2023 AFCA Conference Speakers

May 28-31| Edmonton, AB
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Meet our Keynote Speakers

Brian McAsey

Deputy Chief, Calgary

Brian McAsey is a fire industry leader with nearly 20 years of experience in roles spanning leadership, labor relations, business management, and public administration. An award-winning film and television producer he has long experimented with technology and media. His education includes a Master of Public Administration (MPA) from Dalhousie University, where he graduated with honors. Brian also holds a Master of Arts (MA) in Cultural Studies from Athabasca University, Additionally, he earned a Master of Business Administration (MBA) in Organizational Management from Royal Roads University. He has an undergraduate degree in humanities and credentials in the fields of data science, command, project management, and GIS. Brian has worked with the Canada Space agency on experiments to improve fan technology and belongs to a department with experience with VR training, drone technology, and embracing innovation.

Keynote speaker: Sunday @ 9:00 am

“Fire Service Technology – From Pump Cans to Drones” 

Alex Benay

Program Manager, Microsoft

A former Deputy Minister of the Treasury Board of Canada, President and CEO, who now leads Microsoft’s Global strategies for government cloud adoption. Prior to this he led the national digital transformation practice at a Big Four firm.  Alex is an expert in the digital economy, digital strategy, large project delivery, and digital policy. Alex is known for his ability to lead and execute complex transformations, uniting diverse stakeholders from multiple levels and industries, often with divergent interests to drive results quickly. Fluent in English and French as well as published author. He is a recognized Global leader in digital transformation with senior level experience in both the public and private sectors. Alex serves on the board of the World Wide Web Foundation an international non-for-profit organization established in 2009 by Sir Tim Berners-Lee (the inventor of the web). The World Wide Web Foundation is the leading advocate for a web as a public good and basic right for everyone and it’s initiatives include the Contract for the Web, the Alliance for Affordable Internet, and the Women’s Rights Online Network. For more information see https://webfoundation.org/

Finally he is also the co-founder (alongside Jim Balsillie, of the Canadian Technology Agenda of Canada, including national technology standards to increase global competitiveness in Banks, Governments and other sectors.

Keynote Speaker: Tuesday @ 12:00 pm

“The Future is Here”

Shawn Kanungo


As a globally recognized innovation and disruption strategist, Shawn Kanungo works at the intersection of creativity, business, and technology. He spent 12 years at Deloitte working closely with leaders to help them better plan for the opportunities associated with disruptive innovation. In his high energy keynotes, Kanungo draws on his extensive experience to provide audiences with an optimistic roadmap for the future; one that embraces unexpected approaches to innovation to remain competitive and relevant

Since leaving Deloitte, Kanungo has worked with hundreds of organizations on their journey to digital transformation. He’s led complex projects incorporating artificial intelligence, cloud technologies, behavioural economics, Web3, and more. Today, Kanungo is a Partner with Queen & Rook, where he advises leading organizations and executives on disruptive trends and invests in early-stage ventures.

Kanungo’s work has been featured in the Globe and MailThe Guardian, CBC, and CTV. He’s been recognized by Edify Magazine as one of their “Top 40 Under 40” and by Inc. magazine as one of the “100 Most Innovative Leaders”. In 2021, Forbes called Kanungo the “best virtual keynote speaker I’ve ever seen”.

A prolific content creator, Kanungo’s content on innovation has garnered millions of views across LinkedIn, TikTok, YouTube, and Facebook. His bestselling debut book, The Bold Ones offers a playbook for individuals to become bolder and push their careers and companies forward.

 Keynote speaker: Monday @ 7:30 a.m.

“Disruptive Innovation”

Carlos Tobar

Manager, Technology Strategy, Telus

Carlos leads the Public Safety Services team at TELUS – Responsible for evaluating and developing mission critical products, services and end-to-end solutions for the Public Safety industry.

Over his career, Carlos has built an extensive background in working with leading edge technologies and public safety services. Carlos spent several years with TELUS designing and optimizing various wireless networks. He helped build out the Alberta First Responders Radio Communication System (AFRRCS) P25 LMR network with Harris before joining the City of Edmonton Fire Rescue Services (EFRS) as Chief of Emergency Systems. Over this 10 year tenure at EFRS, he was responsible for Public Safety Technologies and strategies as well as GIS and mapping services. Carlos also helped lead the procurement and deployment of the NG9-1-1 IP Call Handling system in collaboration with Edmonton Police Service.

Carlos has an Electronics Engineering Technology diploma from Northern Alberta Institute of Technology and an Electrical Engineering degree from the University of Alberta. Additionally, he completed the Executive MBA program at the University of Alberta where he researched impacts of 5G on Public Safety and Transportation industries. He is also a board member of the CIO Association of Canada (CIOCan), Edmonton Chapter.

Speaker: Wednesday @ 7:30 am “Future of Public Safety Technologies”

In addition Carlos will present at a Concurrent Session Wednesday @ 9:15 am and Closing Bear Pit Wednesday at 10:45 am


Meet our Conference Presenters

Michelle Whyte

City of St. Albert

ichelle Whyte came into the disability management field quite by accident.  After returning to the workforce following the birth of her first son, she responded to an ad from a placement agency.  In meeting the owner of the agency, it was thought a different position would be more suitable.  From there, Michelle began her career with a third-party insurer, handing non-occupational disability claims for both small and large employers.

After 10 years of working in Edmonton, the opportunity to work for the City of St. Albert was presented. Working in the community in which she lived and reducing her commute time allowing her to spend more time with her family made the switch her best one yet. This allowed additional growth to Michelle’s career path dealing with both occupational and non-occupational claims from the employers’ side. Through her time with the City of St. Albert, Michelle has obtained her diploma in Human Resources, is completing her Bachelor of Human Resources and Labour Relations and will be applying for her CPHR designation.

 In her spare time, Michelle enjoys participating in a variety of sports, notably volleyball at a local, provincial and national level.  Most recently she recently returned from U18 Mens’ National Championships which culminated in a Gold medal for the team as well as being Senior Staff with Volleyball Canada in Ottawa, Edmonton and Calgary.


Presenter: Tuesday May 30 @ 11:00 am

 Compensation and Loss Time Accident Claims for Volunteer and Pain on Call Firefighters

Brian Stauth

Managing Director, Public Services Division, City of Medicine Hat

Brian Stauth has worked in both rural volunteer fire departments and career urban departments. He worked as a front line firefighter for the City of Medicine Hat for 14 yeats before moving to the Deputy Chief of Administration for 2 years and the Deputy Chief of Operations for 2 years. He has been the Fire Chief for the City of Medicine Hat for over 10 years. He holds a degree in Applied Business from Lakeland College and oversees a department of 105 employees including a communications branch (secondary PSAP centre), fire suppression branch, fire prevention branch, training, and emergency management branch.

Presenter: Sunday @ 9:30 am

“Innovation to Improve Response” 

Jaci Fox

Acting Strategic Manager and Business Analyst, City of Medicine Hat

Jaci Fox has worked in secondary PSAP centres as a dispatcher, is a quality assurance consultant for Priority Dispatch and currently works for Medicine Hat Fire and Emergency Services as a Business Analyst, responsible for researching and recommending business improvements for our department. She holds a Business Administration Diploma from McMaster University. She holds ENP certification for dispatching and has instructed and consulted with emergency response organizations all over North America and in the UK.

Co-Presenter: Sunday @ 9:30 am

“Innovation to Improve Response” 

Andrew Renfree

9-1-1 Manager, Alberta Emergency Management Agency 

Andrew Renfree is the 9-1-1 Program Manager with the Alberta Emergency Management Agency (AEMA). He is the current Chair of the Canadian NG9-1-1 Coalition and he is involved in national and provincial 9-1-1 initiatives. Andrew has been with AEMA since 2009 and has led government business continuity planning, and public alerting for the Government of Alberta prior to his current role. During emergency activations of the Provincial Emergency Coordination Centre, Andrew has assumed roles in the plans, operations, and logistics sections. He was a Duty Officer during the 2011 Slave Lake Fire, Plans Chief during the 2013 Southern Alberta Floods, and Operations Chief during the Wood Buffalo wildfire in 2016 and High Level fire in 2019. Most recently, Andrew was the Logistics Chief for the 2023 Alberta spring wildfires. In his spare time, Andrew enjoys community involvement and spending time with his wife and two children.

Presenter:  Sunday at 10:20 am NG911.  What’s all the Hype About? and Tuesday at 1:15 pm “NG911.  Is your PSAP Ready?” 

Jeff Boisvert

Associate Professor, University of Alberta

 Jeff Boisvert ([email protected]) is a professor in Civil and Environmental Engineering at the University of Alberta, co-director of the Centre for Computational Geostatistics (CCG), and an active paid-on-call firefighter with Parkland County Fire Services. My research includes spatial numerical modeling, uncertainty quantification, data analytics, and machine learning. I am passionate about uncertainty management which focuses on making complex decisions based on limited/uncertain data in a way that maximizes effectiveness/value, minimizes environmental impact, and minimizes risk. Currently we are exploring methods that use remotely sensed data from drones and satellite imagery for wildland fire hazard assessments, structure triage, fuel characterization, and fire growth modeling.

Presenter: Tuesday @ 1:15 pm

“Drone Technology”

Liam Bennett

Masters Student, University of Alberta

Liam Bennett is a Masters student currently studying at the University of Alberta. Graduating with a BSc. in Mechanical Engineering in 2021, his research seeks to develop and integrate techniques for the utilization of remotely sensed data in the field of wildfire management. His team, led by Dr. Jeff Boisvert, explores cutting-edge drone technologies integrated with aerial and satellite data products to detect trees, map fuels, and convert this data into usable and interpretable information for use by wildfire managers in hazard assessments at the community and individual property scales.

Co-Presenter: Tuesday  @ 1:15 pm

“Drone Technology”

Chad Moore

Parkland County Fire Services

Chad Moore is the Deputy Fire Chief – Strategic Services and Emergency Management with Parkland County Fire Services. With over 18 years in the Fire Service, he has volunteered with his local fire service in three different communities as he moved around the greater Edmonton region. Originally graduating from the University of Alberta with a degree in Computer Science with minor in Business, Chad has worked in the provincial healthcare system extracting and reporting on patient and hospital data, managing I.T. projects, and implementing the provincial EMS dispatch technologies. In 2020, he completed a Masters of Arts in Disaster and Emergency Management from Royal Roads University and continues to work to bring evidence-based decision-making into everyday conversation in his department.

Speaker: Tuesday @ 1:15 pm

“Operational Innovation – Where Are We Headed” 

John Cunningham

Executive Director of Nova Scotia Firefighters School 

John Cunningham is the Executive Director of the Nova Scotia Firefighters School; a position he has held since 2002. In this capacity he oversees the training of approximately 6000 emergency responders each year and the daily operation and long range planning of theProvincial fire academy. A member of the fire service since 1990, John spent nearly 12 years with the Howie Centre Fire Department, rising through the ranks to become Chief. He served his local community as Station Chief with Halifax Regional Fire & Emergency Service, Station 65; Tantallon; a composite fire station with 35 volunteer and 4 career personnel for 16 years, retiring in 2019. Chief Cunningham is active in many National and International organizations promoting fire service safety and training. Included in these are the International Fire Service Accreditation Congress, National Board on Fire Service Professional Qualifications, North American Fire Training Directors, Canadian Fire Service Training Directors, Fire Service Association of Nova Scotia, and the Nova Scotia Fire Service Professional Qualifications Board. In 2014 Chief Cunningham was appointed as the Chairman of the NFPA Committee on Firefighter Professional Qualifications (NFPA 1001, 1002, 1003 & 1005).

Speaker: Tuesday @ 2:45 pm

“NFPA 1010 Update”

Laura King

NFPA Regional Director for Canada

Laura King is NFPA’s regional director for Canada. Laura was editor of Fire Fighting in Canada and Canadian Firefighter magazines for 10 years before moving to NFPA in 2017. She was a reporter and editor for more than 20 years for newspapers and magazines across Canada and the United States. Laura has a degree from Carleton University in journalism, political science, and public administration. She is a certified fire- and life-safety educator and holds several other certifications. Laura is from Cape Breton, has lived in Halifax, Ottawa, Edmonton, and the Greater Toronto Area, and is thrilled to travel again to all parts of Canada!

Speaker: Wednesday @ 9:15 am *Concurrent Stream 2*

In addition Laura King will participate in the Closing Bear Pit, Wednesday @ 10:45 am

“Technology – No, Hold on a Second”

Denise Annicchiarico

Supervisor, Disability Management & Well-being, Strathcona County

Denise is currently working with Strathcona County as the Supervisor, Disability Management and Well-being (DMW), in Human Resources. She came to Strathcona County (HR) in 2010 with a background in Occupational Therapy and had previously worked for the WCB-AB (Millard Health) as a clinician. The Disability Management and Well-being team in Strathcona County leads case management (occupational and non-occupational) as well as proactive, preventative programming, including education and awareness initiatives for staff.

Denise has special interests in the effective management and prevention of psychological injury and occupational disease within the Public Safety Personnel (PSP) population; both areas of focus that the DMW team work collaboratively to address through evidence-based programming.

 Speaker: Tuesday @ 2:45 pm *Concurrent Stream 2*


Dan Haight

President, Darkhorse Analytics

Daniel Haight is the President and co-founder of Darkhorse Analytics. He is a Certified Analytics Professional and an award-winning lecturer at the University of Alberta School of Business.

His work has spanned healthcare, energy, marketing, professional sports, and transportation. He started his career at Mercer Management Consulting in Toronto advising senior management and jet-setting around the continent. Subsequently, he nearly made millions of dollars in a small Internet startup. Instead, he enjoyed the magnificent failure of the dotcom bust. 

Along the way, he started a used car dealership, purchased a second-hand trampoline for fifteen dollars, recorded a rock video, and fathered three children. His current work focuses on predictive analytics and data visualization. His goal is to help managers make better decisions by combining their experience with the power of analytics.  His even bigger goal is to design a company where Monday mornings are even more exciting than Friday afternoons.

 Speaker: Tuesday @ 11:00 am *Concurrent Stream 2*


Marcel Maure

Regional Fire Chief, Director of Emergency Management
Director of Protective Services, Safety Codes Officer (Fire)
MD Smoky River No.130

With 25+ years in the fire service, Marcel Maure has worked as a front-line firefighter for the Department of National Defense for nearly a decade and a half before transitioning to municipal fire services as Director of Protective Services and Fire Chief for The Municipal District of Smoky River where he is currently posted. Chief Maure is also a Canadian Forces veteran having served as infantry soldier during tours to Bosnia in 1997 and Central Republic of Africa in 1999. Along with being a sitting member of the Governance Board for AFFRCS, Chief Maure is also the Second Vice-President of Peace Regional Fire Chiefs Association, Logistics coordinator for Northern HEAT firefighter’s conference, and one of the Logistics Section Chief’s for the Northwest All Hazard Incident Management Team (ABTF-1).


Speaker: Tuesday @ 11:00 am *Concurrent Stream 2*


Mark Van Werkhoven

Deputy Chief, Communications 
Grande Prairie Fire Department, GP 911

Mark currently serves as the Deputy Chief of Communications for Grande Prairie Fire Department and oversees GP911.

Mark began his career with the Canadian Armed Forces as a medic in 1996 and remained a reservist until 2019.  Born in Grande Prairie, Mark returned to the region joining Grande Prairie Regional EMS in 2001.  Mark eventually landed in the role of EMS District Manager before joining STARS in 2006.  Mark remained operational with STARS until the summer of 2021.  Mark has filled a variety of roles including at the Management/Leadership level.  Mark also served as a volunteer firefighter at various stages in his career.

 Mark has been involved with AFRRCS since it’s inception including committee secondments during the statement of requirements development and RFP assessment.  Mark is an AFFRCS Agency Administrator, Technical Administrator, and Crypto Officer.

Speaker: Tuesday @ 11:00 am *Concurrent Stream 2*

Ali Rakie

AFRRCS Operations Technical Advisor, Alberta First Responders Radio Communications System, Ministry of Public Safety and Emergency Services

Ali Rakie is the technical advisor for the Alberta First Responders Radio Communications System (AFRRCS). In 2013, Ali graduated from the NAIT Wireless Systems Engineering Technology program and joined Harris Corporation (now L3Harris) as an applications engineer, with the focus on the design, build and testing phases of the AFRRCS system. In 2016, Ali moved to the Government of Alberta to focus on the operational aspect of AFRRCS and assisting with agency migration from the technical side.

Speaker: Tuesday @ 11:00 am *Concurrent Stream 2*


Whitney Benoit

Business Relationship Coordinator AFRRCS, Ministry of Public Safety and Emergency Services

Whitney has been with AFRRCS since Feb 2019. Prior to this a police officer with the RCMP for 27 years.

Speaker: Tuesday @ 11:00 am *Concurrent Stream 2*


Brian Saunders

Business Relationship Coordinator AFRRCS

Brian has been with AFRRCS since May 2019. Prior to this Brian worked 14 years in the Justice Department and he is ex Air Force.

Speaker: Tuesday @ 11:00 am *Concurrent Stream 2*


Trevor Brice

Fire Chief / DEM, Okotoks Fire & Rescue

Fire Chief Trevor Brice is a seasoned Fire Service leader with over 40 years’ experience in all aspects of leading career and combination fire departments. Trevor became a firefighter in 1983 and progressed through the ranks in a number of UK fire services until immigrating to Canada in 2010 where he has served in Regina, Alberta Fire Commissioners Office, North Battleford and his current role with Okotoks Fire & Rescue.

 Chief Brice Is the Director at large for the AFAC Urban Municipalities and serves on a number of CAFC committees including the Executive Chief Fire Officer (ECFO) as an assessor for the ECFO and Aspire programs.

 Passionate about leading and developing the leaders of the future

 Chief Brice was recognized by the Institution of Fire Engineers becoming a Fellow (FIFireE) and awarded the Queens Elizabeth 2nd Platinum Jubilee medal in 2022.

Speaker: Tuesday @  2:45 pm *Concurrent Stream 3*


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Early Bird Pricing Ends March 27th, 2023

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