Connections Conference

2019 Speakers


robyn blackadar

Panelist: Adaptive Data

Appointed in 2012 as President and CEO, Robyn is responsible for strategic and operational leadership of PolicyWise for Children & Families. Robyn oversees the organization’s generation and mobilization of evidence for child and family well-being through a collaborative, cross-sector approach between government, academia, and the community. She provides advisory support to multiple provincial initiatives and has over 25 years of experience in Alberta’s social and health system focusing on policy development and analysis, quality improvement, knowledge mobilization, and data system innovation.


Denise Blair

Panelist: Adaptive Leadership

Denise is the founder and Executive Director of the Calgary Youth Justice Society. Denise has an undergraduate degree in Criminology, an MBA and over 20 years of experience working in the area of youth and community crime prevention, and has authored several journal articles. She has seen first-hand how a strengths-based perspective can transform lives, communities and workplaces. Denise has been recognized with several awards, including: Rising Star Award, Faculty of Business, Athabasca University; Solicitor General of Alberta Crime Prevention Award; and featured as an Inspired Albertan.

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Ryan Burns

Panelist: Adaptive Data

Ryan is Assistant Professor of Geography at University of Calgary and a faculty member of the O'Brien Institute for Public Health. He researches the social, institutional, and urban implications of new technologies, and currently focuses on the inequalities of smart cities and open data. In work supported by the Mellon Foundation, he started the YYC Data Collective, a platform for community associations and nonprofits to share their data. Ryan also collaborates with the City of Calgary and the Urban Alliance on a project reviewing municipal data sharing agreements across North America.


Yvonne Chenier

Speaker: Adaptive Governance

Yvonne is a lawyer and philanthropy consultant, and Board Chair of IntegralOrg. Yvonne brings 35 years of experience helping those in the philanthropic, not-for-profit and social enterprise sectors, acting as general legal counsel and advising on planning, organizational, regulatory and governance matters. Yvonne is an active member of the executive of the Charities and Not-For-Profit Section of the Canadian Bar Association for many years and is a past Chair of the both the Alberta and National Sections.


Scott Decksheimer

Panelist: Adaptive Philanthropy

Scott is President and CEO, Partner of ViTreo Group Inc., and has been a leader in the nonprofit field for more than 20 years. He has primarily supported organizations in transition by utilizing his skills in team development, major gifts, board governance, and capital campaigns. In 2017, Scott was appointed to be the inaugural chair of the Association of Fundraising Professionals (AFP) Canada and remains active at the local and international levels of AFP. Scott was honoured by the AFP Calgary & Area Chapter as the 2013 Outstanding Fundraising Professional.


Jim Dewald

Moderator: Adaptive Leadership

Jim is Dean and Professor of Strategy and Entrepreneurship of the Haskayne School of Business, University of Calgary. A business leader who can provide an effective bridge between strategy theory and on-the-ground practice, his research interests are related to the micro-foundations of strategy formulation and implementation. Specifically, his work has contributed to understanding of cognitive resilience, entrepreneurial thinking and strategic response to disruptive innovations, most specifically business model innovations.

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Elizabeth Dozois

Speaker: Adaptive Learning

Elizabeth has been providing research, evaluation and strategic support to the nonprofit and public sectors in Calgary for over 20 years. The common thread in all her work is adaptive learning, a process that she has explored deeply through her work with the Human Venture Institute. Her understanding of adaptive learning informed the design of a two-year learning collaborative on Natural Supports, culminating in the development of a practice framework that is now widely used in the youth-serving sector.

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Juan Carlos Eichholz

Speaker: Adaptive Capacity

Juan Carlos is Professor of Management Practice at the Business School of Adolfo Ibáñez University and author of the acclaimed book: Adaptive Capacity. He is also the founding director of the Adaptive Leadership Center and principal of CLA Consulting, an international management consulting firm specializing in leadership and organizational change. Find out more about adaptive capacity in this video by Juan Carlos. In addition to his work as an educator, international keynote speaker, and consultant, Juan Carlos has also been an active opinion leader as a columnist for El Mercurio newspaper in Chile and through his participation in television, radio, and newspaper debates.


eva friesen

Moderator: Adaptive Economies

Eva has an extensive background of providing effective leadership in the not-for-profit sector. Since 2005, Eva has been the President and CEO of Calgary Foundation, one of the largest and fastest-growing community foundations in Canada with assets over $975 million. Eva was a former CEO of Calgary Health Trust, taking on the challenge of building this health charity. Prior to the Health Trust, Eva enjoyed a 22-year career with the YWCA spanning three cities, starting in Winnipeg, then Yellowknife where she was CEO for five years, and then Calgary where she was the CEO for 12 years.


Todd Hirsch

Speaker: Adaptive Economies

Todd is Vice President and Chief Economist for ATB Financial. For over 20 years, he’s worked as an economist at numerous organizations including the Canadian Pacific Railway and the Bank of Canada. Todd is the author of three books and speaks to hundreds of audiences across the country each year and provides commentary to many Canadian and global media outlets. He has served on the University of Calgary Board of Governors, is the chair of the Calgary Arts Academy, and sits on the board of the Glenbow Museum.


Anila lee yuen

Panelist: Adaptive Leadership

Anila is the President & CEO of the Centre for Newcomers, with 24 years of experience in the settlement sector. Beyond traditional settlement services, Anila has spearheaded programming to include volunteer-led refugee supports, Indigenous integration for newcomers, LGBTQ+ supports, domestic violence, homeless and mental health support services and broadened vulnerable youth programming and social venture opportunities. Anila is the Co-Chair of the Calgary Local Immigration Partnership and the Vice Chair of the Alberta Association of Immigrant Serving Agencies.  She is an alumnus of the US State Department’s International Visitor Leadership Program and author.

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Adam Legge

Panelist: Adaptive Leadership

Adam works with executives, leaders and boards to help them achieve remarkability through organizational renewal and transformation. He believes in the potential of leaders to make their organizations remarkable and do work that can change their communities and the world. His book on this subject, Making Remarkable, was released in June 2018. Adam is also a Director at the Canadian Centre for Advanced Leadership in the Haskayne School of Business. Prior to his current roles, Adam was the 18th President and CEO of the Calgary Chamber of Commerce.

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Bruce Macdonald

Speaker: Adaptive Advocacy

Bruce is President & CEO of Imagine Canada and has worked for social agencies for over 30 years. 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 enduring and innovative partnerships with corporations and other charities. At Imagine Canada, he works with young people, older adults, sports and recreation, and community service clubs.

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Krishan Mehta

Panelist: Adaptive Philanthropy

Krishan is the AVP of Engagement at Ryerson University where he oversees alumni, community, and volunteer development, as well as special institutional fundraising projects. Previously, he held a variety of senior fundraising, alumni and marketing roles at Seneca College and the University of Toronto. Krishan is also the coordinator of Ryerson’s fundraising management program and an adjunct professor in Carleton University's graduate program in Philanthropy and Non-Profit Leadership. He serves as the Immediate Past President of the AFP Greater Toronto Chapter and was the co-chair of the Inclusive Giving Project.


Anne McLellan

Panelist: Adaptive Policy

Anne served four terms as the Liberal MP for Edmonton Centre, during which she was Deputy Prime Minister of Canada and Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness, Minister of Health, Minister of Justice and Minister of Natural Resources. Anne joined Bennett Jones LLP in its Edmonton office in July 2006. In May 2015, she became Dalhousie University’s seventh Chancellor. Anne serves on several boards across Canada and is Chair of the Boards of Pearson College UWC, TELUS Edmonton Community Board and the Institute for Research on Public Policy.

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Allan Northcott

Moderator: Adaptive Policy

Allan is the President of the Max Bell Foundation in Calgary – supporting the efforts of charities to inform public policy at all levels of government across Canada. Allan has a deep understanding of Canada’s charitable sector developed, over more than 25 years in post-secondary, think tank, and Foundation settings. He has advised on strategy, communications, and program and project design for a range of organizations. He currently serves as Board Chair for Philanthropic Foundations Canada and is a Director of Imagine Canada, where he is a member of the public policy committee.


Nancy Reynolds

Panelist: Adaptive Policy

Nancy currently consults for a variety of organizations with a focus on early brain/child development, child and youth mental health and well-being, and public policy. For the past ten years, she has been a faculty member at the Max Bell Public Policy Training Institute. Nancy was the inaugural President and CEO of the Alberta Centre for Child, Family and Community Research (now PolicyWise). Prior to that, she held senior executive leadership positions in the provincial ministries of Health and Children’s Services.


lise rivais

Panelist: Adaptive Data

Lise is Director of the Western Region & Northern Territories at Statistics Canada. She is responsible for all regional data collection services for social, agriculture and business surveys as well as the Census. As well she oversees the Statistical Information Services responsible for promoting the availability and effective use of Statistical data through an outreach program and user centric delivery service to help build statistical capacity.


James Stauch

Moderator: Adaptive Data

James is the Director of the Institute for Community Prosperity at Mount Royal University, which links students to knowledge, people, and tools to help them make transformational change in their communities. With nearly two decades of experience working in the field of philanthropy, he has served as a foundation executive and consultant including as senior executive for the Walter & Duncan Gordon Foundation in Toronto, and as manager of the Community Grants Program at The Calgary Foundation. James has chaired or co-founded several membership-based philanthropic foundation networks and collaboratives across Canada.


Cathy Taylor

Speaker: Adaptive Advocacy

Cathy is Executive Director of the Ontario Nonprofit Network, an advocacy network for Ontario’s 55,000 nonprofits and charities. Throughout her 20 years working in the nonprofit sector she has been passionate about collaboration and leadership in the sector. Cathy works with nonprofit colleagues from across Ontario and Canada, as well as private sector and government officials, to create an enabling policy environment for nonprofit organizations. Her roots are in the environmental movement.


Sue Tomney

Moderator: Adaptive Philanthropy

As CEO of YW Calgary, Sue leads more than 300 team members who offer shelter, housing, counselling, and education programs to some of the most vulnerable women and families in Calgary. Sue, along with her team, supports and advocates for healthy relationships, equity for women and a safe community where women thrive. Sue has held senior-level positions with both nonprofits and corporations prior to joining YW in December 2010; including Imagine Canada, TransAlta Corporation, and Canadian Airlines International. Currently, Sue is a board member with Calgary Housing Company and a past-chair of