Speaker Bios

Check back frequently for speaker updates.

Chairman & Moderator:

Perry Spitznagel
Vice-Chairman & Partner (Calgary), Bennett Jones LLP

Perry Spitznagel is Vice-Chairman of Bennett Jones, a former longstanding Managing Partner of the Calgary office and a senior corporate lawyer with extensive national and cross-border experience in a broad range of matters. Perry has acted for clients in some of the largest transactions in Canada, including many of Canada’s and North America’s largest national and cross-border mergers.

Perry has been recognized by Financial Post Magazine as one of the 25 most influential people in corporate Canada. He is also recognized by Chambers Global, the Legal Media Group, Best Lawyers in Canada, the IFLR 1000 and The Canadian Legal Lexpert Directory as a leading lawyer in his areas of expertise.

Perry is a director of public and private companies and is a past member of the Alberta Securities Commission Advisory Committee. He is a past director of Alpine Canada, the governing body for alpine ski racing in Canada and is the Vice-Chair (acting Chair) of WinSport, which manages the legacy assets and programs of the 1988 Calgary Winter Olympics. He is also a member of the Advisory Board of Samara, a non-profit organization dedicated to citizen engagement in democracy. A former international ski racer, Perry remains active in skiing.

He is a frequent speaker and has chaired national and international conferences on a variety of business law topics. Perry speaks French and German.


David Dodge
Former Governor of the Bank of Canada

A native of Toronto, Mr. Dodge received a bachelor’s degree (honours) from Queen’s University, and a PhD in economics from Princeton. During his academic career, he taught economics at Queen’s University; at the School of Advanced International Studies, Johns Hopkins University; at the Faculty of Commerce at the University of British Columbia; and at Simon Fraser University. He also served as Director of the International Economics Program of the Institute for Research on Public Policy. Mr. Dodge has been awarded honorary degrees from a number of Canadian universities. In 2009, he was elected a fellow of the Royal Society of Canada.

During a distinguished career in the federal public service, Mr. Dodge held senior positions in the Central Mortgage and Housing Corporation, the Anti-Inflation Board, and the Department of Employment and Immigration. After serving in a number of increasingly senior positions at the Department of Finance, including that of G-7
Deputy, he was Deputy Minister of Finance from 1992 to 1997. In that role, he served as a member of the Bank of Canada’s Board of Directors. In 1998 he was appointed Deputy Minister of Health, a position he held until his appointment as Governor of the Bank of Canada. Mr. Dodge, appointed Governor of the Bank of Canada, effective 1 February 2001 for a term of seven years, retired on 31 January 2008. From July 2008 to June 2014, he served as Chancellor of Queen’s University. From 2009 to 2015, he was a member of the board of directors of Canadian Utilities Limited, ATCO Limited and the Bank of Nova Scotia.

Mr. Dodge is Senior Advisor at Bennett Jones LLP one of Canada’s leading law firms. He also serves on the board of the Canadian Institute for Advanced Research, and Chairs the National Council of the C.D. Howe Institute.

Jim Gibson

Calgary-based entrepreneur Jim Gibson is an active leader in the Alberta innovation ecosystem. With 30 years of experience at the forefront of technology and change, Jim is a passionate advocate for “paying attention” to what’s coming and providing concrete examples of how we can all be leaders
and role models for change.

His recently released book, Tip of the Spear: Our Species and Technology at a Crossroads, challenges the reader to understand and respond to a new world that sees infinite possibilities meeting serious global problems head on.

A prolific speaker in Canada about the themes in the book, Jim is also very active in the Calgary innovation ecosystem. As one of the co-founders of the Rainforest movement and a mentor and advisor to many local start-ups, he is helping to support and create the next generation of entrepreneurs in the city at a critical time in its history.

Jim lives in Calgary with his family, has a BComm from the University of Toronto, an MBA from Schulich in Toronto and has his Certified Management Consulting designation.

Oren Berkovich
CEO, SingularityU Canada

Oren Berkovich is the CEO of Singularity University in Canada, an educational institution and part of a global network aimed at educating and inspiring global experts and entrepreneurs to work together and solve the world’s biggest challenges. He has years of experience leading teams both as an entrepreneur working in the Israeli startup ecosystem and as a senior manager of strategic growth at Deloitte’s national innovation office. As a catalyst for long-term growth Oren spends his time connecting people with ideas to facilitate strategic conversations about the future.

Rex Murphy
Social Commentator, Editorialist & Distinct Canadian Voice

Rex Murphy is a trusted face and voice across Canadian media. His intellect and biting humour strike through the heart of profound political and social issues. Currently he writes and reports for CBC’s The National and is a columnist in the National Post.

Canadians are treated to weekly commentary from Rex on CBC’s The National along with his Saturday column in the National Post. He’s also acted as an editorial contributor to CBC Radio’s Definitely Not the Opera. For over 20 years he was the host and moderator of CBC Radio’s Cross Country Checkup. The show brought over 1 million listeners and at times 15,000 callers wanting to join in discussions.

As a speaker, Rex radiates intelligence and trustworthiness. His endearing style brings forth a sarcastic intellect and deep insight into issues affecting individuals and businesses. Audiences can expect to be simultaneously informed and entertained by Rex’s provocative commentary.

He knows what makes Canadians tick, and what drives our political and social affairs. Rex makes us important and reminds us we have culture beyond hockey. His thought-provoking, sometimes stinging commentary and original insights are delivered through a vocabulary to make Webster’s consider updating.

A Rhodes Scholar, Rex was born and raised in St. John’s, Nfld., where he graduated from Memorial University. He went to Oxford University, along with former U.S. President Bill Clinton. Rex later ran twice in provincial elections and lost both times. Maybe he was too honest?

Laura Dawson PhD
Director, Canada Institute, Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars

Dr. Laura Dawson is the Director of the Canada Institute at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars. The Canada Institute is the only think tank in the world dedicated to advancing U.S.-Canada relations.

Named one of Canada’s Top 100 foreign policy influencers by the Hill Times, Dawson is a speaker, writer, and thought leader on Canada-U.S., NAFTA, TPP, and international trade issues. Dawson currently serves as a member of Canada’s Deputy Minister’s Advisory Committee on Trade (NAFTA).

Previously, she served as senior advisor on economic affairs at the United States Embassy in Ottawa and taught international trade and Canada-U.S. relations at Carleton University. Dawson continues to serve as an advisor at Dawson Strategic, which provides advice to business on cross-border trade, market access and regulatory issues. Dawson holds a PhD in political science.

Lu Xu
Consul General, People’s Republic of China, Calgary

Mme. Lu Xu assumed the office of the Consul General of the People’s Republic of China in Calgary in September 2017. She started her diplomatic career in 1991, and has rich diplomatic experience. Previously, she served as Deputy Director General in the Department of Consular Affairs, Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the People’s Republic of China, and worked at the Chinese Embassy in the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, Chinese Consulate General in San Francisco, Chinese Embassies in Czech Republic and Slovak Republic.

Susan le Jeune d’Allegeershecque CMG
British High Commissioner, Canada

Susan le Jeune d’Allegeershecque has been Britain’s High Commissioner to Canada since August 2017.

Her 30 year diplomatic career has taken her to three continents, and exposed her to issues from the EU, to nuclear non-proliferation, anti-narcotics work and the corporate challenge of the Foreign Service’s HR policies. She has lived through a coup in Venezuela, and the immediate aftermath of the Brexit vote in her last post as Ambassador to Austria and Permanent Representative to the UN organisations in Vienna. A career highlight was taking part in the negotiations which led to the JCPOA nuclear deal with Iran.

Susan speaks French, German and Spanish and is married to Stéphane, a former journalist and teacher. They have two grown-up sons.

Kelly Craft
U.S. Ambassador to Canada

President Donald J. Trump nominated Ambassador Kelly Craft to be the United States Ambassador to Canada, and she was formally sworn in by Vice President Mike Pence on September 26, 2017. She presented her credentials to Governor General Julie Payette on October 23, 2017.

U.S. Ambassador to Canada Kelly Craft serves as the President’s personal representative to the government and people of Canada. She leads the U.S. Mission to Canada, which comprises the Embassy in Ottawa and seven Consulates located across Canada.

Ambassador Kelly Craft is a leader, entrepreneur, and philanthropist who has made community service and improving education the cornerstone of her career.

A third generation Kentuckian, Ambassador Craft demonstrates a deep commitment to her home state by serving in several leadership roles with the Salvation Army of Lexington and the Center for Rural Development, a non-profit dedicated to economic development in rural Kentucky. She also served on the Boards of Directors for the Kentucky Arts Council, the Lexington Philharmonic, YMCA of Central Kentucky, and the United Way of The Bluegrass.

With a deep commitment to education, Ambassador Craft has served on the University of Kentucky Board of Trustees, and co-founded the Morehead State University Craft Academy for Excellence in Science and Mathematics which nurtures the academic talents of young Kentuckians.

In the private sector, Ambassador Craft founded a successful marketing and business advisory firm providing leadership advice to businesses in her community and across the country.

In 2007, President George W. Bush appointed Ambassador Craft as an alternate delegate to the United Nations General Assembly.

Ambassador Craft is a graduate of the University of Kentucky and holds an Honorary Doctorate from Morehead State University. She and her husband, Joe Craft, who is also a Kentucky native and UK graduate, share six children and eleven grandchildren.