David Allison – Consumer Culture Forecaster

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David Allison is a speaker, author, consumer-culture forecaster, and corporate brand advisor who has spent decades helping companies and individuals figure out their place in the world, and how to best represent themselves.

He has a degree in Journalism from UND, has designed and taught university graduate and undergraduate marketing courses, started/built/sold a successful branding company, and currently advises large organizations across North America on how to engage with their stakeholders.

Along the way he’s written three books, won numerous awards, been a sought-after speaker, and has established a following of tens of thousands in the B2B sector.

His research into Baby Boomers and Millennials has yielded game-changing results for many industries, and his experience in countless verticals, from automotive manufacturing to art galleries, gives him a unique vantage point. He talks about the past, the present and the future of contemporary consumer life in a way that leaves listeners energized and excited about what comes next.

Diane Finegood – Researcher, Systems Thinker & CEO

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Dr. Diane Finegood is an experienced research leader with a deep knowledge of the health research ecosystem and extensive experience in building complex partnerships across disciplines and sectors at all levels. As President & CEO of the Michael Smith Foundation for Health Research, she champions the growth of BC’s health research enterprise and works closely with government and other stakeholders to advance key projects to support health system transformation.

From 2000 to 2008, Diane served as the inaugural scientific director of the Canadian Institutes of Health Research’s Institute of Nutrition, Metabolism and Diabetes. She has also served in a range of other leadership positions including as executive director of the CAPTURE Project (Canadian Platform to Increase Usage of Real-World Evidence).

Howard Trottier – Physicist & Astronomer

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Dr. Howard Trottier is a Professor of Physics at Simon Fraser University, where he teaches physics and astronomy with unrelenting passion, and does research in theoretical subatomic physics. Howard is best known through his alter-ego, Mr. Starry Nights @ SFU, a Pied Piper of popular astronomy who draws thousands of people to SFU’s Burnaby campus every year, to experience the beauty and mystery of the universe at the Trottier Observatory and Science Plaza. He been recognized with a University Excellence in Teaching Award from SFU, and Qilak Awards for Astronomy Communications, Public Education and Outreach, from the Canadian Astronomical Society, and from the Royal Astronomical Society of Canada. Among the other things that he does for fun is to create award-winning astrophotography, but his greatest joy comes from quiet time spent with his son Alexandre, his wife Giannoula, and the family’s crazy dog Cali, at their “Cabin in the Sky” in the rural Okanagan.

Heather Watson – Karaoke Therapist

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Gonzo politics and luxury travel writer, toy commercial hand model, video game voice-over and motion capture performer, closed-captioning timer, and independent bookseller are just a few of the colourful threads that Heather Watson has woven into the tapestry of her life, but armed with a BA from UBC (English Lit., ’91) it was her three years as an ESL teacher to over 5000+ junior high and elementary school students in the mid-1990s in a suburb of Tokyo she credits for getting her magic carpet into flying shape, and opening her up to the possibilities of karaoke as more than just a diverting pastime. A proud pre-GUI internet user who also speaks French and Japanese, Heather & her older brother were the high-energy, curious kids of a business-minded technophile and a Broadway-loving ex-cheerleader-turned-PR specialist, and she grew up in the Canadian West full of frontier spirit and a deep respect for the art of “razzle dazzle.” Profiled by a local documentary filmmaker and campus newpapers for her talents in nurturing a growing community, four years as a karaoke host in the Downtown Eastside has ignited a passion for broader applications to turn this populist art into a tool to help struggling people of all ages around the world conquer much more than just their stagefright.

Paul Conder – Experience Designer

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Paul Conder is a Principal at Lenati, where he heads up the Customer Experience Practice.  He has a twenty-year track record leading multidisciplinary teams, bridging the fields of experience design, interior design, product design and retail strategy. Paul has led projects for many global brands, including Starbucks, Nike, Starwood, lululemon, Telus, Philips Design and Microsoft – helping clients develop brand-driven customer experiences. Previously, Paul was a lecturer in design at Emily Carr University and SFU of Interactive Technology.  Paul’s work has received some of the top international awards in the field, including the Best of Neocon Gold and Most Innovative Product awards, the Retail Design Award from the Retail Council of Canada, and the CX Impact Award from the Customer Experience Professionals Association.  Paul is author of the recently-published book “The Art and Science of Customer Experience” and has been featured extensively in the international media, including Interior Design magazine, The Chicago Tribune, FOX News, TF1, The Globe and Mail and CNN.

DJ Kearney – Wine Educator

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DJ Kearney’s 17 years in the wine industry embrace teaching, wine writing, wine criticism, and wine presentations for festivals and industry trade organizations.  She has trained thousands of sommelier candidates throughout North America for the International Sommelier Guild and the Wine and Spirits Education Trust, and has travelled extensively to the wine regions of the world.

Although a global wine expert, she naturally has a special devotion to the wines of her home region. For many years Kearney has been an industry advisor and ambassador for B.C. wines, teaching and presenting on behalf of the industry. Recently she toured Decanter’s Steven Spurrier through the Okanagan and Similkameen Valleys, and curated the inaugural Judgment of B.C., now an annual benchmark tasting.

Previously DJ has been the Drink Editor for Vancouver Magazine (where she was Chief Judge of the popular Wine Awards), and critic/contributor for WineAlign.

In 2015 DJ joined forces with a start-up wine enterprise, New District. E-commerce and curation of local and international wines is her daily bread.

A marathon veteran and black belt, DJ lives by the words of the late, great Julia Child: moderation, and plenty of it.

Holman Wang – Children’s Author & Illustrator

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Holman Wang is a former teacher and sometimes lawyer. He and his twin brother, Jack, are the authors and illustrators of the popular board book series Cozy Classics and Star Wars Epic Yarns, which abridge beloved literary and cinematic classics into word primers with just 12 words and 12 needle-felted illustrations. Their work has been featured in The New York TimesPeopleThe Wall Street Journal, and The Globe and Mail.  Holman has a B.Sc. from the University of Toronto, and a B.Ed., M.A. and J.D. from UBC.  Holman and his brother created a Google Doodle in honour of Laura Ingalls Wilder’s 148th birthday which appeared on February 7, 2015. He speaks frequently about his work and career, including talks at Google, Lucasfilm, SXSW, Star Wars Celebration, Maker Faire, and San Diego Comic-Con.

Dessert Menu Reading Contest

Andrew Morrison

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Vancouver-born Andrew was a 20 year veteran of the food and restaurant trade before he became an award-winning food writer and restaurant critic. In 2008 he and Michelle Sproule launched Scout Magazine, which has since become the city’s leading food and culture resource. He is a graduate of South Africa’s University of Cape Town (Modern History, Classics); the editor of the Vancouver Cooks cookbook (2010); the co-author and editor of the Sobo Cookbook (Taste Canada winner, 2015); the co-author of the Araxi cookbook (2016); the Senior Judge at the Vancouver Gold Medal Plates cooking competition; the National Referee and Co-Senior BC Judge at the Canadian Culinary Championships; an advisor to both the Canada’s 100 Best Restaurants guide and enRoute Magazine’s annual Best New Restaurants In Canada issue; and the proud father of two boys with exemplary table manners.

Neil Ingram

Neil Ingram runs the wines, floor and other things at Cinara restaurant and loves it very much. Before that he owned and ran Boneta in Gastown. Before that he was running the wine programs at Lumiere and Feenie’s. Stints at CinCin and, most importantly, Etiole whetted his thirst upon his return to Vancouver in 1996. Before that he was an actor, but is now fully recovered

Michel Durocher

I am a 25 year veteran of the restaurant and hospitality industry.

My first 7 years were spent in Alberta and then roughly 3 years in Australia and southeast asia.

I moved to Vancouver in 2001 where most notably I was at La Regalade, Blue Water Café and Parkside Restaurant.  After leaving Vancouver for a stint at Kicking Horse Mountain Resort, I moved back in 2011 because despite its challenges, Vancouver was where I wanted to be.

For most of the last 4 years and currently, you can find me on the floor most days of the week at The Sardine Can serving classic Spanish tapas and imbibing people with a fun selection of Spanish Sherry, Wine and Brandy.

I am also currently the Maitre d’ for the upcoming season of First Dates Canada about to air in early 2017.

Jenna Briscoe

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Since joining Café Medina in the spring of 2013, Jenna has been a warm and familiar face to the restaurant’s many visitors and returning clientele. Due to her hard work, team-first attitude and steadfast commitment to customer satisfaction, her initial tenure as a serving assistant at didn’t last long — in just two months she began handling a variety of management responsibilities and became an indispensible second-in-command to owner Robbie Kane.

Originally from Alberta, Jenna gained her front-of-house experience while studying political science and communication at post-secondary schools in Edmonton and Ottawa before moving west to attend Simon Fraser University in Vancouver. Jenna’s background as a performer in improvisational comedy provides her with a unique edge and allows her to roll with the punches when managing Café Medina’s front-of-house crew and responding to guest requests, all while espousing Robbie’s philosophy of enlightened hospitality.