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David Bird
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David Bird

President & CEO, Verve Senior Living

David is currently the President & CEO of Verve Senior Living. As a seasoned hospitality executive, with over 35 years in hotels and restaurants he transitioned to the retirement industry from his prior role as Senior Vice President Operations, at Delta Hotels.  David is a seasoned hospitality executive with a proven track record of developing and implementing business growth strategies at the local, regional and national level.  David’s strong interpersonal and leadership skills coupled with a passion for helping teams achieve and sustain high performance in the areas of employee engagement, financial performance and guest loyalty is highly pertinent to all sectors of the hospitality industry.

Liana Carniello
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Liana Carniello

Human Resources Director, The Sheraton Centre Toronto Hotel, Marriott International

President, Hospitality Human Resources Professional Association

Liana has attained a Bachelor of Arts Degree (McMaster University) and a post graduate Human Resources Management Certificate (George Brown College).  In 2023, Liana additionally was awarded an Honors Bachelor of Business Administration Honorary Degree for GBC for her years of contributions to students in the Hospitality sector. As a Certified HR Professional and Leader, Liana was selected to join the Hospitality Human Resources Professionals Association (HHRPA) Board of Directors as Vice President, Special Projects in 2018 and in 2021 she was elected to Chair the Office of the Association where she continues to do so as President of The Board.


Liana’s personal brand aims to engage in strengths-based leadership to create employment cultures where people can bring their true authentic self to work each day.   Within the HHRPA Association, she sparks action through strategic purpose to connect, educate, celebrate, and advance the distinctive businesspeople skills practiced by Hospitality HR Professionals.  

Dan Morrow
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Dan Morrow

Senior Vice President of Food and Beverage at Maple Leaf Sports & Entertainment (MLSE)

Dan Morrow is Senior Vice President of Food and Beverage at Maple Leaf Sports & Entertainment (MLSE) where he oversees an F&B operation that encompasses Scotiabank Arena, BMO Field, Coca Cola Coliseum, Real Sports Bar & Grill and e11even. He joined the organization in February 2014 as Senior Director of Food and Beverage.

Morrow has spent his career in the sports and entertainment industry. Having spent thirteen years at Rogers Centre in various roles working for Levy Restaurants, ultimately leading the location as Director of Operations. A career highlight saw Morrow move to Vancouver in 2007 to lead the F&B Operations for the Vancouver 2010 Olympics. Morrow lead the development of the food and beverage planning for the 2010 Olympics building strong relationships with key governmental stakeholders, vendors and other organizations that ultimately lead to a successful Olympic Games.

Morrow is an active member of the food and beverage community and is currently Chair of the Board of the Ontario Restaurant, Hotel, Motel Association (ORHMA).  An organization dedicated to enhancing the business climate of the hospitality industry. Morrow is a Certified Professional Accountant (CPA-CMA) and is a graduate of the University of Western Ontario

Jessica Carrera

Jessica Carrera

Humber College Hotel & Restaurant Management Student

Jessica is a second-year Hotel and Restaurant Operation Management student at Humber College, who also graduated from the Culinary Management program in 2022. She has held different positions in the hospitality field from server, cook, dishwasher, manager, airport customer service and many more.  She is currently the student advocate at IGNITE where she supports students in having the best experience possible. From food security, mental health and wellbeing, to paid work integrated learning opportunities, Jessica fights for what she believes in and tries to give everyone opportunities.  

Jessica hopes to one day become an instructor and teach all things hospitality and open a restaurant when she will hire people from equity deserving groups or people who want a second chance. With this restaurant, she plans to host a “Pay What You Can” program, to help feed hungry people, especially students.  

Jessica will share perspectives and observations related to the hospitality industry’s approaches to attracting and retaining quality staff that she gained through personal experience and as shared with her by others considering careers in the industry.

Robert Carter

Robert Carter

Managing Partner, StratonHunter Group 

Robert Carter is Canada’s leading restaurant and foodservice expert with over 20 years of unique industry experience spanning operations, strategy, marketing and consumer research. As Managing Partner of The StratonHunter Group, Robert leads a portfolio of high growth companies in the restaurant and food-tech industry by developing strategic growth plans to increase market share, establish operational efficiencies, lead organizational change initiatives and secure growth capital.

Donna D'Andrea

Donna D'Andrea

Hicks Morley

Donna D’Andrea is a management-side labour relations and employment lawyer at Hicks Morley’s who provides practical and strategic advice to employers in all matters related to wrongful dismissal, human rights complaints, employment standards claims, union organizing campaigns, collective bargaining, grievance arbitration and occupational health and safety. 

Donna leads the firm’s Hospitality & Gaming Practice Group. She serves as chief spokesperson for most major hotel chains in their negotiations with unions and is known for her expert negotiation skills. Donna regularly appears before the Human Rights Tribunal, the courts, grievance arbitrators and the Ontario Labour Relations Board. She also participates in the employment and labour law aspects of business transactions, including mergers, acquisitions and business restructurings. 

In addition to speaking at employer organization and industry meetings, Donna conducts in-house seminars for clients on such topics as harassment, discrimination, accommodation, terminations, performance management and management/union relations. 

Jeff Dover

Jeff Dover


Jeff received a Bachelor of Commerce Degree in Hotel and Food Administration from the University of Guelph in 1989.  He earned his MBA from Wilfrid Laurier University in 1996 where he won the School of Business and Economics Graduate Gold Medal for Academic Achievement.  Jeff also holds the Certified Management Consultant, International Society of Hospitality Consultants and Foodservice Consultants International Society designations.   

Jeff has been consulting to the hospitality and tourism industry since 1998 and specifically to the food service industry since 2003.  Prior to his consulting career, Jeff held hospitality industry management positions in the hotel, attractions and food service sectors.  He represents the fifth generation of his family to work in Canada’s hospitality industry.  Other positions include Director, Asset Management for Fairmont Hotels and Resorts and Director, Resort Sales and Service for Interval International.  He has also taught business strategy to undergraduate and graduate students at the University of Guelph and Wilfrid Laurier University.

Omar Fares
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Omar Fares

Ted Rogers School of Management

Omar H. Fares is a lecturer at the Ted Rogers School of Management. Omar earned his Bachelor of Commerce and Master of Science in Management from Toronto Metropolitan University. Omar's main research interest is in the consumer behaviour area, particularly focusing on consumers' interaction with novel digital innovations and the impact of digital innovations on retailers. Omar published his research in different impactful journals, such as Computers in Human Behavior, the Journal of Financial Services Marketing, and the Journal of Global Scholars of Marketing Science. In addition to his scholarly contributions, Omar is a featured writer, with his work featured in key avenues such as the National Post, Yahoo News Canada, BBC world service, and CBC News. Omar's professional background combines expertise in sales, market research and planning, corporate strategizing, and leadership and training in the retail sector. Omar has worked for leading institutions such as Walmart, CIBC, and Fairstone Bank (previously Duo Bank). 

Carl Heinrich
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Carl Heinrich

Richmond Station

Carl Heinrich is a co-owner of Richmond Station, a Hospitality Included restaurant in downtown Toronto. With cuisine inspired by quality local ingredients and driven by technique, Carl was the host of AMI’s Four Senses, the winner of the Food Network’s Top Chef Canada Season 2, and the recipient of the 2015 Pinnacle Award for Canadian Chef of the Year. He learned how to cook in his mother's kitchen on Vancouver Island before training at the Stratford Chefs School, and with Chef Daniel Boulud in both New York City and Vancouver. Carl makes food that he knows his family would like to eat and keeps flavours pure. Avid gardener and home cook, he lives in Toronto with his wife and two kids. 

Chef John Higgins
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Chef John Higgins

George Brown College

Engaging, Entertaining and Irreverent with Decades of Hospitality Industry Experience…. Chef John Higgins!
He’s cooked for Royalty, guided the careers of thousands and always leaves those around him with insight and wisdom..  Chef Higgins who recently retired as Director of Hospitality and Culinary Enterprises at George Brown College, was television personality on “Chopped Canada” and is globally recognized as a leading Canadian contributor to the development of thousands of hospitality professionals while also helping to raise tremendous sums in support of industry education, will lead the conference’s events. John will share his witty, yet pointed views on where the industry is headed and how to navigate successfully through the current environment.

David Hopkins

The Fifteen Group

David Hopkins

David has over 30 years of experience in the restaurant industry. He began his career in restaurant management after graduating with an honours business degree from Queen’s University. From 1990-1997, David held various senior management positions within some of Toronto’s top restaurant companies. In 1997, David joined SIR Corp. to lead the financial/accounting department of one of their most profitable divisions, Signature Restaurants. During his 5 years with SIR Corp., David reconstructed the division’s information processing into a centralized accounting department and helped the division grow from 4 restaurants to 9, each with sales of over $4 million annually.  


In 2001, David left SIR Corp to form The Fifteen Group Inc., one of North America’s leading hospitality consultancies. With offices in Toronto and Vancouver, they have over 30 industry experts who cover all aspects of restaurant operations, from developing new restaurant concepts to maximizing restaurant profits through effective sales generation and disciplined cost control management. The Fifteen Group’s clients range from owner/operated establishments to multi-unit restaurant corporations. 

Mike Jackson

Mike Jackson

Deloitte Canada and Human Capital Practice

Mike is a Senior Manager, with Human Capital practice in Toronto, focusing on the Future of Work and Workforce Transformation. With over 14 years of experience working with clients on talent strategies, technologies and transformation programs he has a deep understanding of the intersection between talent and technology. Mike has worked with local, national and global organizations on a variety of strategic initiatives ranging from the development of a Future of Work strategy to next generation talent attraction to digitizing employee experiences. As part of Deloitte’s global Future of Work program, Mike has worked on initiatives to not only define the talent disruptors but to also develop approaches and solutions for organizations to embrace and lead the change on the horizon. Recently Mike has worked with the Hotel Association of Canada to develop a comprehensive approach to building and strengthening the industry’s workforce.

Francis Leonard
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Francis Léonard 


An entrepreneur since the age of 18, Francis Léonard has been an in the Tourism Industry for over 30 years. He is the co-founder of the Quebec-Canada Ice Hotel.  Involved in Quebec Tourism Media for nearly 20 years, he was co-editor of several magazines (Québec Scope, Le Passe-partout Service & Bonne Chère, and responsible for advertising opportunities at the Quebec City Convention Centre.  He was also a member of the jury for the Grand Prix du Tourisme (an annual gala that honors people and businesses in the tourism industry). Joined by eight experts with extensive experience in IT, sales and marketing, Francis recently founded Tip@Go, an electronic tipping service for hotel employees. With its unique business model Tip&Go quickly became the reference in Canada. Tip@Go USA will open in September 2023!  

Corey Mintz

Corey Mintz


Food Reporter & Consultant

Corey Mintz is a freelance food reporter (New York Times, Globe and Mail, Eater, and others), focusing on the intersection between food with labour, politics, farming, ethics, and culture. He has been a cook and a restaurant critic. He is the author of The Next Supper: The End Of Restaurants As We Knew Them, And What Comes After (Public Affairs, 2021) and How to Host a Dinner Party (House of Anansi, 2013), which chronicled 192 dinner parties he hosted with fascinating people, including: politicians, refugees, criminals, artists, academics, acupuncturists, high-rise window washers, competitive barbecuers, and one monkey. 

He lives in Winnipeg with his family. 

Nicole Nguyen
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Nicole Nguyen

CBRE Limited

Nicole Nguyen is the Senior Vice President with the CBRE Hotels Valuation and Advisory Services group in Canada. Nicole has over 16 years of experience in the hospitality industry spending the early years of her career in various upper management positions with Marriott Hotels and Resort in Canada. Over the last 12 years Nicole has worked in Canada and the Caribbean in hospitality consulting practice areas including market and financial feasibility studies; accommodation needs assessments, asset management, asset evaluation and strategy, appraisals and valuation as well as franchise and management contract review and negotiation. 

James Rhodes
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James Rhodes

Taxation Lawyers

James Rhodes has practiced tax law for 24 years representing clients across Canada. James is also the co-author of the LexisNexis publication ‘Federal Income Tax Litigation in Canada’. 

TaxationLawyers represents clients against the CRA at the audit and objection level, as well as litigating issues to Tax Court of Canada and Federal Court of Appeal.  

Prior to starting a boutique tax firm, he has worked at a major law firm, major accounting firms, and was counsel at the Department of Justice representing the CRA on hundreds of tax cases. 

In addition to representing restaurants in tax disputes, he works with restaurants to create gratuity systems that avoid liability for Employment Insurance Act and Canada Pension Plan premiums on gratuities paid to employees. Recently, Restaurants Canada hired James to intervene in the Federal Court of Appeal case of Ristorante A Mano to support the restaurant industry. 

Matt Rolfe
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Matt Rolfe

Westshore Hospitality Group

Matt Rolfe is a coach, speaker, bestselling author, and entrepreneur who mentors the top 10 percent of the hospitality industry in unlocking their true potential. With a primary focus on personal development, Matt enables high-performing leaders to build unified teams and effectively delegate responsibilities for maximum growth. He is the founder of Results Hospitality and Westshore Hospitality Group, where he has worked with hundreds of leadership teams throughout North America. Beginning his career with companies like Bacardi and Labatt/Anheuser-Busch, Matt is an industry expert dedicated to helping leaders examine the human element of their business and execute effective team-building strategies unique to their needs. Matt's talks and workshops are focused on strategy execution not strategy consumption so get ready to lean in, participate, learn and grow.

Dr. Altaf Sovani

Dr. Altaf Sovani

Alzen Inc.

Altaf is the founder and CEO of Alzen Inc, a Boutique Consulting firm specializing in Hospitality, Tourism and Event industry. He has over 25 years of experience in academic leadership and as a professor in post-secondary institutions.

Altaf is an award-winning author of the book “Labor Crisis in Hospitality, Tourism and Event Industry” Finding innovative solutions for recruitment and retention of Millennials.

Altaf was recognized as one of the “30 Most Influential Educators In Global Hospitality 2023” by the International Hospitality Institute. He is a recipient of the Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Medal for his exemplary work in the field of education and an award from Meetings Professionals International (MPI) for National Meetings Influencer. He holds a DBA from California Southern University and an MBA from University of Guelph.

Sara Wilde

Sara Wilde
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Ruth's Chris Steak House

Sara is the Vice President, Brand & Guest Relations at Ruth's Chris Steak House, Duke Locations. This includes 3 Greater Toronto locations as well as 3 in San Antonio, Texas.  She has been with the organization for almost 20 years with a strong focus on brand marketing, promotion and guest experience. Sara also serves as a Director on the Board of ORHMA which she joined after recognition as a passionate industry involvement advocate and leader.

Ali Schmoke

Alli Schmoker


With more than nine years of dynamic experience in the technology industry, including a dedicated six years within the travel sector at TripAdvisor, Alli serves as the Senior Manager on the Hotels Solutions team. A true advocate of empowering clients, Alli's team’s portfolio includes supporting the entire Canadian market. Passionate about driving client success, she thrives on helping hoteliers optimize their online presence on TripAdvisor. Alli looks forward to sharing insights and strategies at the conference, fueled by her commitment to innovation and excellence in the hospitality landscape.

Bonnie Vesterfelt
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Bonnie Vesterfelt

Expedia Group

Bonnie is an Area Manager for Expedia Group Lodging Partner Services, responsible for leading the market management team in Central Canada.  Her team provides a consultative sales approach to help properties maximize their performance through Expedia Group product solutions. Bonnie has over 25 years of experience within the Hospitality Industry with a focus on Operations, Sales and Revenue Management and has worked with brands such as Marriott, IHG and Independent properties.  For the past 15 years Bonnie has been with Expedia Group supporting various markets throughout Canada. She is passionate about growing and developing talent within the Hospitality Industry and is the VP of Membership/Sponsorship for the HSMAI Ontario Board.  In her spare time, she loves to travel, event planning, golfing, and spending quality time with family and friends. 

Jane Yrenaya
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Jane Yrenaya


Jane is a Learning Implementation Strategist at FranklinCovey. She brings close to 20 years working in Human Resources and Learning & Development space, having worked mainly in the hospitality industry. In her most recent position as Corporate Director of Talent & Learning, Jane worked closely with the Human Resources and Senior teams to develop learning strategies in support of achieving operational goals.


Jane’s passion for impacting culture is rooted in helping leaders realize the talent potential in their teams. She has designed several learning and development programs, shaping her on a career path specializing in Leadership/Organizational Development and Employee Engagement. Having worked with an international hotel brand, Jane brings global experience working in various hotels in Canada, Bermuda, New York, UK and Abu Dhabi/Dubai. 

As a former client of FranklinCovey, Jane now works as an Implementation Strategist, drawing on her own experience, knowledge and expertise when working with clients to build great cultures and leadership development so they can achieve their business outcomes. 


Jane has earned a Bachelor’s Degree in Psychology and a Post-Graduate Diploma in Human Resources. She achieved her Diversity & Inclusion for HR Certificate with Cornell University and is certified in Psychological Safety with LeaderFactor.  Jane challenges leaders to look inward, renew and explore how well intended actions can affect our own well being and the well being of the people they lead.

Antonio Comparelli
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Antonio Comparelli


Antonio Comparelli - In 1984, Mr. Comparelli established his inaugural technology venture, where he focused on crafting Point of Sale Systems using personal computers tailored for small to mid-sized retailers. During the years spanning from 1985 to 1996, his company experienced substantial growth, expanding to encompass more than 200 employees, serving over 20,000 retail clients, and achieving sales exceeding $50 million. This expansion extended across a distribution network spanning seven countries. In 1996, Mr. Comparelli decided to transfer the intellectual property and customer base of his venture to its largest distributor. Following this transition, from 1997 to 2002, Mr. Comparelli provided consultation services to various dot-com enterprises while also engaging in international public speaking engagements at trade shows, prominent corporate technology events, and government presentations.

In 2002, Mr. Comparelli embarked on a new entrepreneurial journey by establishing RT7 Incorporated, a company dedicated to pioneering innovative software solutions for diverse business-to-consumer sectors. Currently, Mr. Comparelli serves as the founder and CEO of Metaguest.AI, a publicly traded company listed on the Canadian Stock Exchange. This company emerged as a spin-off from the innovative endeavors of RT7 Incorporated.

Mark Kelly

Mark Kelly


With over 30 years of experience in the service industry, Mark has spent almost his entire career in the hospitality sector – either on the front lines of hotel and restaurant services, or supporting it through the implementation of technology to better serve both guests and ownership. 


Starting as a night auditor as a summer student, Mark quickly learned a natural facility with both computers and people. A love of food and wine had him become one of Canada’s first certified sommeliers, but an opportunity to become front office manager at his old Summer job locale changed his fate and he quickly excelled at merging customer service with modern technological advances in the hotel sector. 


Joining Northwind in 1996 as the primary installer and support in the role of the Client Services Manager, Mark significantly contributed to the company’s initial increase in development and expansion efforts. He spent the subsequent 27 years learning and listening to customer needs and creatively helping them find solutions through the use of technology.


Mark was able to broaden his expertise during his 2-year tenure as COO at another PMS provider, as he successfully led the company through the most important client launch in its history. Equipped with the newly gained experience, he rejoined Maestro in 2021 in the role of the Senior Solutions Consultant where he is able to further apply his years of insight and knowledge to attracting discerning independent hotel and resort groups to Maestro.

Shilpa Arora

Shilpa Arora


Shilpa Arora, is the General Manager of DoorDash Canada, responsible for overseeing overall business strategy, operations and growth. With an international career spanning almost two decades and several industries, Shilpa has held leadership roles across financial advisory, mergers & acquisitions, corporate strategy and innovation as well as digital transformation.


Before joining DoorDash, Shilpa led CIBC’s personal banking and client connectivity strategy and operations. Most recently, she was Senior Director of Transformation at CIBC, responsible for leading the bank’s digital enablement and business optimization initiatives. Shilpa is a trained architect, holds an MBA from Indian School of Business and is a certified business valuator (CBV).


As a female leader in technology, Shilpa is an avid advocate for diversity and inclusion and intersectional representation in the workplace and is passionate about mentoring emerging women leaders and mentors newcomers and early-career women.

Adrienne Foster

Adrienne Foster

Hotel Association of Canada

Adrienne brings more than ten years of deep political and policy expertise to the Association. With both public and private sector experience, her most recent roles at Destination Canada (2016-2021) and the Tourism Industry Association of Canada (2011-2016) have uniquely position her with an in-depth comprehension of the complexities of the tourism industry and the challenges that lie ahead. As Vice President, Policy and Public Affairs, Adrienne will spearhead the industry’s recovery efforts including a focus on public policy that supports tourism & hospitality growth, labour issues and a level playing field amongst all accommodation providers.


Adrienne has a true passion for the tourism industry and is excited to specialize in the needs and business challenges of the hotel sector.

Vanessa Henderson

Vanessa Henderson
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With 20+ years across many facets of the hospitality industry and a background in Marketing, Vanessa Henderson now serves as OpenTable's Enterprise Restaurant Relations Manager for Canada. She consults for the country's largest restaurant groups in service of growing their revenue through operational efficiencies, digital marketing, and reputation management.

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