2023 Speaker Line Up
Bianca Freedman, Chief Executive Officer, Edelman Canada
Bianca Freedman is Chief Executive Officer, Edelman Canada, where she leads strategy, operations and culture in the region. Edelman is a global communications firm that partners with businesses and organizations to evolve, promote and protect their brands and reputations. Globally, Edelman has more than 6,000 employees in 65 offices. The Edelman Canada operation spans five offices with more than 280 employees.
In her time at Edelman, Bianca has led some of Edelman Canada’s largest and most complex files across both private and public sectors, promoting, protecting and evolving corporate reputations in today’s dynamic media environment.
Prior to her position as CEO, Bianca held positions as Chief Operating Officer, Edelman Canada, General Manager, Edelman Calgary and Vice President, Toronto Corporate Practice. In these client-facing roles, Bianca led some of Edelman Canada’s largest and most complex files across both private and public sectors, promoting, protecting and evolving corporate reputations. She has worked with some of Canada’s most prestigious companies to transform the way they show up for employees, customers, and shareholders. Bianca held the COO position during two of the strongest performing years in the firm’s history in Canada, partnering with the Canadian Leadership Team to deliver award-winning work in a truly national, highly integrated structure.
She is also one of the Edelman Global network experts in Executive Positioning – an increasingly critical body of communications work as Canadians are looking to CEOs to stand up for employees and make a difference in society today.
Prior to joining Edelman in 2013, Bianca helped innovate communications at Walmart, holding key roles across internal communications, marketing and ecommerce – both in Canada and in The San Francisco Bay area with Walmart’s global e-commerce group.
Bianca sits on Humber PR’s Advisory Board and is a mentor and advisor to youth focused organizations dedicated to removing barriers to entering the workforce and accelerating high potential talent. She is also program volunteer at CARD, The Community Association for [Equine] Riders with Disabilities.
Erik Waddell, Manager of Strategic Communications, Communications Security Establishment (CSE)
With over fifteen years of experience at senior levels in federal government, as well as two years working as a private-sector consultant, Erik Waddell has provided professional communications advice and policy analysis on a wide range of key government issues including security & intelligence, regulatory reform, democratic reform, IT and telecommunications policy, foreign investment regulations, open government, youth issues, support for LGBTQ2 communities, and defence procurement. Since 2017, Erik has been Manager of Strategic Communications at the Communications Security Establishment (CSE), where he takes great pride in looking after internal communications for the organization’s 3,000+ employees.
Jared Curtis is the Senior Director of Corporate Communications for Maximus
Jared Curtis is the Senior Director of Corporate Communications for Maximus. He leads an award-winning team responsible for managing the company’s communications, social media, storytelling, and brand management. He has over 25 years of experience in project management and communications. Jared holds Project Management Professional (PMP) and Lean Six Sigma Green Belt certifications and was awarded Ragan Communications and PR Daily’s 2021 Communicator of the Year. He is a U.S. Army Military Intelligence Veteran with a Master of Arts in Strategic Communications from the University of Iowa.
Ali Duncan Martin – Director, Corporate Communications, BMO Financial Group
Ali Duncan Martin is Director, Corporate Communications at BMO Financial Group. In this role she oversees the development and execution of communications strategies and tactics for initiatives across a number of portfolios including the bank’s strategy, Social Impact, Loyalty, Culture, Digital First and Mental Health and Wellness. She is also corporate communications lead for the Strategy and Operations and Finance groups, as well as for the acquisition and integration of Bank of the West.
Ali has also acted as a communications lead supporting the BMO Personal and Business Banking and BMO Wealth Management businesses. Prior to joining BMO, she worked in progressively senior corporate communications, marketing and public relations positions at TD Bank Group and UPS Canada.
Ali received her Bachelor of Administrative and Commercial Studies from the University of Western Ontario and Public Relations Certificate from Humber College.
Kerry Gaetano – VP & Head, Corporate Communications, BMO Financial Group
Kerry Gaetano is VP & Head, Corporate Communications at BMO Financial Group. Kerry oversees the development and implementation of communications strategies for large scale programs within BMO’s Technology, Operations and Corporate Areas, including the bank’s Digital First, Sustainability, Diversity, Equity & Inclusion and Bank of the West integration initiatives.
Kerry has also served as Head, Communications for Canadian Banking, Wealth Management and Digital Experience and Head of Communications & Corporate Affairs, Strategy & Operations. Prior to joining BMO, Kerry was Head of Communications, Personal & Commercial Banking and Insurance at RBC. She held progressively senior communications positions at Canada Life and Howe & Company, a public relations firm based in Toronto.
Kerry has been recognized for communications excellence by the International Association of Business Communicators (IABC), including IABC Gold Quill, Ovation and Silver Leaf awards. She received her BA in Journalism from Ryerson University and is a Peel Children’s Aid Foundation board member.
Veronica Noronha, Managing Director, ParadigmNine
Veronica is an award-winning communications professional, with nearly two decades of experience working with organizations to leverage the power of communications to drive audience engagement. Her experience spans internal and external communications. After spending 15 years at Rogers Communications as a senior communications leader, Veronica transitioned to consultant work, eventually becoming a partner, now owner of ParadigmNine, a boutique communications agency serving clients across several industries, including luxury hotels and resorts, non-profit NGO, telecom, and sport. Veronica is committed to helping organizations unlock the full potential of communication using meaningful, high-impact, and captivating strategies to engage their audience.
Jefferson Darrell, Founder & CEO, Breakfast Culture™ Inc.
Jefferson Darrell is among Canada’s earliest outliers in the IDEA (inclusion, diversity, equity, accessibility) arena; successfully driving positive change management for organizations since 2015 resulting in more diverse and inclusive teams, increased revenue, and/or new business opportunities. Jefferson is an accomplished marketing communications and change management professional with more than 17 years of brand strategy expertise, generating earned and owned media using both traditional and digital channels. In 2017 he founded Breakfast Culture™ Inc., a full-scale, data-driven, tech-forward diversity, equity and inclusion, marketing & consulting company. In the DEI (diversity, equity, inclusion) space, Jefferson was instrumental in the creation of the Diversity Inclusion Anti-Racism Action Team at the Ontario Science Centre and in organizing its involvement in the world’s first “International Pride in STEM Day” on July 5, 2018. He also represented the Centre on the DEI Committee for the Canadian Association of Science Centres (CASC).
Jefferson’s change management project with the Black Coalition for AIDS Prevention (Black CAP) diversified the non-profit’s development committee, streamlined its marketing and communications and increased revenue opportunities. The UK-based CEO Monthly Magazine recognized Jefferson as “Most Influential CEO 2023 – Ontario (Business Culture Consulting), he placed fourth ($!000 cash prize) in the Canadian Black Chamber of Commerce 2023 Founders Pitch Competition (his first ever venture capitalist pitch), Canada’s LGBT+ Chamber of Commerce awarded him the 2021 Business Advocate of the Year Award. In 2022, Breakfast Culture Inc. won a 2022 PR News Social Impact Award for The STEP FORWARD Project for client Ontario AIDS Network. Jefferson is featured as a “Voice from the Field” where he discusses diversity and inclusion in the PR industry in the 2020 Public Relations Canadian Edition textbook and sits on strategy magazine’s Diversity & Inclusion Advisory Board.
Michael Forbes, Assistant Vice President, University Relations, Toronto Metropolitan University
Michael Forbes joined Toronto Metropolitan University in 2011 as the Manager of Public Affairs. Since then, he has served as the Director of Communications, Chief of Staff to the President, and most recently as the AVP of University Relations. Prior to joining TMU, Michael spent a decade in consulting, where he advised a range of clients such as Procter and Gamble, the Canadian Competition Bureau, and the Ontario Ministry of Health on policy and communications issues.
Johanna VanderMaas, Senior Director, Communications, Toronto Metropolitan University
Johanna VanderMaas joined Toronto Metropolitan University as a media relations officer in 2010 and has progressed into more senior roles since that time, currently serving as Senior Director, Communications. During her time at TMU she has had the opportunity to lead a number of interesting and challenging files from hitchBOT the traveling robot, to pandemic communications to renaming the institution. Prior to TMU, Johanna worked in public relations for consumer clients.
Pat Cook, SIGA Vice President of Corporate Affairs
Patricia Cook has served in the role of Vice President (VP) of Corporate Affairs for the Saskatchewan Indian Gaming Authority (SIGA) since 2005. She is a proud member of the Lac La Ronge Indian Band in Treaty Six Territory.
Since joining SIGA, Pat’s focus has been on Corporate Social Responsibility and Corporate Governance. She oversees SIGA’s Communications, Media Relations, Community Investments and Stakeholder Relations, Responsible Gaming and Policy Administration.
Prior to joining SIGA, she was employed by the Prince Albert Grand Council in various capacities, including as the Director of Operations. Pat has received her Masters in Business Administration (MBA) from Cape Breton University and she has earned her Chartered Director designation from McMasters University.
Pat has served on numerous boards and is currently a Director with the Jim Pattison Children’s Hospital Foundation and the Responsible Gambling Council of Canada.
Alanna Adamko, SIGA Director of Communications & Media Relations
Alanna Adamko has served in the role of Director of Communications & Media Relations at the Saskatchewan Indian Gaming Authority (SIGA) for the past three years. Working at SIGA, a First Nations non-profit corporation, which operates seven casinos and PlayNow.com in Saskatchewan, on behalf of the 74 First Nations, has provided her cultural insights and new insights she brings into her communications work.
Her cultural journey began by serving as the media spokesperson for the Prince Albert Police Service, whose organizational membership, as well as the larger community, was comprised of over 20 per cent First Nation population. While there, she served under the first Métis Police Chief in Canada, Chief Troy Cooper, as well as Elder Julie Pitzel, learning First Nations cultural ways, from these respected local leaders.
Alanna has more than 11 years combined experience in Communications, Public Relations, and Marketing, working for a variety of sectors, including different levels of government, NGOs, policing, agriculture, and construction.
Rishma Hudda, CHRL, Head of Human Resources/Vice President HR, General Mills Canada
Rishma is a Certified Human Resources Executive with over 25 years of HR leadership experience within the Consumer Packaged Goods and Retail industries. Rishma is currently Head of Human Resources/Vice President HR for General Mills Canada and has previously held senior HR leadership roles at PepsiCo Foods Canada and Loblaw Companies Limited. She has significant experience in executive coaching, talent management, organizational design and culture transformations. Rishma is also very involved in the HR industry as an active member of the Human Resources Professional Association’s Peel Chapter, and regularly participates in various panels and speaking events.
Rishma completed an Honours Bachelor of Arts degree from the University of Toronto, a Certificate in Human Resources Management and also holds the professional designation of Certified Human Resources Leader (CHRL).
Marc Viola, Vice-President, Talent & Culture, Definity Financial Corporation
Marc Viola is a high-velocity leader who thinks and builds big. With Definity Financial Corporation (TSX:DFY) since 2019, he is Vice-President, Talent & Culture for one of Canada’s leading and most trusted property and casualty insurance companies. Definity had a $1.6 billion IPO in November of 2021, making them the biggest Canadian IPO of the year and the second largest in the history of the Toronto Stock Exchange. With Definity still in a period of rapid growth, Marc and his team are on a mission to elevate their culture of high-performance, high-engagement and employee promise of CARE.
He has previously held senior leadership positions with Loblaw and George Weston Limited where he was appointed a key HR leader for Talent, M&A projects, an international business unit and the scaling of new and pre-IPO businesses. Marc’s work has been featured in Forbes, the Financial Post and Canadian HR Reporter.
Marc is a Certified Human Resources Executive (CHRE), holds an undergraduate degree in Psychology and a Post-Graduate Certificate in Human Resources Management. He is active on industry Boards, and a recipient of Workforce Management’s Game-Changer Award and Canadian Grocer’s Generation Next Award.
Residing in the Leslieville neighborhood of Toronto with his wife and daughter, Marc is a doting girl-dad and passionate runner having competed in races in both Canada and the United States.
Michelle Edwards, Senior Director People, Agnico Eagle Mines Limited
Michelle is at the forefront of creating compelling employee experiences to attract and retain talent. With 20+ years of global experience in Retail, Technology, Healthcare and Mining, she is known for her strategic, multidisciplinary and operational strength in Human Resources.
Michelle is the Senior Director, People (Global) for Agnico Eagle Mines Ltd., the world’s third largest gold mining company. In this role her focus includes advancing the organization’s global HR strategy and serving as a strategic advisor to the Executive Leadership Team on operational workforce challenges and opportunities. In addition, she leads the company’s Global Human Resources Leadership Team and is a member of its Diversity, Equity & Inclusion Council.
Building business and people capability by developing integrated strategies in the areas of human resources, leadership development and organizational culture are a core strength for Michelle. She is passionate about fostering inclusive environments where people feel empowered and free of barriers to living and contributing at their full potential.
For her professional and community contributions, Michelle has received various acknowledgments including being named to “100 Black Women to Watch” in Canada and “2022 Names to Know” in mining by CIM Magazine. In her spare time, she coaches women and leaders in navigating and building meaningful careers. Michelle is a current Board Member of Ernestine’s Women’s Shelter and a past board member for the Women’s Abuse Council of Toronto as well as Volunteer Toronto.
Sheri Morgan, Senior Director of Communications & Engagement, PepsiCo Foundation
Sheri Morgan is the Senior Director of Communications and Engagement for the PepsiCo Foundation – the company’s philanthropic arm. In this role, Sheri leads global internal and external communications and employee engagement in support of the PepsiCo Foundation’s three core pillars of creating equitable access to nutritious food, safe water, and economic opportunity. Sheri has been with PepsiCo for fifteen years.
Most recently, Sheri was the Head of Communications at PepsiCo Foods Canada where she had the privilege of leading a communications team with a scope that included corporate and brand PR, internal communications, president’s office communications, the PepsiCo Canada corporate website (www.pepsico.ca), the national translations team and the company’s national community relations/charitable giving strategy.
Sheri is a well-rounded communicator with over 20 years of progressive marketing communications, media relations, corporate and internal communications experience. She spent seven years working for PR agencies in marketing communications working with some of the world’s best known brands including PepsiCo, Frito Lay Canada, Marriott Hotels, McCain Foods, Swiss Chalet and Sony PlayStation, to name only a few. In 2007, Sheri went client side with PepsiCo Foods Canada.
Throughout her career, Sheri conceived and led several programs which were recognized with awards from IABC, CPRS and the Canadian Marketing Association for internal communications, brand marketing and PR. Sheri is an IABC Accredited Business Communicator and a graduate of the University of Guelph and an executive certificate in Strategy from the Smith School of Business.
Sabita Singh, LinkedIn Strategy Coach, President, Trivetta Consulting Inc.
Sabita Singh is the President of Trivetta Consulting Inc. Prior to forming her company in 2018, she led digital functions for companies including KPMG Canada and Sun Life Financial. After recognizing the power of LinkedIn at KPMG, Sabita specialized in becoming a strategic LinkedIn coach, trainer and speaker.
She writes all-star LinkedIn profiles for her clients to improve their visibility on LinkedIn. In addition, Sabita coaches them on how to build an ACTIVE presence on LinkedIn to attract new career and business opportunities.
Sabita started her career in internal communications for organizations including Consumers Gas, the Toronto Stock Exchange and Sprint Canada.
As an Accredited Business Communicator who is passionate about internal communications, Sabita enjoys showing organizations how to leverage their employees as brand ambassadors on LinkedIn.
Jacqueline Gallant, Senior Managing Director, Head of Institutional Marketing and Communications, SLC Management
Jacqueline Gallant is Senior Managing Director, Head of Institutional Marketing and Communications, SLC Management.
Jacqueline leads the development of the overall marketing and communications strategy that helps build the market presence of SLC Management and its affiliate brands, its people, and its products across North America. The SLC Management brands include Sun Life Capital Management, BGO, InfraRed Capital Partners, Crescent Capital Group, and Advisors Asset Management.
Jacqueline and her team promote the companies’ investment solutions and insights targeting institutional investors, investment consultants and the media at large. In 2014, Jacqueline was instrumental in launching the Sun Life Investment Management brand in Canada, and in 2019 led the firm’s rebrand to SLC Management commemorating the integration of the fixed income affiliate brands. With the firm having made six acquisitions within six years, Jacqueline and her team have been successfully broadening its reach across North America.
Jacqueline has been with the Sun Life organization for over 25 years and has worked in the Individual Insurance and Wealth and Group Retirement Services businesses, as well as its Corporate Communications area. For 12 years, she led the Group Retirement Services division’s Marketing and Communications team contributing to its number one market position through highly creative, award winning marketing and communications strategies. Her unique experience has been invaluable in the pensions, savings, and investments area where client engagement, and clear business-to-business communication is critical.
A graduate of Memorial University of Newfoundland with a Bachelor of Arts Degree and Bachelor of Education Degree, Jacqueline spent three years teaching Communications before embarking on a career in Marketing and Communications. Jacqueline lends her brand building experience to community and university initiatives and facilitates a program that helps women in business develop their voice