Meet Our Esteemed Panel of Judges

The Canadian Event Awards is the most challenging award competition in the world for event professionals. The judging is a 4-stage process including pre-screening to eliminate non-qualified entries, a first-round analysis to determine shortlists, an in-depth evaluation where the entry is critically examined in detail for its calibre and merit and then, final judging to select the winners. To win this award is a true measure of excellence. CEA Judges represent a diverse cross-section of industry experts and offer a wide breadth of knowledge on the critical elements that are needed to create successful events. We are proud to introduce this year’s judging panel.

Stacy Wyatt, Canadian Special Events Magazine

Stacy Wyatt

President & Publisher | Canadian Special Events, Director, Events, UManitoba

An innovator, creator and pioneer, Stacy Wyatt has spent 25 years building an award-winning career in events while acting as a foundational leader in the growth and development of the event industry in Canada. Her passion for creativity is equal to her belief that the power of human connection is our world’s greatest asset and something we can harness to create a lasting positive impact on our planet.  

As the Founder and Publisher of Canadian Special Events, Stacy is the driver behind robust industry initiatives such as CSE Live and the Canadian Event Awards, both of which she considers life-long passion projects. In addition to her role with CSE, Stacy is a part of the dynamic leadership team at UManitoba where as Director of Events & Special Projects, she pilots the execution of events and forward-facing initiatives that advance the University’s mission, goals and philanthropic priorities.

A strong advocate for professional development, Stacy volunteers on various industry initiatives and boards and has served as President of ILEA Vancouver, Communications Chair for ILEA Canada and Editorial Advisor for CAPS Canada. She is currently the President of Event Professionals Manitoba.

Throughout her career, Stacy has been recognized for her work with seven international event awards, the Senecan of Distinction Award by Seneca College, several CCAE Prix de Excellence and CASE awards, and In 2021, she was named one of the Top Event Professionals in Canada; by BizBash.

Today Stacy is focused on creating new opportunities, capitalizing on the explosion of emerging technology and is busy planning events for UM while building the future of CSE2.0 Digital.

Jordan Benson

Managing Director & Co-Founder | JUNōO | President EPiQVision Inc.

As a technical event production specialist and entrepreneur, Jordan Benson is reshaping the way Canadians experience events. A strategic event innovator with a passion for technical design and production, Jordan is quickly becoming a leader in the virtual events and live event production industry. Known for his resourcefulness, operational expertise, and technical knowledge, Jordan has carved a niche for himself through his live event company, EPiQVision, and JUNO, his virtual event company in collaboration with Marta Urbanowicz.

Drawing on his international experience, Jordan thrives on exceeding client expectations with new and exciting concepts and technology, produced on-time and within budget. His penchant for delivering unparalleled five-star service has garnered him a prestigious portfolio of clients and partner vendors that is a testament to the quality of his work and service.

Lynn Fletcher

Founder | Creative Director Lynn Fletcher Weddings Inc.

With 24 years of international award-winning event planning experience, Lynn Fletcher leads her wedding team with heart and courage, always striving to express love in different ways. Many of her weddings have been featured in print and online, making her a sought-after wedding producer in Western Canada. That wealth of knowledge is priceless, and all LFW clients have an all-access pass!

As a past president of both the Calgary ILEA Chapter (International Live Event Association) and the ILEA Canada board of directors, a long-time instructor and curriculum developer at Mount Royal University, and a national and international award judge, Lynn has become a passionate mentor, cheerleader, and industry big sister to many. She has been recognized as Canadian Event Professional of the Year and most recently received the Spirit of the Industry Lifetime Achievement award in 2019. Lynn is currently listed in Biz Bash’s Top 250 Most Influential Event Professionals in Canada.

Trish Knox

Owner, President | TK Events Inc.

Named one of the BizBash Top 250 Event Designers and Producers in Canada, Trish has been producing events for over 30 years. Most recently she has led the launch of the TK custom-designed Virtual Event Platform to answer the call to 2020. With offices in Canada and the UK, the agency is focused on bringing unforgettable brand experiences to life. Trish is a champion of developing fresh talent. She believes in the importance of embracing new technology and finding ways to blend it with the latest event industry trends.

As a music lover, friends have surmised that Trish was a DJ in another life and she is convinced that whatever the occasion, there’s a playlist for that.

Chad Brincheski

Principal | ESP Inc. (Event Strategy Partners)

 A graduate of Ryerson’s Hospitality and Tourism Management, Chad joined Four Seasons Hotels & Resorts and spent ten years in Catering and Conference Services with some of Toronto’s greatest hospitality landmarks.

With further experience as VP Operations for two event venues and seven years as Director of Event Marketing with one of Canada’s premier management firms, Chad started ESP Inc. in 2011, a client-focused agency specializing in creating spectacular corporate events and charitable fundraisers.

In 2020, Chad founded Hugo Virtual Event Hub, a Made in Canada digital platform, bringing his in-person event expertise to the virtual and hybrid event worlds.

Evan Babins

Events & Marketing Manager | Klir

Evan Babins has an extensive background in event production and management. In his experience, he has had the chance to manage event logistics and technical event production for many world-class clients, like Nissan Canada, Equitable Bank, Kia Canada, Novartis, Bristol-Myers Squibb, to name a few. Evan has worked in both the live, virtual and hybrid event spaces, honing his craft as a top-tier event industry trendsetter. Evans has been included in both the BizBash Top 250 Event Professionals and Special Event Magazine’s Top 20 Young Event Pros To Watch lists. Evan currently works at Klir, a tech startup that automates and manages the administration of a water utility, where he produces internal and external live and virtual events in both Canada and the US.

Scott McCallister

Program Coordinator and Professor |Seneca College

“With years of experience in venue management, off-premise catering, design, and event planning, Scott is a partner at Anonymous Events – a partnership supporting event professionals from behind the scenes.

Alongside an incredible faculty educating the next generation of event professionals, Scott is the program coordinator of Seneca’s Event Management – Creative Design program.

Scott is currently on the Board of Directors for ILEA – Toronto Chapter.

Beyond the event industry, Scott enjoys being active outdoors with his wife, dog, and horses.

He is excited to again join CSE as it recognizes the talents and dedication of Canada’s event industry. Good luck to all.”

Maggie Barton Baird

Head of Events | Jobber

Maggie Barton Baird hails from Edmonton, Alberta where she currently leads the events team at one of Canada’s most exciting tech startups, Jobber. For over ten years, Maggie has been working in events and experiential marketing in non-profit, agency and corporate settings, primarily in and around the tech industry. In November 2018, she was named Top 40 Under 40 by Edmonton’s Edify Magazine (formerly Avenue Magazine), and regularly contributes to CBC, 630CHED, Global News, and Canadian Special Events Magazine as an event expert.”

Jason Koop

Writer | Event Professional | Influencer | VP Business Development | Canadian Special Events

Jason Koop is a writer, influencer, fan of Canadian event experiences, and the VP of Business Development with Canadian Special Events.  After more than 15 years in the apparel industry managing accounts for some of the world’s largest designers like Calvin Klein, Tommy Hilfiger, and Vanity Fair Corp, Jason was ready for a change. Combining his relationship-building skills with his marketing background and his new love for events, he has built the largest following of corporate event professionals in Canada for CSE and is helping to lead the brand to a new level of success.

Mia Halabi

Director of Events | Honeycomb Hospitality Group

Mia Halabi is currently the Director of Events with Honeycomb Hospitality Group, a Professor at Seneca College teaching Integrated Marketing Communications for Events, and a part-time Instructor at George Brown College teaching Event Marketing Strategies. Mia joins the CSE awards as a judge for the 4th consecutive year and is passionate about both recognizing fellow event professionals for their achievements as well as developing and mentoring future event professionals. When she is not developing the events program at Honeycomb Hospitality, teaching at Seneca or George Brown College, or working on her MBA, Mia can be found wandering the aisles at St. Lawrence Market looking for inspiration for her next dinner party!

Janice Cardinale

Heart-Centric Leader | Visionary | Mentor | Change Maker Cardinale Creative

Janice has been named a Woman to Watch, a Top 100 Entrepreneur by Smart Meetings magazine and a Reiimagine, Powerful Business Woman in 2022. She is a heart-centric leader, visionary, mentor and change maker. As an editor, facilitator and speaker, she talks on mental health, trends and is leading the newly formed MPI MINDS🍷matter, community. She is the board chair for Seneca College’s event management and creative design program and has opened up her own charity under the name of “Giving Butterflies”. Janice is passionate about global trends, human connection, the future of events, and people.

Joel Olandesca

CEO/Co-Founder | SOS Charging Solutions & SOS Web.AR

 Joel is the creator and co-founder of SOS Charging Solutions and SOS Web.AR. SOS is known for providing mobile device charging at events across the globe, but for them it’s more than just charging. In addition to keeping events #chargedup, and providing a unique way for brands to reach attendees, their solutions are well known to bring people together. With their web augmented reality, SOS Web.AR is helping events and brands enhance the experience by combining digital elements with the real world – effectively and simply.

Joel’s background includes extensive experience in mobile technology, marketing, and finances. He is a passionate advocate for the events industry and the impact it has on the global economy and culture. He served as the President of the International Live Events Association-Calgary Chapter for the 2018/2019 chapter year and is currently the Chair of ILEA Canada. Being involved and volunteering directly in the industry allows him to continue on his path as an evolving event professional.

In addition to being an entrepreneur, innovator, and educator, he is also a firm believer in giving back to others. Joel is an avid volunteer who loves to support causes that are close to his heart.

Claire Duncan

VP, Business Development, Client Relations & Production | TK Events

A global event producer and creative strategist, Claire’s exciting 21-year career has been focused on elaborate and complex technical special events, video production, and brand management. Starting out with eight years at a UK production company producing innovative, large-scale conferences and content, she has worked with high-profile speakers, dignitaries, and celebrities and has many a backstage tale. The next six years were spent with PRIME, spearheading all event design and technical production for conferences, trade shows, and galas for outbound programs across the US and Central America. From 2014-2020, as VP, of Creative Strategy & Events, she led the multi-award-winning team at Cantrav, producing an array of transformational experiences and high-end incentives for global brands and driving the creative direction of the company. Since joining TK in early 2021, she has led numerous high-design, technically innovative, multi-day virtual conferences and, now as VP, spearheads business development and leads the client relations and production teams. At home, she is found juggling life with her boys and enjoying the spectacular outdoors of BC!

Daniela Caputo

President | Montreal Event Planner

 “Why not be a guest at your own event? Relax – we will take care of everything for you!”

With one of the most established careers in the event planning industry, Daniela has built a unique reputation based on professionalism and versatility.

Experienced in everything from client services and project management, marketing, event execution, negotiations, and sourcing, she is known for her keen eye on details, impeccable networking skills, and resourcefulness.
Daniela is passionate about providing her clients with a level of service that is second to none, and won’t settle for anything but the best.

Her list of event successes includes conferences, corporate incentive programs, and weddings, just to name a few.

Also, somehow she finds time to teach (paying it forward) future Meeting Professionals at a private vocational college.

Hailey Dawood

Owner & Chief Huntress | The Idea Hunter

Hailey is a fearless and focused event professional with 6 years of experience in the industry. Her specialty lies in corporate entertainment, interactive experiences, and event management. The value she brings to the industry at large and the positive environment she cultivates in the company are the reasons she was recognized as the 2019 Emerging Industry Leader by Canadian Special Events. Hailey expertly mentors her huntresses and spearheads the strategy and creative thinking that goes into each client proposal. Hailey has worked with brands across every industry, such as the Toronto Blue Jays, MAC Cosmetics, Shoppers Drug Mart, Air Canada Vacations, McDonalds, Flipp, Sun Life, BMO, and so many more. Thanks to her innate ability to find solutions and get things done quickly, there is no challenge too big or too small for her. When she is not doing the heavy lifting at The Idea Hunter, you’ll find her working up a sweat at the gym or spending time with her husband in the city they love—Toronto.

Heather Reid

Founder & CEO | Planner Protect Inc.

With almost 30 years of experience as an entrepreneurial event planner, Heather Reid—Founder & CEO of Planner Protect Inc.—consults with event hosts and industry professionals to negotiate balanced event contracts. CEOs, professional planners, and venue representatives alike, all recognize Heather as a trusted and knowledgeable expert in her field. Heather has received national recognition for her thought leadership and innovation in the industry, including being named to the Canadian Meetings & Events Expo Hall of Fame in 2017, being awarded a Smart Woman In Meetings award in the Innovator Category in 2017 and most recently being honoured with the Canadian Society of Professional Event Planners’ Heidi Wilker Award of Excellence in Mentorship in 2021.

To capitalize on the “down-time” during COVID, Heather undertook two major projects. First, Heather spear-headed a year-long, national project called “Chronicling the Lessons Learned.” This legacy pro ject documents the experiences and insights of 38 Canadian event planners as they deconstructed or reconstructed their impacted events (www.chroniclinglessonslearned.ca)

And the second project? Heather graduated from a 1-year, accelerated Paralegal Studies Diploma course to enhance her legal knowledge in order to serve Planner Protect Inc.’s clients even better!

John MacBride

Information Wrangler | JUNōO & Artam Design Inc.

John is part of a fabulous team of visionaries, designers, producers, and entrepreneurs who are the fuel behind JUNO, a virtual event company, and Artam Design, a live events company. Their HQ is in Toronto, but their workplace is global.

John retired from Seneca College after 30 years as a Professor in the Event Management program. With a Master’s in Education and a Bachelor’s in Fine Arts, John has won awards nationally and locally.

Living in PEI, John shares his beach with foxes, seals, and eagles. His passions include design, charitable causes, and making the world better by bringing people together.

Julia O’Grady

Founder | ITM Events

Julia has a big vision, fresh ideas, and a proven track record in the events industry. Analytical by nature, Julia excels at conceptualizing the vision for an event as well as managing details large and small. She is a strategic thinker who considers the lifespan impact of an event, taking great care to plan an event today so that it evolves into her clients’ vision of the event years from now. When Julia isn’t planning unforgettable events, she loves travelling the world with her family, staying active, and enjoying fine food and martinis.

Michael Hooper

Account Manage | Bespoke AV

 Michael is a Sales Manager with Bespoke AV in Toronto, and an event professional with more than twenty years of experience.

His professional roots are in theatre and began with several years serving as Production Manager/Technical Director of Toronto’s iconic Factory Theatre, working with Ken Gass, the godfather of Canadian Theatre, himself, as well as some of the country’s most expressive and innovative playwrights and designers.

With all its variety and creativity, the special events industry drew Michael in. Since making the transition 15 years ago, he’s brought the lessons he learned in theatre to help producers, planners, and experiential marketing partners create award-winning events, galas, and activations

Pavel Diaz

Award Winning Meetings and Events Professional |
Glow The Event Store

Pavel Diaz began producing events when he was 11 years old, with a puppet show.

At a talent show in his elementary school in Mexico. At a very early age, he found his passion for producing events. Since that age, he has been involved in all the cycles of producing an event. Events for record companies like Sony Music and Warner Music, working with Ricky Martin and Luis Fonsi.

His expertise in events came from projects like Fashion Week Marketing Campaigns for Fashion and Corporate Industries. In 2013, he fell in love with Canada and moved to Toronto, where he worked for CSE LIVE, Beanfield Convention Centre, and GES Canada. When COVID hit, the industry found a great opportunity to come to the East Coast and bring 20 years of event experience to Glow. He is creating one-of-a-kind event experiences for their clients under a million twinkilights.

Sasha Saladziak

Director Of Special Events | Live Nation Entertainment

Being a believer in connection through entertainment, Sasha Saladziak joined Live Nation in November 2021 as their Director of Special Events to bring events and entertainment to their unique venues. She oversees iconic music venues such as the Commodore Ballroom in Vancouver, the Budweiser Stage at Ontario Place and the highly anticipated HISTORY, in Toronto’s Beaches neighbourhood.

Sasha started her career in hotel operations with luxury brands such as Four Seasons and JW Marriott, learning the importance of details and service. In 2014, she joined Maple Leaf Sports + Entertainment in their Catering + Events division to lead a team that produces 2000 events a year. Her memorable experiences include the NBA All-Stars, Playoff Tailgate Experiences, the Toronto Raptors Championship and, during COVID-19, the NHL Hub Return to Play to create the framework of safe events in the sport.

Catch Sasha in her downtime at mentoring events for students to build our future leaders or at the local coffee shop for culture and conversation to inspire and create new ideas.

Sharon Bonner

Award-Winning Event Producer for 34 years | Event Strategist | Event Consultant | Published Author | VEMM Certified | Bright Ideas Event Agency

Sharon Bonner, VEMM, is an award-winning event producer, event strategy consultant, and published author who has successfully operated Bright Ideas Event Agency since 1988.

In the summer of 2019, Sharon was named one of the top 20 meeting and event trendsetters by Meetings Today magazine. In January 2020, she was named by BizBash Canada Magazine as one of the top 250 most influential event professionals in Canada. Sharon was shortlisted in July 2020 as one of the top 72 women (from 1,000 entrants) for the Canadian BMO Grant Program for Women-Owned Businesses. In February 2021, inspired by her pivot to virtual events, Sharon released her first digital e-book called “Donuts In The Lunchroom,” which focuses on making teams feel valued in a virtual world. In April of 2021, Sharon was once again listed by BizBash Canada as one of the Top 250 Most Influential Event Professionals in Canada.

In November of 2021, Bright Ideas was awarded the prestigious award for most innovative enterprise in 2021. Sharon credits her 34 years of event success to building relationships that strengthen her position in the event landscape. She gives back to the community constantly and believes in empowering others to chase their dreams.