Let’s change the way we work together. There are more than 200 environment and sustainability related organizations in Alberta and they are incredibly diverse. From ensuring safe and available water, to preserving and restoring valuable land and habitat, to building a sustainable future, Albertans across the province are continually working to protect the ecosystems that provide all of us with life and prosperity. As a champion for the environment in Alberta, we invite you to join us over three days in February to explore new opportunities to work together as a community and across boundaries.

The environmental challenges we face in Alberta are complex. We share your sense of urgency. We believe that to amplify our collective impact we need to come together to connect meaningfully, find common ground, share resources, align our objectives and plan wisely. Rather than a “stand alone” conference, this Environmental Gathering will be an opportunity to determine how we will work together as a community moving forward.


Date: February 25-27

Location: The Bow Tower & Mount Royal University, Calgary

Ticket Prices 

Single: $300 per ticket

Group – 2 people from same organization: $275 per ticket

Group – 3 people from same organization: $265 per ticket

Thank you to all who attended the 2016 Environmental Gathering.

We hope you will join us in Edmonton in February 2017 for the second annual Environmental Gathering: Breaking Through.


“Change the Climate: It’s Time to Change the Way We Work Together”

Our first annual Environmental Gathering will explore the current context for environmental work in Alberta. Attendees will collectively identify what the present opportunities and leverage points for action are.  At the Gathering we will share recent environmental successes from across Alberta, inject energy into existing work, and provide a creative space for exploring new ideas.  Attendees will learn new tools, approaches, and frameworks to think about social and environmental change differently. Most importantly, the Gathering will nurture relationships among attendees and build a more resilient, cohesive, and connected environmental community in Alberta.

With the exception of the Networking Reception on Thursday evening, hosted at the Bow Tower in downtown Calgary, all activities will be hosted in Ross Glen Hall in the Roderick Mah Centre for Continuous Learning at Mount Royal University in Calgary. 

We have planned the event with a minimal waste footprint and as such there will not be a printed program available on-site. The agenda will be posted at several locations on site and will also be on your name tags. For those who would like to download and print a copy of the agenda, you can access a PDF version here: Download the program as a PDF.

Thursday Evening – Gathering Kickoff: The Environmental Imperative

Location: The Bow, downtown Calgary (location)

The Environmental Gathering will begin with a Networking Reception at the Bow Tower in downtown Calgary on the evening of Thursday, February 25th. Open to both invited guests and Gathering attendees, join your peers from across the province to connect and discuss the current environmental imperative in Canada. At the end of the Networking Reception, join us for a screening of Elder in the Making. Light snacks and cash bar available.


5:00 pm – 8:00 pm   Networking, Light Snacks and Cash Bar

6:00 pm – 6:20 pm   Welcome and Opening Remarks

6:50 pm – 8:30 pm   Screening of Elder in the Making

*Note: If you are staying for the film you may want to consider eating dinner in advance.


Friday Morning – Our Changing Landscape: Levers for Action

Location: Ross Glen Hall, Roderick Mah Centre for Continuous Learning, Mount Royal University

Registration Opens

Time: 7:30 am

Hot Cakes and Hot Topics: Breakfast Roundtables on Strategic Topics of Choice

Time: 7:30 am – 8:20 am


Welcome and  Traditional Blessing

Pat Letizia, Alberta Ecotrust

Casey Eagle Speaker, Blood Tribe

Time: 8:30 am – 8:50 am


Opening Plenary: Leverage Points: Government and the Environmental Community Working Together

Keynote Speaker: Shannon Phillips, Alberta Minister of Environment & Parks

Time: 8:50 am – 9:30 am

Morning Sessions: The Present Environmental Context: Big Challenges, Big Opportunities

Time: 9:30 am – Noon

Government, industry, and environmental leaders will describe the current context for environmental work in Alberta and what they perceive to be the leverage points for impact, indicating  where they see the environmental community playing a key role.

Government Panel

Rick Blackwood, Alberta Environment and Parks

David James, Alberta Energy

Sean Royer, Alberta Agriculture & Forestry

Industry Panel

Jon Mitchell, Cenovus Energy

Grant Arnold, BluEarth Renewables

Bob Winship, Weyerhaeuser

Michelle Nutting, Agrium

Environmental Community Panel

Chris Severson-Baker, Pembina Institute

Norine Ambrose, Cows and Fish

Kevin Van Tighem, Conservation Biologist

Alison Ronson, CPAWS Northern Alberta

Areni Kelleppan, Green Calgary

Friday Afternoon – Creating Change: Building Momentum for Big Wins in Alberta

Time: 1:00 pm – 4:30 pm

The first afternoon of the Gathering will feature a deep dive into the dynamics of social and environmental change. Leaders from Alberta will present on how change happens and share successful approaches that are having far reaching impacts.

Presentations include:

Alberta’s Big Shift and Why Momentum Continues to Build

Chris Severson-Baker, Pembina Institute

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From Mapping Tool to Mitigation: A Story of Building Partnerships for Unprecedented Change

Tracy Lee, Miistakis Institute

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Cycling Advocacy in a Hostile Climate

Kimberley Nelson, Bike Calgary

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Growing a Healthier Environment

Lorraine Becker, Alternative Land Use Services

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That’ll Never Happen: How to Ignore the Critics and Create Monumental Change

Dr. Joe Vipond, Canadian Association of Physicians for the Environment & Alberta Coal Phase Out

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Keepers LOCAL Sustainability Projects

Jule Asterisk, Keepers of the Athabasca

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Watershed Transformation: Accelerating Water Solutions through Project Blue Thumb

Josee Methot, Red Deer River Watershed Alliance

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Moving Environmental Education From the Margins to the Mainstream

Gareth Thomson, Alberta Council for Environmental Education

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Friday Evening – Stop Talking, Get Moving: Learning to Act

Location: Ross Glen Hall, Mount Royal University

Time: 6:00 pm – 8:30 pm

Keynote Speaker: Stephen Carter, President, QED Marketing

Friday night will feature drinks and dinner with well known political strategist Stephen Carter. Stephen will provide an ‘informed outsider’ perspective on Alberta’s environmental community and challenge the status quo.

Saturday Morning – New Tools, Ideas, and Frameworks for Change

Location: Ross Glen Hall, Mount Royal University

Pancakes and Panaceas: Breakfast Roundtables on Strategic Topics of Choice

Time: 8:00 am – 8:50 am

Opening Plenary: Human Learning Ecology: Understanding Unprecedented Levels of Adaptive Challenges and What it Will Take to Meet Them

Keynote Speaker: Ken Low, President, Action Studies Institute

Time: 9:00 am – 9:30 am

Saturday Sessions: Planning for Change, Acting With Purpose, Demonstrating Impact

Time: 9:30 am – 2:45 pm

Following a provocative opening day, Saturday will feature learning sessions delivered in three program streams – Strategy, Action, and Impact. The Strategy stream will focus on how environmental groups can plan for the change they are intending to achieve. The Action stream will focus on the skills needed to be effective in our work. The Impact stream will focus on the skills needed to define, measure, and communicate success.


Workshops: 9:40 AM

Driving Impact and Results with a Solid Theory of Change ([infopopup tag=lindsay1])

Lindsay Telfer, Freshwater Alliance


Achieving Your Strategic Results – Really! ([infopopup tag=brian1])

Brian Lanier, The Leaders Circle


Direct Action: People Powered Change ([infopopup tag=mike1])

Mike Hudema, Greenpeace


Introduction to Social Return on Investment  ([infopopup tag=seema1])

Seema Jindal, Earth Educators Inc.


Using the Conservation and Stewardship Tools Under the Alberta Land Stewardship Act  ([infopopup tag=guy1])

Guy Greenaway, Miistakis Institute, Kim Good, Legacy Land Trust, Jason Unger, Environmental Law Centre, Dave Poulton


Tools for Changing Social Norms ([infopopup tag=melanie1])

Melanie Watt & Julie-Anne Fritz, Biosphere Institute of the Bow Valley

Workshops: 11:15 AM

Integrating Indigenous Knowledge with Western Science ([infopopup tag=indigenous])

Matthew Whitehead, Woodland Cree First Nation & Becky Kostka, Teneo te Terra


Engaging New Audiences Through Stories ([infopopup tag=lindsay2])

Lindsay Telfer, Freshwater Alliance


Recipe for Successful Partnerships – From Positive Examples to Challenges ([infopopup tag=jodi1])

Jodi Hilty, Yellowstone to Yukon Conservation Initiative


Prototyping for Better Solutions, Faster ([infopopup tag=binnu1])

Binnu Jeyakumar, Pembina Institute


The Power of Interest-Based Negotiation ([infopopup tag=robyn1])

Robyn Jacobsen, Robyn Jacobsen Consulting


Approach Climate Change Adaptation Through Community Action ([infopopup tag=areni1])

Areni Kelleppan, Green Calgary

Workshops 1:30 PM

Realize the Power of  your Contacts List ([infopopup tag=lindsay3])

Lindsay Telfer, Freshwater Alliance


Developmental Evaluation: A Mindset and Approach to Deepen Impact  ([infopopup tag=brenna1])

Brenna Atnikov, Reos Partners


Using Systemic Design to Leverage Impact ([infopopup tag=laura1])

Jessica Spina & Laura Read, Alberta CoLab


Using Co-operatives to Scale Innovation and Address Climate Change ([infopopup tag=seth1])

Seth Leon, Alberta Community & Co-operative Association & Lesley Cornelisse, Institute for Community Prosperity


Putting up the Big Tent: Building Networks and Communities ([infopopup tag=christina1])

Christina Pickles, Alberta Council for Environmental Education


Building Emotionally Intelligent Environmental Programs ([infopopup tag=amber1])

Amber Bennett, Upaya Consulting



Saturday Afternoon: Hope for the Future

The three program streams will continue into the early afternoon on Saturday before attendees reconvene as a group for the event finale. More than a wrap-up, Saturday afternoon will serve as a rallying point and launch pad for future environmental action.

Closing Plenary: The Optimistic Environmentalist

Keynote Speaker: Dr. David Boyd, environmental lawyer, professor, author

Time: 3:20 pm – 4:00 pm

Our society faces serious environmental challenges, but based on humanity’s track record of successes over the past 50 years, the ready availability of effective solutions, and the potential for future innovation, today’s problems can be overcome.


An invitation for the Thursday evening Networking Reception has been extended to Catherine McKenna, the Federal Minister of the Environment and Climate Change.

Friday Morning Keynote


Shannon Phillips was elected to the Legislative Assembly of Alberta, representing the constituency of Lethbridge-West, on May 5, 2015.

On May 24, 2015, Ms. Phillips was sworn in to cabinet as Minister of Environment and Parks and as Minister Responsible for the Status of Women. She also serves as Deputy Government House Leader.

Prior to serving with the Legislative Assembly, she worked with the Alberta Federation of Labour as a policy analyst for five years.

She also spent five years as a member of the board of directors for the Womanspace Resource Centre, a nonprofit organization that provides resources, referrals and education to the community and to individual women.

In 1999 she received a bachelor of arts with honours in political science and in 2002 she completed her master of arts, both at the University of Alberta.

Together with her two sons Ms. Phillips resides in Lethbridge, Alberta.

Friday Evening Keynote


The National Post, CBC and other political commentators have described Stephen Carter as a “political mastermind.” In reality, he is at the forefront of a new political class focused on post-partisan politics. He led Alison Redford’s successful race for the Progressive Conservative Association leadership bid in Alberta, as well as her come-from-behind campaign for premier of the province. He also served as Redford’s chief of staff. Stephen was the architect of Naheed Nenshi’s remarkable 2010 campaign for mayor of Calgary. His roots in politics include serving as media liaison and strategist to Joe Clark from 2001 to 2003. Carter is now the President of QED Marketing headquartered in Calgary.

Saturday Morning Keynote


Ken is the founder and president of the Action Studies Institute [est. 1983] dedicated to mapping out the dynamics of adaptive intelligence in human systems and pioneering the development of a new discipline – human learning ecology. The driving motivation behind this research is the need to understand the underlying causes of adaptive and maladaptive development and behavior in individuals, organizations, societies, and cultures. The research draws on successes and failures of human learning and activity across cultures, sectors, disciplines and periods of history. The patterns of emerging adaptive intelligence found in the human story provide a structure for the human venture, a disciplined framework for understanding human progress, folly and resistance, including the systemic adaptive challenges facing humanity at our time and place in history, and what it will take to meet them.

Closing Plenary Keynote


David R. Boyd is one of Canada’s leading experts in environmental law and policy and an internationally renowned authority on the relationship between human rights and environmental degradation. He co-chairs Vancouver’s Greenest City 2020 and 100% Renewable City initiatives with Mayor Gregor Robertson. Boyd is also the award-winning author of over 100 articles and eight books including The Optimistic Environmentalist: Progressing Towards a Greener Future and Cleaner, Greener, Healthier: A Prescription for Stronger Canadian Environmental Laws and Policies. He served as a special advisor on sustainability to Prime Minister Paul Martin and has also advised the government of Sweden on environmental policy.




Conservation biologist, park warden, interpreter and Park Superintendent in various western Canadian national parks over a career spanning more than thirty years.
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Executive Director of the CPAWS Northern Alberta chapter. Alison holds a B.Sc.H. in Environmental Sciences, a J.D. and an M.A. in International Affairs with a focus on Environmental Governance. 
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Chris directs the Pembina Institute’s work in Alberta. His focus is on reducing the health and environmental impacts of oil and gas, the oilsands and power generation in Alberta.
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Tracy’s work as a Senior Project Manager at the Miistakis Institute focuses on how local knowledge and experiential learning can contribute to the understanding of a conservation problem and lead to the development of better solutions.
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Gareth is the Executive Director of ACEE and he has over twenty-five years experience in environmental education, working for the government of Alberta and then as Education Director for an NGO.
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Dr. Joe Vipond is an emergency physician who practises in Calgary , and he leads a coalition of health professionals, environmentalists, and other interested parties advocating politicians for a phase out of coal-fired power generation. 


Amber is an award-winning communications and engagement strategist. She has honed her skills over 15-years working with government, non-profits and business.
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Lindsay is the National Project Director for the Freshwater Alliance and has over a decade of experience working with organizations, institutions and governments in developing policies and processes related to sustainability and public engagement.  
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Mike Hudema has been a longtime creative activist in Edmonton and beyond and is currently a climate campaigner with Greenpeace Canada.
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Seth is the manager of co-operative services at the Alberta Community and Co-operative Association. He has supported the role of co-operatives to address challenges related to aging in place, Indigenous economic development, and renewable energy.
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Lesley Cornelisse is the Program and Research Associate at the Institute for Community Prosperity, and an ABSI Connect (Alberta Social Innovation Connect) Policy Fellow. 
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Brian helps people in organizations articulate what truly matters to them and, as importantly, he equips them with new tools and approaches to achieving extraordinary results.
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Guy is a Senior Project Manager with the Miistakis Institute, working to understand how ecological conservation connects with private land, community health, land use planning, and government policy. 
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Christina responsibilities with ACEE include a lead role in building the Get Outside and Play Early Childhood Network, designing ACEE’s annual conference program, and delivering capacity-building workshops to environmental education agencies and teachers alike. 
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Seema works with NGO’s to develop and execute effective stakeholder consultation, sustainable social enterprise business model, and Social Return on Investment to engage variety of stakeholders.
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Kimberley  is currently the Co-Chair of Canada Bikes, and maintains her work with Bike Calgary as the Vice President as well as the task force lead for Promotions/Events, and the City-Wide Community volunteer coordinator. 
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Jule is extensively involved in community development including best waste management practices, local environmental testing, and renewable energy demonstration projects. 
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Becky’s unique blend of experience provides her with the skills required to build strategic relationships between stakeholders, conduct culturally appropriate research, co-create grassroots solutions to problems, and facilitate change and build capacity within communities. 
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Robyn has honed her skills over 8 years working with government, industry, and non-government organizations in the resolution of complex public policy issues in Alberta.
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Matthew is a living example of the inter-generational transfer of Indigenous Knowledge (IK) and describes IK as a non-static inter-generational knowledge system through the lens of his life experience as a First Nation person working in the western world.
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In her work Areni has explored sustainable forest management, green building, resilient and sustainable food systems, and now, with Green Calgary, positive grassroots environmental action at the community level.
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As a “business environmentalist,” Lorraine has worked tirelessly to help businesses solve environmental problems and currently works as the Ecosystem Markets, Business and Policy Development Director for ALUS. 
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One of the world’s leading experts on wildlife corridor, Jodi will speak about the challenges and opportunities of partnerships and provide practical insights into how to make them work for you.
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Brenna is a consultant with Reos Partners. She has extensive experience with multi-stakeholder initiatives aimed at transforming systems in the areas of urban sustainability, community economic development, early literacy, and watershed management.  [infopopup tag=brenna]


Josée is one part environmental scientist, one part process designer, and one part strategist. Her passion lies in approaching complex problems in the water-food-energy nexus from more than one angle. 
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Dr. Melanie Watt completed both her M.Sc. and Ph.D. in ecology, then helped establish the Biosphere Institute of the Bow Valley in 1997. She has managed a variety of national and internationally acclaimed sustainability programs including outreach programs for the public, businesses and youth. 
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Dr. Julie-Anne Fritz is a Program Associate for the Biosphere Institute of the Bow Valley where she promotes sustainable communities and environmental stewardship through education and outreach. 
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Laura is a Systemic Designer with Alberta Energy. She is passionate about using design methods to solve real world problems. Her interests are alternative business models, ethnographic research, and human centered design
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Jessica explores how complex social and environmental challenges can be addressed through collectively developed actions, and the power of narrative to shape and influence our perceptions of the possible.
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Dave is currently Executive Director of the Alberta Association for Conservation Offsets, a forum to advance understanding respecting the use of conservation offsets and the development of offset policy. 
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Sean is leading the development and implementation of the social license strategy for Alberta Agriculture and Forestry, as well as environmental agriculture policy development and analysis and applied research, extension, and programming to encourage the use of best practices to improve stewardship on the farm.
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As Director, Environment and Sustainability, Jon is responsible for leading a team that provides strategic advice, guidance and support to Cenovus on key environment and sustainability issues.
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Grant is presently the President & CEO of BluEarth Renewables and has over 20 years of commercial and technical experience in the energy sector.
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As Assistant Deputy Minister for Strategy, Rick is responsible for strategic relationships and engagement, strategy development and foresight, systems thinking and design and the ongoing integration of the various elements of Environment and Parks, including the integrated resource management system. 
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Bob has been a professional forester for over 38 years, practicing primarily in Alberta. His professional experience has been varied and encompasses most aspects of forestry including integrated resource management, long term and large scale forest management planning, timber harvesting, road construction, silviculture, and environmental certification.
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In her current position Michelle works with stakeholders in the agriculture, environment and food retail sectors to develop sustainability initiatives that address economic, social and environmental sustainability in crop production.   
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I don’t work on climate change, should I attend? 
Change the Climate is a play on words that refers to transforming the way we work as a community – on the myriad issues we work on. While climate change will be a topic at the gathering, there will be also be a strong focus on other environmental priorities: water, land use, sustainable cities and livelihoods, etc.

Who should attend?
The gathering is designed for people who champion and protect the environment in Alberta.  There will be a strong focus on the role of the nonprofit sector and how sustainability and environmental NGOs can learn from and work with each other. Individuals and representatives from industry and government that are interested in Alberta’s nonprofit environmental community are also welcome to attend.

How many people from my organization should attend?
The gathering is being designed as an active learning event. There will be a strong emphasis on not only learning, but on implementing solutions. The more people that attend from your organization, the more benefit you will receive.

Why Thursday, Friday, Saturday?
The program will begin Thursday evening and finish in the afternoon on Saturday. Approximately 50% of environmental nonprofits in Alberta are volunteer run.  We feel that hosting the gathering on a weekday/weekend is an excellent compromise for those who have other commitments during the week.

Are accommodations  available?
We have secured discounted rates with Delta Calgary South as well as the Grey Eagle Resort and Casino for the Environmental Gathering. Delta South offers a a lower rate ($114/night) whereas the Grey Eagle ($139/night) offers greater convenience as it is located a short distance from the venue at Mount Royal University.

Book with Delta Calgary South.

To book with the Grey Eagle guests must contact the Reservation Department directly at 1.844.719.8777 or 403.719. 8777 and provide the group name (Alberta Ecotrust Foundation) and dates of stay. All reservations require a valid credit card for guarantee and charges

Is financial assistance available to help with the costs of attending?
Alberta Ecotrust is pleased to offer a limited number of bursaries to help participants attend the Environmental Gathering. If you require financial assistance please download and complete our Bursary Application Form and submit it to Natalie Odd at [email protected].


Sponsorship opportunities for the Environmental Gathering are still available. If you would like more information about sponsoring this event please download our sponsorship package or contact Wanda Spooner at [email protected].


GAME CHANGER – Presenting Sponsor



CHANGE AGENT – Platinum Sponsor

CHANGE BUILDER  – Gold Sponsors



CHANGE CATALYST – Silver Sponsors










Landor Print Default


FRIENDS OF CHANGE – Sessions Sponsors