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Greater Niagara Chamber of Commerce

Keynote Speaker

Laura Whaley

IT Consultant

9:00am | Main Stage

Laura Whaley is a big fan of joining meetings late to avoid small talk and can’t wait to do the thing where we go around the room and introduce ourselves with a fun fact (cringe). She would classify herself as mildly funny, wildly goofy, and most likely to ask if you can see her screen. You may know her as a corporate star and your ‘work bestie’ from TikTok, where she boasts over 1.3 million loyal followers of her popular ‘How do you professionally say?’ series. Laura is also an adventurous world traveller – she likes to put her well earned vacation and PTO days to use by touching base with her friends somewhere in the world, gathering some low hanging fruit, and having a laugh before embarking on her next adventure.

Connect: @loewhaley | @loewhaley | @loewhaley


Stacey Kerslake

Founder, Owned Marketing

12:15pm | Breakout Room 5

Stacey has over 12 years of marketing and communications experience. She started her career as an intern at a small record label in Toronto, where she was booking travel, ordering merchandise and assisting on grants before moving up through the Canadian major label world. She’s had the honour of working with some of the top artists in the world including Shawn Mendes, Katy Perry, OneRepublic, Niall Horan, Imagine Dragons and Billie Eilish.

Stacey can proudly say that she landed her dream job at a young age, and was able to do it for close to 10 years before completely burning out. She got to a point where she felt that she had done everything that she could do, and she came to the harsh realization that she had hit that glass ceiling much earlier than she thought she would. From there, she decided to step into the live music world, where she was a Director of Marketing for an independent promoter in Toronto.
When the pandemic hit, it changed the live music space instantly, which led to cancelling over 200 shows in a matter of days, and scaling a team of 14 people that she hand picked- to only four. As the pandemic continued, she decided it was time for a change, and finally jump in with two feet into something she had been asked about, and thought about for years… starting her own marketing freelance company. It’s been two years of full-time freelance, and she now has balance, and structure all while learning new things each and every day.

Connect: @ownedmarketing | @ownedmarketing | Facebook | LinkedIn

Deepika Kumar

Policy Advisor, Liquor Control Board of Ontario (LCBO)

CANCELLED –  11:30am | Breakout Room 4

Due to unforeseen circumstances Deepika Kumar who was presenting – Careers & Networking Across Public Sector Organizations and the Government: Career Education & Development for Growing Professionals will not be able to join us and we will have to cancel this session. We apologize for any inconvenience.

Deepika recently started a new role as a Policy Advisor in the Corporate Affairs team with the Liquor Control Board of Ontario (LCBO). In this role, she supports LCBO policy development and assists in implementing changes to the beverage alcohol marketplace in Ontario. Additionally, she provides decision support and recommendations to LCBO’s Board, Senior Management, and the Government of Ontario on legislative and regulatory matters. Previously, she was working as a Policy Advisor for the Ontario Ministry of Education. Her role with the ministry focused on leading government policy initiatives for all levels of public education in Ontario.

Before joining the workforce, Deepika completed an undergraduate degree at Brock University and a master’s degree at Ryerson University. During her undergrad, she was heavily involved and engaged with different communities across the Brock campus and Niagara region as a whole. She continues to network with her former colleagues and tries her best to pay it forward to young and growing professionals across the Niagara region!

Connect: @deepikakumar | LinkedIn

Liam Midzain-Gobin

Brock University Faculty of Political Science
9:50am | Main Stage

Liam Midzain-Gobin is Assistant Professor in the Department of Political Science at Brock University. He is a settler scholar whose research focuses on Indigenous governance, settler colonialism, and Indigenous-settler relationships as a form of international politics. Originally from British Columbia, Liam has also lived in Ottawa for university and while working for the federal government, and has spent time doing organizing work both there and in Hamilton.

Connect: @mg_liam

Alyssa Milot

Founder and Fractional CMO and Marketing Consultant, The Zen Strategy | Co-Founder, Business Development Accelerator Program, Side Hustle to CEO
10:30am | Breakout Room 1

Alyssa is a Marketing Consultant and Fractional CMO with a career history at Fortune500s (Nike, Unilever, Walmart) and hands-on experience growing a startup from $500K to a $3M+ organization. She is also the co-founder of a social enterprise and online Accelerator called Side Hustle to CEO, dedicated to helping young entrepreneurs turn their side hustle into a profitable business without wasting time and money.

Connect: @thezenstrategy | @shtoceo | LinkedIn

Andrea Sacco

Founder, You Empower Tomorrow

12:15pm | Breakout Room 6

Andrea is from Niagara Falls, Ontario. She studied public health at Brock University and had the opportunity to work as a wellness facilitator for The Student Wellness and Accessibility Centre. She also worked in the field of post-secondary recruitment and is currently pursuing a full-time career in the field of public health and health promotion.

What Andrea noticed throughout her job experiences was a repeating pattern of individuals feeling unworthy and unsure as to what they want to pursue: in a career, in life and in education. Andrea would speak to students across Ontario who had no idea what they wanted for their future, and would also talk to adults 15 years into their career expressing the same feelings of emptiness, uncertainty, and unhappiness. Having experienced all of these feelings herself throughout her journey, Andrea’s goal with You Empower Tomorrow is to support individuals to conquer these emotions.

Following the components of empowerment education and life purpose coaching, Andrea has designed interactive workshops to support youth and young adults in discovering their purpose, passion, and the career that fuels their light. She has a passion towards empowering individuals to take control over their lives, and she wants to help your team follow their dreams — and achieve success.

Connect: @yetniagara | LinkedIn

Evan Sitler

CEO & Co-Founder, Xpert VR

11:30am | Breakout Room 3

Evan is a co-founder of XpertVR, a company on a mission of helping 1 million people learn from doing. For the past 5 years, they have used virtual reality to empower the simulations that make this mission possible. Outside of work, he is a huge nerd, always up-to-date on anything Marvel or Star Wars, plus big into VR gaming (won the Population One Community Cup last summer) and can’t get enough of the NFT/Crypto community.

Connect: @evansitlerbates | @evansitlerbates | LinkedIn

Lucas Spinosa

Owner, Black Sheep Coffee Roasters; Former Councillor, City of Welland

9:50am | Main Stage

In 2015 Lucas opened what was then called “The Black Sheep Lounge”, a small café in the heart of downtown Welland. After almost 7 years of business, the café has grown into a coffee roaster — prompting Lucas to update the name to “Black Sheep Coffee Roasters.” Lucas’ love for the community grew with daily interactions at the café, inspiring him to sit on local boards and committees, and eventually a successful run for a seat on Welland City Council in 2018.

Connect: @blacksheepluca | @blacksheepcoffeeroasters | @reallucababy | Facebook | LinkedIn

Mark John Stewart

Managing Director, Wentworth Strategy Group

10:30am | Breakout Room 2

As Managing Director of Wentworth Strategy Group, Mark John Stewart leads a team of high performing consultants delivering expert advice and execution to non profit, for profit, and public sector organizations in Canada and across the world. He is an Instructor in Strategic Management with the McMaster-Syracuse Master of Communications Management program and has served as President of marketing agency FlyPrint since 2007.

Mark John is a dedicated advisor to Empowerment Squared, a Canadian charity empowering newcomer, refugee, and marginalized youth and communities in Canada and across Africa, and serves in governance and advisory capacities with the Bay Area Health Trust and the Disability Justice Network of Ontario.

Mark has been recognized as one of CBC’s Top Five Young Professionals to Watch and one of Hamilton-Halton’s Top Forty Under 40, the Hamilton Chamber of Commerce’s Young Professional of the Year, Business and Professional Excellence Award from the Reverend John C Holland Awards, and the McMaster Alumni Association Hamilton Community Impact Award.

Connect: @markjohnstewart | @flyprint | LinkedIn

Irmak Taner

Outreach Coordinator, Apathy is Boring

9:50am | Main Stage

Irmak is the Outreach Coordinator at Apathy is Boring, working with youth on civic participation and community engagement. She is passionate about inclusion and bridging individual and collective action. In case you need a short bio for our org you can use the following: Apathy is Boring is a non-partisan, charitable organization that works to support and educate youth to become active and contributing citizens in Canada’s democracy.

Connect: @apathyisboring | @apathyisboring | Facebook | LinkedIn