Previous Speakers

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Ongoing Call for
Speakers

This is your opportunity to share your knowledge and experience with other industry professionals.

Please email us at info@sparkconferences.com to receive more information.

We look forward to receiving your submissions!

Philip De Souza

Director, Communications and Marketing, HIROC

Philip De Souza has always been passionate about connecting with people on a deeper level – listening to their stories and learning from them. From storytelling to experiential marketing campaigns to internal engagement touchpoints (to name a few) – Philip is constantly seeking new ways to push boundaries. The result – award winning initiatives that start a dialogue, change minds and drive action.

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Philip has been fortunate enough to have experienced a wide variety of roles. Starting as a student scanner at his current organization, he knows what it takes to put in the hard work, build trust and move up.

Today, as Director of Communications and Marketing at HIROC Philip is proud to have had a hand in building such a strong and unique brand. And together, with his dedicated team, he is excited to see how they can continue to evolve it.

Agnes Bongers

Chief Communications Officer, St. Joseph’s Healthcare Hamilton

Agnes Bongers is Chief Communications Officer with St. Joseph’s Healthcare Hamilton, an acute care academic and teaching hospital with the second largest mental health and addiction program in Ontario. Agnes has extensive experience in issues and crisis management, media relations and strategic communications.

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Agnes has worked in communications at Hamilton’s two hospital organizations, St. Joe’s and Hamilton Health Sciences, the former hospital specializing in adult mental health and addiction, the latter in children’s mental health. Previous to working in public relations and communications, Agnes had an extensive career in journalism, much of it at The Hamilton Spectator, as an editor and reporter, focusing on major feature projects.

Raised on a farm in rural Ontario, Agnes studied journalism in Sarnia, then attained her Masters of Communications Management through McMaster University.

She has three daughters and proudly boasts they are all currently in professions that serve to better our world – teaching, nursing and social work. She lives in Hamilton with her writer husband Mike.

Dustin Bilson

Talent Acquisition Specialist, Perley Health

Dustin Bilson is the Talent Acquisition Specialist at Perley Health, a leading long-term care residence and independent living facility for more than 650 Seniors and Veterans. Dustin has over 10 years’ experience working with HR teams within the healthcare industry to design and implement communications strategies that are aimed at attracting and retaining top talent.

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Dustin’s initiatives included the refresh and implementation of Perley Health’s Employee Value Proposition, supporting the launch of targeted HR recruitment ad campaigns and fostering greater strategic collaboration amongst key stakeholders to be able to maximize message and reach when attracting and retaining top talent.

Passionate about fostering inclusive workplaces, Dustin is a dedicated professional who leverages his expertise to support and advance Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) initiatives, creating environments where all voices are heard and valued. Dustin is an active member of Perley Health’s Cultural Awareness and Inclusion Committee.

Outside of work, Dustin is an avid hiker, cyclist, swimmer and a supporter of the Arts.

Maureen Buchanan

Director, Communications, Home and Community Care Support Services

Meet Maureen Buchanan, Director of Communications at Home and Community Care Support Services where she plays a pivotal role in shaping health care communications strategies in a dynamic and ever-evolving sector. Home and Community Care Support Services plays a vital role in Ontario’s health care system, ensuring people receive exceptional care – wherever they call home.

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With nearly two decades of experience in communications, Maureen serves as a visionary and strategic leader, accountable for leading communications for key provincial initiatives aimed at supporting the Executive Leadership Team, Board of Directors and the organization’s vision, mandate and strategic priorities.

Maureen began her health care communication journey at Bridgepoint Hospital (Sinai Health) in 2007. Having contributed to organizations such as Mississauga Halton Local Health Integration Network (LHIN), Ontario Health, and most recently, Home and Community Care Support Services. Maureen’s instrumental role in enhancing talent management and communication at Home and Community Care Support Services led to the organization’s recognition as one of the 2023 Canadian HR Award Excellence Awardees in Best Employer Branding and Most Effective Recruitment Strategy, underscoring her passion for enhancing health care talent management, communication and engagement.

Carly Ellis

Director, EnterpriseHealth

Strategic Planning, Hospitals, Facilitation, Ontario Health Teams, Redevelopment and Health System Transformation

Carly Ellis is sought after strategic advisor leveraging her deep expertise of the health sector having spent her early career working directly in a hospital and health authority in Ontario.

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Prior to joining EnterpriseHealth, Carly facilitated partnerships across multiple sectors, including community mental health, primary care and housing at the Waterloo- Wellington Local Health Integration Network. Carly also led and supported key strategic projects including on government relations and communications for the largest hospital capital project in the country while at Trillium Health Partners.

At EnterpriseHealth, Carly leads our strategic planning processes from inception to implementation to ensure our clients are always ahead of ever-evolving health system. Carly specializes in in supporting senior leaders and boards work through complex problems and engage their communities while also bridging the gap between operations, communications and government advocacy.

Carly holds a Master of Public Administration degree from Queen’s University’s School of Public Policy and an Honours degree in Health Sciences from the University of Western Ontario. Carly is passionate about city building and is a 2020 CivicAction DiverseCity Fellow as well as a TEDxToronto speaker coach.

Carly Bergamini

Director, EnterpriseHealth

Carly Bergamini is a communications and public affairs expert with over a decade of experience in Ontario’s health care system through both political and private sector roles.   

Prior to joining EnterpriseHealth, Carly was Director of Communications to Ontario’s Deputy Premier and Minister of Health. In this role,she led the planning and execution of the government’s COVID-19 communications strategy, including the province’s COVID-19 vaccine rollout, and worked closely with a variety of stakeholders throughout Ontario’s health care system.

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Carly’s experience also includes senior communications roles with the Ontario PC Leader and caucus, where she served as chief speechwriter and led media training for Ontario PC Party candidates.  

Previously, Carly worked at a boutique consulting firm where she led winning communications and public affairs campaigns for health care clients including hospitals, long-term care, mental health and addictions, pharmaceuticals, community-based care, and sector associations.   

At EnterpriseHealth, Carly provides guidance and counsel to clients on how to communicate with government, media, patients, communities and other stakeholders, successfully telling an organization’s story and promoting and protecting their brand.  

Patricia Hoffer

VP, External Relations, Chief Communications Officer, St. Joseph’s Health Care London

Patricia Hoffer is the Vice President, External Relations and Chief Communications Officer at St. Joseph’s Health Care London accountable for developing and executing internal and external communication and key stakeholder engagement strategies reflective of the hospital’s mission, vision and values and strategic priorities. This includes brand reputation, media relations and issues management across all programs, services and sites.

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In addition, Patricia is responsible for driving the organizational approach to community engagement, government relations and corporate partnerships.

Patricia also leads the Volunteer Services Department and the Care Partnership Office. This includes the ongoing design and delivery of strategies to recruit volunteers in order to meet the diverse needs of the organization and ensure a positive and meaningful volunteer experience through education and training. Through leadership of the Care Partnership Office, Patricia ensures the ongoing execution of strategies to embed and sustain patient and family partner engagement across our organization. This includes the inclusion of the voices and lived experiences of our patients and caregivers in the design and delivery of programs and services including quality improvement initiatives, leader recruitment and research projects.

As a former business journalist with more than 25 years of diverse experience in communication, marketing and public affairs, Patricia applies a deep knowledge of strategic planning, stakeholder relations and community development to her leadership role. Prior to St. Joseph’s, Patricia held senior roles at Lashbrook Marketing and Public Relations, the London Economic Development Corporation, St. Joseph’s Health Care Foundation and Western University. Her work has been recognized by the International Association of Business Communicators through both Excellence and Best of the Best Awards.

Patricia is a committed community volunteer and currently sits on the Board of Directors for Goodwill Industries, Ontario Great Lakes and on the Campaign Cabinet for Indwell in London. In addition, she has served on the Fanshawe College Board of Governors including as Chair, the United Way London For All Leadership Table, Junior Achievement of London and District Board and Advisory Council of Trustees, as well as the Boards of Ronald McDonald House Southwestern Ontario, London Arts Council and Hutton House. With a passion for helping the next generation of leaders, Patricia is a regular guest lecturer at Fanshawe College and Western University and is often called upon as a mentor and connector within our community

James Scarfone

Senior Communications Advisor, Hamilton Health Sciences

James Scarfone leads strategic communications for some of the most complex projects at one of Canada’s largest hospital systems. He always looks for new ways to reach a large, on-the-go workforce to unite them towards a common goal.

Noel Gruber

Director of Communications and Public Relations, Schlegel-UW Research Institute for Aging (RIA)

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Biography coming soon…

Macrina Smart

Communication Manager, Ontario Centres for Learning, Research and Innovation, Research Institute for Aging (RIA)

Macrina is a public affairs and strategy professional in the health and life sciences sector. As the current Manager of Communications for the Ontario Centres for Learning Research and Innovation, Macrina is responsible for the strategic direction of the Ontario CLRI’s communications and engagement with the long-term care (LTC) sector.

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Prior to joining the Ontario CLRI, Macrina worked extensively on crisis communications in LTC during COVID-19 at the home, operator, and government levels. She also has experience guiding organizations in the mental health and addictions sector through advocacy and knowledge translation initiatives.

Macrina holds a Master’s degree in Public Policy with a focus in health economics from the Munk School of Global Affairs and Public Policy at the University of Toronto and an Honours Bachelor of Arts degree in Communications from Trinity College at the University of Toronto.

Jay Innes

Director, Communications, Perley Health

Jay Innes is an experienced communications professional with journalism and marketing experience. In 2014, he established the communications department at Perley Health, a leading long-term care residence and independent living facility for more than 650 Seniors and Veterans. Jay’s initiatives included co-creating and launching the Perley Health Active Seniors website, transforming annual reports to video and helping to launch and promote the Perley Health Centre of Excellence in Frailty-Informed Care™.

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He led communication strategies during the COVID-19 pandemic, resulting in high staff and resident vaccination rates and media recognition. Jay’s expertise in video communication and innovative approaches to Perley Health’s growth, attracted features on CBC’s The National, CBC’s As It Happens and The New York Times. He holds a Master of Journalism degree from Carleton University and a degree from Dalhousie University.

Tracey Turriff

Director of Communications, VHA Home HealthCare

Tracey Turriff is a collaborative and strategic communications leader with a wide range of experience in internal and external communications, stakeholder relations, content creation, thought leadership and brand strategy. As the Director of Communications for VHA Home HealthCare, a large not-for-profit home care organization in Ontario, Tracey leads a dynamic, skilled team in delivering a broad range of internal, client and partner communications focused on building trust and fostering engagement and connection.

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Tracey is currently pursuing a Masters in Health Communications at the University of Ottawa and is Co-Chair for Communications, Engagement and Navigation for East Toronto Health Partners Ontario Health Team and Communications Co-Chair for Scarborough Ontario Health Team.

Nena Pendevska

Project Manager, OHT Initiatives, ETHP Engagement, WoodGreen Community Services

Nena Pendevska is the Engagement Lead for East Toronto Health Partners. She is passionate about the partnerships between patients, families, and healthcare professionals. Through her practical experience as a project and program manager in both public and not-for-profit sectors, Nena’s ability to work with large groups of internal and external stakeholders towards meaningful solutions, troubleshoot difficult situations, and build strong relationships, has helped to improve patient and caregiver experiences of engagement at ETHP.

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Building on her own lived experience, Nena sees her role at ETHP as an opportunity to advocate for increased patient and caregiver involvement in the co-design of programs and services.

Since moving to Canada from Europe, Nena earned her MHA(CC) from Toronto Metropolitan University and has worked on several large, scaling projects. She led the project to establish the Canadian Centre for Accreditation, a joint initiative of six Ontario associations led by Family Service Ontario. During her time at the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH), she led the project to replicate the Workman Arts project in St. Catharines, North Bay and Thunder Bay.

Kendelle LaBella

Project Manager, WoodGreen Community Services

Kendelle LaBella is a project manager with WoodGreen Community Services, overseeing various Seniors and Health Services initiatives within the Community Care Unit. She is also the Navigation Lead for the East Toronto Health Partner’s Communications, Engagement, & Navigation Portfolio. Kendelle is a compassionate and resourceful seniors’ advocate with over 10 years of experience in the social services sector.

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She has worked in Adult Day Programs, Long Term Care, Supportive Housing, Shelters, and non-profit Community Service Agencies in recreation, navigation, coordination, supervisory, and project & program management roles. First sparked by concern for the wellbeing of her aging grandparents and their imminent care needs, Kendelle graduated from Seneca’s Social Services Gerontology program as a “second career” after several years working in The Toronto Star’s advertising department. She is a staunch proponent of affordable housing, and sits on her residential Co-op’s board of directors serving as Vice President.

Hannah Trumper

Caregiver, ETHP Caregiver Advisory Group

Hannah Trumper is a resident of East York, Toronto and long-time caregiver to her parents and extended family. Her father, journalist and disability advocate, Stephen Trumper, lived with a spinal cord condition whereby he navigated life with his trusty wheelchair and his words. He passed away in January 2023. Her mother, Judith, an artist, developed early-onset Alzheimer’s in her late-50’s and currently resides in long-term care. Hannah understands the complexities of healthcare, the importance of advocacy and the need for collaboration: this is why she joined the ETHP Caregiver Advisory Group.

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In addition to caregiving and advocating, Hannah works as the Director of Audience Development at Newcom Media, a B2B media company.

Paris Semansky

Director of Communications and Public Affairs, CAMH

Paris Semansky is the Director of Communications and Public Affairs at CAMH – Canada’s largest mental health hospital and world leading mental health research centre. She has almost 15 years of experience in issues management, strategic communications, and public policy.

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Before coming to CAMH, Paris served as a senior policy advisor to former Premier Kathleen Wynne on education, community hubs and Indigenous relations files, and also as chief of staff to Ontario’s Deputy Premier and Minister of Advanced Education and Skills Development. In addition, Paris advised corporate clients at FleishmanHillard and also held senior advisor roles working for Ministers of Education, Health, and Children and Youth Services in Ontario.

A born and raised Londoner (Ontario), Paris studied social justice and peace at King’s University College at Western University and is working toward her Masters of Communications Management through McMaster University.

Her biggest accomplishment is as mother to her daughters, Anna (who just started JK) and Mira (who was born at the start of the pandemic). Paris, her girls, and her husband, Mike, live in Toronto’s east end.

Steph Ouellet

Principal, Sailing Stone Solutions

Steph Ouellet is Principal at Sailing Stone Solutions. He is an experienced leader with over 20 years of experience in areas of strategic planning, project/change management, financial/HR operations, communications & social media, and governance. Through increasingly challenging leadership roles in financial services, healthcare, and information technology sectors, he has built a reputation of delivering results and building trust.

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Steph holds a Bachelor of Commerce degree with Honours in Management Information Systems from the University of Ottawa, and a Masters of Business Administration from the Richard Ivey School of Business at Western University.  He also holds the Certified Health Executive (CHE) designation from the Canadian College of Health Leaders.

Steph has also been involved in numerous volunteer/board activities, more recently as board chair of the London Regional Children’s Museum and a regional cabinet member of the Elgin-Middlesex United Way.

Cathy Cowan

Senior Director, Communications, Canadian Mental Health Association York Region South Simcoe

Building on her 20+ year career creating innovative marketing communications campaigns for leading brands across Canada, Cathy is excited to now focus her expertise helping nonprofit organizations amplify their social impact.

As Senior Director, Communications for the Canadian Mental Health Association (CMHA) York Region South Simcoe, Cathy heads internal and external marketing communications for one of the largest and fastest growing branches of CMHA with 350 staff and 18,000+ clients.

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Over the past three years, Cathy has applied her award-winning, big brand marketing communications strategies, leading a team in transforming the organization’s marketing communications and smashing KPI targets.

Before joining CMHA, Cathy was President of Cowan & Company, a boutique PR agency that specialized in providing integrated marketing communications to premium lifestyle brands including L’Oreal, Jamieson Vitamins, Philips Lifeline and Kraft. Cowan & Company was named Boutique/Small Agency of the Year by IABC Toronto in 2007, 2008, 2014 and 2017 and recognized with 15+ awards for excellence and innovation in marketing communications, events, media relations, social media and social responsibility. Cathy was recognized as PR Professional of the Year in 2013 by Canadian Public Relations Society Toronto.

Cathy taught and created the curriculum for the ‘Storytelling, Strategic Messaging & Content Creation’ course for York University’s Post-Graduate Program in Public Relations that launched in 2019.

She holds an MBA from the University of Leicester and is a keen volunteer and Board Member for the Canadian Center for Women’s Empowerment.

Alex Opiola

Account Manager, Digital + Creative, Creative Currency

Alex is an Account Manager at Creative Currency, a national advertising agency and content studio. She is the engine that makes the creative services team run. Leading Creative Currency’s largest projects as a creative thinker with strong people skills, she understands the importance of storytelling to a wide range of audiences. She’s led countless successful advertising, email marketing, creative production + social media campaigns for clients like Grand River Hospital and St. Mary’s General Hospital, Ontario Public School Boards’ Association, Casey House, Dalton Associates, and the Ontario Federation of Agriculture (Farmer Wellness Initiative).

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She also leads Creative Currency’s culture, people and recruitment. Always fostering an inclusive and transparent work environment, Alex’s passion for people doesn’t go unnoticed. She manages Creative Currency and EnterpriseHealth’s not-for-profit initiative, the Women in Media Fellowship, a program developed to address the gap in professional development opportunities for women in health care.

Bradley Hammond

Manager, Communications, College of Nurses of Ontario

Bradley Hammond is the manager of communications at the College of Nurses of Ontario (CNO). A communications professional, Bradley has made a career of helping organizations tell their own story and grow audience. Before joining CNO, Bradley served as a press secretary to two Ontario premiers, before leading the media and stakeholder relations functions at the Nuclear Waste Management Organization. At CNO, Bradley leads a skilled team of communication and design professionals who relentlessly live the organization’s purpose, public protection through the promotion of safe nursing practice.

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Outside of work Bradley is often found on walks with his dog, Agamemnon, consuming pop culture and riding a bicycle.

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