Program at a glance | Full program | Speaker biographies | Conference attendees



This year’s CEGN conference tackles the central, but often neglected, issue of power and how it can be used to both advance and impede the goal of securing an environmentally sound and sustainable future for Canadians. As such, our program looks at power as a force for environmental protection from different perspectives: What it is? Who wields it? How to influence it? While we’ll learn more about the nature of power and influence as it relates to our current work, we hope to inspire and inform potential new approaches to solutions for the future.

Thank you for joining us in this discussion.

The CEGN 2014 Conference Planning Committee

Lori Gammell, Suncor Energy Foundation
Mark Gifford, Vancouver Foundation
Pat Letizia, Alberta Ecotrust Foundation
Dave Secord, Tides Canada
James Stauch, Mount Royal University
Andre Vallillee, The Metcalf Foundation
Jack Wong, Real Estate Foundation of B.C.
Pegi Dover, CEGN

Thank you!

CEGN would like to acknowledge and thank our conference sponsors for their generous support: Alberta Ecotrust Foundation, Alberta Real Estate Foundation, The Calgary Foundation, Greenchip Financial, Investeco, The Ivey Foundation, The J.W. McConnell Family Foundation; The Metcalf Foundation, The Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation, Tides Canada, The Vancouver Foundation and one anonymous funder.


Hotel Alma, University of Calgary

May 13 – 15 Activities

The conference meeting rooms are located in the University of Calgary Dining Centre, which is adjacent to the Hotel Alma at 169 University Gate, N.W., Calgary. (To view location map, click here.)

Registration: In Lobby of Hotel Alma until Wednesday morning when it moves to Alberta Room

Tuesday, May 13th

To view the Program at a Glance, please click here to read online or here for a PDF.

(For information on the pre-conference session for water funders, click here to read online or here to read a PDF.)

6 – 8 p.m. Welcome ReceptionThe Blue Room

Wednesday, May 14th

7:00 – 8:00 a.m. BreakfastAlberta Room
7:50  a.m. Gather in lobby of Hotel Alma to ready for departure for morning field trips.
8 – 11:45 a.m.
Field Trips Options: Register for one of the following field trips through pre-conference survey or at conference registration desk.

Field Trip #1: Southern Alberta Forest and Headwaters Tour – Led by CPAWS Southern Alberta

The forests of the southern Eastern Slopes of Alberta’s Rocky Mountains are vital to our health and quality of life. These forests are part of the headwaters of clean, flowing rivers that supply our drinking water and regulate water flows; they support a diverse community of animals and provide infinite recreational opportunities. Located about 50 minutes from NW Calgary, these headwaters are also under great pressure from forestry, oil and gas and unregulated motorized recreation.

Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society – Southern Alberta chapter (CPAWS SAB), will take you on a short hike to experience this beautiful place in the forests of the Southern Eastern Slopes, west of the community of Bragg Creek, to an area that contains Provincial Parks, low-impact recreation trails, high-intensity motorized recreation and clear-cut logging.  Bragg Creek was also particularly hard-hit during the floods of 2013.  This area represents both the high natural value of the landscape and the growing land-use conflicts present throughout the region. Participants will also hear about potential solutions for land-use in Southern Alberta.

Field Trip #2: Fracking and Energy Development in Calgary’s Suburban Fringe – Led by Pembina Institute and CAUS-C

Just a few years ago, hydraulic fracturing for tight oil and gas started up in the Lochend area of Alberta. Located just outside of Calgary, and northeast of Cochrane, Alberta, it consists largely of agricultural and acreage land and had not seen oil and gas development in the past.

Local area residents were shocked by the speed of the development, the number of wells drilled, the extreme air pollution events caused by each individual well, and the threat of long-term groundwater contamination. They quickly organized to call for a halt to expansion until their concerns are addressed and more protective measures are adopted. In the face of rapid expansion, the Lochend landowners have captured the attention of industry, regulators and the provincial government. Precedents set in this area to address local concerns will have an impact elsewhere in Alberta and potentially in the rest of western Canada and the North.

Join this local grassroots group, CAUS–C, and the Pembina Institute for a brief presentation and tour of the area. The tour will include landowner concerns and a road-side view of some of the many wells that have been drilled in the area in the last couple of years.

Field Trip # 3: Water Funders’ Field Trip – Watersheds and Riparian Areas: Showcasing the Role of Stewardship – Led by Cows and Fish

Everyone lives in a watershed of some sortwater flows into streams, rivers, lakes and wetlands, and across the associated riparian areas.  Our care for the land and water is critical to healthy, functioning watersheds, not only for water quality, flood attenuation, biodiversity and primary production, but also for resiliency, adaptability and community sustainability.

The ability of the landscape to function ecologically relies upon the management and land use choices we make, something private landowners and managers are responsible for.  Cows and Fish (Alberta Riparian Habitat Management Society) has been working with landowners and local community stewardship and watershed groups for over 20 years, helping foster stewardship through awareness, ethic, and action, using tools that bring together the practical and scientific. This tour will give you a chance to meet a rancher and understand why he has made proactive grazing management changes, yet also understand the challenges he still faces.  You will also hear about how a local watershed group, the Ghost Watershed Alliance, is working at the larger community level to try to bring together diverse land users and interests to improve watershed health.  Cows and Fish will share their experiences and results of program evaluation work that emphasizes the importance of a defined approach and critical review to maximize success.

12:15 – 2:00 p.m. Lunch with Keynote Speaker, Brad Lavigne – From Defence to Offence: Gaining Power in Canada – Alberta Room

Brad is currently the Vice President, Hill + Knowlton Canada. Prior to joining Hill + Knowlton, Brad was the chief architect and national campaign director for the New Democratic Party’s 2011 historical breakthrough that elected it to the official opposition.

2 – 2:15 p.m. Break
2:15 – 3:30 p.m.

Plenary Session with Sarah Stachowiak – Pathways for Change: Understanding Approaches to Advocacy and Policy Change – Alberta Room   

Sarah is CEO of ORS Impact and an accomplished and highly-regarded evaluator and researcher. Sarah drew on her career of working alongside advocates and campaigns to author the 2013 report, Pathways to Change.

“It has been frequently misunderstood and interpreted to mean that field theorists are not interested in historical problems or in the effect of previous experience. Nothing can be more mistaken. In fact, field theorists are most interested in development and historical problems and have certainly done their share to enlarge the temporal scope of the psychological experiment from that of the classic reaction time experiment, which last only a few seconds, to experimental situations, which contain a systematically created history throughout hours or weeks.” — From Kurt Lewin, Field Theory in Social Science, 1951

Now that we have jaws clenched, minds drifting to thoughts of Prof. Whathisname’s lectures, and eyes looking for the door, relax. This shouldn’t hurt a bit. It might illuminate. It might even inspire. In theory. For practice.

Despite vision and desire for creating better social and environmental outcomes, funders, non-profits and advocates often struggle to define, identify and/or agree on pathways for achieving change. Through our investments and influence, we work through a range of well-to-poorly developed frameworks and assumptions of how change works. And how we think change happens is important. It effects how we plan. Act. Measure. Learn. Invest. At least in theory.

If you think that how we think is important to think about, then we think you’ll like your time with Sarah Stachowiak, CEO of ORS Impact, based in Seattle, Washington. An accomplished and highly-regarded evaluator and researcher, she drew on her career of working alongside advocates and campaigns to author the 2013 report, PATHWAYS FOR CHANGE: UNDERSTANDING APPROACHES TO ADVOCACY AND POLICY CHANGE. The report provides an overview of key conceptual frameworks that guide decisions of change-makers in work to influence policy and power. Her work will help us appreciate the relevance of our different ways of knowing to our different ways of making change happen. We hope it provides some big picture context for our conference conversations, and connects to challenges and opportunities we face. In practice.

3:30 – 3:45 p.m. Break
3:45 – 5:15 p.m.
Concurrent Sessions: Please choose between one of two sessions

Interrupting the Dance of Deception – Blue Room

“Each side is playing a role – the ultra-lean NGO that somehow is changing the world on pennies, and the benevolent philantropist who always bets on the right horse.” – Michael Zakaras

Former McConnell Foundation CEO Tim Broadhead recently referred to the ‘dance of deception’ as a dynamic that occurs when groups pretend they can solve a huge problem, and funders pretend to believe them. As Tim explained, this deception is not intentional or malicious in any way. Rather, it refers to a tendency among environmental organizations and funders to jointly develop funding agreements and relationships without fully acknowledging that the best laid plans are often derailed by power and politics. Environmental organizations and funders can achieve better outcomes together by jointly recognizing that system change is a long-term problem-solving process that often unfolds in a complex and unpredictable manner. In this session, panelists will tell stories of projects (and corresponding granting relationships) that were both successful and unsuccessful in acknowledging and navigating the complex waters of system change. This will be followed by a facilitated group discussion where participants will be encouraged to reflect on their own granting assumptions and dynamics with grantees and to extract key insights from our collective wisdom on how best to interrupt the dance of deception.


Beth Hunter, The J. W. McConnell Family Foundation

Devika Shah, Pembina Institute


Stephen Huddart, The J. W. McConnell Family Foundation

Ed Whittingham, Pembina Institute

Nicole Rycroft, Canopy

Mary Pickering, Toronto Atmospheric Fund


Investing in People Power: Why Movement Building Matters – Legacy Suite

“If people don’t think they have the power to solve their problems, they won’t even think about how to solve them.” Saul Alinsky, Rules for Radicals

In Canada, increasing appetite for new power is being drawn from an old energy source: People. Hopefully, its a renewable one. It’s characterized by an appreciation for the importance of story and narrative, of connecting place to people and policy, and of growing and activating a constituency around shared values and community concerns for social, economic and environmental justice. A widening range of individual, organizational and network actors are dusting off time-tested tools for change, as well as playing with the potential of new digital and media capabilities, to advance meaningful change. What is the power for movements to effect change? Why might funders want to invest more substantially in movement-building?  What are some of the priorities and opportunities for funders as they deepen their engagement in this work?   In this session, we will draw insight and inspiration on the subject through a conversation with a great group of people wrestling with these questions through their work.


James Stauch, Institute for Nonprofit Studies, Mount Royal University


Kai Nagata,  Dogwood Initiative

Mira Oreck, Broadbent Institute

Colette Murphy, Atkinson Foundation

6 p.m. Meet in lobby of Hotel Alma for departure by bus to our dinner venue at the Rotary House, at Stampede Park.
6:30 – 7 p.m. Pre-dinner drinks and appetizers at the Rotary House
7 p.m. Dinner with keynote remarks by Scott Vaughan, President and CEO of the International Institute for Sustainable Development, on the topic of “Analysis to Influence: Lessons in Canadian Environmental Policy”
9:30 and 10 p.m. Buses return to Hotel Alma (or delegates may want to stay downtown and take a taxi back to the hotel later)

Thursday, May 15th

6:50 a.m. Morning Yoga!

Meet in lobby of Hotel Alma for a short walk to the University of Calgary gym for a 30 minute yoga class. Mats will be supplied.

8 – 9 a.m. Breakfast  –  Alberta Room

There are no formal presentations at breakfast.

Ad Hoc Session for funders on science and policy – Blue Room. A pre-conference survey will ask for funder (only) sign-up for this session. But if you haven’t signed up and are interested in attending, please contact CEGN. If other funders are interested in developing another focused conversation at breakfast, please contact CEGN.


9 – 10 a.m. Advocacy, Audits and Public Policy: Navigating the Role for Funders – Alberta Room
Pat Letizia, Alberta Ecotrust Foundation


Tim Gray, Environmental Defence

Laird Hunter, Richards Hunter Toogood Lawyers

Ross McMillan, Tides Canada

10 – 10:15 a.m. Break
10:15 – 11:45 a.m. Concurrent Sessions: Please choose between one of two sessions

Key Ingredients for Securing a Big Environmental Win – Alberta Room

This session focuses on transferable lessons and key insights from the successful campaign to phase out coal-fired power generation in Ontario. After years of relentless effort on the part of environmental organizations, foundations, industry associations, and others, the Province of Ontario recently became the first jurisdiction in North America to end the use of coal as a source of electricity generation. Come learn about the cross-sector collaboration and collective efforts that helped achieve this historic victory.

Moderator: Mary Pickering, Toronto Atmospheric Fund


Jack Gibbons, Ontario Clean Air Alliance

Bruce Lourie, Ivey Foundation

Dr. Ted Boadway, Ontario Medical Association (retired)


The Enduring Role of Science in Environmental Decisions – Blue Room

In 2014, the scientific foundation for sound environmental decision making in Canada seems shaky at best. Severe cuts to budgets and personnel in key federal and provincial agencies; the closing of research stations and libraries that house decades of public research; and the reduced federal capability to monitor air, water and wildlife don’t augur well for a strong scientific underpinning to policy making in Canada. How can funders understand the state of play in the fast-moving scientific integrity debate, and help restore good evidence-based environmental decisions? What is our role in strengthening the voice of traditional and western scientists at local, regional and national levels? What is at stake if we fail to do so?


Dave Secord, Tides Canada


Katie Gibbs, Evidence for Democracy

Aaron Freeman, Pivot Strategic

Nancy Baron, COMPASS

12 – 2:30 p.m. Lunch – Alberta Room

CEGN’s AGM will take place during lunch. Following the AGM, Stephen Kakfwi, former Premier of the NWT, will deliver keynote remarks addressing the topic of:  “A Sustainable Future – Through Power, Politics and Influence (In The NWT)”. A panel discussion will follow. In addition to Stephen, speakers will include: Mary Pat Campbell, Suncor Canada, Steve Ellis, Tides Canada and Wanda Brascoupe Peters, Circle on Philanthropy and Aboriginal Peoples. The discussion will be moderated by Dave Secord, Tides Canada.

2:30 – 2:45 p.m. Break
2:45 – 4 p.m. Concurrent Sessions: Please choose between one of two sessions

Many Hands, More Impact: Philanthropy’s Role in Supporting Movements – Alberta Room

GEO is a diverse community of more than 450 grantmakers working to reshape the way philanthropy operates. The organization is committed to advancing smarter grantmaking practices that enable nonprofits to grow stronger and achieve better results. Heather Peeler, Vice-President of GEO, will speak to the organization’s work and recent report on the role for philanthropy in supporting movements.

Speaker: Heather Peeler, GEO


Cloud Computing Tools for Grantmakers – Blue Room

Are you looking to supercharge your grantmaking? If so, you need to understand how to become a digitally competent funder who can thrive in our always-on, connected world. In this session, you will see a range of new approaches, tools and best-practices spanning application intake, online reviewing, grant processing, and evaluation/learning. You’ll get to see a range of software including event management, contact management, file sharing, e-signature, survey forms, office productivity, visualization software and more! The session will also address key issues for funders such as measurable impact and access to accurate and trusted data.


Anil Patel and Zoe Simpson, GrantBook

4 – 4:30 p.m. Wrap-up of formal conference
Energy Funders Discussion: A post-conference session for energy and green economy funders is being organized. This will include a dinner on the evening of May 15th and a morning session on May 16th in the Varsity Room,  with wrap-up at noon. If you are interested in participating, please contact Beth Hunter, of the J.W. McConnell Family Foundation, at:

CEGN salutes and thanks the sponsors of our 2014 conference.