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Some of our inspiring guests, more to come.

Julie Durant, Founder

In her career, Julie has hosted over 32 events of an educational nature. Many of these accredited for continuing education and professional development serving the financial and resource-based community in Canada. For the past four years, Julie has dedicated her efforts towards building evidence-based, mindfulness programs for hard-working people in her community and the organizations that care about them. She has primarily focused her efforts on hosting educational events for organizations like WeWork; Hootsuite; Fasken Martineau; The Globe Sustainability Conference and the Port Authority of Vancouver, to name a few. In 2017, Julie produced the largest mass meditation event in Vancouver at the Goldcorp, BMO Theatre where over 200+ attendees were treated to an experience shared by special guests like three-time Grammy award winner, Chin Injeti, White Caps Ambassador, Carl Valentine and wellness organizations like Saje, a highly successful, Canadian based aromatherapy company.

Julie also founded TECH14 in 2014, an effort to bring to light emerging, disruptive technology companies in Canada to the investment community, it remains relevant and is now run annually and has successfully tripled in size. As an action-oriented thought leader, Julie founded the Impact Investment Forum hosted in Vancouver where partners like KPMG, The Province of BC and the University of British Columbia, all partnered to raise awareness around impact investing and the importance of sustainability.

Mary-Lyn Kieffer

Mary-Lyn is a Mental Health advocate and the Canadian Executive Director of the Made of Millions Foundation – an international NFP that fights mental health stigma and barriers to care. Made of Millions uses modern tools like design, technology, videography and social media to make mental health information and support more open and accessible to all. Their educational properties and experiences reach over 3 million sufferers each year.

Mary-Lyn oversees all event production, digital programming, advocacy and fundraising initiatives taking place in Canada. In 2018 she left the corporate world after experiencing severe symptoms of OCD. Her personal experience opened her eyes to the lack of accessible mental health care, and drove her to seek out advocacy initiatives that allowed her to give back to the community.

In addition to her work at Made of Millions, Mary-Lyn is an active member of the Toronto mental health community. She co-facilitates a peer support group held at Sunnybrook Hospital, and in 2018, she completed the Peer Support Training program at Mood Disorders Association of Ontario. Prior to her advocacy work, she was a marketing and business development professional in both the Financial and Legal industries. She also worked as an event producer for five years, producing educational events for executives from Fortune 500 companies. She holds a Master’s Degree and Bachelor of Arts Degree in International Economics and Finance.

Teresa Raponi

Teresa has enjoyed a rewarding career in the financial services industry since 1998. The majority of her career has been spent at CIBC leading a variety of Advisory teams focused on financial planning and wealth management. In 2018, Teresa joined CIBC Wood Gundy as the Branch Manager of the Toronto King Branch and is pleased to work with a team of Investment Advisors dedicated to helping clients achieve their most important financial goals. In addition, she is on the Inclusion and Diversity Action Committee for CIBC Commercial Banking and Wealth Management focused on creating gender parity.

In addition to her experience, Teresa attained a number of industry designations that include Certified Financial Planner (CFP), Registered Retirement Consultant (RRC) and the prestigious Fellow of the Canadian Securities Institute (FCSI). She is also a graduate of the University of Toronto where she attained an Honours degree in Economics and Sociology.
Teresa lives with her husband Dave in Toronto and when not working, they enjoy playing tennis, skiing and spending time with family.

Lynn Posluns

Lynn Posluns is Founder and President of Women’s Brain Health Initiative, the only organization dedicated solely to protecting the brain health of women. Since the charity launched in Canada and the U.S. in 2012, Women’s Brain Health Initiative has made tremendous strides in raising awareness about the inequity in brain aging research for women, in funding that research, and in creating compelling education programs to help women protect their cognitive vitality. Lynn has held a number of executive positions within the Retail and Fashion industries, and throughout her career, has raised millions of dollars for many philanthropic causes, focused primarily in the healthcare industry. Lynn has received numerous awards for her work in philanthropy and giving back to the community, including Women’s Executive Network’s Canada’s Top 100 Most Powerful Women Award, the University of Toronto’s Rotman School of Management’s Top Ten High Achieving Women Award, Rotary International’s Paul Harris Fellowship Award and recently the Kurt and Edith Rothschild Humanitarian Award. Lynn was awarded her Honorary Doctor by York University in Toronto in June 2019 recognizing Lynn’s exceptional commitment to women’s health with the establishment of Women’s Brain Health Initiative, promoting health education and community engagement while raising essential research funding to advance women’s brain health. Lynn Posluns was the driving force and is internationally recognized for her leadership in funding the first in the world research chair for women’s brain health and aging.

Dr. Stacy Thomas

Dr. Stacy Thomas is a Clinical Psychologist, the CEO and Clinical Director of The Design Your Life Centre in Toronto, creator of the Growing Forward Journal, and the recent host of the Mindful World Parenting Summit, a free, 7day, online event that brought together the world’s top authorities in the areas of parenting, mental health, brain science, education, nutrition, and mindfulness.  The close to 40K people who participated in the summit, which featured experts such as Dr. Shefali Tsabary, Dr. Laura Markham and EkhartTolle, established Dr. Stacy as a trusted curator of transformational, evidence-based content.  Her mission to democratize mental health will continue with Mindful World in a number of online events, including her own online program and community, The Growing Forward Soul School, which will launch in 2019.

Dr. Bill Howatt

Bill Howatt, Chief of Research, Workforce Productivity for the Conference Board of Canada, former Chief Research and Development Officer for Workforce Productivity, Morneau Shepell and founder of Howatt HR Consulting with over 25 years’ experience in strategic HR, mental health and addictions, and leadership. He is the creator of Certified Management Essential (CME) an on –line program that offers 18 on-line courses that is a senate approved leaders program through the University of New Brunswick, as well at the same university he is the creator of the Pathway to Coping an on-line course that teaches coping skills. He is the creator of the Quality of Work life (QWL) that been converted into the Morneau Shepell Total Health Index™, as well the co-creator of The Globe and Mail and Morneau Shepell Employee Recommended Award. He is co-creator of The Globe and Mail Your Life at Work Initiative that touched more 14,000 Canadians. He has published numerous books and articles, such as: The Coping Crisis, Pathways to Coping, the Wiley Series on Addictions, Human Services Counselor’s Toolbox and The Addiction Counselor’s Desk Reference. He is regular contributor to The Globe and Mail 9 to 5 and Leadership Lab and the Chronicle Herald.Bill Howatt, is Ph.D., Ed.D., Post Doctorate Behavioral Science, University of California, Los Angeles, Semel Institute for Neuroscience & Human Behavior, RTC, RSW, ICADC.

Orlando Da Silva

Orlando Da Silva, counsel in the Indigenous Litigation Team of the Ministry of the Attorney General, has been a litigator for 25 years, conducting complex Indigenous and corporate-commercial litigation. He was a partner at BLG prior to joining the Ontario Public Service. From 2014-2015, Orlando served as the President of the Ontario Bar Association, where he made wellness in the profession a priority for his term. In that capacity and many others, Orlando has made many contributions to the legal profession and the community at large, including founding award-winning workplace wellness support tools, which attracted international recognition.In recognition of his many contributions, Orlando has been awarded the Law Society Medal, the OBA Distinguished Service Award, The Tom Marshall Award of Excellence for Public Sector Lawyers, and the CAMH Transforming Lives Award. In 2015, Orlando was named one of the 25 Most Influential Lawyers in Canada by Canadian Lawyer Magazine.”

Michael Herman

Michael Herman is a Toronto-based business law partner at Gowling WLG. He also serves as general counsel to the firm.With more than 30 years of experience, Michael is highly regarded as a strategic adviser to a broad range of clients, with a particular focus on entrepreneurial, privately held companies, mid-market private equity funds and investment institutions. He advises these clients on M&A, corporate development, corporate finance and other complex business matters.In addition to his background in private practice, Michael spent a number of years in senior executive positions at various multi-national public corporations, where he was responsible for strategic planning and direction, asset acquisitions and dispositions, strategic partnerships, debt and equity offerings, corporate governance and other corporate-wide marketing and investor relations activities.

Michael is a strong advocate for mental health in the legal community. Through his ongoing work to raise awareness and eliminate stigma, he hopes to make it easier for anyone experiencing mental illness to come forward and seek help without fear of judgment.

Geoffrey Soloway, PhD

As Founder and Chief Training Director of MindWell U, Geoff’s latest creation the MindWell Challenge has already helped to support the mental health and wellbeing of over 50,000 Canadians from coast to coast to coast. Over the past 20 years Geoff has been engaged in developing, researching and implementing innovative approaches to Mindful Wellbeing. After completing a PhD and Master’s in Education from the University of Toronto, Geoff has worked as an Instructor at University of Toronto, University of British Columbia and the University of Fraser Valley, and as a consultant for diverse organizations such as WestJet, Coca-Cola, Loblaw, and the Privy Council Office. Geoff completed his Yoga Teacher Training from Yasodhara Ashram in 2002, sat a month-long silent meditation retreat in 2007 and has slept in a tent in every province and territory in Canada!

Elizabeth Naumovski

Elizabeth Naumovski is honoured & proud to be the 1st recipient of the 2019 Wealth Professional IFSE Institute Award for Financial Literacy Champion. Elizabeth has been at Caldwell Securities Ltd. since 1997 and is Vice President, Marketing and an Investment Advisor. She has her Chartered Marketer Designation.

Elizabeth’s passion is Financial Literacy (FinLit) & is host of Finance Is Personal (FIP), a half hour show on FinLit. Her show hosts only female guests with a focus on FinLit for women of all ages. FIP is on YouTube & premiered April 2018. Through FIP she has partnered with Ability Online to contribute FinLit to their community.

She is on the Editorial Board of The Women’s Collection, Member of Women in Capital Markets (WCM) & NATO Council of Canada. She is on the Advisory Council of the United Macedonian Diaspora (“UMD”) & Board of the Macedonian Film Festival.

She mentors young women & donates her blood to Canadian Blood Services every 84 days. She has donated over 60 times.

John P. Hirdes PhD FCAHS

Dr. Hirdes is a Professor in the School of Public Health and Health Systems, University of Waterloo. He is Chair of the University’s Committee on Student Mental Health (CoSMH) and provides oversight to its sub-groups and working groups. CoSMH’s membership includes stakeholders from across campus, as well as external partners. The committee’s mandate is to implement 36 mental wellness recommendations and develop a long-term strategy for integrating its work into the ongoing culture, functions and activities of the University.

In addition, Dr. Hirdes is the Senior Canadian Fellow and a Board Member of interRAI (, an international consortium of researchers from over 35 countries. He chairs interRAI’s Network for Mental Health and the interRAI Network of Canada.

Dr. Hirdes has 230+ publications in peer reviewed journals and academic book chapters. His primary areas of interest include assessment, mental health, aging, health care and service delivery, case mix systems, quality measurement, health information management, and quantitative research methods.

Nora Spinks

As Chief Executive Officer at the Vanier Institute, Nora works with individuals and organizations that study, serve and support families to mobilize knowledge and enhance the national understanding of families in Canada. A well-known keynote speaker and author, Nora is a sought-after guest on television and radio, where she regularly provides the “family lens” to issues of importance to Canadians.

Nora has dedicated her career to creating innovative policies and programs focusing on health and well-being, caregiving, workplace flexibility and work–life harmony, having served as an advisor and consultant to leaders in business, law, labour, government and community. A strategic leader, Nora has contributed to the success of a variety of federal, provincial, community and workplace programs across diverse sectors, industries and professions.

Recognized internationally as a leader in families and work, Nora is a recipient of many awards celebrating her contribution to workplaces and communities across Canada.

Dr. Karen R. Cohen

Dr. Karen Cohen is the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the Canadian Psychological Association (CPA). In that capacity, her responsibilities revolve around the Association’s mandates, the first of which is to improve the health and welfare of Canadians. She holds, and has held, leadership roles on many health and science-related committees and alliances and has prepared and presented briefs to standing committees of the Senate and House of Commons of Canada on matters pertaining to health and mental health. In 2017/18 she was appointed by the Minister of Revenue to co-Chair Canada’s Disability Advisory Committee, charged with providing advice to the Minister on how to improve the administration of the Disability Tax Credit for persons living with disabilities. Karen is a psychologist, registered in Ontario, holds a doctoral degree in clinical psychology and completed a post-doctoral fellowship in rehabilitation psychology and neuropsychology. Karen has written and presented widely on gaps in mental health policy, funding, services and treatment in Canada.

Dr. Tanya Cotler

Tanya Cotler, child and adult Clinical Psychologist, consultant to the Willow Centre’s parent-infant psychotherapy program and private practice psychologist has over 15 years experience working with children, adults and families at various levels of the mental health system. Dr. Tanya specializes in maternal mental health, parent-child attachment, addictions and mindfulness. She is the creator of the Mother2Woman/Woman2Mother process groups for mothers and their babies, which are geared towards the major identity change that is the hallmark of motherhood. Her mission is to help foster opportunities for growth and connection through the phases of vulnerability, change and loss that many new mothers experience. Dr. Tanya integrates a mindfulness framework in all of her work and is a regularly invited speaker on topics of mindfulness to prevent burnout in the workforce, mindful parenting, self-care and the motherhood experience. She has authored a number of works on the motive to connect, and parent child attachment and is launching her own blog series for Psychology Today titled, “Motherhood Made Real” coming fall of 2019. Dr. Tanya received her Masters and PhD from the Derner Institute for Psychological Studies, Adelphi University and Postdoctoral certification and training in Parent-Infant Psychotherapy from Columbia University, New York.

Chin Injeti

Toronto born, Juno and two-time Grammy Award-winning musician/producer, Chin Injeti is an advocate for the therapy of music. Chin will perform at Year of the Mind.  Polio afflicted Chin at an early age, stealing his ability to walk—an ability that a music therapist helped him regain. Messages of positivity consistently ring throughout Injeti’s own music.  Chin’s musical accomplishments run the gamut from the Juno Award-winning folk-funk of Bass is Base; to recording, performing and writing with artists such as Bedouin Soundclash, Drake, Aloe Blacc, Rihanna and  Eminem on his Grammy-winning record Recovery; to writing several of his own records. His advocacy efforts involve supporting and promoting organizations like Music Heals and the Canadian Music Therapy Trust Fund.

Susanne Cookson

Known for her creativity and innovation, Susanne has over 20 years in the healthcare sector with significant accomplishments along the way. While in Health Promotion at the Heart and Stroke Foundation of Ontario, Susanne has developed over 50 patient and consumer educational resources and programs, including a health television series and pan Canadian school site health promotion programs. To further add to Susanne’s profile, she has had 10 years of Canadian and international sales and marketing experience in the pharmaceutical industry. Her outstanding performance was recognized in 2006 as she was inducted into the Canadian Healthcare Marketing Hall of Fame.

Tom Mikkelsen, M.D.

Tom Mikkelsen, M.D., FRCPC is the President and Scientific Director of the Ontario Brain Institute (2015-present). He received his MD from the University of Calgary and completed clinical training in neurology at the Montreal Neurological Institute. Following this, he did post-doctoral training in tumour and molecular biology at the Ludwig Institute for Cancer Research in Montreal and then in La Jolla, California. Since 1992, he has led the brain tumour program at Henry Ford Hospital and was responsible for building the clinical trials program and laboratory of tumour biology. Together with other scientists, he helped assemble the Hermelin Brain Tumor Center, a leader in the understanding of the genetics of brain tumours and in the development of treatments for brain tumours. As Co-Director, he participated in the organization’s development on many levels spanning from face-to-face clinical care to clinical trials and translational and bench research.

Bhante Saranapala

World Civility Ambassador
Founder and President of “Canada: A Mindful and Kind Nation”

– Recipient of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms from the Government of Canada
– Recipient of “Canada 150 Medal and Sesquicentennial Community Award” from the Government of Canada
– Recipient of Spirit Award from the Government of Ontario

Known as the “Urban Buddhist Monk”, an appropriate nomenclature for a Buddhist Monk for modern times, Bhante Saranapala has been acclaimed as a consummate teacher of meditation by a growing number of seekers of spiritual and healthy life and peace of mind in North America and Europe who admire his simple and all-embracing approach in transmitting the universal message of love, kindness, compassion, understanding and wisdom. He has earned an enviable reputation as a global public speaker and a meditation master par excellence. Born in Chittagong, Bangladesh, Bhante Saranapala, after receiving both his monastic and secular education in Sri Lanka, made his way to Canada to further his studies (Masters and Doctoral studies at the University of Toronto and McMaster University) and soon addressed his mind to the noble task of spreading in the West his own tested approach to Mindfulness and Insight Meditation. Settling down in the City of Mississauga-Toronto West, he has been a monk in residence at the monastic fraternity of the West End Buddhist Temple and (Monastery) Meditation Centre for the past 26 years. In September 2019, Bhante Saranapala has been appointed as the World Civility Ambassador by the iChange Nations for his extraordinary kindfulness works around the world.

Jesse Adams

Jesse is Howatt HR’s Head of Strategy. As a part of his current role, Jesse continues to use his in-depth knowledge of strategic HR, workplace health and wellness, and predictive modelling to support organizations in implementing evidence-based solutions for tangible impacts on key business metrics.

For the last 10+ years, Jesse has worked in the field of corporate health and performance as a senior consultant and National Lead for Morneau Shepell’s Total Health Index (THI) Analytics team, an exercise physiologist for Olympic athletes and business professionals. As the national lead for the THI analytics team Jesse lead the development of the THI assessment, employee feedback, reporting and predictive modelling techniques to help connect employee health, engagement and productivity to strive an organizations total health strategy. Along with leading the THI, Jesse was a key contributor to The Globe and Mail and Morneau Shepell’s Employee Recommended Workplace Award.

Jesse is also a contributor to the Q-Life an online coaching resiliency platform that provides an interactive experience for students to build their resilience skills through an online assessment, short interactive videos, online workbook, and daily journaling.

Jesse is also a contributing author to The Globe and Mail, and white papers with the Mental Health Commission of Canada and Morneau Shepell. These have a key focus on understanding mental health and developing a total health strategy among other topics pertaining the health, engagement, and productivity of organizations.

Jesse has also developed an innovative behaviour modification model known as Behavioural EngineeringTM; this model attempts to provide a framework for an individual’s behaviours, motivation, and cognitive processing when engaging in pro-health and anti-health decisions and actions.

Lakelyn Hogan

Lakelyn Hogan serves as Gerontologist and Caregiver Advocate at the Global Headquarters of Home Instead Senior Care®. Lakelyn began her career at the local franchise working one-on-one with seniors and CAREGivers. Today at the Global Headquarters, Lakelyn works to educate professionals in aging, families and communities on Home Instead’s services and how to navigate the unique challenges older adults face. Lakelyn is a doctoral candidate at the University of Nebraska – Omaha where she is studying Social Gerontology. She has a Master of Arts in Social Gerontology and Master’s in Business Administration from UNO. Lakelyn has professional experience in the private and public sectors of senior care services. She also values giving back to her community. Currently, serving as a board member of the National Alliance for Caregiving, Vice President of the Board of Directors for the Dreamweaver Foundation and is active in the Alzheimer’s Association’s Walk to End Alzheimer’s. Lakelyn has a passion for helping others, especially aging adults and their families.

Brook Greenberg

Brook is an elected Bencher of the Law Society of British Columbia. He is currently chair of the Law Society Mental Health Task Force, a member of the Law Society Ethics Committee and Equity and Diversity Advisory Committee. Brook Greenberg is a leading British Columbia litigator with a stellar reputation in complex commercial litigation, including banking, forestry and construction litigation. As the former Leader of the Firm’s Forestry industry practice group, Brook has significant experience both regionally and nationally, and has appeared before all levels of court including the Supreme Court of Canada.

Deborah Gillis

Deborah Gillis is President and CEO of CAMH Foundation. A recognized thought leader on gender equality, diversity and inclusion, Deborah has dedicated her career to driving social change. Deborah’s unique blend of passion, strategic vision and entrepreneurial spirit is helping her lead CAMH Foundation in transforming how Canadians understand and address mental illness, in the workplace and in society.

Deborah’s early work in the public sector focused on employment equity, anti-racism and LGBTQI rights. She went on to become a consultant and practice leader with two global professional service firms. Deborah also worked in the Nova Scotia government, and stood as a candidate for elected office. During her time in politics, she first truly understood the power of role models—and the urgent need for more of them—to inspire girls and young women.

In her previous role as President & CEO of Catalyst, a global non-profit, Deborah advised some of the world’s most powerful CEOs and leading companies on how to accelerate and advance women into leadership.

In 2016, Deborah was named as one of Canadian Business magazine’s 10 Most Powerful Business People and was awarded the Foreign Policy Association Medal. In 2017, she was appointed to the Canada-United States Council for Advancement of Women Entrepreneurs and Business Leaders.

Sarah Liverance

As a Partner at the marketing advisory firm Sklar Wilton & Associates, Sarah is the lead Engagement Champion focused on people development and engagement initiatives as well as the financial health and smooth operations of SW&A. Her passion for helping every associate succeed, whether personally or professionally, is at the core of her commitment to creating an even more special culture.

Sarah leads SW&A’s whole person development program which is designed to equip each associate with a toolkit to support mind, body and spirit wellness. She has a keen interest in ensuring mental wellness is as highly valued as physical health. Sarah founded and leads Headway, a Canada-wide movement to help companies embrace best mental health practices in the workplace.

Sarah started her marketing career with Kraft Foods in the US and Canada. Prior to that, she was a Captain in the US Air Force designing computer systems for next generation surveillance satellites.

Sarah has a Bachelor of Science degree in Computer Science from Duke University and a Master’s Degree in Business Administration from Florida Institute of Technology.

Outside the office, Sarah is usually…outside. She loves running, hiking, skiing, paddle boarding, canoeing, and just about anything to do with animals.

Mary Ann Baynton

Mary Ann’s areas of expertise include workplace mental health, psychological safety, resolving conflict, and building resilience.

She is the principal of Mary Ann Baynton & Associates where she consults with organizations across the country.

She also serves as the Director of Strategy and Collaboration for Workplace Strategies for Mental Health which produces free resources for all Canadians with support from Canada Life.

Mary Ann is the author of several books including The Evolution of Workplace Mental Health in Canada and Mindful Manager. She strives to help people eliminate unnecessary suffering and improve lives.

Dr. Andrea Wilkinson

Dr. Andrea Wilkinson is the founder and CEO of – an online community for adults aged 60+ who want to become more mentally and physically vibrant and energized. Andrea has a PhD in Psychology, with a specialization in Cognitive Aging, and has been researching brain health and cognitive maintenance for over 15 years. Through her platform, she promotes brain health across four key pillars: physical fitness, food & nutrition, socializing, and mental considerations – including sleep, stress management and mental challenges. Given the unique needs of adults aged 60+, Andrea uses a person-centred approach to promote healthy aging and sustainable behaviour change inside the Brain Vitality Blueprint (her 90-day brain health optimization program). Andrea is also the host of the BrainShape Podcast – a weekly show that covers the latest brain health research as well as interviews with experts in the field of healthy aging. Since completing her doctorate, Andrea has worked as a postdoctoral research fellow at the Bridgepoint Collaboratory for Research and Innovation, the Ontario Long Term Care Association, and the Department of Mechanical and Industrial Engineering at the University of Toronto.

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