4th Annual Strategic Internal Communication Conference


8 - 10

Words Matter

This year’s theme, Words Matter, speaks to the central role of communication as an integral enabler of organizational and individual success.

As communication and human resources practitioners, we know the power of words to “incite or inspire.” We were put to the test in a year full of uncertainty and chaos to use communication in order to create connection, inspire calm, encourage collaboration and build community. We needed to be stronger together even though many of us were far apart. We created trust in our leaders, our people and our organizations through authentic conversations that showcased care for humanity. We upheld our commitment to truth, ethics and facts.

Join us to hear from leaders in our field who will share their stories of struggles and success. Get insights from thought leaders on what the new normal is and how to prepare for the future. Learn about the new technologies now available. Take pride in the important role you play in communicating to and engaging employees and internal audiences.


Inner Strength Communication uses its expertise in Internal Communication, Change Management and Branding to enable, engage and empower employees and internal stakeholders to deliver business results from the inside out.

With a lofty vision…that organizations and leaders see strategic internal communication as integral to business success. That’s why they are committed to helping communication and business professionals to step up their game; bring strategic communication solutions to the boardroom; and earn their seat at the table.

SummersDirect Conference & Events is a conference planning company that sets itself apart from the rest with a focus on customer service and value. With over a dozen years of providing quality conference programming to communications professionals across Canada.

SummersDirect events deliver:

  • quality speakers presenting on real-life case studies
  • tools and techniques that you can take away and use
  • networking opportunities with your peers to exchange ideas and best practices
  • value for your money
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Day 1

Monday, November 8, 2021

REGISTER NOW            Online

8:30 – 8:45 a.m. WELCOME AND OPENING REMARKS FROM THE CHAIR Priya Bates, ABC, MC, CMP, IABC Fellow, President
Inner Strength Communication Inc.
8:45 – 9:45 a.m.

Jenni Field, Chart. PR, FCIPR, CIPR Vice-president 2021 & Director, Redefining Communications

Author, Influential Internal Communication

Opening Keynote

How communication can take your organization from chaos to calm

  • What is chaos inside organizations and how does it become toxic
  • Why communication is always the solution to the issues inside organizations
  • The importance of understanding people in business, the need to understand what it is to be human
  • The three steps to go from Chaos to Calm using The Field Model
10:15 – 10:55 a.m.

Salma Dhanani, (She/Her/Hers),
Senior Manager, Inclusion & Belonging (DEIB),
Sephora Canada

Belong Beautifully with Sephora Canada

Sephora, owned by Louis Vuitton Moët Hennessy (LVMH), is the global leading beauty retailer. At Sephora Canada we believe beauty is for each person to define and ours to celebrate. We support bold choices in beauty, and in life, by inspiring fearlessness. Responding to the COVID-19 Global Pandemic and social justice crisis that reached a critical moment in 2020, we took very purposeful actions that would drive forward our aspiration: To create a world where everyone feels like they belong. Our objective was to inspire, develop and engage our employees, customers, and communities by positioning Sephora Canada as a leader in the space of social inclusion, while being a responsible retailer.

In this session, you will learn about:

The We Belong Social Impact platform, which led to the development of our Diversity and Inclusion Heart Journey Strategy.
Engaging multiple stakeholders in our D&I strategy — employees, clients, and community partners.
Supporting COVID-19’s impact and the Social Justice Crisis with local and national efforts in a purposeful way.

Join us to hear about how we built a purpose-driven program with impactful and engaging activations contributing to our aspiration.

10:55 – 11:40 a.m.

Christine Szustaczek, MCM, APR (she/her)

Vice President, External Relations, Office of the President

Sheridan College

Keeping employees engaged and connected – Sheridan’s pandemic response

The COVID-19 pandemic forced Sheridan to close its campuses in mid-March 2020 and rapidly shift operations to remote delivery for the first time in the institution’s fifty-year history. Since that time, Sheridan’s people have had to continually pivot in order to comply with changing Ministry directives and public health guidelines. This case study will share our blueprint for real-time, honest and empathetic two-way communication, which enabled business continuity, fueled employee morale, generated a sense of calm and compassion and retained people’s trust, goodwill and sense of connection.

The session will share:

  • The guiding principles we used to ensure fairness, consistency and timeliness in our decision making, in the face of rapidly changing circumstances;
  • What our primary and secondary research revealed and how, together with our audience analysis, it shaped our strategies, messages and tactics;
  • How we supported employees through targeted policy interventions and resources that were provided to managers;
  • The SMART objectives we set and the metrics we used to prove that our campaign was a success; and
  • How the communications team maintained their momentum, collaborated effectively while physically dispersed, and mitigated the risk of burn-out.
11:40 – 11:50 a.m. CHAIR YOGA
11:50 a.m. – 12:30 p.m. NETWORKING & LUNCH BREAK
12:30 – 1:10 p.m.

Ananya Mani, Senior Internal Communications Specialist, Ingram Micro

The Magic of Storytelling:

Explore how you can leverage the power of storytelling to drive employee engagement, build the employer brand, and tell your company’s story. During this session you will learn:

-Tips on how to look for stories and the best way to tell them

-How to use stories to create a magical employee experience

-How stories can be central to building the employer brand through the voice of the employee

1:10 – 1:50 p.m.
Nicole Shokoples,
Director, Strategy,
ATB Financial

Austin Havens, Manager, Communications 
ATB Financial
Navigating returns to the workplace: how to prepare employees and influence behavior when the future is uncertain

An IABC Gold Quill award winning case study that digs into how we navigated the challenges of returning employees to the workplace:
Overwhelmed employees who were busy solving emerging COVID-19 crises, dealing with disruptions at home in their work routine, and experiencing new stressors. Leaders who did not have capacity to individually manage and track returns.

Communications competing with a significant amount of other important news within, and outside of, the organization.

Aa significant amount of content, policies, procedures, and other building-specific information to compile and distribute.

Training, technology, and mass-assignment limitations.

Completion of training before entering an office could not be mandated as the organization lacked the proper tracking technology.

No budget to implement a corporate sign in process or technology solution.

Get an inside look into the real-life situations and constraints that shaped our decisions, how we used communications to inspire employee confidence in safety, and how communications practitioners can use what they have to get creative and successfully motivate behavior.

2:15 – 3:00 p.m.

Loretta Lam,
Chief Strategist & President, Focus Communications Inc.

The Power of Words in Diversity & Inclusion Communication

Words are powerful.  As internal communicators, we can unintentionally do a lot of good or damage with our words. Internal communications has the potential to build a culture that encourages open and productive conversations, leading to better outcomes for the organization and people in the organization.

Many leaders feel good about their diversity policy when their organization provides D&I training and embeds diversity into hiring practices.  Although your company profile may look good at a glance, it’s important that Diversity and inclusion isn’t superficial.

At this session, Loretta will:

  • Share insights from the CMA D&I report published in 2021
  • Identify areas where companies and leaders are falling short on D&I strategy and communication, and
  • Help you move beyond checking diversity boxes to create a genuine strategy that benefits your organization

From her 25-year experience as a multicultural marketing expert working with a roster of multinationals, non-profit and government clients on diversity marketing and communication, she will share her client experience on formulating D&I strategy, trainings, and discuss some common mistakes.





Day 2

Tuesday, November 9, 2021


8:45 – 9:00 a.m. WELCOME AND OPENING REMARKS FROM THE CHAIR Priya Bates, ABC, MC, CMP, IABC Fellow, President
Inner Strength Communication Inc.
9:00 – 10:00 a.m.

John Cardella, BA., CHRE, President & CEO, REHVUP Technologies Inc.

Opening Keynote

The Rise of Strategic People Leadership

In his book, The Rise of Strategic People Leadership, John Cardella discusses the transformation currently under way in HR. John argues that many HR functions and mindsets must urgently evolve in order to leapfrog the existing post pandemic malaise taking root in the workplace. The world of work has gone digital and a failure to retool, restructure and adapt to the realities of tomorrow may well reduce an organization’s overall competitive advantage and its long-term viability.

In this keynote, find out:

  • The changing role of the HR Leader
  • How to future-proof your organization for a healthy digital future
  • The impact of the digitally connected and automated workplace on businesses and their people
  • How communication can support HR in driving change and thinking more strategically
  • How communication and HR can leverage technology to shape a superior employee experience, nurture a happier workforce, and deliver stronger results
10:15 – 10:55 a.m.

Danielle Norris, SCMP (she/her)
Manager, Marketing and Communications, RTOERO

Member magazine taps into authentic internal voices

Join this dynamic and interactive session featuring a Gold Quill winning case study of using communication research to transform internal communications.

RTOERO is a bilingual member organization for those working in and retired from the education sector. It is the largest provider of non-profit health insurance for education retirees in Canada.

With 82,000 members from various roles in education ranging in age from 49 to 109, internal communications comes with unique challenges.

RTOERO uses quantitative and qualitative research to evaluate and improve communications – including the quarterly member magazine, which is the main internal communication tool. Redesigning the magazine was also part of an organizational rebrand.

Workshop attendees will learn how to:

  • use research to identify communication gaps and opportunities
  • build trust through authentic storytelling
  • challenge implicit bias using an inclusive lens
10:55 – 11:40 a.m.

Sara Goldvine, Vice President, Communications, BC Housing 

Making the case and proving your worth: building an employee communications function (during a pandemic)

During this interactive workshop, learn how BC Housing built a case for investment in employee communications and launched the function just as the COVID-19 pandemic struck. This case study will share more about BC Housing’s award-winning approach to developing new two-way communications channels to share rapidly-changing information with a diverse workforce tasked with supporting many of the province’s most marginalized communities.

This session will share ways to:

  • Build support for investment in employee communications
  • Focus resources on employee communications’ unique value proposition
  • Foster Reconciliation and Equity, Diversity, Inclusion, and Belonging through employee communications
  • Measure impact and track progress
11:40 – 12:15 p.m. NETWORKING / LUNCH BREAK
12:15 – 1:30 p.m. Chris Lee, Vice President, Employee Communications Practice, Employee Benefits Consulting Division,

Gallagher Canada

Workshop: What’s Next for Internal Communication?

Chris Lee and Priya Bates

The Gallagher State of the Sector report identified the key global trends that were shared by Internal Communication professionals from around the world.

Join Chris Lee, Vice President, Employee Communication Practice, Gallagher, and Priya Bates. President, Inner Strength Communication in this interactive session that allows attendees to share challenges and opportunities.

  • Understand the key findings of the 2021 Gallagher State of the Sector Survey
  • Discuss the four key trends identified: Digital, Employee Experience, Change as the new Normal, and Insights to Action
  • Choose a table or breakout of peers to discuss and share solutions around one of the key trends
1:45 – 2:40 p.m.

Advita Patel, Founder,
Comms Rebel


Is the fear of IC measurement holding you back?

In this session Advita will address the IC measurement fears that can sometimes stop our progress. In this session, you will learn:

  • Practical advice and top tips to bring measurement into every day practices
  • How to use measurement to develop and improve your work
  • How accountability and results will help you become a trusted strategic advisor




Post-conference Workshops

Wednesday, November 10, 2021

Online  – due to the interactive nature of workshops they are not recorded

9:00 – 11:30 a.m. Workshop A: How to apply The Field Model to your chaos
1:00 – 3:30 p.m. Workshop B: Communicating Reorganizations to limit disruption

9:00 – 11:30 a.m. Online

Workshop A:

How to apply The Field Model to your chaos

Jenni Field, Chart. PR, FCIPR, CIPR Vice-president 2021 & Director, Redefining Communications

In her book, Influential Internal Communication, Jenni Field teaches communication professionals how to streamline corporate communication to drive efficiency and engagement.

In this workshop, Jenni teaches you her Field Model and helps you understand, diagnose and fix challenges in your own workplace with communication solutions. The Field Model can be applied to multiple challenges including team friction, mergers & acquisitions, growth, and business transformation.

  • Learn about the steps to the Field Model
  • Bring a business challenge that you would like to discuss and use to test The Field Model
  • Get support and advice from Jenni and your workshop peers that you can take back to the office.

Don’t miss this opportunity to take your organization from chaos to calm using Jenni’s proven step-by-step system.

1:00 – 3:30 p.m. Online

Workshop B:

Communicating Reorganizations to limit disruption

Priya Bates, ABC, MC, CMP, IABC Fellow, President, Inner Strength Communication Inc.

As organizations create strategies for sustainability, that include right-sizing, mergers, acquisitions and divestitures, many

communication professionals will be communicating re-organizations. Join us to learn how to:

  • Communicate proactively and limit disruption
  • Put a values-based lens on your reorganization communication
  • Refocus employees on the strategy
  • Reorganizations are an opportunity to build engagement and trust when managed correctly. Join us to find out how.


Pricing Information

2021 ONLINE Conference Pricing

Launch Rate

(until August 6, 2021)

Early Bird Rate


(until September 30, 2021)

Regular Rate

(after September 30, 2021)

BEST VALUE! Conference + Two Post-conference Workshops (Nov. 8, 9 & 10, 2021) $990.00 $1125.00 $1315.00
Conference + 1 Post-conference Workshop (Nov. 8, 9 & a half day on Nov. 10, 2021) $925.00 $1050.00 $1125.00
Conference – One Day Only (Nov. 8 or Nov. 9 ) + 2 Post-conference Workshops (Nov. 10) $860.00 $975.00 $1125.00
Conference – One Day Only (Monday, Nov. 8 or Tuesday, Nov. 9) + 1 Workshop (Nov. 10, 2021) $595.00 $675.00 $790.00
Conference – Both Days (Nov. 8 & Nov. 9, 2021) $725.00 $825.00 $900.00
Conference – One Day Only (Nov. 8 or Nov. 9, 2021) $365.00 $415.00 $495.00
Post-conference One half day Workshop (Nov. 10, 2021) $365.00 $415.00 $455.00
Post-conference Full day of Workshops (Nov. 10, 2021) $695.00 $825.00 $865.00


Cancellation & Refund Policy

Substitution of delegates is permissible without prior notification. Refunds will be given for cancellations received in writing no later than 10 days prior to the conference date subject to an administration fee of $200 plus $26 for HST. After this time, you are liable for the full registration fee even if you do not attend the conference. If you register during this 10 day period, you are also liable for the full fee. SummersDirect Inc. reserves the right to change program date, meeting place or content without further notice and assumes no liability for these changes.