Keynote Speakers

Disrupting Bias — Overcoming Our Discomfort with Differences

As we work to build a more diverse, inclusive and innovative environment within the public relations industry, the critical first step is to identify and interrupt biases—in particular, unconscious biases. When we know how to interrupt and address biases, our workplaces are more inclusive, and our teams are happier, more engaged, and are better positioned to target diverse markets.

In this highly practical session, Ritu Bhasin will draw on the latest neuroscience and leadership research to explore how discomfort with differences manifests within the public relations industry.  Ritu will identify how to address challenges that arise when working across cultural differences with team members and clients, and provide strategies for becoming more inclusive and culturally competent when working across cultural differences.

Ritu Bhasin, LLB, MBA, President, bhasin consulting

Ritu Bhasin,, LLB, MBA, President of bhasin consulting inc., is an award-winning speaker, author, and globally recognized expert in diversity and inclusion, women’s advancement, and authentic leadership.
Since 2010, Ritu has delivered leadership training, coaching, and advisory services across sectors, working with top organizations and senior leadership teams around the world to develop inclusive cultures. Ritu is known for her expertise in cultural competence, unconscious bias, and neuroscience strategies, and has coached hundreds of professionals, leaders, and executives to be more inclusive. A passionate advocate for authenticity, inclusion, and empowerment, Ritu has won numerous awards for her work, including the City of Toronto’s William P. Hubbard Award for Race Relations in 2014.
Ritu’s Amazon-bestselling book, The Authenticity Principle: Resist Conformity, Embrace Differences, and Transform How You Live, Work, and Lead, was released in the fall of 2017. In the same year, Ritu also co-authored a ground-breaking research study, called Sponsor Effect: Canada, with the Center for Talent Innovation, which examines the experiences that people of colour, Indigenous peoples, and women have with advocacy and sponsorship in the workplace.



High Performance Trust Builders: Hear from the Leaders

Sponsored by: Proof Inc.

Trust is the oil that lubricates the engine of our economy. It is the foundation of a civil society and the works of government, courts, police and other public services. Now in its 4th year, the Proof Inc. CanTrust Index measures and tracks where Canadians place their trust in leaders, industries and information sources. Bruce MacLellan of Proof will lead a discussion on the detailed findings of this distinctly Canadian study. The complete 2018 CanTrust Index is available online.

Discussion leader:
Bruce MacLellan, APR, FCPRS LM
CEO, Proof Inc.
Bruce MacLellan haCPRS_EDM-Headshots_Bruce-MacLellan_22Feb2019.jpgs worked in public relations consulting for over 30 years. His areas of expertise include corporate communications, issues management and marketing communications. He has also served in senior political positions in government in Ottawa and Ontario. He is a Life Member of the Canadian Public Relations Society.

In 1994, Bruce became the founding CEO of Proof Inc. The Proof family of companies now have annual fee revenue of over $30 million and provide PR and marketing services to more than 100 organizations in Canada and the United States. Bruce has fostered a quality work environment and exceptional client service, and the company was ranked #1 on the list of Best Workplaces in Canada for 2010 by the Great Places to Work Institute.

Bruce is a graduate of the University of Toronto with an M.A. in Public Administration and an Honors B.A. As a committed volunteer, he serves as Chair of the National Board of the Nature Conservancy of Canada. He has also been the volunteer Board Chair of the Communications + Public Relations Foundation and the Lake of Bays Heritage Foundation, a community land trust. Bruce is the author of two local history books about the Lake of Bays area in Muskoka, Ontario.

Jeff Silvester, Co-Founder and Chief Operating Officer, AggregateIQ

Jeff is the Co-Founder and Chief Operating Officer of AggregateIQ, an online advertising, software development, and web development company based in Victoria, British Columbia. AggregateIQ has been at the forefront of digital advocacy in Canada and around the world with a demonstrated history of success working in support of companies, candidates, political parties, aCPRS_EDM-Headshots_JeffSilvester_26Feb2019.jpgnd issue advocacy organisations.

Focusing on data driven decision making, thoughtful solutions, and continuous learning, their applied approach to communications, and public engagement has helped their clients identify powerful insights, new audiences, strategies, and better ways of communicating that help them achieve their goals. AggregateIQ was also recently featured in “Brexit”, an HBO film on the UK’s EU Referendum.


Alicia Wanless, PhD Researcher, Kings Centre for Strategic Communications

Alicia Wanless is an internationally recognized researcher of information warfare and strategic communications in a digital age. With more than a decade of experience in researching and analysing the information environment, Alicia conducts content and network analysis, and has developed original models for identifying and analysing digital propaganda campaigns.CPRS_EDM-Headshots_AliciaWanless_26Feb2019.jpg

Alicia applies this learning to integrating information activities in support of tech companies, governments and military attempting to address related challenges, including in training exercises. She has shared her work and insights with senior government, military, industry leaders and academic experts at Wilton Park, the Munich Security Conference, the Hedayah Centre, NATO’s ARRC and the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory.

Alicia’s work has been featured in the CBC, Forbes, and The Strategy Bridge, and she has co-authored numerous academic papers and chapters related to propaganda. Alicia is currently a PhD Researcher at King’s College in London exploring alternative frameworks for understanding the information environment.