Canadian Summit on Communications in Health Care Settings – Speakers – Spark Conferences

Canadian Summit on Communications in Health Care Settings – Speakers


Join the 2019 Speaker Roster

We are looking for new sessions on crisis management, digital media, corporate communications, communication for health care associations, and patient relations.
Email Oana Matei at with the subject line Speaking Engagement Summit on Communication in Health Care Settings and a short description of your proposed presentation. Presentations will be reviewed on an ongoing basis. Early submission is encouraged. Deadline for submissions is August 31, 2019

Mike Villeneuve
Canadian Nurses Association

Villeneuve is well known for his work related to the future of nursing and health care. During his more than 30-year career, he has worked in clinical, education, research, administration and policy settings.

During his tenure at CNA, Villeneuve was a senior nursing consultant, scholar-in-residence, executive lead on the National Expert Commission and lead for the Toward 2020 initiative. He was a co-author of the book Canadian Nurses Association: 100 Years of Service.

For the past five years, Villeneuve has been a lecturer in public policy, leadership and administration at the Lawrence S. Bloomberg faculty of nursing at the University of Toronto, where he also served as program lead for the master of nursing in health systems leadership and administration program. He operated Michael Villeneuve Associates, an independent health policy consulting company in Ottawa.

Earlier in his career, he was a senior nursing policy consultant in the Office of Nursing Policy at Health Canada and a patient care manager at Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre in Toronto.

His volunteer roles include vice chair of the Winchester District Memorial Hospital board of directors. He also served as the health policy and innovation section editor for the Canadian Journal of Nursing Leadership.

Joanne Yeung
Manager, Social Media and Content
Iovate Health Sciences

Joanne is a digital marketer who’s bread and butter has been in leading health care organizations through the online world.

As the Manager of Digital Media at William Osler Health System for six years, Joanne straddled digital strategy, project management, and execution for all channels including websites, intranets, blogs, social and apps. She has had the chance to do it all, including working with multiple content management systems, content development, HTML and CSS, photography, videography, graphic design, weaving stories out of data, and writing.

She recently joined Iovate Health Sciences as Manager of Social Media and Content where she oversees complex social strategies for multiple national and international brands totalling millions of fans.

When she isn’t inhaling all things digital, you’ll find Joanne freelancing, globetrotting, living the sweat life, or discovering new music. Find her on Twitter and Instagram.

Sherrilynne Starkie
Strategic Digital Communications
Sherrilynne Starkie Consulting

Sherrilynne Starkie is an award-winning digital communications consultant with more than 20 years agency experience in Canada, Britain and the USA. She has an international reputation as a social media innovator, is a prolific blogger and podcaster and is an active IABC volunteer.

She assists organizations in dealing with big challenges–everything from market disruption (think Uber) to aging workforces (think trade unions) to reputation management (think citizen engagement) through effective digital strategies. She currently sits on IABC Canada Eastern Regional Board and volunteers with the Ottawa Senators Foundation. You can connect with her on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn.

Jay Innes
Director of Communications
The Perley and Rideau Veterans’ Health Care

Jay Innes is the Director of Communications with The Perley and Rideau Veterans’ Health Centre, one of Ontario’s largest and most progressive long-term care health centres and home for 250 Veterans and 200 members of the public.

Through Jay’s work and his support for Ottawa region charities, he has developed engagement strategies to advance the goals of public and private organizations.

After attending Dalhousie University (B.A. ’88) and Carleton University (M.J. ’95),  Jay worked as a reporter and a current affairs documentary executive producer before transitioning to marketing and business development roles supporting an education training developer and two privacy start-ups.

Supporting the Perley Rideau’s transition to become an innovative Seniors Village with independent-living apartments and the many amenities desired for a Village, Jay has guided the creation and branding of Perley Rideau Educational Progams (PREP), the new Perley Rideau Active Seniors website ( and Perley Rideau Lifelong Learning programs.

Ellen Gardner
Senior Communications Specialist

Ellen’s communications career is varied and dynamic, with experience in health care, manufacturing, labour relations, long-term care, banking and technology. She loves change and seeks it continuously in her career. Ellen’s goal in working with clients is to help them understand their true niche and value, and then use strong messaging (the words always count!), dynamic design, multiple formats and creative strategy to tell their story.

Ellen recently started teaching business writing at the University of Toronto and has learned a lot about helping people find their own unique voice in their writing.

Calyn Pettit
Manager, Digital Communications
Hamilton Health Sciences Centre

Adaptable, poised, well-rounded PR professional with fine-tuned skills in digital communications, strategy and innovation. Proud to lead an innovative, dynamic digital team at Hamilton Health Sciences.

Experience and interest in all facets of PR & strategic communications, including media relations, publications, web publishing, new media, internal comms and issues management. Special interest and knowledge in the unique world of healthcare comms.

Passionate about storytelling and building the stakeholder-organization relationship through compelling, meaningful content.

Elise Copps
Public Relations Specialist
Hamilton Health Sciences Centre

Journalist turned PR pro, Elise has shaped the voice of Hamilton Health Sciences online through her unique style of storytelling. She works as a Public Relations Specialist on the hospital’s Digital Communications team, with a focus on content strategy and social media engagement.

She began her career as a TV journalist, eventually carving out a specialty in health reporting. In that role she developed a skill for turning complex health care stories into attention-grabbing and relatable video content. She has transplanted this talent to her PR role by building relationships with staff and doctors across the organization to mine stories that not only generate interest, but drive strategic goals.

Her passion for storytelling has permeated the Hamilton Health Sciences community, contributing to a 250 per cent increase in Facebook following over 18 months and making the platforms she curates a top choice for leaders in the organization who want to share stories and updates.

She’s a proud Hamilton resident and a graduate of Queen’s University and Fanshawe College.

Jean George
Digital and Social Media Strategist Freelancer
Global Executive MBA 2018, Rotman School of Management
Former, Instructor, Digital Strategy & Communications Management
University of Toronto, School of Continuing Studies

Jean is a Digital Marketer who began her career in the financial industry and after 2 years decided she was ready for a change. She was able to make the switch and enter the world of advertising by completing the Marketing Communications certification program at UofT.

She started off her digital advertising career as the first Community Manager at Proximity/BBDO and now is a Marketing Manager at Creative Destruction Lab. She has worked on a wide range of brands and campaigns and is able to apply practical examples and key learnings on a wide range of areas relating to social media.

Julie Drury
Chair, Patient and Family Advisory Council
Ontario Ministry of Health and Long Term Care

Julie Drury is the Chair of the Patient and Family Advisory Council for the Ontario Ministry of Health and Long Term Care. Julie is passionate about the patient, family, and professional partnership and experience in health. In her professional role, she facilitates and provides the patient and family perspective in health care policy and decision making.

As the mother of a child who was diagnosed with SIFD, a rare form of mitochondrial disease, Julie has particular experience in system navigation, complex care, care coordination, palliative care, and patient safety. Her leadership of patient and family advisory councils inspires her to mentor families on the navigation of the health care system, and to advocate for the role of patients and families in the health care system.

Julie is an experienced health policy analyst who has worked in various portfolios within Health Canada over the past 17+ years. She is respected for her highly collaborative work style, stakeholder engagement, and leadership skills. She has guided significant health policy projects, and provided strategic advice to senior executive management across many federal departments.

Julie is a board director of MitoCanada Foundation, and a patient/family advisor for Health Quality Ontario – Quality Standards. She has been a family advisor with organizations such as the Children’s Hospital of Eastern Ontario, the Ontario Provincial Council on Maternal and Child Health, Complex Care Kids Ontario, the Rare Disease Foundation, and the Canadian Family Advisory Network.

Zal Press
Executive Director
Patient Commando

Zal is an internationally recognized patient activist leader and speaker.

He is the Co-Chair and only Canadian on the Beryl Institute Global Patient and Family Advisory Council. The Beryl Institute is the global community of practice and premier thought leader on improving the patient experience in healthcare, with over 50,000 members from hospitals and healthcare institutions worldwide.

In 2011, he founded Patient Commando to amplify the patient voice through:
– Public speaking. Zal presents at professional health stakeholder and hospital leadership conferences.
– Professional education. Zal spearheaded the development of an exclusive Continuing Medical Education program for healthcare professional that teaches narrative competency, improving communications between patients and professionals for better health outcomes.
– is the most diverse collection of patient stories in any medium that enriches our understanding of the lived illness experience.
– Grassroots activities and programs that have been instrumental in launching two new patient advocacy movements in the last year.

After living with Crohn’s disease for over 35 years, Zal is the patient doctors listen to.

Paddy Moore
Strategic Communications Advisor
Children’s Hospital of Eastern Ontario (CHEO)
Ottawa Children’s Treatment Centre (OCTC)

Paddy Moore is a Strategic Communications Advisor at CHEO – OCTC with decades of experience in the fields of journalism and communications. At CHEO – OCTC, he is responsible for the organization’s issues management and media relations. He began his career at CBC Radio before transitioning to in the mid-1990s, where he became a senior writer. While at, he won numerous national and international awards for investigative reporting on health issues and creative use of online.

Paddy worked in the field of research communications between leaving CBC and starting at CHEO, beginning with the Canadian Council on Learning before moving to the Canadian Health Services Research Foundation, the Ottawa Hospital Research Institute and then BioCanRx, a Network of Centres of Excellence.

Digital media has been a central part of Paddy’s work since his time at He has developed and redeveloped websites, built digital channels and strategies as different social platforms emerged, and has always looked for online’s potential to enable creative, engaging ways of telling stories and conveying information. Paddy is a strong advocate of storytelling to communicate complex ideas and highlight impact over process.

Kathy Kastner
Author: Death Kills… and other things I’ve learned on the internet

Award-winning television producer and reporter, Kathy Kastner’s interest in having the best possible ending blossomed as her beloved father-in-law began to decline. Armed with research chops, relentless curiosity, a conversational writing style and a keen sense of humour – she turned her energies to finding what regular people needed to prepare for a ‘best ending.’

Having established herself as the leading ‘layperson’ bringing perspective to the end of life journey, Kastner continues to find ways to fill communication gaps between health care professionals and their patients and families.

Martin Waxman
Instructor, Digital Strategy & Communications Management
University of Toronto, School of Continuing Studies

Martin Waxman, APR, leads digital and social media training and workshops, is a communications strategist and teaches digital strategy. He’s the co-founder of three PR agencies, president of a consultancy, Martin Waxman Communications, and has worked in the industry for 25 years.

He’s a and LinkedIn Learning author, one of the hosts of the Inside PR podcast, and past-chair of PRSA Counselors Academy. His columns have appeared in Marketing Magazine. He is also a past-president of CPRS Toronto.

Martin developed a Certificate in Digital Strategy and Communications Management for the University of Toronto School of Continuing Studies and teaches several courses there. He’s a social media and PR professor at Seneca College and regularly speaks at conferences across North America.

Martin has published two books of fiction, an ebook on multimedia storytelling, and is currently completing his Master in Communications Management from McMaster University.

Connect with Martin on Twitter, @martinwaxman, Instagram, @martinwaxman or LinkedIn.

Philip De Souza
Manger, Communications and Marketing

Are you wondering, “Who is Philip De Souza?”

Philip is a creative thinker, a trend-setter and a barrier-breaker.

Transforming the everyday communication strategy into something relevant and engaging is what he does best.

In every part of his role as Manager, Communications and Marketing at HIROC (Healthcare Insurance Reciprocal of Canada), Philip tries to move the brand, the company and the conversation as far away from the ordinary as possible. He constantly challenges himself and his team to think outside the box and be creative in how they connect with clients.

His creative thinking allowed for a radical shift in how HIROC communicates and markets itself on the Canadian healthcare landscape. Story-telling opened the door to solidifying relationships and building new ones.

As a trend-setter, the many ad campaigns Philip brought to life had many of our stakeholders rallying around it’s key message and even adopting the tagline created – I am HIROC.

And being a barrier-breaker, he has pushed himself to seek out new ways to build relationships both externally and internally. Most recently, breaking down barriers inside the organization and introducing the concept of a solutions-oriented culture with the introduction of the Solution Pit-Stop, Solution Incubator and the HIROCafé – all initiatives recognized as factors to HIROC’s GTA’s Top 100 Employer win in 2017.

Philip’s passion for change doesn’t end in the workplace. As the Chair of the Cabinet for Hope with ONEXONE, he made it their mandate to start a conversation on ensuring children, no matter where they live in this world, have the necessities they need to survive and thrive. And he has the honour of sitting on the Board of Directors for the Sunshine Foundation, an organization fulfilling dreams for Canadian kids living with severe physical disabilities or life-threatening illnesses.

Kevin Ménard
Communications Advisor
Public Affairs and Member Engagement
Canadian Nurses Association

Kevin is the Communications Lead for the Canadian Nurses Association, the national and global voice for Canadian nursing which represents over 139,000 members across the country. Prior to joining the Canadian Nurses Association in 2016, Kevin spent 8 years working in the federal government in various political functions.

In 2008, Kevin joined the Prime Minister Office (PMO) as a summer intern in its issues management department. For 5 years, he took on various tasks within the PMO that included issues management, policy, strategic communications and media relations. In 2013, he left the PMO to serve the Minister of Immigration and Citizenship to provide advice on policy, communications and immigration cases. During his time politics, he had the chance to be part of two national campaigns “war room” for the Conservative Party of Canada (2011 & 2015).

Jennifer Macey
Vice President
Ipsos Public Affairs

Over more than a decade, Jennifer has established herself as one of Canada’s leading public affairs researchers. She is sought out for her deep subject matter expertise, sophisticated and cutting-edge study design, nuanced interpretation, and actionable advice.

She is universally relied upon as a trusted counsel and accessible partner by clients – a testimony to the clarity of her communications and her unparalleled commitment to acquiring a deep understanding of her clients’ issues and needs.

Ruth Davy
Senior Research Account Manager
Ipsos Public Affairs

Ruth is a Senior Account Manager on the Ipsos Public Affairs Consultations team, and has been involved in the planning and execution of numerous consultations including the Health Canada’s Healthy Eating Consultations, the Canada’s Food Guide Consultations, the Defence Policy Review Consultations, and the Canadian Content in a Digital World Consultations, among others.

Ruth has experience in the analysis of large qualitative data sets through text-analytics and content analysis, as well as writing reports regarding the implications on policy.

She has been with Ipsos for 5 years in the social and policy research space and has achieved a Certified Market Research Professional (CMRP) designation from the MRIA.

Michelle Holden
Communications and Marketing Specialist

Michelle wears many hats as a communications specialist, writer and community manager. With over seven years combined experience in the not-for-profit and government sectors, when Michelle landed at HIROC she felt she had found a new purpose in her work.

Michelle thrives on communicating the value of a not-for-profit insurance provider like HIROC because the organization is truly an anomaly. To be able to function, the focus has to be on teamwork, safe practices and safe care.

As community manager for HIROC’s internal engagement strategy and online community, Michelle shifts her focus to find new strategies for engaging leadership and staff to collaborate. HIROC’s intranet was nominated for a Digital Workplace Award by Igloo Software in 2017. Michelle was also profiled and nominated for a Community Manager of the Year Award in 2016.

Michelle has a Bachelor of Arts, Honours in Communications from Carleton University. She has lived and worked in Ottawa, France and Toronto…the latter is home.

Carla Rodriguez
Director, Patient Experience
William Osler Health System

Carla is an executive with 17 years of progressive experience in senior leadership roles managing change and program delivery in the healthcare, finance and information technology sectors; while creating exceptional experiences for clients/patients.

She is also a strategic planner with 15+ years in delivering solutions that advance corporate strategic goals, using a systems approaches to analyze trends, metrics and opportunities to improve patient satisfaction.

Carla builds and promotes collaborative partnerships with diverse stakeholders across public, private and non-profit sectors with 10+ years of experience as an Operational Leader – Change Agent, with large scale program management (>$10 MM).

She holds an Industrial Engineering degree from the University of Toronto, an Executive Masters of Business Administration from Richard Ivey School of Business and she is a certified Project Management Professional (PMP).

She has a proven ability in establishing centres of excellence for best practice and governance structures to enable decision making, facilitate change agendas and implement innovative initiatives to increase efficiencies.

Carla is known as an energetic, innovative leader that achieves success through partnerships, engagement, and collaboration with colleagues and stakeholders with  demonstrable commitment to continuing education in healthcare, business and technology.

Gabriella Skubincan
Manager, Communications and Engagement
The Office of the Patient Ombudsman of Ontario

Gabriella Skubincan is a dynamic public affairs professional with a demonstrated track record as a strategic thinker and effective relationship manager.

With a diverse background and 20+ years working in progressively challenging roles, most in the health care sector, she brings to the table branding expertise, creativity and extensive experience working collaboratively across many large organizations, making connections and driving results.

Gabriella holds an Honours Bachelor of Arts degree from the University of Western Ontario and a Master’s of Arts from the University of Waterloo.

Lori Davison
Vice President, Brand Strategy & Communications
Sick Kids Foundation

Lori Davison joined SickKids Foundation in 2014. As Vice President, Brand Strategy & Communications, Lori leads the strategic vision for SickKids brand communications. Under Lori’s leadership, the Foundation’s in-house team of marketers, content specialists and public relations practitioners develop and execute integrated marketing and communications programs to build brand equity, raise awareness of SickKids’ global leadership and reinforce the need for donor dollars.

Prior to joining SickKids, Lori had roles on the senior management teams of leading advertising agencies such as Leo Burnett and BBDO, where she led brand strategy on several Government of Ontario assignments as well as for some of Canada’s biggest blue chip brands including RBC and TD Bank.

Lori holds a Master of Arts degree from the University of Toronto as well as a Bachelor of Arts degree in English and Sociology from the University of Western Ontario.

Lori is an avid runner, reader, gardener and supporter of child and youth participation in sport. Lori is an active Volunteer Official for Swim Canada.

Janice Nicholson
Director of Communications & Digital Media
The Hospital for Sick Children

Janice Nicholson is a professional communicator with a broad range of experience in activism, public policy analysis and development, political research, event organization, strategic communications, digital and social media and parliamentary affairs. She has over a decade of high level experience, serving in various advisory roles internationally to executive boards, to caucus and to Cabinet Ministers.

Janice is a skilled communicator with broad experience in both internal communications and external messaging, social media and branding.

She is also a proven communicator in the health industry providing stakeholder engagement, strategic advice, events management and communications support to Canada’s leading centre dedicated to advancing children’s health.

Michael Watts
Chair, Health Industry Group
Osler, Hoskin & Harcourt LLP

Michael is Chair of Osler’s Health Industry Group. He is general counsel to many of the firm’s public and private health industry clients in respect of a wide spectrum of matters, including governance and regulatory advice, e-health agreements, outsourcing, healthcare restructuring, and purchase and sale of regulated healthcare businesses, programs and assets.

Michael also has extensive experience in providing complex regulatory opinions that ensure statutory compliance with federal and provincial health statutes.

Patrice Cloutier
Manager, Corporate Communications
Hamilton Health Sciences

Patrice Cloutier works in the healthcare sector and is an independent crisis communications practitioner and trainer in Ontario. Formerly a civil servant, he played a lead role in the planning and delivery of emergency information at the provincial level and in crisis communications planning.

Patrice spent close to 10 years as a reporter and broadcaster with the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation/Société Radio-Canada and as a freelance journalist for the BBC and Radio-Canada International.

He has led teams of public relations and organizational communications professionals in the private sector. He is widely recognized as a pioneer in the use of social media in providing information during crises and in emergency management.

He’s an avid blogger and social media enthusiast. Patrice is a member of various groups sharing crisis communications and emergency management expertise and best practices.

In 2012, Patrice created the Canadian Virtual Operations Support Team (CanVOST) which offers surge capability to municipalities and other organizations during emergencies.

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