Speakers and Session Descriptions

Sunday, October 15

9:00 AM - 10:30 AM
Lasso’s Lessons in Leadership, Culture, and the “Humanness” of Hospitality
During this fun and lighthearted session, we will use examples from the hit show, Ted Lasso, as well as some successes from the Baltimore Country Club to explore lessons in leadership, important foundational elements to build a positive workplace culture, and how simply being a good human impacts your brand of hospitality.

Kent Johnson, CCM, CCE
General Manager/COO
Baltimore Country Club

M. Kent Johnson, CCM is the current General Manager/COO at Baltimore Country Club. With over 24 years of hospitality management experience, Kent’s passion is deeply rooted in serving others. Kent lives and leads by the philosophy of, “Great People Make Favorite Places.” This philosophy embraces the necessity of establishing genuine relationships and going beyond expectation with every given opportunity. This belief encompasses the crucial attitudes, values, and hospitality ideals to successfully operate a private club. Kent is a dynamic and inspirational leader with exemplary skills in food and beverage, developing a positive workplace culture, and private club management. 

Baltimore Country Club is currently ranked #44 by the Platinum Clubs of America and is a large two-campus facility with over 3,000 members and offers numerous amenities including racquet sports, swimming, championship golf and dining. Kent recently oversaw a $18 million major Clubhouse renovation at the Five Farms location and 20+/- acre land sale at the Roland Park Campus. Kent frequently shares his experience and expertise with hospitality students, peers, club leadership and local CMAA Chapters. 

Kent is the proud husband of Shannon and father of Jimmy, Max and Bella. 















10:30 AM – 12:00 PM 
Members Behaving Badly
The private club industry has experienced a marked increase in the level of bad behaviour by some members over the past several years.  Dealing with member disciplinary matters can be very delicate for General Managers, the Board of Directors, staff, and the member(s) involved.  Confidentiality is a major issue!  Discuss and learn some best practices for handling these situations at your club, as well as gain a better understanding of some of the potential litigious pitfalls that can be problematic. 

Katherine Carre
Corporate Commercial Lawyer
Borden Ladner Gervais LLP

Katherine Carre is counsel in the corporate commercial group at Borden Ladner Gervais LLP.  She regularly advises not-for-profit organizations, charities, and private corporations on a wide range of matters, including corporate governance, commercial agreements, and transactions.  Katherine has been advising social clubs on corporate matters for many years, including matters such as amending by-laws, reviewing policies, and dealing with shareholder or member meeting requisitions.

3:15 PM - 4:45 PM
Unreasonable Hospitality 

Will Guidara
Restaurateur, Author

Will Guidara is the author of the National Bestseller Unreasonable Hospitality, which chronicles the lessons in service and leadership he has learned over the course of his career in restaurants.

He is the former co-owner of Eleven Madison Park which, under his leadership, received four stars from the New York Times, three Michelin stars, and in 2017 was named #1 on the list of the World’s 50 Best Restaurants.

He is the host of the Welcome Conference, an annual hospitality symposium that brings together like minded people to share ideas, inspire one another, and connect to form community.

A graduate of the hospitality school at Cornell University, he has co-authored four cookbooks, was named one of Crain's New York Business's 40 Under 40, and is the recipient of WSJ Magazine's Innovator Award.

Monday, October 16

8:00 AM - 9:00 AM
Mental Strength:  Tapping into Your Mental Toughness​
The last few years of ‘pivoting’ and continuously trying to create positive human experiences has been challenging, leaving many of us in a state of languishing.  Jessica’s goal in the session is to help inspire you to navigate your sense of purpose and passion to help refuel your mental health reserves and tap into your mental toughness. She will discuss and present evidence-based research on how sleep, nutrition, movement, and mindfulness all impact your overall mental health. Once those reserves are full, you are able to focus on building connections with your team(s). She will provide you with guidance on self-awareness to strengthen your people skills and tools to build sustainable relationships through open and honest communication.  Are you ready to tap into your mental toughness? 

Jessica Power-Cyr
Therapeutic Services & Lifestyle Director
The Glencoe Club

Jess is a fitness and mind body coach, leading industry educator, programmer, and public speaker. Jessica is passionate about people and loves nothing more than to see people succeed and live their lives with fulfillment. She is an advocate of life balance and creating meaningful life experiences. She brings a wealth of information, charisma, and personality to each session making them fun and easy to learn from. You’ll never walk away bored from one of her sessions and you may learn something new or change your perspective on something old. Get ready to ‘Get Powered Up!’ in one of Jess’s sessions!









9:15 AM - 10:45 AM 
Effective Club Governance
This session on governance best practices will provide club leaders with valuable insights into effective Board and Committee governance. Carolyn Everson will discuss evolving regulations, ethics, and fiduciary responsibilities. Attendees explore Board and Committee effectiveness through presentations, discussions, and case studies. The session equips participants to navigate governance challenges, engage members, and ensure long-term club sustainability. 

Carolyn Everson, MBA, CMC
The Everson Company

Carolyn Everson is President of The Everson Company Inc. With over 30 years of consulting experience, Carolyn has worked with varied clients across Canada including many private clubs.  She supports her clients with strategic planning, board governance, and renewal, as well as with executive coaching and team development.  Her career as a management consultant began with Woods Gordon Management Consultants and The Coopers & Lybrand Consulting Group before forming The Everson Company.

Carolyn’s governance experience extends to her volunteer activities. She is currently a Vice Chair of the National Board of Kids Help Phone and Chair of the Nominating and Governance Committee. She also served on the Board of the Granite Golf Club and is a past Chair of the Board of the Holland Bloorview Kids Rehabilitation Hospital.

Carolyn’s many and varied clients have remarked on her distinctive abilities to optimize the interaction between individuals and to support her clients to do the same. She combines practical consulting experience with proven methodologies for managing change.

Carolyn has an MBA and is a Certified Management Consultant.  

















Tuesday, October 17

8:30 AM - 9:30 AM    
Gen-Z Panel Discussion​    
This session will be moderated by Greg McNab and will feature Gen-Z and young millennial panellists discussing the realities of a multi-generational workforce and understanding some of the unique perspectives of the newest generation entering the club industry.    

Greg McNab (Moderator)
General Manager
The Boulevard Club


Laura Parrott, Merchandise Manager, Coppinwood Golf Club
Sean McEvoy, Membership Sales, Ontario Racquet Club 
Sabrina Medeiros, Communications Coordinator, The Toronto Golf Club







10:15 AM - 11:15 AM    
Data Analytics & Using KPIs​    
This session will share a few hot topic insights from the latest CMAC Canadian Club Industry Insights report. In addition, Dr Eric will lead delegates through a case study of how an actual club collected and used data to move their club forward in a meaningful way. This session will deliver a practical understanding of the research practices that GGA Partners implements and provide delegates with valuable takeaways and a KPI scorecard to bring back to their own clubs.     

Eric T. Brey, Ph.D.
GGA Partners 

Dr. Brey works with premier private clubs, golf courses, resorts, residential communities, and industry associations to create a meaningful understanding of their members’ and employees’ wants, needs, and desires.  He also assists clubs with their strategic planning needs by leveraging data to inform organizational decisions, assessing amenity and services preferences, and understanding member satisfaction to identify dissatisfaction drivers.
Using rigorous information collection and advanced analytical techniques, Eric emphasizes using data to help our industry understand strategic next steps to deliver desired member experiences. His innovative research has been recognized for excellence and published in top-tier academic journals and trade publications.  As an industry speaker, Eric focuses on sharing data-driven insights and has presented to industry groups and associations locally, nationally, and globally.  With a Ph.D. from Purdue University, he has had the privilege to work with businesses and organizations from across the hospitality and tourism industries. 










11:15 AM - 12:15 PM
Return to Work, Pay Transparency​
This session will detail new best practices in return-to-work, and pay transparency as a DEI issue. As well, this session will look at pay transparency and the implications this would have in clubs as discussions move towards this becoming law.

Allison Venditti, CHRP, CHRL
Moms at Work

Allison Venditti is a career coach, Human Resources, and return-to-work expert with over 15 years of experience creating programs, policies, and best practices that improve workplace cultures and increase employee retention. She is the founder of Moms at Work, Canada's largest professional network for working moms.








1:30 PM - 2:30 PM
Getting Started on Your Cybersecurity Journey: Preparing Club Managers
No matter the size, all clubs need to protect themselves and their members from malicious attackers and cyber threats. Knowing where to start and taking the first step is often the hardest decision. In this session, we will explain, in non-technical, jargon free terms, the nature of the threats that are knocking at your club’s door on a regular basis. We will present an IT & Security Checklist which outlines basic protection measures, next level steps to help keep from your club becoming victimized, and the highest-level ironclad protection measures. 

Duane Laflotte 
Chief Technology Officer
Pulsar Security

Duane is Pulsar Security’s Chief Technology Officer. He is an accomplished technologist in the areas of security, cryptography, exploit development, networking, programming, and enterprise data storage. As an industry leader, Duane has worked with a wide array of Fortune 500, government, and military organizations - such as Disney, Bank of America, the FBI, SOCOM, DARPA, and the NHL – as a solutions architect, red team lead, and presales engineer. Duane is a highly accomplished engineer who has achieved expert-level cybersecurity certifications.










3:00 PM - 4:30 PM

Delegates have the opportunity to decide what to learn! 

This session with fellow leaders in the Club industry aims to answer your questions on the top three audience-generated issues facing the club industry today. What are the top three issues you would like to discuss with fellow leaders? Conference attendees will be asked to submit their questions at the start of the conference and three final questions will be selected for discussion at the Un-Session Session. Don’t miss this unique Un-Session Session!

Wednesday, October 18

8:30 AM - 10:00 AM
PowerPoint Improv

PowerPoint Improv offers participants a break from 'getting it right', from 2nd guessing themselves, from measuring twice before cutting once. In a safe and supportive environment, they experience what it feels like to Improvise without fear of failure. And in improvising, they exercise the ‘other’ side of their brains, where creativity and inspiration are key. They witness in themselves and their peers the power of putting something simple on the table, and watching what happens when someone else takes their idea and runs with it.

Having fun with PowerPoint presentations is simply the vehicle for exploration. The skill sets exercised are creative spontaneity, effective teamwork, and authentic communication. When participants allow themselves even the slightest experience of letting their guards down, they will get a therapeutic experience of working the other side of their brains and their spirits. And that mental exercise will serve them well when they're working through challenges in designing programs and communicating with clients and suppliers. Delegates will leave the session feeling like they've just done a yoga class in their brains. 

Brian G. Smith
Annex Improv

Brian G. Smith is an award-winning film-maker, educator, and alumnus of The Second City.

As head of Annex Improv (at the Centre for Social Innovation), Brian has created training programs that combine personal and professional growth through improvisation. "Powerpoint Improv" is Brian's unique custom package for corporate company team-building, found nowhere else in the city. Over the last 20 years, Brian has helped thousands of students exercise their creative spirits, and find their own storytelling voices.

Brian is also an award-winning creator of short films, web series, TV programs, and podcasts. This text is not funny, but Brian is.

10:30 AM - 11:30 AM
Implementing a DEI Review
The session will discuss a strategic and tactical approach to integrating DEI into your club. This session will outline why diversity matters, what this means for your club, and how to best implement policies for employees and members while identifying potential challenges. 

Michelle Gardner
Rise 'n Reason Solutions 

Michelle holds a Bachelor of Theology degree and has actively worked in the local community for over 20 years, spearheading local programs. Her community experience includes being a facilitator of an adult literacy program, a director for youth programs, and a women's community group instructor.

Her Corporate experience includes Human Resources, C-suite Corporate Events, and Philanthropic Initiatives that entail managing partner sponsorship agreements and company-sponsored activities across Canada.

As a Corporate DEI Consultant and facilitator, Michelle echoes moral values and promotes integral equity measures, preparing and building relationships among colleagues through Diversity and Inclusion training. Additionally, she provides support by reviewing the organization's workplace policies and procedures for inclusive language, consulting on DEI regulatory standards, and facilitating focus group and listening sessions for safe space conversations to shift corporate culture in progressive and innovative ways.














11:30 AM - 1:00 PM
Entrepreneurship Through Adversity

Emily O'Brien
Founder, Comeback Snacks

Emily O'Brien is an entrepreneur and the founder of Comeback Snacks, a specialty popcorn company that aims to promote the power of second chances and comebacks. After serving a four-year term in a federal prison for drug trafficking, Emily embarked on a transformative journey, determined to make her time in prison and the wisdom she acquired there as meaningful as possible. Drawing on her entrepreneurial background, Emily conceived the idea for Comeback Snacks, aiming to create delectable popcorn flavors inspired by her experiences in the prison kitchen, she and her fellow inmates came together, connected, and bonded over food and the joy of good snacks.

Having personally experienced the social stigmas that society places upon incarcerated and formerly incarcerated persons, Emily is now driven to dismantle misconceptions and stigmas surrounding individuals with prior criminal convictions. At the heart and core of her advocacy work and Comeback Snacks is the firm knowledge that every single person is capable of making comebacks in their lives, and that it's up to us to create opportunities for others to embrace this power of second chances.