Agents of Change 2021: Forward Together

This year’s theme, “Forward Together”, is driven by the need to prompt larger conversations about how efforts to build inclusive workplaces must consider diversity from a holistic perspective. Participants will have the opportunity to hear from a range of inspiring speakers and engage with their industry colleagues at our unique Tea-Time networking event, where frank discussions and knowledge sharing will be encouraged!

Agents of Change 2021 will be hosted virtually from 10:00 AM – 4:30 PM EDT on Wednesday, September 29, 2021.


10:00 – 10:50  Welcome Presentation and Keynote (Julia Middleton)
10:50 – 11:45  Panel Discussion 1: Why it’s Important to Accelerate the Pace of Change (Farah Alexis (Moderator), Vice President, Talent & Culture, Hydro One; Juanita Kwarteng, Diversity & Inclusion Program Manager, Publicis Groupe Canada; Gregory John, President and CEO, Unimaize Technologies Inc.; Fiona Blondin, Director of Indigenous Strategy, Cormorant Utility Services; Marco Pasqua, Marco Pasqua Enterprises)

Despite well intentioned efforts to improve workforce diversity, progress has been slow. The tragic events of the past few years, including the murder of George Floyd, the evolution of the #MeToo movement, and the most recent discovery of graves at residential schools have reignited a desire in our country to address the issues of social and racial injustice. There is an opportunity now for organizations to act – to seize this moment to accelerate commitments to diversity, equity and inclusion in their workplaces and ensure concrete action is taken.

At the same time, we must recognize that each individual brings a unique identity to the table and may face multiple barriers in the workplace depending on the overlapping elements of their identities — things like their religion, sexuality, race, gender identity, occupation, and or age.

Join our panelists as they share thoughts and experiences on why it is important to consider diversity and inclusion from a holistic perspective, and why organizations need to act faster now.

11:45 – 12:15  Lunch break
12:15 – 1:00  Panel Discussion 2: Making Diversity, Equity and Inclusion an Enterprise Priority (Sharleen Gatcha (Moderator) Founder and CEO, Women+Power; Heather Chalmers, President and CEO, GE Canada; James Larsen, CEO, e-Zinc; Lorraine Gray, Director, Station Services, Hydro One; Yasmin Meralli, President, Pluralism Performance Inc.)

Good intentions are one thing, but how do we actually make a meaningful difference in our organizations? Hear from organizations who have successfully prioritized DEI and implemented ground-breaking practices to effect real change. Our panel of leaders will share how they adjusted their organization’s approach and the tangible and measurable actions they are taking to transform their organizations.

1:00 – 1:10  What DEI Means to Me (Nirav Patel, Vice President, Human Resources, Ontario Power Generation)
1:10 – 2:00  Panel Discussion 3: Being an Agent of Change: Leadership that Makes a Difference (Kathy Lerette (Moderator), Senior Vice President, Business Transformation, Alectra; Lesley Gallinger, President and CEO, Independent Electricity System Operator (IESO); Darryl Spector, President, Promation; Charlene McQuaid, Vice President, Human Resources, Nova Scotia Power; Ken Hartwick, President and CEO, Ontario Power Generation)

Leadership from the top is critical to driving culture change. The best leaders let others know where they stand on complex issues and make it a business priority to create a company culture that supports the creation of development of equitable and inclusive workplaces. This includes clear communications, setting accountabilities, and leading by example.

Join our panellists to hear about their personal experiences in becoming DEI allies and champions, their goals, and be inspired by how they have influenced, initiated, and impacted culture change from the top.

2:00 – 2:15  Afternoon Break
2:15 – 3:00  Keynote Address with Q & A (Paula R. Glover)
3:00 – 3:50  Tea Time Networking
3:50 – 4:00  Closing Remarks

Keynote Speakers:

Julia Middleton

Julia is passionate about helping people from all backgrounds to develop as leaders and make an active and tangible contribution to their communities and to wider society.

Julia is the author of two bestselling books: Beyond Authority and Cultural Intelligence.

In the autumn of 1989, Julia founded Common Purpose, which has grown to be one of the biggest leadership development organizations in the world. Julia stepped down from the position of Chief Executive in 2019.

In April 2020, she launched Women Emerging from Isolation which she now leads. Julia is also a member of the Advisory Groups of both Common Purpose in Pakistan and the Sky Blue founders Group and is a Patron for Common Purpose of the Europe101 initiative.


Paula R. Glover

Paula R. Glover started as President of the Alliance to Save Energy in January 2021. A dynamic leader with more than 25 years of experience in the energy industry, Ms. Glover is the seventh president in the Alliance’s 43-year history.

Ms. Glover previously served as President and CEO of the American Association of Blacks in Energy, a non-profit professional association whose focus is to ensure that African Americans and other minorities have input into the discussions and development of energy policy, regulations, and environmental issues. In this role, she was responsible for managing the national office, and providing strategic direction and leadership for the organization. Prior to this role, Ms. Glover served as AABE’s Vice President of Operations and as the organization’s Director of Communications.

Ms. Glover’s other experiences include 15 years in the energy industry for both electric and natural gas distribution companies. During that time, she built a stellar reputation working with state legislators and regulators in her roles as Manager of Government and Regulatory Affairs. Ms. Glover commands a clear understanding of the consumer and community sides of the business as well having held industry positions in Community Outreach and Economic Development.

This year's speakers:

Charlene McQuaid, Vice President, Human Resources, Nova Scotia Power

Charlene started her career with Emera over 10 years ago as Senior Organizational Development Specialist at NS Power. Prior to her current role, Charlene most recently served as the Vice President, Human Resources & Organizational Development at Emera Inc. She has also held executive leadership roles at Emera Maine and TECO.

In her role, Charlene is instrumental in leading the future talent strategy and continuing to build upon the employee experience – ensuring Emera provides its people with opportunities for growth, development and mentorship. She also leads Emera’s focus around diversity and inclusion and supports the important work of Emera’s D&I Network.

Darryl Spector, President, Promation Ltd.

Since joining Promation in 2004, Darryl has established himself as a strategic Operations professional and Executive leader. Coupling his strong and engaging communication style with his previous Engineering, Manufacturing, and Project Management experience, Darryl has been instrumental in driving growth and development evolutions within Promation. He has managed several strategic operational reorganizations within the company, which has seen more than 750% growth in revenue during this period. In addition, Darryl has been an agent of change and cultural definition, as attested to by Promation winning the Award of Excellence in the Large Business category in Oakville in 2016, the Halton Employer’s Choice Award in 2017, OCNI Service Excellence Award in 2019, and Top 100 SME Employer in Canada in 2020 & 2021, and the Oakville Chamber of Commerce “Business Icon of the Year” award for 2021

Darryl holds the seat of Chair of the Board for Skills Ontario, Board member of Skills Canada, and also acts as the Chair of the Education and Skills Committee of the Organization of Canadian Nuclear Industries (OCNI). In addition, he sits on the Board of the Ontario Council for Technology Education (OCTE) which represents and advocates for all of the Elementary & Secondary Technology Educators in Ontario, and is also a member of the Ontario Advisory Board for the Canadian Manufacturers and Exporters (CME) association.

Farah Alexis, Vice President, Talent & Culture, Hydro One Networks Inc.

With more than 20 years of experience in Human Resources, Farah is passionate about equity, diversity and inclusion, specializing in talent acquisition, leadership development and employee engagement.

Farah holds a Master of Business Administration (MBA) from McMaster University and a Bachelor of Commerce degree from the University of Manitoba.


Fiona Blondin, Director of Indigenous Strategy, Cormorant

Fiona has joined the team at Cormorant to develop and implement a long-term strategy to promote and ensure the inclusion of Indigenous communities and services across Cormorant’s business units.

Fiona is a highly motivated senior engagement and communications advisor with a proven record of accomplishment within the Indigenous community, public service, and private sectors. She has specialized in providing high-quality and effective strategic advice and direct engagement of First Nation, Métis, and Inuit peoples nationally. A Dene from the Yellowknives Dene First Nation in Northwest Territories, Fiona is the proud granddaughter of the Late George Blondin, highly respected author, storyteller, and Indigenous leader. Building from this strong cultural foundation and family, she has made an impact in her ability to reach First Nations, Métis, and Inuit people in a unique and effective way, always gearing her approach and strategies to the customs and needs of the people she serves.

Gregory H. John – Awohkotsinaa (War Chief), Owner, Four Peaks Business Development Ltd., Unimaize Technologies Inc.

Gregory has accumulated a wealth of professional experience in two countries and across countless industries with over a decade’s experience in Indigenous and Stakeholder relations and is proud owner of two companies, Four Peaks Business Development Ltd. and Unimaize Technologies Inc. He is a proud citizen of the Metis Nation of Alberta.

Over the course of his career he has had the opportunity to build relationships with about 200 First Nations across Western Canada, while working on Coastal GasLink, Keystone XL, and TransMountain Expansion.
He is a highly sought-after panelist and keynote speaker who has discussed his vision for the Canadian economy across Canada and the globe. He was invited to speak at the Globe and Mail – Future Forward Summit in 2019 in Toronto, at Calgary’s 2019 Energy Disruptors, and was an invited guest of the Government of Japan on a trade mission where Japanese government officials and business leaders sought Indigenous perspectives on Canadian energy in Nov 2019.

Heather Chalmers, President & CEO, GE Canada, President, GE Healthcare Canada

Heather leads GE Canada as they work to serve customer needs in the Aviation, Healthcare, Power and Renewable Energy Sectors. She heads GE businesses that partner with business and government leaders to reposition the Canadian economy for the future with a focus on climate change, digital, AI and Additive Manufacturing.

Throughout her extensive 25-year career with GE, Heather has consistently developed and led high performing teams that are industry leaders in bringing innovative technology and digital solutions to solve complex challenges in both Canadian and global markets.

James Larsen, CEO, e-Zinc

James has over two decades of business and engineering leadership experience in cleantech and energy, including strategy, operations, finance, design, and engineering. Currently, James is CEO of e-Zinc, a Toronto-based energy storage company with a proprietary long-duration technology that economically enables 100% renewable energy solutions.

Prior to e-Zinc, James was Director of Business Development with MaRS’ Advanced Energy Centre, developing and leading a new consulting business focused on the adoption of innovative clean energy technologies by businesses. James’ other experience includes management consulting with Bain & Company to develop strategic solutions for market-leading companies in North America and Europe.  James also spent many years as an engineer working in the renewable energy industry with a variety of technologies, including hydrogen fuel cells, as well as micro-hydro and geothermal generation.

Joanna Osawe, President & CEO, Women in Renewable Energy (WiRE)


Joanna attended Western University studying Languages, graduating with an Honours BA. Joanna works at ABB in the position of Business Development Manager, End Users & EPCs. Joanna has used her language skills on a focused, 15+ year management career at leading renewable and energy sector companies in Canada and the United States. By carrying complex projects through many stages, she has seen firsthand the vital role renewable energy and emerging technologies serve in moving the Canadian, American and global energy mix forward.

Recently, Joanna Osawe, has been appointed to the Federal Sustainable Development Advisory Council, led by Minister Jonathan Wilkinson of Environment and Climate Change. She looks forward to engaging and contributing to the Council’s success. The Council is made up of the Canadian public that represent the views of different provinces and territories, Indigenous peoples, as well as environmental non-governmental organizations and business and labour organizations.

Juanita Kwarteng, Diversity & Inclusion Program Manager at Publicis Groupe Canada

The stories we tell matter. I’m a data-driven digital professional that uses storytelling to execute inclusive brand programming while equipping leaders with the tools they need to build diverse, inclusive teams within a culture of belonging. I have strong experience creating and implement business-driven Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion strategy. I am proficient in key concepts such as allyship, building a culture of belonging and inclusive leadership.

I’m a member of the Confronting Anti-Black Racism Advisory Committee at the City of Toronto which has been a powerful experience towards learning about D & I about all levels of government. I am passionate about creating spaces that work for everyone and everyone feels like they belong.

Kathy Lerette, Senior Vice-President, Business Transformation, Alectra Utilities

Kathy currently serves as Senior Vice President, Business Transformation at Alectra Utilities, the largest municipally-owned electric utility in Canada. Previously, Kathy served as VP Utility Operations for Horizon Utilities, overseeing all aspects of Engineering, Construction & Maintenance, and Supply Chain Management divisions.

She works tirelessly to transform the traditionally male-dominated energy sector; ensuring opportunities are created for young women seeking careers in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM). In recognition of her work in this area, Kathy was named a YWCA Woman of Distinction for Science, Technology and Trades in 2018.

Ken Hartwick, President and CEO, Ontario Power Generation

Ken joined OPG in March 2016 as OPG’s Chief Financial Officer and Senior Vice President OPG, where he led all operations under Finance, Business Development, Strategy, and Risk. As CFO and SVP Finance, Ken also led the launch of Canada’s first utility green bond as well as OPG’s expansion to the U.S. through the acquisition of Eagle Creek Renewable Energy LLC.

Ken joined OPG from Wellspring Financial Corporation, where he was CFO and Treasurer. He was also interim President and CEO at Atlantic Power Corporation, a generating company that does business in Canada and the U.S. For ten years prior, Ken was the President and CEO of Just Energy Corporation, a Canadian- based energy retailer. In addition, he held the position of CFO at Hydro One between 2001 and 2004. He also held senior positions at Cap Gemini and was a partner at the accounting firm Ernst and Young.

Lesley Gallinger, President and CEO, Ontario Independent Electricity System Operator

Lesley Gallinger is President and Chief Executive Officer of Ontario’s Independent Electricity System Operator. Under her leadership, the IESO oversees the safe and reliable operation of Ontario’s bulk electricity system, ensuring affordable electricity is available when and where people need it.

Throughout her career, Ms. Gallinger has focused on driving strategic change within complex organizations to deliver stakeholder value. Prior to joining the IESO, she served as President and Chief Executive Officer of Elexicon Energy, a large municipally-owned electricity distributor in Ontario, which she led through a sizeable merger integration. She has also held senior roles in the electricity sector that include Chief Strategy and Financial Officer at the Electrical Safety Authority as well as VP, Corporate and Regulatory Affairs and Chief Financial Officer at Oakville Hydro.

Lorraine Gray, Director, Station Services, Hydro One

Lorraine has been in the electricity sector for over 16 years and has spent her career with Hydro One during that time. Her passion is in Operational transformation and performance; all her roles have been within the Operations mainstay of the high-profile and crucial organization. Of the 16 years, 13 of those years has been spent in leadership positions, the first of which she achieved when she was just 25 years old. Her time has been equally spent in Head Office functions and in various aspects of Field Operations, another unique aspect of her career.

Lorraine is a tireless supporter of people, both at work and in her personal time. She is passionate about Engineering, and in particular, encouraging and supporting women to seek out non-traditional roles. She demonstrates this through her long-time leadership and support of Hydro One’s Women in Trades, Technology, and Engineering employee resource group, of which she is a founding member, and serving as an Executive Committee member of the Hydro One Women in Engineering Partnership. She is also an Ontario Tech University Engineer in Residence for the past four years, supporting their Women in Engineering program. And Lorraine gives back to her community by sitting on the Whitby Public Library Board of Directors.

Marco Pasqua, Founder and CEO, Marco Pasqua Enterprises

Marco Pasqua is an award-winning Entrepreneur, Accessibility Consultant and Inspirational Speaker with Cerebral Palsy. Throughout his life, he has been involved with a number of organizations as a spokesperson, helping to spread advocacy for persons with disabilities internationally. As an Accessibility and Inclusion Consultant, he has worked with some of the biggest change-driven business leaders who are champions for more accessible, inclusive workplaces.  It’s through these experiences that he is helping to pave the way for all Canadians to have universal access to the programs, services and places that they live, work and play.

Sharleen Gatcha, Founder and CEO, Women+Power, Vice President, Business Development, Hardline Engineering Ltd.

Sharleen is a life-long connector, passionate advocate for women and skilled energy professional with over 25 years of diverse experience in the industry. Sharleen is the Founder and CEO of Women+Power, a not-for-profit organization that provides support to women that work in and with the power industry in Alberta, and the men who support us as allies.

Sharleen recently joined Hardline Engineering s Vice President, Business Development, overseeing the organization’s business development and growth efforts as the business rapidly expands. Prior to Hardline, Sharleen held previous roles at the Balancing Pool, Alberta Electric System Operation (AESO) AltaLink and TransAlta where she had a wide range of opportunities and provided leadership in the areas of project delivery, process improvement, contract management and negotiations, business planning, governance, and business development.

Yasmin Meralli, President, Pluralism Performance Inc.

Yasmin is a resolute advocate for diversity and inclusion. Throughout her career which has including working in the electricity sector in England, Yasmin has promoted pluralism. As President of Pluralism Performance Inc., Yasmin has worked with start-up tech companies, banks, educational institutions and not-for-profits to identify opportunities to improve diversity and inclusion.

Yasmin’s background includes executive/leadership roles in Strategy and Business Planning.  She was part of the first e-business group at BMO Financial Group.  As BMO’s VP of Diversity and Workplace Equity, Yasmin led a North American mandate to foster pluralism; during her tenure, BMO was recognized with several awards including Mediacorp’s award for being one of Canada’s Best Employers for New Canadians.

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