2018 Rural Tourism Symposium Speakers



Lisa LaVecchia – President & CEO, Destination Ontario


In May 2013, Lisa joined Destination Ontario in the role of Vice President and Chief Marketing Officer where she led the organization’s Brand Management, and Consumer and Digital Marketing

As President and CEO, Lisa is inspired to elevate Ontario as a preferred four-season, tourist destination in a globally competitive tourism market. Her dynamic leadership style motivates excellence in those around her and is a testament to the ‘power of team’ to achieve success. Her passion and forward-thinking approach to integrated marketing strategies have led to innovative brand campaigns that are progressive and powerful and showcase the best of Ontario, including the Pan Am/Parapan Am Games “Epic Is ON” campaign and most recently, the “Where Am I?” campaign, both award-winning campaigns.

Before joining Destination Ontario, Lisa led the development of mass marketing plans and implemented cross-channel integrated marketing for Indigo Books and Music.  As Senior Director, Marketing Strategy and Advertising, Lisa played a key role in establishing Indigo as a leading retail destination.

Previously, Lisa was Director of Advertising and New Media for the Province of Ontario, where her portfolio included a variety of health, post-secondary and tourism projects.  In her earlier career Lisa held positions with JWT as Senior Account Director, PEOPLE Magazine (New York) as Sales Development Manager, and Ogilvy and Mather (New York) as Account Supervisor.


Beth Potter – President & CEO, Tourism Industry Association of Ontario

PRESENTATION: A voice for the Ontario tourism industry

Beth Potter took over the reins as President & CEO of the Tourism Industry Association of Ontario (TIAO) in January 2011. Beth leads the advocacy efforts for the tourism industry – promoting the importance of tourism as an economic driver and job creator for Ontario – by working with business owners, tourism organizations and governments. Collectively, TIAO represents the 186,000 businesses and 389,000 employees that are dedicated to promoting and operating the Province’s tourism infrastructure.

With more than 25 years of experience in the not-for- profit and tourism sectors, Beth has worked with a variety of boards, committees and volunteers across the tourism industry and from all walks of life. She also currently serves on the boards for the Metro Toronto Convention Centre, and the Ontario Chamber of Commerce, and is a member of the Advisory Council for the Ted Rogers School of Hospitality & Tourism Management at Ryerson University.


David Robinson – Vice-President, Strategy & Stakeholder Relations, Destination Canada

PRESENTATION: Showcasing rural & secondary markets to national & international visitors

Prior to joining Destination Canada, Dave was Director General, Strategic Coordination at Veterans Affairs Canada, responsible for managing corporate governance, and the Department’s cabinet and parliamentary business. From 2001 to 2010 Dave led the Government of Canada’s preparations for the Vancouver 2010 Winter Olympic and Paralympic Games. He led the coordination of over 30 federal departments and agencies and worked with provinces, local municipalities and First Nations to make the 2010 Games, “Canada’s Games.” Along with his team, Dave created the strategies and sought the funding that allowed the Government of Canada to take full advantage of the unprecedented platform the Games provided for the promotion of Canada internationally. From 1999 to 2000 Dave was Director of Government Relations for the Canadian Bankers Association. Prior to that, from 1993 to 1999, Dave worked as a senior political advisor to the President of the Treasury Board, supporting the Minister with the development of the Canada Infrastructure Works Program, the Minister of International Trade supporting the Minister’s work on International Business Development and planning for the Team Canada Mission (1997) and finally as Chief of Staff to the Minister of National Defence.






Kristy Adams – Program Coordinator, Humber College School of Hospitality, Recreation & Tourism

Kristy’s hospitality career began in downtown Ottawa.  She quickly moved into positions throughout North America where she held the position of Director of Franchise Services, Canada for 65 hotels, Regional Director of Operations US Pacific Northwest for 14 hotels, and Vice President of Human Resources & Administration for an international hotel company with 10 hotel brands in Canada, the US and overseas and then was appointed President & C.O.O of Howard Johnson Franchise Canada Inc.

She is currently the Humber College Program Coordinator for two programs – the Hospitality & Tourism Operations Management Post Graduate Program and the Hospitality – Hotel & Restaurant Operations Management Diploma program.

She sits on the Board of Directors for the provincial body, RTO6 – Central Counties, and is an active member of the Hotel Association of Canada (HAC) and the Canadian Hospitality Marketing and Sales Executive (CHMSE).


Audrey Ansell – Manager, Community Attraction & Promotion, Municipality of Chatham-Kent

Audrey began her career in Ireland as a Teaching Assistant while completing her Master’s degree in Economics. She then emigrated to the UK to be an investment analyst and eventually became the Director of Research and Investment Management for a stockbroking and wealth management company – always gathering and analyzing data in order to tell a story. These stories were told through published research notes, a weekly radio slot on the BBC, and coverage in national and international news media. With a young family in tow, Audrey then emigrated to Canada, happily choosing and settling in Chatham-Kent.

As an advocate for Chatham-Kent and all that it is has to offer, Audrey’s current portfolio at the Municipality of Chatham-Kent includes economic and community development activities in tourism, culture development, immigration, youth retention, resident attraction and retention, and the Chatham-Kent Convention Centre. The role is focused on supporting the community by identifying rich stories based on the fabric of the people and their surroundings – and then presenting and marketing these compelling stories to the world. In Ireland, she might be known as a marketing seanchaí (story teller)!


Anne-Marie Forcier – AMPLITUDE Tourism Consulting / Société Économique de l’Ontario

Anne-Marie owns and operates AMPLITUDE Tourism Consulting since 2006. Some of her clients include Ontario By Bike, The Waterfront Regeneration Trust, Ontario Festival of Small Halls, 1000 Islands International Tourism Council, Velo Quebec and the Rideau Heritage Route Tourism Association, where she provided Executive Director services for the past 8 years. This DMO promoted and facilitated the development of tourism experiences along the entire UNESCO World Heritage Rideau corridor between Kingston and Ottawa. She also actively contributed in the development of the new Regional Tourism Organizations and has participated on numerous provincial tourism strategy panels since 1999.

Other Industry involvement includes Past Chair of the Board of Direction Ontario, Board Member of Ontario’s Highlands Tourism (RTO 11), Member of Ottawa Tourism’s Rural Committee (RTO 10) and Director on the Great Waterway Board (RTO 9).

Prior to owning her own Consulting Company, she was Manager of Visitor Services for Kingston Tourism (KEDCO) from 1998 – 2006 and she spent 9 years as the Supervisor of Recreation in Kingston from 1988 – 1997.

Anne-Marie also owns RIDEAU TOURS with her husband Luc which they launched in 2015 with a few custom tours and bike rentals at Chaffey’s Lock. Today they offer several unique Rideau Canal “Signature experiences” that guests can purchase to enhance their visit to the Rideau region. All of these exciting packages showcase the Rideau Canal, Ontario’s Only UNESCO World Heritage Site.

She holds a Marketing Certification from Queen’s University, a Municipal Administration Designation from the Association of Municipal Clerks and Treasurers of Ontario (AMCT), a Recreation Practitioner Certification from the Parks and Recreation Federation of Ontario and a Sports & Recreation Administration Diploma from Algonquin College.


Tracie Bertrand – Director of Tourism & Communications, Peterborough & the Kawarthas Economic Development

As Director of Tourism & Communications Peterborough & the Kawarthas Economic Development, Tracie Bertrand leads a team of tourism development, marketing and communications experts that work collaboratively to deliver amazing visitor experiences and promote Peterborough & the Kawarthas as an incredible place to live, work, invest and visit.

With passion, positivity and empowerment, Tracie is committed to marketing and growing the local economy in the City and County of Peterborough.

A creative and strategic thinker and relationship builder, Tracie was born and raised in Peterborough & the Kawarthas, where she graduated from Fleming College’s Business Administration program and has been a leader in the region’s tourism and hospitality industry for over 15 years.


Bill Cutt – Innkeeper, Millcroft Inn & Spa

Bill Cutt joined the Vintage Hotel team in July of 2011, as the Innkeeper at the Millcroft Inn & Spa. While originally hailing from the South of Mississauga, Bill has spent the past 20 years in the Rocky Mountains of Alberta.

Prior to his return to Ontario Bill was the General Manager of the Sunshine Mountain Lodge in Banff. He also enjoyed positions with Canadian Mountain Holidays in Banff, the Relais & Chateaux Post Hotel & Spa in Lake Louise and Fairmont’s Banff Springs Hotel.

With over 20 years of experience in the hospitality industry he is a hands-on, fully engaged leader with a passion for hospitality excellence. He possesses boundless enthusiasm, high energy and an eye for detail!


Briagh Hoskins-Hasbury – Cofounder, guide, canoe instructor, mama bear, The Land Canadian Adventures Inc.

Briagh brings her outstanding work ethic to bear on everything she does: from crushing long portages, to building camp and preparing delicious backcountry cuisine. She’s been an international traveler, student and teacher across Asia, Europe and South and North America, and is fluent in three languages. Briagh has loved outdoor adventure since her earliest days canoe camping with her family in Silent Lake, Killarney and Temagami, and proudly shares that heritage with Bretton and her daughters Lily Maeve and Avery Willow.




David Peacock – CEO, Regional Tourism Organization 4

David is a business development specialist with a well-documented career as senior executive at both the President and CEO level in international television and electronic media. He’s worked extensively in the UK, France, Brazil, Colombia, Venezuela, Finland and the U.S.A.

In 2011, he returned to the Canadian tourism industry to head up one of the Province’s newly formed Regional Tourism Organizations, RTO4 Inc.

RTO4 Inc. – Huron, Perth Waterloo and Wellington is a tourism business development incubator with a focus on growing and future-proofing the region’s tourism assets and economy by creating sustainable destination management networks, distributed marketing & storytelling, stakeholder competencies and legacy resources.

Under David’s leadership, the office has been recognized internationally for its innovative approach to tourism as an economic engine and for a number of the tools it has developed: the RTO4 Destination Development Process the Destination Animation Partnership Program, the Destination Digital Audit to name a few.

He is also on the Board of Directors of Destinations International, Washington DC,

David jokes that he runs the “unbranded” Ontario RTO, but seriously folks…

Bryan Plumstead – Tourism Manager, Grey County

Bryan started his tourism career as a youth on Lake Temagami. Since then, he has worked as a business owner, lecturer and in tourism development and marketing for First Nations, municipal and community futures organizations. Bryan has worked with the talented team at Grey County Tourism for the past 14 years, including several years starting up the economic development side of the department. Bryan recently joined the board of TIAO, and has served in the past as transition co-chair and then Director of Regional Tourism Organization 7 –BruceGreySimcoe.





Susanne Spence-Wilkins – Owner/operator, Crazy 8 Barn

Susanne Spence-Wilkins is the current chair of the Chatham-Kent Tourism Stakeholder Advisory Council (TSAC). Susanne has a passion for the tourism industry and developing offerings, while at the same time keeping busy in her full time position as the owner/operator of the Crazy 8 Barn in Palmyra, situated along the picturesque Talbot Trail (Highway 3). Since 2013, she has featured what she refers to as Outdoor and Home “Curiosities” along with a café offering, among many delectable items, butter tarts that motorists drive out of their way to indulge in. Susanne recently took part in Ontario Southwest’s “Unlocked and Inspired” Experiential Tourism Workshop in Haldimand County and is presently working with Chatham-Kent Tourism to bring experiences to life in 2018.



Gary Brown – Orangeville Blues and Jazz Festival

Gary has been an Orangeville Blues & Jazz  Festival Board member since 2005, serving as Treasurer from 2005-2015. He became President in 2016 and acts as Interim Treasurer as well. He moved to the Headwaters area in 2004 and has been active in Festival and other arts activities and events ever since. He is a Chartered Professional Accountant (CPA) and has been CFO of both public and private companies as well as a consultant in finance and business to technology companies.   Gary has been involved in the local arts scene serving on the boards of Headwaters Arts (Treasurer and Co-President) and the Williams Mill Visual Arts Centre (Treasurer) and as a member of the Town of Orangeville’s Arts and Culture Committee and the Headwaters Cultural Roundtable. He received an award as Orangeville Community Arts Volunteer Advocate of the Year in 2014 and was the recipient of the Canada 150 Medallion for exceptional contributions to the community in 2017.   He is passionate about blues music and, along with all of the Festival volunteers, works to ensure that the Festival has a profound and lasting impact on the quality of life in the Headwaters and brings sustained economic benefit to the area.