Speakers & Moderators

Meet the speakers for OBIAA’s 2022 Professional Development Sessions.

Media Relations Training

May 5, 2022

10:00 AM – 12:00 PM


                    CEO – Durell Communications


Program led by Melissa Durrell

Melissa Durrell is the CEO of Durrell Communications, leading one of the top PR and Communications teams in southwestern Ontario — named one of the Best Workplaces™ Managed by Women by Great Place to Work®. 

A trusted mentor and award-winning communications expert, Melissa brings her 10 years of experience as a successful broadcast journalist, unique storytelling skills and passion for communication to help strengthen her community. She served two terms as the elected official representing Uptown Waterloo on City Council, is Vice Chair of the Uptown Business Improvement Area (BIA), Director of Media and Public Relations for Women’s March Global and one of Canada’s top pitch coaches. Melissa is focused on helping elevate women within their respective fields, celebrating the success of fellow leaders, and helping others find their voice. 

BIA Governance 101

Sep 14, 2022

10:00 AM – 12:00 PM


Executive Director | Ontario Business Improvement Area Association (OBIAA)


Kay Matthews, since 2011, is the Executive Director of the Ontario BIA Association representing 300+ BIAs in Ontario. She has spent 20+ years in BIA management; 10 years in an Urban BIA and 5 years in a Rural BIA. Having worked in the Heritage and Arts sectors in Mississauga for 10 years, this brings her total Community Development experience to more than 30 years.Kay has overseen three Accessibility Projects for OBIAA, the Investment of BIAs Project and Ontario’s Digital Main Street Project. Kay speaks at various events, facilitates Strategic Planning as well as teaches Governance to BIAs.
Kay additionally has organized and executed large scale events such as the Bread and Honey Festival, Mississauga’s Carassauga and Santa Claus Parades and the annual BIA Conference.

So Your BIA is Having a Board Election…

June 15, 2022

10:00 AM – 12:00 PM



Mike Bureau has 12+ years of professional experience with the City of Ottawa and is currently an Economic Development Officer in the Planning, Real Estate and Economic Development Department (PRED). He has held various positions within the City of Ottawa including roles in political, operational, and corporate environments. In his current role, Mike primarily deals with BIAs in Ottawa and oversees funding programs relating to research, mural, and architectural projects. Additionally, Mike is an active Volunteer Firefighter (Paid-On-Call) with Ottawa Fire Services in the city’s east end.   

Speakers: Mike Bureau and Jennifer Pereira | City of Ottawa

Michelle Groulx | OCOBIA

Stay tuned for more about our other speakers!


Michelle Groulx is a business leader and community builder. As an Ottawa native, she has spent her 20+ year career facilitating positive change within the high-tech, non-profit and civic sectors.

As the Executive Director for the Ottawa Coalition of Business Improvement Areas (OCOBIA), Michelle plays a key role as advocate, partner, and resource for the 19 unique Business Improvement Areas in the greater city and the 6,400 business members they serve. 

Through OCOBIA, Michelle strives to assure that Ottawa’s BIAs are the economic development pillars of thriving distinct neighbourhoods, and that the businesses within these areas are the drivers of a healthy and vibrant community.

Expanding Your Programming

October 19, 2022

10:00 AM – 12:00 PM

Chief Executive OfficerFestivals & Events Ontario


Dave has an extensive 40 year background in programming, operations, production, sales, marketing and promotions in the broadcasting and events industry, including a long career at CTV, three Olympic Games, teaching Event Management at Conestoga College and volunteering in various positions over the past 20 years with KW Oktoberfest events, including past Vice President, Director of Marketing and Public Relations. Before assuming the FEO CEO role in 2017, Dave spent 4 years as the Executive Director of Kitchener-Waterloo Oktoberfest., Dave has a reputation for getting things done in a team environment. His favourite quote comes from Walt Disney “The way to get started is to quit talking and begin doing.”

Executive DirectorKerr Village BIA


Doug Sams has been the Executive Director of the Kerr Village BIA for eight years and has been on the OBIAA Board for six years. He currently serves as Vice President of OBIAA, Chair of the OBIAA Advocacy Committee, member of the Communications Committee assists with moderating the best practices calls every other week.

The advocacy committee along with all the other committees have spearheaded the efforts to have OBIAA be the go-to organization for its members. Initiatives have included Main Streets Mean Business, Homelessness Tool Kit, and Election Platforms for both the provincial and upcoming municipal elections. Also, not to be forgotten were extra work done on advocacy during the pandemic. Going from once per month meetings to twice per month meetings.

The opportunity has evolved into appearances before the big city mayors, legislative assembly committee for small business and red tape and presentation to provincial election candidates. There has not been one issue too small to consider or try to advocate for on behalf of our members.

Since being appointed to his position as Executive Director Doug has coordinated several initiatives that have resulted in growth and positive vibes for Kerr Village. While advocating for key issues that affect the 351 business in his area, he has built strong relationships within Kerr Village, Town of Oakville and Halton Region. Events have become bigger with a substantial impact on the economy.

Executive DirectorDowntown Port Colborne BIA


Mary-Lou is a community developer at heart. She enjoys working with communities to move forward. Her experience includes many hours of volunteering for community organizations, working for municipalities as a Park, Recreation & Facilities Director, and more recently working with Niagara Region BIA’s. Her passions include music, sports, and markets. Mary-Lou sees farmers’ markets as a catalyst for downtown redevelopment. 

A Call For Speakers

The 2023 Conference Call For Speakers will open this summer, stay tuned.
Please contact [email protected] if you have any questions or would like to submit to speak!

[email protected]

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