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Keynote Speakers

Keynote speakers and moderators include some of the region’s most influential decision makers.

Dr. Barbara Hendrie is the Director of UN Environment North America. She has over two decades experience as a senior international diplomat/negotiator and development/humanitarian professional, working for both the United Kingdom and United States governments. She was a senior official in the United Kingdom's Department for International Development (DFID) from 1999 to 2015, and a senior political appointee of President Obama based in the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) in 2015-2016. Barbara, a native of New York, has a Ph.D. and Masters in social anthropology from University College, London, UK, and a B.A. in English from Bowdoin College in Maine, USA. She is a dual US-UK citizen.

Steven A. Altman is Senior Research Scholar and Executive Director of the Center for the Globalization of Education and Management at the New York University Stern School of Business. Mr. Altman’s research focuses on international flows of goods and services, capital, information, and people. He measures how these flows change over time, examines how they are shaped by cross-country differences and distances, and discerns implications for business and public policy.

Mr. Altman co-authors the biennial DHL Global Connectedness Index, which tracks globalization worldwide, by region, and at the level of individual countries. His research on globalization has been featured in The Economist, The Washington Post, Harvard Business Review, Strategy & Business, Global Finance, and many other publications.

Mr. Altman brings to his research extensive experience consulting with companies on international and emerging market strategies across a variety of industries and geographic regions. He has also managed the development of several teaching and decision-making tools.

Mr. Altman holds an MBA with distinction from the Harvard Business School, an MPA from Harvard's John F. Kennedy School of Government, and a B.S. in Economics summa cum laude from the Wharton School of Business at the University of Pennsylvania.

George Thomas is a thought leader and adviser to public and private sector organizations in the Americas, Europe, Africa and Asia. With more than twenty years of experience, George has held a variety of sales, strategy and consulting roles. A dynamic leader and team builder, George has helped clients develop successful strategies and execute transformational projects in business operations, capital improvement, enterprise processes and applications, organizational change management and strategic planning.

George currently serves as Global Director, Smart Infrastructure, for Hatch Ltd. In this role, he leads Hatch's efforts in helping clients maximize value across all Infrastructure and Urban Solution domains. George also founded New Urban Informatics, a boutique business advisory firm, providing expertise to some of the most innovative companies and governments focused on Public Sector Analytics and Smart Cities. He is based in Washington DC.

George previously served as Global Director of Strategy & Markets for IBM’s Government Industry vertical. In this role, he was responsible for the strategy and execution of new innovations and solutions to assist governments globally in delivering improved services to their citizens. From 2013 to 2014 he was the Director of Smarter Cities for IBM Greater China, based in Beijing, PRC; and from 2010 to 2012, he was the Global Director for Smarter Cities Sales Strategy & Execution. Prior roles have included US Sales Director responsible for IBM’s services portfolio in State & Local Government, Education & Public Healthcare segment and Partner responsible for IBM’s US SAP State, Local and Education Practice. George has successfully delivered several complex, mission-critical transformation consulting engagements in the public sector which include innovative and breakthrough projects in technology, process and people transformation. Prior to joining IBM in 2000, George held senior positions with the management, business consulting and engineering practices of PSINet; Metamor; and Mott MacDonald respectively. In these roles, he was involved in global multi-million dollar engagements covering complex implementations in finance, human resources, supply chain, reengineering, process improvement, and core engineering projects.

George is a recognized industry expert at the intersection of technology and business in areas such as cognitive computing, deep analytics, smarter cities, Blockchain, the API economy, internet of things, and cloud computing. George is a founding member of the Smarter Cities Council, a member of the US NIST Executive Committee for Global City Teams Challenge, a prior resident expert at the IBM Center for Cognitive Government, a Senior Advisor to the Virginia Center of Innovative Technology, leads the Transportation Segment for Governor’s Virginia Smart Communities initiative, and is a mentor, board member and coach to several start-ups and innovative companies. George is a proven thought leader and a regular speaker at conferences and events including at the C40 Mayor’s Conferences, TEDx, Chambers of Commerce, Harvard Club, American Institute of Architects, the World Bank and the United Nations. George holds a Master’s Degree in Engineering and Management from the Georgia Institute of Technology in Atlanta, Georgia, USA.

State of the Great Lakes Economy Session

Douglas Porter has over 25 years of experience analyzing global economies and financial markets. As Chief Economist at BMO Financial Group, he oversees the macroeconomic and financial market forecasts and co-authors the firm’s weekly flagship publication, Focus. Mr. Porter manages the team that won the prestigious Lawrence Klein award for forecast accuracy of the U.S. economy, and was named by Bloomberg as top Canadian forecaster.

As a respected commentator on economic and financial trends, he is regularly quoted in the national press and often interviewed on radio and television.

Before joining BMO, Mr. Porter held the positions of Economist and Country Risk Analyst with other Canadian financial institutions, and also worked at the Bank of Canada.

Mr. Porter has been a member of C.D. Howe’s Monetary Policy Council since 2008 and also serves on the Investment Management Committees of the Bank of Montreal’s Pension Fund Society and Western’s Endowment Fund.

Mr. Porter has been a Chartered Financial Analyst since 1995 and earned a masters degree in Economics from the University of Western Ontario.

Moderators

Daniel-Robert Gooch is president of the Canadian Airports Council, where he oversees operations at the Canadian division of Airports Council International-North America. He was promoted to the position after serving five years as director of communications and policy.

Daniel has more than 16 years experience in marketing, public relations, and publishing, particularly in the aviation and technology sectors. Prior to joining the CAC, he was publisher and editor of Commercial Aviation Today, a Montréal-based daily electronic news publication for airline industry executives around the world. After founding the publication in 2003, Daniel built its readership to 8,700 airline industry leaders on nearly every continent. He also was involved in marketing, media relations and event planning for the publication’s parent company.

Previously, Daniel was vice president of strategic planning for Atlanta-based Gelignite Communications. In this position, he managed the firm’s public relations and interactive marketing efforts for its U.S. and Canadian clients in the financial, healthcare and business-to-business technology sectors. He also has held a series of successively senior positions in marketing and media relations for firms in Atlanta, Coral Gables, Fla. and Montréal. Daniel is an honours graduate in political science and history from Concordia University in Montréal.

Panelists

Ryan is the Executive Director of the Ontario Federation of Snowmobile Clubs (OFSC), a volunteer led not-for profit association that provides the voice for organized snowmobiling in the Province of Ontario. The mission of the OFSC is to provide leadership to member organizations in our commitment to enable exceptional snowmobile trails and rider experiences throughout the province.

Before the OFSC, Ryan was the Vice President, Government Relations & Public Policy with the Canadian Franchise Association (CFA), the recognized authority on franchising in Canada. Ryan was responsible for increasing the influence of the CFA and advocating for favourable public policy to support franchising in the marketplace through government relations, strategic public policy partnerships and advocacy at the federal and provincial levels. Prior to CFA, Ryan was the Senior Director, Public Affairs at GS1 Canada, the world’s leading supply chain standards organization. Prior to joining GS1 Canada, Ryan was the Director, Government Relations & Policy at the Real Property Association of Canada (REALpac), where he helped lead the commercial real estate sector through proactive and reactive advocacy campaigns. Ryan was also an Associate at the political consulting firm Greener and Hook, LLC where he worked on both the political and corporate side of the company.

Before Greener and Hook, Ryan was a research assistant at The Center for Terrorism and Intelligence Studies (CETIS) where his deliverables helped formulate the Global Terrorism Database (GTD), now the largest open source intelligence database in the world. In the fall of 2007, Ryan accepted a key staff position within United States Senator Fred Thompson’s Presidential Campaign.

Academically, Ryan has earned a Bachelor of Arts (B.A) in political science from New England College, a Master of Public Policy (M.P.P.) from The American University School of Public Affairs, a Master of Law (LL.M) at York University’s Osgoode Hall Law School, and an Executive Master of Business Administration (E.M.B.A) at the University of Fredericton’s Sandermoen School of Business.