Speaker Biographies

RDC is pleased to welcome distinguished speakers who will provide a breadth of their experiences to students attending Backpacks to Briefcases. Below is an alphabetical listing (by first name) of our speakers:

Bonnie Lawrence
Bonnie is the Director of Human Resources. She worked at Alberta Investment Management in Edmonton as the HR Coordinator until she moved to Red Deer and started at Rifco in 2015. Rifco did not have an HR department and Bonnie has been slowly building the department over the last three years. This includes: strategy, compensation, performance management, recruitment and leadership. Bonnie works with Managers and Executives to help them successfully implement our people strategies. She oversees both the High Potential and Leadership programs. Bonnie has a Diploma in both Marketing and Human Resources. 

Charlie Bredo
Charlie grew up in Red Deer. He attended the University of Alberta (Bachelor of Commerce, 2004) and obtained his Chartered Accountant designation in 2006. Charlie had experience with private equity, real estate investment and energy retailing companies before co-founding Troubled Monk in 2015. Troubled Monk focuses on making hand crafted feer, soda and spirits and have won awards at the local, national and international levels. Charlie is married and has three young girls.

Doug MacDormand
Doug taught his first course at RDC in 1985, and then joined the faculty, full-time in the fall of 1989. Doug teaches Business courses at opposite ends of the spectrum. Business Statistics and Computing were his mainstay for many years, but in recent years he has also expanded into the areas of leadership and interpersonal skills. Doug has served as chair of the Business Administration and Commerce programs, as well as Interim Associate Dean for the Donald School of Business. In his off-campus hours, Doug worked for three years as Executive Pastor of CrossRoads Church, currently serves on the Board of CrossRoads, and has anchored the multi-church Alpha program in central Alberta. Finally, Doug has also been a strong supporter of Toastmasters, an organization that helps people develop public speaking and leadership skills. Recently Doug received his Distinguished Toastmasters status, the highest level of achievement in the organization. Through both his in-class and out of class activities, Doug has become a keen advocate for the development of skills outside of the classroom. Doug and Kevin Willoughby have been working with the DSB team to develop opportunities for students to go Beyond the Books. This year they are launching a new non-credit certificate in Student Professional and Personal Development, that will help all DSB students develop the extra-curricular skills that employers are looking for. 

Gwen Ganske
Gwen Ganske is the Regional Human Capital Manager at MNP and has been a devoted member of the team since 2008.  She grew up on a farm in Manitoba, but has been an active member of the Red Deer community since moving here in 2005. After graduating from Athabasca University she started her HR career in Grande Prairie’s oil and gas industry. Since then she’s acquired a vast range of experience in numerous industries, such as manufacturing, agricultural and professional services in both unionized and non-unionized environments. A combination of experience, a constant drive to learn and dedication to her industry have shaped Gwen into the expert designated professional that she is today and earned her the prestigious award of CPHR’s Leader of the Year 2018.

Jaycee Bourke
As a result of Jaycee's passion for working within the community, she has been presented with a number of different opportunities that she never could have imagined she would get to experience. For three summers during high school (2015-2017) Jaycee volunteered as a Camp Counsellor in training at Camp Alexo. She was also a member of the Lindsay Thurber High School Student Executive Team. On this Executive Team, she  worked and led the Community team which had the main goal of providing high school students with opportunities to volunteer in the community and give back. In addition to these larger leadership roles, Jaycee also assisted with smaller events and organizations such as: The Red Deer Kinsmen and Kinettes, The Zed 99 Haunted House, and the Sweeping with the Stars Charity Bonspiel, to name a few. Due to her leadership skills and time spent working in the community, Jaycee was honoured to receive the 2018 Young Woman of Excellence Award from the Red Deer & District Community Foundation in June 2018.

Kamille Espeleta
Kamille is an RDC student attending the Social Work program. She has been a Student Ambassador for the past two years. Being a Student Ambassador has provided Kamille with many opportunities to network, meet new people and make lifelong friends.  

Laura Barr-Kyrzyk 
Laura has worked for the Government of Alberta for coming up on 18 years. She began her public sector career as a Human Resources Advisor, working in 3 different Ministries. She specialized in the field of labour relations, employee issues, grievance hearings, attendance management and educating her clients about legislation, rights, and responsibilities.

This background then led Laura into the Employment Standards area. Joining Alberta Labour in 2011, she has carried a caseload file, instructed new officers, covered as both a team lead and a manager, and is now working to support various educational and outreach activities for the Employment Standards Program Delivery branch.

Laura is a graduate of the University of Alberta, with both a B.A. and a B. Comm. In her free time, she is an outdoorsy type who loves kayaking, fly fishing, and camping.  In her spare time she has also taught kids to downhill ski and currently does fundraising for the Canadian Wheelchair Foundation.

Laura Naldrett
Laura is the Manager, Workforce with the 2019 Canada Winter Games. As a designated human resources professional, Laura has over 10 years of human resources experience across both the public and private sectors. She is excited to apply her experience to the 2019 Games. Her portfolio includes the management and coordination of the Volunteer Services and Human Resources programs that recruit, train, schedule and orient more than 5,000 volunteers and 60 staff. 

Lionel Williams
Lionel has worked with Investors Group for the past three years. Lionel and his team focus on the accumulation, protection, maintenance and transfer of their client's wealth. Investors Group focuses on the financial planning around client goals and their cumulative wealth to enhance their lifestyle. 

Marc Jerry
Dr. Jerry is a full-time faculty member of the Donald School of Business at Red Deer College.  He has taught Corporate Social Responsibility and Ethics, Strategic Management, Economics, and supervises the applied learning work practicum business students. Marc spent 15 years as a tenured Associate Professor and Department Chair in the Bissett School of Business at Mount Royal University in Calgary; he is also an Airline Transport rated Pilot and Class I Flight Instructor, and past Chair and Chief Flight Instructor of Mount Royal University’s Aviation program. Marc holds graduate degrees in Economics (Econometrics, Macroeconomics, and Sustainable Development) and Theology.

Dr. Jerry also has specific training in Not-for-Profit (NFP) board governance through the Institute of Corporate Directors (ICD); he has been involved in a number of NFP boards including currently  as 1st Vice-Chair of the  Bethany Care Society, and recent past board activity includes Volunteer Central and the Red Deer Regional Airport Authority. 

Michele Bilsborrow
Certified Shopaholic & owner/operator of award winning Cheeky Coutures Boutique in Red Deer, Alberta.  She is a 30 plus year veteran Fashion Stylist with a back ground in business, sales & marketing.  Michele and her Cheeky team of professional Fashion Stylists are bringing the love of fashion & boutique shopping back to the market place for Central Alberta women.  Her formula for success has been keeping it Cheeky by providing a consultive approach to women’s fashion needs & wants while breaking all the rules of the traditional retail world.  After all “when you look good you feel good and when you feel good you do life better”.

Michelle Brown
With a home town of Cambridge, Ontario and as a Bachelor of Arts - Therapeutic Recreation graduate, Michelle has dedicated nearly eleven years to Career and Employment services. Her roles have ranged in capacity from a Career Resources Coordinator, Provincial Job Developer, Job Coach, Career and Employment Outreach Facilitator, and Career and Employment Consultant. Michelle has a demonstrable passion towards individual employment success and has been applauded by colleagues, administrators and clients for her collaborative client-centered, career-services success. Michelle enjoys her time away from the office being mom to her two young boys. As a family they love hockey, hiking, camping, and listening to music, really loud!

Pam Snowden
Volunteering has contributed directly to Pam Snowdon’s career path. Prior to her employment with Volunteer Central, she was the executive director of a women’s resource centre, a program coordinator at a family resource centre, and a fund development associate at a health foundation. She is currently a volunteer ESL tutor with the Adult Literacy Program at Red Deer Public Library, and a fundraising volunteer for the Sylvan Lake ambulatory care centre. 

Rieley Kay
There are many businesses out there that fit into a mold and don’t take the time to stand out from the rest of the pack. Over the years Cilantro and Chive has grown from a small “mom and pop” operation to something more. Being listed in publications and recognized around the province, country and globally for being “different” while still reaming true to the roots that started the business over six years ago – humility, authentic, while pushing ourselves to better than we were the day before. 

Ron Sauve
As Regional Vice President for Alberta Central, Ron has responsibility for Personal Banking, Small Business and Financial Planning in the area.

With 31 years of experience in banking and business management, Ron has expertise in business operations, financial and personnel management, and customer service. After joining the bank in 1987, he held various senior leadership roles, including Branch Manager, Sales and Marketing Manager, Regional Sales Coach, National Sales Manager Cards, Regional Vice President for all three Northern Territories. Ron took on his current role of Regional Vice President, Alberta Central in 2012.

Born, raised and educated in the Ottawa area, Ron earned his Fellowship with the Institute of Canadian Bankers, along with his Personal Financial Planning Diploma. As an active member of the community, he is actively involved with the United Way, Don School of Business, Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation etc. Ron and his wife Christine reside in Sylvan Lake and enjoy living and working in Central Alberta.

Ryan Curtis
Ryan has lived in Red Deer for the past 27 years and grew up working in restaurants, like so many other young teenagers. After graduating high school in 2003 he took some time off and then took a year of Business Admin at RDC before moving into oil and gas. A couple years of life away made him want to be home as he was tired of riding the boom and bust of the oil industry. Ryan then decided to pursue a trade to provide some economic and home stability.  He completed his Red Seal Millwright apprenticeship at the Nova Chemicals plant, but in the middle of completing the apprenticeship his family completely fell in love with the original Famoso Pizzeria on Jasper Avenue in Edmonton. Having been the only person in my family to have worked in restaurants for many years (and despite swearing to never return to them...) they decided that they wanted to bring the taste of Neapolitan pizza to Red Deer! They consider themselves to be incredibly fortunate that Red Deer has embraced and supported them for the past 5 years and look forward to serving their community for many years to come.

Sally Shaxted
Sally is a Human Resources Consultant working with Stantec Consulting in Red Deer. Sally has worked as an HR Generalist for over 7 years and been involved in areas of HR for many years prior to that. She has supported Accountants, Doctors, Psychologists and now Engineers with their HR needs. Having also had experience working in Retail and for some smaller organizations, Sally has a good understanding of the challenges that many industries have to manage. 

Sandra Mitchell
Sandra started her career at the Red Deer Court House in the summer of 1979 and has enjoyed a long successful career with the government for the past 38+ years.  She has held various positions and roles at the Red Deer Court House and for the Regional Courts.  Sandra has participated in many Memberships and Coaching opportunities and has received a Management Development Certificate from the U of A.  She is also a Justice of the Peace and has taught various in-house Paralegal courses.  Sandra feels that through many experiences throughout the length of her career she can share how to be successful in any career.

Shelby Varghese
After nearly 20 years in various retail and corporate positions, including a 13 year career as a Human Resource professional with large international corporations, Shelby decided to take her experience working with leaders and employees in pursuit of  different passion. Her desire for teaching and inspiring men and women how to feel confident in the clothes they wear and project the best version of themselves propelled her to start All Set Style & Image Consulting Inc. Shelby has a Bachelor of Commerce degree from the University of Alberta (transferred from Red Deer College) and she is a Certified Image Consultant and Certified Men’s Image Consultant with the Fashion Stylist Institute based in Sacramento, CA. She has loved fashion, style and clothing for a lifetime.  

Stephanie Jones
Junior Achievement connects local business communities with youth at various stages of their education to deliver crucial lessons on financial literacy, entrepreneurship, and work readiness through a series of in-school programs and annual events. 

Todd Hirsch
Todd Hirsch is ATB Financial's Chief Economist. He holds a BA Honours in Economics from the University of Alberta and an MA in Economics from the University of Calgary. For over 20 years he’s worked as an economist at Canadian Pacific Railway, the Canada West Foundation and the Bank of Canada. For almost a decade, Todd taught economics at the University of Calgary.

Todd wrote his first book, The Boiling Frog Dilemma: Saving Canada from Economic Decline in 2012, and his most recent, Spiders in Space: Successfully Adapting to Unwanted Change, was released in 2017.

Todd recently received the U of A’s Alumni Honour Award and an honorary degree from Mount Royal University.

Todd spends most of his time connecting with people across the country through his many presentations and his media commentary. He also writes an economic update that is sent daily to thousands of subscribers. It’s called The Owl and you can subscribe at ATB Financial Economics.

Trevor Buttrum
Trevor Buttrum is an award-winning leader with 15+ years of experience in career development and campus recruitment. He is currently the Manager, Career Connections at the Insurance Institute of Canada -A national career awareness initiative which promotes the wide array of rewarding career paths in the property & casualty insurance industry to students, career changers, and global talent. He is respected for his candour, passion,and commitment to helping people achieve success in their careers. His passion is anchored by post-graduate studies in adult education and career development.

Wendy Cameron
Wendy started her post-secondary studies at RDC in 2010. She received a Business Administration diploma and then transferred to a degree program. Wendy graduated in June 2017 with a BA, majoring in Sociology, with Honours. As part of completing her degree, Wendy wrote a thesis titled A PhotoVoice Project on the Experience of Indigenous Students at Red Deer College.

During her time as an RDC student, Wendy was part of the Ambassador Leadership Program, a council member on the Students' Association, a member of Academic Council, secretary for a number of student groups and a member of other student groups. During her second year at the College, Wendy was hired as a Campus Rec Programmer. Now, she coordinates the Ambassador Leadership Program.

Wendy's studies in the Business Administration diploma included organizational behavior and human resource courses. However, it was her experiences volunteering and participating in student groups and council work that prepared her most for the Ambassador Leadership Program Assistant role. Meeting management, public speaking, taking notes, group dynamics, and other skills I needed were key ingredients to set me up for success.