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2017 Speakers – Atlantic Leadership Forum


Speaker announcements for 2018 are coming soon. In the meantime check out last year’s great line-up.


Keynote: Finding Your Super Power

April Howe


April Howe is a partner with Knightsbridge Robertson Surrette and the Career Solutions Practice Leader. She has worked in the field of consulting and coaching for more than 14 years. April also instructs in the Saint Mary’s University Sobey School of Business MBA Program. April is trained in facilitation, negotiation, mediation and conflict management. She became certified as a career and executive coach in 2008 and is a member of the international coaching federation, Nova Scotia chapter.

Active in the community, April is a founding member and former chair of the Africville Heritage Trust and currently serves on the Boards of the United Way Halifax, The Halifax Partnership and the Black Business Initiative.

Leading with Creativity: Dream or Reality?

Laura Whitman, Freelance writer & Innovation and Engagement Specialist, United Way Halifax

Creativity is widely considered to be one of the most critical leadership competencies of the future. But how do you bring creativity alive in risk-averse or traditional environments? Can you use it to lead people around you? And is it possible to be a creative free spirit and a polished professional at the same time? In this session, Laura will share how-to advice for working more creatively every day and bust myths about the barriers you think are standing in your way. To get the most out of this conversation, come armed with a notebook, pen and your biggest question or stuck point about being creative at work.


Laura Whitman is a creative storyteller, social innovator and facilitator of collaboration. She has 13 years of experience enabling individuals and teams to go beyond the status quo and get tangibly closer to their vision for change.

Laura is well-known for her ability to craft engaging content and host unlocking conversations. She has catalyzed meaningful progress at 80 organizations and helped hundreds of people tap into their big ideas and creative potential through workshops, brainstorming sessions and strategic planning retreats.

Once described as the combination between an athlete’s coach and artist’s muse, Laura is equal parts straight-line thinker and creative spirit. Her career is marked by a commitment to inspiring possibility in others and moving bold ideas forward.

You can find her at laurawhitman.ca or on Instagram @lauralynnwh.

Brand Mechanics: Your pre-departure inspection

Lindsay Cross, Manager, Marketing & Community Impact, CUA (Credit Union Atlantic)

As professionals, we are the vehicle that transports us from our current destination to future opportunities. Regardless of where you are in your career, chances are you’ll consider making a move in the future.

  • How do you know when it’s time?
  • How do you know what to look for?
  • How can you be sure that you will thrive within a new organization?

This workshop will guide participating brand “mechanics” to look under the hood in an effort to identify areas for service (i.e. alignment, brakes, dashboard, tire pressure, and more).

Professional Headshot Lindsay

Often found with a dry-erase marker in hand, Lindsay thrives in front of a whiteboard as a strategist who connects brands with people through content and experiences.

With extensive experience in brand marketing, communications and event management, Lindsay is a service-oriented project manager who combines technical knowledge and stakeholder relationships to create a roadmap for long-term success. Lindsay sees beyond organizational structure when developing programs to improve brand strength, working to integrate marketing communications in areas of recruitment, onboarding and sales. Lindsay is also known for applying concepts of corporate branding to personal branding and its impact on building relationships.

Lindsay is a proud alumna of Acadia University, Nova Scotia Community College and Mount Saint Vincent University, and remains an advocate for lifelong learning, mentorship and professional development.

Clowning for Leaders or How to Fail Without Being A Failure

Jim Dalling, Gestalt Nova Scotia

Leadership is changing. Gone are the days of the heroic leader, with a strong will, making tough decisions and providing “the answer”. In our complex, changing times answers are less clear. Much more is at stake than just the bottom line. Leaders need to be able to step into the unknown with a question, willing to fail with no easy answers in sight. This can be difficult. School has taught us to ‘get it right’. Clowns know better. The work of a clown is to experiment and play with ‘what is’ in the ‘here and now’. Clowns know how to fail without being a failure. In this highly interactive presentation participants will explore clown based activities. They will learn how limiting beliefs and hidden motors impact leadership.


Jim Dalling has lived an unconventional life. He has worked as a touring performer, a wedding DJ and a tall ship crew member. He even turned down a gig with the Blue Man Group. As a consultant, arts educator, facilitator and shrink,  Jim has helped thousands of people imagine new possibilities and enact real change in their lives. Colleagues count on Jim to bring both levity and sensitivity to the most delicate of situations. Clients know that Jim trusts in their creative process – even when they don’t.

Hack Into Your Hidden Wisdom

Johanna Nesbitt, Co-Founder and Leadership Coach at Open The Door Leadership

You are a trend-setter, an innovator, an influencer, a connector, and you’ve connected the dots to get you to where you are today. Your drive and your passion have brought you success, and you’re poised to make your mark. Like most new leaders you will be experiencing ‘yirah’, a hebrew word for “the fear that overcomes us when we suddenly find ourselves in possession of considerably more energy than we are used to, inhabiting a larger space than we are used to inhabiting.” You are slightly, if not hugely, intimidated by this new opportunity, and those small voices start popping up, saying that you are not skilled, not ready, not confident enough to take this next step. By taking this workshop, you will experience 4 effective tools to hack into the hidden wisdom deep within you, and you will begin to inhabit the stronger, more confident, more powerful version of yourself.


Unlocking hidden potential and helping people realise a life that matters is Johanna Nesbitt’s “reason why”. Johanna thrives on activating change in individuals and groups, a spark, igniting big change. Johanna trained as a Neuro-Linguistic Programming (NLP) Coach in Amsterdam, when she lived in the Netherlands from 2006-2016. In 2015, combining her passion for women’s leadership with her natural ability to co-create and innovate, she co-founded Open the Door Leadership. Open the Door Leadership programs support gender balance strategies in organizations, by empowering high- potential women, from emerging leaders to the top. Since moving back to Halifax, Johanna has been connecting, creating, and immersing herself in the transformation that is taking place in the city of Halifax, and in Nova Scotia, and is excited to be on the cusp of something big.

Build a Winning Strategy Fuelled By Simple Storytelling

Chris O’Shea, Business Consultant, BDC

The need for businesses to share their story has never been greater. Helping potential customers gain both insights into your brand as well as attracting your target audience makes the process of converting those people into customers that much easier. Storytelling doesn’t need to be complicated but it does need to be strategic and consistent to be effective. We’ll take a look at this with a business lens.


Chris O’Shea is a Business Consultant with the Business Development Bank of Canada (BDC). He is also the sales and marketing content coordinator and a contributor for the BDC’s Blog. He has spent that last eight years working in sales and marketing both with the BDC and in the agency world developing strategies and tactics for entrepreneurs and businesses across the country. In his 20+ year career Chris has also worked in web development, business analysis, and technology consulting. He is a client focused and technically savvy professional with a passion for turning business needs into results driven solutions. An advocate of clearly defined processes, he constantly looks for ways to align technology with the needs of business while always keeping an eye on the bottom line.

Hustle: The Good, the Bad and the Ugly

Dr. Ben Connolly, Cornerstone Naturopathic Inc.

Achieve maximum hustle without the burnout side-effects. Stay at peak performance so you don’t lose your energy, your drive and your focus, ensuring that what you’re hustling for becomes your reality.


Dr. Ben Connolly is the founder of Cornerstone Naturopathic. As one of Canada’s leading health centers, the team at Cornerstone Naturopathic works with individuals to help them achieve their best life. 

Dr. Ben is a strong believer that healthcare should be preventative and proactive instead of reactive. He consistently challenges the disease based model of health care and woks from the belief that healthcare should be inviting, that you shouldn’t have to wait 4 weeks for an appointment and that the latest evidenced based treatments should be available across the country as soon as possible.

In 2016, Dr. Ben established the first full time Naturopathic Residency position in Atlantic Canada. The focus of the residency is to provide a higher level of education, business skills and experience for graduating Naturopathic Doctors.  In his spare time he is the creator of ND Print Press, which strives to provide North American NDs with high quality, evidenced based marketing materials. His work both in his clinic and within the profession ensures that all Naturopathic Doctors (and their patients) have the highest level of available evidence at the tip of their fingers.  

Dr. Ben strives to bring awareness of the benefits of preventative health to all members of the public, with a specific focus on pain management and quality of life. His practice involves utilizing high dose Nutrient Intravenous Therapy, Ultrasound diagnostics, Platelet-Rich Plasma injections for injury recovery and cosmetic purposes, as well as easy routines for his patients to implement. He is a sought after speaker, with prior engagements hosted at the SOHO House in London, UK, the government of Nova Scotia and various businesses throughout Atlantic Canada.

Dr. Ben and Cornerstone Naturopathic have a single slated purpose: To challenge the current health care model by providing the most current evidenced based natural treatments ushering in a new era of modern medicine.

The Power of Conflict: How Embracing Conflict Drives Business Results

Andrea Janzen, Andrea Janzen Professional Coaching

Water cooler gossip, being afraid to speak up, workplace bullying and abrasive leadership. This is what conflict looks like at work. Teams become disengaged. People aren’t committed. No one feels accountable. Business results suffer.

Learn what you can do to start embracing conflict in your organization. When you do amazing things can happen. People are more committed and aligned. Trust Increases. Frustration and stress is reduced. Employee engagement improves. Organizations get results.


Andrea provides real time leadership development for people in organizations through leadership coaching and interactive workshops. A Certified Executive Coach that is passionate about developing people, setting goals and getting results. She has over 15 years of marketing leadership experience in consumer packaged goods, retail and not for profit. Andrea takes a direct approach to conflict and believes that embracing conflict drives better results. Andrea is a Certified Executive Coach from Royal Roads University, has a BBA from Wilfrid Laurier University and an MBA from the Schulich School of Business at York University. She enjoys being outdoors and exploring Nova Scotia with her husband and three young children.

Contextual Analysis & Intersectional thinking: Gaining Insight from Lean Design & Lean Six Sigma

Isaiah Olateru, Director, Lean Initiative. Government of Nova Scotia

Lean Design & Lean Six Sigma are solution focused methodologies targeted either at improving a current system, process or product or innovating, designing, redesigning a new system in a way that often transforms the “problem-to-solution” path. Learn how to redesign your work & life interactions to become a 360-degree leader.


Isaiah graduated from the University of Oklahoma with a degree in Mechanical Engineering, and in 2007, moved to the Caterpillar Inc. headquarters in Peoria, Illinois, USA to start his career as a Design Engineer. In this role, Isaiah spent a number of years on product development, strategy and design engineering where he earned several US and European patents as Lead Inventor. Isaiah is a certified Lean Six Sigma Black Belt in both the DMAIC (process focus) and DMEDI (design thinking) methodologies. In 2014, he earned his Master’s in Business Administration and in 2015 became Continuous Process Improvement Master In January 2016, Isaiah moved to Nova Scotia as Manager of Transformation, Policy and Innovation Division of the Department of Community Services where he had the opportunity to apply design thinking to social programs. Isaiah currently serves as Director, Lean Initiative – Government of Nova Scotia

Strategies to thrive during times of change

Harriette Schumacher, CEO, Big Leap Leadership

Change is the new “normal” for organizations and leaders alike, from structural change to leadership change to industry disruption. And yet, data shows that 70% of organizational change initiatives fail. Why? Because we order people to change rather than engage them through conversation. We engage their heads and not their hearts. So how can leaders today not simply “manage” change, but rather excel through it – and lead their teams to do the same?

Join, Harriette Schumacher, Certified Executive Coach, and President of Big Leap Leadership Inc., to experience real strategies that will help you, your team, and your organizations thrive during times of change.

Harriette Schumacher

Harriette is a certified executive coach and adult educator who specializes in leadership development. She has worked with leaders around the globe, helping them to truly define success on their own terms, engage their teams, express what needs to be said, and transform themselves, their teams, and their organizations from the inside out.

Professionally, she’s been described as a change agent, a leader architect, a tenacious pursuer of what’s possible, and a compassionate professional with a knack for making uncomfortable situations comfortable, bridging the gap between fear and possibility. While she calls Halifax, Nova Scotia, home, she has worked with organizations around the world and has helped more than 200 clients get to the root of their professional roadblocks.

She formed Big Leap Leadership in 2013 after 15 years in the corporate sector. Harriette has a Bachelor’s degree from Carleton University, a Graduate Certificate in Adult Education from the University of Victoria and another in Executive Coaching from Royal Roads University, and 10 years of experience leading employee development and education within large corporations. More
importantly, she has a knack for teaching individuals to balance “smart” with “heart.” This wholebrain approach to leadership has become her secret weapon in a world where emotions and vulnerability are often checked at the office door.


ICF Certified Executive Coach CEC, PCC
Certified Leadership Circle Practitioner
Certified Fierce Conversations Trainer
Gallup Strengths Finder Coach
Certified 5/5/5 Coaching Skills Practitioner
Certified 4MAT 4Business Instructional Design Practitioner
Certificate in Adult Education + Community Development, UVIC