Connect 2 Success Conference: Meet the speakers

The uOPRA team is proud to introduce the speakers for the Second Annual Conference: Connect 2 Success. Enjoy!

Master of Ceremonies (MC)

Ryan Kennery

MSL1MPQURyan Kennery is the Director of Communications and Operations for Ottawa Mayor Jim Watson. Ryan previously worked in communications for the City of Ottawa, where he managed projects for municipal departments including economic development, emergency services, and public health. He  holds bachelor’s and master’s degrees in communications from the University of Ottawa, and studied journalism at Sheridan College. During his time at the University of Ottawa, he served in a number of student leadership roles including President of the Communication Student Association.

He is a former member of the University of Ottawa’s board of governors and is a current member of the University of Ottawa Alumni Association’s board of directors.

Ryan will be introducing the keynote speakers, as well as moderating the panels during the conference.

 The Keynote Speakers

Renée Filiatraut

Untitled1Renée is a regular commenter on foreign and defence issues and has appeared on CBC’s The National with Peter Mansbridge, Power & Politics with Evan Solomon, CBC Radio’s The Current, CTV Question Period and Power Play. She is also a contributing writer for Policy Options Magazine, National Newswatch, the Ottawa Citizen and the Canadian International Council’s

Offering a rare perspective on the realities of conflict and diplomacy in the digital age, Renée has been a guest speaker at Ottawa University, McGill University and the Munk Centre for Global Affairs.

Currently, Renée is a professor at the Algonquin College School of Media. She is fluently bilingual and lives in Ottawa.

Christopher Massardo

christophermassardo_pic-1-of-1Christopher Massardo is a publisher, editor, writer and former fashion stylist based in Ottawa, Canada. Massardo entered the fashion and journalism world in 2009, at the age of 22. His entry was on a bit of a ‘whim,’ after pitching a story idea to the editor of a local magazine. Within a short couple of years, Massardo found his working passion  in magazine covers, advertisements, campaigns and in publications such as Dolce Vita, Italian Vogue, Capital Style, Wedding Dreams, Canadian Brushstroke, Z!NK, Papercut, Supplementaire, IDOL, Photographer & Muse and more.

In the Fall of 2011 Massardo launched PRESS fashion magazine, a quarterly print and digital publication focused on fashion based in Ottawa. Now in 2015, PRESS has established sales  locations in Ottawa, Toronto, Montreal, Calgary, Vancouver, New York, Chicago and Tokyo. This vast success has led to features on CTV, Rogers TV, CBC Radio, The Ottawa Citizen,, CHIN Radio, The Brill Blog, and more!

Now at 28, while still running PRESS, Massardo is releasing his first book, “The funny, horrible, and (possibly) true stories of #setlife”, set to be available in select stores and online in the Spring of 2015.

Rob Mariani 


Rob Mariani is the Senior vice-president and national practice leader, engagement strategies at Hill & Knowlton Strategies Ottawa. He began his professional life at Compaq as manager of operations and delivery (1996-1998), and built on his service delivery strength through his position as a product manager at Mitel (1998-2001). In 2003 Rob co-founded Ascentum, a leading engagement firm in Canada that was acquired by H+K in 2012.

Rob is a strong believer in the power of engaging people in decisions that affect them most, having applied his passion and expertise on engagement projects for business, government and not-for profits. He is committed to helping organizations build sustainable decisions to complex issues through citizen and stakeholder engagement.

Rob holds a bachelor of science (economics, public policy and public management) and a master of business administration (organizational management) from the University of Ottawa. Rob holds professional engagement certification through the International Association for Public Participation (IAP2).

The Panelists

Kristine D’Arbelles

crop1_400x400Kristine D’Arbelles is a public relations and communications professional who builds on her career one new opportunity at a time. She currently co-hosts the podcast Young PR Pros alongside partner Julia Kent. The podcast is for the young and young at heart, structured for PR pros looking for tips and advice on how to build and advance their careers. Another one of Kristine’s achievements includes her production of Inside PR, a weekly podcast about public relations and social media.

From Monday to Friday you can find Kristine busy working as the manager of public affairs for the Canadian Automobile Association. A few of her many tasks include media interviews, engaging with members through the CAA National Twitter account or managing a new project to keep Canadians safe on the road.

Kristine also believes in giving back to her community through volunteering. She is heavily involved with the International Association of Business Communicators, Ottawa Chapter. She currently holds the position of VP of Membership on the IABC board. She is also a director for the Impaired Speed Skating Association of Canada (ISSAC), which empowers impaired speed skaters to dream big and aim high by funding training, travel and equipment expenses of registered skaters to help them represent Canada at internationally recognized impaired speed skating competitions.

Darcy Boucher 

H1Y-29d-Darcy Boucher is a public relations professional and entrepreneur by day, and Naval Reservist in the Canadian Forces by night. While Darcy’s interests are multi-ranging, her main passion is people. Having lived both across Canada and in Mexico, Darcy is multilingual in English, French, and Spanish. Her extensive experience across multiple spectrums in the PR industry; from the fashion world to working with tech startups, prepped her to start her own business in 2013. Thus, Bowda PR, Communications & Consulting, a creative boutique PR agency, was born. Darcy’s motivation and inspiration for starting Bowda was entrepreneurship, with their tagline appropriately being “we are passionate about what you do”.

Natalie Bovair APR


Natalie Bovair APR is the principal consultant at Savoir Faire Public Relations, a company that she started in 2013 with plans to keep the company small and personal. She has spent much of the past 25 years in the health care communications practice area, including work with PR agencies, continuing medication education companies, and health charities. Her career experience also includes professional association communications, membership management and, most recently, teaching public relations.

Over the years, she has won four national awards for excellence in communications work. She has helped health care associations and companies to reach Canadians with life-giving news, successfully handled communications crises and hot-seat questions from the likes of the fifth estate, and boldly faced her PR class of digital native students with instruction on the strategic use of social media.

Natalie is a current member of the Canadian Public Relations Society’s National Membership Committee, a PRK Exam marker, and an Accreditation program invigilator. She has served as an elected member of the CPRS Toronto board, in the Professional Development and Membership portfolios, and is currently enjoying my work with CPRS Ottawa-Gatineau as Secretary and chair of Accreditation.

She is Accredited in Public Relations, and holds a Bachelor of Business Administration and advanced Diploma in Public Relations.

David Rodier 

David-RodierDavid Rodier is a vice-president and Group Leader of Hill+Knowlton Ottawa’s Public Sector Communications Unit. David has over 20 years of experience providing high-value strategic communications and policy advice for governments, business and the not-for profit sectors.

David has a broad practice area encompassing corporate communications, message development and execution and reputational management. He was the lead consultant for the release of all three State of the Nation Reports by the Science Technology and Innovation Council- the arms-length council that advises the Government of Canada on Science and Technology policy. David also has a robust health practice providing strategic and communications advice for clients including the Canadian Agency for Drugs and Technologies in Health (CADTH) and the Canadian Task Force on Preventive Health Care. In 2009 he managed the release of the Investigators Report into the Listeriosis Outbreak.

Prior to joining the consulting world, David served for seven years as an advisor to the Honourable Allan Rock at the Department of Justice and Health Canada. At Health Canada David managed Canada’s HIV/AIDS and Tobacco Control Strategies from 1997-2002. His proudest career accomplishment is the adoption of global precedent setting picture warning systems cigarette packaging that are now found in over 65 countries.

The Workshop Speakers

Dan Mader

Dan MaderDan Mader is Vice President in the Ottawa office for NATIONAL Public Relations. He draws on his knowledge of policy, communications, and strategy to help NATIONAL’s clients succeed in an increasingly regulated world where public opinion and the political process are critical.

Dan has a deep background in consulting and public affairs, including nearly six years working as a senior advisor to federal cabinet ministers. He served in senior policy roles at several departments, leading the development of policy in areas such as Treasury Board, Environment, Infrastructure and Transport.

Dan served as Chief of Staff to a new cabinet minister, gaining significant experience in communications and issues management. He later served as Deputy Director of Communications for a provincial election campaign, writing speeches and television ads and overseeing video production.

Before joining National, Dan worked as a Senior Consultant at a Toronto-based public affairs strategy consultancy.

Dan has an MBA from the Rotman School of Management at the University of Toronto and an Honours Bachelor of Mathematics in Computer Science from the University of Waterloo.

Melanie Coulson

one pager- uopra conference.pdfMelanie Coulson, United Way Ottawa’s Director of Communications and Content, has been telling stories since she was about two years old. She has more than 15 years experience as an award-winning senior-level journalist in the country’s top newsrooms. After graduating from her Master’s Degree in Journalism and Mass Communication from Carelton University, Melanie went on to work for CBC, the Globe and Mail and the Ottawa citizen. Spending over 15 years working in the news industry, she held positions such as NCAN reporter, Assistant National Editor and Senior Editor.

Presently, Melanie’s professional role as Director of Communications and Content for the United Way Ottawa involves leading her communication team, creating strategic communication strategies and developing videos, blog posts and various media content to grow the United Way’s brand.

Throughout her time working in such high roles in the news industry, Melanie also works as a Teaching Instructor. She taught media law at Algonquin college, and is currently a professor at Carleton University’s School of Journalism and Communication. Melanie is a very well respected communications professional, and holds the Michener-Deacon Fellowship for Journalism Education award.


12 Days of PR: Spreading the Christmas Spirit: 45th Annual ‘Help Santa Toy Parade’

Written by: Madison Dobson

Edited by: Pina Capuano & Jocelyn Courneya
Photography by: Sarah Pudwell


On Saturday, Nov. 22, I had the chance to attend the 45th annual ‘Help Santa Toy Parade’ in Ottawa, hosted by the Ottawa Professional Fire Fighters Association. Since moving to Ottawa in 2013, this was my first time attending the Christmas parade and I was excited to be part of this local holiday tradition.

The parade began at 11 a.m. sharp and travelled from Wellington Street, along Bank Street, ending at Laurier Avenue West and Elgin Street. Despite the bitterly cold weather, there was a large turnout with people, young and old, lining the streets.

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Professor Profile – Stephen Heckbert

Written by: Shauna Quinn
Edited by: Pina Capuano

July 14 2014- Some say the public relations program at Algonquin College is the best in the province. Heck, some go so far as to say it’s the best in the country. Once you meet the program coordinator, Stephen Heckbert, you’ll understand why.

Originally from Eastern Canada, Stephen brings over 20 years of experience in public and media relations, government relations, strategic communications, marketing and more to this prestigious program. A graduate of the University of Prince Edward Island, he holds a Bachelor of Arts degree with majors in English and philosophy. Shortly after this, he began his career as a journalist while completing a Masters degree in Journalism at Carleton University. He later began his communications career with the New Brunswick Department of Finance as the Director of Communications to the Minister and in 2003, the Ottawa Business Journal named him an honouree of their Ottawa’s “40 under 40” award.

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uOPRA takes home two IABC Excel Awards

Written by: Tommy Nguyen
Edited by: Sharon Cheung

May 16, 2014 – The University of Ottawa Public Relations Association (uOPRA) attended the 14th annual IABC Excel Awards Ceremony last night at the National Arts Centre and two projects from the year were selected as winning pieces in the student division.

The Take uOPRA to Work Day four-part podcast series in collaboration with Ottawa-based podcast duo Young PR Pros (hosts Kristine D’Arbelles and Julia Kent) took home the IABC Excel Award of Merit and the Let’s Grow Together 2014 conference won the IABC Excel Award of Excellence. The two projects aimed to connect Ottawa’s academic and professional organizations in the communications and public relations community by helping network and educate the attendees at both events. Continue reading

Communication & PR Open House

Written by: Sharon Cheung

On March 15th, the University of Ottawa Communications Department hosted an open house for potential new communication and public relations students. The day opened with a one-on-one networking lunch with the head professors of the department. Afterwards, the Chair of the Communications Department, Sylvie Grosjean, welcomed the students to the info session and introduced her colleagues Luc Dupont, Florian Grandena and Isaac Nahon-Serfaty.

Professor Grosjean shared with the eager audience on how enrolling in an organizational communications program touches base with all facets of communications. Organizational communication is a practical approach to learning interpersonal and intercultural communications as well as becoming familiar with the dynamics of a functional organization through the examination of internal and external factors. If you’d like to learn more on the different available avenues of communication, Organizational Communication is a great start! Continue reading

Our first speaker is…

Our first speaker is...

UOPRA is proud to present our first speaker Ryan Kennery, at our first annual Let’s Grow Together conference. Mr. Kennery was appointed the Press Secretary to Mayor Jim Watson’s office summer of 2012. Kennery has a M.A. in Communication and a B.A. in Communication from the University of Ottawa. He is well known for his strong involvement within the community, as he is also on the Board of Directors for the University of Ottawa Alumni Association. Thank you for everything you do Ryan, we are looking forward to hearing what you have to share as a communication professional.

12 Days of PR Bliss: What has uOPRA done for YOU?

Written by: Sharon Cheung

We hope that you have enjoyed our 12 Days of PR Bliss. Your bloggers have taken great  pleasure in bringing you diverse topics as well as new perspectives on the profession. A few weeks ago we sat down and discussed what uOPRA embodies, ideas of community and skill building, a genuine resource for young professionals, and networking opportunities surfaced. In the spirit of the Christmas holiday, we would like to share with you what a student association such as uOPRA has done for some of our members:

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