Keynote Speakers


Stephen Lewis, C.C.

Stephen Lewis is a Distinguished Visiting Professor at Ryerson University in Toronto. He is the Board Chair of the Stephen Lewis Foundation, which is dedicated to turning the tide of HIV/AIDS in Africa, and he is co-founder and co-director of AIDS-Free World, an international advocacy organization.

Lewis is a member of the Board of Directors of the Clinton Health Access Initiative and Emeritus Board Member of the International AIDS Vaccine Initiative. He served as a Commissioner on the Global Commission on HIV and the Law. The Commission’s Report, Risks, Rights & Health, was launched by the Secretary-General of the United Nations in July 2012.

Stephen Lewis’ work with the United Nations spanned more than two decades. He was the UN Secretary-General’s Special Envoy for HIV/AIDS in Africa from June 2001 until the end of 2006.  From 1995 to 1999, Lewis was Deputy Executive Director of UNICEF at the organization’s global headquarters in New York. From 1984 through 1988, he was Canada's Ambassador to the United Nations.   

From 1970-1978, Lewis was leader of the Ontario New Democratic Party, during which time he became leader of the Official Opposition.

Lewis is the author of the best-selling book, Race Against Time. He holds 35 honorary degrees from Canadian universities as well as honorary degrees from Dartmouth College and Johns Hopkins University in the United States.  

In 2003, Stephen Lewis was appointed a Companion of the Order of Canada, Canada’s highest honour for lifetime achievement. In 2007, King Letsie III, monarch of the Kingdom of Lesotho (a small mountainous country in Southern Africa) invested Lewis as Knight Commander of the Most Dignified Order of Moshoeshoe. The order is named for the founder of Lesotho; the knighthood is the country’s highest honour. And in 2012, Lewis was an inaugural recipient of Canada’s Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Medal.

Human Development, Career Development and Training: Foundations for a Better World

Stephen Lewis will draw on his careers in politics, diplomacy and multilateralism to demonstrate the principle and practice of self-development. He will attempt to demonstrate that the culture of the workplace is every bit as important to self-development as the capacity of individuals. Lewis takes a somewhat heretical view, believing that professional development, particularly the qualities of innovation and leadership, are influenced most profoundly by the working environment, and not by numbers of courses taken or training received. The former is fundamental; the latter is peripheral.


Valerie Pringle

Valerie Pringle is one of Canada's best known and most respected broadcasters, public figures and volunteers.

She started her career at age 19 as a student reporter with CFRB Radio in Toronto after graduating from Radio and Television Arts at Ryerson in 1974.

In 1985, she helped launch the highly successful CBC-TV news and current affairs program, MIDDAY.  After eight years of hosting that and other CBC shows, Valerie moved to CTV in 1993 and co-hosted Canada AM until 2001. 

Valerie then helped produce, write and host a series of documentaries and series including Valerie Pringle Has Left the Building for CTV, Test of Faith for Vision-TV and The Canadian Antiques Roadshow for CBC-TV.

She is now involved full-time in not-for-profit work. She is Co-Chair of the Trans Canada Trail Foundation.  She is a member of the Board of the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health Foundation, The Ontario Brain Institute, the Stephen Lewis Foundation and The Canadian Broadcast Heritage Foundation. Valerie was awarded an honorary doctorate from Ryerson University and was appointed as a Member of the Order of Canada in 2006 for her contributions to communications and her volunteer work.

Growth Is the Only Evidence of Life: A Career Path

Valerie Pringle will describe how she began her career in journalism on radio and television while balancing a busy home life with three children. She will describe the arc that led her from broadcasting to the non-for-profit world where she now volunteers as a Board Member and fundraiser and who her heroes and inspirations have been. She will talk about making transitions and figuring out when to leave and what is worth spending your time on. She now works very hard as an advocate fighting for improved treatment and access to care for the mentally ill and against stigma which prevents two-thirds of people with mental illness and 90% of people with addictions from seeking help.


Jacques Demers

Throughout his storied career, Jacques Demers built a name as one of the most successful coaches in the National Hockey League. Demers was the coach for the Quebec Nordiques, Detroit Red Wings, St. Louis Blues and Montreal Canadiens for more than 20 years. During his career, his teams advanced to the conference finals on numerous occasions. He coached the Canadiens to a Stanley Cup win in 1993. The only person to do so in consecutive years, he received the Jack Adams Award for NHL Coach of the Year in 1987 and 1988.

After hundreds of on-ice victories across Canada and the United States, Demers went on to a thriving career as a television sports commentator. Yet during all those years behind the bench and in front of the camera, he managed to hide a remarkable fact – he could neither read nor write. Sharing his incredible story, Demers inspires others to have the courage to confront, and conquer, their greatest fears and sheds light on the thousands of people who, like him, unjustly suffer through illiteracy.

In 2007, Demers was named the 100th most influential personality in hockey by The Hockey News, and he was appointed to the Senate by Prime Minister Stephen Harper in 2009.

Take a Letter

In an authorized biography, entitled En toutes lettres (All Spelled Out), written by sports writer Mario LeClerc, Jacques Demers reveals that he covered up his illiteracy with elaborate ploys, fearful that the truth could cost him his job with professional hockey. Demers said he hoped that speaking out would help others develop the confidence to learn to read and write, as he has tried to do. Millions of Canadian adults have varying levels of illiteracy, and Demers's story of survival and determination is emblematic of the struggles they face every day.


Rich Feller, PhD

Sponsored by:

Rich Feller is an internationally recognized keynote speaker, trainer and consultant. He has over 30 years of experience in teaching at the elementary, junior high, high school and university levels; he is currently a Professor and University Distinguished Teaching Scholar at Colorado State University where he teaches graduate courses in career development, counselling, and performance and change.

He has presented projects in Canada, China, Japan, Sudan, Thailand, Australia and in 49 states in the US. Rich is the author (with the help of many) of over 100 publications including The Counselor's Guide to Career Assessment Instruments, Knowledge Nomads and the Nervously Employed: Workplace Change and Courageous Career Choices, and Career Transitions in Turbulent Times. He is co-author of the Harrington O’Shea Career Decision Making System, and cdminternet,, a video series called Tour of Your Tomorrow and Making the Most of Your Abilities. He has received numerous awards and recognitions for his work both in the US and internationally and was President of the National Career Development Association in 2012-13.

His area of research includes: career transitions, strengths-based programs, STEM-centre career development, workforce development and coaching. A senior consultant to the AARP’s (formerly the American Association of Retired Persons) Life-Reimagined program and Chief Scientist to he is working on a second book related to “knowledge nomads”.

Staying Positive and Creating Hope for Clients

The context and structure of the new workplace creates barriers for some clients looking to get “a foot in the door.” Employers are talking about the “disconnect” between the applicants for positions and the skills expected of applicants, demanding that employees come with skill sets traditionally “learned on the job” or acquired through professional development after hiring. Regardless of whether or not these expectations are unrealistic, they are real. How do we help clients in this environment? Offering key insights and strategies about gaining the success skills needed in this new labour market where "being mediocre or without passion is not a good place to be," Rich Feller’s video-enhanced and interactive presentation will create hope for all.