Site Accessibility Statement
Wilfrid Laurier University Leaf
April 19, 2014
Canadian Excellence

Speaker Bios


Ms. Silvia DiDonato

Manager, Arts & Culture, City of Kitchener


Silvia is proud to serve the vibrant Kitchener community.  Her work involves creative cluster development in digital arts, design, music industry, and helping to grow cultural vitality. Part business development and part community arts activator, she supports the Economic Development strategy to retain, attract and develop talent.   Facilitating collaboration with community, business and education is an important factor for continued success. Silvia also led Downtown development and Business Development, implementing urban revitalization such as financial incentive programming, community engagement, events, collaboration with streetscape planning, business development, post secondary student integration, and digital media networking.

Previously, Silvia worked in the digital media sector, first in her own web consulting business, then leading multi-disciplinary teams for interactive marketing, usability testing, brand strategy and creative development at Quarry Communications. Her digital clients included major pharmaceutical brands, telecommunications, and community web initiatives such as Perimeter Institute, museums and theatres. Her education includes a Business Minor from Wilfrid Laurier University, a BA in Recreation and Masters courses in Regional Urban Planning from the University of Waterloo.



Mr. Steve Farlow

Executive Director, Schlegel Centre for Entrepreneurship


In 2002, Steve Farlow joined the School of Business & Economics as its first Executive Director of the Schlegel Centre for Entrepreneurship. Prior to this, Steve owned and operated his own business, Superior Safety, for 12 years. Based in Waterloo, the company distributed occupational health and safety products from branches across Canada. Earlier in his career, he worked for divisions of Rio Tinto Corporation and Derlan Industries.

Steve is an investor and advisor to a number of early stage companies, and he regularly teaches entrepreneurship at the undergraduate and graduate levels at Laurier.

Dr. Peter Hatch

Professor, Composition & Co-ordinator of composition


Composer, music curator and teacher, Peter Hatch has composed works in a large number of genres, from orchestral and chamber music to instrumental theatre, electroacoustics and installations. Known for his interest in revitalizing the listening experience, Hatch's compositions are both heady and playful, profound and humourous.

Theatrical and multi-media elements have been incorporated into many of his works, an interest that has grown from extending traditional concert music performance practices and from collaborations with director David McMurray Smith, architect Dereck Revington and choreographers David Earle and Bill James.

As well as his compositional work, Peter has been very active as the artistic director of new music ensembles and festivals. He founded NUMUS Concerts in 1985, and the Open Ears Festival of Music and Sound in 1998, two organizations that have continued to thrive years after their beginnings. Peter was Composer-in-Residence with the Kitchener-Waterloo Symphony from 1999-2003 and is currently Arts and Culture Consultant with the Perimeter Institute for Theoretical Physics. Peter is a Professor at the Faculty of Music, Wilfrid Laurier University, where he was University Research Professor for the 2006-07 academic year.

Dr. Jonathan Isham

Faculty Director, Centre for Social Entrepreneurship, Middlebury College


Jonathan Isham is the Faculty Director of the Center for Social Entrepreneurship at Middlebury College, a position he has held since 2011. He is also the Director of Middlebury's Environmental Studies Program and a Professor of Economics. Jon's research addresses questions about the institutional determinants of well-being and sustainability. He teaches courses in social entrepreneurship, environmental economics, microeconomics, and environmental policy. Jon holds degrees from Harvard, Johns Hopkins and the University of Maryland and served in Benin as a Peace Corps Volunteer.

Dr. Ginette Lafreničre

Associate Professor, Faculty of Social Work;

Director, Manulife Centre for Healthy Living


Dr. Lafreničre teaches both at the Master's and Ph.D. levels courses in research methods, diversity, community development and social change. She is the founding Director of the Social Innovation Research Group (S.I.R.G) which is a research and training incubator comprised of a multidisciplinary group of researchers and community practitioners dedicated to university/community collaboration. She has recently been appointed as the Director of the Manulife Centre for Healthy Living. Dr. Lafreničre's work is centered within three main areas of research and practice: university-community collaboration, violence against women, and poverty and social justice.

Mr. Kevin Magee

Citizen Magee, Brantford Ontario


Kevin is a hacker, writer, film producer, serial entrepreneur, sales guy and Power Point performance artist who’s almost Internet famous. An experienced and accomplished leader, business creator, startup veteran, senior sales executive and code monkey, Kevin speaks fluent entrepreneur, suit and geek.

Mr. Joe Mancini

Co-Director, The Working Centre


In 1982, Joe and Stephanie Mancini began The Working Centre as a project that would give people the respect and dignity they deserve, support people in crisis and expand the concept of access to tools. 31 years later, 1000 people use the services and projects of The Working Centre every day.

Over 57,000 square feet of underutilized heritage buildings have been renovated into a thriving community space that provide a web of 30 projects from the Job Search Resource Centre, St. John’s Kitchen, 40 units of transitional supportive housing, Downtown Street Outreach, Psychiatric Outreach Project, Recycle Cycles Community Bike shop, Queen Street Commons Café, Worth A Second Look and Green Door thrift stores, and the Hacienda Sarria Market Garden. These projects and more are sustained by over 100 staff and 400 active volunteers.

Mr. Mike Morrice

Executive Director, Sustainable Waterloo Region


Mike Morrice is the founder and Executive Director of Sustainable Waterloo Region, a not-for-profit that advances the environmental sustainability of organizations across Waterloo Region through collaboration.

Mike is a graduate of Wilfrid Laurier University, where he concurrently completed a BBA and a BSc. Recently named an Ashoka Fellow, he is one of 37 Canadians within this global community of leading social entrepreneurs, each with a new ‘knock-out’ idea and high potential to scale their impact. Mike has been selected by The Waterloo Region Record as one of Waterloo Region’s inaugural 40 Under 40, and recognized as Young Alumnus of the Year and Young Entrepreneur of the Year by WLU’s Alumni Association and the Greater Kitchener Waterloo Chamber of Commerce, respectively.

Ms. Bronwyn Oatley

Associate, Studio Y


Bronwyn Oatley loves stories, writing and great conversation. She joined Studio Y from the MaRS Centre for Impact Investing where she recently served as the Interim Managing Editor of Prior to her time with MaRS, she completed her undergraduate degree at Middlebury College in Vermont, where she was a member of the student-led LGBT organization, the NCAA Division I Alpine Ski Team and the College paper, The Middlebury Campus. Before attending Middlebury, Bronwyn was a member of the Ontario Alpine Ski Team and attended the Country Day School in King City, ON. She is passionate about social justice, equality and personal agency, physical and mental wellness—and coffee!

Ms. Katherine Pigott

Manager, Healthy Eating & Active Communities, Region of Waterloo Public


Katherine Pigott has worked at Region of Waterloo Public Health since March 2000. She led the development of a comprehensive local food systems plan in Waterloo Region as Manager of the Healthy Eating and Active Communities Team. Katherine has over twenty years experience in community based planning, systems change and policy formulation that spans health promotion, economic development, crime prevention, and environmental planning. She has launched several businesses and non-profit ventures to meet social needs. Katherine acts as Chair of Health Promotion Ontario. She was a co-researcher on a project that compared two models of community-university partnerships in Waterloo Region as part of the Community First: Impacts of Community Engagement Food Security Hub. She is a long distance cyclist and most recently cycled through the Sierra Cascade Mountain ranges. She lives in downtown Kitchener.

Ms. Christine Tausig Ford

Vice President & COO, Association of Universities & Colleges of Canada


Christine Tausig Ford is Vice-President and Chief Operating Officer of the Association of Universities and Colleges of Canada, the national organization representing Canada’s 97 universities and university degree-level colleges. Ms. Tausig Ford oversees the operations and smooth running of the Ottawa-based organization. She provides high-level strategic advice to the President, Board of Directors and membership on all aspects of the association’s work, especially with respect to governance, membership issues, public affairs, research, international relations and leadership development.

Previously, Ms. Tausig Ford served in a number of positions at AUCC, including corporate secretary and director of communications and publications. In that capacity, she led a two-year national communications campaign, aimed at students, parents and business leaders, on the value of a liberal arts and sciences degree. Ms. Tausig is a former journalist, and editor of AUCC’s magazine University Affairs. She has written for the Times Higher Education Supplement and the Chronicle of Higher Education. She holds degrees from Carleton University and the University of Toronto’s Trinity College.

Dr. Lee Willingham

Associate Professor, Faculty of Music

Director Laurier Centre for Music in the Community


Dr. Willingham accepted an appointment as Associate Professor at Laurier in September, 2004, to coordinate the music education and choral programs. From 1998 to 2004, he was on the faculty of the Ontario Institute for Studies in Education of the University of Toronto, teaching in the preservice program in music education. Prior to that, he taught in the public high school system, and was coordinator of music for the Scarborough Board of Education.

His research and scholarly work focuses on the impact of music and the individual, and the benefits of developing lifelong learning skills in the arts, especially music.

At Laurier, Dr. Willingham founded and directs the Laurier Centre for Music in the Community, a research centre where through symposia, publishing, projects, partnerships, and concerts, LCMC seeks to connect with music in the community, to collaborate with the music makers, and to contribute to the vitality of the music of people.