Speakers & Moderators

Meet the speakers and moderators at our 2021 BIA Virtual Professional Development Sessions.

Reimagining Main Street (Presented by Big Star Lights)

April 21, 2021

10:00 AM – 11:30 AM


                           Executive Director – Community Researchers


Michael Harker is Executive Director of Community Researchers, a recently established nonprofit research organization.

He is also a part-time professor with expertise in statistics, marketing, sponsorship, grant-writing, fundraising, and moderating.

Chief Development Officer – 360 Collective


John takes a forward thinking approach to solving urban development challenges. This comprehensive approach is based on looking at the relationship between economic development and urban planning.

Evolutionary city building is about confidence in the future. John’s work focuses on being able to see the potential for positive change, taking informed risks, and knowing how to translate economic fundamentals into tangible value of built form, variety of uses, and placemaking.


Project Manager – BIA Office of the City of Toronto


David is currently managing two studies related to main street issues, the Retail Main Streets Study and a study of construction mitigation strategies for business areas.

With 15 years’ experience in the BIA field, David has led a number of important initiatives in recent years including the Capital Cost-Share Program Review, the PATH Wayfinding Project, as well as the launch of the BIA Innovation Fund and BIA Leadership Fund. David is strong believer in empowering and building the capacity of BIAs to play an important role in City building.


Owner – Page by Page Consulting


Patty Hayes is the Owner of Page by Page Consulting specializing in small business and BIA mentorship and strategy. Patty has over 23 years of experience in the industry in the capacity of Executive Director and 5 years consulting with BIAs province wide. Her company focuses on the operations side of small business and the Community Development of BIA’s and the synergies between the BIAs and the neighbourhoods in which they operate. Her work is geared toward creating livable communities and to help improve the business/commercial environment with an eye to Economic Development.

Marketing Your BIA In A Digital World

May 5, 2021

10:00 AM – 11:30 AM

Managing Lead – Digital Main Street


As the Managing Lead in charge of leading Digital Main Street, Darryl has extensive experience working within Public Private partnerships developing outcome-based programming focused on technology adoption and community building/planning.

Digital Main Street (a program created by the Toronto Association of Business Improvement Areas) exists to help promote and create healthier, sustainable and economically thriving main street communities and Business Improvement Areas through supporting main street business growth with the adoption of digital tools and technologies.


Executive Director – Belleville Downtown District BIA


Marijo is a natural leader, mentor and community builder with an entrepreneurial mindset. She has a passion to empower others to succeed. Marijo thrives in fast-paced, but organized environments that are solution-focused.
Believing that excellence in marketing is the foundation of all successful business ventures, she applies her experience in the field to everything she does.

She is a high energy, no-nonsense, ‘get the job done and make it fun while you’re at it’ kind of personality and love to love her job!


                     Director of Operations – Sonic Unyon Records


Lisa La Rocca is currently Director of Operations at Sonic Unyon Records, a Hamilton-based independent record label, which also produces Supercrawl, one of Ontario’s largest free music festivals.

Lisa serves as a board member of the Downtown Hamilton BIA.

Activating Public Space Into People-Friendly Places

April 28, 2021

10:00 AM – 11:30 AM


                     Marketing & Event Manager – Downtown Dundas BIA


Lisa is an experienced Event Manager with a demonstrated history of working in the marketing and advertising industry. Self directed, energetic, creative thinker, goal focused and comfortable in a fast-paced environment. Solid qualifications in, event planning, customer service, team work, relationship building and conflict resolution. Self confident and poised in interactions across all business hierarchies.

Co-Founder & Executive Director – The Laneway Project


Michelle is a place maker with a background in architecture and urban design, specialized training in multi-stakeholder, triple-bottom-line project management, and over a decade of experience in Toronto’s city-building sector.

She brings a wealth of expertise in community-integrated urban planning and design to the TLP team, as well as an intimate knowledge of the unique parameters and requirements for working in our smallest rights-of-way.


Co-Founder – PLANT ArchitectInc.


Lisa Rapoport, OAA, FRAIC, co-founded PLANT ArchitectInc. in 1994. Recognized for her passionate and rigorous approach to public space design on projects such as the Nathan Phillips Square Revitalization, and the Dublin Grounds of Remembrance.

She has led BIA projects including Kew Gardens Streetscape and Forest Hill Village North Gateway and Streetscape Master Plans for many Toronto BIAs.

Mental Health And Wellness For Business Owners & BIAs

May 12, 2021

10:00 AM – 12:30 AM

Executive Director – Aldershot Village BIA


Judy works with the BIA Board of Directors to advocate, build membership and create beautification projects and special events to increase business visibility along Plains Road in Aldershot.


Employment Counsellor & Mental Health Works Trainer – Canadian Mental Health Association Niagara


Sara has worked in social services in Niagara for over twenty years including adults with an acquired brian injury, supported employment and mental health. Her passion is to help individuals recognize their work potential and break down barriers to employment.

Sara hopes that bringing resources to professionals about mental health will bring a more healthy work environment.


                                      CEO & Co-Owner – The Other Bird


Erin is the CEO and co-owner of Hamilton-based hospitality group The Other Bird, the parent company behind a family of unique dining destinations in Hamilton, Burlington, Paris and London. Erin has been named Hamilton’s young entrepreneur of the year by the city’s chamber of commerce, received the Top 40 Under 40 award in Hamilton, and was named among the top 15 people to watch in the city for 2015 by The Hamilton Spectator.

She recently earned her MBA from McMaster University’s DeGroote School of Business and is very proud of doing so.

A Call For Speakers

The 2021 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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