Main Event Agenda

October 20 | 9am – 6pm



The Sessions

What's In Store

Nonprofit Driven features a wide range of sessions on topics that are current, forward thinking and action oriented.

The agenda is built on what’s already happening (take a look at ONN’s Policy Priorities) and what’s bubbling up in the sector.

Image for opening plenary

Today, we face unprecedented challenges: climate change, labour market transformation, youth unemployment, truth and reconciliation, poverty and the income gap, among many more. However, these challenges can be transformed into opportunities, and the nonprofit sector often takes for granted the role we play in creating solutions for a better tomorrow. Together, we are strong; the power of our collective voice, and our ability to convene the voices of others, helps us create a positive impact in our communities.

Join in this timely conversation in which our four compelling sector leaders bring their unique and rich perspectives to consider our sector’s role in driving policy changes that address our society’s biggest challenges.


Kehinde Bah, Youth Action Network

Jessica Bolduc, 4Rs Youth Movement

Allan Northcott, Max Bell Foundation

Chris Ramsaroop, Justicia for Migrant Workers

Horizons | Strategies | Tactics

Sessions are organized into three streams: Horizons, Strategies, and Tactics. From big picture thinking, to strategies playing out right now, to skills and tools for the work nonprofits do every day, Nonprofit Driven has something for all levels of leadership.

Check out the main event agenda below and give yourself a head start with these resources.


These sessions are focused on the big picture, the deep questions, that affect the future of our sector and our role in society. To lead effectively, sometimes we need to be thinking 5, 10, 20 years out: Why are we engaged in an area of work? What change do we want to see? What proactive approaches do we need to take to make change happen? What analysis is key?

If our sector is to thrive, we need to see stable employment opportunities that offer health benefits, pensions, fair income, equality, and work-life balance. The decent work movement presents an opportunity for our sector to act as a champion for working conditions that bolster our ability to play a vital role in the social and economic development of our communities. Find out more about this initiative, discover promising practices, explore systemic and organizational barriers, and collect tools that you can start using in your organization.


Alexandra Badzak, Ottawa Art Gallery

Howard Green, St. Stephen’s Community House

Rob Howarth, Toronto Neighbourhood Centres

Lisa Lalande, The Mowat Centre

In other countries, innovative practices such as data labs, integrated data systems, and information sharing environments are enabling effective evaluations of social programs. So, what are these new practices? And what do they offer to Canadian nonprofits? Learn how these practices are turning government administrative information into valuable insights for nonprofits and discover their key role in enabling social finance.


Ben Liadsky, Ontario Nonprofit Network


Laura Feeney, J-PAL North America

Michael Lenczner, Powered by Data and Ajah

Canada is actively building collective knowledge about our true shared history with Indigenous peoples, language, identity, and nationhood. With national movements underway, have you found yourself tongue-tied trying to find the right language to engage Aboriginal peoples and start meaningful conversations? Learn how to become a better ally by exploring how language can strengthen relationships with First Nation, Métis and Inuit peoples.

In recent years, the Syrian refugee initiative has been met with an outpouring of support from nonprofits and the rest of civil society. In this session, hear from the cross-sector networks that made timely and effective action possible. Together, we’ll explore the next steps that nonprofits can take to sustain long-term support, civic engagement, and meaningful integration for refugees in our communities.


Mario Calla, COSTI Immigrant Services

Carolyn Davis, Catholic Crosscultural Services

Tim Jones, Artscape

The public and private funding landscapes are shifting. What are the implications for our sector? Learn how funding trends will affect the way nonprofits operate and explore how as a sector we can work together to navigate new funding environments.


Zabeda Oumer-Haji, ONN


Susan Kitchen, Coaches Association of Ontario

Laura Starret, Program Manager, Community Living Toronto

Jini Stolk, Research Fellow, Toronto Arts Foundation, & ONN, past Chair

Sue Watts, Employment and Education Centre, Brockville

The social enterprise landscape is shifting and developing in Canada – and this is both an opportunity and a challenge as policy makers, advocates and practitioners seek solutions that will release the economic and social potential of social enterprise. Yet, there are some essential elements to creating a strong ecosystem and many roles that need playing. Contribute to our interactive discussion on what could create and grow a healthy nonprofit social enterprise ecosystem, weaving lessons from a recent Canada-Scotland social enterprise study tour into the conversation.


Cathy Taylor, Ontario Nonprofit Network


Stephen Cohen, Social Enterprise Branch, Ontario Ministry of Economic Development and Growth

Susan Manwaring, Miller Thomson

David Millar, Water First

Luc Morin, Le Conseil de la coopération de l’Ontario

Our sector can shift evaluation so that it addresses questions that matter to nonprofits. We can create a system that makes it easier and more rewarding for organizations to do meaningful evaluation work as true partners with our funders. This panel will discuss what steps we need to take to make this a reality. Explore how to rethink evaluation as a tool that is truly useful to our work, leads to action, and helps us better serve our communities.


Andrew Taylor, Taylor Newberry Consulting


Shannon Fenton, Centre of Excellence for Evidence-Based Decision Making, Treasury Board Secretariat

Marcel Lauzière, Lawson Foundation

Robin Sutherland, Thinking Rock Community Arts


These sessions are focused on strategies for the sector that are playing out right now. In some cases, we’re mid-game. What action is underway this year? What can we do to set up the next phase of strategy effectively, and see what’s coming down the field in the months ahead? What collective action might we need to take in the near future?

After years of research and advocacy, climate change strategies are rapidly rolling out across governments. However, this issue is not just for the environmental and scientific sectors, but is a widespread call for all of us to adapt and do our part to fight climate change. Explore how your nonprofit can direct its energy to better understand and influence climate change policy, and collaborate to take immediate action when needed.


Keith Brooks, Environmental Defence 

Teika Newton, Transition Initiative Kenora

Kim Perotta, Canadian Association of Physicians for the Environment

All nonprofit workers deserve to retire with a pension. Over the last year, ONN’s pensions task force has been developing a pension plan for Ontario’s nonprofit sector. The plan has been carefully designed to be affordable, easy to administer, and to provide competitive benefits. Find out about the plan and the benefits to your organization, and how you can be a part of this historic development in our sector.


Liz Sutherland, Ontario Nonprofit Network


Rich Bailey

Jennifer Closs, Ontario DeafBlind Services

Iris Fabbro, North York Women’s Centre

Michael Kainer

Are nonprofits working together as effectively as they can to drive policy change? Explore how your nonprofit can identify partners for common cause and harness the power of varied perspectives. We’ll also discuss how nonprofits can adapt their advocacy culture to meaningfully include different values, assumptions, and practices.


Valérie AssoiSouth East Ottawa Community Health Centre and City for All Women Initiative

Celeste Licorish, Hamilton Community Foundation

Our working conditions have changed dramatically over the last generation, but the regulatory environment hasn’t kept pace. Ontario’s Changing Workplaces Review is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to change the game in providing a fair regulatory environment for the working world of the 21st century. Learn more about what the Ministry of Labour advisors heard during public consultations, their recommendations to government, and what this might mean for the nonprofit sector – our employers, our employees and those we serve.


Jenn Miller, Atkinson Foundation


David Beaulieu, Employment and Labour Policy Branch, Ontario Ministry of Labour

Heard the word ‘commissioning’ tossed around a lot lately? While privatization and alternative service delivery are nothing new to our sector, this recent buzzword is about a different kind of process- one that focuses on outcomes, efficiency and cost savings. What are the broader implications for the nonprofit sector? Learn more about what commissioning means, what impact it could have on community based service delivery, and what work is underway in Ontario.


Marg Stanowski, Springboard


Lynn Eakin, Ontario Nonprofit Network

Marian MacdonaldAssistant Deputy Minister, Supply Chain Ontario, Ministry of Government and Consumer Services

Young nonprofit leaders are passionate, capable, and eager to take their place in the sector. Join ONN’s Connect the Sector, a community of young professionals, in a deep discussion about how the sector can better attract, retain, and advance the next generation of leaders.


Michelle Baldwin, Pillar Nonprofit Network


Tom Abel, Connect the Sector

Emily Cordeaux, Imagine Canada

The federal landscape has shifted since last year – we have a new government with new mandates, many of which relate to nonprofits and charities. Join ONN’s spin on CBC’s At Issue panel where we’ll explore the key federal issues that affect our sector, who’s doing what, and the opportunities to align our public policy work.


Pedro Barata, United Way Toronto & York Region

Bruce MacDonald, Imagine Canada

Hilary Pearson, Philanthropic Foundations Canada

Katherine van Kooy, Calgary Chamber of Voluntary Organizations


The Partnership Project began in 2010 as a process to strengthen the relationship between the Ontario government and nonprofits, co-led by the Ministry of Citizenship and Immigration and the Ontario Trillium Foundation. Since then, the voices of the nonprofit sector have grown in our influence over legislation, regulations, and policies affecting our sector. However, many challenges remain- including better data and research on our sector, regulatory surprises and other barriers to growth, risk-taking and success. How can we work across ministries for a stronger policy environment for our sector? Share your ideas on how we grow this government-sector relationship.


Cathy Taylor, Ontario Nonprofit Network


Rick Beaver, Citizenship Branch, Ministry of Citizenship and Immigration

Peter Elson, Senior Research Fellow, Institute for Community Prosperity, Mount Royal University

Our sector has the power to reframe the narrative around operating and administrative costs. Increasingly, funders are recognizing that these infrastructure costs are critical for nonprofits to operate sustainably and are changing their approach to allow for flexibility. Let’s build on this momentum. Contribute to the dialogue by engaging in some myth-busting around administration costs and discussing alternatives to “low overhead.”


Liz Sutherland, Ontario Nonprofit Network


Dan Kershaw, Furniture Bank

Betty Ferreira, ReStructure Consulting

Curtis Klotz, Nonprofits Assistance Fund

Debra Shime, United Way Toronto and York Region


These sessions are focused on the skills and tools for our individual organizations and sub-sectors. While policy and systems play out, we have work to do and decisions to make every day. How can we incorporate these trends and issues into the practical work we do?

Imagine you’ve identified a relevant advocacy issue and jumped into action. How will you know if your efforts have made a difference? In this session, the Canadian HIV/AIDS Legal Network shares resources to help you work through a theory of action for policy advocacy. Gather tools to help you collect data, map out alliances and key stakeholders, and evaluate advocacy initiatives.


Sandra Ka Hon Chu, Canadian HIV/AIDs Legal Network

Kimahli Powell, Canadian HIV/AIDs Legal Network

It is rare for new ideas and insights to turn into successful programs on the first try. Failure happens. The question is: How do we fail intelligently? How do we create space to build resilience and harness the productive potential of our failures? Explore what intelligent failure means within your organization’s context and participate in hands-on, interactive activities. Engage with peers to foster ideas for dealing with failure productively and in ways that align with organization’s needs.


Ashley Good, Fail Forward

Nonprofit sector challenges are complex – there are a lot of moving parts and many different stakeholders. How do we begin to navigate such challenges and collaborate in developing and implementing meaningful solutions? In this session, join organizers from Civic Tech Toronto, as they share their experience with “hackathons,” and how you can begin to use design thinking processes to tackle some big challenges!


Irene Quarcoo, Civic Tech Toronto

Anuta Skrypnychenko, Civic Tech Toronto

Jane Zhang, Civic Tech Toronto

Forces of nature can quickly change our cities. In Alberta, The Emergency Preparedness Initiative of Calgary is bringing together multiple stakeholders from the public and nonprofit sectors to collaborate on a model for better emergency response. Explore how Ontario’s nonprofits can use their expertise and resources in preparing for, responding to, and recovering from emergencies. Identify the opportunities and challenges of cross-sector partnerships and how the nonprofit sector can best help communities during a crisis.


Michael Grogan, Calgary Chamber of Voluntary Organizations

Evaluation can lead to meaningful action when there is trust and collaboration between partners and a focus on learning. However, it’s not always easy to have these conversations particularly with funders. Learn and participate in different scenarios that highlight how to engage in a conversation and how to ask more strategic questions.


Ben Liadsky, Ontario Nonprofit Network

Andrew Taylor, Taylor Newberry Consulting

Changes to Ontario’s Lobbyists Registration Act that took effect on July 1, 2016 will affect our sector’s government relations practices. What do these changes mean for nonprofits and for democracy, and what can we do about it? We’ll unpack the issues that have arisen as a result of the updated legislation and explore the ways we can ensure our sector remains a partner to government and a vital player in the public policy process.


Allison Smith, Queen’s Park Today


John Campey, Ralph Thornton Centre

Terrance S. Carter, Carters

Jane Hilderman, Samara

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