and licensing. Aaron has over 23 years of experience in local government and worked early in his career as a municipal law enforcement officer.


Jordan Solomon, President and CEO of Ecostrat, Chairman of The BDO Zone Initiative

Jordan Solomon is Chairman of the Bioeconomy Development Opportunity (BDO) Zone Initiative and CEO of Ecostrat where he has overseen the Biomass Advisory Group and Biomass Supply Group for over 20 years. Jordan led the 6-year effort to develop the Standards for Biomass Supply Chain Risk (BSCR) and co-chaired CSA’s Technical Committee to develop Canada’s national BSCR Standards (CSA W209:21). He led the team that put together the $1B BDO Zone Investment Coalition and negotiated the agreement with Invest-In-Canada to promote BDO Zones worldwide. He is currently leading the BDO Zone Initiative to its goal of catalyzing and accelerating new bio-based plant development across North America with “1000 BDO Zones in 4 years”.

Jordan has overseen development, operation and due diligence of biomass supply chains for over 5,000,000 tons of biomass feedstock over three decades for more than 250 biofuel, renewable chemical, biogas, and clean heat and power projects. His areas of expertise include biomass supply chain risk-assessment and feedstock risk rating, project finance, feedstock origination, contracting, and risk mitigation.

Alan Stanley

Alan Stanley, Head of Business and Technological Studies, Transportation Technology Teacher, I.E. Weldon Secondary School

Alan Stanley is a department head and teacher with the Trillium Lakelands District School Board. He has a strong mandate to support students in meaningful and local career opportunities as part of his role. Alan started his career path as an Engineering student and pivoted to the skilled trades as an Automotive Service Technician. After 8 years in the skilled trades Alan shifted focus to education at the secondary level as a transportation technology teacher. He has been recognized as a leader in his school community and is active with the Ontario Council for Technological Education (OCTE) as a member of the stakeholder relations committee. Alan has been part of a collaborative team with education, Industry and economic development to plan and implement events like the City of Kawartha Lakes Manufacturing Doors Open, and a Reverse Job fair for Secondary Students. Seeking connections for students to the world of work has become a hallmark of the work Alan does. The relationships between education and industry partners have lasting rewards for all parties involved. Creating these valuable connections has created a support for students exploring career opportunities, and a quality employee base for local industry.

Jeremy Tessier

Jeremy Tessier, Specialist, Knowledge Transfer – Client Relations at Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC)

Jeremy Tessier is focused on engagement with the housing sector to deliver the latest and most relevant information on CMHC programs and the National Housing Strategy. He works with community groups, developers, and housing providers to support sustainable and affordable housing initiatives in the Ontario region. Jeremy holds an MSc in Geography from Concordia University, and is currently an MSc Planning candidate at the University of Toronto.

Kim van der Horst

Kim van der Horst, Invest Ottawa’s Work in Ottawa

Kim van der Horst leads Invest Ottawa’s talent program ‘Work in Ottawa’. A program focused on supporting Ottawa’s tech employers by attracting net new tech talent to the region.

Kim has a background in Human Resources and Talent Attraction. Having relocated herself from Europe to Ottawa in 2020, she is thrilled to work on a mission allowing more professionals to consider Ottawa as a great place to live and work.

Daniel Van Kampen

Daniel Van Kampen, Manager of Economic Development, Town of Cobourg

Daniel Van Kampen is the Manager of Economic Development for the Town of Cobourg. He started in this role in October 2022. Since joining Cobourg, he led the Town to through its first economic development and Venture13 Innovation and Entrepreneurship Centre five-year strategy and action plan. He works directly with business owners, managers and non-profit executives to foster progressive business support services. He is a service and sales centered economic developer and leader with experience in the both the public and private sectors over his 20-year career.

Martha Woods

Martha Woods, Executive Director, Eastern Ontario Training Board

Martha Woods is the Executive Director of the Eastern Ontario Training Board, a champion for workforce development in Cornwall, Stormont, Dundas, Glengarry, Prescott-Russell and Ottawa-Carleton.

In her role, she develops partnerships and maintains relationships with government agencies, community organizations and stakeholders to help support workforce development activities, by identifying gaps and implementing strategies to reduce them.

Along with her team of 15 staff members, the EOTB ensures access to quality local labour market information; engages employers to help identify skill gaps, employment opportunities and training needs; supports stronger linkages among employment services, and helps workers find jobs and careers.

The EOTB also addresses the needs of newcomers to the community via its Newcomer Employment Welcome Services (NEWS) and Eastern Ontario Local Immigration Partnership (EOLIP) initiatives. These endeavors help bridge gaps for the area’s ever-growing community by helping newcomers acquire the support needed to succeed with their transition, help make them feel welcome and encourage them to establish themselves in our area.

Nathalie Wuta

Nathalie Wuta, Team Lead, Global Talent and Settlement Services Division, Immigration Policy and Strategic Initiatives Branch, Immigration Promotion and Employer Outreach Unit, Ministry of Labour, Immigration, Training and Skills Development (MLITSD)

Nathalie has served in a number of capacities with the Ontario Immigrant Nominee Program of the Ministry of Labour, Immigration, Training and Skills development since joining the program in 2014. In May 2023, she moved into the role of Team Lead of the Immigration Promotion and Employer Outreach Unit.

Nathalie Wuta

Chantal Yelle, Hire Local in collaboration with Ottawa’s four PSIs

Chantal Yelle is a founding member of Hire Local Ottawa. She currently occupies the role of Team Lead for Business Development and Partnerships at uOttawa.

Having spent most of her career in the private sector, 11 years ago, Chantal shifted to the public sector at the University of Ottawa. She started as a CO-OP representative for Employer Relations and transitioned to leading that team in 2017.
She is passionate about her job! She describes herself as a connector – No matter what their needs are, she strives to connect industry professionals to their experts on campus.