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Speakers

Jennifer Ménard-Shand
Indigenous French-Canadian Entrepreneur

Jennifer Ménard-Shand

As a First Nations Ojibwe and French-Canadian entrepreneur, Jennifer Ménard-Shand always dreamed of leading a purpose-driven organization. Today, she lives that dream as the founder and CEO of Staff Shop, an award-winning certified diverse staffing firm. Through sharing her inspirational entrepreneurial journey as well as insight into truth and reconciliation in the workplace, elevating Indigenous women-led businesses, supplier diversity, and the Canadian labour market, Ménard-Shand inspires leaders and their teams to reach their full potential both at home and work.

Ménard-Shand began her career in 2008 at one of Toronto’s most trusted full-service recruitment agencies, The Bagg Group. In 2013, she created Bagg @ Your Service, the organization’s first hospitality and event division, before purchasing her creation in 2018 and evolving it into Staff Shop. Today, her company services hundreds of clients across North America and deploys thousands of employees throughout Canada as a full-service staffing and consulting firm with a focus on global expansion.

Ménard-Shand’s entrepreneurial story celebrates the triumph of resiliency. She is a survivor of abuse, abandonment, domestic violence, imposter syndrome, and PTSD. She is committed to breaking the silence and putting an end to generational trauma and unhealthy cycles. There is no limit to the positive impact Staff Shop and Ménard-Shand can have on humanity. This is what drives her to do her best and inspire others to reach their full potential and leave a legacy worth following for future generations.

 


 

Yves Lalumière
President and Chief Executive Officer, Tourisme Montréal

Yves Lalumière

Yves Lalumière was appointed in August 2013 as President and Chief Executive Officer of Tourisme Montréal. Active in the tourism industry since 1986, Mr. Lalumière holds a Bachelor’s degree in Business Administration with a concentration in Tourism from the Université du Québec à Montréal (UQÀM). Mr. Lalumière previously served for more than 20 years in management positions within American Express, particularly in the areas of business travel, air agreement negotiations and affairs with the Government of Canada. He joined Transat Distribution Canada (TDC) in 2006 as Vice President, Operations and Business Development, and was appointed Vice President, Distribution Network, in 2008. In November 2009, he was named Vice President and General Manager of Transat Distribution Canada and in 2011, assumed the role of President of Canada’s leading retail tour operator.

 


 

Trevor Jonas Benson
President & CEO, Bannikin

Trevor Jonas Benson

Trevor is a social-minded systems thinker, progressive project manager, and entrepreneurial extrovert.

Since 2006, he has been supporting the realization of flourishing tourism businesses, organizations, and destinations in Canada and abroad. He is passionate about collaborating with others to create meaningful change in the way that travellers experience place, and he enjoys nothing more than working with the people that bring them to life.

As President & CEO of Bannikin, Trevor oversees all aspects of the company’s operations, growth, and strategic development. Having managed countless projects over the past 15 years, he remains heavily involved in the co-creation of opportunities for Bannikin and the delivery of its professional services, including managing highly participatory and asset-based tourism research, strategy, and development projects at the local, regional, and national levels. He has a particular interest in the role that strategy and innovation management can play in preparing tourism stakeholders to navigate through challenging times and toward inspiring visions.

Trevor has a background in Law and Human Rights and Sustainable Local Food. In 2019, he co-founded World Women Tourism, a Singapore-based social purpose business pursuing a vision where women tourism professionals are connected to each other, growing as a collective, and flourishing together. Trevor sits on the Advisory Council of the Institute for Hospitality and Tourism Research at the Ted Rogers School of Management, Toronto Metropolitan University. He is also part of the Program Advisory Committee for the School of Hospitality, Tourism and Culinary Arts at Centennial College, where he developed curriculum for North America’s first postgraduate certificate in Food Tourism studies at Centennial College and taught Global Tourism Development & Social Justice for several years.

 


 

Greg Oates
SVP of Innovation, MMGY NextFactor

Greg Oates

Greg Oates is SVP of Innovation at MMGY NextFactor. He works with the public and private sectors to develop a wide range of strategic planning frameworks for the travel industry that optimize community and economic development. Previously, Greg led tourism brand partnerships at Skift.

 


 

Jack Johnson
Chief Advocacy Officer, Destinations International

Jack Johnson

As Chief Advocacy Officer, Jack Johnson manages the overall public policy operations at Destinations International including member advocacy education and training, development of destination tools and best practices, coalition work with peer organizations, industry research and related public affairs activities. He also oversees the board governance, the Destination Management Accreditation Program (DMAP) and the DestinationNEXT (Assessments and Planning) Program. Johnson brings unrivaled experience developing innovative strategies, policy solutions and civic consensus for government, not-for-profits and small businesses.

Johnson has received numerous accolades including being named as one of Successful Meetings’ 25 Most Influential People in the Meetings Industry in 2018 for his work on opposing travel boycotts and bans. Currently, his work around positioning destination organizations as a shared value in each of their communities and speaking with a new lexicon based on the emotion-driven by those values has made him one of the leading voices of the travel industry.

During his previous tenure with Choose Chicago, Johnson played a leading role in the extensive reforms of the McCormick Place Convention Center and the Chicago Convention & Tourism Bureau, resulting in a new convention center operating model with both a travel industry and a citywide civic perspective. Johnson was integrally involved in the merger of the Chicago Convention & Tourism Bureau and the Chicago Office of Tourism, resulting in maximizing their resources, unifying the message and embedding the organization into the city’s economic development strategy.

 


 

Marsha Walden
President and CEO, Destination Canada

Marsha Walden

Marsha’s career spans leadership roles in strategy and organizational renewal, marketing and communications, corporate social responsibility, operations management, and business innovation. She has worked with enterprises in many of Canada’s flagship industries and found her true calling in tourism.

Marsha joined Destination Canada as President and CEO in August 2020 in the throes of the COVID-19 pandemic. She is proud to lead a team of passionate professionals who share a common purpose of inspiring those with glowing hearts to fall in love with Canada – enriching the lives of visitors and enhancing the quality of life of Canadians. Previously, Marsha led the team at Destination British Columbia, initiating ground-breaking strategies for tourism development and data-driven performance marketing.

A resident of North Vancouver, Marsha holds a bachelor of Commerce from the University of British Columbia and is an active volunteer with the YMCA of Greater Vancouver, BC Business Laureates, and The Presidents Group championing inclusive employment. Marsha’s glowing hearts Canadian moment was wildlife touring in Haida Gwaii and witnessing the prehistoric-looking spectacle of humpback whales bubble-net feeding nearby. “Their power and intelligence was breathtaking and humbling.”

 


 

Meaghan Ferrigno
Chief Data and Analytics Officer, Destination Canada

Meaghan Ferrigno

Meaghan Ferrigno is Destination Canada’s Chief Data and Analytics Officer (CDAO), a role which positions Destination Canada as an Insight Driven Organization, curating industry data to optimize both supply- and demand-side decisions.

She leads Destination Canada’s data strategy to help maximize the competitiveness and resilience of the Canadian tourism sector, making good information and analysis broadly available to tourism partners, businesses, local communities and government.

From her past roles, Meaghan brings an exceptional range of expertise in data-enabled competitive strategies and business agility. She is a certified CPA, CMA who holds an MBA in Management Technology from SFU’s Beedie School of Business as well as PMP and agile designations.

One of her most important and current priorities at Destination Canada is to build and rollout the Canadian Tourism Data Collective, in partnership with Statistics Canada, other major data providers, and many industry businesses. This national platform will harness the power of tourism data, to generate a source of long-term collaborative advantage, drive innovation for Canada's hosting economy, empowering decision-makers across public and private sectors. Meaghan joined as the Crown corporation’s CDAO in August of 2021.

 


 

Minto Schneider
Destination Specialist, TIAC

Minto Schneider

Minto has more than 30 years experience in the tourism industry including hotel marketing, destination marketing and management.

She brings extensive knowledge of the Canadian market including more than 20 years working in DMO roles. Most recently, Minto spent 9 years as CEO at Explore Waterloo Region where she led the development for a business event specific marketing strategy, working closely with Destination Canada.

In 2022, Minto joined TIAC as a Destination Specialist, Government Affairs. In this role, she is advocating for the interests for destination organizations. She currently serves on the board of Meetings Mean Business Canada and on Destination Canada’s Business Events Advisory Committee.

 


 

Miranda Ji
Executive VP of Sales, Destination Greater Victoria

Miranda Ji

Miranda Ji is the leader of Destination Greater Victoria’s business events and travel trade teams, which are widely regarded as some of the most effective destination business sales teams in Canada. Her leadership, dedication, and ability to strategically grow business development while always considering the stakeholders’ interests has played a key role in Greater Victoria’s visitor economy and events business recovering faster and stronger than most competitor jurisdictions worldwide.

Miranda has held various roles in the hospitality and tourism industry over the last 20 years. Prior to that, she was a teacher, specializing in teaching English as a second language, travelling abroad and learning about other cultures.

Miranda is the Executive lead at Destination Greater Victoria for the organization’s Equity, Diversity, Inclusion strategy. She has been involved in this area over the years in various roles. She currently serves as Vice President on the Board of the Intercultural Association of Greater Victoria. In addition, she serves on Destination International’s Equity, Diversity, Inclusion Advisory Committee, Tourism Industry Association of British Columbia as Board Director and on the Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, Reconciliation (DEIR) Committee, and St. Michael’s University’s EDI Advisory Committee. Through her work in this area her hope is to share her experiences and knowledge to create an inclusive environment for all.

 


 

Donna Lee Demarcke
Chief Executive Officer, Northwest Territories Tourism

Donna Lee Demarcke

Donna Lee Demarcke was appointed in January 2021 as the Chief Executive Officer of Northwest Territories Tourism. Donna Lee has spent her whole life in the Northern part of Canada, and the Northwest Territories has been her home for the last 36 years; she spent 33 years in Hay River, in the South Slave Region of the NWT and relocated to the capital of the NWT, Yellowknife, 3 years ago.

Donna Lee has served on several Boards and Committees, having spent 9 years as a member of Hay River’s Town Council, 5 of which she served as Deputy Mayor, and over 25 years on the local Chamber of Commerce, Trade and Tourism, and Recreation Boards; she is currently a director on the Yellowknife Chamber of Commerce. Donna Lee has extensive experience in the automotive industry, having held several different roles, including that of General Manager, at a bustling Ford dealership over the span of 30 years. With her strong background in business and sales, her considerable dedication as a volunteer, and her efforts to promote, support, and advocate for her community and the Northwest Territories, Donna Lee has successfully transitioned to now being the CEO of NWT Tourism, the Tourism Industry Association and Destination Marketing Organization (DMO) for the Northwest Territories.

 


 

Jiaxuan (Jasmine Qi)
Director, Workforce Inclusion, Tourism HR Canada

Jiaxuan (Jasmine Qi)

Jiaxuan (Jasmine Qi) is the Director, Workforce Inclusion at Tourism HR Canada. She leads programs and initiatives to support the integration of immigrants and other equity-deserving groups into tourism workforce by developing proposals, designing and managing projects, conducting policy research and analysis with great passion and enthusiasm to build an inclusive community where everyone belongs.

Jiaxuan (Jasmine Qi) brings extensive experience and knowledge in immigrant settlement and integration, career development, employment counseling, mentorship, program design and implementation, human resource management, as well as diversity, equity, and inclusion.

As a visible minority immigrant woman, she strives all of her efforts to advocate Diversity, Equity, Inclusion and Belonging within workplaces and the community. She believes that everyone deserves a better opportunity to fulfil their dreams.

 


 

Michael Crockatt
President and Chief Executive Officer, Ottawa Tourism

Michael Crockatt

Michael is a recognized leader in travel and tourism in Canada. Michael leads Ottawa’s official destination organization, which spearheads sales and marketing initiatives for attracting visitors to Canada’s capital, while also making investments in the long-term stewardship and development of the destination.

Prior to joining Ottawa Tourism, Michael served as Senior Vice President with InterVISTAS Consulting, where he was responsible for the firm’s airline, air service development, and tourism practices in Canada. Michael has over 15 years of experience at the management level with two of Canada’s major airports, the Winnipeg Airports Authority and the Ottawa International Airport Authority.

Michael has a Master’s degree in Geography from the University of Manitoba, and he is a Certified Barbecue Judge.

 


 

Nancy Small
Chief Executive Officer, Tourism Richmond

Nancy Small

Originally from St. John’s, Newfoundland, Nancy has worked all over the world – including stints in The Netherlands, Toronto and Sydney, Australia.

With an extensive background in the tourism industry, she specializes in strategic planning, destination stewardship, board governance, stakeholder development and marketing strategy.

Nancy is very active in the tourism industry and in the Richmond community – and is the current Chair of the BC Destination Marketing Association (BCDMOA), on the executive of the Canadian Destinations Leadership Council (CDLC), a director on the board of go2HR, a director on the board of the Richmond Chamber of Commerce, a member of the Tourism Emergency Management Committee, a member of the fundraising group for the Richmond Cares Richmond Gives Foundation, and a former chair of the KPU President’s Advisory Council for its Richmond Campus. She is also a member of the Greater Vancouver Board of Trade's Regional and Civic Affairs committee.

Nancy’s experience outside the tourism industry includes senior-level executive roles in the retail sector, advertising agencies, and in high tech. She also has been a previous board member with several organizations including the BC American Marketing Association and the Burnaby Board of Trade.

She is passionate about all things Richmond and loves its diversity of food, the biking trails, culture and shopping.

 


 

Micha Fardy
Executive Director for Friends of Fundy & Co-Lead of the Rural Upper Fundy Partnership

Micha Fardy

Originally from St. John’s NL, Micha has had the great fortune to infuse her professional and personal journey with passion and purpose.

Since 2003, Micha has worked in the public, private and non-profit sectors along-side businesses, organizations and communities helping to identify opportunities, overcome challenges and achieve shared goals. Micha has focused her learning and practice in collaborative approaches to community change, Collective Impact, sustainable and regenerative approaches to destination development & community economic development in rural areas.

Described as a ‘trail blazer’ in her profession and an engaged volunteer committed to finding common ground, Micha currently serves on the board of the UNESCO designated Fundy Biosphere Region and the Gros Morne Institute for Sustainable Tourism. Prior to this, Micha had the privilege to Co-Chair the New Brunswick Food Security Action Network, the Greater Moncton Literacy Advisory Board, serve as Director for the OMISTA Credit Union as well as the Albert County Chamber of Commerce and Tourism Association.

Micha lives in the community of Alma in the newly formed Village of Fundy Albert, NB.

 


 

Greg Klassen
Senior Director, Twenty31 A Skift Company

Greg Klassen

A marketing and tourism industry strategist with 25 years of leadership with blue chip organizations including former CMO and interim CEO of Destination Canada.

Greg is currently a Senior Director with tourism strategy consultancy, Twenty31. A Skift Company where he advises destinations around the world on how to achieve competitive advantage through leverage and mitigation of disruptive forces—whether they are technologies, traveller behaviour or global pandemics.

His clients include destinations around the world including South Africa, Ras Al Khaimah, Rwanda, Jordan, Palau as well as destinations across Canada.

Greg holds an MBA from the ASU Thunderbird School of International Management in Arizona and a degree in Economics from the University of Victoria. He is a frequent contributor to tourism media and thought leadership. Greg is a Fellow of the Royal Canadian Geographic Society.

 


 

Amy Thacker
CEO, Cariboo Chilcotin Coast

Amy Thacker

As the leader of the Cariboo Chilcotin Coast, Amy is driven by her passion for rural tourism, agriculture and economic development. She’s had an outsized impact in her role championing award-winning programs such as the Gold Rush Trail, Great Bear Rainforest and Cariboo Reputation Recovery collaboratives. She’s a recognized leader in the provincial tourism efforts and a champion for rural Emergency Management. Amy has served on the provincial Tourism Emergency Management Committee, assisting in the creation of the first provincial tourism emergency framework and tourism emergency communications strategy, while guiding her region through several major disaster events and recoveries. A certified emergency information officer, Thacker has guided the creation of emergency communications, response and recovery plans. She has also served on the BC Regional Tourism Secretariat, Destination BC’s Tourism Marketing Committee, the BC Destination Marketing Organizations Association, the Williams Lake Chamber of Commerce, the Williams Lake Economic Development Corporation and the Minister's Recovery Task Force on Tourism.

Thacker believes that rural tourism has untapped potential and unlimited opportunities for excellence and is proud to lead the second destination in North America to achieve Biosphere Certification for work in Sustainability. She is known for her collaborative work style and has successfully created MOUs with the Indigenous Tourism Association of Canada and Indigenous Tourism BC, and carefully navigated potentially sensitive situations with mutually beneficial solutions reached for the parties involved. A strategic thinker, Thacker is driven to challenge the status quo and seek better solutions to support people, planet and prosperity for all.

 


 

Brian Cant
MBA, Vice President, Business Impact & Engagement, 4VI

Brian Cant

Brian Cant is Vice President, Business Impact & Engagement with 4VI, a social enterprise created to ensure that travel is a force for good for Vancouver Island – forever.

Cant has worked in communications and engagement for close to two decades. Inspired by his summer job guiding visitors through the underground mine at the Rossland Museum, Cant found his calling in the tourism industry. He previously held the role of Director, Communications & Engagement for the Greater Victoria Harbour Authority, a community-based not-for-profit that is committed to sustainable stewardship of Victoria’s working harbour. His career has also included roles with tartanbond, Destination British Columbia, and Destination Greater Victoria.

Cant is a proud, three-time graduate of the University of Victoria, most recently gaining his MBA. He serves as a member of the university’s Board of Governors.

Growing up less than five minutes away from the ski lifts at Red Mountain Resort in Rossland, BC, he was first put on skis by his dad at the age of 18 months and barely looked back or slowed down. Cant managed to share his lifelong passion for the sport by having his own daughter on skis around the same time, to somewhat mixed results.

 


 

Angela Cassie
Chief Operating Officer, Travel Manitoba

Angela Cassie

Angela Cassie joined Travel Manitoba in June 2022 as Chief Operating Officer. Travel Manitoba is a Crown Corporation under provincial legislation that leads and stimulates sustainable tourism growth in Manitoba’s tourism industry. In partnership with the industry, the agency is responsible for tourism marketing, visitor information services, research and public information.

After starting her career with the federal Department of Canadian Heritage, Angela joined the Canadian Museum for Human Rights in 2008 as part of its inaugural leadership team and for 11 years worked to help open and operationalize the first new Canadian national museum in 45 years. Angela was honoured at the 2017 National Black Canadians Summit for her work in the promotion of human rights. More recently, she served as the Interim Chief Executive Officer and Chief Strategy and Inclusion Officer at the National Gallery of Canada where she lead the implementation of its first-ever Strategic Plan and efforts to put its commitment Justice, Equity, Diversity, Inclusion and Accessibility into action to grow new audiences and expand the Gallery’s reach.

An active community volunteer, Angela serves as President of la Société de la francophonie manitobaine (SFM) and is an alum of the 2022 Governor General’s Canadian Leadership Conference.

 


 

Zach Everett

Zach Everett

Zach Everett is a winemaker, entrepreneur, farmer, and spirited advocate of food tourism. He embarked on a journey to create game-changing wines from local fruit while exploring the uncharted territories of New Brunswick's winemaking potential. His love for travel, languages, and all things fermented fuels his boundless passion for winemaking and culinary experiences.

In his early 20s, Zach's life took a serendipitous turn while traveling through Germany. There, he encountered a vineyard owner during harvest season and was invited to pick grapes from 100-year-old vines overlooking a 1000-year-old village. Bonding with strangers over food and wine after a hard day's work, this experience ignited a lifelong passion. It motivated Zach to craft exceptional wines from locally sourced fruit and venture into grape cultivation in underdeveloped regions.

What began as a fun experiment quickly evolved into a passionate mission: inspiring a new wine region along New Brunswick's Northumberland coast. Zach promotes the region's unique terroir and captivating stories, showcasing stunning beaches, delectable seafood, and exceptional wines. He is determined to establish this region as a prominent player in the Canadian winemaking landscape.

In 2021 Zach was accepted into the Entrepreneurial leaders Program at the Wallace McCain Institute in Atlantic Canada. That immersion into such a high level business school and community during such a stressful and critical time has fueled Zach’s personal and professional growth and transformed his management practices.

When not overseeing day-to-day winery operations or globe-trotting to industry events, Zach can be found warmly welcoming and engaging with guests at the winery accompanied by his two gorgeous Australian shepherds. Beyond the world of wine, he enjoys playing ultimate frisbee, foraging for chanterelles in the wilderness, and seeking new challenges, such as scuba diving for scallops and learning to kite surf.

 


 

Joanne Wolnik

Executive Director, Ontario's Southwest Regional Tourism Organization

Joanne Wolnik

Joanne was appointed as Executive Director of Ontario's Southwest Regional Tourism Organization in July 2021. Prior to that, she spent eight as the Manager of Tourism Development with Ontario’s Southwest. Other work experience includes municipal roles in Economic Development and Tourism, and as owner/operator of an equestrian facility.  Joanne holds a designation in Economic Development, an MBA, and an HBOR degree specializing in tourism. Joanne is inspired and energized by the people who are making Ontario’s Southwest such an amazing place to live, work, play and visit.

 


 

Erin Benjamin
President & CEO, Canadian Live Music Association

Erin Benjamin

Erin Benjamin has led the Canadian Live Music Association, the voice of the live music industry, since its inception in 2014. She has worked in the music industry for over 25 years—first as a touring and recording artist and then as Executive Director of both Folk Music Ontario (2001) and the Canadian Arts Presenting Association (2008). Erin sits as a board member for the Ottawa Film Office, the Ottawa Board of Trade and the United Way East Ontario.

 


 

Calvin McKee

Calvin McKee

Calvin McKee (he/him) is a seasoned diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) practitioner with a recent leadership roles in DEI positions and initiatives at Uber, Shopify and now Colliers. His commitment lies in creating an enriching employee experience rooted in fostering positive change, ensuring that everyone he collaborates with feels a strong sense of belonging.

Over the past several years, Calvin has chaired employee resource groups (ERGs) dedicated to championing the LGBTQ+ communities at all of the above companies. He's also been the creative force behind campaigns that shine a spotlight on diverse and underrepresented employees, celebrating their unique contributions. His efforts have been instrumental in cultivating inclusive environments that have benefited thousands of employees, clients, and customers.

Calvin is passionate about building community, fostering spaces for authenticity to thrive, and seeks to provide the best possible working experience for all. His extensive expertise encompasses diverse aspects of talent and people operations, including pivotal roles in learning & development, recruitment, community operations, and more.