CUCCOA 2023 Annual Conference Program









Shine Bright Like a Diamond: How Conference Services is Key to Supporting Institutional Goals 

Conference Streams: Sustainability Solutions, Business and Operations Solutions, Business Development Solutions

Conference operations create significant revenue streams and recruit students to their institutions. Not only are on-campus conferences an important and significant source of revenue, but a well-run conference operation can provide much-needed visibility to prospective students.  Additionally, these programs support essential functions on campuses such as commencement, reunions, and other university-wide events that fulfill university missions and goals. This session will discuss the key role of conference services and share examples of how colleges across the country are benefiting from robust conference operations. 

 Learning objectives: 

  1. Discover ways conference operations are bringing in revenue
  2. Learn about your role in the financial viability of your institution
  3. Acquire the tools needed to advocate for your department on campus



Karen Nedbal 


Karen has over 20 years of experience in Association Management – working in both trade and professional associations.  She managed membership growth and development previously for the Solar Energy Industries Association, the American Educational Research Association, and the American Association for the Advancement of Science.  Prior to joining the association world, she was responsible for marketing and sales for several companies in the United States, Germany, and Taiwan. She has been the Executive Director for ACCED-I (Association of Collegiate Conference and Events Directors – International) since June of 2013 


Jason McClellan 

Jason serves as Assistant Vice Chancellor for University Services at Washington University in St. Louis and has oversight for parking, resource management, dining services, and campus card services – critical areas that touch the daily lives of many members of the university faculty, staff, and student communities. McClellan earned a bachelor’s degree in business administration from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill as well as master’s degrees in business administration and in finance from Boston College. Additionally, he is a certified meeting professional.  He is also active in animal rescue, serving as a board member of Triangle Sheltie Rescue of North Carolina.  McClellan and his husband, Glenn, have two shelties and two cats. 



How to Calm Your Mind

Conference Streams: Sustainability Solutions, Business and Operations Solutions

Chris Bailey had to face a period of burnout and anxiety before he learned a critical lesson: that the path to greater resilience, reduced anxiety, and greater productivity runs directly through calm. In fact, in an anxious world, investing in calm can be considered the best “life hack” around. 

Through speaking with experts from around the world and digging into the research, Bailey discovered that drawing on calm to overcome burnout and anxiety helps build a deeper, more expansive reservoir of energy to draw from throughout the day. More remarkably, the pursuit of calm leads us to become more engaged, focused, and deliberate — while making us more productive and satisfied with our lives. 

Drawing from his own struggles and experiments, Bailey’s story-driven, science-backed talk guides audiences through practical ways to find calm in an anxious world. A few topics covered include: 

  • How investing in calm saves us time by letting us work more deliberately under pressure.
  • What burnout is and how to break down the six factors that cause it.
  • How to use the power of calm in everyday situations, including during presentations, difficult conversations, and negotiations.
  • How we can use the science of “savouring” to sharpen our focus and see meaning behind what we do.
  • How the neurochemical dopamine is a primary enemy of calm — and productivity — but can be tamed through a “dopamine fast”.



Chris Bailey  - Productivity and Performance Expert | Bestselling Author 

 Chris Bailey has personally experimented with pretty much every productivity tactic under the sun to separate what works from what doesn’t. He is one of the most-viewed TED speakers of all time and has been called “the most productive man you’d ever hope to meet” by TED Talks, “a quirky and energetic guide through the productivity thicket” by the Harvard Business Review, and a “productivity mastermind” by WIRED. Bailey’s practical time-saving advice combined with his infectious enthusiasm for the topic, will transform how audiences view productivity both at home and work. 

Celebrated for making productivity exciting, Bailey’s approach is unique — he doesn’t believe in a one-size-fits-all solution. Instead, he argues that we should take the advice that works for us and leave the rest. To date, Bailey’s productivity experiments have run the gambit from curious to ridiculous, seeing him meditate for 35 hours in a week, use his smartphone for only 30 minutes a day, work 90-hour weeks, and more. He combines lessons from his entertaining experiments with the latest research in neuroscience to show audiences how they can apply different tactics to accomplish more — while actually enjoying the process. 

 Bailey is the author of three internationally bestselling books — The Productivity Project, Hyperfocus, and How to Calm Your Mind. His books have been translated into 35 languages and have been named books of the year by O, The Oprah Magazine; Fortune; The Globe and Mail; and Reader’s Digest. He is also the author of the Audible Original, How to Train Your Mind, and writes a biweekly column on his website, 

Bailey has also written hundreds of articles on productivity and his work has garnered coverage in media as diverse as The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, New York Magazine, The Huffington Post, Harvard Business Review, Lifehacker, GQ, TED, Wired Magazine, BBC, Fortune, and Fast Company. His latest TED Talk, “How to Get Your Brain to Focus”, has been viewed over 14 million times. 




Elevate your Worth: Mastering the Conference Department Pitch 

Conference Streams: Sustainability Solutions, Business Development Solutions

Unlock your potential as a university conference organizer and take your value to new heights with 'Elevate Your Worth.' This engaging session is designed to empower conference professionals by providing them with essential skills and strategies to excel in their roles. Discover the art of crafting a compelling elevator pitch that captures the attention of your superiors and showcases the true value of conferences. Gain insights into effective communication techniques, audience engagement strategies, and persuasive storytelling to enhance your pitch delivery. Don't miss this opportunity to unlock your full potential and make a lasting impression. Elevate your worth and take your conference department to the next level! 

Explore and uncover the valuable contributions you're making to your school. Let's break down that value into smaller, meaningful chunks that we can work with. We'll form small teams to create an elevator pitch that can shine on stage and impress everyone. While we're all winners, there's a special 1st place prize waiting for one outstanding group!

Learning Objectives:

  • You will leave this session knowing how you add value to your school
  • You will leave this session knowing how to leverage your value
  • You will leave this session knowing how to communicate your value  



Luke Warren


Luke Warren is the dynamic and accomplished CEO of Kinetic, with a strong passion for innovation in higher education. As a visionary leader with a rich background in the EdTech industry, Luke has been instrumental in driving Kinetic’s vision and strategic direction and instilling customer satisfaction, operational excellence and technology exploration into Kinetic’s culture. 



Mining For Your Superpowers:  How to Regain Your Creative Force and Create Positive Impact 

Conference Stream: Sustainability Solutions

Innovative ideas and solutions come from open minds. Moving forward with out-of-the-box ideas requires courage to step outside of the comfort zone and step up in leadership. Speaker and creator Joëlle Parent shares inspiring stories of such a journey, with powerful lessons to help unlock your own superpowers such as courage, resilience, empathy, and creative ability. She teaches a mindset and practical skills that can be applied every day at work, in life and through relationships to transform your perspectives and create positive impact all around.  

 Through her unique embodied storytelling, you will learn: 
- How to leverage adversity to cultivate presence, courage, and leadership
- The importance of making others feel seen and what happens when they don’t
- Why and how to create an open space when we’re overwhelmed to see clearly and pivot
- A powerful habit to kick the familiar fight-or-flight reaction and create positive outcome
- How to harvest your own insight, creativity, and capabilities from your own experiences. 


Joëlle Parent-Proulx 


After a corporate career in business development, an MBA, and the launch of a business which later she sold, Joëlle heard the call.  

She was longing to feel alive and to create positive change within and around her. Joëlle began a journey of 52 weeks of human experiences outside of the comfort zone. She became an expert at activating human growth levers through hands-on experience.  

Joëlle now teaches professionals how to access their own superpowers and create authentic connection through her unique embodied storytelling. She designed the Two Steps Out journey, a structured approach based on Play, Self-Exploration and Connection that creates positive impact and elevates leadership. She helps leaders and their teams regain their creative force to foster personal and professional evolution. 



Dazzle Your Staff With A Shared Learning Management System: A Case Study From The Rock 

Conference Stream: Business and Operations Solutions

Are you exploring ways to train and onboard your student staff in the era of eLearning? Well, wonder no more! Using a learning management system (LMS) will help you create engaging and interactive modules for your employees and help them shine BRIGHT. 

Memorial University has leveraged its institution’s learning management system, Brightspace, to help train and onboard student summer staff by providing flexible and convenient ways to deliver and track learning activities. With two campuses, on opposite coasts, they support each other with a shared online ‘course’ site that includes videos, documents, quizzes, and other resources to teach their summer staff the skills they need to succeed in their roles. 

The presentation will address the following objectives: 

  • To demonstrate how an LMS can be used to create and deliver engaging, interactive, and accessible online training modules for summer student staff. 
  • To share best practices and lessons learned from implementing an LMS for summer student staff training at our institution. 
  • To provide recommendations and resources for other institutions that are interested in adopting an LMS for summer student staff training. 

The presentation will consist of three parts: 

Part 1: Introduction and overview of LMSs and their benefit for student learning and training. 

Part 2: A case study of our institution’s experience with using an LMS for summer student staff training, including examples of online training modules, and feedback from staff and supervisors. 

Part 3: Conclusion and Q&A session, where we will summarize the main points of the presentation, answer questions, and provide references and other resources.   


Yuri Gidge 


A proud Newfoundlander and graduate of Memorial University, Yuri Gidge has been involved with housing and conference services for over 12 years. He is currently the Associate Director - business development within Student Residences and Ancillary Operations at Memorial University’s St. John’s campus. In this role he oversees ancillary operations including guest accommodations, campus card, retail, and bookstore operations. His background includes a variety of other roles within housing and ancillary operations including guest accommodations, residence life, and off-campus housing. Yuri has served as the Atlantic Regional Director for The Canadian University and College Conference Organizers Association (CUCCOA) since 2017 where he also co-chaired the 2017 CUCCOA National Conference in St. John’s. 


Marie Claude Renaud


Marie-Claude has been the Conference and Ancillary Services Manager at Grenfell Campus, Memorial University of Newfoundland since 2012. She has been working in the Hospitality industry for the past 20 years. Previous to this position, she was the Conference Services Manager for the largest rehabilitation hospital in Canada, Toronto Rehabilitation Institute, where she oversaw and executed over 35 events a year for health care professionals. Before that, she was the Director of the French Division at The Canadian Institute, a company that produces educational events on a variety of topics such as law, business, finance, communications, and human resources.  

Marie-Claude obtained her law degree at the Université Laval in Quebec City, where she is originally from. In 2009, Marie-Claude obtained her Certified Meeting Professional (CMP) designation and in 2014 she obtained her Project Management Professional (PMP) designation.  

Marie-Claude was the Atlantic Region Director for The Canadian University and College Conference Organizers Association (CUCCOA) in 2016-17 and has been President for the past 4 years. 


Creating A Self-Actualizing Culture

Conference Stream: Sustainability Solutions, Business and Operations Solutions

In this session, we will discuss tools to notice avoidant or confrontational behaviours with humour and curiosity. We will also discuss how to gather feedback from employees through surveys and meetings to create a safe work environment where employees feel fulfilled. Finally, we will discuss concrete initiatives that can be taken to improve culture such as implementing a 4-day work week, creating paid time for sports or leisure during work hours, building more intentional task structures, prioritizing tasks to let go of non-essential duties and setting boundaries with calls or emails.

Presentation Objectives:
- Participants will learn tools to gather feedback from employees and determine needs
- Participants will learn tools to improve your organizational culture




Sam Gagnon
After a severe burn out and OCD episodes, Sam changed his way of seeing work. Between 2017 and 2023, he has worked in sales & marketing for Conferences & Special Events at St. Francis Xavier University. Now passionate about culture and well-being, he is the founder of SG Kind Business Solutions. His passion is helping organizations to create a safe, sustainable, and intentional culture.



Introducing the Canadian Visionaries Network: unearthing Diamonds in the Rough

Conference Stream: Business Development Solutions

In international conference bidding, industry, academic and association leaders are valuable assets and our greatest advocates when it comes to passionately conveying the story of “Why Canada”.

At CUCCOA’s 2022 National Conference and subsequent Speakers Series session, Robert McCreight from Destination Canada outlined the importance of working with local conference ambassador programs across the country that leverage the influence and expertise of their local thought leaders to bid on high-level conferences for their destination.

As a follow up to those sessions, Robert will:

  • Introduce Destination Canada and our recently launched global storytelling platform: the Canadian Visionaries Network (CVN).
  • Provide an overview of Canada’s ecosystem of conference ambassador programs.
  • And discuss practical strategies for leveraging faculty members to showcase the innovative work happening on campus, increase profile and ultimately help attract new conference business.



Robert McCreight
Robert is a government relations specialist working with academic, industry and government partners towards the shared mission of attracting world-renowned international conferences to Canada.

Prior to joining Destination Canada, Robert was a senior consultant for six years with the Capital Hill Group, a government relations firm based in Ottawa, where he specialized in tourism industry issues.

Robert joined the Capital Hill Group in 2015 following his extensive political experience managing the legislative activities and day to day operations in the legislative office of a Member of Parliament.

Prior to working in politics, Robert worked as a Program Officer in the Insight Grants Program for the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC), a federal research funding agency, where he managed the peer review process for the “business and management” discipline.

On his own time, Robert enjoys backcountry canoe camping, recording and producing his own music, playing soccer, and rock climbing.


The Basics of Hotel Revenue Management

Let's discuss how we can optimize revenue for your rooms and accommodations through effective revenue management. Our main areas of focus will include strategic pricing, room availability, and distribution, all of which are crucial factors for revenue optimization. We'll discuss how individual and group demand can impact your revenue and explore important metrics to track and measure progress.




Marie-Chantal Lambert is a hospitality Revenue management leader who is passionate about her work and discipline. She studied in the United-States, Mexico and Spain and earned a bachelor’s degree in business administration from Université du Québec à Chicoutimi. She has 25 years of experience and has worked in Front office, Sales and Revenue management with Marriott and Accor hotels. For the most part of her career, she worked directly with hotels in Montréal, Québec and Ottawa establishing rooms and catering revenue strategies. In her current role, Marie-Chantal supports and helps develop revenue initiatives with a more global impact within Marriott’s portfolio.