Keynote Speakers

Friday Cocktail Keynote

Jacob Tobia


Jacob Tobia
(who uses the gender-neutral pronoun “they” in place of “he” or “she”) is a leading voice for genderqueer, nonbinary, and gender nonconforming people. As a writer, speaker, and advocate, Jacob helps others embrace the full complexity of gender and find power in living their truth—even when that truth doesn’t fit comfortably within masculinity or femininity.

Saturday Lunch Keynote

Corrine Sandler



Corrine Sandler is the CEO of ValidateIT™ Technologies, Founder and Chief Strategy Officer at Fresh Intelligence®, and the author of “Wake Up or Die”. She currently serves as board member on Google Consumer Surveys and Humber College Research Program.

Grand Gala Keynote

Heather Conway


EVP English Services at CBC/Radio Canada
Ms. Conway is responsible for all of CBC/Radio-Canada’s English-language services including CBC Radio One, CBC Radio 2, CBC Television, CBC News Network, CBC.cadocumentary and digital operations.

Friday Scotiabank Reception Speaker

Perry Orestes

Perry Orestes

Perry Orestes is the Senior Vice President of Internal Audit at Scotiabank. He is a CA, CPA and a CFA, and has responsibility for audits that cover Canada, the Caribbean and Central America, and enterprise-wide responsibilities for credit risk management and corporate governance. Prior to his appointment to SVP in 2014, Perry was a VP in Internal Audit with responsibility for the Bank’s corporate and commercial lending portfolios

Saturday Lunch Speaker

John McNain

John McNain is the Vice President of Acquisition Strategy for Home Equity Financing at the Royal Bank of Canada.John is the VP of Home Equity Acquisition for RBC which is Canada’s largest home equity lender. Prior to his current role, John was VP, Customer Relationship Management (CRM) for Personal and Commercial Banking at RBC where his focus was on growing the depth of our customer relationships through relevant and integrated omni-channel interactions.  Prior to RBC, John worked at Capital One for 12 years establishing and growing the Canadian Credit Card business.


Women’s Panel | Breaking the Glass Ceiling


Melanie Bejzyk

Lawyer, Co-founding partner of Out Leaders

Melanie is a lawyer with an extensive and varied background in international law. She has held a number of positions in the Department of Global Affairs Canada, in addition to being a lawyer in the United Nations, Human Rights and Humanitarian Law Section and the Criminal, Security and Diplomatic Law Division in the Legal Affairs Bureau. She represented Canada at the United Nations in New York and Geneva, including in negotiations on a new international treaty on children’s rights.

Before joining Global Affairs Canada, she served as a constitutional lawyer in the Department of Justice Canada, where she organized the first department-wide event commemorating the international day against homophobia and transphobia. She is pursuing a Masters degree in international human rights law at the University of Oxford, with a focus on LGBTQ rights. Melanie is co-founding partner of Out Leaders, an organization that promotes diversity in the workplace, through training, networking, mentoring and capacity-building. Her community involvement has included serving on the Board and the Operations Committee of Ottawa Capital Pride and the Board of Pink Triangle Services Ottawa (now called “Kind”). She has received a YWCA-YMCA Woman of Distinction Award for her contributions to the community.

Jennifer Johnson  

JenniferJohnson_CroppedPartner, PricewaterhouseCoopers’ Risk Assurance Services

Jennifer is the National Leader and a Partner within PricewaterhouseCoopers’ Risk Assurance Services practice based in Toronto. She leads a team of approximately 400 risk professionals across Canada that help clients identify and manage a broad spectrum of risk matters, including cyber security, third party management, climate change and sustainability, regulatory compliance, IT risk, risk data analytics, internal audit and enterprise risk management.

Jennifer has over 18 years of experience in assisting clients with risk related matters with a heavy focus on the financial services industry. She spent 10 years with PwC in the US prior to transferring to Toronto in mid-2008.

Jennifer is the partner sponsor of PwC’s LGBT employee resource group, participates significantly in the firm’s Women in Leadership program, and sits on the firm’s national diversity & inclusion steering committee.

Maria Theofilaktidis

2015_Maria_Theofilaktidis_headshotExecutive Vice President, Retail Distribution, Canadian Banking, Scotiabank

Maria Theofilaktidis is Executive Vice President, Retail Distribution, Canadian Banking, responsible for defining and implementing the strategic direction, goals and execution of key initiatives for Retail and Small Business Distribution in Canada. Prior to this position, Maria was the Senior Vice President of Retail, Small Business & Wealth Management Credit Risk, with responsibility for credit risk management strategy and leading the governance and global oversight of Scotiabank’s retail, small business and consumer wealth portfolios. Since joining Scotiabank in 2002, Maria has also held various positions including Senior Vice President and Chief Accountant, Vice President, Financial Accounting and Reporting, Vice President, Capital Management, and Vice President, Professional Practice and Executive Office Audit. Maria is a strong advocate for Diversity and Inclusion and is a member of the Bank’s Inclusion Council. She is also the Executive Champion for Women at Scotiabank.

Mary-Ellen Anderson

Mary Ellen Anderson Bio Pic 2 (2)Vice President of Developer Experience and Evangelism (DX), Microsoft

Mary-Ellen Anderson is Vice President of the Developer Experience and Evangelism (DX) Group at Microsoft Canada. Based in Toronto, Mary-Ellen is responsible for enabling the development of industry leading applications and services across all platforms. Mary-Ellen joined Microsoft in 2007 and has been a member of the Canadian Leadership team for almost four years.  Whether working with Independent Software Vendors to leverage the power of the Cloud; supporting App Builders to migrate their experiences to the Windows platform; or empowering start-ups to make the impossible, possible, Mary-Ellen is passionate about innovation.

Before DX, Mary-Ellen was the Executive Producer of MSN where she spearheaded the launch of English and French portals in 2011. A veteran of online media, Mary-Ellen came to Microsoft from where as Supervising Producer she directed daily news and special event coverage as well as co-developing innovative features such as the CTV Broadband Network and Second-Screen programming.

Pia Schmidt-Hansen

Pia - bio pic

Senior Fraud Risk and Change Solutions Manager, BMO Financial Group

Pia Schmidt-Hansen is a Senior Fraud Risk and Change Solutions Manager at BMO Financial group.  Prior to her current position, Pia worked for over 9-years in technology development for the hedge fund and personal & commercial banking industries.  Eager to promote inclusion and diversity in the workplace and the community, Pia proudly serves as the National Chair of the bank’s very active LGBTQ+ employee resource group, BMO Pride.

Pia is a self-described film lover; every year she is an enthusiastic presence at the documentary film festival ‘Hot Docs’, the LGBT film festival ‘Inside Out’, and the Toronto International Film Festival.  She is also a supporting member of various other community organizations in Toronto, including the 519 Community Centre and the Art Gallery of Ontario.  To complement her active lifestyle, Pia has been a participant in several Toronto community fundraisers such as the Friends For Life cycling fundraiser (in support of Toronto People Living With AIDS), Cycle For Sight, and the Pride and Remembrance Run.

Careers in Law Panel | Intersections Across Legal Practices


Troy Ungerman

Partner at Norton Rose Fulbright Canada LLP

Troy Ungerman is a partner in the Business Law Group of the Toronto office of Norton Rose Fulbright Canada LLP.  Troy’s practice focuses on domestic and cross-border private mergers, acquisitions, divestitures, private equity, venture capital investments, strategic alliances, corporate reorganizations and financings.  He provides transactional as well as corporate and commercial advice to domestic and foreign clients in a wide array of industries, including the payment card, manufacturing, financial services, telecommunications, technology and health care industries.

Troy is the co-Chair of the firm’s Mergers and Acquisitions Team and a member of the firm’s Canadian Diversity Committee.  He is also the founder and chair of Norton Rose Fulbright’s Canadian PRIDE Network.

Amer Pasalic

Amer Pasalic

Associate, Dentons Canada

Amer Pasalic is an associate in the Litigation and Dispute Resolution Group at Dentons Canada in Toronto. He has a broad commercial and civil litigation practice, with particular expertise in cases involving contractual disputes, fraud, product liability, estates and trusts litigation, professional negligence, lease disputes and real estate litigation. Amer has appeared in the Ontario Superior Court of Justice, the Ontario Court of Justice, the Small Claims Court, the Landlord and Tenant Board, and in private arbitration tribunals. Prior to joining the firm as an associate, Amer worked as a provincial offences prosecutor for the City of Toronto, and acted as an in-take volunteer at Law Help Ontario – Superior Court of Justice branch. As an articling student, Amer completed a secondment with Toronto Community Housing Corporation (TCHC).