Making Community Essential


October 6 & 7 | Live Online


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Community Leaders


Top Thinkers



Join us for the conversation

We will learn together with an unprecedented team of thought leaders from communities across North America that have innovative responses to COVID recovery and community building and have implemented effective social responses. We will learn about the unprecedented spontaneous uprising of everyday people taking action to support their neighbours.


Click on the video below to hear what our Thought Leaders are looking forward to this October 6 and 7.



A Build Back Better Conversation:


- What can we learn from forced social disconnection?

- What will the great reconnect look like and how do we help?

- Can we rebuild people’s trust in public spaces and community gatherings?

- Why building stronger neighbourhoods are so effective?

- Community health and the role that social connection plays in well-being.

- How do we strengthen civil society and collective action in our cities?

- Put community at the centre of our municipal recovery plans.

- Building back using an Asset-Based Community Development framework?

iStock-1225019375Who should attend?

This event is for everyone interested in connecting with like-minded people to learn from the COVID pandemic experience through a community lens. Municipal staff and community governments who are considering recovery plans, for community development workers working to improve their neighbourhoods. For those who care about community resilience and building back better, this gathering is an unprecedented opportunity to connect with an amazing learning community and some of the best thought leaders in the field.


Meet Our Emcees

Louise Adongo

Louise Adongo photoLouise Adongo is a bold and grounded leader who brings over a decade of experience in systems change, policy and evaluation to Inspiring Communities. She is known for bringing care and intention to uncovering the roots of tangled problems; enabling shifts to greater resilience, sustainability and impact. 

She believes in carving institutional spaces that are more nimble, transparent and creative.  For the last decade, she has worked for the Nova Scotia government’s departments of Health, Justice (NSHRC), Labour & Advanced Education, Business (ERDT), Service Nova Scotia & Internal Services and Infrastructure & Housing. There, Louise advanced work on social labs in government, convened Policy Circles to encourage connection & communication among policy professionals on timely topics and initiated interdepartmental collaborations to support the wellness and career advancement of Black women. She co-Chaired the African-Canadian Women in the Public Service Network (ACWPS). 


Lori Hewson

Lori Hewson

For over 30 years Lori has worked in the social, philanthropic and corporate sectors as an advocate for social and environmental change. Her experiences working within and across these sectors have given her a deep appreciation for the diversity of perspectives required to truly affect change and the critical role of building bridges and connections.

In her current role as Director, Community Investment and Social Innovation at Suncor, and her simultaneous role as Executive Director, Suncor Energy Foundation, Lori leads a team that is actively participating in new approaches to solving some of society’s toughest challenges. She works alongside many inspiring people who are helping to shape a better world such as an Indigenous Youth Advisory Council who are in a reciprocal relationship with the Suncor Energy Foundation, and the Energy Future Lab who has created a new dialogue about the future of energy, and what it will take to get us there. These relationships, and many more, have helped shaped her approach to the work she does with Suncor.


Meet Our Top Keynotes

Throughout the workshop, we will be guided by a number of top keynotes from the field who will share their experiences in building community and inspire group conversation to share our own experiences with one another. 

Zita Cobb

In 2021, Zita Cobb was the first social entrepreneur to be inducted into the Canadian Business Hall of Fame. Zita was also awarded the Order of Canada, in 2016, in acknowledgement of the work of Shorefast in collaboration with the community of Fogo Island to help secure a more resilient future for this singular rural place. She now dedicates her full time and energies to the active direction and management of Shorefast and our projects on Fogo Island.

John McKnight

John is a best-selling author and Co-Director and Co-Founder of the Asset-Based Community Development Institute and has the distinction of being known as the world's best-known community development expert. For more than four decades his research and teaching have focused on social service delivery systems, health policy, community organization, neighbourhood policy and the incorporation of labelled people into community life.

Kim Samuel

Kim is an educator, researcher, and advocate working to address challenges of social isolation around the world. As Founder of the Samuel Centre for Social Connectedness, Kim ensures that SCSC’s mission and vision is being carried out through its programs, research and partnerships.

De'Amon Harges

De'Amon is a faculty member of the Asset-Based Community Development (ABCD) Institute, Community Organizer, Creator of the Learning Tree, chairperson of the Grassroots Grantmakers Association Board, and featured in the new documentary “The Antidote: On Kindness in America”

Melanie Goodchild

Melanie Goodchild (Anishinaabe) is moose clan, from Biigtigong Nishnaabeg and Ketegaunseebee First Nations in northwestern Ontario. She is the founder and Co-Director of the Turtle Island Institute and she is a Faculty member of the Academy for Systems Change. Melanie believes in reawakening and honouring the teaching methods of her ancestors, of 'coming to know' on the land, and so she supports initiatives that seek to connect people to ceremony, story, art, language and the land.

Peter Block

Peter is an author and citizen of Cincinnati, Ohio. He is a partner in Designed Learning, a training company that offers workshops designed to build the skills outlined in his books. He is the author of Flawless Consulting, Stewardship, The Answer to How Is Yes, Community, and co-author of The Abundant Community, and An Other Kingdom.

Lisa Attygalle

Lisa advocates for simplicity in infrastructure, frameworks and engagement design and loves applying the principles of marketing, advertising, loyalty, and user experience to community initiatives. Lisa comes to this work from the private sector where she worked at one of Canada's leading communications firms with clients in agribusiness, healthcare, financial services and technology. Hailing from Australia, Lisa also worked on major water infrastructure projects as the liaison between municipal government, engineering and the community.

Paul Born

Paul is the Co-Founder and Co-CEO of Tamarack Institute, the author of two Canadian best-selling books, an international faculty member of the ABCD Institute and a Senior Member of Ashoka the world's largest network of social innovators. In 2019, Paul was inducted into the Order of Canada.

Cormac Russell

Cormac —a long-time friend and collaborator with Professor John McKnight has published extensively in professional journals on Asset-Based approaches to Probation, Health, Ageing Well, Community Housing, Community Development and Disability.

Heather Keam

Heather has a passion for helping communities to realize that they are in charge of their future and to take leadership in assessing their own resources and needs. Heather believes that people have choices. They can either sit back and let others determine their future or they can stand up and create their own.

Jim Diers

Jim has a passion for getting people engaged with their communities and in the decisions that affect their lives. His work in the Seattle Department of Neighborhoods was recognized with an Innovations Award from the Kennedy School of Government.

See Full List of Presenters


“The City of Red Deer contingent was very impressed with the content and learning shared during the event. We are even stealing some of your great ideas for our next large community event." 

" Thanks so much for all that you and everyone involved to help us all feel welcomed and part of a movement. I will recommend next year’s conference to others.”

- Past Participants

Meet Our Partners

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