2022 Speakers

Adam Shoalts

Adam Shoalts

Keynote Speaker

Adam Shoalts is a professional explorer and national best-selling author. In 2013, he was elected a Fellow of the Royal Canadian Geographical Society for “extraordinary contributions to geography” and in 2017 completed a nearly 4,000 km solo journey across Canada’s Arctic.

A geographer and historian, he holds a Ph.D. from McMaster University, has participated in numerous archaeological projects and digs, and undertakes solo expeditions in the most remote wilderness areas. He is currently the Westaway Explorer-in-Residence of the Royal Canadian Geographical Society and in 2016 was named a national champion of the Trans-Canada Trail.

Ryo Nakane

Ryo Nakane

Session: Cybersecurity in the past, present and future workplace

Territory Account Manager for Ontario, CIRA Cybersecurity Services

Ryo was born in Japan, raised in the Netherlands and China, and came to Canada to study Economics at McGill University. Today, he is offering cybersecurity services at CIRA for a more secure internet access across Canada.

Shawna Reibling

Shawna Reibling

Session: The state of play for communicating research funding opportunities to internal and external stakeholders: barriers and opportunities

Knowledge Mobilization Officer at Wilfrid Laurier University

Shawna Reibling is a Knowledge Mobilization Officer at Wilfrid Laurier University. She provides specialized knowledge mobilization strategies pre and post-award communications, social media and web strategy services to individuals and collaborations, specialized in highly-regulated environments including academic research units and university administration.

Rob Darling

Rob Darling

Session: The state of play for communicating research funding opportunities to internal and external stakeholders: barriers and opportunities

Strategic Advisor from Profound Impact

Rob Darling is a Strategic Advisor for Profound Impact. He was the Founder and CEO of two technology companies that he led to the acquisition. He has held roles as Chief Strategy Officer for Athena Software, Chief Technology Officer for Communitech and Director of Enterprise Architecture for Manulife Financial.  Rob has built companies and led teams that have delivered technology solutions that serve more than 5 million people across Canada and in 25 countries - solutions used by Manulife, Pepsi, Lowes, Mohawk College and others.  He has also been a mentor for Google’s Launchpad Accelerator in California and was selected by Globe and Mail as one of Waterloo Region’s emerging entrepreneurs.

Jessica Thornton

Jessica Thornton

Session: Bold New World: The future of leadership

Jessica Thornton helps organizations understand and apply strategy foresight methods so they can make informed decisions about their future.

Jessica is a futurist, facilitator, strategist and process designer with 15+ years of experience in the public and nonprofit sector, designing and delivering a range of programs and engagement experiences (virtual and in-person). She has released numerous strategic foresight publications, and worked across a variety of diverse subject areas, including city-building, future of work, sustainability, food systems, creative arts, and public governance.

Jessica was named a Next Generation Foresight Practitioner Fellow in 2021, and is a foresight associate at Future Cities Canada. Her collaborative research exploring the future of public engagement for municipalities won an award from the Association of Professional Futurists in 2019. Jessica has a B.A. in Socio-cultural Anthropology from the University of Toronto, and a Master’s of Design in Strategic Foresight and Innovation from OCAD University.

Heather Russek

Heather Russek

Session: Bold New World: The future of leadership

Heather Russek helps organizations navigate complex challenges by learning new topics quickly and connecting the dots across domains.

Heather is a strategist, researcher and designer with 15+ years of experience in policy innovation, healthcare leadership, management consulting, program and project management, and strategy. Prior to starting Creative Futures, Heather was the Director of Policy Innovation at the Brookfield Institute for Innovation + Entrepreneurship. Formerly, Heather was the Director of Corporate Strategy and Strategic Initiatives at St. Joseph’s Health Centre in Toronto.

Heather was named a Next Generation Foresight Practitioner Fellow in 2021 and has launched an Open Scan network with city leaders and innovators across Canada. She holds a Bachelor’s of Science from Queen’s University, an MBA from the DeGroote School of Business at McMaster University, and a Master’s of Design in Strategic Foresight and Innovation from OCAD University.

Sharon Blady

Sharon Blady

Session: The Future of Workplace Mental Health and Neurodiversity is Strengths-Based: Meet Your Superheroes

Sharon is passionate about using her mental health and neurodivergence diagnoses to help others improve their mental health and well-being. Her life experiences range from single mom on social assistance to responsibility for a $6 billion health department budget as Manitoba’s Health Minister. As Minister, Sharon went public with her mental health to shed light on the assets lived experience can bring to high-level leadership and decision-making.

She has survived domestic violence, cancer, and suicide and is a published author, entrepreneur, and keynote speaker.

Through Sharon Blady & Associates (www.sharonblady.ca) she provides consulting services to organizations looking for insight and growth in areas of healthcare delivery, mental health and neurodiversity services and supports, government relations, leadership development and executive mentoring.

Believing in the healing power of heroes and music, Sharon has also created Marvel and BTS-inspired mental health and neurodiversity programs - Embrace Your Superpowers and Bulletproof To Stigma – part of her Geek Grrrl Gospel of Mental Health and Neurodiversity. (www.speak-up.co)