Ilse Treurnicht is the CEO of MaRS Discovery District, a leading innovation centre located in Toronto and oversees the development, operations and programs of the MaRS.


Ilse joined MaRS in early 2005 from her role as President & CEO of Primaxis Technology Ventures, a startup-stage venture capital fund focused on the advanced technologies sector.


Prior to Primaxis, Ilse was an entrepreneur with senior management roles in a number of emerging technology companies.She holds a DPhil in chemistry from Oxford University, which she attended as a Rhodes scholar. 

MaRS provides resources — people, programs, physical facilities, funding and networks to ensure that critical innovation happens. MaRS stimulates, identifies and harnesses great ideas, nurtures their development and guide the transformation of those ideas into reality.








Dr. Dhirendra Shukla has been the Dr. J. Herbert Smith ACOA Chair since September 2009. He did his BEng and MSc in Chemical Engineering and Computing and Performance Engineering from the University of Bradford (UK). Dhirendra worked for several years in the Telecom Sector for Nortel Networks (Canada) in various roles and prior to joining Nortel Networks he worked for Croda International (UK).


Dhirendra obtained his MBA from the Telfer School of Management at the University of Ottawa (Canada) and completed his PhD in Entrepreneurial Finance from the University of London in the UK (King's College London). His current research interests are in Venture Capital, Syndication, Entrepreneurship, Corporate Finance, Performance and Governance, and Boards of Directors.



Katie leads the Community Finance Solutions initiative at the MaRS Centre for Impact Investing. Community Finance Solutions is a consulting and referral service supporting initiatives creating new impact investing funds and financial products across Canada.


Before joining MaRS, Katie ran a consulting business in Asia. She has been involved in social change work for over 15 years, including serving as the Deputy Director of an advocacy organisation and on the board of a number of community groups. She has also practiced law and clerked at the Supreme Court of Canada. Katie studied Anthropology at Harvard University and received her Law degree and an M.B.A. from McGill University.



Mickey is the Co-Founder and Executive Director of Catie’s Closet, a non-profit that provides clothing and basic necessities in schools to students who are homeless or severely financially challenged. A 2014 Sandbox Winter Accelerator Winner, Mickey has a versatile executive with 30+ years’ experience in Business Management.


Her primary focus has been in the retail sector providing leadership for Jordan Marsh, Filene's and most recently as Vice President for Kohl's. Excels at generating and maximizing sales revenue, selecting and developing talent, creating marketing strategies, and creating models for delivering unparalleled customer service. Mickey's unique and wide-ranging skill set has enabled her to successfully contribute in a variety of roles, including human resource management, product procurement, advertising and training and operational efficiencies.



At age 21, Jeff Schnurr founded Community Forests International (CFI) after traveling extensively through Europe, South-east Asia, India and Latin America. Since its inception in 2008, CFI has worked with rural Tanzanian communities to plant over one million trees, establish two community-scale rainwater systems, plant over one hundred acres of agricultural land and build eight solar energy systems.


The New Brunswick based organization also works in Canada, providing environmental education, conservation and community development. In addition to his work at CFI, Jeff is the founder of Envaya, a tech start-up that supports grassroots organizations in the developing world, Ecoscape, an ecological landscaping company and Whaelghinbran Farm, an organic incubator and educational farm and forest. 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.



Known as one of Canada's leading serial social entrepreneurs, Andreas was the CEO of a prominent retail agency — but then he decided to harness the immense power and reach of the marketing industry and put it to work for the good of society and the planet:


He founded Green Rewards, the world's first eco-points program, fused it with the very popular AIR MILES program and ended up rewarding millions of citizens with their favourite loyalty points each time they made healthier or greener shopping choices. He co-founded Social Change Rewards.


His achievements have been recognized by social responsibility leaders from around the world. He is a prolific writer and speaker; Chair of the advisory board of the Centre for Responsible Leadership at the Queen's; Chair of the national committee on climate change for WWF Canada; and serves on several other academic and non-profit boards.



Dave has focused his career on developing resources for the growth of nonprofit institutions. He joined The Essex County Community Foundation in the Spring of 2008 after a long service as Senior Vice President at the Lahey Clinic, and was previously in senior leadership at the University of Vermont and Tufts.


Dave has raised a half-billion dollars in his career, and now teaches philanthropy and governance as a consultant and volunteer for a variety of organizations, which is how he became engaged with ECCF. Dave and Lynn live in Andover (their grown kids live in Boston, Seattle and Shanghai), and they share longstanding interests in many of the issues that ECCF supports.



Seth Asimakos wrote the original business plan for the Saint John Community Loan Fund and continues as its manager today. Previous to the Loan Fund, Seth helped develop an immigrant owned worker co-operative in Saint John; prepared refugees and immigrants for the job market; and worked on rural economic development in Nicaragua and Colombia.


Seth also served as Executive Director of the Canadian Community Investment Network Cooperative and Co-Director of the Atlantic Social Economy Research Project, housed at Mount Saint Vincent University, Halifax, NS.  He has served on various local boards including Bayview Credit Union, Options Outreach and the Co-operators Advisory Panel. He holds a master's degree in planning and development." Bio courtesy of Saint John Community Loan Fund website. Seth is also an Advisory Board Member of the Pond-Deshpande Centre.


Gururaj “Desh” Deshpande is the President & Chairman of Sparta Group LLC, a family investment office & is also the Chairman of Tejas Networks. Dr. Deshpande has pursued an entrepreneurial career for the last 3 decades. He is either the founder, founding investor or chairman of companies including Cascade Communications, Sycamore Networks, Coral Networks, Tejas Networks, Cimaron, Webdialogs, Airvana, Sandstone Capital, A123 Systems & Curata.


He lives in Boston & is a life-member of the MIT Corporation; his support has made possible MIT's Deshpande Center for Technological Innovation. The Deshpande Foundation has facilitated set up of 3 other centers: Deshpande Center for Social Entrepreneurship in India, Merrimack Valley Sandbox Massachusetts & the Pond -Deshpande Center at UNB. Dr. Deshpande holds a B.Tech. Electrical Engineering-Indian Institute of Technology, Madras; M.E. from UNB & a Ph.D from Queens University Deshpande co-chairs a National Council to support President Obama's innovation and entrepreneurship strategy.



Aaron is a B Corp Communications Fellow at the MaRS Centre for Impact Investing. Originally from Indiana, Aaron holds a B.A. in Social Wellness & Public Policy (IDIS) from Calvin College in Grand Rapids, Michigan. He has a varied background in political campaign work as well as consulting on non-profit strategy and corporate social responsibility.


B Corps use the power of business to solve social and environmental problems. By voluntarily meeting higher standards of transparency, accountability, and performance, Certified B Corps are distinguishing themselves in a cluttered marketplace by offering a positive vision of a better way to do business. It's entrepreneurship...bent towards doing more "good".



Cheryl Hajjar is from North Andover, Massachusetts and studied classical piano and songwriting while pursuing a degree at UMass Lowell. She is currently the President and CEO of Indigo Magic, a children's company that focuses on helping children achieve milestones such as potty training and pacifier weaning through the use of storytelling, music and magic.

Her company has been featured in Parent's Magazine, The Mom Invented Handbook by Tamara Monosoff, 2nd edition and was a recent winner at the Merrimack Valley Sandbox, Winter Accelerator Program. Cheryl is also songwriter and currently composes for TV, Film and various artists. She has written and performed extensively in Nashville. She writes a business column for the Valley Patriot called Babies and Briefcases and supports organizations for children such as Catie's Closet and the Kawasaki Foundation. She has an 11 year old son and resides in Bradford, Ma.



Valerie is the founder and CEO of FAUXPAS, a hybrid "Indie Fashion" marketplace and Netflix for fashionistas. Faux Pas gives the modern shopaholic a green way to shop; filling her craving for a constant "fashion fix" while reducing consumption waste and enabling budding designers to launch and grow their careers. Valerie's background in finance, merchandising, and entrepreneurship gives her the unique strategic perspective needed to drive the profitability of a triple bottom line fashion company. After launching her first business at Umass-Amherst while completing undergraduate degrees in Finance and and Biochemistry, Valerie gained expertise in merchandise planning/allocation, buying, and operations at retail giants TJX, and Macys. Her experience in corporate retail enlightened her to the inequity and inefficiencies of the industry and inspired her create a business that breaks from the wastefulness of buying cheap and chasing trends.  FAUXPAS represents more than just accessory rentals, but is a vehicle to challenge the traditional retail model by revolutionizing the way women view and spend money on clothing. A 2014 Sandbox Winter Accelerator Winner, Valerie is passionate about fashion design, creating opportunity, and fighting for innovative solutions for a greener tomorrow.



President & Co-Owner Real Food Connections Ltd.Fredericton Levi Lawrence, founder of Real Food Connections, is a cook at heart, a passionate entrepreneur with and a total self confessed food geek.With 8 years in the food and beverage industry as well as an undergraduate business degree from the University of New Brunswick he has been working to transform our local food industry in NB since 2010.


Real Food Connections is currently a local food grocery business representing over 130 small and medium scale food producers in Southern NB. They have a grocery store, a web store and offer wholesale distribution to other retailers, restaurants and institutions. Their main priorities are Traceability, Accountability and improving the food culture and agriculture in NB.While Levi is the lead entrepreneur for Real Food Connections, his wife Kim and parents Catherine and Bev are full partners and lend structure and practicality to his big ideas.



Lianna is currently Program Manager at the Merrimack Valley Sandbox, based in Lowell and Lawrence, MA. A member of the team since its inception, Lianna was instrumental in developing a number of programs. Currently she manages the Sandbox’s pitch contest series and semi-annual startup accelerator. In just a few years, the Sandbox has built a broad community, promoting “Entrepreneurship for All,” that includes over a two hundred mentors and experts and has supported hundreds of entrepreneurs move their businesses and non-profits forward. Lianna is passionate about entrepreneurship, the arts, and community development. Prior to the Sandbox, she worked at local non-profits, the Revolving Museum and the Cultural Organization of Lowell and currently serves as the President of the Board of Directors for the Angkor Dance Troupe. Prior to moving to Lowell, Lianna worked at Harvard University’s Weatherhead Center for International Affairs. Lianna received her B.A. from Smith College and her M.A. in Economic and Social Development of Regions from the University of Massachusetts Lowell.



Chelsea Wilson is originally from Boise, Idaho. She moved to Canada seven years ago after falling in love with her husband Brian who is from Fredericton. She has two beautiful daughters, age seven and eight. Professionally, Chelsea is an IT Project Manager for Accreon and loves to work collaboratively with my project teams to develop their individual strengths and talents while achieving common project goals. Chelsea has successfully implemented projects in NB such as the Cancer Treatment Access Repository, Electronic Health Record, and an Identity and Access Management system. She has a BA in Business Administration with a focus in Leadership and Psychology from a Liberal Arts College in the US. She has a passion for personal development and is always taking courses and workshops on social and emotional intelligence, parenting, and mindfulness. Life is busy, but she always makes time for her special little people, and is creating a reminder system to help me engage them in fun, thoughtful activities that bring us closer as we each develop our inner strength of character. She calls her social enterprise mindfulVibe.



Deborah McQuade BBA, MPA, CA, CMA, FCMA is currently Executive Director, Revenue & Taxation Division, Department of Finance. She joined the public sector of New Brunswick in 1990 and has held positions in the Departments of Finance; Agriculture and Rural Development, Business New Brunswick and Justice and Attorney General.


In addition, Deborah has taught courses at the University of New Brunswick at both the undergraduate and Masters level within the Faculty of Business Administration and at the College of Extended Learning. From a community perspective Deborah has volunteered her time to serve as treasurer of the Associated Alumni Council, University of New Brunswick, treasurer of Hestia House, treasurer of Finance Council of St. Dunstans Church as well as volunteer canvasser for the Heart and Stroke Foundation and the Kidney Foundation. Deborah holds the degrees of Bachelor of Business Administration and Masters of Public Administration from the University of New Brunswick. Deborah obtained her CA designation in 1981 and in 1982 Deborah obtained her CMA designation. She was awarded the FCMA designation in 2004.



Ellen Healey joined the Government of Canada in 1983 and is currently the Director of the Programs Division in the Community Development and Partnerships Directorate at the Department of Employment and Social Development. She is responsible for the management of several grant and contribution programs, including partnership development, that aim to strengthen the capacity and effectiveness of the not-for-profit sector and communities to contribute to the well-being of children, families, seniors and other vulnerable populations in Canada.

Most recently, she has led the design and development of a series of pilot projects with the specific intent of testing new models and approaches for the Government of Canada to work in partnership with other sectors for increased impact at the community level. Several of these projects are supporting the development of social enterprises in Canada.



oseph Nyemah works with the NS Department of Economic and Rural Development and Tourism, and chairs the Government Social Enterprise Strategy and Programming initiative. He authored the Province’s first social enterprise strategy and has written several policy and academic research papers on social entrepreneurship, culture, gender, migration, higher education, Africentricity, critical race theory and food security in peer-reviewed journals. Previously, Joseph Nyemah worked internationally for the Paris-based Action Contre La Faim as an economic security specialist in Ivory Coast, Liberia, Sierra Leone, Ethiopia, Sudan and Sri Lanka, managing projects funded by the European Union, United Nations, United States Aid for International Development, etc. He holds an MA in International Development from Dalhousie University; an MAED in Adult Education and Community Development from Saint Francis Xavier University; and pursues a PhD in Educational Studies, Mount Saint Vincent University. He is a frequent public speaker and recently accepted a part-time professorship in graduate studies, Life Long Learning, at the Mount.


Research to Impact Workshop


Director, Applied Research and Innovation

New Brunswick Community College

950 Grandview Ave

Saint John, NB

E2J 4C5


Website: www.nbcc.ca/ari


Diane Burt is the Director of Applied Research and Innovation at NBCC, a multi-campus college network, where she facilitates applied research and innovation partnerships with industry and encourages cross-college engagement in research that contributes to the richness of the learning experience.


Previously, she held a number of other leadership positions within the college and she has also worked in a senior leadership role at CIBC. Diane’s areas of teaching and research interest include organizational development, training and development, change leadership, team and leadership development, communications, adult basic education, and literacy.



Wendy Keats is a co-founder and the Executive Director of the Co-operative Enterprise Council of New Brunswick, a leading social enterprise development agency in the province.

Prior to this, she worked as a consultant on more than 100 community and economic development projects over a period of 18 years. Wendy sits on numerous boards and committees related to social enterprise including the provincial Social Enterprise Working Group and the Board of Directors of the Canadian CED Network. Having lived completely off-the-grid for the past 10 years, Wendy has a special passion for renewable energy and sustainable development.


Research to Impact Workshop


Program Manager,

Diabetes Care Program of Nova Scotia

1276 South Park Street,

Bethune Bldg., Suite 548

Halifax, NS

B3H 2Y9


Website: http://diabetescare.nshealth.ca


Peggy Dunbar is the Manager of the Diabetes Care Program of Nova Scotia, one of 9 Provincial Programs funded by the DHW.


Her interests include the importance of understanding our target populations; the uptake and use of local data to improve outcomes; self-management and self-management support; and encouraging “thinking outside the box” with regards to partnerships, chronic disease management, and integrated approaches to diabetes care and education.



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