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.


Sharing the Holiday with The National Arts Centre

“Canada is our stage. Le Canada en scène.”

Written by: Shannon Murphy

For those who are unfamiliar, The National Arts Centre is one of Canada’s largest premiere venues for the performing arts. Located downtown on the Rideau Canal the NAC is not only a prominent Ottawa landmark but is also designated as a National Historic Site. The NAC boasts the most talented performers in a variety of disciplines including English and French theatre, vocal, orchestra, and ballet, and is home to hundreds of special events annually. The NAC proudly supports the arts through the NAC Foundation – and during the holidays it partners with various charitable organizations including the Ottawa Food Bank, and the Snowsuit Fund.


Photo: Marc Fowler

It is without question that mid-way through November the city is in full holiday swing. From the decorations on storefronts, to the snowflake display on Parliament Hill; it is easier to catch the contagious spirit of the season than it is to catch a winter cold. The famous buildings and architecture around the city each contribute their own unique winter sparkle; among these Capital hot spots is the National Arts Centre.

Since 1969, the National Arts Centre has proven to be a staple that defines the Christmas season in Ottawa. It has become a tradition among many that promotes the underlying message of each winter-inspired show; a collective love of music, culture, and community. When the outdoor signs change and the interior transforms to favour a more festive theme, NAC guests can be confident in the quality holiday performances they will experience.

The Nutcracker

The Nutcracker

Since the first of December, the NAC has shown and hosted several holiday shows and events including that of the Tchaikovsky classic, The Nutcracker, a David Myles Christmas Concert, a Christmas collaboration between Matt Dusk and the famous NAC Orchestra, Handel’s Messiah with James Feddeck, and a Christmas dinner at their restaurant Le Café. The NAC provides a memorable holiday experience and incorporates regular shows into the schedule all while debuting their highly anticipated and long awaited headline show, Alice Through the Looking Glass.


David Myles’ Promotional Invite, 2014.


If you were able to catch a Christmas special this season, or have any special memories from shows past, please share in the comment section!

12 Days of PR: Christmas films, uOPRA’s top picks.

Written by: Shanice Atkins-Broome

Edited by: Shannon Murphy and Pina Capuano

Do you still feel the spark when Christmas season nears? Are you one to pop in your favourite Christmas films as soon as the holiday season begins?

It’s that time of year again when children and adults alike rush into the living room in hopes of catching their favorite classics on TV (does this 1960s claymation special ring any bells?)

Our list below looks at three of the best Christmas movies that help us get into the holiday spirit. This winter-inspired list also gives some insight into the public relations strategies and tactics each film used when it first came onto the scene to capture the hearts of movie-goers and become holiday classics. Continue reading

12 Days of PR: Holiday Traditions

traditionsWritten by: Sarah Pudwell

Edited by: Pina Capuano

A tradition is a strange concept. Until you really think about it, your family’s traditions might seem completely normal, and they are, to you and your family. However, it’s when you stop and consider how other families spend their holidays that you begin to see what makes traditions so special; they are unique.

To learn more about different holiday traditions, we asked students from the University of Ottawa about their Christmas traditions. 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

uOPRA Talks: Melrose PR

Written by: Jocelyn Lubczuk

Edited by: Pina Capuano

uOPRA Talks: Melrose PR

As an avid Shark Tank viewer, I found myself quite excited as I sat down one Friday night with a big bag of popcorn to enjoy the show. I watched as two women walked confidently into the tank, and as their bio reel played I knew that I wanted to be like them professionally after my graduation. Kelley Coughlan (right) and Jenn Deese (left) own a luxury lifestyle PR firm based out of sunny Los Angeles. While they own and operate their very own business, their product ‘Pursecase’, a hybrid wallet and phone case, is what they brought with them into the Shark Tank. Here is a link of their clip of sharktank:

During their pitch they eloquently battled through Robert Herjavec and Mark Cuban’s tough comments. They were offered a royalty deal through the one and only Kevin O’Leary, and after all was said and done the ladies made a deal with Lori Greiner, who offered them 55 thousand dollars for 15% of their business. Walking out of the tank with their dream deal in hand, the happiness on their faces was evident. Not only did they gain exposure for both of their brands but they gained a strategic partner for Pursecase. What an accomplishment!

I knew uOPRA readers would be interested to hear about the success of these two business women, so I reached out. Below is Kelley Coughlan’s insights on PR, Pursecase, and success after graduation.

uOPRA: How did you get started in PR? What sparked your interest in luxury lifestyle brands?

Kelley: I got started in PR after taking a few classes in college at the Annenberg School of Communications at USC. I was originally a business major but ended up switching focuses after I found my calling in PR and communications. I interned at various PR firms throughout college and found that this lifestyle suited me. It’s what I live and breathe, I have always loved reading lifestyle magazines so being able to work with them by pitching products and stories is really fun.

uOPRA: Whats your favorite part of working in PR?

Kelley: The people we get to work with are the best part of working in PR. We get to work with such interesting and inspiring people on a daily basis. Each client of ours has such a drive and passion for their product or service and it’s contagious. It’s exciting to be around that positive energy.

uOPRA: I saw your pitch on Shark Tank and watched you make a deal with Lori Greiner. Can you describe what that experience was like for you and how it impacted Melrose PR?

Kelley: We have been flooded with emails and calls since our Shark Tank appearance and our deal with Lori. The response has been overwhelmingly positive and we are so grateful to have Lori on the pursecase team. The whole experience (of being on the show) has been life-changing for us; Melrose PR has gotten numerous inquiries from potential new clients after being on the show and we are excited to work with new businesses and individuals who share a passion for marketing. It’s been a win-win for Melrose PR and pursecase alike.

uOPRA: Your enthusiasm and love for your product was contagious through your pitch. How do you balance your passion for Pursecase and busy PR life?

Kelley: Thank you! It’s been a dream promoting our own product so being able to do PR for pursecase has been incredible. In PR, you are always looking for synergies and ways to market and promote with strategic partnerships and events. Having pursecase as a client has proven to be a huge benefit to our other clients as we have been able to collaborate on many different levels.

uOPRA: What is a typical day in the life of an entrepreneur & business owner?

Kelley: There is really no “typical” day in PR [especially] when you own a business; it varies day to day. I can say though that the first thing I do when I wake up is check my email… this usually gives me a pretty good idea of what the day has in store!

uOPRA: And finally, do you have any advice for recent PR graduates?

Kelley: Get an internship! A few internships if you can! You will learn if PR is for you, and what type of company suits you best. There are pros and cons to being at both a large or a boutique PR firm and there are so many different industries that you can specialize in so it’s important to get your feet wet as soon as you can. PR is [also] all about your relationships and connections, the earlier you create those relationships, the better off you’ll be!

Be sure to check Melrose PR on Twitter @MelrosePR

How to Lose a Job in 10 seconds, or less.

Written By: Channelle Labelle-Viens

Let’s take a moment to quickly review the idea of a public relations (PR) expert. Public relations experts communicate with the public on behalf of companies or organizations, their duties are to prepare press releases, keep contact with organizations and publics, represent employers, plan conventions, etc.

Now, a real PR expert knows that the choices a public figure makes can impact both their personal and professional reputation instantly. Once you enter the PR world, anything you say can and will be held against you in the court of social media and platforms like Twitter and Facebook allow the entire world to become the audience.

Continue reading