Sunday General Session

August 17, 2014
10:00 a.m.–12 Noon


Chief Planner, City of Toronto


Jennifer Keesmaat is committed to creating places where people flourish. As an urban planner, her practice has been characterized by an emphasis on collaborations across sectors and on broad engagement with municipal staff, councils, developers, business leaders, NGOs and neighborhood associations. Over the past decade, Keesmaat has worked in municipalities across Canada—on the development of site plans, urban design guidelines, official plan reviews, corridor studies, and culture plans. 
She has been the Chief Planner of the City of Toronto since September 2012, acknowledging that there are numerous challenges, but always remaining committed to giving the public a voice in the future-shaping of this great city. In 2013, she moderated a series of Chief Planner Roundtables open to the public that focused on transportation, resilience and disaster management, and development issues.
She’s received broad attention for her TEDx Talks on “Walk to School” and “Own Your City.” Her innovative work has been recognized by several organizations, including the Canadian Institute of Planners, the Ontario Professional Planners Institute, and The Design Exchange.
Join us for this introduction and insight into today’s Toronto and what the future may hold for this vibrant city. 


Monday General Session

August 18, 2014
8:30–9:45 a.m.


Former Commander, International Space Station;
Professor, University of Waterloo


“Good Morning, Earth.” That was Colonel Chris Hadfield’s Twitter greeting to the world each morning while living aboard the International Space Station. “Called the most famous astronaut since Neil Armstrong,” Colonel Hadfield became a worldwide sensation, after his blastoff from Kazakhstan in December 2012, for his harnessing of the power of social media. He made outer space accessible to millions and infused a sense of wonder into the collective consciousness not felt since man walked on the moon.

His multiple daily Tweets and photographs from space made people see the world differently. His accessibility, whether answering questions via Skype such as “How do you wring out a washcloth in space?” or collaborating with The Barenaked Ladies for a song sung simultaneously by nearly a million people, endeared him to all while he orbited the earth.

A decorated astronaut, engineer, and pilot, Chris Hadfield’s many awards include receiving the Order of Ontario, the Meritorious Service Cross, and the NASA Exceptional Service Medal. The author of the bestselling book, An Astronaut’s Guide to Life on Earth, he is also commemorated on Canadian postage stamps, Royal Canadian Mint silver and gold, and on Canada’s newest five dollar bill.

Tuesday General Session

August 19, 2014
8:30–9:45 a.m.


Public Sector Advocate, Leadership Development Innovator


Ian Hill has a unique perspective of the public works sector in the United States and Canada.  In the US, over 150 public works departments have participated in his various leadership programs.  In Canada, he has helped to spearhead some 250 grassroots projects in communities from Newfoundland to British Columbia and all points in between.

Through these real world experiences and his personal interactions with the best and worst of the public works sector, he has come to a simple conclusion, that the times we are living require action, and the action needed requires a certain leadership approach to be successful. 

In this heartfelt keynote message to the public works sector, Ian will share the leadership approach he developed through his Canadian experience and the one he believes can be used by individual public works professionals and the public sector as a whole, to do their essential work which touches every citizen from cradle to grave. 

This approach takes into consideration the user-driven society we operate in today: it marshals human capital both within and outside the four walls of our departments; it creates a powerful alignment of all stakeholders’ time and talent towards shared goals, it taps into all of our collective intelligence to generate the innovative ideas needed to maximize limited resources; and it inspires a personal and organizational pride that is the foundation for any successful and sustained work! 

Wednesday General Session

August 20, 2014
11 a.m.–12:15 p.m.


Planetary Futurist, Best-selling Author


Alex Steffen is the thinking-person’s optimist. His inspiring, provocative talks about the future pack houses around the world. He has the rare ability to connect planetary thinking to today’s most practical concerns. From his popular TED talks to the boardrooms of leading corporations, Alex Steffen is known for helping audiences understand the role of world-changing ideas and trends in their own lives and work.

In the Introduction to Steffen’s first book Worldchanging: A User’s Guide to the 21st Century, Al Gore wrote: “Taken together, these solutions present a picture of a future that is not dark or catastrophic, but one that is full of hope and within our grasp.” In his most recent book, Carbon Zero: Imagining Cities That Can Save the Planet, Steffen posits that “environmentally minded urban renewal will lead to a vast 40-year boom that will make us all more prosperous.” He is now at work on a new book that will explore the practice of planetary thinking, showing how seeing the big picture can help us find prosperity, security, and purpose in an age of chaos and uncertainty.

Alex Steffen has served as advisor to more than 100 NGO’s and businesses and currently holds the position of Planetary Futurist in Residence at IDEO, the award-winning global design firm. 

“The really shocking truth for most of us isn’t how bad things are,” says Alex Steffen, “it’s how good things can get.”