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2021 conference session wrappers

Thursday, May 6th, 2021Pre-Conference Session 

9:00 AM EST - The TEN Skills of the Service SUPERHERO
Louie Gravance, Former Disney Institute Facilitator, Actor, Comedian. Focused on Creating the Happiest Workplace on Earth

This workshop will explore the delivery of “magical” service moments on a consistent basis through the use of the 10 basic skills. Serving with INTENTION, and serving with VISION are just two of the skills covered in this deep-dive into the practical application of the Disney service principles.

Participants will:
  • Learn ways of identifying the narrative of your business.
  • Create an intention statement aimed at supporting the goals of your business.
  • Isolate keywords that group your customers’ experience.
  • Learn a fun exercise to implement with your staff called, “Good Show/Bad Show.”
  • Create an action plan for performance improvement.
  • Laugh a lot.

Aimed at leaders and managers tasked with modeling and inspiring service excellence, participants come away with a training template for sharing what they’ve learned.

*Seperate registration is required for this session.

Wednesday, May 12th

The Secret Power Behind High Performing Teams
Anthony McLean

Anthony McLean delivers a lively and compelling message on the power of diversity and inclusion at work. The studies are clear: diverse teams are two times more likely to be meet financial targets, three times more likely to be high performing, and six times more likely to be innovative. Now is not the time to tolerate diversity, now is the time to seek out diversity. McLean also challenges participants to think critically about unconscious biases. The top talent we want to recruit and retain in our organizations will come from every conceivable background in the world. Are we open-minded enough to recognize talent when it looks different from us in age, race, ability, gender identity, or cultural expression?

Learning Outcomes:
  • Understand the barriers of systemic racism facing people of color
  • See the impact microaggressions have on workplace culture
  • Learn actionable strategies to move from “non-racist” to "anti-racist”
  • Harness the power of being an ally in your circle of influence


11:30 AM EST - TRACK 1
Indigenous Inclusion | Building an Inclusive Culture
Gabrielle Scrimshaw Sagalov

How, if at all, does building an inclusive workplace for Indigenous Peoples differ from building an inclusive workplace for other employees? In this informative and inspirational talk Gabrielle will share insights and data on what Indigenous professionals want in the workplace, and compare it to equity and inclusion best practices. Gabrielle will explore the future of inclusion and tools to help managers better support and develop all employees.

Key Takeaways:
  • Supporting Indigenous employees is in line with supporting employees of other backgrounds.
  • Insights on how the Indigenous workforce is changing in Canada, and why that matters.


11:30 AM EST - TRACK 2
Real Social Justice: Reconciliation through Community Run Organizations
James Evans

Proximate Leaders are SUBJECT MATTER EXPERTS on the challenges facing their communities. Their solutions are often structured around insights only found through lived experiences. When given the opportunity to lead, people are far more capable of finding sustainable solutions for their community of friends, love ones, and neighbors than any outreach effort from an outside organization. James Evans, CEO of CARE, will demonstrate the power of assisting these community leaders with the long-awaited support they need through grants, legal assistance and augmentation of skills. 

He will touch on CARE CENTERS innovative approach, which are designed around solving and preventing problems that has to involve BIPOC leaders. This way the solutions are systemic and the shape and size will be unique to meet their community’s unique challenges and desires.



11:30 AM EST - TRACK 3
Diversity & Inclusion: Getting Started
Michael Bach, CCDP/AP - Founder and Chair of the Board of Directors

There are clear social, economic, demographic and moral imperatives for fostering diversity and inclusion in organizations. But where do you start? A lot of organizations are looking to incorporate diversity but may not know what steps to take – both cultural and tangible, nor the resources available to them.   This session will provide a clear overview of how to build a diversity and inclusion strategy including:

  1. Understanding the business and social case for diversity and inclusion for your organization
  2. Key elements of a diversity and inclusion strategy
  3. Engagement considerations in the development and growth of the diversity and inclusion strategy
  4. Development of a performance measurement plan, with a focus on outcomes
  5. Resources to get you started


Animal Rights in a Human World

The Honourable Murray Sinclair

Today, animals face mass extinction and cruelty at human hands. We must respond with empathy and justice. We must change course both for their sake and for our own well-being. In many Indigenous cultures, we use the phrase ‘All My Relations’ to express the interdependency and interconnectedness of all life forms, and our relationship of mutual reliance and shared destiny. When we treat animals well, we act with both respect and self-respect.

This understanding imposes responsibilities. We are at a critical time where the inter-related goals of Indigenous rights, environmental protection and animal welfare can help to combat cultural loss, climate change and mass extinction in Canada and beyond.

“Reconciliation between Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal Canadians, from an Aboriginal perspective, also requires reconciliation with the natural world. If human beings resolve problems between themselves but continue to destroy the natural world, then reconciliation remains incomplete. This is a perspective that we as Commissioners have repeatedly heard: that reconciliation will never occur unless we are also reconciled with the earth. Mi’kmaq and other Indigenous laws stress that humans must journey through life in conversation and negotiation with all creation. Reciprocity and mutual respect help sustain our survival.”

Truth and Reconciliation Report
We live in a time of great hope, with social values increasingly reflecting a moral and spiritual awakening. We can yet save this beautiful planet, along with Indigenous cultures and knowledge, and the sacred and innocent animals who deserve our compassion.


2:30 PM EST - TRACK 1
One Welfare and Self-Care: Global Perspectives and Personal Practices
Bonita Eloise Ford, M.A., B.Sc

The absence of a One Welfare approach in animal rescue can lead to professional trauma and burnout. Furthermore, industrial agricultural practices and habitat loss contribute to the emergence of novel infectious diseases, climate breakdown, and extinction pressure—all of which are stressors for people and animals.

The OIE emphasises that “human health and animal health are interdependent and bound to the health of the ecosystems in which they exist.”

Promoting and engaging in self-care brings One Health and One Welfare into our personal lives and professional cultures, helping to address stress, prevent burnout, and maintain one's capacity to carry out critical work in the long-term.

This participatory session will draw upon themes from Bonita's new book, Embers of Hope: Embracing Life in an Age of Ecological Destruction and Climate Chaos, exploring the balance of despair and hope, of loss and possibility, of self-care and engaged action. The practices of breathing meditation, body awareness, and gratitude will be introduced for self-care.


2:30PM EST - TRACK 2
There is no such thing as animal rights...yet
Lesli Bisgould

When people hear about a terrible act of violence committed against an animal, a common reaction is to wonder how it is being prosecuted, on the assumption that violence against animals must be against the law.  In fact, by classifying animals as "property" our legal system ensures animals have no legal rights, and there is almost no act, however horrific, that is categorically illegal. The few laws we have respecting animals welfare are qualified in ways that give more protection to those who hurt animals than to the animals themselves.  This is no surprise, considering our ambivalent attitude to animals, who are our beloved companions, but also our food, clothing, entertainment and research subjects. Law can change, but it is only one of our social institutions.

Meaningful change will happen when all of our social institutions start to require it, and that can happen only when we, as individuals, refuse to settle for anything less.


2:30 PM EST - TRACK 3
Exploring Our Relationship to Animals through K-12 Education

Mike Farley, Middle and High School Geography Teacher, University of Toronto Schools & Nandita Bajaj, Administrator, University of Toronto Schools

Students start to learn about animals at an early age, and continue that learning through middle and high school. But what messages are we conveying through our curriculum and school practices? In this session we will explore society’s often troubled and exploitative relationships with animals, which are frequently perpetuated in our school communities. Using a humane education approach that includes animal protection, human rights, and environmental preservation, we will look at solutions such as digital alternatives to dissection, field trips to animal sanctuaries, and curriculum resources for K-12 educators. A special emphasis will be placed on equity and inclusion for students and staff from all backgrounds.



Thursday, May 13th

10:00AM EST - KEYNOTE: Leading Through Crisis: Insights from the Non-Profit Animal Wellness Sector


As a result of the COVID-19 crisis, animal welfare organizations have experienced unprecedented levels of disruption and change. Senior leaders have had to make critical decisions to sustain operations and program delivery for the animals and communities they serve, while carefully considering the safety and well-being of staff and volunteers. Through it all, many lessons have been learned about what works and what doesn’t, and what is important in order to grow and stay strong. As the animal welfare sector continues to navigate the implications of the pandemic, it is important to recognize the opportunity to shift, innovate, and reimagine a more hopeful and compassionate future for animals, the people who love them and the communities in which we all live.

In this panel session, four leaders in animal well-being share how they have, and continue to, guide their organizations through the risks and uncertainties inherent in the pandemic to maintain services and programs, support staff and volunteers, and adapt to meet the changing needs of their communities.

Host: Kevin MacKenzie, Senior Manager – Leadership Giving, Ontario SPCA and Humane Society



  • Shawn Morey, Executive Director, Peterborough Humane Society
  • Magdalena Smrdelj DVM DACVPM, Chief Veterinary Officer, Ontario SPCA and Humane Society, Fellow, Oxford Centre for Animal Ethics
  • Sonya Reichel, Executive Director, Georgian Triangle Humane Society
  • Stephanie Miller, CFRE, Senior Director, Community and Donor Development, Ontario SPCA and Humane Society


11:15 AM EST - TRACK 1
Preparing for the Future: Developing a Partnership Strategy

Enette Pauzé, PhD, FEA

The impact of the Pandemic has caused a complete re-organization of the economic exchange networks every business and non-profit organization depends on. Business is fundamentally different – there is business life pre-pandemic, and business life post-pandemic. Every organization has had to re-invent, re-strategize, and re-prioritize. Budgets, leaders, and relationships have changed. As a result, every organization needs to refine their partnership strategy – the plan for critical stakeholder relationships that will be essential to the future of the business (e.g., partners, funders, sponsors, supply chain, volunteers, vendors). In the first of a two-part series, we will cover the following: the criteria for successful and sustainable partnership relationships; the partnership audit; and a framework for developing a partnership strategy. Please attend ready to actively participate and discuss the stakeholder landscape for organizations who share an interest in the welfare and wellbeing of animals in North America. Be sure to register for part two of the series. In this interactive follow-on workshop, participants will create a draft of their partnership strategy. Please bring your organizations most recent strategic plan (if available), and be prepared to participate in breakouts, group discussions and problem-solving specific issues related to your organization’s priorities.


11:15 AM EST - TRACK 2
Safe to Soar: The Secret Ingredient to Fulfilled, High Performing Teams
Josh Vaisman, CCFP, MAPPCP, CoFounder and Lead Consultant, Flourish Veterinary Consulting

The capacity for collaboration, cohesion, innovation, and resilience of a team directly impacts their ability to thrive and succeed. These team characteristics become even more important in the unpredictable and complex work of animal welfare and veterinary care. While the nature of such work is often out of our control, the culture of a team can be crafted to support peak performance, fulfillment, vitality, and ultimately happiness. At the foundation of this is a team phenomenon known as psychological safety.

Over 20 years of research by the likes of Harvard Business School researcher Dr. Amy Edmondson, Microsoft, and Google have shown psychological safety to be the #1 factor differentiating happy, effective teams from those that are languishing. Simply put, psychological safety is a necessary ingredient for teams to reach their highest potential.

But what is psychological safety? And how can it be cultivated in animal welfare teams? This engaging session will introduce you first-hand to psychological safety. You’ll learn about the science and research behind the concept and leave with tangible, evidence-based practices to cultivate it in the teams you are a part of.


11:15 AM EST - TRACK 3
It’s Time to Pivot; Is Your Brand Ready?

Alison Cross, Senior Director, Ontario SPCA and Humane Society

Is your marketing and communications program ready for the unexpected? 2020 has taught us that your brand has to be prepared to pivot at any moment. In this session, we will walk through how to build the resources you need to support your brand during a crisis and give you the confidence that your marketing and communications programs are prepared for the unexpected.


Uncharitable: the Way We Think About Charity is Dead Wrong, a Fireside Chat

Dan Pallotta, Activist, Humanitarian, Author, and Builder of Movements

Dan Pallotta’s TED talk on giving and change has been viewed over 5 million times and is the 16th most-commented TED talk of all time. In this intimate fireside chat, Dan further explores the ideas from that talk and the progress that’s been made since he gave it. It’s an in-depth look at what Dan calls the, "nonprofit prison”—a systematic set of restraints in compensation, marketing, risk-taking, time and capital that prevents nonprofit organizations from reaching their full potential. He discusses the need to liberate ourselves from these ideological changes and begin to dream audaciously and specifically about the dreams we have for changing our communities and our world. Those dreams are the only way out.


3:15 PM EST - TRACK 1
Virtual Philanthropy: Optimizing Your Fundraising in a Post-COVID World

Tim Kachuriak, Founder and Chief Innovation and Optimization Officer, NextAfter

If there is one positive thing that came from the COVID-19 global pandemic, its that the fundraising world got a much-needed shove into digital transformation. Based on the 2020 Blackbaud Institute Charitable Giving Report online giving grew significantly and now surpasses 13% of total giving. But with all this new focus on digital fundraising, how can your organization cut through the clutter and capitalize on this growing trend? In this rapid-fire session, we will look at dozens of real-world online experiments with nonprofit organizations and share the secrets to acquiring more emails, donors and dollars through the web. And we’ll demonstrate how you can apply these principles today to your own online fundraising campaigns.

Objective 1 – Attendees will learn the “fundraiser’s fundamental flaw” that keeps them from getting better results and how they can overcome it.
Objective 2 – Attendees will learn how they can turn their web site into a living laboratory and collect rich behavioral data that helps them continue to evolve their understanding of their donors and what makes them give.
Objective 3 – Attendees will learn how effective storytelling can trigger a biological chemical reaction inside their supporters that forms a powerful bond to their organization and makes them give more generously.

3:15PM EST - TRACK 2
Future Trends in Volunteerism

Faiza Venzant, CVA Executive Director, Council for Certification in Volunteer Administration

As leaders of volunteers, we bring people together and speak the language of connectivity. At a time when keeping people apart is a safer choice in slowing the spread of COVID-19, we are being challenged to break connections, steward from afar, build relationships in new ways and become proficient with technologies we might not have had to use before. In this session, we'll talk about how the pandemic has changed how we manage volunteers now and what we might expect in years to come.


3:15PM EST - TRACK 3
The Evolution of Virtual Veterinary Care in Canada - where are we, where are we headed, and what does it all mean?
Dr. Sharon Quinn, veterinarian & practice owner, Chief Medical Officer (Smart.Vet) and Co-founder of the Canadian Veterinary Virtual Care Association (CVVCA)

When COVID hit in March, 2020, veterinary virtual care was still truly in it’s infancy. Suddenly, telehealth was thrust into the forefront as demand for alternatives to the traditional veterinary visit skyrocketed.

Since that time, industry stakeholders, veterinarians, and regulators have been scrambling to develop new technologies, identify best practices and standards of care, and update relevant regulations. Much has occurred over this past year.

We will sift through the weeds and identify the need-to-know information relevant to veterinary virtual care in Ontario.

The burning question - How can we (as veterinary or shelter professionals, foster or pet parents) use these emerging technologies and associated developments to improve the health and well-being of the animals in our care, and to improve access to veterinary care for all animals?



Check back often as more exciting sessions are announced!

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