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Why participate?

I have ideas and solutions

Innovation and productivity are the drivers of economic growth. They thrive where diverse networks of businesses, ideas, people and organizations interact; consider the Ideas Festival as the collision of the minds that instigates change.

I care about the future of Atlantic Canada

Atlantic Canada's aging demographic means young people need to increasingly take on positions of leadership in business and government. The need to collaborate has never been greater to build that critical mass required to attract foreign investment, build economies of scale and repatriate our talent.

The world is changing rapidly everyday

The rapid pace of economic and social change, including the rise of developing countries, is forcing us to more effectively stimulate, communicate and apply new ideas. Importantly, there is no consensus around which ideas should be used.

Featured sessions and activities

Wednesday, November 4th    
6 - 7PM Registration & Cocktails The Mack
7 - 9PM Festival Opening featuring perfomances by Atlantic Ballet Theatre of Canada and a high energy, interactive exercise on envisioning and executing the future co-led by Futurist Trevor Haldenby and Organizational Design Guru Merv Symes of Symplicity Designs. The Mack
Thursday, November 5th    
7:30 - 8:30AM Breakfast Memorial Hall
8:30 - 9:30AM Keynote: Trevor Haldenby, Futurist
How do we change the stories we tell ourselves about the future(s)? In this keynote, futurist and experience designer Trevor Haldenby will explore how transmedia storytelling, pervasive gaming, and bottom-up cultures of creativity are transforming how we engage with the world of tomorrow.
Memorial Hall
9:30 - 10:30AM The Next 100 Years for Atlantic Canada
A star studded plenary will discuss the economic potential for Atlantic Canada over the next 100 years. What unique competitive advantages to we have as a region? What is holding us back from achieving our economic potential? What are the next steps we need to act on to enable us to be relevant in an increasingly global marketplace?
Jenelle Sobey, Managing Partner, Norex 
Dr. Alaa Abd-El Aziz, President & Vice-Chancellor, University of Prince Edward Island
Matt Symes, Chief Executive Officer, Symplicity Designs
Rachel Mathis, Founder, Invigorate Leaders
Phil MacNevin, Founder/ President, Lift Media
Memorial Hall
11 - 12:30PM Breakout Panels  

Intentional design: How Atlantic Canada became the most attractive place in the world for young people to live.

Atlantic Canada is home to some of Canada's brightest and biggest thinkers in the areas of creative place-building, community design and belonging. Yet many of our conversations on “youth retention” or attracting and retaining new people focus exclusively on jobs* and entrepreneurship. This session asks brilliant  minds to forget jobs for a few minutes, and think about other motivators that draw people to live in a particular place. They will each respond to this challenge: it is 2030 and the Atlantic region is cluttered with diverse, creative, brilliant, youthful energy. What made this possible?

*Warning: An air-horn will sound any time the word “jobs” is stated during the session.

The contributions of this session will be crafted into a editorial/ letter to ourselves How Atlantic Canada became the best place in the word to live to be submitted to local, regional and national newspapers (we hope).

Amy Schwartz
Christina MacLeod
Anna Sampson
Joanna Brown
Gracen Johnson
Aruna Dhara
Soulafa Al-Abbasi

Memorial Hall
Power Plays: Exploring energy game changers for the region
It is quite conceivable that, based on current levels of production and consumption, our planet will run out of oil in the next 100 years. This presents problem and opportunity. We’ll provide a platform for debate and discovery on innovation in the energy sector, and what unique strategic advantages Atlantic Canada has in the sector that can be leveraged on a world stage.
Hélène Eusanio, Co-Founder & CEO, LTC Energy Inc
Jeff Schnurr, Executive Director, Community Forests International
Michel Losier P.Eng., Director, Customer and Community Engagement, New Brunswick Power Corporation
Gilles Volpé, General Manager, Enbridge Gas New Brunswick
Mathieu LeBlanc, Owner, ACFOR Forestry Management
Studio 1
Our rural/ urban advantage
The Georgetown Conference tackled it. It was the driving force behind the Ivany Commission. All four Atlantic Provinces are dealing with developing and leveraging symbiotic relationships between rural and urban communities. This panel will shine the light on rural communities leading the way, and open a conversation on how to better exploit relationships between rural and urban communities into the future.
Amanda Hill, Founder, Pulse Pictou County
Yves Bourgeois, Director of the Urban and Community Studies Institute, University of New Brunswick
Paul MacNeill, Publisher, Island Press Ltd.
Nathalie Aresnault, Founder, N. Arsenault Community Economic Development & Social Enterprise Consultant
Studio 2
12:30PM-1:30PM Keynote Luncheon: Candy Palmater
Candy Palmater is a "recovered" lawyer who turned from the courts to the comedy stage. She is the creator, producer and star of The Candy Show which is currently in its second season of production for APTN. She has lectured extensively throughout Canada on Aboriginal legal, education, and employment equity issues.
Memorial Hall
1:30 - 2PM Bio Break Concourse
2:00-3:30PM Breakout Panels  

Leadershift: How will we lead in the future?
Wicked problems don’t care what department or sector they reside in. In a world that is increasingly complex, leadership that is siloed by sectors and demographics faces increasing challenges to its effectiveness. On this panel, we’ll explore what leadership will look like in the future in a world where anything is measurable, barriers to sharing ideas and opinions widely are shrinking by the moment, and the ability to mobilize is less than 140 characters away.
Moderator: Lisa Hrabluk, Founder, Wicked Ideas
Mark Coffin, Founder, Springtide Collective
Christina MacLeod, Founder, Fusion Charlottetown
Tim Coates, Director of Corporate Citizenship, IBM
Jenelle Sobey, Managing Partner, Norex
Memorial Hall
Visionary Municipalities: How cities and towns will shape our future
Municipalities have arguably never faced so many complex challenges, but arguably, have never been more creative at rising to tackling them in unconventional ways. This panel will dig into leading thinking on municipalities and the role they will play over the next 100 years.
Moderator: Colin Corcoran, Director of Finance and Administration at Choices for Youth
Ramona Doyle, Sustainability Officer, City of Charlottetown
Dave Lane, Development Partner at the marketing firm Dc Design House, Councillor-at-Large City of St. John’s
St. John's, Newfoundland
Luc Richard, Director of Corporate Affaires, City of Dieppe
Thilak Tennekone, Diversity Consultant, Government of Prince Edward Island
Studio 1
Higher Ed: A long view on the education system
Education as we know it will look considerably different a century from now. Will disruptive technology render traditional bricks and mortar approaches to education obsolete? What core skills will be important for the education and workforce of the future? What roles will our traditional institutions play? Our panelists will weigh in on the trends and game changers that they expect will shape the future of education in our region and beyond.
Moderator: Vanessa Paesani, Program Director, 21inc
Jeff Wilson, Executive Director, Brilliant Labs
Erin Schryer, Executive Director, Elementary Literacy Inc.
Luke Poirier, PhD Candidate, University of Prince Edward Island
Sarah Buhlman, Founder, City Centre Community School
Emily Miller, General Manager, Eyeread
Studio 2
3:30 - 5:30PM Break  
5:30 - 9PM Ideas Collider
This interactive evening will create a platform for sharing game changing ideas for our region, and building networks to support taking ideas to action. 10 Ideas will be briefly shared on stage in elevator pitch form, and then participants will be unleashed to stations to help advance ideas to the next stage (accompanied by delicious snacks and beverages, of course!).
The Mack Theatre
Friday, November 6th    
7:30 - 8:30AM Breakfast Memorial Hall
10:00-11AM Keynote: Chitra Anand
Chitra Anand is at the forefront of an important new movement in the workplace: intrapreneurship. Intrapreneurs are the people within your organization who possess an entrepreneurial spirit, driving innovation, creative thinking, and new ideas. The current head of PR for Microsoft Canada, Anand has been an intrapreneur for her entire career.
Memorial Hall
11-11:30AM Bio Break Concourse
11:30AM - 1:00PM Lunch with the Murphy's on multigenerational business
Your exclusive chance to learn from PEI’s entrepreneurial Murphy family, who will share their success story and lessons learned along the way. Not to be missed if you’d like to learn from the Island's best in family business.
Memorial Hall
1:00-2:00PM Premiers Panel - This exclusive panel will explore areas for increased collaboration and a targeted discussion on exploitation of regional strengths of Atlantic Canada that must be targeted over the next 100 years and the political opportunities and barriers that exist to pursuing them boldly. Memorial Hall
2:00-2:30PM Closing Memorial Hall

Speakers and timing subject to change


Scott MacAfee
Scott MacAfee

Scott MacAfee is a student of life, a seeker of the new and the different, he gets excited about Asset Based Community Development, Storytelling, Food Security, Social Enterprise, Credit Unions, Creativity, Place making and having FUN. Scott’s day job is as a Community Network Coordinator for the New Brunswick Economic and Social Inclusion Corporation, working to support the provincial plan to reduce poverty through economic and social inclusion- Overcoming Poverty Together.

trevor headshot casual BIG

Trevor Haldenby, Futurist  
Trevor Haldenby is an imaginative futurist who tells new kinds of stories about emerging technologies.

He has presented and performed at TED, the World Future Society Conference, Autodesk University, Merging Media, DIY Days, TEDx OCADU, and the CBC.

He is a graduate of the CFC Media Lab (2004), and OCAD University’s master’s program in Strategic Foresight and Innovation (2013). As interactive producer he has worked on futuristic online projects including the virtual world Habbo Hotel, and Earth Rangers’ Bring Back the Wild eco-crowdfunding platform. He has also collaborated with Autodesk, the National Film Board of Canada, Arup, and Synbiota to tell playful and participatory stories about the future. In 2012 Trevor founded The Mission Business, a design firm that brings scenarios about the future to life as interactive live experiences. Award-winning projects include Visitations - a 21st century ghost story for the internet of things set in Toronto’s Drake Hotel,ZED.TO: ByoLogyc - a 9-month simulation of the outbreak of a synthetic pandemic in Toronto, and Shadowfall, a multimedia adventure into the future of asteroid mining, artificial intelligence, and extraterrestrial life that launched the 2013 IDEAS conference for venture capitalists, entrepreneurs, and astronauts at the NASA Research Park in Silicon Valley.

Trevor’s artwork has won acclaim and redrawn borders in digital storytelling, including the installation Painting The Myth: The Mystery of Tom Thomson, the interactive documentary New Media // New Trends, live concert visualizations with Spiral Beach, and his work as official photographer for Canada’s most innovative organizations. He migrates regularly across his home range of Southern Ontario with his wife, son, and a bewildering array of cameras and computers.

Merv Symes, President and Chief Organizational Designer, Symplicity Designs
Merv Symes has over 30 years’ experience in helping organizations improve. Since his first experience in 1982 as a team member on the redesign of the Grande Prairie People System at Procter and Gamble he has become an avid student and practitioner of proven Performance Excellence (PE) principles, methods, and tools. He has had the opportunity to learn from some of the top management and change thinkers of our time.

From 1981 – 1991, Merv spent much of his career in operation management roles up to Plant Manager Level. He held positions at Procter and Gamble, Boise Cascade, Domtar, and J.D. Irving, Limited (JDI).  He then spent the next 12 years in Organization Development and HR roles leading the transformation of how JDI companies built leadership capability, engaged employees in improvement, and rewarded contribution. The next 10 years of his career was spent as an internal consultant to JDI’s Leadership on applying PE principles, methods, and tools to dramatically increase business improvement rate. From 2006 – 2013 Merv was Vice President Organizational Change at JDI.

Merv also dedicates some of his personal time to helping non-profit organizations improve through the application of PE principles, methods, and tools. A few of the organizations he has worked with are: Hockey Canada, Government of New Brunswick, Saint John Poverty Group, Ontario Jr. A League, and New Brunswick Heart and Stroke Foundation. Merv is active in teaching the youth of Atlantic Canada through the UNB TME program, UNB Wallace McCain Institute, and 21 INC. Merv is a Professor of Practice, UNB TME (Technology, Management, and Entrepreneurship) Program.


Matt Symes

Chief Executive Officer, Symplicity Designs
Matt Symes is primarily responsible for engaging organizations in how they Design, Live and Tell their story. As Chief Executive Officer, he is charged with the same task internally at Symplicity Designs.
Matt has been doing Performance Excellence since 1982 at the tender age of 2. Matt and his younger brother were the primary test subjects in the evolution of Merv Symes’ career – Thankfully their mother had a good deal of influence in the final product as well. Matt completed his BA/BEd at the University of New Brunswick and then spent the next year teaching English in South Korea and travelling across much of Southeast Asia. In 2007, Matt completed his MA at Wilfrid Laurier University and started his PhD that September.  In 2007, Matt started his own Photography & Graphic Design business (partnering often with Jason Freake) using Performance Excellence principles, methods and tools to help his clients get the most out of their web presence and social media strategy. In 2009, Matt began consulting and coaching organizations on Performance Excellence. He is thrilled to be able to work with clients to shift the organizational paradigm – Business is not a zero-sum game and Symplicity can show you the way.

In his spare time, Matt is still finishing a PhD in history at Wilfrid Laurier University and linked closely with the Laurier Centre for Military Strategic and Disarmament Studies where he designs and writes books on war, society and memory. Follow Matt @Sym_Designs

Rachel Mathis
Founder of Invigorate Leaders
Rachel Mathis is the founder of Invigorate Leaders which runs leadership programming and peer groups for high school students. She worked for seven years with Go-Go Gymnastics Inc. from the age of thirteen, helping build and run programs and she ran their Moncton branch for the past two years. Rachel is passionate about building strong roots for communities by investing in youth and giving them the tools they need to flourish. She is currently attending Mount Allison University pursuing a Psychology degree. Rachel was also a student ambassador with the Pond-Deshpande Centre in the past year and helped to create an annual event called Startup Sackville which is dedicated to creating and maintaining an entrepreneurial environment in Sackville where she lives.

Her mission and passion lies in leading and developing programs which have a deep and sustaining impact for young leaders of today so they can thrive tomorrow.

Dr. Alaa Abd-El-Aziz
President & Vice Chancellor, University of Prince Edward Island
Dr. Alaa Abd-El-Aziz assumed his responsibilities as the sixth President and Vice-chancellor of the University of Prince Edward Island on July 1, 2011. He was installed in a formal ceremony on September 24, 2011.

Since that time he has championed a highly collaborative strategic planning process designed to define and advance the strategic direction of UPEI and support its academic mission—teaching, research and service. The University’s Future Directions Vision focuses on four key pillars: student experience, vibrant communities, exploration and discovery, and living sustainability. Within the context of a challenging post-secondary environment, Dr. Abd-El-Aziz has led institutional evaluation and transformation to advance priority areas critical to the University’s success.

Tim Coates
Director, Corporate Citizenship, IBM
Tim works at the intersection of business, technology and social innovation. With IBM, Tim manages a portfolio of economic development programs in Corporate Citizenship that bring the company's unique expertise and market leading technologies in cloud, data and analytics, mobile, social and security to help grow economic activity around the world. Programs in his portfolio include the Smarter Cities Challenge, SME Toolkit, and Supplier Connection.

Prior to joining IBM, Tim was Managing Director of CTNEXT, a $25m public-private partnership that brought together Connecticut's small business community to create a system of support for high performing young companies. With a network of 14 public and private sector partners, CTNEXT established processes and tools to identify young companies with the greatest potential and mobilize the right resources to support them, giving them the best chance at success and saving valuable time. Prior to CTNEXT, he co-founded of 21inc, an “action tank” building a community of entrepreneurial leaders with some of Atlantic Canada’s most promising young people under age 35. As Executive Director of 21inc from 2006 to 2011. Under his leadership, 21inc developed into a highly respected and dynamic regional institution.

In 2010 he was recognized by Progress Magazine as “People We Love,” and one of New Brunswick’s 20 top innovators. A frequent speaker and writer on leadership and social innovation, his writing has appeared in The Boston Globe, The, and The Telegraph Journal. He was selected from hundreds of applicants in 2007 as an Action Canada Fellow, a national leadership program. From 2007 - 2011 he was an Adjunct Professor at St. Thomas University and the University of New Brunswick, teaching classes in economics, entrepreneurship and public policy. In 2007, Tim completed a Master’s Degree in Public Policy from Harvard University’s John F. Kennedy School of Government. He has BA with First Class Honors in economics from St. Thomas University.


Amy Schwartz, Engagement Ninja
Amy is a specialist in re-visioning the places we live, work and play to make active living the norm for all. With more than 5 years of government experience and more than 8 years of experience in non-profit management, Amy is skilled at developing policies, plans and programs designed to achieve public health outcomes and make communities even more vibrant. Amy’s passion for the arts, economic development, local food and animation of public spaces, combined with her Masters work in Collaborative Management of Non-Profit, Business and Public Sectors, makes it easy for her to connect ideas across professional boundaries. Her areas of expertise include community engagement, program development, funding administration, project management and operational planning. In 2013 she was recognized as one of Atlantic Canada’s top 50 Emerging Leaders by 21inc.

Amy has worked from the grassroots to the highest levels of policy-making and can expertly navigate government and community processes. She is known as a bold innovator in her field, with an instinct for strategic opportunities. Her success in cross-sector collaborative development of a provincial Active Transportation Policy Framework has been highlighted in a Public Health Agency of Canada report as a model approach for health promotion policy. Outside of work Amy can be found teaching Ninja Yoga, surfing, kayaking and hiking. She loves her volunteer work as coordinator of a street-painting and festival on Creighton Street and as treasurer for the Surfing Association of Nova Scotia.

Joanna Brown
Community Coordinator, Westmorland Albert Community Inclusion Network Cooperative
Joanna has always been captured by everyday experiences and the vibrancy found in communities, individuals, and nature. These interests have led her to study social geography and environment at the University of Victoria, as well as continually nurture new facilitation and process skills.

Since returning to NB, Joanna co-founded the Corn Hill Bicycle Festival, which was a rural educational cycling event for the “average cyclist”, and was also involved in the establishment of La Bikery Co-operative, the first community bicycle centre in New Brunswick. Joanna currently works for the Westmorland Albert Community Inclusion Network Co-operative, an organization that works to reduce poverty by supporting communities in achieving their social innovation projects. Lately, she has been working with her partner on establishing a micro-farm at their home in Memramcook, NB.

Gracen Johnson
Founder, Projects for Places We Love
Gracen Johnson calls her work, "Projects for Places we Love." She mostly helps individuals and organizations with strategy, research, communications, and outreach. Despite finishing her MPhil in Planning, Growth, and Regeneration in 2013, she has never stopped studying the city. Gracen thinks of her day-to-day as action research, diving into the question of how Strong Citizenship can transform a place. She lives with her partner in the The Maritimes. In this regular column, field notes, you'll get snapshots of life as a friendly neighbour in a little city.

Soulafa Al-Abbasi
Executive Director, Canmore Folk Festival
Soulafa is a dynamic team leader with a flair for networking and has over 7 years’ experience in capacity building, strategic planning, program development, and non-profit management.  

Soulafa holds a Master of Development Economics from Dalhousie University. She is the General Manager of the Canmore Folk Music Festival Society. She was recently elected to the Canmore Business & Tourism Board. Soulafa also sits on the Bow Valley Immigration Partnership Employment and Social Integration Committees. Prior to this, Soulafa worked as an Employment Specialist at Immigrant Services Association of Nova Scotia. She was also an Aga Khan Foundation Fellow and worked at International Ocean Institute Canada.

She is a published author of a learned treatise on Micro-finance, Institution-Building and Development. She was Vice-Chair of Fusion Halifax, a youth organization focused on improving city life. Soulafa was a Board member of Credit Union Atlantic and the Atlantic Youth Ambassador for Passages to Canada. She was also the Regional Coordinator for the UN Association of Canada and served on the Board of Nova Scotia – Gambia Association.

Aruna Dhara
Aruna is a Toronto transplant to Halifax, a working mom and a MD with a passion for public health.  She's travelled the world working and learning and she's thrilled to call Halifax her home.  It's the only place she could possibly have crafted the sweetest of careers and the awesomest of family lives.  She lives with that very loud family, the loudest of which is her newest baby boy!

Anna Sampson
Architect, A49 Architects
Anna is an easily delighted and detail-oriented individual, with a passion for creating and raising the bar on the environments that we live and work in. She is a graduate of the Bachelor of Science (Architecture) and Masters of Architecture program at McGill University, who returned home to Nova Scotia to put her skills to work in the small towns that she knows and loves. Anna is a Registered Architect with the NSAA and works at A49 Architects in Halifax. She is also a LEED Accredited Professional with a specialty in Building Design and Construction. At WHW Anna works with the Nova Scotia Liquor Corporation as Project Director and Architect for new NSLC store development, renovations, and sustainability, and is excited to reflect the optimism of our local communities back into the design of their stores.

Her most important leadership role is being a Big Sister mentor to an awesome teenager, her Little Sister match of 4 years. In 2011 she founded AnnaFolds Paper Art, out of an enthusiasm for making pretty things, and uses her colourful origami flowers to raise money for Big Brothers Big Sisters along with selling them at local gift shops.


Hélène Eusanio

Co-Founder & CEO, LTC Energy Inc.
Hélène is an emerging CEO with a passion. Her altruistic complex being greater than her ego, she does what she can to improve her surroundings and offers a contribution to leave it better than she first found it.
LTC Energy facilitates connecting new technologies with power producers with the aim of increasing renewables generation and lowering carbon emissions.
Her commitment to the community is well represented by her involvement with multiple boards and committees. She tries to give as much as she receives and she has extended her reach by being the co-chair of TEDxMoncton.
She holds a BA from Bishop’s University ‘03, a certificate in Management Development from UNB ‘08, a 2013 graduate of the ELP program from the WMI and she’s currently taking Energy Fundamentals for Leaders at UNBSJ. Not an academic, but she does love to learn.
Connectedness is her biggest strength, however, what she doesn’t like is speaking in the third person. That being said, reach out, I love making new friends!


Jeff Schnurr

Executive Director, Community Forests International
Jeff Schnurr is a social entrepreneur that works to help rural communities achieve economic prosperity through sustainable innovation. Jeff has empowered rural communities in Tanzania to plant over a million trees, grow food, harvest rainwater and power households through solar energy. In New Brunswick, Jeff is developing a rural “hacker space” for farming, forestry and alternative energy.

In addition to his work at CFI, Jeff is the founder of CFC, a sustainable forestry company and Envaya, a tech start-up that supports grassroots organizations in the developing world. Jeff has been named one of Canada’s top ten volunteers by the CBC and Manulife, and was named one of Explore Magazine’s Top 30 under 30.

Michel Losier P.Eng.
Director, Customer and Community Engagement, New Brunswick Power Corporation
Program Director, PowerShift Atlantic
Michel is the Director of Customer and Community Engagement for New Brunswick Power Corporation and the Program Director of PowerShift Atlantic; a Natural Resources Canada, Clean Energy Fund project, led by NB Power.  

Having worked throughout a Vertically Integrated Utility; Michel has a broad range of exposure and a thorough understanding of the utility sector with extensive experience in customer service, customer and community relations, corporate reputation and media relations. He served as Regional Manager in Customer Service and Managing Director of Corporate Communications. Most recently, Michel was the Program Director of the award winning “PowerShift Atlantic” project; focused on collaborative and innovative solutions, engaging customers and leveraging new smart grid - energy storage technologies to better integrate renewables such as wind in the Maritimes. This was a new experience for customers as they played an active role in renewable integration. Michel is a student of the upcoming electricity sector transformation and has been actively promoting the ongoing utility sector transformation with a “customer centric” focus. Michel is a frequent speaker at industry conference on the topic of Smart Grid transformation. Most recently, he presented at Grid Edge 2015 as NB Power received an award as a GTM Top 20 Disruptor in the utility industry. He is a graduate from the University of New Brunswick in Mechanical Engineering and a member of the Association of Professional Engineers and Geoscientists of New Brunswick.  

New Brunswick Power is focused on a Reduce and Shift Demand Strategy working with Siemens on Smart Grid solutions for the future. Our ultimate goal is to be our customer’s energy services provider of choice as we journey forward building on our foundation of trust and striving for customer loyalty. Michel will touch on NB Power’s focus on building trust with its customers in order to become their energy service supplier of choice.

Gilles Volpé, General Manager, Enbridge Gas New Brunswick (English)
Born in Edmundston New Brunswick, Mr. Volpé is the General Manager of Enbridge Gas New Brunswick, the province’s public natural gas distribution utility. A graduate of the University of New Brunswick, he is a seasoned business leader who prior to joining Enbridge, held a variety of management roles with NBTel and Aliant, including business development, marketing and operations.

An engaged community leader in the province, Mr. Volpé is a former member of the New Brunswick Research and Productivity Council Board of Directors, former President of NB IT Week, former Co-President of Dialogue New Brunswick, and has been involved in Junior Achievement, United Way and various other sport and community organizations. Mr. Volpé is responsible for the overall leadership and operations of Enbridge Gas New Brunswick, the utility that has been delivering safe, reliable natural gas to New Brunswick homes and businesses since 2001.

He lives in Fredericton with his wife and two children.


Amanda Hill

Mountain Road Dental Group & Pulse Pictou County
Dr Amanda Hill is proud to be representing rural Nova Scotia, and is excited to be the co-chair of the Nova Scotia cohort. Dr Hill has been practicing dentistry for over seven years in her home of Pictou County, and recently joined the team at Mountain Road Dental Group. She loves her career, and is the current president of the Northern Nova Scotia Dental Society. Amanda is a co-founder of Pulse Pictou County, a group started in 2014 to attract, retain, and unite young working-age people in Pictou County. Pulse aims to create a culture of positivity and enhance the sense of community in the area, particularly among young people. Amanda is very passionate about the development and potential of our rural communities.

She is active as a volunteer in the community, including Chair of the United Way of Pictou County Young Leaders campaign. Amanda can also be found onstage in local music and theatre productions, or on the pitch playing soccer or ultimate frisbee.


Yves Bourgeois

Director of the Urban and Community Studies Institute, University of New  Brunswick
Dr. Yves Bourgeois is director of the Urban and community studies institute (UCSI) at the University of New Brunswick (UNB). Yves has published numerous works internationally on innovation and economic development. His overarching interest is how regions create value and jobs from technological change. He holds a PhD in Regional and international development from UCLA, and masters degrees from Edinburgh and Oxford Universities. Yves also has ten years experience in the private and public sectors, including work with Microsoft and the Canadian parliament.

He is currently funded by SSHRC to study technology company growth in European and North American regions that are producing large-scale renewable energy. In another SSHRC funded project he is studying the role of digital skills in enabling and limiting youth integration into the labour market. He also chairs the New Brunswick rural and urban transportation advisory committee to develop a sustainable transportation strategy for that province. All three projects have strong implications for community and environmental sustainability.

Paul MacNeill

Publisher, Island Press Ltd.
Paul MacNeill believes the best days for rural communities lie ahead, but only if they are prepared to embrace the change necessary to redefine the rural reality. The Montague, PEI resident owns four community newspapers and originated the idea for The Georgetown Conference, an event that two years later is still helping to shape rural based action across Atlantic Canada. He is gearing up for Georgetown 2.0 in June 2016.  MacNeill is past president of Newspapers Canada and Newspapers Atlantic and the winner of almost 50 regional, national and international awards for his investigative journalism and commentaries. He is a regular political analyst on both CBC television and radio.  

Candy Palmater is something and someone very different. Aboriginal Comedian, member of Eel River Bar First Nation, is a comedian story teller. Her very unique style of Stand up comedy brings you to tears, has you rolling around in your seat, gives you an achy stomach and, in many cases, makes you spit your drink on the person sitting next to you. That is okay, Candy has learned to live with that.

For years Candy Palmater has entertained hundreds of thousands of fans, and new fans with her very unique stand up style. Candy plays to SOLD out audiences across the country, Headlines big comedy nights such as WinterPLAY in Alberta, Halifax Comedy Festival 3 years in a row, “Licensed to Thrill” comedy tour, “Working Hard for the Money” comedy tour, “There’s No Place Like Home” comedy tour, Hubcap Comedy Festival, Halifax Casino Natal Day Comedy night, and countless First Nation Communities, Private, Corporate and selected charity functions.

Most notably Candy can make you laugh and cry in one show, she can captivate the most cynical fan and have them eat out of her hand, and Candy’s demographic is from aged 10 years to 100 years of age. Candy receives emails daily from fans commenting: “after a show they attended, they seem to “be thinking” about the underlying message Candy delivered during Candy’s monologue, and while laughing at the time, fans realize later there was a message”. She once had a new fan come up to her and actually said, “I did not want to like you, but now I love you, when can I see you perform again?!”

All of Candy Palmater’s material is written and delivered 100% by Candy. She does not have multiple writers, or co-writers, and this gives Candy her own unique style.

Improv or “off the cuff” as many call it, is a special gift Candy exudes. It ignites within her when she performs, which gives the show a more powerful punch. This is when Candy throws her “one-two” punch, after she has delivered the most incredible “punch line” to the opponent (the audience). Incredible!

No wonder Candy Palmater is consistently being voted #1 stand up woman comedian in the Best of Halifax by The Coast multi thousand viewership, and most recently, in 2011, she was voted BEST comedian, with GOLD. PLUS, Candy has been featured in many National Magazines, articles, newspapers, and has her very own National Variety TV series! You can catch Candy regularly on CBC radio, DNTO (definitely Not The Opera). In 2013, The Candy Show was Nominated for a Canadian Screen (GEMINI) Award – best Direction in a Variety or Comedy TV series.

Candy Palmater is the Creator, Producer and star of The Candy Show. The Prime time TV show is a night time variety program showcasing the talent of the East Coast of Canada, particularly East Coast Music and Performing Artists. Candy is the sole writer, Co-Producer and Star of The Candy Show. In each episode Candy brings her musical guests into a replica of her high school bedroom to conduct her very unique interviews. Candy performs comedy on each episode, and is taped in front of a LIVE studio audience. This National TV show is one of kind.



Lisa Hrabluk
CEO, Wicked Ideas
Lisa Hrabluk is an award-winning journalist and entrepreneur. A former business journalist, editor and political columnist with the Telegraph-Journal, Lisa is the co-founder, along with Dr. John McLaughlin of 21 Leaders for the 21st Century, the precursor to 21inc.

She is currently the founder of Wicked Ideas, a new knowledge-based company that helps build community trust by reframing public conversations around complex public issues.

Mark Coffin
President & Founder @ Springtide Collective
Mark is an educator, a philosopher, and an advocate for democratic renewal. The order of those things is important to him. From 2009 – 2012 he served as the Executive Director of the organization that is now called Students Nova Scotia (previously, ANSSA). Mark also serves on the boards of Credit Union Atlantic and Engage Nova Scotia. With the help of friends and now-colleagues at Springtide, Mark started the Springtide Collective to work to bridge what feels like a growing gap between citizens and our democratic institutions. In his spare time Mark enjoys playing finger style guitar and long-distance hikes and bike rides.

Christina MacLeod

Founder of Fusion Charlottetown and current Chief of Staff for Sean Casey, Charlottetown MP
Christina MacLeod is the founder of Fusion Charlottetown and current Chief of Staff for Sean Casey, Charlottetown MP. Christina was a member of the first Prince Edward Island cohort for 21 Inc Emerging Leaders program.  Throughout the years, she has been involved with many volunteer organizations including  the Heart and Stroke Foundation of Prince Edward Island, 100 Women Who Care, the Women’s Network, and Sierra Club, Atlantic Canada Chapter. Christina is passionate about bringing people together to focus on positive, concrete change for our region.

Jenelle Sobey
Managing Partner, Norex
Jenelle Sobey believes solving and scaling solutions to our most complex problems is enabled by technology.
Jenelle is the Managing Partner with Norex, an award winning global web design and software firm. Organizations come to Norex to innovate and grow by building outstanding websites, web apps, and products that merge the digital and physical world.
Prior to joining Norex, Jenelle worked in the startup community since 2010, through several roles with the New Brunswick Business Council, FutureNB, Wallace McCain Institute, and the Pond-Deshpande Centre. Recognized as one of 21 emerging leaders in New Brunswick and one of 20 in Atlantic Canada.
Jenelle received a BA from Saint Francis Xavier University (2008), has worked in the US and studied in the UK – returning home to complete an MA in Political Science from the University of New Brunswick (2011). In 2014, Jenelle graduated with a Graduate Diploma in Social Innovation from the University of Waterloo.

Tim Coates
Director, Corporate Citizenship, IBM
Tim works at the intersection of business, technology and social innovation. With IBM, Tim manages a portfolio of economic development programs in Corporate Citizenship that bring the company's unique expertise and market leading technologies in cloud, data and analytics, mobile, social and security to help grow economic activity around the world. Programs in his portfolio include the Smarter Cities Challenge, SME Toolkit, and Supplier Connection.

Prior to joining IBM, Tim was Managing Director of CTNEXT, a $25m public-private partnership that brought together Connecticut's small business community to create a system of support for high performing young companies. With a network of 14 public and private sector partners, CTNEXT established processes and tools to identify young companies with the greatest potential and mobilize the right resources to support them, giving them the best chance at success and saving valuable time. Prior to CTNEXT, he co-founded of 21inc, an “action tank” building a community of entrepreneurial leaders with some of Atlantic Canada’s most promising young people under age 35. As Executive Director of 21inc from 2006 to 2011. Under his leadership, 21inc developed into a highly respected and dynamic regional institution.

In 2010 he was recognized by Progress Magazine as “People We Love,” and one of New Brunswick’s 20 top innovators. A frequent speaker and writer on leadership and social innovation, his writing has appeared in The Boston Globe, The, and The Telegraph Journal. He was selected from hundreds of applicants in 2007 as an Action Canada Fellow, a national leadership program. From 2007 - 2011 he was an Adjunct Professor at St. Thomas University and the University of New Brunswick, teaching classes in economics, entrepreneurship and public policy. In 2007, Tim completed a Master’s Degree in Public Policy from Harvard University’s John F. Kennedy

School of Government. He has BA with First Class Honors in economics from St. Thomas University.


Colin Corcoran

Director of Finance and Administration at Choices for Youth, Entrepreneur
Colin Corcoran, originally from Riverhead, is currently Director of Finance and Administration at Choices for Youth, Board Treasurer for the Holyrood Pond Development Inc. as well as a NL Director for 21 Inc. He has worked as a Senior Policy Analyst for the Intergovernmental & Aboriginal Affairs Secretariat and previously served as Councilor and Mayor of the Town of Riverhead. Colin was a member of the former Provincial Youth Advisory Committee as well as the Youth Retention and Attraction Strategy. He holds a Bachelor of Commerce from Memorial University as well as a Graduate Certificate in Risk Management from York University. Colin is a Chartered Professional Accountant (CPA) and completed the Certified Management Accountant (CMA) designation. Colin was named one of the Top 50 Emerging Leaders of Atlantic Canada by 21 Inc in 2010.


Ramona Doyle

Sustainability Officer, City of Charlottetown
Ramona began working with the City of Charlottetown in 2010 as the Water Conservation Program Coordinator and in 2014 she took on the role of Sustainability Officer. Her work with the City focuses on a broad variety of areas including energy efficiency, urban watershed management, urban forestry, stormwater management, food security, public transit and active transportation. She has developed and implemented several sustainability programs and initiatives over the past five years to integrate sustainability into City operations and increase public awareness of important environmental issues.

Ramona has a degree in Environment Studies and Anthropology from the University of Victoria in British Columbia.  She currently lives in downtown Charlottetown with her husband and two children.

David Lane

Development Partner at the marketing firm Dc Design House, Councillor-at-Large City of St. John’s
Dave Lane wears several hats: he is Development Partner at the marketing firm Dc Design House, managing a team web developers, designers, and social media experts; he is a Councillor-at-Large for the City of St. John's, chairing and sitting on several committees; he is a startup co-founder, overseeing marketing for Appraizee, a product that helps agents sell commercial property; and he is a husband, washing dishes and driving his better half to and from work.

He has worked in web development, marketing, and communications since 1998, and earned a joint degree in Computer Science and Business Commerce in 2005. Prior to being elected to Council, Dave chaired Happy City St. John's, a group of dedicated volunteers focused on public engagement at the municipal level. He continues this engagement work as chair of the City's "Engage!" task force, a City-led group of citizen representatives that developed the new St. John's public engagement framework in 2014.

Luc  Richard
Director of Corporate Affairs, City of Dieppe

Luc Richard is the Director of Corporate Affairs and Organizational Performance for the City of Dieppe, NB. He is a member of the Atlantic Chapter for the International Association of Public Participation and President of the Moncton Chapter of the Institute of Public Administration of Canada. In his professional life, he is a respected facilitator of community engagement and collection action.

Luc believe strongly in authentic citizen engagement, and has led a number of innovative projects in this field, including, most recently, the Participatory Budget Project (PBP) for the City of Dieppe. PBP put decisions making on a $300,000 budget directly in the hands of citizens of the City. He is also exploring extension of voting rights to anyone aged 11 and up.

Thilak Tennekone
Diversity Consultant, Government of Prince Edward Island
Thilak Tennekone moved to Prince Edward Island at a time when there was little diversity in the small province. In fact, his was the first Sri Lankan family to settle there. “At the very early stage of our integration in the early 1990s, some immigrant families, including my own, felt some social isolation due to the lack of their own community groups and social networks,” he says.

These early experiences inspired Tennekone to play an instrumental role in making the province inclusive and welcoming to newcomers. He has done this through his current role as diversity consultant for the province’s Public Service Commission and his volunteer work such as his role as chair of the Town of Stratford’s diversity and inclusion sub-committee. Tennekone’s work in Stratford is one of the reasons the town is today considered one of the province’s most proactive and welcoming communities in terms of diversity and inclusion.

Tennekone helped established P.E.I.’s first immigrant serving agency, the P.E.I. Association for Newcomers to Canada, in 1993 and was one of the founding members of the P.E.I. International Friendship Association. This association is responsible for designing the cultural diversity celebration International Tea House, the main purpose of which is to develop a sense of community among all cultural groups through cultural presentations, costume shows, ethnic food, traditional arts and crafts displays, music performances and other family-friendly social events.

Over the past few years, the Sri Lankan community in P.E.I. has grown substantially, becoming one of the major ethnocultural groups living on the island, and Tennekone has taken the lead in organizing events that provide opportunities for cultural learning. Tennekone has a talent for promoting cultural diversity and is proud to have been a role model to help others learn about cultural differences. “I always talked about my cultural identity, significant cultural aspects, Buddhism, Sri Lankan music, food, traditions and other cultural practices,” says Tennekone.


Vanessa Paesani
Program Director, 21inc
As 21inc's Program Director, Vanessa is designing a 3-day accelerated leadership conference for 50 of the most entrepreneurial leaders across Atlantic Canada.  In this role, she is also co-designing the 21inc Ideas Festival where leaders from across the region will collide in Charlottetown to discuss '100 ideas for the next 100 years'​.

Believing strongly in learning experiences with outcomes, Vanessa is also co-delivering ‘Our Top Talent’ through the Wallace McCain Institute at UNB (WMI), which will connect graduating post-secondary students in New Brunswick with employers to help address a workforce gap and outmigration of youth.  Also through WMI, Vanessa co-moderates peer groups of teachers - ‘Excellence in Experiential Education’.  In a trust-based setting, selected teachers dive deep into current issues in the educational system empowering them to lead change. This group is now in its fourth year and has offered over 30 sessions with leaders from various sectors.

Previously, Vanessa was a founding member of The Gaia Project team, serving both in a program delivery and subsequently in a leadership / management role as executive director.  Vanessa has a bachelor’s degree in science with honours from Mount Allison University, a bachelor’s degree in education from Saint Thomas University and is a certified teacher.  She sits on the board of directors for the Saint Thomas University Alumni Association, and in her spare time can be found playing ultimate Frisbee, organizing tournaments, or just walking in the woods with her dogs.


Jeff Wilson

Executive Director,
Jeff Wilson is an educator, a maker, and a lifelong learner. As Executive Director of Brilliant Labs, he promotes STEAM and Maker education by supporting students and educators throughout the Maritime provinces with project-based learning and developing Makerspaces for K-12 schools. He believes in collective impact, learning by doing, and finding innovative ways of integrating hands on technology within classrooms and curriculum.

Erin Schryer, PhD

Executive Director, Elementary Literacy Inc.

Erin is a passionate researcher, writer, program developer and tireless champion for ensuring all children have access to the opportunities and supports they need for learning to read early and well. Forever a learner and consumer of information, Erin graduated with her Doctoral degree from the University of New Brunswick in  2014. Erin held multiple research awards and grants during her tenure at UNB given the innovative focus of her research in which she explored the role of technology for more widely supporting children’s early reading development. Erin is currently exploring commercialization opportunities related to her research with various partners across Atlantic Canada.

Erin’s role as the Executive Director of Elementary Literacy Inc. allows her to  continue to advocate for, research and implement effective, evidence-based reading programs for young learners. Erin is a board member of the Literacy Coalition of New Brunswick, a founding steering committee member of Achieve Literacy Greater Saint John and a proud daughter, sister, wife and mother living in the beautiful Kennebecasis Valley.

Luke Poirier

PhD Candidate at the University of Prince Edward Island
Luke is a PhD candidate at the University of Prince Edward Island. His current project links shellfish research with resource management and also addresses the concerns of Prince Edward Island shellfishers regarding the invasive European green crab. Working closely with local stakeholders, Luke is attempting to advance a directed fishery for the species by developing innovative products. Specifically, his projected outcome is to commercialize a soft-shelled crab product that holds high value in overseas markets. He is excited to apply creative measures to protect and maintain local ecosystems from this invasive species while supporting PEI’s world-famous shellfish industry. Interested in new collaborations, Luke’s research has included projects involving both academia and governmental agencies. In addition to his studies, Luke is also active in Science Education outreach as outgoing coordinator of “Let’s Talk Science!” at UPEI.

Sarah Buhlman

Research officer in post-secondary education and manager of a youth work placement program for the province of Prince Edward Island
Sarah Bulman is an energetic young professional working in the higher education sector as a research officer in post-secondary education and manager of a youth work placement program for the province of Prince Edward Island.

Sarah recognizes the importance of life-long learning and advocates this through her leadership in the development of City Centre Community School – a youth-run community school program in downtown Charlottetown, PEI.  Now entering its third year, the volunteer-based school has hosted over 300 students ages 12-70, in over 20 courses ranging from personal finance to knitting. Since graduating from St. Thomas University, Sarah has assisted in the coordination of an education mission to Brazil, the 55th Annual Premiers’ Conference, and acted as a site visit lead for the Prince of Wales and Duchess of Cornwall 2014 Royal Tour.

During an election period, you can find Sarah co-chairing the 500 member non-partisan group "Young Voters of PEI" which she collaboratively created to highlight issues important to young Islanders and to advocate for youth participation in the electoral process.

KEYNOTE: Chitra Anand
Head of Public Relations, Microsoft Canada
Chitra Anand is a well-respected, successful female marketing expert who is helping change the way large organizations and brands do business.  In her current role as Head of Public Relations for Microsoft Canada, her team is responsible for creating compelling stories as it relates to Microsoft technology and the impact it has on both consumers and businesses in order to change perceptions of a brand. Prior to Microsoft, Chitra spent 10 years at TELUS, where she helped re-frame the way a large corporation talks about its products and services by making messages simple yet interesting for the marketplace.
Chitra has taught several business, communication and marketing related courses at Humber College in their post-graduate business program. She is a graduate of the Kellogg-Schulich Executive MBA program, attended the Harvard Executive Leadership, Authentic Leadership Program hosted by Dean Nitin Nohria, and is currently pursuing a part-time PhD at the University of Bradford in the UK.


Honourable H. Wade MacLauchlan
Premier, President of the Executive Council
Minister of Justice and Public Safety and Attorney General, Minister Responsible for Intergovernmental Affairs, Minister Responsible for Aboriginal Affairs, and Minister Responsible for Acadian and Francophone Affairs, Minister Responsible for Labour
The Honourable H. Wade MacLauchlan was sworn in as Premier of Prince Edward Island on February 23, 2015. Prior to entering provincial politics, Wade served as the University of Prince Edward Island President from 1999 to 2011. During that time, UPEI rose in stature regionally and nationally, made dramatic strides in research and development, and placed enhanced emphasis on community engagement. Previously, he was Dean of Law at the University of New Brunswick and a professor of law at Dalhousie University. Wade authored the political biography of Alex. B Campbell, Prince Edward Island’s longest-serving premier, entitled Alex B. Campbell: The Prince Edward Island Premier Who Rocked the Cradle. He spent three years researching, interviewing Islanders and writing the political biography, which covers the most transformative period in modern Island history. He completed his early education in Stanhope before studying at the University of Prince Edward Island, the University of New Brunswick, and Yale University.

Wade was named to the Order of Canada in 2008 and to the Order of Prince Edward Island in 2014.

He has extensive community involvement, including serving as a member of the local council in the Community of North Shore; co-chairing the Georgetown Conference; serving as a board member of the Federation of P.E.I. Municipalities; and serving on the boards of several large philanthropic foundations.

Premier MacLauchlan has deep roots in Prince Edward Island. He was born in Stanhope and today resides just a few miles away in West Covehead, with his partner Duncan McIntosh.

The Honourable Brian Gallant
Premier, New Brunswick
President of the Executive Council
Chair of the New Brunswick Jobs Board
Minister responsible for Innovation
Minister responsible for Intergovernmental Affairs
Minister responsible for Women’s Equality
Minister Responsible for Rural Affairs
Minister responsible for the Premier’s Council on the Status of Disabled Persons
Brian Gallant was born in Shediac Bridge, New Brunswick. His father, Pierre, is the youngest of seven children and a proud Acadian. His mother, Marilyn (née Scholten), is one of 17 siblings born to Dutch immigrants, Alex and Maria Scholten, who arrived in New Brunswick from the Netherlands in the 1950s. He has two siblings: a sister, Melissa, and a brother, Pierre. During his early years, Mr. Gallant received his education at various schools throughout the province and graduated from Polyvalente Louis-J.-Robichaud, in Shediac. Determined to pursue a postsecondary education, he started and operated two small companies, through which he was able to pay for his attendance at university. He received a Bachelor in Business Administration with a concentration in finance and a Bachelor of Law degree from the Université de Moncton. He also received a Masters in Law degree from McGill University.

Mr. Gallant practised law with the firm Stewart McKelvey in the areas of corporate and commercial law. He later joined the Veritas Law firm in Dieppe as a partner. Mr. Gallant was elected Leader of the New Brunswick Liberal Party on October 27, 2012. He was elected to represent the riding of Kent as a Liberal Member of the Legislative Assembly on April 15, 2013. Mr. Gallant was sworn in on April 30, 2013, and became Leader of the Official Opposition. He was subsequently elected to represent the riding of Shediac Bay-Dieppe on September 22, 2014, and was sworn in as Premier of New Brunswick, President of the Executive Council, Chairman of the New Brunswick Jobs Board, and Minister responsible for Innovation, Intergovernmental Affairs, Women’s Equality and Rural Affairs on October 7, 2014.

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"I'm attending the Ideas Festival because it's the best event in Canada to get inspired by the collision of diverse informed perspectives on key issues for our region and country. Learning to collaborate across many boundaries is critical for success today and into the future – and the Ideas Festival is an exceptional place to build strong collaboration muscles!"

- Susan Holt, CEO of the New Brunswick Business Council

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