Keynote Speakers

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

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.

Megan Leslie began as President and CEO of World Wildlife Fund Canada in December of 2017 after nearly two years at the organization, first as a consultant on ocean governance, then as head of ocean conservation. Before joining WWF, Megan was a Member of Parliament representing Halifax for two terms during which she was deputy leader of the Official Opposition, environment critic and vice-chair of the government committee on environment and sustainable development. In Parliament, Megan introduced a motion to ban plastic microbeads; this motion passed unanimously, leading to a ban on the Canadian manufacture, sale and importation of these products. She also expedited the creation of Sable Island National Park Reserve.


Catherine Clark is a nationally respected broadcaster, public speaker, emcee and writer, and the President of Catherine Clark Communications Inc.

Through her work in television and radio, Catherine has interviewed Canada’s most influential people to reveal the personal, human side of public life. She also served as the host and co-producer of The Residences, a television documentary series offering an unprecedented look behind the scenes at the homes of Canada’s leaders at Rideau Hall and 24 Sussex Drive.

Catherine is the Giving Back columnist for Ottawa at Home Magazine, has written for the Toronto Star and The Ottawa Citizen, and been published in The Globe and Mail, Canadian Living and Magazine FORCES.

Catherine is a member of the national board of CARE Canada and of the organizing committee of the Politics and the Pen Gala benefitting The Writers’ Trust.


John Cruickshank serves as Canada’s Consul General in Chicago with accreditation to Illinois, Missouri, Wisconsin, northwest Indiana, and Kansas City Metro.

Previously, Mr. Cruickshank has enjoyed a distinguished career in newspapers and television in both Canada and the United States. He served as the Chairman of the Canadian Journalism Foundation and Co-Chair of Canadian Press Enterprises. He was Publisher of the Toronto Star, Canada’s largest newspaper, and President of Star Media Group from 2009 until 2016. He served as Publisher of CBC News from 2007 to 2008 where he was responsible for all English language television, radio and online news. Before joining the CBC, he was Publisher of the Chicago Sun-Times and Chief Operating Officer of the Sun-Times Media Group from 2003 to 2007 as well as Vice President, Editorial, from 2000 to 2003.

Mr. Cruickshank is also a former Managing Editor of The Globe and Mail and former Editor-in-Chief of The Vancouver Sun. He worked for The Montreal Gazette and started his journalism career with the Kingston Whig Standard.

Born and raised in Toronto, Mr. Cruickshank is a graduate of Trinity College at the University of Toronto. He was honoured with a Doctor of Sacred Letters from Trinity College in 2013.

Greg Stanford assumed his duties as Consul General of the U.S. Consulate General in Toronto in August 2018. A career member of the Senior Foreign Service with the personal rank of Minister-Counselor, he has been a diplomat since 1988.

Greg has had the privilege to hold a number of challenging positions largely in the management and resource spheres both in Washington and overseas. Most recently, Greg was Chief of Staff to the Under Secretary of State for Management, a Deputy Assistant Secretary-equivalent position.

His foreign postings include Management Minister-Counselor in Kabul (2013-2015), Tokyo (2012-2013), Bangkok (2009-2012), and Bogota (2007-2009), as well as tours in Hanoi, Manila, London, Dublin and Nouakchott. Greg also worked in the Office of the Executive Director in both the Bureau of Consular Affairs (1990-1992) and Bureau of Diplomatic Security (1994-1996) in Washington.

Greg is the recipient of the Department of State’s 2003 General Services Officer (GSO) of the Year Award and 2012 Equal Employment Opportunity Award. He has also received Senior Performance Pay, Superior and Meritorious Honor Awards.

Greg speaks French and is a proud native of Michigan. He is married to Françoise Stanford; they have two children.

Stephanie is the Senior Director of the Sustainability and Circular Economy Program at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation’s Corporate Citizenship Center. She oversees the development of programming that promotes understanding of key circular economy and sustainability issues including around design, new business models, and transformative partnerships. Before joining the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation, Stephanie served as Vice President of Sustainable Business Development at Rabobank where she led the Bank’s North American sustainability strategy. Rabobank is a premier bank to the international food and agriculture industry as well as a leading financier of solar, wind, bioenergy, and energy infrastructure projects.

Stephanie has extensive entrepreneurship and public-private partnership experience, having supported global corporate partnerships and venture growth at Ashoka and, prior to that, fund management and early stage enterprises at Silicon Valley Social Venture Fund (SV2). Stephanie received degrees in Political Science (BA) and International Comparative Education (MA) from Stanford University.