Announced Speakers

Working with First Nations: a Settler's Journey
This session is a chance for ‘settlers’ who work with or hope to work  with First Nations to self-reflect on our roles and responsibilities in  those relationships. The topic is a tough one. The term ‘settler’ is controversial in itself. Sarah Artis does not know all the answers and you will likely leave with more questions. But these are questions that every Canadian PR professional must ask themselves if they truly wish to understand the context in which they work. In this session, Sarah will speak of her own experiences working with Kitselas and Kitsumkalum First Nations. She will explore some of the big questions she’s had to ask herself and encourage you to do the same. Come prepared for an honest and thought-provoking discussion.

  • Better understanding of the term ‘settler’ and what that means for you personally and professionally
  • Increased awareness of your role and responsibilities in the reconciliation process
  • Ideas for how to self-reflect and be a better ally in your work and relationships with Indigenous people
  • More confidence asking ‘dumb questions’ and speaking up on this topic
  • Be more comfortable being uncomfortable aka. ‘unsettled’

Presented by:
Sarah Artis
Owner, Sarah & Company Communications

Sarah Artis, owner & operator of Sarah & Company Communications, moved to Terrace, BC, ‘for one summer’, to work as a reporter at the local newspaper. The remote small town was to be her first stop in becoming an international reporter. Well, life happened and 13 years later, a proud Northerner, she can’t imagine living anywhere else. Working as a consultant over the last decade, Sarah has supported and optimized communications for a variety of kick-ass clients in Northern BC – small and medium businesses, non-profits, government organizations and First Nations. Her strength and passion lies in helping organizations and people find their core purpose and messages, then put that into words and the world.

 In the News
"In the News" (third edition) co-authors Colin Babiuk, MA, APR, FCPRS and Mark Hunter LaVigne, MA, APR, FCPRS will present a workshop supported by their latest books on media relations, offer some timely tips on how to conduct both proactive and reactive media relations, and perhaps also brush up your crisis skills, since as the newshole shrinks, the media become more challenging. They will also visit a recent case study that shows the strength of media relations in our modern times, especially when also conducted in conjunction with social media.”

Presented by:

Colin Babiuk, MA, APR, FCPRS                   

Assistant Professor, MacEwan University 

Colin is an Assistant Professor at MacEwan University in Edmonton, Alberta. He has 30 years of experience in the private and public sectors and is an accredited member and a Fellow of the Canadian Public Relations Society (CPRS). His experience includes issues management, stakeholder relations, media relations, and marketing.


Mark Hunter LaVigne, MA, APR, FCPRS
President, Hunter LaVigne Communications

Mark Hunter LaVigne, MA, APR, FCPRS, has 28 years’ experience as a media relations specialist. For the past 21 years, he has operating his own media relations and media training firm, Hunter LaVigne Communications Inc. For seven years prior to that, he worked for PR agencies in downtown Toronto. Prior to his career in public relations, he worked as a radio journalist for five years in Calgary, Edmonton and Toronto.


How to Develop and Apply a Futurist Mindset to Strategic Communications
 Artificial intelligence - Cryptocurrencies  - Workplace androids - Virtual reality meetings - Blockchain technology - Renewable and sustainable energy - Electric, driverless vehicles - Human-android marriage.Little changes and big leaps are transforming our world. 
Are you ready?

Have you thought about what you as a PR professional may encounter in 2030 and beyond?
Or, how to persuade your organization or its customers to think beyond the next quarter to three, five,  10 or 20 years out?

In this presentation, you will learn how professional futurists think, how to develop a futurist mindset and how to apply it to strategic communications. In addition, you will be challenged with questions that you and your organization should be asking about the future, and be offered practical advice on steps you should start to take now to remain relevant in the years and decades to come.

Conference attendees who attend my presentation will learn:

  • About some of the enormous changes coming in the years ahead that will challenge them as communicators;
  • How futurists think, and how to develop a futurist mindset;
  • How to incorporate a futurist mindset into strategic communications planning;
  • How to prepare your career for the future.

Presented by:

Stephen Dupont, APR
Vice President, Public Relations and Branded Content, Pocket Hercules
Stephen Dupont, APR, is vice president of public relations and branded content at Pocket Hercules (, a Minneapolis-based creative and brand development firm. Dupont has more than 25 years experience in public relations, marketing communications, brand development and media strategy. His work has been honored with three Silver Anvils. He is a frequent contributor to PRSA’s Strategies and Tactics magazine, and has been published by and Chief Content Officer magazine. Dupont blogs at about marketing, communications, creativity, curiosity, futurism, and careers.

Crisis Management 4.0: An unheard-of model for practitioners
The question “between robots and big data, what’s left for humans?” is the new concern in all industries. Companies are nowadays operating into a high-speed era as the rapid spread of information, rumors, and fake news on social networks increase the risk of major organizational crises. To face this new reality, business managers must adopt new crisis management tactics, new tech tools, and adapt very quickly to any eventuality to protect the reputation of their organization. Until now, big data and AI turned out to be valuable allies. Robots might soon be able to manage corporate crises thanks to big data, metadata, tech improvement such as blockchain, AI, and deep learning.  But the fundamental question remains: What will be left for humans in crisis management when robots take over? The presentation is an opportunity to understand the implications of high-tech improvement in PR. The evolution model of crisis management that is proposed follows the marketing and internet evolution model. The model is adapted to the distinct environment of crisis management and halfway between practice and applied research.

Presented by:
Lucie-Anne Fabien, CMMI, APR, FCPRS

As a fellow and accredited member of CPRS, Lucie-Anne is a seasoned professional in communications and public relations for more than 25 years. She has worn many hats as manager, consultant, practitioner, business coach and teacher in an Executive MBA program. Whether in a conference setting or one-on-one, she merges her background in management and communications with her knowledge and first-hand experience of mindfulness to deliver content that is changing the paradigm of Public Relations with research-based evidence and data.  Ultimately, Lucie-Anne brings a positive impact on leaders’ performance and lives.

Stéphane Prud'homme MA, MBA, PhD(c)
Stéphane has more than 20 years of practical experience (including 9 years in Asia), in global strategy, public relations and inbound marketing, reputation management & crisis management, and spokespersons’ & corporate credibility.  He studied the credibility construct for the past 15 years, through a Master’s degree on corporate spokespersons’ credibility in crisis situations and a doctoral research on executives’ credibility and corporate reputation. He is the Founding President of the Credibility Institute.

Cocoa, Cookies, and Costumes: How to Engage Employees in Building Culture, Link Them to Your Strategy, and Use Real Data to Demonstrate Your Success
When the Alberta Energy Regulator (AER) was created in 2013, it merged three organizations with three distinct cultures. Learn how the AER embarked on an exciting journey to build a strong and unified culture through its “Community—Creating our Culture" initiative. From culture kits to employee meetups to creative events, the initiative is inspiring employees across the AER—with measurable results.

In this session, you will learn strategies to engage employees in building a strong culture—and how you can make the most of survey data to help you: 

  • Set benchmarks for employee communications and culture-building, 
  • Measure your organization’s progress,
  • Identify trends and issues,
  • Inform decisions and communications strategies, and
  • Help everyone—from leaders to employees—communicate more effectively.

Presented by:


Karin Holmgren
Manager, Employee Communications, Alberta Energy Regulator
Karin Holmgren has more than 15 years’ experience as a senior communications strategist in both the public and private sectors. As the manager of Employee Communications at the Alberta Energy Regulator, Karin and her talented team create connections between culture and strategy to inspire employees and the work they do.

Strategy in a Sound Bite – CEO Communications​
CEOs make the majority of decisions that affect organizations today. Come and learn how to build trust, create messages that will resonate and reflect your CEOs voice while reinforcing your organization’s strategy.
Develop a better understanding of how to support the unique communications needs of a CEO including speechwriting, blogs, town halls, strategy and planning, as well as stakeholder and government relations.
You’ll leave with useful tips you can implement internally and externally that will help your CEO communicate in a more effective and meaningful way. 

Presented by:

Natalie Kenrick

Senior Communications Officer, Northern Alberta Institute of Technology (NAIT)
With over a decade of experience in communications working with executives and CEOs, Natalie has a passion for building relationships. 
Throughout her career she has focused on helping organizations communicate strategically. She has worked in a wide variety of sectors including the private sector, government, post-secondary education and not-for-profit. She has worked extensively in the areas of speech writing, media relations, issues management, internal and external communications and stakeholder relations.
Natalie is currently completing her Executive MBA in Global Leadership part-time. 


How can public relations support and enable reconciliation between Indigenous and non-Indigenous peoples in Canada?

Since the late twentieth century, more than 40 national truth and reconciliation commissions have been established around the world. Between 2008 and 2015, Canada’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission examined the legacy of Indian Residential Schools. The TRC issued 94 Calls to Action to address Canada’s dark history of cultural genocide. The TRC’s findings have changed the Canadian public discourse about the country’s relationship between Indigenous and non-Indigenous peoples, and left every level of Canadian government wrestling with what reconciliation means and how it is enacted. Similarly, academic research focusing on reconciliation, truth-telling, and relational repair has flourished. Where is public relations in this new reality? Drawing on original research, current reconciliation scholarship, and public relations models (advocacy, public apology, Excellence Theory, critical intersectional communication), this session explores how and to what extent public relations and strategic communications supports and enables reconciliation and relational repair in the current Canadian context.

Presented by:
Meghan Kilty, MCM
National Director, Communications, Anglican Church of Canada

Meghan Kilty, MCM is the National Director of Communications at the Anglican Church of Canada.  She has more than 15 years’ of experience supporting institutions serving the public good. Her work has won several awards from the Council of Advancement in Education and the Canadian Council for Advancement in Education. Meghan earned a Master of Communications Management at McMaster University. Her research focuses on post-crisis communication, public apology, reconciliation, and community resilience.

Communicating downsizing, right sizing, relocating, closure or layoffs: What employees, regulators and media expect
CPRS Calgary members have been at the centre of Alberta's economic downturn since 2016 as the province experienced tens of thousands of layoffs, numerous project and business shutdowns and desperation mergers. Employees, business partners, community partners and governments have all been affected.

In the session, attendees will hear how to communicate and engage with these groups who demand transparency and accommodation.

Presented by:

Tom Ormsby, APR
Head of External and Corporate Affairs, De Beers Canada
Local Society President, CPRS Calgary

Tom Ormsby, APR is the Head of External and Corporate Affairs for De Beers Canada. He is also President of the CPRS Calgary Society and Chairs the Public Affairs Committee of the Mining Association of Canada. Tom has over 30 years of media, marketing, government and public relations, and sits on the De Beers Group global Corporate Affairs Leadership Team.

Brand Protection - Where Law Meets Public Relations
Crisis management in the brand protection context can require a coordinated PR and legal response. The enactment of anti-SLAPP (Strategic Litigation Against Public Participation) legislation in some Canadian jurisdictions has created challenges for corporations seeking to use the courts to protect their reputation. In this climate, a nuanced approach to crisis management and litigation is required. This presentation focuses on how PR practitioners and lawyers can work together as a team.

Presented by:

Colin Pendrith 

Partner, Cassels Brock & Blackwell LLP

Colin Pendrith is a partner in Cassels Brock's advocacy group. Interested in the intersection between law and public relations, Colin's commercial litigation practice focuses on franchise disputes, corporate defamation and brand protection. Colin takes a pragmatic approach to dispute resolution, using the courts and alternative dispute resolution strategies to achieve positive results for clients. Colin has litigated successfully at all levels of court in Ontario and British Columbia.

A cancer patient’s perspective on public relations, patient relations and the opportunity to bring organizational values to life through effective communication
Over the past 30 years, I have worked almost exclusively in healthcare public relations. It has been rewarding to collaborate with doctors, nurses, researchers and other talented healthcare providers to share stories of achievement and hope.
This past year, I had the opportunity to see our work from another perspective. I was diagnosed with an aggressive form of breast cancer in October 2017 and underwent a year of treatment.
During that time, I experienced firsthand how communication can impact outcomes and morale. I was reassured by the expertise of many of my caregivers, but saw numerous opportunities for improvement, especially when it came to communication.
Through the lens of research on patient experience, I will describe best practices to help caregivers communicate effectively with patients. I’ll also offer specific strategies that public relations professionals can use to help create a values-based culture that prioritizes two-way, symmetrical communication.

Presented by:

Heather Pullen, APR, FCPRS
Principal, Pullen Communications
Sessional Lecturer, McMaster University 

Heather Pullen is a public relations professional whose career has spanned journalism, corporate communications and academia.
Currently she is working as an educator and communications consultant based in Hamilton. Most recently, Heather was manager of Public Relations at Hamilton Health Sciences (HHS) for 13 years. Heather joined HHS in 2002 after working for 10 years as a public relations consultant specializing in healthcare communications. Prior to that she was a member of the public relations department at The Toronto Hospital (Toronto General and Toronto Western Hospitals), and before that, a producer at CBC Radio.
Heather has a bachelor’s degree in journalism and political science from Carleton University, and a master’s degree in communications management from McMaster University. She teaches healthcare communications, crisis communications and strategic public relations management to graduate students at McMaster University.

Gender Differences in Communication Styles and their Influence on Workplace Communication and the Practice of Public Relations
Learn how gender plays a role in influencing the practice of PR, how men and women have different communication styles in the workplace and how traditional female or male qualities play a role in this working relationship. Findings from a PhD study surrounding gender vs. personality traits, age, work/life balance, how PR practitioners “perform” in their day-to-day roles and more will be shared in an interactive workshop.

Presented by:
Amelia Reigstad
Lecturer, University of Minnesota

Amelia Reigstad is a PR practitioner and university faculty member with several years of experience. She developed Crosspoint Communications, a full-service consulting agency from a grassroots level in 2007 and taught a variety of PR and communications courses in Canada, the U.S., Europe and the U.K. Amelia currently teaches in the Hubbard School of Journalism and Mass Communication at the University of Minnesota and is completing her PhD at the University of Leicester.


Incorporating stakeholder risk assessment into your communication strategy
Understanding risk is paramount to any successful project and by extension, an organization. Over the course of this session, we will share with you an innovative tool that will help you think about both risk and stakeholders differently, long before you start building your communication strategy. The tool helps to clarify and prioritize stakeholders, with the aim of understanding their relationships amongst themselves and with other influencers  -- ultimately painting a more detailed picture of the situation at hand. As subject matter experts in the fields of stakeholder engagement and risk communications, workshop presenters will guide participants through an exercise that will “rank” stakeholders to determine where one can most wisely spend their time in managing relationships, and manage the risk these stakeholders might pose to a project. On the back of this exercise, you can begin to define and plan communication strategies that are tailored for each stakeholder group.

  • Understand best practises for stakeholder engagement 
  • Identify and prioritize stakeholders for your project 
  • Learn a process to categorize and tier stakeholders by potential influence and impact 
  • Identify stakeholder risk and use this information to build an effective communication strategy 
  • Get focused using a simple tool that is scalable for different sectors, for projects big or small 

Presented by:


Emma Shea, APR                                         
Principal, EJS Public Relations 

A senior communications, stakeholder engagement and public relations professional, with over a decade of experience in public consultation and community relations in the resource, energy, infrastructure and non-profit sectors. Proven track record in strategic planning, implementation and overall management of communication and engagement programs. As an accredited public relations professional (APR), I'll always put forward best and leading-edge practices on each project. My experience has formed in various workplaces including non-profit, corporate and agency.


Alexandra Wright
Principal, Theory Consultancy

A seasoned strategist, communicator and leadership coach who has worked for an array of global organizations, leaders and teams to help manage issues and minimize risk.

A big-picture thinker and problem solver, whose career has focused on strategic planning, issues management, communication and leadership coaching. Alex is skilled in reputation and risk management, media relations, engagement strategy, crisis communication, people and issues management, advertising, and financial and corporate PR. Alex has worked extensively in the arena of energy, climate, sustainability and the environment, safety and post-secondary education. Education includes a BA in Linguistics, a Diploma in Public Relations and a Graduate Certificate in Executive Coaching.