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2018 Featured Leaders

The Honourable Mitzie Hunter, MBA
Minister of Advanced Education and Skills Development
Bio
Greg Orencsak
Deputy Minister
Ministry of Advanced Education and Skills Development, Province of Ontario
Bio
Vass Bednar
Senior Policy Associate at Airbnb and Former Chair, Federal Expert Panel on Youth Employment
Bio
Chris Duff
(‘Mr. Inspired’)
Founder of Inspired Initiatives Inc.
Bio
Cathy Taylor
Executive Director, Ontario Nonprofit Network
Bio
Bruce MacDonald
President & CEO, Imagine Canada
Bio

SPEAKERS

Minister’s Welcome

The Honourable Mitzie Hunter, MBA
Minister of Advanced Education and Skills Development
Bio

Opening Keynote Speaker

Vass Bednar
Senior Policy Associate at Airbnb and Former Chair, Federal Expert Panel on Youth Employment
Bio

Forum 1: Insights For Workforce Planning

Perry Monaco
Head of Customer Success Canada, LinkedIn
Bio

Forum 2: Elevate – Leadership Agility

Randy Taylor
Performance Coach, Trainer and Speaker at Taylormade Leadership Media
Bio

Forum 3: Cultural Proficiency for Youth Success

Andrew B. Campbell (DR.ABC)
Adjunct Assistant Professor
Bio

Forum 4 – Forget the Bar: Reach New Heights with Performance Coaching for Workforce Development

Lauris Apse
Senior Director, Canadian Broadcasting Corporation
Bio

Forum 4 – Forget the Bar: Reach New Heights with Performance Coaching for Workforce Development

Jodi Zigelstein-Yip
Chief HR Innovator/Founder of Enliven HR Consulting Inc.
Bio

Forum 4 – Forget the Bar: Reach New Heights with Performance Coaching for Workforce Development

Susan Watts
Executive Director of Employment and Education Centre
Bio

Forum 4 – Forget the Bar: Reach New Heights with Performance Coaching for Workforce Development

Jodi O’Gorman
Vice President, Public Partnerships at VPI Working Solutions Inc.
Bio

Forum 4 – Forget the Bar: Reach New Heights with Performance Coaching for Workforce Development

Janice (Jan) Dowding
President, ISJ Consulting & COO, VPI Working Solutions Inc.
Bio

Forum 5: Creating and Sustaining Effective Communities of Practice

Simone Atungo
Chief Executive Officer, Anne Johnston Health Station CHC/Tobias House Attendant Care
Bio

Forum 5: Creating and Sustaining Effective Communities of Practice

Kirsten Cutler
A/Director Finance, Analysis and Systems Support Branch Employment and Training Division Ministry of Advanced Education and Skills Development
Bio

Forum 5: Creating and Sustaining Effective Communities of Practice

Lorraine Hopkins
Employment Program Consultant, Ministry of Advanced Education and Skills Development, Eastern Region
Bio

Forum 5: Creating and Sustaining Effective Communities of Practice

Charlotte Parliament
Program Coordinator, Simcoe County District School Board LBS
Bio

Forum 5: Creating and Sustaining Effective Communities of Practice

Olivia Brezeanu
Senior Manager/Associate Executive Director, Windsor Women Working With Immigrant Women
Bio

Forum 5: Creating and Sustaining Effective Communities of Practice

Jasmine M. Artis–Longhurst
Senior Manager, Operation Springboard
Bio

Forum 6: Optimizing Job Matching with Technology

Mark Patterson
Executive Director, Magnet
Bio

Forum 7: Ontario 2018, Let’s Get Ready!

Cathy Taylor
Executive Director, Ontario Nonprofit Network
Bio

Forum 7: Ontario 2018, Let’s Get Ready!

Bruce MacDonald
President & CEO, Imagine Canada
Bio

Afternoon Conference Plenary: Industry Focused Sector Strategies

Adriana Beemans
Program Director at Metcalf Foundation
Bio

Afternoon Conference Plenary: Industry Focused Sector Strategies

Lekan Olawoye
Lead Executive of Studio Y at MaRS
Bio

Afternoon Conference Plenary: Industry Focused Sector Strategies

Shari St. Peter
Executive Director, Niagara Peninsula Aboriginal Area Management Board
Bio

Afternoon Conference Plenary: Industry Focused Sector Strategies

Constance McKnight
Executive Director of De dwa da dehs nye>s Aboriginal Health Centre
Bio

Afternoon Conference Plenary: Industry Focused Sector Strategies

Jacqueline Cureton
Director, Program Delivery Support Branch
Employment and Training Division, Ministry of Advanced Education and Skills Development
Bio

Forum 8: New Approaches to Employment Service Design

Adriana Beemans
Program Director at Metcalf Foundation
Bio

Forum 8: New Approaches to Employment Service Design

Nation Cheong
Vice President, Community Opportunities & Mobilization, United Way Greater Toronto
Bio

Forum 8: New Approaches to Employment Service Design

Fabio Crespin
Manager, Youth Initiatives, United Way Greater Toronto
Bio

Forum 8: New Approaches to Employment Service Design

James Lapierre
Manager Workforce Development
City of Toronto, Employment & Social Services
Bio

Forum 9: InMotion/Momentum

Trish McNamara
KEYS Job Centre
Bio

Forum 9: InMotion/Momentum

Rod Palmer
Facilitator/Job Developer, CSE Consulting
Bio

Forum 10: ALiGN – A Promising Sector-Based Model for Engaging Priority Labour Pools in Labour Shortage Occupations

Adam Morrison
Vice President, Projects and Partnerships, OTEC
Bio

Forum 11: The Exchange

Tinashe Mafukidze
Senior Manager, Operations and Innovation, YouthREX, York University
Bio

Forum 11: The Exchange

Dr. Corliss Bean
Research and Evaluation Specialist, YouthREX, York University
Bio

Forum 12: Real Skills Development Through Volunteering

Agazi Afewerki
Director and Co-Founder, Youth Empowering Parents
Bio

Ministry Update

Greg Orencsak
Deputy Minister
Ministry of Advanced Education and Skills Development, Province of Ontario
Bio

Closing Keynote Address: Our Leadership Challenge

Chris Duff
(‘Mr. Inspired’)
Founder of Inspired Initiatives Inc.
Bio

ADVANCING WORKFORCE DEVELOPMENT


The Honourable Mitzie Hunter, MBA

Minister of Advanced Education and Skills Development

Mitzie Hunter is Ontario’s Minister of Advanced Education and Skills Development. In the role, she’s working to make sure everyone has access to the education and training needed to succeed in the new economy.

Hunter was first elected to the Ontario legislature in 2013 as the MPP for Scarborough-Guildwood. She previously served as Minister of Education and as Associate Minister of Finance, responsible for the Ontario Retirement Pension Plan.

Before entering politics, Hunter was CEO of the Greater Toronto CivicAction Alliance where she championed unlocking the GTA’s potential by ensuring fair and inclusive access to employment and training.

Hunter and her family immigrated to Canada from Jamaica in 1975, and she grew up in Scarborough. She graduated with a BA from the University of Toronto (Scarborough Campus) and completed an MBA from the Rotman School of Management at the University of Toronto.


Greg Orencsak

Deputy Minister, Ministry of Advanced Education and Skills Development, Province of Ontario

Greg Orencsak became the Deputy Minister of the Ministry of Advanced Education and Skills Development on October 1, 2017. In this capacity, he is responsible for ministry programs that set policy direction and funding for universities and colleges, student financial assistance and employment training.

Greg first joined the Ontario Public Service (OPS) in 1999 on an internship as an economist for the Ministry of Finance. Since then, he has held progressively senior positions in the public service. In November 2010, he became Associate Deputy Minister of the Office of the Budget and Treasury Board in the Ministry of Finance where he was responsible for the coordination of the delivery of the annual Ontario budget. He was appointed Deputy Minister of Government Services in April 2014 and later that year became the Deputy Minister of Treasury Board Secretariat. In this role, he led a ministry tasked with modernizing government and supporting the implementation of the government’s fiscal plan. Concurrently, he also served as Chair of the Public Service Commission, which ensures the effective management of human resources in the OPS.

Immediately prior to his current role, Greg worked in the private sector as a partner in Ernst & Young’s Canadian advisory practice, where he served as the firm’s National Leader for Public Policy and Fiscal Innovation since 2016.


Vasiliki (Vass) Bednar

Senior Policy Associate at Airbnb and Past Chair, Federal Expert Panel on Youth Employment

Vass Bednar is a Senior Policy Associate at Airbnb and chaired the Expert Panel on Youth Employment for the federal government earlier this year. She earned a master’s degree in public policy from the University of Toronto and served as Associate Director of the Rotman School of Management's Martin Prosperity Institute, where she worked with urbanist Richard Florida on a range of economic geography projects. A proud millennial wonk, Bednar has also worked as a Senior Adviser at Queen's Park and has completed the Action Canada and Civic Action DiverseCity fellowships. She is also the co-host of De-tangled, a pop-culture and public-policy radio show.


Chris Duff ('Mr. Inspired')

Founder of Inspired Initiatives Inc.

Christopher 'Mr. Inspired' Duff is a speaker, youth advocate and trailblazer fiercely committed to empowering people to unlock their true potential to thrive in life. He is the founder of Inspired Initiatives Inc., which is a training and development firm that works at the intersection of innovation and community development. Through Inspired Initiatives Inc., Chris has had an opportunity to have global impact building youth centers, launching initiatives in developing communities internationally and providing micro-financing for social projects in Uganda, Pakistan and The Philippines. With over a decade of experience, his specialty is in working with youth to create tangible impact through entrepreneurship, innovation and community building through his Side Hustle program. Chris also lends his expertise and experience sitting on an array of boards and committees including the Youth Justice Committee of Ontario, Innovation Hub at the University of Toronto, Social Innovation Hub at George Brown College and many more.


Cathy Taylor

Executive Director, Ontario Nonprofit Network

Cathy has been a member of the ONN team since June 2012. Throughout her 20 years working in the nonprofit sector, including as the founding Executive Director of the Volunteer Centre of Guelph/Wellington, she has been passionate about collaboration and leadership in the sector. Cathy works with sector colleagues from across Ontario and Canada, as well as private sector and government officials, to create an enabling policy environment for nonprofit organizations. Cathy’s roots are in the environmental movement and she has been active in municipal politics. She holds a degree in political studies and history from Queen’s University, and attended the Maytree-York University Executive Directors Leadership program. Outside of work, she enjoys time with her family and her garden in Erin, Ontario.


Bruce MacDonald

President & CEO, Imagine Canada

Who would have thought that operating carnival games and rides would lead to a career in social good? Nobody, really. Well – over 30 years later, Bruce is still at it. From having served as CEO of Big Brothers Big Sisters of Canada for ten years and prior to that as the organization’s Vice-President of Marketing, Bruce has led major change initiatives and developed long and innovative partnerships with corporations and other charities. A wide and varied career, working with different parts of the sector has lead him to Imagine Canada – working with young people, older adults, sports and recreation and community service clubs.

Bruce holds a Bachelor of Commerce in Sports Administration, a Masters in Management in the Voluntary Sector and a Guinness Book of World Records.


The Honourable Mitzie Hunter, MBA

Minister of Advanced Education and Skills Development

Mitzie Hunter is Ontario’s Minister of Advanced Education and Skills Development. In the role, she’s working to make sure everyone has access to the education and training needed to succeed in the new economy.

Hunter was first elected to the Ontario legislature in 2013 as the MPP for Scarborough-Guildwood. She previously served as Minister of Education and as Associate Minister of Finance, responsible for the Ontario Retirement Pension Plan.

Before entering politics, Hunter was CEO of the Greater Toronto CivicAction Alliance where she championed unlocking the GTA’s potential by ensuring fair and inclusive access to employment and training.

Hunter and her family immigrated to Canada from Jamaica in 1975, and she grew up in Scarborough. She graduated with a BA from the University of Toronto (Scarborough Campus) and completed an MBA from the Rotman School of Management at the University of Toronto.


Vasiliki (Vass) Bednar

Senior Policy Associate at Airbnb and Past Chair, Federal Expert Panel on Youth Employment

Vass Bednar is a Senior Policy Associate at Airbnb and chaired the Expert Panel on Youth Employment for the federal government earlier this year. She earned a master’s degree in public policy from the University of Toronto and served as Associate Director of the Rotman School of Management's Martin Prosperity Institute, where she worked with urbanist Richard Florida on a range of economic geography projects. A proud millennial wonk, Bednar has also worked as a Senior Adviser at Queen's Park and has completed the Action Canada and Civic Action DiverseCity fellowships. She is also the co-host of De-tangled, a pop-culture and public-policy radio show.


Perry Monaco

Head of Customer Success Canada, LinkedIn

Perry Monaco leads the Customer Success Organization in Canada for LinkedIn, as well as a team of CSMs focused on CS activity in pre-sales function in the USA. His teams work with talent acquisition departments and companies building social media recruitment strategies while focusing on the end user to manage retention, customer experience, and account growth through customer success planning. Perry was one of the first 4.5 million members of LinkedIn and was previously a recruiter before helping to build the CS practice at LinkedIn. Perry currently resides in Toronto.


Randy Taylor

Performance Coach, Trainer and Speaker at Taylormade Leadership Media

Randy Taylor is a true example of what is possible for us all. Randy has emerged as one of the nation’s leading experts in human potential and leadership. His passion to encourage others to breakdown their most daunting personal barriers, helping them to rewire the way they think and inspire them to reach their true potential. Over 3 decades of study into the science of human behaviour has been instrumental in his development of seminars and top level training programs on peak behavioural performance and leadership. His client list spans the nation with many of the leading fortune 500 organizations.


Andrew B. Campbell (DR.ABC)

Adjunct Assistant Professor

Dr. Andrew B. Campbell (DR. ABC) is a graduate of the Ontario Institute for Studies in Education (OISE) at the University of Toronto, with a PhD. in Educational Leadership, Diversity & Policy. For the past twenty years, he has worked in various areas of education and at all levels in Jamaica, The Bahamas, and Canada. Dr. Campbell is an Adjunct Assistant Professor part time professor, teaching courses in Educational Leadership, Adult Education, Early Childhood Education, and Diversity Studies for Queen’s University, University of Toronto (OISE), Seneca, and Durham College. Dr. Campbell has written courses, conducted research, and presented at workshops and conferences in the areas of equity, diversity and inclusion. He is a Certified Ontario Teacher (OCT) with the Toronto District School Board (TDSB).


Lauris Apse

Senior Director, Canadian Broadcasting Corporation

Lauris leads digital operations and development at the CBC. He started working in digital media at The Score in 1999. He has been at the CBC since 2006. His top 3 days at work ever include supporting the Tragically Hip's last concert, helping to stream the Canada/USA 2014 semifinal to 750,000 Canadians, and watching the CBC News team report the results of the 2015 Federal Election live.


Jodi Zigelstein-Yip

Chief HR Innovator/Founder of Enliven HR Consulting Inc.

Jodi Zigelstein-Yip is a nineteen (19) year leader and veteran in the HR community and is the Chief HR Innovator/Founder of Enliven HR Consulting Inc. Jodi plays a major role in her client’s businesses by delivering innovative, sustainable and strategic HR programs and solutions designed to unleash leadership potential, drive performance, increase organizational effectiveness and steer business results.

Her expertise is in the creation of unique leadership development and high-potential development initiatives including executive coaching and action-based learning projects, succession planning and talent assessment programs. Jodi engages small, medium and large national and multi-national clients in a variety of industries. In addition to her strategic work at Enliven HR, Jodi is the Head of Leadership Development at OLG on a part-time basis. Jodi provides the strategic vision of leadership development and determines supporting strategic initiatives for developing leaders at OLG to ensure maximum organizational impact.

Jodi is a seasoned and dynamic facilitator, recognized by the Canadian Society for Training and Development for the design and facilitation of a multi-faceted leadership development program.


Susan Watts

Executive Director of Employment and Education Centre

Sue Watts is the Executive Director of the Employment + Education Centre, a charitable, not-for-profit, multi-service organization. Sue has over 25 years' experience in the not-for-profit sector and prides herself on building and growing community collaborations for the purpose of meeting the needs of and positively impacting her communities.

Sue is the recipient of National, Provincial and Local awards for her work in this sector. Sue is an Executive Member of the ONESTEP Board of Directors (provincial) and an Executive Member of Credit Counselling Canada Board of Directors (national). Locally, she is an active member of a number of boards and committees including; City of Brockville Economic Development Advisory Committee, Victim Services of Leeds, Grenville and Lanark, Leeds and Grenville Poverty Reduction Alliance, EKIOC Transportation Committee, RNJ Youth Services, Leeds and Grenville Immigration Partnership Council and Employment /Settlement Committee.


Jodi O’Gorman

Vice President, Public Partnerships at VPI Working Solutions Inc.

With more than 20 years of experience in the employment services sector, Jodi brings a wealth of industry knowledge and expertise into her role as Director, Public Partnerships at VPI Working Solutions. She leads one of the largest teams in the employment services network and oversees the delivery of Employment Ontario programs across VPI’s 11 branches in the GTHA and Bruce County. Jodi has been successful in training and guiding managers and team members to become more confident and effective leaders.


Janice (Jan) Dowding

President, ISJ Consulting & COO, VPI Working Solutions Inc.

Jan has been leading senior executive teams in Canada for over two decades. She has served as a mentor to executives internationally through leadership programs focused on professional and personal development. Jan also was a chair at CEO Global Network- an executive learning network where she mentored CEOs to improve their businesses and executive acumen.

As Chief Operating Officer at VPI Working Solutions, Jan has been providing guidance and leadership to the team since 2010. Through her disciplined approach to process, automation, strategy and execution, Jan has led the organization through numerous accomplishments including increased efficiencies and industry-leading services for clients.


Simone Atungo

Chief Executive Officer, Anne Johnston Health Station CHC/Tobias House Attendant Care

Simone Atungo is a collaborative, systems thinker and public health champion with a strong determination towards working with diverse communities to address the social determinants of health that negatively impact these vulnerable and marginalized groups. She is widely recognized for her numerous contributions towards reducing health inequities and improving access to healthcare services for marginalized communities.

Currently, Simone is the Chief Executive Officer, Anne Johnston Health Station CHC/Tobias House Attendant Care. Previously, she was the Vice President, Resident and Community Services at Toronto Community Housing. She was also the Director of Community Development and Integration at Mount Sinai Hospital for nearly five years. Simone also worked at the Parkdale Community Health Centre where she held the position of Executive Director for nine years. As an involved community leader, Simone has more than 25 years of experience working in community-based, not for profit organizations.

Highlights of Simone’s career include extensive experience in facilitation and community-based research, policy and program development, strategic planning and advocacy and community relations. Simone’s experience in community development and integration is complemented by a Master’s degree in Environmental Studies and a Non-profit Management Certificate both from York University and an Executive Leadership Program Certificate from the Rotman School of Management at the University of Toronto.


Kirsten Cutler

A/Director Finance, Analysis and Systems Support Branch Employment and Training Division Ministry of Advanced Education and Skills Development

Kirsten applies her passion for strategy, user experience and service delivery to transforming customer experience in the public sector. During her tenure with the Province of Ontario, she has contributed to and led customer-focused transformational initiatives across multiple functional areas including direct service delivery, finance/controllership and business systems. In her current position, Kirsten leads a branch responsible for fiscal planning and reporting, controllership, analytics and digital strategy for delivery the Province’s employment and training system.

Kirsten holds a B.A. in Political Science and Economics from the University of Toronto and completed her MBA at York University's Schulich School of Business in 2014. When not at work Kirsten can be found operating a test kitchen in her Toronto home where she applies design-thinking methodology to recreate the most memorable meals she has enjoyed on travels abroad.


Lorraine Hopkins

Employment Program Consultant, Ministry of Advanced Education and Skills Development, Eastern Region

Lorraine Hopkins has been with the Province of Ontario for 16 years and specifically with the Ministry of Advanced Education and Skills Development (MAESD) for the past eight. She worked as an Employment Training Consultant and in financial administration, and currently is an Employment Program Consultant at MAESD’s Apprenticeship Branch.

Lorraine was involved in the 2016 launch of the Employment Ontario Information System External Reference Group (EOIS-ERG). Taking a user-centred approach, the ERG is composed of 25 Service Provider members with a wide-range of needs and expertise across the full range of Employment Ontario programs. In a collaborative environment, Ministry staff partner with the group to examine the systems’ current state as well as explore future enhancement opportunities.


Charlotte Parliament

Program Coordinator, Simcoe County District School Board LBS

Charlotte Parliament is a Program Coordinator for the Literacy and Basic Skills Program and the Career Centre, Employment Services Provider with the Simcoe County District School Board.

Charlotte has been in the literacy field for over 15 years and has worked as a volunteer tutor, marketing coordinator, literacy instructor and program manager. She has been on the CESBA LBS Committee for several years; the Co-Chair of the Simcoe Muskoka Workforce Development Board and is a committee member of the Ministry of Advanced Education and Skills Development (MAESD) External Reference Group.


Olivia Brezeanu

Senior Manager/Associate Executive Director, Windsor Women Working With Immigrant Women

Olivia is currently the Senior Manager/Associate Executive Director at The Windsor Women Working With Immigrant Women (W5), an active South-Western region member of First Work, and the new Western Regional Director of ONESTEP.

Since October 2016, Olivia has acted in an advisory capacity for the Ministry of Advanced Education and Skills Development’s EOIS External Reference Group (ERG). With her data analysis skills, software design work experience and knowledge in CaMS and SP Connect, she has provided a list of suggestions to the ministry’s EOIS team for data-entry efficiency and user-friendly improvement. The COJG cost calculation tool, that she has developed, was presented and shared with the ministry's IT team, ETCs and EO service providers.

Olivia would like to share her experience with the ERG and how the community of practice has helped improve CaMS.


Jasmine M. Artis–Longhurst

Senior Manager, Operation Springboard

Jasmine M. Artis–Longhurst is a Senior Manager with Operation Springboard. She is involved with organizations that deal with disadvantaged and high need populations of Toronto. Over the past 30 years, Ms. Artis-Longhurst has been involved in numerous community building initiatives, and is actively involved in leadership and self-esteem building programs for young people in her community. She has served on Boards such as The Centre for Victims of Torture working to give people a chance at a future free of stigmatization. She currently sits on the CAST Community Advisory Committee and the Toronto Employment and Social Services Employment Advisory committees as well as the Onestep Board of Directors.


Mark Patterson

Executive Director, Magnet

As Executive Director of Magnet and Hire Immigrants, Mark Patterson is a changemaker pioneering systemic approaches to career development, inclusive recruitment and contextualized labour market information.

For more than a decade he has focused on providing opportunities for diverse job seekers - whether students, hi-tech professionals or refugees - and addressing the needs of employers for talent.

Mark serves on the:


Cathy Taylor

Executive Director, Ontario Nonprofit Network

Cathy has been a member of the ONN team since June 2012. Throughout her 20 years working in the nonprofit sector, including as the founding Executive Director of the Volunteer Centre of Guelph/Wellington, she has been passionate about collaboration and leadership in the sector. Cathy works with sector colleagues from across Ontario and Canada, as well as private sector and government officials, to create an enabling policy environment for nonprofit organizations. Cathy’s roots are in the environmental movement and she has been active in municipal politics. She holds a degree in political studies and history from Queen’s University, and attended the Maytree-York University Executive Directors Leadership program. Outside of work, she enjoys time with her family and her garden in Erin, Ontario.


Bruce MacDonald

President & CEO, Imagine Canada

Who would have thought that operating carnival games and rides would lead to a career in social good? Nobody, really. Well – over 30 years later, Bruce is still at it. From having served as CEO of Big Brothers Big Sisters of Canada for ten years and prior to that as the organization’s Vice-President of Marketing, Bruce has led major change initiatives and developed long and innovative partnerships with corporations and other charities. A wide and varied career, working with different parts of the sector has lead him to Imagine Canada – working with young people, older adults, sports and recreation and community service clubs.

Bruce holds a Bachelor of Commerce in Sports Administration, a Masters in Management in the Voluntary Sector and a Guinness Book of World Records.


Adriana Beemans

Program Director at Metcalf Foundation

Adriana Beemans is the Inclusive Local Economies program director at the Metcalf Foundation. Her work is focused on improving the economic livelihoods of low-income people in Toronto, through grant-making, supporting policy research, and leading strategic initiatives. Prior to Metcalf, she was the Director of Programs & Services at Working Women Community Centre, and the Social Investment Fund Manager at Toronto Community Housing. Before moving to Toronto, Adriana worked overseas with the Aga Khan Development Network in Pakistan and UN-Habitat in Afghanistan. She holds a graduate degree from the University of Toronto in Political Science and a Bachelor of Arts in International Development from Trent University.


Lekan Olawoye

Lead Executive of Studio Y at MaRS

Lekan Olawoye is the Lead Executive of Studio Y at MaRS. Has supported the development of Ontario’s youth strategy, Stepping Up; is a member of advisory group on the province’s income security strategy. Lekan has extensive experience in youth policy, leadership development and social justice, playing a pivotal role in delivering empowering youth programs in Ontario. He was named a Vital Person in 2012 through the Toronto Foundation and is a past winner of the Innovation award through United Way Toronto. Lekan holds a Masters in Social Work, specializing in Non-Profit Management.


Shari St. Peter

Executive Director, Niagara Peninsula Aboriginal Area Management Board

Shari is a mother to two boys, and is Plains Cree and a band member of Mikiisew Cree First Nation, Fort Chipewyan, Alberta. Shari is the Executive Director of the Niagara Peninsula Aboriginal Area Management Board (NPAAMB), 1 of 18 ASETS agreement holders in Ontario. Serving the employment and training needs of urban indigenous youth in Southern Ontario, NPAAMB offers services to youth 15 to 30. Shari brings with her 20 years' experience working with indigenous communities across the province and holds a Master’s Degree.


Constance McKnight

Executive Director of Des dwa da dehs >nye Aboriginal Health Centre

Constance, a woman of Métis heritage, is the, Executive Director of Des dwa da dehs >nye Aboriginal Health Centre in Hamilton and a public member of the Consent and Capacity Board of Ontario. She represents the Aboriginal Health Centre on the Boards of the Association of Ontario health centers, and the Hamilton Executive Directors Aboriginal Coalition. She is a founding member and past Chair of the Canadian Alliance on Mental Illness and Mental Health.


Jacqueline Cureton

Director, Program Delivery Support Branch
Employment and Training Division, Ministry of Advanced Education and Skills Development

Jacqueline Cureton has spent most of her career in the Ontario Public Service (OPS), within various Ministries covering a wide variety of program areas including a number of areas of program supports for people with disabilities. In her early career, Jacquie worked on supports for injured workers at the Ministry of Labour. At the Ministry of Community and Social Services her policy interests covered supports for people who are deaf, hard of hearing and deaf blind. She also spent time working on improvements to social assistance policies to help vulnerable people.

Recently, she worked in the Ministry of Advanced Education and Skills Development, promoting the advancement of Ontario’s interests in labour market policies with the federal government, and provinces and territories. She also led the Employment and Training Services Integration Office where she was responsible for streamlining employment and training services across ministries, to make a more integrated system for clients looking for employment and leading MAESD’s contribution to Ontario’s Access Talent Employment Strategy.

Jacquie is now the Director of the Program Delivery Support Branch where she leads the implementation and continuous improvement of employment and training programs. In this role, Jacquie provides ongoing leadership and support to the Ministry for effective and consistent provincial program delivery by providing division-wide strategies, tools, and advice.


Adriana Beemans

Program Director at Metcalf Foundation

Adriana Beemans is the Inclusive Local Economies program director at the Metcalf Foundation. Her work is focused on improving the economic livelihoods of low-income people in Toronto, through grant-making, supporting policy research, and leading strategic initiatives. Prior to Metcalf, she was the Director of Programs & Services at Working Women Community Centre, and the Social Investment Fund Manager at Toronto Community Housing. Before moving to Toronto, Adriana worked overseas with the Aga Khan Development Network in Pakistan and UN-Habitat in Afghanistan. She holds a graduate degree from the University of Toronto in Political Science and a Bachelor of Arts in International Development from Trent University.


Nation Cheong

Director, Program Delivery Support Branch Employment and Training Division, Ministry of Advanced Education and Skills Development

For the past 20 years, Nation has dedicated his professional and personal time to community development strategies with a particular focus on supporting young people in communities across Toronto. He has played many roles throughout his career that has led to social, cultural and systemic impact. He is a respected partnership builder, community animator, artist, musician, teacher, and social change agent.

Nation served the Regent Park community for eight years through various youth, and homeless strategies and the revitalising of Canada’s first social housing project. Nation went on to become Director of Community Engagement and Grants helping to lead the Youth Challenge Fund (YCF), a 46.6-million-dollar investment in youth-led/ youth-driven initiatives across Toronto’s inner suburban communities. The work focused on the needs of the city’s most underserved youth and led to the investment of 111 initiatives across the inner suburbs, including 17 legacy initiatives.

As United Way’s Vice-President of Community Opportunities & Mobilization, he currently oversees the implementation of United Way’s Youth Success Strategy working with the provincial and municipal government, private sector partners, technology innovators and community agencies to tackle the employment challenges that over 80,000 youth face in the GTA. Additionally, he oversees the development of United Way’s Indigenous Collaboration Framework which will guide United Way’s work related to the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s call to action..


Fabio Crespin

Manager, Youth Initiatives, United Way Greater Toronto

With a business administration degree Fabio initially worked for an Austrian / Brazilian investment bank. Since 2001 Fabio has been working in Brazil and Canada in various capacities related to public and privately funded socio-economic development programs in areas such as entrepreneurship and business education, micro and small business development, employment, immigrant and youth services and education.

In 2011 Fabio coordinated the implementation of a Youth Challenge Fund start-up initiative aimed at building capacity among youth frontline workers serving marginalized youth populations in Toronto.

Prior to joining United Way Toronto and York Region (UWTYR), Fabio was part of the community outreach team of the Toronto Pan and Pan-American Games’ organizing committee.

Since October 2014, Fabio has been a part of UWTYR’s Youth Initiatives team, leading the implementation of the innovate Career Navigator program and also supporting all other Youth Success Strategy interventions that focus on economic security for youth facing multiple barriers.


James D. Lapierre

Manager Workforce Development
City of Toronto, Employment & Social Services

James Lapierre has over 15 years of experience working in municipal government, in addition to ten years in the private sector in various management roles. Throughout his career, James has continuously worked to bridge the gap between theory and practice, pushing boundaries and elevating standards to achieve results. In his current role, James has been leading an innovative sector-based workforce development project – Construction Connections – in partnership with the Ministry of Advanced Education and Skills Development, the United Way Toronto & York Region, and the Atkinson and Metcalf Foundations. This project aims to demonstrate broad system change possibilities through collaboration, innovation and integration.

In addition to his professional work experience, James possesses a Specialized Honours Degree in Psychology, a Certificate in Project Management, and is currently working towards a Graduate Diploma in Public Administration through the University of Western Ontario. James is also a Fellow of the Metcalf Foundation's Toronto Sector Skills Academy.


Trish McNamara

Program Manager, KEYS Job Centre

As the Program Manager for KEYS Job Centre in Leeds, Grenville and Lanark counties, Trish has partnered in many initiatives to aid in community development. She believes that there is a natural connection between workforce development and economic development. When we partner, we become stronger and are able to help business develop, grow and stay in our community. Some of Trish’s Board experience includes President of the 1000 Islands Gananoque Chamber of Commerce and Director on the 1000 Islands Community Development Corporation as well as Past Chair of the 1000 Islands Region Workforce Development Board


Rod Palmer

Facilitator/Job Developer, CSE Consulting

Rod Palmer is a workshop facilitator, a job developer and an employment consultant with CSE Consulting. Rod currently facilitates WHMIS, Personality Dimensions and Career Dimensions workshops. In his role as a Job Developer, he advocates for ODSP and WSIB clients as well as places Employment Services clients in work experiences using Job Matching Placement Incentives. As a proven successful facilitator, Rod was keen to facilitate the In Motion and Momentum pilot project. Rod looks forward to sharing his experiences facilitating these innovative workshops


Adam Morrison

Vice President, Projects and Partnerships, OTEC

As OTEC’s Vice President, Projects and Partnerships, Adam leads OTEC’s workforce development & consulting services. Adam works closely with OTEC’s industry, academic and community partners to design and integrate resources and systems that enable businesses and destinations to attract, retain and advance a dynamic and competitive workforce.

Adam’s portfolio includes a range of provincial and regional workforce strategies, research and demonstration projects such as the national UpSkill: Essentials to Excel workplace training ROI study and the recently launched OCWI and Blueprint ADE led Contextualized Essential Skills Demonstration Project: Customer Service Results (CSR), a network of sector-based projects across Ontario, and, the design and launch of the ALiGN talent assessment system in partnership with Magnet.

Adam has over 10 years of Canadian and international experience in organizational research, HR / human capital consulting and training. He holds a Masters of Science degree in Capacity Development Studies with a specialization in soft systems methodologies.


Tinashe Mafukidze

Senior Manager, Operations and Innovation, YouthREX, York University

Tinashe is the Senior Manager, Operations and Innovation at YouthREX (York University). Her work is focused on impact design, organizational effectiveness and strategy. She has co-founded and served on various local and international initiatives, boards and committees dedicating her efforts on social change, innovation and enterprise in areas of civic engagement, employment, inclusion, migration and health strategies for underserved communities. Before joining YouthREX Tinashe co-founded CatalystsX to equip young innovators and the youth social enterprise ecosystem with tools for better impact. She studied Political Science at Concordia University and Project Management at Ryerson University. Tinashe is a trained process facilitator through Anima Leadership & Process Work Institute and a graduate of the Innovation Leadership program in Haida Gwaii through University of Waterloo's Institute for Social Innovation and Resilience. Tinashe also serves a member of the TELUS Community Board that provides grants to innovative youth serving projects in the GTHA.


Dr. Corliss Bean

Research and Evaluation Specialist, YouthREX, York University

Dr. Corliss Bean is the Research and Evaluation Specialist at YouthREX, York University. She teaches the Online Evaluation Certificate offered at YouthREX. Dr. Bean completed her PhD at the University of Ottawa. Her main research interests surround the development and evaluation of community-based programs. Dr. Bean is heavily involved in research within the community and has worked with organizations at the local and national levels to develop curriculum and evaluate youth programs.


Agazi Afewerki

Director and Co-Founder, Youth Empowering Parents

Agazi is the Director and Co-Founder of Youth Empowering Parents, a United Nations award winning and global initiative that turns children into one-on-one teachers for their parents and other adults. He is passionate about helping grassroots ideas grow and spread their reach; he is a trainer for United Nations’ international youth programs, and during his free time, helps find ways to connect international markets to businesses based in refugee camps. Agazi received his formal education at the University of London Law School and Harvard Business School.


Greg Orencsak

Deputy Minister, Ministry of Advanced Education and Skills Development, Province of Ontario

Greg Orencsak became the Deputy Minister of the Ministry of Advanced Education and Skills Development on October 1, 2017. In this capacity, he is responsible for ministry programs that set policy direction and funding for universities and colleges, student financial assistance and employment training.

Greg first joined the Ontario Public Service (OPS) in 1999 on an internship as an economist for the Ministry of Finance. Since then, he has held progressively senior positions in the public service. In November 2010, he became Associate Deputy Minister of the Office of the Budget and Treasury Board in the Ministry of Finance where he was responsible for the coordination of the delivery of the annual Ontario budget. He was appointed Deputy Minister of Government Services in April 2014 and later that year became the Deputy Minister of Treasury Board Secretariat. In this role, he led a ministry tasked with modernizing government and supporting the implementation of the government’s fiscal plan. Concurrently, he also served as Chair of the Public Service Commission, which ensures the effective management of human resources in the OPS.

Immediately prior to his current role, Greg worked in the private sector as a partner in Ernst & Young’s Canadian advisory practice, where he served as the firm’s National Leader for Public Policy and Fiscal Innovation since 2016.


Chris Duff ('Mr. Inspired')

Founder of Inspired Initiatives Inc.

Christopher 'Mr. Inspired' Duff is a speaker, youth advocate and trailblazer fiercely committed to empowering people to unlock their true potential to thrive in life. He is the founder of Inspired Initiatives Inc., which is a training and development firm that works at the intersection of innovation and community development. Through Inspired Initiatives Inc., Chris has had an opportunity to have global impact building youth centers, launching initiatives in developing communities internationally and providing micro-financing for social projects in Uganda, Pakistan and The Philippines. With over a decade of experience, his specialty is in working with youth to create tangible impact through entrepreneurship, innovation and community building through his Side Hustle program. Chris also lends his expertise and experience sitting on an array of boards and committees including the Youth Justice Committee of Ontario, Innovation Hub at the University of Toronto, Social Innovation Hub at George Brown College and many more.