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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 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, Director, International Diplomacy, C40 Cities Climate Leadership Group (and former Mayor of Toronto)

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. 

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November 20, 2019 9:15 am – 10:00 am

Creating a Net Zero Portfolio

Industry executives will present their portfolio approach and achievements in reducing energy consumption and carbon emissions, while leveraging innovative building technologies.

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:

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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.

Michael Fox, President, Fox High Impact Consulting
Michael Fox is the President and Founder of Fox High Impact Consulting, an Indigenous-owned company dedicated to the socio-economic development of Indigenous communities through a variety of services including Project Management, Strategic Advisory Services, Stakeholder/Community Engagement, Business/Economic Development and Community Planning.


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!


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