2022 Speakers

Louis Fox

Louis Fox

Louis Fox is President & CEO of the Corporation for Education Network Initiatives in California (CENIC). Established in 1997, this non-profit public benefit technology corporation operates the California Research and Education Network (CalREN), a high-capacity computer network with more than 8,000 miles of optical fiber. The network serves over 20 million users across California, including the vast majority of K-20 students together with educators, researchers, and individuals at other vital public-serving institutions. At the behest of the California Legislature and Administration leaders, he founded the “third party administrator” for the state’s $3.25 billion middle mile initiative: GoldenStateNet, which is built on a foundation of CENIC talent.

Prior to joining CENIC over ten years ago, Louis served for nearly three decades as a faculty member, researcher, and senior administrator at the University of Washington and at Duke University. Applications of IT in emerging economies was a major focus of his work, and he was a co-investigator on the APEC Emerging Infectious Diseases Network, which served Pacific Rim economies for over a decade. Louis lives in Berkeley, California.

Howard Pfeffer

Howard Pfeffer

Howard Pfeffer is President and CEO of Internet2, a not-for-profit organization providing a secure national high-speed network, cloud solutions, research support, and services tailored for the research and education community serving higher education, research institutions, government entities, and cultural organizations.

Pfeffer is a technology executive with over 30 years of experience in networking, systems and software engineering and is known for helping to pioneer the development of Broadband Internet, Voice over IP, Community Wi-Fi, and Business Services in the cable industry. Prior to joining Internet2, Pfeffer served as Senior Vice President of the Broadband Technology Group at Time Warner Cable. In that role, he led the architecture, engineering, and development of the telecommunications infrastructure for Residential and Business Services.

Pfeffer earned a Bachelor of Engineering degree from the State University of New York at Stony Brook

Andrew Fraser

Andrew Fraser

Andrew Fraser leads partnering and customer success for the Cybersecurity and DNS business unit at CIRA. Fraser joined in August 2017 and has played an integral role in CIRA establishing itself in the Canadian cybersecurity market. The focus has been on building community-based relationships within education and other market segments and broadening CIRA’s cyber portfolio.     

His industry experience spans software systems management (Quest Software), telecommunications (Mitel), business intelligence and mobile applications.  As a veteran of numerous start-up acquisitions, he has played key roles in bringing new ideas and solutions to market.  

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

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 offers cybersecurity services at CIRA for more secure internet access across Canada.

Shawna Reibling

Shawna Reibling

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.

Brian Romansky

Brian Romansky

Brian Romansky is a Strategic Advisor for Profound Impact. He is an engineer and innovator with extensive experience in data security and new business development.  Brian has invented, developed, and launched new technologies in diverse fields including critical infrastructure, defense information, vehicle safety systems, medical devices, financial services, and collaboration platforms.  In all of these fields, Brian has applied user-centered innovation with a strong emphasis on understanding how technology can solve unmet needs and create new business value. At Profound Impact, Brian is applying big-data technology, targeted communication and data visualization to enhance alignment and improve productivity in global technology.     

Jessica Thornton

Jessica Thornton

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

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 of Science from Queen’s University, an MBA from the DeGroote School of Business at McMaster University, and a Master of Design in Strategic Foresight and Innovation from OCAD University.

Candi Jeronimo

Candi Jeronimo

Candi Jeronimo has more than 20 years of experience helping organizations get to the core of their message. Starting her career in journalism and working as a producer and writer for years, Candi helps organizations uncover their mission and communicate it to their audience. Having spent the last 10+ years working in technology, Candi has been at the forefront of digital innovation and witnessed the impact cloud adoption has had across all sectors including in higher education. From EdTechs to post-secondary institutions, Candi has helped craft their stories of transformation working with CIOs, educators, researchers, etc. Starting at AWS in 2017 in Toronto, Candi is now responsible for ushering the next wave of change in the education sector, primarily focused on universities in Ontario. From enabling researchers to shorten their time to science to helping IT teams modernize critical systems that impact the student experience, Candi gets to the core of what organizations need and works backwards to find solutions. 

Sharon Blady

Sharon Blady

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. Learn more at www.speak-up.co.

Jean-Ray Arseneau

Jean-Ray Arseneau

Jean-Ray Arseneau is the Senior Director of IT Infrastructure & Operations at the University of Ottawa. He joined the University over 20 years ago, first as a student and then as a staff member slowly making his way through the organization to where he is today. His portfolio includes the uOttawa network, data centre, compute and storage, collaborative tools, end-user support and finally the security operations centre. He is passionate about consolidating technologies, reducing technical debt, cyber security, and improving the way technology supports the business.

Guy-Vincent Jourdan

Guy-Vincent Jourdan

Dr. Guy-Vincent Jourdan is a professor at the Faculty of Engineering and the Co-Director of the uOttawa-IBM Cyber Range. He joined the University of Ottawa after 7 years in the private sector as C.T.O. and then C.E.O. of Ottawa-based Decision Academic Graphics. He has over fifteen years of experience in leading research and industry collaborations. He has co-authored over one hundred scientific publications and fifteen patents. For the past decade, his main research area has been cybersecurity, specifically, cybercrime detection and prevention.

Sean Geddes

Sean Geddes

Sean Geddes has held successive roles in research and innovation at the University of Ottawa (uOttawa) over the past ten years and is currently the Executive Advisor to the Associate Vice-President, Innovation, Partnerships, and Entrepreneurship at uOttawa. In this role, Sean supports several strategic initiatives under the Innovation portfolio including uOttawa’s institutional cybersecurity and cybersafety initiative and the Cyber Hub. 

Lisa Klimstra

Lisa Klimstra

With a passion for industry development and extreme customer-oriented focus, Lisa Klimstra brings unparalleled enthusiasm to the CENGN team. As the Senior Manager, Business Development, she is responsible for leading all aspects of the Business Development function, including mandate execution, continuous development of the team and contribution to strategy based on CENGN’s value to the innovation ecosystem. Additionally, Lisa has been an enthusiastic advocate for CENGN’s Greenhouse Living Lab initiative, which supports the global competitiveness of our greenhouse vegetable growers and suppliers of technology to the greenhouse industry, as well as improving Canada’s food security. She has enjoyed nearly 20 years of experience in Sales and Business Development, working with an extensive list of companies such as IBM, Eastman Chemical and Swift Labs, where she was the Director of Sales. Lisa graduated with a Bachelor of Science (BS) in Biology with a Chemistry minor from Wilfrid Laurier University.   

Filipe Correia

Filipe Correia

Filipe Correia recently joined Ribbon Communications in 2021 as a Business Segment Lead for Tier 1 operators in North America, focused on IP, Optical, and Network Automation portfolio, including Software Defined Network (SDN) Controllers.  Filipe is a regular speaker at Ribbon and industry conferences. Currently based in Dallas, TX, Filipe has more than 22 years of experience across Ribbon, Nokia, and Alcatel-Lucent as well as over 15 years focused on IP technology space with Enterprise, Web Scale, and Service Provider IP/MPLS networks in roles such as Product Line Management and Principal Consulting Engineering.  This also included over 3 years based in Melbourne, Australia, focused on the APAC market with IP/MPLS customer opportunities and solutions in the region. 

Prieeyya Kaur Kesh

Prieeyya Kaur Kesh

Prieeyya Kaur Kesh is the Founder & CEO of Our Wave Hub. Our Wave Hub is a Canadian skills training provider that provides pathways and just in time, in-demand training for career transitioners looking to enter product design, marketing and user experience design roles in Canada. In the last year alone, Our Wave Hub has had over 1650 graduates, most of them adult learners looking to upskill or transition into a career in tech.    

Our Wave Hub was also recently named as one of only four Apple Professional Learning Providers in the country and works closely with Apple to offer digital skills training opportunities to youth, including a recent pilot in the summer that trained 150+ high school students across 20 school boards in Ontario.  

In addition to building Our Wave Hub, Prieeyya is a keynote speaker and panelist and has been invited to speak at Harvard University’s Education Policython, D2L’s Toronto Skills Summit, University of Guelph’s OpenEd Conference, RBC Future Launch Summit and more.  

She also sits on People for Education’s Continuum of Learning Working Table as an Expert Contributor. The Working Table brings together experts, educators and leaders across the continuum of K-12, post-secondary education and workforce development to contribute to national education policy. 

Ali Hirji

Ali Hirji, PhD Candidate from York University and Faculty member at Durham College, has over 12 years of experience developing and leading software development, AI and cybersecurity programs. He specialized in applied research programming at Durham College's Centre for Cybersecurity Innovation and the AI Hub. He is also a lead lecturer for several cybersecurity courses at academic institutions in Canada and has designed over 60 courses in computing sciences. He is the host of the Power Hour with siberX, In the Knode with Kaspersky, and Tech Talks with Durham College. Ali focuses on Return on Imagination (ROI). He encourages his students, partners and listeners to explore the possibility of innovation with AI, blockchain and programming in cybersecurity.  

Alfonso Licata

Alfonso Licata

Alfonso is the President and CEO of ORION. He has a strong track record in the design and launch of new and disruptive enterprises in the technology space and across multiple market segments. At ORION, Alfonso helps drive the organization’s strategy forward in a highly collaborative and strategic manner.

He brings his unique blend of experience in user-first service, teamwork, and strategic alliance-building to bear on solving the complex problems faced by Ontario’s research, education and innovation community.

Alfonso sits on the board of ORION’s Toronto partner, GTAnet, as well as on OCAD University’s Digital Futures Advisory Board, serving as an Adjunct Professor in this graduate program. He serves as a Volunteer Mentor and Entrepreneur in Residence, supporting teams and companies at Ryerson University’s Digital Media Zone (DMZ), Communitech and MaRS. He previously held a similar role at Deloitte, after co-founding several technology-based companies over the last 20 years.

Jet de Ranitz

Jet de Ranitz

Jet de Ranitz is the CEO of SURF since May 2020. Previously, she was Chairman of the Executive Board of Inholland University of Applied Science, Chairman of the Amsterdam School of the Arts; Managing Director of Nederlands Dans Theater and of the Faculty of Economics and Business Administration at Tilburg University. Her career started out in the commercial sector. She is an experienced CEO with a track record in change management with high-level professionals in education, research and the arts. She holds a Master of Arts Degree from Leiden University.

The central theme in her career has been (and still is) working with professionals with a high level of creativity, ambition and skills. Change management has been an important aspect. Increasingly this has become interwoven with ICT/technology developments. In SURF all of this comes together.

Besides SURF, she serves on several supervisory boards in arts, health care and insurance, as well as being the Chair for the Erasmusprize Foundation.

She lives in The Hague with her husband and dog. Her two adult children are (under)graduate students.

Sheliza Jamal

Sheliza Jamal

Sheliza Jamal is a graduate of Harvard University and is the founder and Executive Director of Curated Leadership Inc., a coaching firm that fosters partnerships with leadership teams, nonprofits, and corporations to develop their knowledge in the areas of equity and diversity to build inclusive communities. She is currently completing her PhD at OISE, the University of Toronto in the Department of Social Justice Education with a research focus on anti-Black and anti-Indigenous racism in Teacher Education Programs.

Sheliza brings over a decade of experience in designing curriculum and implementing training and development programs aimed at addressing inequitable outcomes for underserved and equity-seeking communities. She engages participants in dialogue about oppression and uses a calling-in approach to bring people together to listen, learn, and lead with empathy.

Sheliza currently serves as a board member of the Harvard Graduate School of Education Alumni Council and is a Founding Member of the Harvard Alumni Entrepreneurs Council Canada. She is also a board member for WorkInCulture. For further details, please visit www.curated-leadership.com.

Syrus Marcus Ware

Dr. Syrus Marcus Ware

Dr. Syrus Marcus Ware is an Assistant Professor at the School of the Arts at McMaster University. A scholar, visual artist, activist, curator and educator, Ware uses painting, installation, and performance to explore social justice frameworks and Black activist culture. His work has been shown widely across Canada in solo and group shows, and his performance works have been part of local and international festivals. He is part of the Performance Disability Art Collective and a co-founder of Black Lives Matter-Canada. Syrus is the curator of the That’s So Gay show and a co-curator of Blackness Yes!/Blockorama. In addition to penning a variety of journals and articles, Syrus is the co-editor of the best-selling Until We Are Free: Reflections on Black Lives Matter in Canada (URP, 2020).

Heather Watts

Heather Watts

Heather Watts is Mohawk & Anishinaabe from Six Nations of the Grand River Territory. Education has been a central part of her work over the past ten years, graduating from Syracuse University with a degree in Inclusive Education, and Columbia University Teachers College with a degree in Literacy Coaching, and working as an elementary school teacher in New York City and in Rochester, NY. Heather has studied at the Harvard Graduate School of Education (HGSE) in the Education Policy & Management Program and graduated with her Ed.M. in 2019.

Heather is currently a third-year doctoral student at the Ontario Institute for Studies in EducationUniversity of Toronto, in the Social Justice Education program. She serves as an elected member of the OISE Council and sat on the Equity Committee. She has recently been awarded a Joseph-Armand Bombardier Canada Graduate Scholarship, through The Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC), a highly competitive national award competition. Her work centres on reconciliation and reclamation of Indigenous ways of knowing in modern-day education systems.

Professionally, Heather is the Acting Education Manager for the Six Nations Lifelong Learning Taskforce, researching and engaging with the community around draft recommendations for a lifelong learning education system grounded in Haudenosaunee languages and culture. She also works as Training Officer in the environmental sector, developing and implementing learning modules related to the topics of Reconciliation, Identity and Privilege, as well as Indigenous worldviews of Land.

Jim Ghadbane

Jim Ghadbane

Jim Ghadbane was appointed President and CEO of CANARIE in 2013, after joining the organization as Chief Technology Officer in 2010. Jim’s leadership, technical expertise, and focus on stakeholder needs support an increased impact and relevance of CANARIE programs and services in Canada’s public and private sectors.

Nationally, Jim works to strengthen the governance, collaborative operation, and evolution of Canada’s National Research and Education Network (NREN). He also serves on the Board of Directors of Ocean Networks Canada. Internationally, Jim works with global colleagues on the NREN CEO Forum to guide the evolution of the global network of research and education networks.

Prior to joining CANARIE, Jim held a variety of executive positions at leading ICT companies, including Bridgewater Systems (now part of Amdocs), Ceyba Corporation, Alcatel Corporation, and Newbridge Networks. Jim is a devoted mentor to many colleagues and an avid golfer.