Meet the Working Stronger Speakers​

Dr. Susan Biali Haas is an award-winning Medical Doctor who is an internationally recognized expert in stress management, burnout prevention and human resilience. Dr. Biali Haas overcame burnout and depression at the beginning of her career, quickly becoming an internationally recognized influencer in health and well-being. With over two decades spent studying wellness and resiliency, eighteen years of clinical experience with thousands of patients, and more than ten years coaching clients worldwide, Dr. Biali Haas is exceptionally skilled at equipping people to live better lives. As a popular blogger for Psychology Today, Dr. Biali Haas’ posts have attracted more than 9 million views. She has been featured on The Today Show and The Marilyn Denis Show, and her opinions have appeared in Oprah.com, Forbes, Fast Company, The Chicago Tribune, Self, Fitness, Health, Martha Stewart Living, People, InStyle, Elle, Prevention, The Washington Post, The New York Post and The Globe and Mail. She coaches a broad range of clients from around the world — from military leaders and senior executives to physicians and other health care professionals — to take control of their mental and physical health and live more impactful, meaningful lives. Whether leading an intimate workshop or delivering a rousing keynote to thousands, Dr. Biali Haas shines as a passionate teacher. For over 15 years a variety of organizations, government agencies, associations, and universities have invited her to speak, spanning North America from Canada’s Yukon territory, across the U.S. and into Mexico. Her clients include organizations such as Deloitte, TD, Raymond James Financial, Rodan & Fields, Barron’s, the State of Georgia Department of Human Resources, the State of California Office of Child Abuse Prevention, Alcon, SunLife Financial and others. Dr. Biali Haas has been recognized as a Professional level member of the Canadian Association of Professional Speakers (CAPS), the National Speakers Association (NSA) and the Global Speaker’s Federation.
Charl Els is a fellowship-trained Psychiatrist, Addiction Specialist, and Occupational Physician. Els is a Clinical Professor in Psychiatry and adjunct professor in Internal Medicine, as well as the John Dossetor Health Ethics Centre. Els has co-authored practice guidelines for the American College of Occupational and Environmental Medicine, the Railway Association of Canada’s Medical Rulebook, and the Occupational and Environmental Medical Association of Canada. Els serves on the Board of Directors of the Canadian Board of Occupational Medicine. He has authored several publications in peer-reviewed journals and textbooks, including Cochrane collaboration, the Lancet, the Canadian Journal of Addiction, and the CDC’s Journal of Chronic Disease Prevention. Most recently, Els was appointed by the Lieutenant Governor of Alberta in an Order in council, to the Alberta Review Board. Els serves on the Advisory Board of Doctors Against Forced Organ Harvesting (DAFOH), the 2019 recipient of the Mother Teresa Memorial Award for Social Justice. Els frequently conducts assessments on employees in a safety-sensitive and/or decision-critical positions.
Ken is a passionate storyteller and connector with over 25 years experience in broadcasting, brand and fund development, the arts and community-building. A graduate of the University of Calgary in communications and the University of King’s College (Halifax) in journalism, Ken is enjoying his role as Vice President, Community Engagement for YMCA Calgary, a charity promoting healthy and wellness, leadership development and community development. He previously served on the Board of Directors for YMCA Calgary. Prior to his current role, Ken held increasingly senior positions at CBC Calgary in television, radio and communications, marketing and brand. As a volunteer, Ken is currently chair of the Arts and Heritage Grants Advisory Committee at The Calgary Foundation, and a member of the Foundation’s Grants Committee. He’s also a member of the Community Advisory Committee for the Best of Calgary initiative and a board director with cSPACE Projects. In June 2020, Ken received The Calgary Award for Community Advocate – Individual from The City of Calgary. In his spare time, Ken is a founding member of the well-known comedy a cappella group The Heebee-jeebees, a husband and the father of two cool kids, one who loves hockey and the other who loves dancing.
Jacky Suchite Rivas (She/Her/Ella) is a Latina Equity Specialist, who has facilitated, trained, and conducted diversity and accessibility processes for public, private, and not-for profit organizations. She advocates for growth and change by providing an energetic, warm environment, and by creating safe spaces to spark dialogue. Jacky’s strengths lie in racial justice and racial inequality. Her facilitation methods bring both a balance between reflection and action, leading to effective engagement with one another. Furthermore, she uses her skills as a storyteller, her passion for research, and her lived experience as a member of the Salvadoran/Guatemalan immigrant diaspora in Alberta, to provide unique perspectives that help guide deep conversations around racial inequality in structures, policies, and practices. Her passionate yet empathetic and approachable style allows her to address complex and difficult topics with ease and practicality. She holds a MA in Intercultural and International Communications and is currently studying towards her MA in Justice Studies.
Dr Bukola Salami is an Associate Professor at the Faculty of Nursing, University of Alberta. Her research program focuses on policies and practices shaping migrants health. She has been involved in around 55 funded research projects. She is the lead on 20 of these projects with funding from national and international agencies. She has lead research projects on African immigrant child health, immigrant mental health, access to healthcare for immigrant children, African immigrant youth mental health, migration of nurses as live-in caregivers, experience of temporary foreign workers in Alberta, downward occupational mobility of immigrant nurses and parenting practices of African immigrants. Dr. Salami has around 60 published scholarly articles in peer reviewed journals (with another 15 under review), 2 book chapters, and 8 reports. She represents the University of Alberta on the steering committee of the Worldwide Universities Network Global Africa Group. She founded and leads an African migrant child research network of 30 scholars from 4 continent. In 2020, she founded the Black Youth Mentorship and Leadership Program at the University of Alberta. The program seeks to socially and economically empower Black high school youths to contribute meaningfully to the Canadian society. She is involved in several community volunteer initiatives including serving as a public member on the Council of the Alberta College of Social Worker, the Public Health Agency of Canada Working Group on the Mental Health of Black Canadian, the Bell Lets Talk Funding advisory committee, and active involvement with the Black Opportunities Fund. She has a solid track record of training students.  She has trained over 30 students, many of whom have received awards, including the Canadian Vanier Award and the International Development Research Center Doctoral Award. Dr. Salami has received several awards for research excellence and community engagement: 100 Accomplished Black Women in Canada; Sigma Theta Tau International Honor Society of Nursing Emerging Nurse Researcher of the Year Award; College and Association of Registered Nurses of Alberta (CARNA) Award for Nursing Excellence; and Alberta Avenue Edmonton Top 40 under 40. She has recently been selected as a recipient of the Sigma Theta Tau International Honor Society International Nurse Researcher Hall of Fame, the highest research award in nursing.
Over the past 15 years, Neetu Sidhu has designed and brought to market, strategies in fashion, technology, social enterprise, oil and gas, crowdfunding, marketing and banking. A social entrepreneur at heart, Neetu is interested in leveraging technology and business to drive positive social change. This led her to pursue an interdisciplinary Masters degree at New York University in Social Entrepreneurship. Neetu went on to build a clothing business that provided sustainable employment to rural textile artisans in India, while working to reshape the way female consumers view their dress size in relation to their sense of self. In her previous role at ATB Financial as the Sr. Director of Everyday Advice, Neetu explored how technology and experience design can be leveraged to advance financial wellness for Albertans. Neetu also lead Ellevate, ATB’s gender equity network; she is the Founder of Munshaanth, a mindfulness-based mental health platform for the South Asian community; she mentors women through the Young Women in Business (YWiB) Calgary Chapter; and sits on the Board of QB, a Diversity and Inclusion Consulting firm.
Rachel has been working in the area of Diversity & Inclusion for the last eight years from various perspectives including: grassroots, corporate, public, internal and external facing, locally and internationally. Her industry experience includes finance, energy, tech, and non-profit. Rachel is the Manager, Diversity & Inclusion at Parkland Corporation where she is focused on guiding the organization’s D&I strategies across 25 countries spanning Canada, United States, and the Carribean Union. In her spare time she also assists local Calgarian organizations rise to the occasion as the Founder of Including You Consulting. She has spoken at international conferences as an expert on the topic and won a number of awards for her work including: Calgary’s 2019 Top 40 Under 40 by Avenue Magazine, two Gold Quill Awards from IABC, and a Distinction Award from the Advertising Club of Edmonton. In 2015 she obtained her Master Professional Communications from Royal Roads University. When she’s not focused on Diversity & Inclusion, Rachel spends much of her time supporting the non-profit sector. Currently she is serving as Board President of Calgary Wildlife Rehabilitation Society where they help over 2,400 urban wildlife patients annually as well as Board Vice President at Imagine Cities, a local non-profit focused on using data and research to inform better city building.
Akash graduated from the University of Calgary in 2015 with a Bachelor of Science in psychology and Bachelor of Commerce in petroleum land management. Upon graduation, he worked for a software consulting firm and held management responsibilities for market development and software implementation. During this time, he also ran SupportWorks, a Calgary-based organization providing peer support to people dealing with mental health issues. In 2018, Akash completed a Master of Public Policy at the University of Calgary’s School of Public Policy. Shortly after, he joined the Centre for Suicide Prevention. At CSP, Akash is currently the External Relations Director as he helps identify and engage new and current audiences in the organization’s mission to reduce stigma and increase awareness and uptake of suicide prevention training and education.

Hilary Sirman is the Centre for Suicide Prevention’s Education Director. She holds Bachelor of Education and Master of Public Administration degrees from Queen’s University, as well as Marketing and Human Resources certificates from Queen’s Smith School of Business. Hilary has worked at the Centre for seven years and has over 18 years’ experience in a variety of public and private sector organizations throughout Canada and Australia. 

Robert Olson is the Research Librarian and Writer at the Centre for Suicide Prevention in Calgary, Alberta, an education branch of the Canadian Mental Health Association.  He holds a Master of Library and Information Science degree and a Bachelor of Arts in English Literature degree. Robert has worked with the Centre since 2011.
Evan Westfal (pronouns he/him) is the Education Coordinator for the Institute for Sexual Minority Studies and Services (ISMSS). As Education Coordinator Westfal frequently guest lectures for many post-secondary institutions and community organizations throughout Alberta. In addition to his guest lecturing, Westfal runs fYrefly in schools (FINS) an education program that promotes sexual and gender diversity education in Elementary Schools, as well as both Junior and Senior Highschools. Westfal facilitates the Edmonton and Area GSA Roundtables in partnership with the Pride Centre of Edmonton.
Dori Palmiere is the Training Centre Team Lead at the Centre for Sexuality. Dori is a registered social worker and obtained her Master of Social Work from the University of Calgary. To the organization she brings over a decade of experience volunteering and working with diverse populations including persons with disabilities, older adults, and LGBTQ2S+ youth. In her role at the Centre for Sexuality Dori has specialized in assisting organizations across sectors in implementing and sustaining meaningful LGBTQ2S+ inclusion practices and policies.
Jason Trenholm is a retired 20-year Veteran of the Canadian Armed Forces. He served the majority of his career with the Lord Strathcona’s Horse (Royal Canadians) in Edmonton, Alberta, participating in 3 operational tours. Since being medically released due to both physical and mental health injuries sustained overseas, Jason has been the co-creator and provincial coordinator of OSI-CAN Alberta.
Ruthann Weeks is a Cultural Change Strategist and Principal Consultant at Harmony In The Workplace. She is a change agent whose efforts have helped to bring the importance of an abuse-free work environment to the forefront of public awareness. She is a best-selling author and gifted speaker who delivers a powerful message about today’s workplace challenges. Working as a Certified Resource Specialist in the human service sector, Ruthann went on to graduate as a Human Resource Manager. She is a Certified Psychological Safety Advisor and specializes in diversity and inclusion, workplace bullying, sexual harassment, domestic violence and mental health in the workplace.
John Dowds is the Chaplain and the Senior Mental Health Consultant for City of Edmonton employees and their families. He provides support and guidance to the City’s 10,000 employees in areas of trauma, grief, stress, spirituality, workplace issues and domestic violence. Together with a team of Mental Health/Healthy Living Consultants, John works to engage employees in their emotional, mental, physical and spiritual well being.
Dianne Macaulay has lived in Central Alberta all her life. She has been a trustee with Red Deer public schools for 17 years and is very active in non-profit organizations and social issues in her community. In 2020 she received the the award for community building from the Red Deer and district community foundation.
Rebecca Smillie is Manager of Community Impact with Alberta Blue Cross. Under the leadership of the vice-president of corporate relations, Rebecca leads the community investment portfolio to maximize sponsorship and corporate social responsibility initiatives of Alberta Blue Cross. In her free time, Rebecca hosts and produces Nuance of Impact, a podcast that shares the stories of social impact from the people leading change.
Sharon Roberts is a Partner at Field LLP in Edmonton. Her practice includes commercial litigation, occupational health and safety, and arbitration. Sharon is a Psychological Health and Safety Advisor, carer for two- and four-legged wild things and TBI survivor.
Brandy Payne helps teams improve Mental Health at Work so they can be happier, healthier, more resilient, and better able to do their jobs – no matter what happens. Her main area of focus is Burnout Prevention for leaders and teams. Brandy is a former Associate Minister of Health in Alberta (responsible for Mental Health & Substance Use), and a CMHA-Certified Psychological Health & Safety Advisor.

Meet those Sharing their Lived Experience

Driven by her personal experience with mental illness, stigma and recovery, Hayley has turned her passion into a career. She specializes in workplace mental health consulting as well as community and workplace peer support. She currently facilitates both training sessions as Co-Creator of ‘Supporting Through Struggle’; an interactive workshop that takes a deeper dive into how to have supportive conversations as well as provides consulting support for Peer Support Programs.

Meet the Working Stronger Emcees

Seanna Collins is a multi-faceted, experienced broadcasting personality offering a variety of media talent services. She has spent the last 34 years in Edmonton – the city she was born in. She currently runs her own company as a freelance media personality and emcee. Her expansive television career includes hosting her own lifestyle programs, prime-time entertainment specials, live on-location broadcasts and numerous client commercials for CTV, Global Edmonton and Shaw. Her extensive radio career includes hosting her own Morning Show, music specials and on-location client remote broadcasts for 630 CHED, Mix 96, K-97. Magic 99 and EZ ROCK. SEANNA’S involvement as an emcee includes a variety of events: award shows, charity functions, conferences, fashion shows and red-carpet galas. Giving back to her community as a volunteer is very important to Seanna – she lends her name and expertise to many charity organizations. She is also a licenced Marriage Commissioner for the Government of Alberta. To contact Seanna directly, visit: SeannaCollins.com or WeddingsBySeanna.com
David Grauwiler is the Executive Director of the Canadian Mental Health Association (CMHA), Alberta Division.  David has extensive leadership experience in the not-for-profit sector.  His work has been influenced by his experience in the areas of poverty cessation, housing and housing first, family and relationship violence, mental health and addictions. With the support of a small and talented team, CMHA, Alberta Division supports the success of Alberta’s nine regional offices, engages in government and media relations and advocates on behalf of Albertan’s living with mental illness and addictions. The core of David’s work is engagement as a leader, participant or advisor in regard to projects with provincial scope which relate in various way to better mental health for all Albertans. David grew up in the Yukon and lives in Edmonton, Alberta. He is a proud Albertan and an active supporter of mental health as a human right.

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