Keynote Speakers

Closing Keynote - Wednesday, 10:30 - 11:30am

Our Downtowns and the Stories We Tell

Sometimes the narratives about downtowns don’t match what’s actually happening on the ground. Negative narratives can hurt businesses and erode confidence. While acknowledging the challenges facing urban centres across BC, Lisa will discuss strategies for telling powerful stories of success, hope and a bright future for downtown British Columbia.

Lisa Helps, Housing Solutions Advisor in the Premier’s Office, for the start-up of BC Builds

Lisa Helps is the former two-term Mayor of British Columbia, currently working as Housing Solutions Advisor to Premier Eby for the start-up of BC Builds. As mayor Lisa worked hard to create deep collaboration across the community to get Victoria ready for the future. Areas of focus included climate action, resilient infrastructure, reconciliation, and economic development and prosperity.  

Opening Keynote: Monday May 1, 8:15 - 9:00 a.m.

to be announced


Keynote: Monday May 1, 12:30 - 1:00 p.m.

Places that have meaning matter.

Places that evoke emotion, connection and introspection are needed more today than realized prior to the pandemic. COVID heightened our need for meaning – in our personal and professional lives, in our homes, neighborhoods, and cities. How do we pick up the pieces and evolve our downtowns into places that have meaning more than just highest and best use and a return on investment?

Molly Alexander, Founder, ITP Consulting

For over three decades, Molly Alexander has enjoyed a successful career focused on downtown revitalization and economic development, including enterprises in both the public and private sectors. As the founder of ITP Consulting, Molly works with clients on downtown strategies, economic development, retail, placemaking, parks and the cultural arts. She worked with the Downtown Austin Alliance for 20 years most recently as the founder and Executive Director of the Downtown Austin Alliance Foundation a 501 (c)(3) organization focused on developing transformative projects that ignite downtown through the arts and creative spaces. Along with founding her own start-up company, she held several positions in economic development, downtown revitalization, and Main Street Programs in Central Texas. Molly received her bachelor’s degree in urban studies and history from Trinity University. In her spare time, she sits on several boards including Frontier Bank of Texas, the Texas Downtown Association, the Economic Development Corporation and Historic Review Board in Elgin, TX, and she owns two retail establishments, G&M DRYGOODS and The Owl Wine Bar and Home Goods Store an award-winning retail concept that received state-wide recognition in 2015 and one of 5 nationally awarded grants in 2020.

Tuesday May 2, 2023 Keynote - 8:15 - 9:00 a.m.

Everything is Going to be Alright

As the saying goes, the more things change, the more they stay the same...or do they? Through a humorous and data-driven lens, join Andrew Ramlo, VP of Advisory Services at rennie as he shares some of the emerging economic and demographic trends that will be the focus of the discussions, deliberations, and decisions that will shape BC and its regions in the years to come. 

Andrew Ramlo, VP of Advisory Services, rennie

Andrew provides strategic management advice and analysis for leading real estate developers, investors, and retailers as well as many of Canada’s most rapidly changing municipalities, crown corporation and public agencies. With a focus on the dimensions of change — demographic, societal and economic — his research and presentations provide the background knowledge for strategies to address the challenges and opportunities that organizations and individuals will face in the years to come.

Wednesday May 3 Keynotes

8:30 - 9:15 a.m.          What Is There to Learn About Leadership, Anyway? 

If you value staff commitment and engagement, then there are some key elements you might bring to improve your leadership game. Whether you have 2 or 3 employees or 2 or 3 hundred  employees, there are key skills, practices, and competencies related to your leadership that will help you and your organization become a high-performing team. In this session, Niels Agger-Gupta, PhD., an Associate Professor and the Acting Director of the Royal Roads University School of Leadership Studies, will share some of the key elements that MA-Leadership Students learn to improve their skills in the workplace.  This includes elements of Personal Leadership; creating engaged and committed teams; and making the connection with systems thinking; and improving your relationships through appreciative inquiry, an orientation to possibility, and building a network. Niels will take an experiential approach to providing an overview of leadership learning and the issues and interests you bring to your leadership.

Dr. Niels Agger-Gupta, Associate Professor & Acting Director of the Royal Roads University School of Leadership Studies

Dr. Niels Agger-Gupta is a former organizational consultant, evaluator and researcher specializing in helping graduate students do extraordinary change work in their worlds. Agger-Gupta is a specialist in organizational and community leadership and change, organizational re-design, leadership decision-making, program design and evaluation and healthcare change, including cultural and linguistic competency, and staff engagement and empowerment. He uses action research, appreciative inquiry, phenomenography and large group methods, including world café and interview matrix. He has supervised more than 50 graduate projects, theses and dissertations in a broad range of areas with many using the generative lens of appreciative inquiry.



9:30 - 10:15 a.m.     An Economy by Design, Not Default: Regional Economic Development and the Shifting Role for Business Improvement Associations

City and regional economies play increasingly important roles in the global economy. They are where people and business congregate to produce the innovation, knowledge-sharing & trade relationships that drive the world forward. At the heart of these regional economies are their Central Business Districts–championed by BIAs. But as monumental shifts occur in a post-pandemic economy: such as rising unaffordability and the shift toward remote and hybrid work, how can BIAs work collaboratively with regional economic development organizations to respond to new pressures and new opportunities alike?

Dallas Gislason, Director of Economic Development, South Island Prosperity Partnership (SIPP)

The South Island Prosperity Partnership (SIPP), in Greater Victoria, is recognized internationally as a leading model for public/private, regional collaboration that is building an inclusive and resilient economy; by design, not default. Part of the team that created SIPP in 2016, Dallas Gislason serves as Director of Economic Development where he leads various strategies, programs and projects that impact one of Canada’s most dynamic metropolitan regions. Dallas has enjoyed a 17 year career in economic development working at local, regional and provincial levels in various parts of Canada, the USA and abroad. He’s won numerous national and international awards for his work and is known for his passionate advocacy for city and metro-level responses to the tough challenges and real opportunities presented by a complex, global economy.


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