2019 Speakers

Kiana Alexander

Humaira Ahmed
Founder and CEO, Locelle

Humaira Ahmed is the Founder and CEO of Locelle – an enterprise networking platform to connect and engage women in the workplaces for support and mentorship.

As a Pakistani born Canadian entrepreneur, Humaira is passionate about diversity in traditionally male-dominated industries. Being a woman of colour, immigrant, and having a background in Software Engineering, Humaira is on a mission to inspire and influence women to pursue their ambitions and navigate barriers.
Kiana Alexander

Kiana Alexander
Emerging Leader Programming Director, Raven Institute

Kiana is a mixed heritage woman who is very proud of both her European and Métis ancestry. Kiana’s Métis (Fraser family) homelands are rooted in Fort Chipewyan, AB and she has had the privilege to be born, learn and grow up a guest on Coast Salish territory. With gratitude, she acknowledges the xʷməθkwəy̓əm (Musqueam), Skwxwú7mesh (Squamish), Səl̓ílwətaʔ/Selilwitulh (Tsleil-Waututh) peoples for allowing her to create a life, work and play on their ancestral and unceded territories.

Kiana is a proud Métis Iskwew, a storyteller, a creative thinker and a lover of an exquisite cup of earl grey tea. Kiana is fierce in her pursuit of ensuring all young people across the nation know unwaveringly that they are leaders and that they belong. She embraces radical curiosity around the idea of learning to lead together.

Kiana is a certified MBTI® (Myers-Briggs Type Indicator®) Practitioner using this powerful tool for personal growth and development, team building, and leadership development. Kiana is trained in the facilitation of The Leadership Challenge® Workshop and the 360 degree Leadership Practices Inventory (LPI) assessments.

In addition, Kiana received her Diploma in Aboriginal Focusing-Oriented Therapy & Complex Trauma Certificate at the Justice Institute of British Columbia in December of 2017. Kiana is currently working on her Masters of Arts in Leadership degree and is a graduate researcher at Royal Road University.

Amal Alhuwayshil

Amal Alhuwayshil
Intersectional Feminist

Amal is an intersectional feminist, born and raised in Saudi Arabia. This woman’s inspiring story of how she came to be here through overcoming a series of events, from being in a fixed marriage at the age of 19, to filing for divorce and moving to Canada, to becoming an inspirational public speaker, to finding her passion in advocacy and policy development.

Amal came from a culture where women are oppressed, flew across the world into a new culture, new language, and in the past 6 years she learned the importance of student leadership. She got elected for the UBCO Students’ Union as the Vice President External affairs in 2017, as the first female President in 2018, and for the BC Federation of Students as the Campaigns Coordinator. Through those roles she was working with both the Provincial and the Federal government on behalf of BC post secondary students, including the recent win to eliminate interest on student loans.

Connecting for Change means two things to Amal.

  • Advocacy: Her journey and evolvement from a follower and an activist to becoming a leader and an advocate for policy change
  • Organizing: Her journey with the BC student movement and connecting postsecondary institutions from across the province under one umbrella; together, we are stronger.
Asha Diaz

Kirsten Anderson
Founder, Integrate Play Solutions

After 25 years as an entrepreneur in the toy industry, and over a decade as the play expert on Global TV, Kirsten sold the award winning “Best Toy Store in Canada” to bridge her expertise in business leadership and the bottom-line benefits of play for ALL ages, especially in the workplace

Though some call her a Playologist, she’s actually an International keynote speaker on the power of playfulness to improve innovation, wellness, culture, and team dynamics.

Kirsten is the founder of Integrate Play Solutions; a boutique training corporation working with organizational teams in diverse industries, to help solve their messiest challenges using playful methods – the favourite being LEGO® Serious Play®.

When Kirsten isn’t playing with her family and friends you will find her volunteering her time sitting on executive boards for the International Play Association Canada, Spare Parts Adventure Play, Parent Advisory, Do What U Luv, and is also honored to be a Play Ambassador for the US Play Coalition so as to build a better world – one brick at a time.

Asha Diaz

Victoria Anthony
Singer-songwriter

Victoria Anthony became an internet sensation in 2018 after singing her heart out to her idol, superstar recording artist PINK, in front of 18,000+ spectators at Rogers Arena in Vancouver, Canada. And as one radio personality put it “she NAILED IT”.

It’s the memory of a lifetime and a thrilling moment to witness, including the millions who saw it in the days afterwards, thanks to worldwide press coverage. It’s been viewed over 100 MILLION times online and it’s changed Anthony’s life forever.

The attention gleaned from the event, and the confidence gained from the experience has led to Anthony collaborating with some of Canada’s most decorated producers to write and record her own original music. Her first single, Without You, was soft-released in February 2019 and has already generated more than 371,000 streams on Spotify. A second song, and her first official radio single, “Because I’m A Girl”, was released on March 22. The music video for Because I’m A Girl was released April 23, 2019, directed by Nathalie Boltt and produced by Keyon Slowly, and has over 1,000,000 views on YouTube in two short months.

“Because I’m A Girl” was co-written alongside the Toronto songwriting duo of Rob Wells and Shobha, collectively known as The Fourth Floor, who have worked with the likes of Ariana Grande, Justin Bieber and Nelly Furtado among many others.

“It’s not too political, but political enough to get my meaning across” Anthony explained. It’s about the importance of women having control of the choices in their life; it’s about empowerment and standing up for yourself, starting when you’re a girl and keeping that sense of inner strength throughout your whole life. And it’s also about women standing together, united, to make all our lives better,”

With the overwhelming success of ‘Because I’m a Girl ‘Anthony wanted to continue the momentum and the message behind the song by releasing a dance version, expected to hit streaming platforms July 12th, 2019. “Because I’m a Girl’ remix has a beat that will resonate with your soul and will undoubtedly make a splash this summer.

On July 25th, 2019, Victoria Anthony had her first concert with a packed venue at the iconic Rio Theatre in Vancouver, BC, called ‘NEVER STOP.’ She rocked the theatre with her original songs, breathtaking cover songs, incredible dancers, and even a soulful gospel choir! Everyone was on their feet, dancing to the energy of the room with Anthony’s fantastic performance. This concert will be a night to remember, and a kick start to many more shows to follow!

With such fierce determination, an abundance of raw talent that is only now starting to be fully explored, and a powerful authenticity and sense of self-awareness, there is little doubt that Victoria Anthony is on the cusp of a truly extraordinary career as a songwriter, vocalist and recording artist.

Asha Diaz

Sheila Bouman
Principal, High Impact Lab

Sheila brings close to 20 years of experience helping organizations transform, with eight years as a C-Suite executive leading growth and change in public and non-profit organizations, including Peer 1 Hosting and viaSport British Columbia.

Partnering with leaders to plan and implement innovative and positive change has been core to Sheila’s professional and volunteer work for over twenty-five years. Sheila is currently a Board member of Destination BC and a principal consultant with High Impact Lab. By putting people first, Sheila works closely with leaders to create organizations and communities where each person can truly be and do their best.

Asha Diaz

Stephane Cotichini
Senior Associate, Gender Intelligence Group

Stephane Cotichini is Senior Associate at Gender Intelligence Group (GIG). He has spoken at numerous events including the California Women’s Conference in 2014.

For the past 10 years, Stephane has worked with Fortune 500 companies to bring gender diversity and inclusion into the workplace. Stephane is passionate about the important role Gender Intelligence plays in transforming workplace cultures into ones that are inclusive.

A video game designer by trade, Stephane has worked specifically with technology giants such as Zappos and Twitter to bring this transformation to the traditional “Boys’ Club” culture of the technology industry.

Along with his role at GIG, Stephane has also founded 5 companies, including 81monkeys Game Studio, where he is currently Founder and CEO.

Stephane is also a father of four boys, and he believes that the best contribution he can make to the world is to raise gender intelligent young men!

Asha Diaz

Brendon Dawson
Senior Associate, PwC Canada

Brendon is a young professional who advances the interests of diversity and inclusion at PwC Canada. His primary role is to help PwC Canada transform and lead in a new digital era by taking a positive approach to unlock the power of people.

Brendon studied economics at Queen’s University where his interest in how people act and work together first began. In his time at PwC he has worked across service lines to understand and deliver value to various government agencies and businesses. At PwC, he is a known advocate for issues related to gender equality and inclusion in the workplace. This remains core to his focus as he helps drive the firm’s digital transformation journey.
Asha Diaz

Mitzi Dean
Parliamentary Secretary for Gender Equity, Government of British Columbia

Mitzi Dean was elected as MLA for Esquimalt-Metchosin in 2017, and was appointed the Parliamentary Secretary for Gender Equity in February 2018.

Parliamentary Secretary Dean grew up in southeast England and has spent the last 30 years helping the most vulnerable people in our community.

Before moving to the Victoria area in 2005, Mitzi Dean served as a national development manager for children’s services with the National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children, the U.K.’s largest child protection charity.

Prior to that, she worked in child protection social work and community-based social services across Great Britain for more than 20 years. She also volunteered at a Romanian orphanage and a transition house in the U.K. providing refuge for women experiencing relationship violence.

Most recently, she served as executive director of the Pacific Centre Family Services Association.

PS Dean lives in Metchosin with her partner and eight-year-old daughter.

Asha Diaz

Asha Diaz
Singer-songwriter, Mental Health advocate

Asha Diaz is a singer-songwriter based in Vancouver whose goal is to help pre-teens understand their emotions, and advocate for mental health in youth.

She works with a program called Grit, whose science-based course reaches around 400 kids a year, and counting. Inspired by her own struggles with mental illness, she is hoping we can make the future a better place to grow up in, even if you’re struggling

Asha Diaz

Arlene Dickinson
CEO, Venture Communications
Managing Partner, District Ventures Capital

Arlene Dickinson is the CEO of Venture Communications and Managing Partner of District Ventures Capital, a venture fund focused on helping market, fund and grow entrepreneurs and entrepreneurial companies in the food and health space.

She is a two-time best-selling author, accomplished public speaker, and is best known for her role as a Dragon/Venture Capitalist for over ten seasons on the multi-award-winning television series Dragons Den.

Ms. Dickinson’s leadership has been recognized many times, including Canada’s Most Powerful Women Top 100 Hall of Fame, the Pinnacle Award for Entrepreneurial Excellence, as well as PROFIT and Chatelaine’s Top 100 Women Business Owners. She is also a Marketing Hall of Legends inductee and a recipient of the Queen Elizabeth Diamond Jubilee Award.

Ms. Dickinson serves as an Honourary Captain in the Royal Canadian Navy and sits on several public and private boards as well as being actively involved in supporting the community.

Asha Diaz

Amara Hunt
Director of Diversity and Inclusion Programs, The Humphrey Group

Amara is the Director of Diversity and Inclusion (D&I) Programs for The Humphrey Group. Based in Vancouver, Amara oversees the company’s D&I offerings, ensuring they reflect the changing realities of diverse groups and companies in an increasingly globalized business world.

She draws on her background in international development in the not-for-profit sector, and in corporate social responsibility to customize programs for our global business partners. Working in India, Asia, Europe and the United States, for Amara the most important part of her work lies in supporting diverse groups find their leadership voice, and enabling companies to create more inclusive cultures. Amara challenges her clients to help them influence change. Amara received her BA in Political Science from the University of British Columbia and a Master’s in Strategic Studies from the University of Calgary.
Asha Diaz

The Landing Dance Centre

The Landing Dance Centre located in South Vancouver, was established by professional dance artist and Director, Brenna McLaud-Bichara in August 2008.

Offering a contemporary, spacious facility alongside quality dance instruction and a supportive dance community for children, teens and adults alike, we have grown rapidly since. Our programs for recreational and aspiring professional dancers include dance styles from Ballet, Contemporary, Lyrical, Modern, Tap, Jazz and Acro. While believing a strong ballet foundation is important, it is the unique contemporary background of our Director, our choreography and desire to expand the artistic boundaries of dance that truly sets The Landing Dance Centre apart.
Instant Theatre

Instant Theatre Company

Instant Theatre started in 1994 as the home for theatrical improv in Vancouver. We are proud to be a leader in Vancouver’s improv community, and operate under the pillars of being artistically bold, accessible, smart, and funny. We producer more than 200 shows a year and have guested around the world, from Bellingham to Berlin.