In Person & Online

19th Annual Municipal Communications Conference


Presented by Swansea Communications + SummersDirect

For over a decade, SummersDirect Conference & Events and Swansea Communications have been bringing together communication professionals from across Canada for quality conference programming. This partnership is the only in Canada that has provided both national and regional conferences for the communications field .

Our goal is to offer a conference experience that will educate and inspire professional communicators from various industries through an environment of professional networking to benefit both delegates and speakers alike. You will walk away with tools and techniques you can take away and use, case studies you can relate to and most of all VALUE.

Join our email list for information about this event.

Hotel Information

Courtyard Toronto Downtown  

The group rate is $279.00/night + taxes and is available Nov. 24 – Nov. 27, 2024. Rooms are not guaranteed and do sellout and are subject to availability. Please don’t delay. Book today!

Book online here

Or call Marriott Reservations and make a booking at 1 (800) 847-5075


Online via Zoom 

In Person 

Courtyard Toronto Downtown

475 Yonge St, Toronto, ON M4Y 1X7

Contact Us


Julia Harvie-Shemko, APR, CEC, Founder and CEO, Red Thread Connections 

Amy Caron, Senior Communication Specialist, City of London

Chair – Brian Lambie, President Redbrick Communications & Media Contact, Association of Ontario Municipalities (AMO)

Erika Botond, Senior Manager, Communications and Creative, Town of Whitby

Byrne Furlong, Communications, Project Manager, Public Information and Media Relations, City of Ottawa

Kate Campbell, Director of Communications & IT, Northumberland County

Rosanna Wilcox, Director, London Regional Employment Services

Michael Blackburn, Manager, Public Health Communications, Toronto Public Health

Meghan Kilty, MCM, Director, Communications, Public Health Communications, Toronto Public Health

Krysta Smith, Communications Specialist, Strathcona County

Erin Mikaluk, Services Manager, Communications and Creative Services, Town of Whitby

Jacquelyn Folville, Manager, Communications & Marketing, AMCTO

Alexander Court, Coordinator, Communications & Marketing, AMCTO

Shayna Tinson, Northumberland County Marketing & Creative Services Supervisor

Kent Waugh, Managing Partner, The W Group

Cynthia Lockrey,
Lockrey Communications

Claudia Jaimes
Major Projects

Environment & Infrastructure Services
City of London

Andrea Rosebrugh
Senior Communication Specialist, City of London


Monday, November 25, 2024

All times are in Eastern

Gone are the days of the 50+ page strategic plans that collect dust after they’re created. Having a short, concise and visual plan is key to ensure people keep coming back to it and it’s front of mind in the organization. Cynthia shares tips from how to hear from a variety of voices and develop a strategic plan that resonates. You’ll learn how to set the groundwork, the importance of hearing from a variety of voices and how to create a document that is actually read. Say goodbye to long text, confusing charts and corporate speak. Instead, let’s put our communications tools to good use to create a visual plan.

Cynthia Lockrey, Changemaker + Communications Expert, Lockrey Communications

Do your departments and leaders get what you do, or could be doing for them? Do they know effective communications is a team sport and they play a role? Do they know what organizational communications excellence looks like?

Based Redbrick’s municipal experience and a review of other maturity models, the agency developed a customized Communications Maturity Index for municipalities, which laid the foundation for Northumberland County’s first ever Communications Master Plan. Learn how the Index and the Plan have created stronger buy in at leadership and Council tables, elevated the role of communications, given the team a clear strategic direction, and have set the stage to improve how success is measured and reported. Attendees will:

  • Learn the five levels of communications maturity
  • Find out why a corporate communications plan matters
  • Have some myths busted about how others are doing
  • Walk away with ideas to increase your street cred with Council and leadership

Andrea Montgomery, Vice President, Redbrick Communications

Kate Campbell, Director of Communications & IT, Northumberland County

Explore how to boost brand awareness for municipal programs and services using marketing tools and tactics more often employed in private sector campaigns. Delve into the case study of Northumberland County’s six-month campaign for The Business & Entrepreneurship Centre Northumberland (BECN). Discover digital marketing tools and robust reporting techniques to drive engagement and exceed expectations. Attendees will learn:

  • Essentials of building brand awareness
  • Actionable strategies to adapt private sector marketing tools for municipal campaigns
  • Effective campaign reporting and evaluation to demonstrate value

Shayna Tinson, Marketing & Creative Services Supervisor, Northumberland County  

Kate Campbell, Director of Communications and IT, Northumberland County

In May 2022, after months of isolation caused by the pandemic, vibrant in-person Pride celebrations were back on the horizon for the 2SLGBTQ+ community in Canada’s largest city. But just as anticipation peaked, a new public health threat emerged: mpox (formerly monkeypox).

This outbreak wasn’t just a public health challenge. Mpox disproportionately impacted gay, bisexual, and other men who have sex with men – raising immediate concerns about the spread of the disease, as well as potential stigma and discrimination toward the very community preparing to celebrate gender and sexual diversity.

In this presentation, attendees will learn about:

  • How the public health unit tackled the mpox outbreak head on
  • The unique tightrope of controlling the outbreak while preventing discrimination and fostering trust
  • The importance of meaningful community partnerships with equity-deserving communities
  • Strengthening organizational reputation amidst a crisis
  • How crucial lessons learned informed future responses

Michael Blackburn, Manager, Public Health Communications, Toronto Public Health

Meghan Kilty, MCM, Director, Communications, Toronto Public Health

In 2022, Lakeridge Health announced lands in Whitby as the preferred site for a new Durham acute care hospital to be located. Two years later, zero action had been taken by the Ontario government on the $3 million Planning Grant and land commitment required to move this project forward.

Recognizing a new hospital as a top community priority, the Whitby Communications team leveraged its 360-team approach to launch an integrated, highly visual, and digital-first education and community advocacy campaign to build awareness of this provincial inaction and encourage the community to tell the province why bringing health care closer to home through a new hospital matters to them. The result: close to 4,000 completed call-to-action letters and stories shared by residents and sent directly to the Premier to advocate for the hospital, with more continuing to be submitted every day.


Through this presentation, attendees will learn:

1. The importance of research and an integrated team approach to creating impactful campaigns

2. How to work with political partners to achieve shared goals

3. Why flexibility and being nimble matters in addressing emerging issues


Erika Botond, Sr. Manager, Communications and Creative, Town of Whitby

Erin Mikaluk, Services Manager, Communications and Creative Services, Town of Whitby

The introduction of Integrated Employment Services (IES) brought with it significant changes for municipalities, employment service providers, Social Assistance and Ontario Disability Support Program Offices, and many other community partners and interest holders.  The City of London was selected as the Service System Manager for the London Economic Region to oversee the implementation of IES, and with it, navigate the challenges that come with the implementation.

Attendees will learn more about:

  • How remaining rooted in your core values will help create stability during change.
  • How good communication is an integral part of bringing along partners and participants in the journey of change.
  • How important collaboration and co-design in programs and services to drive the work forward.

Amy Caron, Senior Communication Specialist, London Regional Employment Services

Rosanna Wilcox, Director, London Regional Employment Services

Tuesday, November 26, 2024

All times are in Eastern

In today’s fast-paced municipal environment, communicators are increasingly called up on to do more than just convey messages – they must become strategic partners driving organizational success.

During this hands-on and interactive session, you will:

  • Discover why communicators must transcend traditional communication roles and become business partners.
  • Explore the five characteristics of strategic thinkers, from foresight to the ability to connect the dots.
  • Learn how communicators possess a unique opportunity to ‘connect the dots’ across the organizational silos.

Walk away with:

  • A clear understanding of the importance of these skills in today’s communication landscape.
  • Practical strategies for integrating business acumen, strategic thinking, and dot connecting into your daily work.
  • A personalized action plan for further skill development.
  • An accountability partner to support you on your journey towards mastering these essential skills.

Don’t miss this opportunity to unlock your full potential as a communicator and position yourself as a strategic asset within your organization. Join us for a transformative session that will empower you to thrive in today’s ever-changing municipal world.

Julia Harvie-Shemko, APR, CEC, Founder and CEO, Red Thread Connections 

Annual winter campaigns in Strathcona County include parking ban information, sidewalk clearing bylaw requirements and road safety messaging. With a changing social media landscape and competing messaging on corporate channels, it was becoming increasing difficult to reach residents. The County also had decreasing public satisfaction results despite high service levels.

Learn how we addressed some of these common challenges in our mid-sized municipality, and our continued efforts to improve the overall perception of winter maintenance services. In this presentation, we’ll review:

  • Tactical approaches and evaluation methods for two 2023 IABC award-winning winter maintenance campaigns
  • Our ongoing attempts to reach the “unreachables” – people completely disconnected from our communication channels
  • How we used reels to increase social media reach and engagement

Krysta Smith, Communications Specialist, Strathcona County

Over the past three years, London has been continuously breaking new records for infrastructure investments, with many of the most impactful projects happening in the busy Core Area, which includes the downtown and neighbouring business districts. From project-specific support to city-wide messaging year-round, construction communications have become more critical each year.

In this City of London discussion, learn key components of successful construction communications, highlighting the crucial role of social media, business relations, and community outreach. It will provide an overview of how London’s construction communications have evolved over several years into an annual and innovative communication strategy with tactics of different scales that Municipalities big and small can learn from and be inspired by.

Andrea Rosebrugh, Senior Communication Specialist, City of London

Claudia Jaimes, Manager, Public Engagement, City of London

It’s 2024 and your municipality’s online presence can make or break your ability to fully serve and effectively engage with residents. What happens when your website back-end isn’t easy for you to navigate and doesn’t leave a positive front-facing impression? How do you begin to tackle taking on a website re-design on top of your other pressing comms priorities? Join us to find out how you can revamp and revitalize your website while keeping your cool. We’ll break down how our small but mighty team went about a website overhaul – complete with woes, workarounds, and wins – to achieve a more modern digital presence designed by and for our Association community.

During this session, discover how to:

  • Scope your project to better reflect users needs and your team’s capacity
  • Work collaboratively to build buy-in, restructure and repurpose content
  • Keep user experience and engagement top of mind

If you’re interested in revitalizing your website but aren’t sure where to begin, or if you’re looking to do a small upgrade or even a complete overhaul, this session will empower you to take the next steps in enhancing your online footprint.

Jacquelyn Folville, Manager, Communications & Marketing, AMCTO

Alexander Court, Coordinator, Communications & Marketing, AMCTO

Let’s face it, a lot can ride on the outcome of a community survey! Done right; it can smooth the path to Council approval and project success! Hit a few unforeseen potholes along the way and the community survey can stall the project or worse; create resident pushback and a loss of trust. Not to mention create some political fires that communications will be responsible for dousing.

In this session, you will learn the most common mistakes in community surveys and how to avoid them (including the language you need to convince planners).

At the end of this session, you will feel more confident in developing all aspects of a community survey, from research objective setting to questionnaire design, effective communication to attract respondents, and how to secure sufficient quality and quantity of data to support the initiative.

Kent Waugh, Managing Partner, The W Group

In 2017, the City of Ottawa approved the development of a new 216,000 square-foot Ottawa Central Library joint facility in partnership with Library and Archives Canada. The approval of this groundbreaking municipal-federal project presented an exciting opportunity for public and Indigenous engagement.

This session will explore the public and Indigenous engagement activities that have been undertaken to date in support of Ādisōke, the future Ottawa Public Library – Library and Archives Canada joint facility, as we prepare for official opening in 2026.

Attendees will leave this session with:

  • Practical strategies for conducting large-scale public engagement campaigns
  • Best practices for Indigenous outreach and collaboration
  • Tips for maintaining positive momentum during a multi-year project

For more information about the Ādisōke project, please visit

Byrne Furlong, Project Manager, Communications, Public Information and Media Relations, City of Ottawa

Post Conference Workshops

Wednesday, November 27, 2024

All times are in Eastern

Workshops are in person attendance only

A communications audit is used to take the pulse of an organization’s formal and informal communications processes, while measuring their effectiveness and identifying gaps.

In this workshop we’ll look at the steps to prepare for an audit, the various audit tools available and how to create an audit report that will be read. You will leave this interactive workshop feeling better prepared and more confident so you can figure out what is working, what’s not working and where you can make meaningful improvements to communications processes in your organization.

Presenter Details: Cynthia Lockrey, Change maker + communications expert, Lockrey Communications

Cynthia Lockrey is a change maker + communications expert. She shifts people, teams, organizations and cultures to go from overwhelmed to clear and activated. She does this through her writing, speaking, training and coaching. Having started her career as a reporter and newspaper editor, she draws upon storytelling to get people to tune-in and be engaged with the content she’s sharing.

Over her 25+ career, Cynthia has worked as a post-secondary instructor, media and crisis communications lead for a Venue City for the 2010 Vancouver Olympic Winter Games, emergency/public information officer for three local governments, communications manager, consultant and leadership coach. Hailing from Ontario, she’s now proud to call beautiful Vancouver Island home with her husband, two kids, two dogs and five ducks.

Communications departments don’t work in vacuum. They thrive on collaboration, not isolation. To be successful, close working relationships with internal clients and their departments is crucial. 

In this engaging workshop, explore the intricacies of building better relationships with internal clients. Delve into the essential skills and strategies necessary to cultivate harmonious partnerships within your organization.


  • Learn three essential skills for enhancing client relationships and strengthening your communications strategy.
  • Gain insights into effective techniques for managing client meetings and gathering vital information.
  • Understand the differences between independence and isolation, and how to foster collaborative environments.
  • Understand how to manage client meetings and the types of information to gather.
  • Identify common causes of poor client relationships and learn how to navigate and mitigate them.
  • Explore a roadmap towards fostering healthier and more productive client relationships.

This workshop is hands-on and interactive, so come prepared with your real-life client challenges for discussion and practical solution building.

Let’s embark on the journey together towards building stronger internal partnerships and achieving greater success in our communications efforts.

Presenter Details: Julia Harvie-Shemko, APR, CEC, Founder and CEO, Red Thread Connections 


Sponsored By

Interested in Sponsorship? Please contact us by emailing

Cancellation & Refund Policy

Substitution of delegates is permissible without prior notification. Refunds will be given for cancellations received in writing no later than 15 days prior to the conference date subject to an administration fee of $250 plus $32.50 for HST (in person) or $12.50 for GST (online). After this time, you are liable for the full registration fee even if you do not attend the conference. If you register during this 15 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.