Plenary Panels

Diana and Charles Tisdall Lecture in Communications: CEO Panel

Join the CEOs of McDonald’s Restaurants of Canada, Ford Motor Company of Canada, Ltd and the Toronto International Film Festival as they discuss the challenges and rewards of being part of a larger, international brand.

In the case of McDonald’s and Ford Motor Company of Canada, Ltd, the home of that international brand is in another country. In the case of TIFF, the brand is headquartered in Canada but is far-reaching and must be a part of a global initiative as much as with the other two organizations profiled in this exclusive CEO panel discussion.

Some central questions and issues will be looked at in depth during this panel, notably whether selling a brand in Canada is in any way different than in other countries, and if so, how.

This panel will be of great interest to anyone who is interested in how brands are built in Canada, and how getting this part of the equation right can mean the difference between success and failure both at home and abroad.

This component of the 2016 World Public Relations Forum is presented by the McMaster-Syracuse Master of Communications Management program and the Communications + Public Relations Foundation, and is traditionally run annually as part of the CPRS National Conference, as the Diana and Charles Tisdall Lecture in Communications.

John E. Betts, President & CEO - McDonald’s Restaurants of Canada Ltd.

John Betts began his career with McDonald’s in 1970 as Crew in Southampton, New York. He then held numerous roles of increasing responsibility in the areas of operations, field service, training and purchasing throughout the U.S.

In 2008, Mr. Betts took on the role of President & CEO for the Canadian business. Under his leadership, McDonald’s Canada has achieved incredible business momentum, increased annual sales and guest counts, undertook a comprehensive restaurant re-imaging program, and introduced relevant menu enhancements like McCafĂ© – making McDonald’s a leading destination for premium coffee.

John’s passion for the McDonald’s brand, and for making it Canada’s favourite place and way to eat and drink, is brought to life by a strong focus on connecting with Canadian consumers in markets from coast to coast. McDonald's Restaurants of Canada Limited and its Canadian franchisees own and operate over 1,400 restaurants and employ more than 85,000 Canadians.

Dianne Craig, President & CEO - Ford Motor Company of Canada, Ltd.

Dianne Craig is president and CEO of Ford Motor Company of Canada, Limited, appointed to the position in November 2011. She leads Ford of Canada's operations, including a national headquarters, three regional offices, three vehicle assembly and engine manufacturing plants, and two parts distribution centres.

Craig joined Ford in 1986 and has held a variety of sales and marketing positions in Dearborn, Mich., and has extensive field experience including her assignment as regional sales manager in the Pittsburgh Regional Sales Office in addition to other assignments in the Detroit, Memphis and Atlanta regional offices.

Between 2005 and 2009, Craig was responsible for Ford and Lincoln Mercury U.S. dealer relations, leading the National Ford and Lincoln Mercury Dealer Council process and other dealer activities.

Before moving to Canada, Craig was general manager for the southeast market in the United States, where she led marketing, sales and service operations for 520 Ford and Ford-Lincoln dealers in North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, Alabama and Florida.  

Craig graduated from the State University of New York and holds an MBA from Ohio State.

Piers Handling, Director & CEO - Toronto International Film Festival

Piers Handling has been the Director and Chief Executive Officer of TIFF since 1994, responsible for leading both the operational and artistic growth of the organization. Now an internationally renowned cultural institution, Handling led the $196 million fundraising campaign for TIFF’s permanent home, TIFF Bell Lightbox, which presents year-round, daily programming. TIFF has a $40 million annual operating budget, employs more than 150 full-time staff, and for six years has been named one of the Greater Toronto Area’s Top 50 employers.

Handling has curated numerous film retrospectives, presented programmes of Canadian cinema, sat on festival juries all around the world, and has published extensively on Canadian cinema.

He holds three Honorary Doctorates from Ryerson University, York University and OCAD University, and has been honoured with a number of awards and recognitions, including the Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Medal; the “Chevalier des Arts et des Lettres,” France’s highest cultural insignia; and was invested into the Order of Ontario, the province’s highest official honour, by Lieutenant Governor David Onley.

Moderator: Gordon McIvor, President – Empire Club of Canada &

Executive Director – National Executive Forum on Public Property.

Gordon McIvor has over 35 years’ experience in the field of communications and public real property. He has worked during that time for private sector, government and not-for-profit organizations, including international bodies such as the World Bank and the OECD. Dr. McIvor has chaired numerous boards including the renowned Couchiching Institute on Public Affairs, the Communications + Public Relations Foundation, the Canadian Club of Toronto and the Alliance Francaise language schools.

He is presently the President of the Empire Club of Canada and the Executive Director of the National Executive Forum on Public Property. He is the founder of the CEO Award in Public Relations which was one of CPRS Toronto’s most successful annual events for over 20 years.

Indigenous Communications – Taking Action

Featuring Panelists:

Fiona Cassidy, Director - F R Consulting & Board Member – New Zealand
Tom Ormsby, APR, Director, External & Corporate Affairs - De Beers Canada Inc. - Canada
Sara Monture, Aboriginal Practice Lead – Enterprise Canada

Moderator: Derrick Pieters, Past President, CPRS National Board of Directors - Canada

Indigenous communities around the world are at a turning point in their collective interaction with governments, corporations and society at large. After a history of marginalization, the current generation is poised to make a difference and take action to literally communicate across cultures.

Our panelists will speak to us about their own experiences in charting a new path, helping governments and organizations find ways to communicate with indigenous people; and share their perspective on the future of building a new culture of communications with indigenous peoples around the world.


Fiona Cassidy

With more than 25 years’ experience in communications and public relations Fiona Cassidy is recognized as one of New Zealand’s senior communication professionals.

She’s previously worked as General Manager, Porter Novelli, Director of Communications, New Zealand Defence Force, Marketing and Communications Manager at Tectra and Strategic Communications Manager for Te Puni Kōkiri - Ministry of Māori Development.

Cassidy has extensive experience in a number of sectors including agriculture, defence, education, health, finance, social services, and prides herself on the strategic counsel she has provided to government and corporate clients on how to work with and engage with Māori audiences.

She is currently a board member of the Global Alliance, a former President of the Public Relations Institute of New Zealand (PRINZ), and an executive member on the PRINZ Fellows Board.

Tom Ormsby

A national award-winning Public Relations professional, Tom Ormsby is the Head of External & Corporate Affairs for De Beers in Canada. He was part of the team that brought De Beers Victor Mine into production, becoming Ontario’s first and only diamond mine in 2008 and ‘International Mine of the Year’ in 2009.

In June 2009, Ormsby relocated to De Beers Canadian Corporate Head Office and Support Centre, which has recently moved from Toronto to Calgary. He also works closely De Beers’ retail divisions in North America, is a member of the De Beers global Corporate Affairs Leadership Team and Chairs both the De Beers Crisis Management Team and the Public Affairs Committee for the Mining Association of Canada.

Sara Monture

Sara Monture is Indigenous Practice Lead at Enterprise—a public affairs, government relations and public relations firm with offices in Toronto, Ottawa, Niagara and Six Nations. She has spent the last 10 years establishing partnerships and economic opportunities between Indigenous communities and non-Indigenous stakeholders. She has worked with a wide range of industry partners to facilitate discussions with Indigenous groups on major projects across Ontario.

A results-oriented strategist, Monture is a skilled organizer, researcher, writer, and facilitator from Six Nations of The Grand River Territory. She has professional experience in government, business, and not-for-profit leadership. 

She has a deep understanding of the sensitivities required when building partnerships with Aboriginal communities.

Moderator: Derrick Pieters, APR, FCPRS LM

Derrick Pieters, APR, FCPRS LM, is an award winning communicator, a past National President and life member of the Canadian Public Relations Society (CPRS), and a past Presiding Officer and Chair of the CPRS College of Fellows. He has more than 50 years of extensive experience as a strategic communications planner, leader, media relations strategist, editor, broadcaster, government information administrator, and public relations consultant.

He holds an Award of Excellence for the use of Social Media, and the prestigious Philip A. Novikoff Award, the highest award of recognition from the Canadian Public Relations Society. In 2000, he received the Alberta Premier’s Award of Excellence for his contribution to the province’s regional health care Y2K communications.

Pieters has been a guest lecturer at the University of Alberta, Grant MacEwan College and Mount Royal College (now both universities). He is currently a regional director of communications in the Department of Justice Canada

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