Keynote Speakers

Tuesday April 30, 9:30 - 10:30 a.m., Keynote

Brandi Butts, Project Manager for the Community Futures British Columbia (CFBC) Entrepreneurs with Disabilities Program (EDP)

Brandi Butts is not just an entrepreneur; she's a force of nature, navigating life's challenges with grace and determination. Her journey has been marked by resilience and an unwavering commitment to breaking down barriers for entrepreneurs with disabilities.
As the Project Manager for the Community Futures British Columbia (CFBC) Entrepreneurs with Disabilities Program (EDP), Brandi's leadership is defined by her passion for creating accessible and supportive environments. With firsthand experience overcoming the obstacles of disability as an employee, job seeker and an entrepreneur, she brings a unique perspective to her role, understanding the nuances and complexities faced by individuals in similar situations.
Brandi's expertise in project management and entrepreneurship is complemented by her continuous pursuit of knowledge and professional development. She holds certifications in Project Management, Business Coaching, Developmental Lending, GBA+, Diversity and Inclusion, and Economic Reconciliation, underscoring her commitment to advancing equity and diversity in business.
But it's not just about certifications and qualifications for Brandi; it's about storytelling and sharing lived experiences. She believes in the power of narratives to inspire and drive change, serving as a beacon of hope for aspiring entrepreneurs. Brandi is a lifelong learner, a passionate advocate for inclusion, diversity, equity, and accessibility in our communities and businesses.
Through her work, Brandi strives to create an ecosystem where diversity and inclusion are not just buzzwords but fundamental principles. She understands that true innovation and resilience come from embracing diverse perspectives and experiences. Brandi’s guiding vision is a more inclusive and equitable business landscape, raising the cultural awareness of our unique and diverse socioeconomic diversification.

Breaking Boundaries: Boxes, Pancakes, and Pivoting

Join us for an exhilarating exploration with Brandi into the intersectionality of diversity, resilience, and entrepreneurship within the disability community. Brandi flips the script on traditional notions, turning boxes into springboards and pancakes into power moves. With a sprinkle of humor and a dash of inspiration, she invites us to navigate through the challenges of bias, stereotypes, and the ever-evolving landscape of Inclusion, Diversity, Equity and Accessibility.

Embark on this journey as Brandi guides us through the obstacles faced by individuals with disabilities, presenting an opportunity to move from equal opportunity and embrace equitable partnerships. Get ready to embark on a journey of reflection, dialogue, and action as we challenge norms and pave the way for a more equitable communities.

Tuesday April 30, 8:30 - 9:30 a.m., Keynote


Andrew Ramlo, Vice President - Advisory Services, rennie 

As Vice President of Advisory Services for rennie, Andrew leads rennie’s advisory team in providing analytical and strategic support for real estate developers, investors, retailers, local and provincial governments, crown corporations, and public agencies. Andrew has researched, written, and presented extensively on topics ranging from shifting demographics and consumer behaviour, to regional development and local community planning.


Brock Dickinson, Assistant Director of the Economic Development Program, University of Waterloo

Brock Dickinson has worked in economic development for more than 30 years. He holds a number of positions at the University of Waterloo including “Entrepreneur-in-Residence” and “Director of the Economic Development Program” which oversees professional certification for all economic developers in Canada.

Brock started his career with the United nations, working in more than 30 countries, and later was the founder and CEO of MDB Insight – named to Profit Magazine’s “Hot 50” list of Canada’s fastest growing startups – which he grew to be the largest economic development consultancy in Canada.

He advises a range of companies, governments and organizations on innovation, entrepreneurship and the economy, including the United Nations, the private equity firm Blue Cardinal Capital, the NAFTA-linked Commission for Environmental Cooperation, the North American EcoInnovation Network, and the Canadian Food & Wine Innovation Centre at Niagara College.


The Reality of Everyday Economics

The forces of global, national and regional economics impact us all in our communities. In this keynote, our speakers will connect the often blurry lines of cause and effect, to the realities we experience everyday; from supply chains to the cost of housing, connecting the economic power of global markets to our operational realities shifts perspectives and encourages us to view our challenges through a different lens.

Wednesday May 1, 8:30 - 9:15 a.m., Keynote

Tony Hunt, Chair of SOS Research Committee & General Manager Loss Prevention at London Drugs

Tony Hunt is a corporate security and retail loss prevention professional, consultant, educator, thought leader, board member, and media commentator with 37 years of industry experience. 

One of his key roles is General Manager of Loss Prevention for London Drugs Limited, where he leads a dynamic group of retail loss prevention professionals supporting customers across Western Canada. Tony’s expertise encompasses Retail Loss Prevention, Corporate Security, Investigations, Security Design, Emergency Management, Business Continuity, Cyber-Threat, and Enterprise Security Risk Management. 

Tony holds a robust portfolio of leadership positions within the industry. Tony is President of the Professional Investigators Association of British Columbia, he serves on the RCC National LP Advisory Committee, the Downtown Vancouver Business Improvement Association Safety Task Force, and he is Research Chair for BC’s Save Our Streets Coalition. 

Widely recognized as an energetic industry commentator, his approach to security in the retail sector is proactive and forward-thinking, emphasizing not only risk mitigation, but also the adoption of innovative practices that enhance the customer experience.

Save Our Streets: Safe Communities for All

Crime and safety issues continue to threaten the health and vibrancy of our communities across B.C. The significant financial and emotional burden associated with increased property and violent crime is impacting both businesses and families. While governments at all levels have responded to the issues in various ways, the overarching sentiment from business leaders and community groups is that it is not working, and conditions have worsened. The Save Our Streets (SOS) Coalition, formed in 2023, represents more than 70 groups from large retailers to various business organizations to BIAs and is poised to make these issues a priority with the upcoming election and election cycle. Hear from Tony Hunt, General Manager of Loss Prevention at London Drugs, on the work he is doing on behalf of the SOS Coalition to help quantify the costs of crime and their impact to the public, business community and government.

Monday April 29, Opening Keynote

Kukpi7 Rosanne Casimir

Kukpi7 (Chief) Casimir of the Tk’emlúps te Secwépemc (TteS) is recognized as one of the most influential business leaders in BC. Her leadership focuses on inclusive, sustainable, and innovative growth, aligning economic strategies and socio-economic needs. Her experience and vision offer invaluable insights into advancing together in business and community development. She is also celebrated as a mother, grandmother, and wife. A recipient of the Order of BC (2022), her mantra, "Know your Passion, visualize your plan, collect your resources, and always be Determined to Succeed," perfectly encapsulates the spirit of this conference.


Confluence: Healing and Prosperity

Discover the inspiring journey of Kukpi7 Rosanne Casimir and Tk’emlups te Secwepemc and hear how she is helping lead their community to economic growth and prosperity. Kukpi7 Casimir will share her transformative approach to overcoming multigenerational adversity and colonization through unity and collaborative progress. Her community’s vision of integrating Indigenous wisdom with modern practices offers a roadmap for building resilient, inclusive communities. This keynote is a testament to the power of healing and cooperation in shaping a prosperous future. Join us for an unforgettable experience of learning and empowerment.

Wednesday, May 1 - Closing Keynote

Peter Pilarski, President, CIPR Communications

With 20 years of experience in digital marketing, communications, and government relations across diverse industries, Peter excels as a versatile strategist. His standout quality lies in an unwavering dedication to simplifying technology while embracing innovation.

Peter's mission is to demystify the AI landscape, enabling individuals and businesses to navigate it with confidence. His approach is centered on understanding the big picture and translating it to specific corporate goals and challenges that AI can solve.

Peter believes that while AI will cause disruption, organizations and individuals who take a systematic, fact-based, hypothesis-driven approach, coupled with strong change management practices, will succeed in using AI to streamline operations, enrich customer experiences, and achieve success.

How to Make AI Your Unfair Business Advantage

In today's rapidly evolving business landscape, artificial intelligence (AI) is often hailed as the "future of business" and the "next big thing." With countless blogs, emails, and articles discussing AI's transformative potential, it can be challenging to discern its genuine impact on individual businesses.

This keynote will address the pivotal question: "What does AI mean for MY business?" It delves deeper than just recognizing AI's transformative nature, focusing on understanding its implications for business strategies and uncovering hidden opportunities.

You'll leave with these key takeaways:
1. Understand the real-world implications of AI for individual businesses.
2. Discover strategies to harness AI's potential for your business advantage.
3. Learn from real-life examples and case studies on AI's transformative impact

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