In Person & Online

8th Annual Marketing & Communications for Post Secondary 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 $309.00/night + taxes and is available May 26 – May 30th, 2024.

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


Camille Weleschuk,
Vice President, ATB Financial

Ryan Patterson, Multimedia Video Producer, Humber College

Carleen Carroll,
Assistant Vice-President of the External Relations, Wilfrid Laurier University

Melissa McCauley,
Director of Marketing and Brand, Strategy, External Relations,
Wilfrid Laurier University

Tim Conrad, APR, President,
Butterfly Effect Communications Inc.

Cindy Connor,
Content and Digital Marketing Manager, Brand and Marketing,
University of British Columbia

Christine Szustaczek, MCM, APR
Vice-President, Communications, Office of the Vice-President, Communications, University of Toronto

Alex Sévigny, PhD, APR,  Associate Professor (tenured)  McMaster University, Master of Communications Management

Nicolle Wahl,
Chief Communications & Marketing Officer,
Sheridan College

Tang Choy (she/her)
Marketing and Reporting Manager,
TalentED YYC, Corporate Initiatives & Intelligence

Warren Weeks,
Principal, Weeks Media

Bill Steinburg,
Senior Media Relations and Communications Advisor,
Mohawk College


Monday, May 27, 2024

All times are in Eastern

Leadership is a skill, and like any other skill you hone, you must intentionally learn new ways of deepening your mastery of it. The Leadership Loop presentation focuses on the three key themes of relationships, communication and feedback as an important system for becoming a more effective leader.

  • The Power of Relationships: Business is not transactional, it is relational. Explore the benefits that come from developing relationships with the members of your team and the teams around you.
  • The Power of Communication: Leaders have various styles of communicating – some that are effective and others that are not. Explore new ways of sharing information and increasing your team’s productivity.

The Power of Feedback: As they say, feedback is a gift. Explore how to surround yourself with people who will give and receive feedback in highly effective ways.

Camille Weleschuk, Vice President, ATB Financial

Wilfrid Laurier University launched the award-winning “Inspired Research. REAL IMPACT.” marketing campaign to share the powerful stories of the university’s game-changing research in Canada’s northern communities.

While climate change worries are top-of-mind for many Canadians, the people living in NWT are already experiencing extreme impacts of forest fires and melting ice roads. Laurier researchers have been working in partnership with these communities for over a decade to lead critical research and support local safety – but with very little awareness of the unique work being led. With an opportunity to build awareness to expand Laurier’s impact among key decision-makers, Laurier’s Marketing team led the organization to launch a powerful campaign to achieve such results.

With powerful branding and engaging storytelling, this campaign achieved goals of reaching new audiences to build awareness and reputation through powerful engagement. Winner of multiple awards, this integrated marketing-communications campaign was built on audience-insights, marketing and branding best practices and results-focused strategies. The strategic combination of paid, earned and owned media helped achieve objectives, and a curated collection of content was developed to break through in media channels, build a powerful brand, and guide audiences through an impactful journey across web, digital, print, and in-person touchpoints.

  • From this case study and presentation, our team will share with you:
  • The 4-step strategic marketing planning process to create a successful brand plan
  • A framework for powerful brand positioning
  • A user journey map to guide your audiences through impactful touchpoints
  • Marketing and branding best practices to win in media (and especially digital)

Carleen Carroll, Assistant Vice-President of the External Relations, Wilfrid Laurier University

Melissa McCauley, Director of Marketing and Brand, Strategy, External Relations, Wilfrid Laurier University

Attendees will break into groups and share best practices and thoughts on timely topics selected by vote. This is an opportunity for discussion with your colleagues from across the country.

In this case study, you’ll learn about UBC Brand and Marketing’s journey to build inclusive marketing and diversify its content and storytelling. Acting on an institutional priority to advance diversity, equity and inclusion, the team developed a vision to support the UBC brand—the potential to build a better future. This talk will show how UBC’s approach to inclusive marketing aims to uplift under-represented, marginalized and equity-deserving voices and advance understanding around JEDI issues.

Learning Outcomes:

  • Translate learnings from UBC Brand and Marketing’s inclusive marketing approach to advance your own EDI journey
  • Identify opportunities to leverage marketing platforms to highlight institutional research and experts while highlighting JEDI issues
  • Learn how to create successful EDI content, with examples

Cindy Connor, Content and Digital Marketing Manager, Brand and Marketing, The University of British Columbia

Carolyn Ali, Senior Content Strategist and Writer, Brand and Marketing, The University of British Columbia


Championed by Calgary Economic Development, TalentED YYC is a pilot project aimed at scaling work integrated learning (WIL) in Calgary. Running from 2022 to 2025, the pilot involves 7 local post-secondary institutions, the Calgary Chamber of Commerce, and the Calgary Chamber of Voluntary Organizations. The project is the largest collaboration of its kind in Canada.

Within less than a year, the TalentED YYC brand was launched, along with a website, LinkedIn page, newsletter, and blog. TalentED YYC has run 2 paid ad campaigns with over 5.7 million impressions, and has been featured by media and stakeholders. Join this session to learn how this pilot project gained momentum and brought the Calgary WIL community together by:

  • Leveraging partnerships and sponsorship opportunities for extended reach
  • Creating a Communications Charter for clear internal communications
  • Hosting events and bringing on student talent

Tang Choy, Marketing and Reporting Manager, Calgary Economic Development

Megan Matthies, Marketing and Communications Manager, Calgary Economic Development

Once considered the person who oversees the lines of communication between an organization and its stakeholders and coordinates public relations activities and brand strategy, today’s CCO does so much more.

CCOs are trusted advisors to the C-suite on virtually every issue that affects an organization, including actions to reduce risk or build inclusive cultures. We transform organizations for the better by building relationships with internal and external stakeholders, gatekeepers and audiences through multiple forms and means of communication, through policy development and by enabling functional areas of our organizations to execute against strategy. CCOs work to ensure that organizations operate honestly, responsibly, and respectfully to earn and sustain the trust and support that leads to positive operational outcomes and fuels bottom-line results. We’re the guardians of institutional identity and reputation, global stewards of an organization’s relationships and we proudly serve as its self-proclaimed social conscience.

How do we get all this done? Day in and day out, we balance the pillars of brand, reputation, and character. We’re part business strategist, change agent, culture driver, early warning detector, prognosticator, and ethicist. And we lead and motivate extraordinary teams.

Join me for this talk to learn how this all plays out in practice and the skills, competencies, and capacity you need to succeed.

Nicolle Wahl,
Chief Communications & Marketing Officer,
Sheridan College

Tuesday, May 28, 2024

All times are in Eastern

Whether we like it or not, AI is rapidly changing the way we communicate with our post secondary audiences. But how can we navigate the hype and discover the latest technology that can make our creative teams more productive today?

This session will highlight, with real world examples, how AI is changing the way we produce video, photography and audio. We will explore how technology can help us turn words into images, create videos from our news articles and communicate in different languages. We will also discuss the future of generative AI and it’s ethical implications for post secondary marketing and communications.

Participants will leave with:

  • a list of AI tools to empower their social media and content creator teams
  • a clearer sense of the future of AI in media production
  • an understanding of the ethical considerations of using AI in postsecondary marketing and communications materials

Ryan Patterson, Multimedia Video Producer, Humber College

In this session, Dr. Sévigny will give a brief history and definition of generative AI, describe the three top variaties that communicators and marketers need to understand: text-to-text; synthetic images; multimodal genAI. He will end with a brief discussion of ethics and risk.

Alex Sévigny, PhD, APR,  Associate Professor (tenured), McMaster University, Master of Communications Management 

In order to best serve their higher education institution, communicators and marketers need to stay current on changes in diverse arenas. New developments in areas such as generative artificial intelligence, social media platforms, geopolitics and EDI can all impact the way you represent and promote your university or college. In this presentation, Sharon Aschaiek of Higher Ed communications will summarize the top trends currently influencing marketing and communication practices in the sector.

Sharon Aschaiek, Principal, Higher Ed Communications

When it comes to current events and post-secondary leadership, students, faculty and employees are expecting their institutions to lead by example and speak up about emerging and ongoing issues. But what are institutions’ roles and responsibilities to be voices of or in their communities?

Panel members will speak about how their colleges address(ed) and respond(ed) to various student-related, social justice and geopolitical issues. The conversation will include making (or not) institutional statements, responding to volatile social media posts, and contributing to issues management and more. The audience is encouraged to ask questions and provide their own examples of their post-secondary institution’s role in being voices of their community during troubled times.

Learning outcomes include:

  • what criteria is used/how decisions are made about responding to a local, national or international issue
  • the role of communications in issues management
  • how institutions can work together and learn from each other to create a community of practice for issues management


Moderator: Andrew Leopold, Associate Vice-President, Marketing and Communications, Humber College

Emily Milic, Associate Director, Communications, Humber College

Lindsay Holley, Director, Communications, Durham College

Bill Steinburg, Senior Media Relations and Communications Advisor, Mohawk College

Unanswered bad news, whether true or false, can have a devastating impact on your school’s reputation. By the time a crisis hits, it’s too late to learn how to deal with it. In this session, learn how to prepare before a crisis hits so you’re prepared to respond. And find out what needs to be done in those first critical hours of a crisis, how to establish a communications plan, how to handle the media relations, social media aspects of a crisis and more. You’ll also learn from the mistakes (and successes) of other organizations that have had to contend with a crisis.

Warren Weeks, Weeks Media

Crises and disasters love to make everything around them a disaster. Now they are collecting issues we see in our society and presenting novel challenges to how we can respond.

The new crisis sees individualism overpowering community resilience, bullying of emergency responders, and trusted information becoming misinformation.

The massive loss of trust in government and media is combined with a continual loss of journalism in Canada, Meta’s news ban, and the rise of alternative media and political division to create toxic situations on the front lines of emergencies and crises.

Join Tim Conrad, APR, President of Butterfly Effect Communications Inc., a master of disasters and crisis communications leader who has worked in some of Canada’s largest and longest disasters and crises. These include:

  • Led a full campus return in September 2021, which was followed by no outbreaks among 10,000 full-time students on campus.
  • Managing communications during allegations against two post-secondary senior administrators and a years-long investigation.
  • Running the public information role in three regions in BC during last summer’s wildfires, where evacuations met fierce resistance and sabotage, including the extremely devastating Shuswap wildfires and two other regions.

Learn how Conrad and his team used research, media, and social media, along with community outreach and sticking to hard truths, to turn sentiment from drastically negative to positive during a record wildfire season and lessons from layered crises in post-secondary.

Tim Conrad, APR, President, Butterfly Effect Communications Inc.

Post Conference Workshops

Wednesday May 29, 2024

All times are in Eastern

Workshops are in person attendance only

Tim Conrad, APR®, President, Butterfly Effect Communications Inc.

Drop your ego and title at the door. It’s time to enter the Emergency Operations Centre to learn how to build a functioning Information Officer team rapidly. Be immersed in scenarios where you are vulnerable to the unknown as the emergency shifts and new challenges appear. Failure isn’t an option. It’s a default setting in this disaster.

Prepare to be challenged by Tim Conrad, APR President of Butterfly Effect Communications Inc., a master of disasters and crisis communications leader who has worked on some of Canada’s largest and longest disasters and crises. Conrad is a globally recognized expert in emergency communications, backed by over 20 years of experience completing work from mitigation to recovery.

You should consider whether you are ready before taking this workshop. Do you fear the unknown, or does your adrenaline pump at the speed of an emergency? Maybe you’ve managed information in a wildfire emergency. Are you willing to wear a red vest when wildfires compete with more wildfires? Do you believe strategy eats tactics or prefer a buffet of tactics?

This workshop will take you outside your comfort zone, pushing you to function in unfamiliar roles and instantly come up with solutions to challenges as they appear. Expect to be gamed by the master, who constantly introduces new elements and information to force you to feel what it is like inside a major disaster. Are you ready? Not likely.

3 Key Takeaways:

  1. Practice at a fast pace
  2. Understand the impact of unknowns
  3. Learning the value of process improvement


About Tim:

Tim has held leadership roles in emergency management, communications and post-disaster engagements in some of Canada’s largest disasters. These include record-setting 2023 wildfires in BC’s Cariboo, Squamish-Lillooet and Columbia Shuswap regions, health care and post-secondary during the pandemic, the 2013 Alberta floods and three record-setting BC wildfire seasons from 2017 to 2021.

Sponsored By

Our unique two-year masters program allows executives, educators and entrepreneurs to earn a world-class education while continuing to earn a living. We value collaboration over competition, providing you with the opportunity to balance work and life while building a powerful network of friends and colleagues that will last a lifetime. That’s the MCM advantage. Learn more!

Academica Logo

Academica Group is Canada’s largest marketing research and consulting agency devoted entirely to the post secondary sector. Through its expert staff and cross-country network of consultants, Academica works to support and inspire higher ed institutions through research & consulting, digital content, and career advertising. Every year, Academica works with over 100 higher ed institutions. The Academica Top Ten news digest and digital content platform currently reaches over 29K higher ed professionals daily.



Interested in Sponsorship? Please contact us by emailing

Register for In-Person

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.