Signify 2022 Industry

Keynote Speakers

Saadia Khan

Saadia Khan (they/them) is a ProCom alum, having graduated with distinction from the program in 2020, with a minor in Public Relations.

They are currently the Communications Specialist at LGBT YouthLine, a 2SLGBTQ+ youth-led organization serving youth in Ontario. They are also the Administrative and Social Media Assistant at Umbrella Mental Health Network, a mental health practice specifically for 2SLGBTQ+ clients. 

Saadia thrives on helping others succeed and displaying genuine care in their work. Outside of their desk jobs, you’ll find Saadia spending time with their chosen family, crafting, and watching absurd TV shows!

Asante Haughton

Asante Haughton has emerged as a leader in mental health and diversity. A veteran of the speaker circuit, Asante has presented across the globe, including a pair of TEDx talks telling stories detailing the impact of family trauma on mental health. Through his work, Asante was also named as a CAMH 150 Difference Maker, being awarded the distinction of being one of the top 150 difference makers in Canadian mental health. Recently, Asante’s poetry and writing was featured in AfriCANthology, a collection of poems, stories and essays from Black Canadian artists and thinkers (www.africanthology.ca). Since 2019 as the host of Cypher (www.storiesforcaregivers.com), a web show that takes caregiving stories and turns them into songs. In addition, Asante is a contributing editor to Inspire Magazine (www.kbiinspires.com), a wellness resource for youth, and a co-host of Inspire Magazine’s podcast, LIfe Outside the Box. In June 2020, Asante co-founded the Reach Out Response Network (reachouttoronto.ca), an advocacy organization that played a leading role in successfully lobbying the City of Toronto to implement four crisis response pilots that will remove law enforcement as first responders for wellness checks and other non-emergency calls. Finally, in his 9 to 5 life, Asante is a manager, designer and facilitator for Peer Support training programs at Stella’s Place (stellasplace.ca) and for the City of Toronto’s Community Healing Project, which supports youth exposed to community violence with wellness and capacity building.

Having firmly entrenched himself in the mental health space at large, Asante is now devoting his time, energy and focus to the intersections of race and mental health, seeking to amplify the myriad experiences of Blackness across the diaspora in order to shed light on the ways in which being Black in a world that seeks to diminish Blackness impacts the mental health of Black people. Asante believes in confronting current and historical truths about our world and the human condition, however uncomfortable those truths may be, in order to move toward healing.

When not trying to save the world, Asante can be found laughing at his own jokes, Netflix’ing, checking his fantasy football stats, watching cartoons, and being frustrated with Toronto sports teams. Though Asante can be pretty laid back, he is loud about his advocacy and drive for change as he aims to deliver a message of social awareness, justice, community betterment, and above all, hope.

Let’s Get Connected! 

Twitter: @asantetalks

Instagram: @asantetalks

LinkedIn: Asante Haughton

Web: asantetalks.net

Digital & Social Media Panel

In this ever-expanding online world, digital media has taken over how we communicate and interact with each other, as well as how we understand/receive messaging. As the intersection of digital media and communications continue to grow..Lets take a deeper dive. 

Sarah Jenkins is a multi-platform content producer, who currently oversees the Digital Studio at CBC Sports/Olympics. With experience producing television, podcasts, social content, digital shows and more. When she’s not covering the world’s biggest sporting events, she’s known for vlogging her life on TikTok, every day since early 2020.

Janita Pannu is the founder of OPIIA Inc., a digital marketing agency that partners with small and medium sized businesses to grow their personal and professional brands online. After spending a decade working in PR and digital marketing for multi-million dollar brands and startups, Janita knows what truly drives conversions, sold-out launches and high-end leads.

Janita has been published by The Lawyer’s Daily, CTV News and CityNews Toronto. She is an advocate for youth, Janita most recently acted as Board Executive, Editor in Chief for TREnDS Canada, and as the Director of Leadership and Outreach for Trek for Teens Toronto.

Janita holds a BA in Psychology from The University of Guelph, a General Arts and Science Diploma in Journalism and Publishing from Humber College and a Diploma in Public Relations, Advertising and Applied Communication from The University of Toronto. Janita is a Shopify Partner who is also Google Ads Certified and Apple Search Ad Certified.

Tanya always loved a good story, which is why she chose a career that let her tell them. She started her career in journalism then pivoted into the world of public relations, working alongside talent and brands across North America. Today she works as the Director of Communications for The Influence Agency, where she specializes in telling brand stories through social media. Tanya helps lead holistic strategies for brands by developing social content and communications that resonate and build strong, thoughtful communities online. Past and present clients include Napoleon, Staples Canada, Spirit of York, Columbia Sportswear and more.

Expert relationship builder. 50% pitbull, 50% air traffic controller. 100% Gryffindor. 

There are plenty of ways to describe Cleo Ellis, but the one we’re focusing on for bio purposes is ‘relentless facilitator’. She can not rest if there is a problem to solve, and if she can’t find a solution, she’ll invent one. This ingenuity comes from a curiosity that even ten years of academia couldn’t satisfy. She holds a BA in Sociology from MacEwan University in Edmonton, a BA in Criminology from Simon Fraser University, and a Masters of Professional Communication from Ryerson University. Her career path is equally varied, covering everything from launching her own communications consultancy to creating Toronto’s best all-female corporate DJ service, LUXELIFE SOUND. But, her desire to work with change-making women is what led her from an internship with world-renowned Creative Director and lifestyle influencer  Catriona Smart to her current role of Director of Brand Partnerships at Coco & Cowe, a gig that includes producing and co-hosting their podcast, ‘Conversations with Coco & Friends.’ Cleo Ellis has built her career on turning problem-solving into fine art. She’s driven, she’s passionate, and amazing things happen when she’s in your corner.

Education & Social Justice Panel

Education is a powerful tool for communicators, it informs how to analyze and understand our audiences. Social justice is in many ways intertwined with education itself. Educators are communication professionals who not only create messaging but also tailor the messaging to their respective audiences. In this panel, let’s discuss the role of communication in education and social justice. 

Cathy Pillar is the co-founder and CEO of Ametros Learning, a Toronto-based educational technology company that uses artificial intelligence, specifically NLU, to deliver high-impact, active online experiential learning.

Cathy is a passionate market builder skilled in strategic planning and marketing with extensive experience in brand building, marketing communications, product, segment, and channel marketing.

Prior to launching her own company, Cathy worked for more than 30 years in the technology industry including 11 years with BlackBerry where she held the position of Senior Vice President, Global Channel Marketing.   In this role, she was responsible for launching dozens of products and services in hundreds of countries greatly contributing to the exponential international growth of the organization.

Cathy is an avid speaker, coach, and mentor supporting colleagues, clients, and partners with her extensive experience and insight.

Cathy holds an HBA in Economics from Wilfrid Laurier University and an MBA from the Rotman School of Management. 

Students, feel free to connect!

LinkedIn:

https://www.linkedin.com/in/cathypillar/

Email: cpillar@ametroslearning.com

 

Naved Bakali is an Assistant Professor of Anti-Racism Education at the University of Windsor. He completed his PhD from McGill University, Montreal, in Cultural and International Studies in Education, where he also served as a sessional lecturer. Prior to joining University of Windsor’s Faculty of Education, Naved was an Assistant Professor of Education at the American University in Dubai. Drawing from critical race theory, cultural and media studies, and post-colonial theory, Naved’s research focuses on the study of anti-Muslim racism, also referred to as Islamophobia. Additionally, his research interests include internationalizing and decolonizing higher education, refugee education, Islamic pedagogy, and educational programing for survivors of trauma. His research provides a fresh and innovative perspective on Islamophobia within institutional settings, thus demonstrating the institutionalization of anti-Muslim racism across the global North and South. Naved has been the recipient of major international, national, and departmental grants and awards in recognition of his work. He is a dynamic scholar who believes in socially oriented action-research that challenges prejudice and inequality by combining his research with grassroots.

Jamie works in a Special Education class at the Toronto District School Board. Her class supports students on the Autism Spectrum, and focuses on social-emotional development, emotional regulation, and academics. The class size is much smaller than a mainstream classroom to provide students with the direct support they need to ensure their success. 

Educational Background: 

  • Bachelor of Arts, Honours: Global Development Studies/History, Queen’s University, 2017
  • Certificate in Sexual and Gender Diversity, Queen’s University, 2017
  • Bachelor of Education,Primary & Junior Divisions, Specialization in Exceptional Learners, Queen’s University, 2018

 

Nadar Mahamud is a community organizer that works primarily with marginalized communities here in the GTA. Nadar has finished various degrees that certified her in the areas of community engagement, criminal justice reform and social justice. She is currently the Program Manager for Black Women in Motion, a trustee organization of The Neighbourhood Group. Nadar speaks on various platforms to engage community leaders, educators, inter-governmental officials and more on anti-oppressive frameworks. Her research has been featured on many university platforms and she continues to do imperative social work in the community at the grassroots level.

Dean Lobo (he/him) is a Toronto-based Communications practitioner and consultant. Prior to immigrating to Canada in 2018, he worked across radio, television, and print and digital news in India, his country of origin.

Dean currently works as Communications Specialist at The 519, Canada’s most prominent 2SLGBTQ+ community organization and service provider. He is passionate about elevating the voices of minority and marginalized communities through his work, something he gets to do extensively through advocacy and fundraising communications in his current role.

Dean is also an accomplished pianist and a self-taught watercolour artist. In his spare time, he enjoys exploring small towns, hiking, urban sketching, creating music covers, and cooking.

Entertainment Panel

One of the most common type of communication is through mediums of media and entertainment. This could be through storytelling, video, music, film promotion..the list goes on. All of these algorithmic suggestions we get come from the creative minds of entertainment communication professionals themselves! Let’s explore the intersection between the two. 

Hayley Butler is an award-winning producer, editor and co-founder of Sailfin Productions in Toronto. During her time at Sailfin, Hayley has produced, directed and edited video content for businesses such as: Microsoft, HP, Canadian Tire, Party City, The Government of Ontario among countless others. Her most recent commercial is currently airing on CNN. 

Hayley has been involved in the entertainment industry for over 10 years and began her career at Global News working on the “Making a Difference” segment after graduating with a Media Production degree with honours from Ryerson University.

Chelsea is a skilled publicity coordinator at Touchwood PR. She has worked on numerous clients such as Netflix, BMO 1st Art!, Canadian Film Fest and Soulpepper to name a few. A graduate with a Bachelor’s degree in Public Relations from Humber College who completed the required co-op at the Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF).

Irene S. Berkowitz, PhD, is Senior Policy Fellow, Audience Lab at The Creative School, Ryerson University. She is Executive Producer/Host of 2 podcasts, TheSessions, about Canada’s historic media policy pivot, in collaboration with Playback; and Mediaucracy, about how top screen creators from anywhere and everywhere build global audiences. Berkowitz is author of the 2021 book on legacy media, Mediaucracy: Why Canada hasn’t made global TV hits and how it can; and lead author/researcher of the 2019 report on new media, Watchtime Canada: How YouTube connects creators and consumers. A producer, writer, researcher, teacher, and speaker, Berkowitz’ expertise is requested by The Globe and Mail, Playback, CBC, CMF Trends, BNN-TV, Global TV, CTV, SiriusXM, betakit, Yahoo Finance; Canadian Radio Telecommunications Commission (CRTC), Canada Media Fund (CMF), MacDonald Laurier Institute, Canadian Media Production Association (CMPA), Digital Media at the Crossroads (dm@x). Berkowitz teaches MBA (Ted Rogers School of Management) and MA courses (The Creative School) that prepare students for careers in the Fourth Industrial Revolution. Previously an award-winning writer-producer and TV development executive, Berkowitz is a graduate of Cornell University (BA), University of Chicago (MA), Ryerson University (PhD), and Singularity University Executive Program in Mountain View, California.

Kathleen Turner is the Marketing Manager at Guru Studio, the entertainment company behind award-winning hit shows that captivate and inspire kids and families all over the world including Netflix Original True and the Rainbow Kingdom, the global preschool smash-hit PAW Patrol, and their newest series Big Blue airing on CBC Kids. Kathleen’s areas of expertise include content development, brand management, and distribution.

Healthcare Panel

Healthcare and communication are inseparable. How we receive our public health information has an immense impact on the actions citizens take. Let’s deconstruct the intersection between healthcare and communication.  

Sara Fung, RN, BScN, MN, received her Bachelor’s of Science in Nursing from Western University and her Master’s of Nursing from the University of Toronto. She is on the Research Advisory Board at the Conference Board of Canada, and is a Certified Associate in Project Management (CAPM).

She has been practicing as a registered nurse since 2007. Her expertise is in maternal child health, with clinical experience in obstetrics and the NICU. She has worked in both academic and community hospitals and home health as a bedside nurse, educator, advanced practice nurse and professional practice specialist. In addition to working full time, she is also a mother of 2, resume writer/interview coach, and podcaster!

Sara is passionate about issues such as bullying and incivility, anti-Asian racism, diversity and inclusion, and helping nurses find their career paths in a profession with so many opportunities!

As a palliative care physician and health justice activist, Dr. Naheed Dosani is dedicated to advancing equitable access to health care for people experiencing homelessness and marginalization. These efforts include founding the Palliative Education and Care for the Homeless (PEACH) Program at the Inner City Health Associates and serving as Medical Director for the Region of Peel’s COVID-19 Isolation/Housing Program. He also serves as the Health Equity Lead at Kensington Health in downtown Toronto and as a palliative care physician at St Michael’s Hospital at Unity Health Toronto. 

Dr. Dosani shares his passion for health equity through education via his roles as Lecturer with the Department of Family & Community Medicine at the University of Toronto and as Assistant Clinical Professor with the Department of Family Medicine at McMaster University. His research interests include care models for people experiencing homelessness and access to palliative care among culturally diverse communities.

Priyadarshini (Priyo) Mitra creates powerful stories that deliver emotions and action, especially in the charitable and health care sectors. With a background in journalism, she’s produced news documentaries with CNN’s Indian affiliate, and is currently the Senior Communications Manager at UNICEF Canada. Priyo has worked internationally with organizations including the WHO and North York General Foundation, leading strategic communications to achieve their goals of spreading awareness, fundraising and brand building. When she’s not pursuing her passion for telling diverse and inclusive stories, Priyo can be found experimenting with her cooking or exploring nature.