#GWEn2015 speakers are rock stars!

This year’s GWEn Conference roster is full of instantly recognizable names of women entrepreneurs. As these ladies have built their companies in Niagara and beyond, they’ve found success in brand development, marketing, community engagement and social media. We’re excited to learn from them and go “Beyond the Brand” for a day of education, inspiration and connection.


Anna Olson, Celebrity Chef

Anna epitomizes the type of Niagara success stories we strive to bring you every year at GWEn. A proud Niagara resident, she’s also known nation-wide as one of Canada’s most beloved TV celebrity chef personalities. She followed her successful series Sugar and Fresh with Anna Olson with Food Network Canada’s Bake with Anna Olson, both of which have aired in 40 countries worldwide.
Locally, she’s linked to Niagara Nutrition Partners, a region-wide initiative that provides co-ordinated nutrition programs to elementary and secondary schools, as well as community based programs. NNP supports nutritional programs through provincial grant programs and local fundraising efforts. The Niagara Food Festival  and various Niagara College-based events are also close to her heart.

At #GWEn2015, Anna will tell us how she’s built her nationally recognized brand, and how she stays connected to her audience between projects, television series and cookbooks.


Laura Ricciuto, President, Kaizen Marketing & Creative Design House

As a serial entrepreneur and President of Kaizen Marketing & Creative Design House, Laura works with businesses in and around Niagara to create clear, effective and successful marketing strategies that contribute to substantial business growth.

She also assists Sequoia in Niagara, an organization that supports Niagara Breast Cancer Programs. Its annual Fashion Show & Dinner is on October 23 and tickets are $40.

After establishing a solid client base of highly recognizable companies and earning numerous awards for her work, Laura had a revelation about the success she’d been chasing and was inspired to launch her first venture in the concession industry: Quench Premium Lemonade & Teas. With a mission to produce “the best fresh-squeezed lemonade anyone has ever tasted”, she spends her summer weekends at festivals across Southern Ontario, introducing people to “an old-fashioned drink with a modern spin”.

This fall, she’s back at Kaizen having learned important lessons about how to define success and is returning to speak at GWEn. She’s sure to have some great takeaways about building “Beyond the Brand”.


Pam Isaak, Creative Communicator, Hummingbird Communications

Pam is known throughout Niagara for her work in marketing and communications. At Hummingbird Communications, she specializes in marketing and communications support for SMEs (small and medium sized organizations) and not-for-profits throughout the region. She has long been a believer in the power of our local co-operative community. As a Marketing & Communications Specialist for PenFinancial Credit Union, she served as a tireless advocate for the credit union system and crafted communications pieces to showcase the PenFinancial brand.
Today, she plays an integral role in building and growing Niagara’s cooperative community. As a Regional Development Manager with the Ontario Co-operative Association , she helped lead the effort to create the Niagara Co-operative Network , which represents credit unions and co-operatives across Niagara. She continues to be involved as a community developer and event organizer.

Another essential part of Isaak’s work is her blog, Marketer turned Mama: Personal Reflections About Life as a Work-at-Home Parent. She uses this and her social media presence to grow supportive online communities for work-at-home moms.

#GWEn2015 promises to hold many opportunities to learn from one another about how we can find fulfillment through entrepreneurship, community involvement, family and other passions. Don’t miss Pam’s presentation!

Social Media Panelists

The GWEn 2015 social media panel will discuss how to take your company “Beyond the Brand” on social media, and which tactics we can use to learn from and grow our audience.

Dina Arsenault, a Cue Creative Consulting 

 Dina is a Niagara native who moved back from British Columbia in 2012 to take on a role as a Public Relations Consultant for a Cue Creative Consulting, a company that works with Change Agents, Movement Makers, Visionaries and Inspired Entrepreneurs to share their unique stories creatively and strategically. Her skills in social media management, blogging, website development, public relations, communications strategies and newsletter creation and distribution were in high demand and in December 2014, she joined Airbus Helicopters Canada Limited (of Fort Erie) as a Communications Coordinator.

Dina is an active blogger and supporter of women entrepreneurs with a “natural affinity at anticipating what [her] clients’ needs and wants are, often before they are even aware of it”, notes her LinkedIn profile. As a storyteller with a “passion for filmmaking and creative writing”, she enjoys transporting audiences to “endless places in time and imagination through the lens of a camera.” She has also lent her voice to GWEn as a guest blogger, and will have some key takeaways to share with us about how to use your brand to connect with potential clients on social media.


Allie Hughes, Principal, Hughes & Co. 

Attendees of the first GWEn Conference in 2012 may remember Allie’s stellar presentation on social media for your business. Since then, she’s built a million dollar inbound marketing agency, teamed up with HubSpot and Salesforce, and restructured the company’s workforce to focus on handling incoming leads. Hughes & Co. now has local and international clients in Texas, Florida, Dublin, Vancouver, Montreal and Toronto.

Today, Allie has the option to choose who Hughes & Co. works with, and the company’s ideal clients include vibrant, passionate professionals from all over the world who want to take their digital businesses to the next level.

As a GWEn Conference guest blogger in 2014, she wrote about how she chooses to “manage from the bottom up”.


Robin McPherson, Partner, Arnoldi:McPherson

Robin is one half of the dynamo team of “JaniceAndRobin“, who together opened a web design company, Original Individuals, in 1998.  Since then they have worked with corporate, sports, non-profit and small business clients. By 2009, Janice and Robin recognized the immense possibilities social media offered their business clients and formed arnoldi:mcpherson.  They have a strong communications background in journalism, corporate communications, photography and customer relations.

Committed to community initiatives, Robin is one of the founding members of Social Media Club Niagara, was the leading force behind bringing #WalkSTC to her downtown St. Catharines community, as well as a long-time Heritage advocate and co-chair of the City of St. Catharines’ Heritage Committee. An avid “smartphone photographer” her unique views of the world around her has been on display at Mahtay Cafe & Lounge in St. Catharines as part of the #WalkSTC photo exhibit in both 2013 and 2014, and can currently be found on the walls of the St. Catharines Club and Shannon Passero’s The Post Office.


Alicia Whalen, Independent Social Media Consultant 

Alicia is a Niagara-based digital marketing strategist with 10+ years of experience in data driven, cross-platform digital and social media marketing, search marketing and digital brand development. As co-founder of digital marketing agency A Couple of Chicks™, she was part of the first team to provide digital media marketing solutions to the travel and tourism industry.

She is a partner in Hashtagio.com, a real-time, user-generated content publishing and marketing platform and runs Idea Hatching, her digital marketing blog, idea incubator and social innovation hub for marketers. She has spoken at numerous industry conferences and produces digital marketing workshops and webinars, as well as keynote addresses on social media marketing and digital marketing. She’s also the producer and co-founder of the Online Revealed Digital Marketing Conference for Tourism, the tourism industry’s first and only digital marketing conference in Canada.

GWEn was created to connect women entrepreneurs with the resources available to help them succeed. The organization’s mandate is to educate, inspire and connect conference attendees with leading experts who provide relevant information to expand business skills and promote growth.

Purchase your ticket today. Not-for-profit and student rates are available. Visit GWEn’s website for more information on the program, speakers and ticket registration.


Allison Smith is a web content writer who specializes in working with small and medium-sized businesses and non-profits to tell their stories in a way that makes readers want to engage.

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