Speaker Information

Meet our speakers:


Keynote Speaker:

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Penelope Burk - President, Cygnus Applied Research Inc. Author, Researcher, Speaker and Fundraising Expert

While Penelope Burk and her seminal fundraising philosophy, “Donor-Centred Fundraising” are well known in the United States, she and her company are Canadian. Most important, the groundbreaking research she conducts which has engaged over a quarter million donors and helped charities on both sides of the border raise more money, all started right here in Canada.

Penelope’s contributions to the fundraising industry can be best summed up as a long list of “firsts”:

  • She was the first fundraising author to back up her ideas and solutions with evidence from Canadian donors. Penelope is the author of the fundraising classic, Donor-Centered Fundraising and she has just published a completely updated and substantially expanded second edition containing all-new research with donors.
  • She was the first to bring the problem of Donor Attrition to the attention of the fundraising industry, pointing out how much money charities were losing by failing to hold onto their donors;
  • The first to offer an evidence-based formula for keeping donors giving longer and inspiring them to make more generous contributions;
  • The first to document what leadership volunteers do best and how they can raise more money for their organizations by saying thank you the donor-centred way;
  • The first to document the real impact of the high rate of turnover among professional fundraisers and the first to bring innovative solutions to the table to keep fundraisers loyal, raising more money, and still leaving the office at 5 o’clock!

Penelope Burk understands donors and what they want more deeply than just about anyone in the business. In the last fifteen years, she and her innovative firm, Cygnus Applied Research, Inc., have reached back into donors’ lives to find out about the first time they gave, what motivates their philanthropy now, what their greatest and most frustrating experiences in giving are, and what their dreams are for their philanthropic future.


Guest Speakers:

thumbnail image Theresa Bailey - LEGO® Serious Play


Albert Einstein once said, “We
cannot solve our problems with the same kind of thinking we used when we created them.”

Theresa has been helping teams, groups, and organizations solve problems by thinking in new ways for over 20 years. Theresa has a passion for facilitating and is certified in LEGO® SERIOUS PLAY® methods. LEGO®? Yes you heard right, LEGO®!

Theresa uses play, creativity, and ‘hard fun” to generate new and promising ideas, and to promote shared understanding and vision in teams and groups of all sizes. Her focus is often strategic planning, team building and creative problem solving.

Not one for traditional, dry, or unproductive meetings, Theresa has worked at the local, provincial, and national levels for two decades including CFB Trenton, Hydro One, all nine school boards in Eastern Ontario, Hotel D’ieu Grace in Windsor and the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health among others. Her work with the Ottawa Junior Senators was recently featured on the CTV Ottawa News.

Theresa’s ability to understand group needs and dynamics while providing a safe and encouraging atmosphere for generating new ideas has made her a favourite for working with organizations trying to design new and engaging programs. Theresa’s “Why” is to live courageously and inspire others to live their best lives, so together we can change the world.



Karen Bertrand - Vice Principal, Advancement at Queen's University


Vice-Principal Bertrand got a taste of advancement in her first year at Queen’s, when she worked as a student caller in the Queen's call centre. After graduation, she returned to her native Guelph and began an 11-year career at the Heart and Stroke Foundation, followed most recently by serving the University of Guelph for another 12 years in progressively senior positions. 

Vice-Principal Bertrand is now responsible for overseeing all alumni relations and fundraising activities at Queen’s.

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thumbnail image Jennifer Conley, CFRE - Chief Advancement Officer, Carleton University


Jennifer Conley (CFRE) has over 20 years of advancement experience in the fields of Education, Health Care & International Development. As Carleton University’s Chief Advancement Officer & President and CEO of the Carleton University Foundation (US), Jennifer leads Alumni Relations, Development, Advancement Communications and the 300M “Collaborate” Campaign – the most ambitious Campaign in Carleton’s history.  Previous to Carleton, Jennifer served as the first Executive Director for St. Patrick’s Home of Ottawa Foundation and concurrently led the 10M Campaign to build a new St. Patrick’s Home.

Jennifer was named one of Ottawa’s Top Forty Under 40 by the Ottawa Business Journal (2011) & as AFP Ottawa’s Outstanding Fundraising Executive of the Year (2016) and in 2018, she received The Influential Alumni Award from her alma mater, Nipissing University.

Jennifer is expected to graduate with her MPNL (Master of Philanthropy and Nonprofit Leadership) Degree in June 2019. 


Sharon Hudson-Alipanopoulos, CVRM - Volunteer Resource Manager with Ontario Shores Hospital, Whitby


Sharon is the Manager of Volunteer Services at Ontario Shores Centre for Mental Health in Whitby and an instructor in the Volunteer Management Certificate Program at Sir Sanford Fleming College in Peterborough.

She began her career as a social worker with The City of Toronto’s community care department 17 years ago.  Seeing the needs of people, and the impact she could make, she quickly moved into the Not for Profit sector, with a special focus on volunteer resource management. Notably, Sharon spent over 10 years with Canadian Cancer Society, one of Canada’s largest not-for-profit organization boasting over 65,000 volunteers in the province of Ontario alone. Here, Sharon would be able to focus on volunteer resources entirely and hone her skills in volunteer engagement in one of Canada’s fastest growing regions - Durham. 

Sharon is an active community volunteer herself, currently serving as the Director of Strategic Partnerships for the Professional Association of Volunteer Resources – Ontario (PAVRO); Interim president of the Durham region Association of Volunteer Administrators (DRAVA), DRAVA Conference Chair 2019 and a member of the board of directors of Feed The Need Durham.  

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thumbnail image Michael Johnston - Partner & Founder at Hewitt and Johnston Consulting


Mike Johnston has been a fundraiser for 30 years, helped raise over $3 billion dollars, and has worked with 100’s of social impact and charitable organizations in Canada, the U.S., Europe, Latin America, and Asia Pacific. Mike is an expert in fundraising innovation, change management, and integrated fundraising – especially in the use of digital technologies and their effective integration with traditional and new fundraising methods.

He had a hand in creating some of the first global digital fundraising tools and campaigns in the mid-to-late 1990’s.

He is the author of two books: The Fund Raiser's Guide to the Internet and The Nonprofit Guide to the Internet and the editor of two books: Internet Strategies: Best Practices for Marketing, and Direct Response Fund Raising: Mastering New Trends for Results. Mike is also a contributor to numerous books and magazines.



Amy Milne - CEO & Chief Creative Officer at Beyond Inc.

Amy’s effervescent personality, energy and enthusiasm inspire everyone she meets and everything she touches. A lover of human beings, who believes they can do anything they set their minds to, Amy leads by example.

With well over 450 events under her belt, she isn’t slowing down anytime soon.  While working for many of Canada’s largest non-profit organizations, she lead teams responsible for the creation and execution of such signature events as the inaugural Weekend to End Breast Cancer and Ride to Conquer Cancer, two of Canada’s largest multi-day fundraising events; The Underwear Affair; The Great Camp Adventure Walk benefiting SickKids and reinventing Relay For Life for the Canadian Cancer Society to name a few.

Since the inception of her company, Beyond Inc., many new successful events have hit the market, such as, The POGO PJ Party and Pajamas & Pancakes in support of POGO; The Fierce Femme 5K, and West Park's, UnCork, UnWind UnTapped to name a few.  Her team also passionately works with non-profit teams across the country to take their existing events beyond.

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thumbnail image Jenny Mitchell, CFRE, DMA - Owner of Chavender Consulting

Chavender’s vision is to help more people do more good. Founder and president of Chavender, Jenny Mitchell (CFRE, DMA), works closely with not-for-profit leaders to change the world - one mission at a time. Chavender assists clients, across Canada and the U.S., to inspire their donors and achieve their fundraising goals through personalized fundraising coaching and training. Before completing her CFRE, Jenny trained as a classical musician and earned her Doctorate of Musical Arts. She brings her creative approach, her drive for excellence, and her passion for people to the world of not-for-profits.



Mo Waja - Marketing Storytelling Expert, Host of The Let's Talk Show, Account Manager at Blakely

Mo Waja is a professional speaker, marketer and entrepreneur. He is the author of presentIMPACT: The Speaker’s Guide, the (former) Host of the Toronto Story Archive podcast, and the (current) Host and Producer of The Let’s Talk Show podcast as well as an account manager with Blakley. 

Mo works with personal, non-profit, and for-profit brands, in the charitable, software, and finance sector, amongst others, to develop successful marketing storytelling strategies. To date, Mo has spent tens of thousands of hours coaching business professionals, entrepreneurs, non-profits, campaign advocates, post-secondary students, politicians, motivational speakers, and medical practitioners in the art of professional speaking and communication. Every week Mo profiles a new Canadian professional on The Let’s Talk Show podcast, discussing their industry, journey, challenges faced, and lessons learned along the way. Tune in on Apple Podcasts, Google Play, Stitcher, Spotify, and theletstalkshow.ca.

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