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Keynote presentations


November 20, 2019 8:30 am – 9:15 am

David Miller Photo smallWhile Nations Talk, Cities Act
David Miller, Director, International Diplomacy, C40 Cities Climate Leadership Group (and former Mayor of Toronto)

David Miller will give a passionate presentation from his vantage working for a coalition of the world’s largest cities about City leadership on Climate Change, with a particular emphasis on international trends and innovations regarding city regulation and action with respect to new and existing buildings.

David Miller is the North American Regional Director, Director of International Diplomacy, C40 Climate Leadership Group, and Global Ambassador of inclusive climate action. He is responsible for supporting North American Mayors in their climate leadership and for building a global movement for socially equitable action to mitigate and adapt to climate change. He served as Chair of C40 Cities from 2008 until 2010.

David was Mayor of Toronto from 2003 to 2010. Under his leadership, Toronto became widely admired internationally for its environmental leadership, economic strength and social integration. He is a leading advocate for the creation of sustainable urban economies, and a strong and forceful champion for the next generation of jobs through sustainability. Miller has held a variety of public and private positions and served as Future of Cities Global Fellow at Polytechnic Institute of New York University from 2011 to 2014.

David is a Harvard trained economist and professionally a lawyer. 

BEIC Logo 2017 copy

November 20, 2019 9:15 am – 10:00 am

Creating a Net Zero Portfolio

Buildings have a significant impact on the environment, and continue to be one of the largest contributors to carbon emissions. In Canada, net zero buildings serve as an example of how these impacts can be mitigated, while also generating an impressive positive economic benefit. Gord Hicks will provide trends and highlight case studies that clearly demonstrate how both of these objectives can be achieved, while Stéphan Déry will share some of the sustainability highlights of Canada’s portfolio, and his vision for the future of the Government’s built environment.

Stéphan Déry

Stéphan Déry, Assistant Deputy Minister, Real Property Services, Public Services and Procurement Canada

Stéphan Déry was appointed Assistant Deputy Minister of Real Property Services on August 19, 2019.

In this role, Stéphan is responsible for the delivery of the entire suite of real property services to federal departments and agencies, including office accommodation, project management, real estate services and specialty services (geomatics, environmental, architectural and engineering), the management of multiple federal engineering assets (bridges, dams, highways and dry docks), as well as the acquisition and disposal of federal real property.

Prior to this appointment, Stéphan was Chief Executive Officer for the Translation Bureau, where he provided strategic and operational leadership for the Bureau. He oversaw translation and revision services offered by the Bureau in French and English and in over 100 Indigenous and foreign languages to a variety of clients, including the Senate and the House of Commons. He also oversaw terminology standardization through the management of TERMIUM Plus®, the Government of Canada's terminology and linguistic data bank, and the provision of interpretation services for Canada's Parliament and at national and international events.

Before his appointment as Chief Executive Officer for the Translation Bureau, Stéphan was the department's Regional Director General for the Atlantic Region. In this role, he built strong relationships with his provincial counterparts, which led to the development of collaborative agreements with all four Atlantic provinces. He previously held a number of executive positions in the areas of real property, acquisitions and corporate services within PSPC and at Library and Archives Canada (LAC). In those various roles, Stéphan had the opportunity to be the co-champion for Official Languages and the departmental Champion for the Government of Canada Workplace Charitable Campaign at PSPC, as well as Champion for Visible Minorities at LAC.

Stéphan is a certified management accountant and holds a master's degree in public administration.


Gord HicksGord Hicks, P. Eng., LEED AP, CEO, Americas, Brookfield Global Integrated Solutions

Gordon (Gord) Hicks is CEO, Americas, at BGIS. Prior to being appointed CEO, he held numerous executive roles within the organization.


Gord is a graduate Engineer of Carleton University and a member of the Professional Engineers of Ontario. As a LEED-Accredited Professional, and someone who cares deeply about the planet, Gord is dedicated to supporting and advocating for the highest environmental standards in the real estate industry. 

November 20, 2019 1:30 pm – 2:15 pm

Within Reach: Advancing Transformative Change

So many of the challenges we face seem insurmountable. A globe that is heating up around us. An upswing in authoritarianism, racism, division and conflict. A global refugee crisis. A world on the cusp of AI, grappling with privacy issues. Growing income inequality in our rapidly urbanizing cities. And a generation of young people that fear access to stable housing might just be continually beyond their grasp.

In this fast changing, increasingly complex world, is there a way to advance transformative change? To grab hold of the things that matter most, and have an impact?

When we let our values guide us, we can prioritize our actions and our efforts, and change the world. We can transform our work places, communities, cities and our world. We can build knowledge and understanding to inform strategic, transformative actions. And we can leverage our collective impact, to advance positive change.

It begins with identifying what is within reach.

Within Reach empowers people, organizations, and leaders to advance transformative change. We can green our planet, create inclusive work places and communities, and usher in prosperity for all.

Jennifer KeesmaatJennifer Keesmaat, Former Chief Planner, City of Toronto and Renowned Urbanist

Jennifer Keesmaat is passionate about creating places where people flourish. Named one of the “most powerful people in Canada” by Maclean’s, one of the “most influential” by Toronto Life, and one of the top Women of Influence in Canada, she spent five years as Toronto’s Chief City Planner, where she was celebrated for her forward thinking and collaborative approach to city-building.

A Distinguished Visitor in Residence Emeritus at the University of Toronto, Jennifer continues to share her vision for cities of the future, and her belief in the importance of public sector leadership through a variety of publications including The Guardian, Macleans, The Globe and Mail, the Toronto Star, and on her podcast, Invisible City, where she covers a broad range of future city and technological topics.

Over the past fifteen years, as a founding partner of the Office for Urbanism and subsequently Dialog, Jennifer has worked in municipalities across Canada and around the world on urban design guidelines, official plan reviews, culture strategies, and university campus master plans. She has been recognized for her expertise in transit planning, heritage preservation, strategy development, communications, sustainable economic development, and the creation of walkable, complete communities.

In 2018, Jennifer ran for Mayor in the City of Toronto on a progressive, visionary platform that included addressing the housing crisis by building at scale on city owned land and implementing a Rent-to-Own program; neighbourhood-based crime prevention through the development of Community Wellbeing Plans; redesigning city streets to prioritize vulnerable users; the development of five Cultural Hubs to instigate renewal outside of the core; and the tearing down of the Gardiner Expressway to build a new walkable, transit-oriented waterfront neighbourhood community.

Today, Jennifer heads up The Keesmaat Group. With her team of city building experts, she provides inspiration through public speaking, and delivers impact through her consulting services pertaining to creating complete, walkable communities. She is also on the Advisory Board of the Urban Land Institute in Toronto and appointed to the International Panel of Experts for the Singapore Urban Redevelopment Authority.

Jennifer has a Combined Honours degree in Philosophy and English from the University of Western Ontario, and a Masters in Environmental Studies, Politics, and Planning from York University. As a Registered Professional Planner, her work has been repeatedly recognized by professional associations, including the 2016 President’s Award of Excellence from the Canadian Institute of Planners, the 2016 Bryden Alumni Award from York University, and the 2017 City Builders Award from EDIT/the Design Exchange. Jennifer’s TED talks include “Walk to School,” “Own Your City,” and “Taxes, Democracy, and Our Shared Interest.”

 Presented by:

Black McDonald Logo

November 20, 2019 2:15 pm – 3:00 pm

Indigenous and Non-Indigenous – The Path to a Successful Economic Relationship

For hundreds of years, Indigenous and non-Indigenous people jointly participated in a successful economic relationship. There was a long successful history of trading resources and services, working well together. Unfortunately, the story changed drastically, and the relationship deteriorated as a result of settler colonialism and a lack of respect for the shared history. For many years, the destructive influence of colonialism shaped a tragic path for Indigenous people. We now have the opportunity to improve upon that and go back to our roots of working together with mutual respect. The path to reconciliation lies with education and awareness, as well as a desire to work together to facilitate solutions to both the economic and social challenges facing Indigenous communities.

This presentation will serve to educate the attendees on the historical background and the lessons learned, present ways to work together in the real property world, and discuss the opportunity to take small steps toward true reconciliation and respectful partnership.

Gord Wickham, Vice President, Colliers Project Leaders Inc.
Gord Wickham is a Vice President with Colliers Project Leaders with over 30 years of experience supporting Indigenous communities in Ontario.

Catherine Banning, General Manager, Indigenous Community Engagement (ICE)
Catherine is the General Manager of Indigenous Community Engagement (ICE) – a national firm dedicated to building relationships, capacity, and projects by providing strategic services and practical solutions that help Indigenous clients succeed.

Catherine brings a wealth of experience and a strong focus in infrastructure projects with more than 19 First Nation Communities. She was an indigenous engagement lead within many Canadian organizations, including Elections Ontario and the Nuclear Waste Management Organization (NWMO); supporting both industry proponents and Indigenous communities.

She is responsible for the oversight of numerous projects including, health, education, financial oversight, governance and economic development.

A member of Fort William First Nation, Catherine is an Alumni from Confederation College of Applied Arts in Technology with a Major in Marketing, she also has Accreditations from the Canadian Banker’s Institute, the Credit Union Institute and Investment Fund’s in Canada Institute. Catherine resides with her family on a cattle farm in Ware Township.



Laugh It Off And Bring It On

A few years ago, inspired by her own recovery from depression, Jessica Holmes trained as a wellness coach and re-committed her life to discovering what creates lasting balance and fulfilment. In this funny and inspiring presentation, Jessica shares hilarious and meaningful personal anecdotes about career, family, stress and mental health to help others reignite their spark.

Jessica presents her insights in a funny, interactive way that is rarely seen on stage, complete with songs and impressions. She discusses the latest discoveries in the field of positive psychology, how to turn your embarrassments into punch lines, and measurable ways to achieve greater fulfilment and happiness in work and life. It’s the perfect mix of comedy and wellness. Audiences are motivated to set the bar higher for their personal happiness.

Jessica HolmesJessica Holmes, Celebrated Comedian, Author, Mental Health Advocate
Beloved comedian Jessica Holmes has been a perennial favourite on Royal Canadian Air Farce for 15 years, and has brought the house down opening for giants such as Ellen DeGeneres, Russell Peters, Jerry Seinfeld, and Oprah Winfrey. Her hilarious take on life’s challenges as well as her unique knack for skewering celebrities (including Nikki Minaj and Celine Dion) have audiences in stitches.

Behind the laughter though, Jessica – like millions of Canadians – has struggled both with post-partum depression and, as she puts it, “regular, run-of-the-mill, garden-variety depression”. Hoping to help end the stigma around mental health issues, she openly shares her personal stories with the humour she’s known for, bringing light – and laugh-out-loud laughter – to what can often be a dark topic. Jessica’s funny and inspiring new book, Depression The Comedy: A Tale of Perseverance was published in 2018, and takes readers deeper into her mental health journey with validation and warmth.

As a performer, Jessica’s productions have garnered her a “Platinum Award” at The Worldfest International Film Festival, and nominations for Gemini Awards and the prestigious Tim Sims Scholarship. She stars in her own program, The Holmes Show, and has also starred in the films Welcome to Mooseport, Citizen Duane, and Moonpoint. She recently appeared in the pilot for The Communist’s Daughter, which won the JFL ComedyPro competition this summer, and continues to perform comedy across the country. 

November 21, 2019 8:00 am – 8:30 am

Inspiring Workplaces: The Way Work OUGHT to Be!

Culture drives success, but great cultures don’t just happen by accident. You need to be intentional about building a purpose-driven, values-based culture that engages employees and drives better results. “Inspiring Workplaces” offers practical, relevant ideas based on research from some of the most inspiring companies on the planet. Ideas that will help you build a healthier, more inspiring, more innovative, and more fun workplace culture – the kind of culture that will help you get the results you deserve!

Michael KerrMichael Kerr, “The Workplace Energizer”
Michael Kerr is one of North America’s leading authorities on fostering innovative and inspiring workplace cultures. A “Hall of Fame” and award-winning international business speaker, trainer, and bestselling author, Mike has delivered his captivating keynote presentations and workshops to thousands of audiences around the world, from the US to Iran to Austria.

A former government manager and business owner for more than twenty years, Michael’s ideas on building great workplaces have been featured in hundreds of publications worldwide. He is also the author of six bestselling books, including Inspiring Workplaces: Creating the Kind of Workplace Where Everyone Wants to Work, The Humor Advantage: Why Some Businesses Are Laughing All the Way to the Bank, and his latest Hire, Inspire, and Fuel Their Fire: How to Recruit, Onboard, and Train New Employees to Live Your Culture Out Loud! 


November 21, 2019 9:00 am – 10:00 am

Winning Strategies for Building a High Performing Workplace Culture

The workplace can support and influence organizational cultural change. Join our panel discussion for an informative session that will provide insights and best practices for meeting the needs of a multi-generational and diverse workforce, how workplace renewal can help with creating an inclusive workplace culture, and how RP professionals can support their clients in the program branches to better meet their objectives through innovative and inspiring workplaces.

Jennifer Thorne, Senior Advisor, Public Service Renewal, Privy Council Office
Rob Chambers, Assistant Deputy Minister (Infrastructure and Environment), Department of National Defence, Government of Canada
Nicolino Frate, Director General, Communications Branch, Shared Services Canada, Shared Services Canada
Moderator: Sonia Powell Director General, Workplace Solutions Real Property Branch Public Services and Procurement Canada 


November 21, 2019 3:15 pm – 4:30 pm

Deputy Minister Panel: One GC

Michael Kerr

Diane Orange, Assistant Deputy Minister, Horizontal Fixed Asset Review, Treasury Board of Canada Secretariat
Diane Orange is the Assistant Deputy Minister of the Horizontal Fixed Asset Review at the Treasury Board of Canada Secretariat.  Prior to this position, she served as the Assistant Deputy Minister, Human Resources and Corporate Services (2012 to 2017), and as the Special Advisor, Science Enterprise Centres Initiative at Fisheries and Oceans Canada. From 2005 to 2012, she served as Director General in the Real Property Branch of PSPC. Previously, Diane held a variety of policy and real property positions at a Crown corporation and other Government of Canada departments and agencies. She received her Bachelor’s degree from the Department of Political Science at Carleton University. 


huppe rochRoch Huppé, Controller General of Canada, Treasury Board of Canada Secretariat
Roch Huppé was appointed Comptroller General of Canada effective October 23, 2017. As Comptroller General, he is responsible for government-wide direction and leadership for financial management, internal audit, federal assets and acquired services (project management). He also leads the Financial Management Transformation initiative within the Government of Canada. Mr. Huppé entered the public service in 1992 when he joined Global Affairs Canada and where he held various positions within the Financial Services Division. Prior to being appointed Comptroller General, he occupied the role of Chief Financial Officer and Assistant Commissioner, Finance and Administration Branch at the Canada Revenue Agency. He has also been the Chief Financial Officer at Fisheries and Oceans Canada, where he ensured sound financial management and provided leadership on all corporate planning, risk management and evaluation functions. Mr. Huppé holds a bachelor’s degree in Finance from the Université du Québec and a master’s in Public Administration from l’École nationale d’administration publique de Gatineau. He is also a Certified General Accountant as well as a Chartered Professional Accountant.  

Nancy ChahwanNancy Chahwan, Chief Human Resources Officer, Treasury Board of Canada Secretariat
Nancy Chahwan was appointed as the Chief Human Resources Officer at the Treasury Board of Canada Secretariat (TBS) in August 2018. Prior to this, she served as Assistant Secretary of the Government Operations Sector, TBS from May 2015 to March 2017, at which time she was appointed Deputy Commissioner of the Canada Revenue Agency. From 2000 to 2015, Ms. Chahwan held regional and national senior positions in Public Works and Government Services Canada (now known as Public Services and Procurement Canada), where she was responsible for the rehabilitation of Canada’s Parliament buildings, managed multi-billion dollar programs in Acquisitions and Real Property, and contributed to Canada’s space programs. Her contributions include transforming program policies, implementation excellence, and fostering innovation. Before joining the public service in 1990, Ms. Chahwan graduated from the École des Hautes études commerciales in Montreal (QC), with a B.A. in Business Administration with a double major in Finance and Management. She has also been active on several Boards of Directors of profit and not-for-profit organizations as Secretary, Chair, or Head of Audit Committee. Ms. Chahwan is passionate about authentic leadership, empathetic service and lasting partnerships, and actively champions youth and executives. She is the recipient of the 2017 Association of Professional Executives of the Public Service of Canada (APEX) award for a respectful and healthy workplace. 

Nancy ChahwanMichael became Associate Deputy Minister of Public Services and Procurement Canada in November 2017
Prior to this appointment, Michael held senior executive positions with the Treasury Board Secretariat. From August 2015 to November 2017, he was Associate Secretary of the International Affairs, Security and Justice Sector, where he was responsible for presenting cases to Treasury Board Ministers related to resource allocation, project approvals and other Treasury Board authorities in the areas of defence, immigration, justice, public safety and international affairs. From April 2014 to August 2015, Michael was the Assistant Secretary of the Regulatory Affairs Sector, where he provided advice to Treasury Board Ministers on Governor in Council (GIC) submissions as well as management and oversight of the federal regulatory policy.

Before joining the Treasury Board Secretariat, Michael served as Director of Operations in the Priorities and Planning Secretariat of the Privy Council Office from 2010 to 2014. Prior to that, he worked in a variety of positions in Health Canada over a ten-year period, including serving as Director General of the Policy, Planning and International Affairs Directorate of the Health Products and Food Branch from 2007 to 2010.  Michael has also worked at the Medical Research Council and the Canadian Institutes of Health Research. 

Michael holds an MSc in Social Policy and Administration from the London School of Economics, and completed undergraduate studies at the University of Alberta.  He lives in Ottawa with his wife, Elaine, and two very active teenage boys. 

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