2015 RAIL Speaker Bios

Jason Dewling, PhD.

Vice President of Academics and Research, Olds College


Dr. Jason Dewling is a well-regarded educator with a Ph.D. in Education from the University of Alberta, but moreover, he is known as a highly energetic and visionary leader of people. Dr. Dewling has a very entrepreneurial and creative approach which is an ideal fit for the faculty and staff at Olds College, where he serves as VP Academic and Research. In recent years he has presented on leadership topics at several national conferences, served as a consultant, and co-written several articles. He was also nominated for a Manning Innovation award in 2014.
Olds College is known nationally for its approach to change and innovation. Recently, Olds has stepped forward with a bold new approach to engaging learners in a digital world. In addition to being the first fully integrated iPad learning environment in Canada, they have more bandwidth per student than any other post-secondary in Canada. Leveraging these two assets Olds College requires students to take a gamified entrepreneurship course on their iPads as a capstone course prior to graduation.
Jason is happily married to Heather Dewling for over 19 years and they share the joy of parenting their two daughters, Jenna (14) and Heidi (12). The Dewling family live in Olds, AB.

Rob Greenwood

Memorial University


Rob is Executive Director, Public Engagement for Memorial University and of The Leslie Harris Centre of Regional Policy and Development. He is lead on the Public Engagement Framework for the University, which coordinates and supports the University’s collaboration with partners and stakeholders. The Harris Centre’s mandate is to coordinate and facilitate Memorial University’s educational, research and outreach activities in the areas of regional policy and development.
Rob has operated his own consulting business and has served as a Director and Assistant Deputy Minister of Policy in Economic Development departments in Newfoundland and Labrador and in Saskatchewan. He was Vice President, Corporate Development, Information Services Corporation of Saskatchewan, and was founding Director of the Sustainable Communities Initiative, a partnership of the University of Regina, the City of Regina, and the National Research Council of Canada.
In Saskatchewan, he led the development of the provincial economic strategy. In Newfoundland and Labrador, he was Director of Research and Principal Author of the 1995 Report of the Newfoundland Task Force on Community Economic Development, entitled Community Matters: The New Regional Economic Development. He then led the process to establish Regional Economic Development Boards in 20 Economic Zones, based upon the recommendations of the Task Force. Rob also led the development and co-authored A Strategy for Small-Scale Manufacturing in Newfoundland and Labrador, which was launched in 1999.
Rob holds a Ph.D. in Industrial and Business Studies from the University of Warwick, England, which he attended as a Commonwealth Scholar and an Institute of Social and Economic Research Doctoral Fellow. He was Newfoundland’s representative on the International Advisory Board of the North Atlantic Islands Program and co-edited Competing Strategies of Socio-Economic Development for Small Islands, published in 1998. He was also co-editor of Remote Control: Lessons in Governance for and from Small, Insular and Remote Regions, published in 2009. He has taught, consulted, published and presented extensively on community economic and regional development, strategic economic planning, sectoral and cluster development and knowledge mobilization.

Lars Hallstrom, PhD.

Director, Alberta Centre for Sustainable Rural Communitites


Dr. Hallstrom is a Professor in two departments at the University of Alberta– Social Science at the Augustana Faculty, and Resource Economics and Environmental Sociology in ALES. He has extensive experience in the fields of environmental, public health and social policy, both as a researcher, and as a knowledge broker for knowledge translation.  As a centre director, he has overseen the implementation of over 40 different research, outreach and knowledge transfer projects since 2006, and has established strong connections to practitioners and decision-makers working in public health, community development, rural development, environmental policy and watershed management.

Kristen Cumming

Cantos Consulting 


Kristen Cumming offers 20 years experience working with communities, public, private and not-for-profit sector organizations on issues spanning development, recruitment, retention, performance management, and succession. Her passion or demography and rural sustainability is complemented by a Bachelor of Arts degree in Economics and a Master of Education degree in Workplace and Adult Learning. Kristen is an instructor with the Bachelor of Management Business Economics program at the University of Alberta – Augustana Campus and operates a successful consulting practice through which she serves as a speaker and trainer on demography, recruitment and retention, execution and leadership.


Bill Ashton, PhD.

Director, Rural Development Institute, Brandon University


As a senior policy analyst with Alberta Municipal Affairs, Bill led project teams assessing municipal viability in relation to amalgamations and annexations. He also designed and led public communication efforts related to large provincial investments, including Swan Hills Special Waste facility and Sheerness Power facility. Bill was part of the team to propose an innovative solution and headed the studies leading to the incorporation of Banff then Jasper as municipalities within national parks – a historic first in Canada. With a chapter discussing the ‘devolution’ of municipalities and an CPAJ article on the evolution of municipal authority in Alberta, Bill has provide comment on the need for local government having more control of their own development. Recently, as the Rural Development Institute director, Bill addressed a national conference on the provincial structural responses to managing local government in Alberta, Manitoba, Quebec, and New Brunswick. Bill’s current interest in rural resilience includes discussions of management options of municipal and provincial relations.

David Samm

Battle River Watershed Alliance


David joined the BRWA as General Manager in 2007. He directs staff operations, coordinates the work of the organization and oversees the organization's long-term strategic plan. David is a graduate of the University of Manitoba (BSc in Agriculture) and Saint Francis Xavier University (Masters Degree in Adult Education).
Prior to joining BRWA, David was a consulting agrologist with over 25 years of experience working with the agriculture industry. He is passionate about helping people and enjoys creating new projects that are focused on making the world a better place for people.
David also enjoys working with volunteer programs to strengthen the social, economic and ecological fabric in Camrose and area.

Susanna Bruneau

Battle River Watershed Alliance


Susanna is a Bachelor of Science graduate from the Biology program at Augustana University College (now Augustana Faculty of the University of Alberta), and has obtained a Master’s in Environmental Education and Communication from Royal Roads University. Susanna’s passion for understanding the natural world and people’s connection to it has taken her across Alberta and around the world to Costa Rica and India, learning how the land and cultural values shape society and worldviews.
Susanna tries to view life by looking at ecological and development challenges in a holist way, trying to understand the interplay between humans and their environment to cultivate better ways of thinking about and interacting with the natural setting. By understanding what people value and why, communities can work together to create lasting positive change for the prosperity of the land, water, and all those who call the watershed home.


Jim Donaldson

Chairman/Founder, Alberta Wood Waste Recycling


Jim Donaldson who has chosen the path of environmental entrepreneurship and crucially, will continue to succeed as an Environmental pioneer so as to achieve Sustainability through Wood waste recycling and Biomass waste to Energy – Best environmental practises. As an executive; back in the early 1990’s Jim was instrumental in the successful start-ups, turnaround and high growth multi-million dollar revenue and profit growth companies in the emerging environmental industry. Jim’s vast portfolio includes extensive Waste Diversion and Recycling business development and the implementation of programs to incite Local, Regional, Provincial and Federal collaboration in a number of environmental joint ventures.

Toso Bozic

Alberta Agriculture and Rural Development 


Toso Bozic is an employee of Alberta Agriculture and Rural Development. He has held this position for the past 14 years.  

Toso graduated from the University of Belgrade in Yugoslavia and holds a degree in Forest Engineering.  He has over 20 years of experience in forestry, bioenergy, agroforestry and woodlot management. He is author of several extension publications, several dozen fact sheets and many newspaper articles on bioenergy, woodlots and agroforestry. Toso has many personal interests including refereeing soccer, astronomy and photography. Toso is married with 2 children and lives in Edmonton, Alberta.


Shauna Wilton, PhD.

Associate Professor, University of Alberta, Augustana Campus  


Dr. Shauna Wilton is an Associate Professor of Political Studies at the Augustana Campus of the University of Alberta. Her research interests and publications centre on gender, ethnicity, public policy and popular culture in Canada and Europe. She is currently working on projects exploring the ability of parents with professional careers to balance career and family demands, family policies in Canada and Europe, and popular representations of motherhood. 

Iris Neumann

Institute for Continuing Care Education and Research


Iris Neumann is the Chair of the ICCER Steering Committee and Chief Executive Officer of CapitalCare, a wholly owned subsidiary of Alberta Health Services. Iris has been a health care leader for many years in a variety of settings including acute care and continuing care. She has a Master of Science in Health Administration and a Bachelor of Science in Nutrition from the University of Alberta. Her areas of interest and specialization include dementia care, ethics, and management.

Brian Siddle

Strong Coffee Marketing


Brian’s primary focus at Strong Coffee Marketing lies in social media strategy, management and content planning. He helps to develop strategic direction for clients and conducts numerous social media workshops and presentations for local businesses every year. During his time with Travel Alberta, Brian helped create their first social media strategy and he was the first social media voice of the organization.



Cody McCarroll, PhD.

Camrose Habitat for Humanity


Cody McCarroll, PhD, is the Executive Director of Habitat for Humanity Camrose and is a member of the City of Camrose's Social Development Committee.



Glen Hvenegaard, PhD.

University of Alberta, Augustana Campus


Glen Hvenegaard is Professor of Environmental Science and Geography at the University of Alberta’s Augustana Campus. His research focuses on the conservation dynamics of ecotourism, protected areas, biogeography of birds, and environmental education. He is a member of the World Commission on Protected Areas (and its Tourism Specialist Group) and a fellow with LEAD International (Leadership for Environment and Development). Glen was raised in rural southern Alberta and is developing a sense of place with his family in the Buffalo Lake Moraine south of Camrose.


Colin Holloway

Office of Public Engagement, Government of Newfoundland and Labrador

Colin holds a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Psychology and he is a Certified Therapist in Applied Behavioral Analysis. Colin is an accredited Partnership Broker through the International Partnership Brokers Association. Throughout his 26 year career with the Government of Newfoundland and Labrador, Colin’s partnership and work and leadership in community economic development has resulted in the establishment of several community-based initiatives including the Regional Action Committee on Housing, the Habitat for Humanity Clarenville Build Project, the Neighbourhood of Friends Family Resource Centre and the Clarenville Area Community Youth Network.

Linda Brett

Office of Public Engagement, Government of Newfoundland and Labrador


Linda Brett and Colin Holloway are employed as Regional Partnership Planners with the Office of Public Engagement (OPE) for the Government of Newfoundland and Labrador. OPE conducts and supports research activities that inform policy and decision making process; encourages and supports departments to proactively disclose information and data to the public; creates and support public engagement events; and supports partners (internal and external ) to build effective collaborative structures such as partnerships. It is the latter that supports this workshop presentation.

Eleanor Miclette

Think Local Market


Eleanor Miclette is the Manager of Economic Development and Community Services for the County of Northern Lights. Born in England and raised in Holland, she received her Bachelors Degree of Human Resources from the University of Amsterdam and has completed the two year certificate program with the University of Waterloo towards her Economic Development Designation. Presently she is completing her certificate in Municipal Leadership with the University of Alberta.
Eleanor is the current chair of the ThinkLocalMarket.com committee and part of the initial project team that brought this economic development and business development tool to life. In her role as Economic Development Manager she has played an integral part of bringing about Move-Up Business and Lifestyle Magazine, Peace Oil Sands Conference, and the award winning projects of Paddle the Peace, and ThinkLocalMarket.com.

Trent Keough

Portage College


Dr. Trent Keough is the President and CEO of Portage College. He is also serving his third term as Chair of the Alberta Rural Development Network's Board of Directors. Innovation and rural development are passions in Trent's work as an educator.

Jean Vidal

Jobs, Skills, Training and Labour, Government of Alberta


Jean is a Workforce Consultant for the Ministry of Jobs, Skills, Training & Labour with the Government of Alberta. She works with employers, industry associations and other organizations in order to enable them to anticipate and meet their workforce, business and training requirements, whether it’s new programs like the Canada Alberta Job Grant, promoting awareness of utilizing underrepresented labour groups or connecting employers to workforce supports. Jean has been working in the field of Career Development and Employment with the Government of Alberta for approximately 25 years.

Rebekah Seidel

Rural Physician Action Plan


Rebekah Seidel is a Community Recruitment Consultant with RPAP, working with rural communities in Alberta’s North Zone. She has Bachelor and Masters degrees with over 25 years of domestic and international experience in community development, engagement and capacity building. Her work has largely been focused on social development in smaller, rural and remote communities

Christopher Carr

Rural Physician Action Plan


Chris Carr is a Senior Management and Analysis Consultant with RPAP, offering 11 years of experience in improving organizational direction, performance and impact. He has worked with a variety of organizations and institutions in Alberta as well as in Europe. Chris holds a Bachelor of Commerce from U of A and an MBA from Queen’s University.

Barb Scully

Parkland County, Intelligent Communities Coordinator


Barb Scully was contracted as the Community Facilitator under the Smart Parkland project from 2012-2015 and became the Intelligent Communities Coordinator at Parkland County full time in April of this year. Her background and education is in community economic development, with a passion for supporting strong rural communities.

Bryon Schwartz

Customer Service Supervisor, ATCO Electric


Bryon Schwartz’s career with ATCO Electric spans more than 36 years living and working in communities across east-central Alberta, including Drumheller, Edmonton, Lloydminster, Bonnyville, and for the past 20 years in Stettler. Throughout that time, Bryon has worked on the frontline as a land agent and customer service specialist. His focus has been on helping rural community planners, developers and the farming community plan for their distribution electricity needs, and ensuring the safety and reliability of the work completed. As well as a supervisor, specialist and trainer in customer service, Bryon has developed specialized insights on newer electricity distribution technologies including microgeneration and L.E.D. street lights. Born in Swift Current, SK., but raised and attending school in Drumheller, AB., Bryon’s hobbies and passions include being a grandfather of two, father to two grown children, as well as international travel with his wife to destinations such as the Cook Islands in the South Pacific, Hawaii, Italy and Greece.

Dustin Baptist

Manager of Engineering Technology, ATCO Electric


Dustin’s career with ATCO Electric spans over 10 years and includes working as an engineer in a number of roles, from Transmission Asset Management, Transmission SCADA, Distribution System Planning, Distribution Overhead and Underground Design. He is currently the Manager of Engineering Technology where he oversees company standards and the development/implementation of new technologies such as Distribution Automation, L.E.D. streetlights, microgeneration and various IT projects. Dustin currently resides in Edmonton, Alberta but originally hales from Camrose. In 2005 he graduated the University of Alberta with a B.Sc degree in Computer Engineering . He’s a professional engineer with APEGA as well as a certified Project Management Professional

Walter Dunnewold

Utilization and Technology Development, ATCO Gas

Walter’s experience in the natural gas industry spans over two decades having worked in both the distribution and transmission sides of the business. He is a professional engineer registered with The Association of Professional Engineers and Geoscientists of Alberta and is currently ATCO Gas’s Manager, Utilization and Technology Development. In his role, Walter investigates technologies that increase or decrease the utilization of natural gas by homes and businesses. He has been involved in a number of pilot projects with ATCO Gas including solar thermal, geothermal, combined heat and power (CHP) and compressed natural gas (CNG) installations. He has been a frequent presenter and panelist on the topic of alternative energy systems for a variety of industry and environmental conferences and forums. He currently serves as the co-chair of the Alberta CHP working group and is a member of the Canadian Gas Association’s Energy Technology Innovation Canada operating committee.

Solina Richter

University of Alberta


Dr. Solina Richter is Professor in the Faculty of Nursing, University of Alberta. Her research program focuses on the social determinants of health, and more specifically research on homelessness to inform public policies and front line practices that protect and promote health of the low socioeconomic and homeless populations. Her research program further focus on building capacity for partnerships and collaboration to address global health related to homelessness.  Recent studies include a study related to 
- Gender, Health and Place. A Multi-site Ethnographic of women’s Experiences and Perceptions of Health, Culture and Place in Ghana,
- Homeless mother and experiences of health care workers delivery care to homeless women, and 

- Needs assessments related to poverty and homelessness in a 3 rural communities in Alberta. 

Paul Ryan

Southern Alberta Energy from Waste Association


Since first elected as a Councilor for the Municipal District of Bighorn in 2002 Paul Ryan has been involved in initiatives that provide him an opportunity to make a positive contribution to his jurisdiction and our beautiful Province. 
Paul is currently the Chairman of the Bow Valley Waste Management Commission, a Charter member and Treasurer for the Calgary Region Airshed Zone and the Vice-Chairman of the Southern Alberta Energy from Waste Association. 
Paul has been a member of the Bighorn Corridor Environment Committee since 2000 and most recently in 2014 had the pleasure of serving as a Director on the Sustainability Committee for the Alberta Winter Games.
Paul married his very understanding wife Bonnie on March 1, 1980 in St. Johns Newfoundland and left the next day for Alberta on what he thought would be a 3 month honeymoon and never left.

Murray Kerik

Reeve, Municipal  District of Lesser Slave Lake

As Reeve of the Municipal District of Lesser Slave River, third-generation resident, businessman and tireless volunteer, Murray Kerik helps steward the growth of this unique northern Alberta region. Having served two successive terms as Councillor, and continuing his civic career as Reeve, he has played a vital role in laying the foundations for economic growth and future infrastructure in a municipality that has weathered – and conquered – severe tragedy. What has been accomplished together as a Tri-Council is truly remarkable. Embracing the region’s intrepid, rugged-and-real spirit, Reeve Kerik has built a solid reputation as a common-sense, compassionate and community-focused leader.

Morgan Bamford



Morgan Bamford is the Program Coordinator for the First Nations – Municipal Community Economic Development Initiative (CEDO). He holds a BA (Hon.) in Native Studies and Sociology from the University of Alberta and is currently pursuing his MBA in Community Economic Development through Cape Breton University.
Prior to CEDI, Morgan worked with Alberta Enterprise and Advanced Education’s Community Partnerships and Literacy branch. In this role, he supported Aboriginal adult education in the province by working on initiatives that support greater inclusion for Aboriginal post-secondary students and that support and further literacy initiatives. Morgan’s past experience also includes a decade working in various roles with urban Aboriginal children, families and youth through community agencies in Edmonton and in 2013 he and a partner founded a small research and consulting business. He is passionate about traveling, especially in Canada, and lives in his home community of Edmonton, Alberta. 

Mitch Thomson

Olds Institute for Community and Regional Development


Mitch Thomson is the Executive Director of the Olds lnstitute. The Olds Institute has a mandate to support sustainable community economic development within Olds and Area, Mitch works with community groups and organizations to support this mandate. The Olds lnstitute has 150+ volunteers associated with 10 standing committees as well as two operating social enterprises: O-NET and Mountain View Power.

Jennifer Beyer

Alberta Culture and Tourism


Jennifer Beyer has been a Community Development Officer with the Government of Alberta (Ministry of Culture and Tourism) since  2012. Prior to her current role she was the Program Coordinator for one of the Mental Health Capacity Building In-Schools Initiatives. In addition to extensive experience working with non-profit social service agencies, she is also actively involved as a volunteer in local non-profits, at both governance and operational levels. Jen is passionate about lifelong learning and exploring innovative ways of doing our work, from sharing information to engaging volunteers to raising funds. 

Dee Patruiquin

Solstice Canada Corporation


Dee Patriquin is an environmental consultant with over 25 years experience in environmental work. She recently completed a PhD at the University of Alberta (Department of Physical Education and Recreation), examining factors influencing environmental policy development and implementation within collaborative partnerships like the Beaver Hills Initiative (BHI).

Seth Leon

Alberta Community and Co-operative Association


Seth Leon is the research officer at the Alberta Community and Co-operative Association. He was involved in the creation of the Unleashing Local Capital Program. His work focusses on the role of co-operatives to address issues surrounding access to capital, rural health care, Indigenous economic development, aging in place, and renewable energy. Seth has a master’s in development economics and volunteers as a board member at Community Wise Resource Centre and as a tool librarian at the Calgary Tool Library. 

Maria deBruijn

Emerge Solutions Incorporated


Maria is the primary architect of the AUMA/AAMDC Citizen Engagement Toolkit and EOEP course and founder of Emerge Solutions, Inc., a consultancy that partners with municipalities and not-for-profit organizations seeking better ways to communicate, engage with and make decisions in concert with their colleagues and the public. She has created and delivers content for four University of Alberta graduate courses, including the elective Civic Engagement in the Digital Age, and two University of Alberta Social Media Citation courses. She is also an instructor with the U of A’s National Advance Certificate in Local Authority Administration. Before founding Emerge Solutions, Inc. in 2010, Maria spent 10 years leading communications, engagement and organizational planning in the public sector.  She also completed her Master of Arts in Communications and Technology, with a capstone research project focused on digital engagement in the public sector.

Jordan Webber

Starland County


Jordan has always been respected for his ability to move the needle. With a background in commercial lending and business development Jordan brings a perspective and model to economic development that drives concrete outcomes. As a farmer and businessman himself Jordan knows the daily demands of business, and knows what it takes to overcome obstacles. Jordan has supported the economic development efforts of Starland County for a number of years. In relation to alternative energy Jordan has been a vocal promoter of photo-voltaic solar - developing exciting community engagement projects and supporting development of the alternative energy industry. Over the last number of years Jordan and his wife Rebakah have been building a home in East Central Alberta that incorporates wind power and solar power to facilitate all the energy needs for the home without connection to the power grid.

Darlene Chuka

Office of Small and Medium Enterprise, Government of Canada


Darlene Chuka began her career with Public Works & Government Services Canada in 

Saskatchewan in as the Client and Supplier Promotions officer.  Over the years she worked 

extensively with the supplier community offering “How to Do Business” seminars throughout 

the Province. In 2002, she moved to Edmonton and worked in PWGSC Acquisitions as a 

Program Advisor. In 2009, Darlene joined the Office of Small and Medium Enterprises, where 

she continues to help the supplier community navigate the procurement system.

Barb Sjoquist

Village of Edgerton


Barb is the Mayor of Edgerton, serving her 8th term as an elected official. She was first elected to municipal Council in 1992 and has served her community as Mayor since 1995. Barb is passionate about Alberta's small communities and finding creative solutions to the issues they face.  She is a firm believer in the value of working regionally and building a network of small communities where they can learn from and support one another.  
Barb has served on the Alberta Urban Municipalities Small Communities Committee for 5 years and the Municipal Government Act Review Committee for 2 years. She has been instrumental in organizing and supporting the Small Communities Conferences, the Rural Communities First Responders Conference and the RED Doc. 
Barb and her husband Lennis have two amazing children, Carissa and Riley, a favourite son in law, Dave and an incredible granddaughter, Norah. Barb and Lennis enjoy cruising the highways of rural Alberta on their Harley Davidson Motorcycles. 

Blayne West

Sustainable Futures


Blayne West was born and raised in Saskatchewan. After graduating high school Blayne pursued a degree in Land Use and Environmental Studies with a minor in Biology at the University of Saskatchewan. During her time at university she worked with Canadian Wildlife Service, Delta Waterfowl and for the University of California Davis. After completing her studies she traveled and worked in the field of environmental management in South America, England and Australia. Blayne moved to central Alberta in 2011 and began working for a rural municipality. She also opened up her own consultancy and began working with Alberta Agriculture and Forestry to deliver workshops on developing environmental management.

Glen Lawrence

Beaver Hills Initiative


Glen Lawrence has led by example as a Strathcona County Councillor (now retired after 12 years), Conservation Easement owner and current BHI Chair. His work promotes the role of traditional values of stewardship in rural landscapes and a need for balance among social, economic and environmental values to sustain quality of life for future generations.

Ryan Mason

Reclaim Urban Farm


Before the ground was broken or a plant was grown, Reclaim Urban Farm Inc. hit the newsstand on the front page of the Edmonton Journal. Since this early media piece, Reclaim Urban Farm has generated almost a dozen major media pieces a year about agriculture, community and their business. While Reclaim Urban Farm has worked hard on branding themselves well using terms like urban agriculture, multi-location microfarm, peddle powered farm, Small Plot Intensive Farming, and nutrition-sensitive agriculture, the truth is it is only a market garden. Despite this, media attention from radio, television, bloggers, and journalists continues to write about the farm regularly, generating excitement about the business and driving conversation about agriculture. While many factors play into how this happened this presentation will highlight some of the main reflections of where the media fascination comes from including: going beyond business, tapping into actionable ideas, following trends, staying relatable, thinking outside the box and being intentionally political. Finally, this presentation will share some lessons learned about how ideas in other places, communities and sectors could similarly drive media attention.