Keynote Speakers and Plenary Panelists

Confirmed to date:


Kelli Stajduhar, RN, PhD

Professor, School of Nursing and Centre on Aging, University of Victoria  Research Scientist, End of Life Program, Fraser Health Authority

Dr. Stajduhar has worked in oncology, palliative care, and gerontology for over 30 years as a staff nurse, nurse clinician, clinical nurse specialist, educator, and researcher. Her research has focused on the health service needs for people who are dying and their family members and on the particular needs of marginalized and vulnerable populations. She is the recipient of numerous awards and publishes and speaks widely on issues pertaining to palliative care, family caregiving, health system design for those with chronic life-limiting illness and on establishing research partnerships and collaborations with health authorities. Along with leading several externally-funded research projects, she is the Scientific Lead of iPANEL (Initiative for a Palliative Approach in Nursing: Evidence and Leadership), a MSFHR-funded applied health services and policy research initiative with a focus on investigating the integration of a palliative approach into the care of people with chronic life-limiting illness.


Doris Barwich, MD is the Executive Director for the BC Centre for Palliative Care – a provincial hub for innovation in the areas of Advance Care Planning, system level support re palliative care initiatives and Compassionate Communities.  She is an Associate Professor in the Division of Palliative Care, Department of Medicine at the University of British Columbia. Doris has been involved in several regional, provincial and national initiatives including leadership and research in the area of Advance Care Planning and various initiatives to support primary palliative care and received numerous awards for this work. As Past President of the Canadian Society for Palliative Care Physicians she has been very involved in the current national debate regarding Physician Hastened Death.

Jennifer Baumbusch, PhD is an Associate Professor at the UBC School of Nursing. She leads a program of research aimed at improving access and quality of care for older adults and their families. She has a particular interest in the inclusion of families in long-term care settings.

Laura Booi, MA is a founding member of World Young Leaders of Dementia, associated with the World Dementia Council, the only international youth-led network for emerging professionals in the area of dementia. She is also a Doctoral Candidate in Gerontology at Simon Fraser University under the supervision of Dr. Andrew Sixsmith. Her dissertation research is focused on sustainable ways of improving long-term institutional care for persons with dementia. Based on her dementia advocacy and research, Laura had the privilege of being invited to participate as a youth representative at the World Health Organization’s first Ministerial Conference on Dementia in March 2015.

Jas Cheema, MA is a recognized leader in the fields of inter-cultural communication, diversity, and community engagement.  She is the President of Intercultural Education Services Inc. an award winning consulting firm that develops strategies that enables organizations and individuals to work effectively within the increasing diversity in our communities. As an immigrant women herself, Jas  has personally experienced the integration challenges faced by many immigrants.  She has volunteered and worked with immigrant families in palliative care, supported them through their grief and facilitated grief support groups for over 10 years. She has been recognized for her work through numerous awards throughout the years such as: Surrey-North Delta Leader of the Year; Diversity Award; Woman of Distinction; Griffin Award for making a difference through the art of writing. She holds a MA in Intercultural and International Communication with a Specialization in Intercultural Communication. Her past leadership roles have included: Board Member, Surrey Memorial Hospital Foundation; President, Surrey Hospice Society; Board Chair, Surrey Libraries.

Wesley Cheng, MS Computer Engineering is the founder and executive director of TeleVisit, a California 501(c)(3) not for profit organization that connects older adults to each other through their participation in interactive group activities from comfort of home.  Using an easy to use frame, members can join these activities designed to entertain, engage, inspire and educate -- thus establishing community. He and his wife Julie lead the senior ministry and support group for those caring for elderly parents at their local church.  Wesley is a high tech entrepreneur. He co-founded KonaWare, a wireless applications company for mobile devices, in 2001. It was sold to ServicePower (the leader in service optimization software where he served as VP Product Management) and GPS pioneer Trimble. He then founded HabitatCare, a research and consulting company that focused on aging-in-place technology solutions. Wesley has also spent 15 years in technical management positions at Hewlett-Packard and Cisco Systems.  He received his BS in Computer Engineering from the University of the Pacific; his MS in Computer Engineering is from the University of Southern California.

Kathleen Cunningham, BComm, LLB, MPS, TEP is Executive Director, BC Law Institute/Canadian Centre for Elder Law, a position she has held since June 2015. Her career includes over 20 years’ experience in the corporate fiduciary sector where she provided education, legal support and risk management guidance to management and staff. Most recently, she has assisted the Public Guardian and Trustee of British Columbia with implementation of personal planning and guardianship legislation and projects addressing the financial abuse of vulnerable adults. In addition to serving as a member of the BCLI Board she is also a past member of two BC Law Institute Committees –Modernization of the Trustee Act and Recommended Practices for Wills Practitioners Relating to Undue Influence. Ms Cunningham is a member of the Society of Trust and Estate Practitioners (STEP) Worldwide Council and the Canadian Bar Association BC Branch Elder Law executive and past co-chair of the BC Association of Community Response Networks.

Hilde Deprez grew up in Belgium and obtained a Masters of Law from the University of Leuven. She was called to the Bar of Ghent and completed additional Studies in Social and Economic Law at the University of Ghent. After immigrating to Canada, she became a Notary Public and Member of the Society of Notaries Public of BC. Together with her husband, also a Notary Public, she established a busy community-oriented practice in Vancouver. For the past 10 years her focus in practice has been on assisting her clients and their families with their estate and personal planning needs.

Donna Flood, RN has been a nurse for 34 yrs. She spent several years in Bermuda, worked in Calcutta, and did out posting nursing in the high arctic.  Donna also spent a year travelling throughout Africa during which the impact of AIDs on people, and the indignity of their death left an impact.  Donna is currently the Executive Director of the Prince George Hospice Society.  An accumulation of nursing experiences has led her to her current position. Donnas’ first introduction to hospice care was the nursing she did at Mother Theresa’s Hospice home in Calcutta. That opportunity made Donna realize that at end of life, care and compassion are the ingredients to great patient care. In the high arctic, giving people the opportunity to reach for their dreams and accomplish more than they ever imagined was the work she did to empower women and give them quality of life in the hopes of the preventing suicide, for which the rates were extremely high.  For that work Donna was recognized by the Minister of Health with a Queen’s Jubilee medal.

Sara Bennett Fox is the daughter of Gillian and Jonathan Bennett. Gillian chose to end her life on August 18, 2014, not willing to endure the middle and later stages of her dementia. She had the support and understanding of her extended family. Gillian’s website  - explaining her reasoning for killing herself - went live a few hours after her death, in accordance with her explicit wishes. Gillian’s story – and her website – went viral soon thereafter. You can find Gillian’s website at Sara is a primary Montessori teacher in the public education system in New Westminster. She also teaches Zumba to adults and has taught fitness classes for twenty-eight years. Sara plays the violin. She has three adult children.

Shannon Freeman, PhD  is an Assistant Professor in the School of Nursing at the University of Northern British Columbia, current Vice President of the International Association on Geriatrics and Gerontology Coalition of Student Organizations, and an interRAI Canada researcher.  She holds a PhD in Health Studies and Gerontology (Aging, Health, and Well-being Program) from the School of Public Health and Health Systems at the University of Waterloo. Dr. Freeman also holds a MSc degree from Tohoku University School of Medicine (Internal Medicine and Rehabilitation) in Sendai Japan, and an HBA from McMaster University (Gerontology and Political Science).  Dr. Freeman’s research interests focus on the health and well-being of vulnerable populations with specialization in the areas of aging, hospice palliative care, informal caregiving, and centenarians. Dr. Freeman has published 22 peer reviewed articles and took an active role in the creation of the interRAI Palliative Care Clinical Assessment Protocols.

Karen Gelmon, MD, is a medical oncologist in the Department of Medical Oncology at the Vancouver Centre, BC Cancer Agency. She is head of the Investigative Drug Program, Experimental Therapeutics at BCCA and a Professor of Medicine at UBC. Her research focuese on developing new, improved treatments for people with breast cancer, lung cancer, HIV malignancies and other malignancies and includes clinical trials as well as research to understand the character of cancer and its effect on patients.

Lorraine Gerard has been the Executive Director of BC Hospice Palliative Care Association (BCHPCA) since November 2012. She has spent more than 30 years in leadership positions in the private, public and the voluntary sectors. Prior to BCHPCA, Lorraine was the Executive Director of the BC Branch of The Kidney Foundation of Canada (2005-12); she was the Executive Director for three linked organizations: the Association of Neighbourhood Houses of Greater Vancouver, the Alexandra Housing Society and the Alexandra Foundation (2000 – 2005). For many years, Lorraine was a sessional instructor at two of the Lower Mainland’s Community Colleges and she continues to serve as a knowledge philanthropist with Vancouver’s Vantage Point, providing instruction to Boards of Directors and mentorship support to newly appointed Executive Directors. Lorraine received the Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Medal in 2012.

Gloria Gutman, PhD developed and directed the Gerontology Department and Gerontology Research Centre at Simon Fraser University from 1982-2005. She served two terms as President of the Canadian Association on Gerontology, was President of the International Association of Gerontology and Geriatrics from 2001- 2005 and President of the International Network for Prevention of Elder Abuse from 2010-2014. Currently, she serves on the World Health Organization’s Expert Advisory Panel on Health and Ageing, the CIHR Institute of Aging’s Advisory Board and the Research Management of the Technology Evaluation in the Elderly National Centre of Excellence. In 2007 she was awarded the Order of British Columbia, in 2010 an honorary LLD by the University of Western Ontario and in 2012 a Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Medal by the Canadian Association on Gerontology for her work in gerontology. She is author/editor of 23 books and monographs and over 180 scholarly articles, reports, and chapters on senior’s housing, long-term care, health promotion, elder abuse, aging and technology and seniors and emergencies.

Maria Howard, MBA is the CEO of the Alzheimer Society of B.C. Since joining the Society in 2014, the five year strategic plan she has set for the Society is well underway.  The strategy includes ambitious goals to expand the First Link® program across the province, implement Dementia Friendly Communities and augment funds for research.  Maria is a dynamic and strategic thinker with both provincial and national board governance experience. Her decades of leadership in the health-care sector and her commitment to operational excellence fit with the Society’s ambitious strategy.  She holds a Master’s degree in Psychiatric Rehabilitation from Washington University and an MBA from Athabasca University

Krista James, LLB is the National Director of the Canadian Centre for Elder Law and a staff lawyer with the British Columbia Law Institute.  Krista’s work is focused on the legal and policy issues impacting older people.  Her practice includes legal research, policy analysis and public legal education, involving stakeholders from sectors such as healthcare, labour, finance and justice.  She has written on topics such as abuse and neglect of older adults, adult guardianship, mental capacity and human rights.  Over the years Krista has worked with women’s centres and various non-profit community organizations serving low-income people in B.C.

David M. Kaufman, MEng., EdD. has been a faculty member at Concordia, Saint Mary's, Dalhousie, UBC and Simon Fraser University in Engineering and Education. He has served as Director of Course Design for the BC Open Learning Agency, and Director of the Medical Education Unit in Dalhousie's Faculty of Medicine. He is a former recipient of Dalhousie’s Instructional Leadership Award. From 2001 to 2008, he served as Director, Learning & Instructional Development Centre at Simon Fraser University. Dr. Kaufman has presented more than 200 lectures and/or workshops worldwide.  He has published more than 120 peer-reviewed articles and three books, serves as a reviewer for many journals, granting agencies and professional associations, and has received more than $4 million in funding. He currently is a Professor in the Faculty of Education at SFU, and is funded through two SSHRC research grants and an AGEWELL NCE project grant to study digital games and digital storytelling for seniors.

Barb Kirby is an Eldercare Planner, Advocate and Navigator. It was clear to Barb after her 15 year journey as a caregiver to both her parents, that there was a great need to bridge gaps in the care system for seniors. She chose to provide direct services helping those who are impacted by the systems. Barb left her 30 year career as an investment advisor incorporating her retirement planning knowledge and personal caregiving experience into a planning tool that helps others to maintain manageable lifestyles in later years. Barb is a certified Professional Consultant of Aging having completed courses in Seniors Housing, Advocacy, and Residential Care Advocacy and has trained with the American Association of Dementia Practitioners.  For many years she ran the family council in her Dad’s care home and for a time chaired Advocates for Care Reform. Staying true to her values, she completed her graduate certificate in Values Based Leadership at Royal Roads University.

Joyce Lee, MA, MC  is a  doctoral candidate at the University of British Columbia School of Population and Public Health and a research associate at Trinity Western University (TWU) School of Nursing. Her academic and professional background includes graduate studies in counseling/psychology and health research on a palliative approach to nursing at TWU and socio-behaviour in survivorship at the British Columbia Cancer Agency. Her research interests encompass psychosocial oncology, family caregiving in critical illness, culturally appropriate care for elderly people with life-limiting illness, health-related quality of life outcomes and mixed-methods research. Joyce has recently completed a 2 year interdisciplinary fellowship with the Technology Evaluation in the Elderly Network. Her fellowship research project explored appropriate care in facing serious illness and quality of life outcomes for elderly Chinese people and their family caregivers, with the goal to engage care recipients in improving quality of care. Joyce is part of iPANEL (Initiative for a Pallative Approach in Nursing:  Evidence and Leadership,, a group of nurse researchers, practitioners, and administrators who share a common goal of advancing a palliative approach into the health care sector.

Martha Jane Lewis, LLB, LLM, is a practicing lawyer and executive director of the BC Centre for Elder Advocacy and Support (BCCEAS).  BCCEAS is a charitable organization that delivers programs to prevent elder abuse. BCCEAS programs include the Seniors Advocacy and Information Line, Victims Services Program, Legal Advocacy Program, the Elder Law Clinic, and Education and Outreach programs. The Seniors Advocacy and Information Line provides information to callers who are concerned about older adults being abused or mistreated. The callers remain anonymous so that they can talk freely about their concerns. The Victim Services Program provides information, support and referrals to people aged 50+ who are victims of abuse. The legal programs provide legal advice and representation to people aged 55+ who because of low income are not otherwise able to access legal help for issues such as financial abuse, guardianship and capacity issues, residential care disputes, and accessing government benefits.

Hugh S. McLellan, LLB is a partner in the law firm of McLellan Herbert, practices in the areas of estate litigation, estate planning and elder law.  He is a former Chairman of the Canadian Bar Association Wills and Trusts (Vancouver) Subsection.  He is the founding Vice Chair (and past Chair) of the CBA National Elder Law Section and the founding Chair of the CBA BC Elder Law Subsection.  He is a member of the Estate Planning Council of Vancouver and the U.S. National Academy of Elder Law Attorneys.  Mr. McLellan is the author of numerous articles on estate litigation, estate planning and Elder Law, co-editor of Financial and Estate Planning for the Mature Client in British Columbia (LexisNexis, 2000), a contributor to B.C. Representation Agreement Act, Adult Guardianship Act and Related Statutes (Carswell, 2000) and is an associate editor of the Estates and Trusts Reports.

Akber Mithani, MD  is a Clinical Associate Professor, Department of Psychiatry, Faculty of Medicine, UBC, Medical Director at Saint Michael’s Centre, Burnaby and Medical Director at the Mount Saint Joseph Hospital Extended Care Unit and German Canadian Center. His previous positions include serving as Director of the Geriatric Division at Riverview Hospital (2000-2006) and Vice President for Medical Affairs at Providence Health Care (2000-2006). He is currently the Director, Primary Care of the Elderly Research Group at Providence. He has participated in over 30 peer-reviewed funded research projects, abstracts, book and journal publications.   Currently he supervises and teaches Family Practice RII residents and IMG Family Practice RII residents in their mandatory clinical geriatric rotation.  He has lectured in numerous medical conferences and public forums and has an interest in end of life care and decision making particularly in Muslim communities.

Aida Niavarani,BCOM,  MA  is CMHC's market analyst for the Fraser Valley. Since joining CMHC in 2013, Aida has held positions in Business Development and Market Analysis.She has a Bachelors of Commerce from the University of British Columbia and a Master of Arts in  Economics from  Carleton University.

Elizabeth Tang, MBA  is Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation's (CMHC) Knowledge Transfer Consultant in BC. In her role as Knowledge Transfer Consultant, Elizabeth is focused on engaging with professionals in the housing industry, academics and provincial and municipal governments to ensure access to the latest and most relevant housing information from CMHC. She is currently focused in the areas of integrated accessible and adaptable design, solutions for aging in place and designing for housing affordability. Elizabeth has been with CMHC since 2006. Prior to working at,CMHC, Elizabeth was Trade Commissioner, Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade. She is a LEED Green Associate, and holds a MBA from University of British Columbia with a specialization in sustainability and business strategic management.

David Wilder,  MSc (Econ) LLB  was a practicing lawyer from 1966 until 2004, chiefly working with startup companies in mining, oil and gas exploration, and high tech. He has served on the boards of several companies in their formative years as well advising exploration and high tech companies that have had to restructure. He is a director of the Riley Park Hillcrest Community Association, one of Vancouver’s biggest community centres.  Amongst other programs it runs a series of physical, social and learning programs addressed to seniors.  He is also involved with Conservative Party of Canada policy committees. It was in that connection he sought out Dr. Gloria Gutman, well known as a pioneering gerontologist for advice in connection with certain policy impacts on seniors who are a growing part of the population and whose lives will be impacted, in not necessarily easily foreseeable ways, by the social changes that are the consequence of changes in the technologies of modern urban areas. 

Lindsey Willis, BA is the Coordinator of Palliative Support Services for the Ridge Meadows Hospice Society. She works closely with the patients and families on the Palliative Program, Hospice and in the community, providing compassionate care and support. She has worked in end-of-life care since 2007, developing programs and innovative approaches to providing a high standard of person centred care, ensuring the whole person is honoured at end-of-life. Lindsey's current initiative is strengthening a supportive relationship with local long term care residences.  She is a raduate of UBC with a Bachelor's Degree in Psychology and trained at Victoria Hospice in Psychosocial Care for the Dying and Bereaved. "We will always remember the little things" is a key message shared with the hundreds of hospice volunteers she has trained. Lindsey will explore how taking the time to listen, companion and being present, leads to better quality of living and dying.

Felicia Wong has over 20 years nursing experience with elders in long-term care setting. She is currently the clinical nurse leader of the extended care unit of Mount Saint Joseph Hospital in Vancouver [MSJ 2ECU]. The unit is home to 99 elder residents who require long-term care support and over 90% of the clients in the unit are Chinese speaking. Felicia was involved in a research project piloted at MSJ 2ECU in 2013 on Nursing Care Delivery for a Palliative Approach conducted by an iPANEL team funded by the Michael Smith Foundation for Health Research & BC Nursing Research Initiative.