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Workshops & Presenter Profiles 


About Rob: He has written, spoken and trained on volunteer programme management internationally for almost twenty-five years. He has co-authored two books as well as contributing dozens of articles to a wide range of publications around the world. ​ Rob is has been an active volunteer since the 1980s, most recently serving as a member of the editorial team for the international volunteerism journal, e-Volunteerism.com. ​
Rob is a Fellow of The Royal Society for the encouragement of Arts, Manufactures and Commerce. ​He lives in Grantham, Lincolnshire, UK and his passions include motorsport, red wine, rock & blues music, books, film and TV. ​

Keynote Address - May 15, 9:15-10:30 :  Synergize to  energize and  realize" Volunteer Managers often say they feel isolated within their organisations. In the modern, hyper-connected world, this no longer has to be the case. In fact, if we’re isolated, we risk being ineffective. In his interactive keynote address, Rob will explore why leaders of volunteer engagement must connect with each other and how this can help us to not only address operational challenges like volunteer recruitment and retention, but also we can build our profession through collaboration.

Workshop - Retaining volunteers in the 21st century 

Overview: This session will look at some of the key ways in which society is changing and how these changes affect volunteerism. We will also discuss what leaders of volunteers can do to update their practices to accommodate these changes, further enhancing their engagement and retention of 21st century volunteers.

Workshop - New Technology Horizons and What They Mean to Volunteer Engagement

Overview: Technology and how we us it is changing all around us at a breathtaking pace but what will this mean for volunteer engagement in the next year or two, or three? How can we look ahead to identify the great new opportunities this could bring to our volunteer engagement if we anticipate and plan ahead?  Is there a chance that some volunteers will be replaced by technology? If so, where should we resist change and where should we welcome it? What type of roles might be the first to become redundant? What might we become forced to change in how we use volunteer management tools and other forms of technology, either due to new regulations, volunteer expectations, or both? The future is coming at us fast. This session will help you prepare proactively for it.

Tony Goodrow is the CEO of Better Impact, a Canadian company providing volunteer management software to nonprofits and municipalities in 14 countries. He has been working in the volunteer sector since 2001 and has presented on a variety of topics at workshops and conferences on six continents. 

Workshop - Volunteering and the Sustainable Development Goals

Overview: Looking at the 17 United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) that Canada and others committed to achieving by 2030, we realize that there is not a single goal that does not involve volunteers. Volunteers contribute to eliminating poverty, advocating for human rights, protecting the planet, and creating thriving and resilient communities. Volunteer Canada has been exploring the link between volunteer activities of Canadians and the SDGs, supported by Employment and Social Development Canada. Find out more about our findings and how your organization could benefit from incorporating the SDGs into your recruitment and recognition strategies.

Karine Diedrich has over ten year’s experience managing the development of key deliverables and cross-sector partnerships to advance national strategies and initiatives. She is the Vice-President, Public Engagement and Knowledge Mobilization at Volunteer Canada, previously serving as the National Priority Advisor at the Canadian Centre on Substance Use and Addiction. Karine has a BA in Criminology from Carleton University and a Professional Certificate in Partnership Management from Norman Patterson School of International Affaires.


Workshop -  Streamlining the Screening Process Canada-wide

Overview: There must be a better way to support screening practices in Canada! Volunteer Canada and Deloitte Canada have been working together with support from Public Safety Canada to explore the legal, practical, and philosophical implications for creating a centralized, integrated, online screening system for people in positions of trust with vulnerable populations. In this session you will learn the details of an emerging model for a Canadian Volunteer Screening and Education Centre and the steps being taken to make it a reality. 

Paula Speevak 
is the President and CEO of Volunteer Canada. She joined Volunteer Canada after serving as the Managing Director of Carleton University’s Centre for Voluntary Sector Research and Development. Prior to her focus on applied research, Paula enjoyed a 24-year career as a practitioner and senior manager in the non-profit and voluntary sector in both institutional and community-based settings. She holds a Master of Management Degree from McGill University the McGill-McConnell Program for National Voluntary Sector Leaders.


Workshop - Advocacy: Start with our purpose

Overview: Looking at why we do what we do as volunteer engagement professions and what purpose and meaning does it hold, this session will include a brief presentation on the impact volunteer management professionals make and a collaborative, facilitated discussion on our roles in volunteer engagement to inspire and motivate, and bring us back to the reason we are in this profession.

ichelle Mungar Lumley has been engaging volunteers for many years and is currently the Senior Advisor, Volunteer Programs for WinSport in Calgary Alberta. She engages the community as an independent consultant, sits on the Airdrie 2020 Alberta Winter Games Board of Directors, and is the Board Chair for Advocacy and Standards with Volunteer Management Professionals of Canada. She has been Certified in Volunteer Administration (CVA) since 2014.


Workshop - On-boarding a Diverse Volunteer Pool

Overview: After attending this interactive session, participants will be able to:

  • Identify better communication techniques in interviewing a diverse volunteer pool
  • Approach screening with flexibility while still mitigating risk for you and your organization
  • Make meeting accessible for individuals with varying abilities
  • Leave with CNIB’s Partnering with Volunteers with Vision Loss Manual and Toolkit full of tips and tricks for engaging all volunteers successfully
  • Ideas about creating your own ‘Partnering with’ Manual for your organization’s clients 

    Susan Cheeseman: With over 20 years’ involvement in Volunteer Engagement, Susan brings experience from multiple sectors with organizations ranging from local grassroots to national. Currently Program Lead - National Volunteer Engagement Strategy for CNIB, a national non-profit with over 4000 volunteers and growing, Susan specializes in procedural development and practical training for staff engaging volunteers. She has her CVA, Volunteer Management & Non-Profit Sector Management Certificates from Mohawk College and a Sociology BA (Hons) from Western University.  


      Workshop - Media in Action

      Overview: It is often collaborative solutions that create lasting impact. Recently at Volunteer Toronto we noticed that Meals on Wheels programs across the city were facing a severe shortage of volunteers. Learn how our team jumped into action by researching the barriers in finding and keeping volunteers, forming a working group of Meals on Wheels volunteer managers, and gaining amazing media attention to help these programs see real results. Through collaboration, we saw widespread volunteer recruitment increases across affected programs. You’ll leave the session prepared with your own tools to assess and address volunteer engagement challenges in your community.

      Joanne McKiernan As Associate Executive Director at Volunteer Toronto, Joanne uses her passion for public engagement to connect volunteers to the non-profits that need them, overseeing training and education programs which support over 13,000 non-profits and nearly 500,000 prospective volunteers each year. When she's not in the office (or presenting at Synergize!) Joanne can usually be found playing competitive volleyball, struggling to learn Japanese or leading the Halton Hills Active Easy Alliance-a municipal committee focused on encouraging active transportation.


      Workshop -  Volunteers and the Neuroscience of Learning

      Overview: Information sessions, “on the job training”, workshops, specialized training - Volunteer Engagement Professionals are responsible for providing crucial information and skills so that volunteers can accomplish their tasks safely, effectively and with satisfaction. The challenge is that volunteers as learners represent a wide range of educational backgrounds and functionalities. How can we provide them with the necessary training and effectively meet different learning needs---within our limited time and resources? In this workshop, we will be putting neuroscience at the service of Volunteer Engagement Professionals by exploring the principles of Universal Design in Learning (UDL). We will apply this framework to typical volunteer learning activities to create effective and inclusive learning experiences.

      Marisa Gelfusa is a trainer and consultant and has worked with organizations such as the Volunteer Bureau of Montreal, Volunteer Toronto and McGill University. She is currently developing a project that seeks to promote inclusive learning practices in the non-profit sector. Marisa is a Concordia University graduate and has a MA Certificate in Adult Training and Development from York University. Some of her most important learning has come from her volunteer experiences in areas of human rights, palliative care and community development.

      Workshop - Storytelling Strategies on a Shoestring

      Overview: Volunteers have stories that can assist in the “R’s” of volunteer management: Recruitment, Retention, Recognition, and Respect. Learn to gather, listen, share and celebrate the stories of volunteers that will boost your recruitment efforts as well as the spirits of your volunteers. This low-tech, high-results workshop will help you build a cost-effective tool kit for action.

      Nancy Angus is a Thunder Bay-based recreationist, writer, broadcaster, lifestyle blogger, workshop presenter, speaker, walker and volunteer specialist. She is an award-winning trailblazer and designer of seniors programming connecting neighbours through cost-effective and creative initiatives. She believes that energizing people in neighbourhoods can start with “hello, my name is…” Her storytelling approach as an activist for aging with gusto engages people of all ages to connect, learn and live together.


      Workshop - Turning Volunteer FRIENDraisers into Difference Makers

      Overview: Want to build a network of Difference Makers, sharing your mission and vision? Want to put a focus on volunteers as your organization’s most valuable assets? This interactive presentation will explore innovations in volunteer engagement that were applied to Heart & Stroke’s third-party fundraising program. These innovations empower volunteers to raise the profile of your organization and support fundraising goals. 

      Jessica Pang-Parks is a dynamic volunteer engagement professional who is passionate about facilitating engaging learning experiences. At the Heart & Stroke Foundation, she works as Ontario’s Senior Specialist, Volunteer Engagement. In this role, she provides coaching and subject matter expertise to employees across the province. As the President for TAVA (Toronto Association for Volunteer Administration), Jessica leads an executive committee to provide meaningful and relevant professional development to colleagues across the volunteer engagement sector.

      Workshop - Engaging Volunteers in a Unionized Environment

      Overview: There are usually more questions than answers when it comes to engaging volunteers in a unionized workplace. Come share your questions, experiences, and practices as we explore this topic. Some themes we will cover are:

      • Scope of volunteer work
      • Role descriptions and policies
      • Conflict 

      Kylene Mellor has been engaging volunteers for over 15 years.  As the Manager, Volunteer Resources with the IWK Health Centre in Halifax, Kylene brings knowledge and expertise in all areas of the volunteer cycle.  She has worked for, and volunteered for, a number of charities and loves working with and motivating volunteers. She is currently on the Boards of VMPNS and CCVA.

        Workshop -  Taking the Tension out of Retention

        Overview: After spending time and resources recruiting volunteers, it is heartbreaking to see them leave shortly after they start. In 90 minutes, you will examine what influences a volunteer's decision to leave or stay and the best practices you can employ to create a meaningful experience to keep your volunteers.  Take control and change those aspects that might be pushing your volunteers out the door.

        Dawn Bourbonnais  is a member of VMPC, the National Volunteer Centre Council and Volunteer Manitoba's Manager of Communications and Outreach. She is VM’s most popular facilitator specializing in delivering informative, yet entertaining workshops about social media and volunteer management. Dawn also spent fifteen years working in the not-for-profit and arts sector, most recently in the music and film industries and has many years’ experience managing volunteers for festival and community events. 

         Workshop -  Fast Pitch

        Overview: Fast Pitch is part of an international movement that helps organizations create powerful, high-energy cases for support, delivered in three minutes or less! Through Fast Pitch, leaders of non-profits and charities learn how to tell their organization’s stories, succinctly and powerfully. Jackie has been participating in the program through the Winnipeg Foundation and wants to share what she’s learned. 

        Jackie Hunt is Volunteer Manitoba's Executive Director, a community leader and the co-founder of The Kindred Project, a non-profit organization that provides feminine hygiene products for over 300 women in need each and every month. She has over 20 years of experience in adult education, specializing in leadership, communication, and emotional intelligence. She is an experienced public speaker and has delivered keynotes and plenary sessions at conferences across Manitoba


        Workshop -  When Volunteering goes bad: A Case Study

        Overview: In 2018 Volunteer Victoria was asked to investigate a complaint about a volunteer who had been very active in a local organization. The outcome was a report with recommendations about volunteer management practices and suggestions for shifts that could mitigate risk and reduce potential harm to clients, volunteers, staff and the organization. This workshop takes this case study and go through the ten standards of the CCVI. So many great learnings, were gleaned through this work and even if you think you have best practices in place within your organization you will leave with a much better appreciation of the complexities that can come with volunteer management. 

        Tracey Gibson is the Manager of Learning and Training at Volunteer Victoria and comes with over 25 years of experience in the non-profit sector.  Before joining the staff team at Volunteer Victoria, Tracey was a member of their board and ended her 6-year term as past president.  As a certified executive coach Tracey approaches facilitation with curiosity and is always looking at bringing rich conversation to the surface

        Workshop - Supporting Youth Success by Community Involvement

        Overview: Throughout the presentation Lily will share her personal experiences as a youth volunteer energizer in Waterloo Region. Come if you want to:

        • Discover current best practices and learn from youth engagement successes and failures through storytelling and game formats

        • Explore how you can tackle youth engagement positively in your organization using ideation methods

        Know what young people (15-19, and 20-30) look for in volunteer positions (recruiting, retention, and recognition) 

        Lily Viggiano worked at the Volunteer Action Centre Waterloo Region for 4.5 years specializing in youth engagement, growing her “kitchen table” idea called EPYC. She’s worked with Volunteer Canada on the Canada Service Corps project, a federal project to strengthen youth service, creating curriculum to benefit youth volunteers (15-30) and related audiences. Now she’s helping bring the youth voice to Acton, Milton, and Burlington via the Our Kids Network.


        Workshop - Technology is your Friend

        Overview: This two-part session will cover both how technology will enhance your skills as a volunteer manager and strengthen your volunteer program and how it will engage your volunteers and enhance their experience. The first part will highlight volunteer data bases and productivity tools while the second part will focus on videos as a means of training and sharing impact, how to incorporate Smart Products into your volunteer program, and offer unique ways to gather feedback from volunteers.  

        Jamie-Leigh Haughn is the Manager of Volunteers Services at Feed Nova Scotia, a charitable organization whose mission is to increase food security through food distribution, education and collaboration. She manages close to 3,000 volunteers with various roles and has been working in the field for 6 years. She’s driven by a passion to give volunteers a unique and valuable experience, and always looks for opportunities to have fun with a purpose!

        Panel Discussion Lead Facilitator Erin Spink -  Pathways to Collaboration: Lessons Learned, Lessons Shared

        It's a time of disruption with the ways we've worked for decades facing seismic shifts due to changes in culture & lifestyle, funding, demographics and technology. Collaboration is a popular buzzword and funders want to see more of it, but we must ask ourselves, what does collaboration really look like, what makes for good or bad partnerships and is it sustainable?

        This panel discussion will explore different types of collaboration and provide concrete examples with take-aways that allow attendees to identify, create and navigate potential collaborations with their eyes open, helping to build better chances of success.


        Moderator: Erin Spink

        Over the past 20 years, Erin Spink has been passionately involved as a volunteer, advocate, and employee in the social profit sector, working in volunteer engagement. Erin is the Senior Manager, Volunteer Engagement for Ontario with the Canadian Cancer Society and founder of spinktank, an innovative think tank on the profession of volunteer engagement.  

        Spink completed an Honours Sociology Degree, before receiving her Certificate with Distinction in Volunteer Program Management from Conestoga College. She later joined the faculty for a decade. In 2008, Spink completed an M.A. (Leadership), submitting a major research project which was the first-ever academic work to quantify the concept of “volunteer engagement.” In 2010, Spink was fortunate to be one of only 17 young Canadians selected as an Action Canada Fellow. She had the honour of serving on the Board of Directors for PAVRO for five years, including two years as president. Erin currently volunteers as a member of the Editorial team for e-Volunteerism, focusing on the Training Designs section and co-authoring the quarterly "Points of View" piece with Rob Jackson. 


        Panellist: Erin Maclean

        Erin holds a Master’s degree in Political Science with a focus on Conflict Resolution, as well as a certificate in Fundraising and Volunteer Management. She is an experienced volunteer engagement professional with a successful track record in community recruitment, inter-organizational collaboration and program development and implementation. Erin has focused on this work with multiple organizations at both the provincial and national levels and is currently the National Volunteer Specialist at The Children’s Wish Foundation of Canada. Erin is also a PAVRO Mentor, as well as the 2016 recipient of the PAVRO Young Leader Award. Driven by the capacity and possibility of volunteer impact, Erin is passionate about influencing that potential in the work she does and as a member of the volunteer engagement community.

        Panellist: Saskia Rinkoff

        Saskia has an Honours BA from University of Toronto, specializing in Russian Language & Literature and Fine Art History. She has extensive experience in volunteer engagement in the Arts & Culture sector, working at TIFF, Luminato, and imagineNATIVE, and as an independent consultant. She is currently the Manager of Volunteer Resources at Harbourfront Centre, an innovative not-for-profit cultural organization that creates events and activities of excellence that enliven, educate, and entertain a diverse public. Her passion is to create and implement meaningful community-based volunteer programs that offer educational and professional development opportunities for youth, adults, and seniors alike, with an emphasis on customer service, diversity, accessibility, and inclusivity. While working at Luminato, the organization received best community partner awards in 2014 and 2017.

        Panellist: Michelle Mungar Lumley

        Michelle has been engaging volunteers for many years and is currently the Senior Advisor, Volunteer Programs for WinSport in Calgary Alberta. She engages the community as an independent consultant, sits on the Airdrie 2020 Alberta Winter Games Board of Directors, and is the Board Chair for Advocacy and Standards with Volunteer Management Professionals of Canada. She has been Certified in Volunteer Administration (CVA) since 2014.

        Discussion around Burning Issues

        Lorraine McGrattan – Burning Issues Facilitator 

        Lorraine McGrattan is a Volunteer Resources professional at Hamilton Health Sciences. Her career spans 37 years with 20+ years in Volunteer Resources where she continues as Manager until her retirement June 28th 2019.  Her journey in the voluntary sector has been vast and includes: mentorship, advisory and professional development to many, co-lead for benchmarking in the healthcare sector, Volunteer Management Instructor at Mohawk College, Past President of PAVRO & Hamilton Administrators of Volunteers and more recently, the recipient of the Linda Buchanan Award in 2018

        Master of Ceremonies: Connie Cole

        Connie Cole is an employee with the City of Ottawa and is the Supervisor of the Volunteer Program at The Shenkman Arts Centre consisting of 120 volunteers.  Connie also introduces performing artists on stage at the Shenkman Arts Centre Presents performances, and has been the MC at City of Ottawa conferences and events.

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