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Industry Think Tank
Speakers and Panel Members

Keynote Speaker

Trudy Parsons

MBA, C.I.M. Director, Workforce Development

Trudy Parsons heads the Workforce Development division of Millier Dickinson Blais (MDB), a national economic development consultancy firm. Before joining MDB Trudy spent 10 years as Executive Director for the Niagara Workforce Planning Board.

Trudy holds her MBA and designations in Certified in Management (C.I.M.) and Professional Manager (P.Mgr.) from the Canadian Institute of Management. She is a long-standing member of the CIM’s Board of Directors (locally and nationally) serving as National Director of Education, Branch President, and most recently as a strategic advisor to the Hamilton Board. Trudy is also a member of the board for the Economic Developers Council of Ontario. She speaks regularly at conferences across Canada and the US.

Trudy's Presentation Deck


Lunch and Learn Speaker

Ben Lichtenwalner

Author, Paradigm Flip: Leading People, Teams and Organizations Beyond the Social Media Revolution

Ben is the author of Paradigm Flip: Leading People, Teams, and Organizations Beyond the Social Media Revolution, and runs a Top 30 leadership blog, according to Blog Rank. He’s also led successful global teams across Fortune 500, INC 500 and Non-profits. Ben will share his success in business, and his unique views on leadership and technology and where the two intersect.

Ben's Presentation Deck


Panel Discussion Facilitator

Onita Dey

CTC, Value Architect, Challenger and Director of Sales at BCD Travel

Onita is passionate about relationships, capabilities and possibilities. She is a highly motived travel professional recognized as the voice of reason in the industry.

When she left her scholarship in law behind to “dabble in travel for a few years,” who would have known that her passion for travel, combined with diverse 34-year management career in travel sales, operations and account management would take her to over 40 countries across the globe.

Onita lives in Oakville with her daughter Alexa, loves live theatre, the wind in her hair and constant new adventures.


Panel Members

Linda Cardenas

Manager, Talent Acquisition and Employee Engagement, Porter Airlines Inc.

In the last four years, Linda has developed strategic partnerships with multiple colleges and universities aimed at enhancing Porter’s workforce. Her passion to deliver for her business is evident in every aspect of her job. Along with her travel industry experience Linda has over 10 years of experience recruiting talent for multiple organizations, including the Bell Group of Companies.


Donna Dooher

Executive Chef/Proprietor, Mildred’s Temple Kitchen Board of Restaurants Canada

Beginning with her catering business, Avant-goût Catering, Donna Dooher has enjoyed 25 successful years in Toronto’s hospitality industry. Donna is currently the Executive Chef and Owner of MILDRED’S Temple Kitchen, and is a recognized leader in Canada’s restaurant community. She is a celebrated chef, restaurateur, cookbook author, teacher and TV personality with a passion for bringing people to the table. Her first restaurant, Mildred Pierce, established brunch as a culinary trend in Toronto. Her newest venture, MILDRED’S Temple Kitchen, reflects commitment to using locally sourced, seasonal ingredients, simply and sumptuously prepared.


Garth Jopling

IBM Category Manager, Fleet, Travel and Meetings

Sourcing manager with 20+ years experience in sourcing corporate travel and fleet. Successes in developing and executing strategies that deliver lower costs and process improvements. Expert in driving compliance management and business data analytics. Served as President, Association of Corporate Travel Executives (ACTE), the leading global organization for the corporate travel industry.


Robin O’Hearn

Director, Talent Management, Delta Hotels and Resorts

As the Director of Talent Management for Delta Hotels and Resorts, Robin directs recruitment and selection activities, including campus partnerships, managing the Talent brand, and strategically leading the areas of succession planning and talent bench strength.

Robin has also held various HR Director roles for Delta since 2000, most notably as Director of People Resources and Employee Engagement for the Delta Lodge at Kananaskis, a 412-room full service resort destination outside of Calgary.


Diana Rodriguez

Director, Product Development, Air Canada Vacations

Diana has been in the travel industry for over 26 years, starting as a Destination Representative in Colombia before moving to the Dominican Republic. Diana has since spent most of her career as a Product Buyer, first for Thomas Cook Canada, and today at Air Canada Vacations, where she oversees the buying for North America and the English Caribbean.


Dan Thompson

SVP Global Strategy & Investor Relations, GuestLogix

Dan brings over a decade of travel retail and marketing experience. He’s led major marketing campaigns and managed the growth initiatives of established luxury brands such as Rolex and David Yurman, as well as new entrants like Philip Stein Watches and Hearts on Fire Diamonds, in the Caribbean, Latin America, Alaska, Hawaii and other duty free and travel markets. Dan received his B.A. from Michigan State University.