2017 - 2018 Program

May 16, 2018

TOM PALAIA - U.S. Consul General

Tom Palaia arrived in Calgary in August 2015 to take up his post as Consul General for Alberta, Saskatchewan and the Northwest Territories.

Tom is a career diplomat whose prior assignments include postings in U.S. Embassies in Poland, Guatemala, London and Panama. He also served in Washington, DC, more recently directing an office in the Bureau of South and Central Asian Affairs.  In his most recent assignment to what is now the U.S. Embassy in Havana, he was the Counselor for political and economic affairs.

Prior to joining the State Department he worked in Boston as an economic consultant. Tom received a Master’s in Public Administration from Harvard and a Bachelor of Arts from Bucknell University.

Tom is married to Sarah Hale, and they have two wonderful daughters, Margaret and Violet.


April 11, 2018


Founded in 1975, the Calgary Civic Symphony has been performing live orchestra music in Calgary for over forty years. Sometimes called The Civic, The Calgary Civic Symphony is a local orchestra of amateur musicians.

Some of our members are professional musicians, music teachers, or former members of the Calgary Philharmonic. But most of our members have careers outside of the performing arts. A love of making music brings us together.  Each year, we present a series of five concerts, and we dedicate ourselves to playing a beautiful and diverse mixture of music. As a result, our performances feature classical works, pop, film, and Christmas favourites.

The Civic is a supporter of music and the arts in Calgary. Beyond our five concerts, we play community shows throughout Calgary, and we also organize and execute the Calgary Concerto Competition (C3).  The competition gives young musicians an opportunity to perform with the orchestra.

Finally, in our pursuit of inspiring projects and new friends, we frequently collaborate with Calgary artists and organizations to create unique concert experiences.



March 13, 2018

TIM McMILLAN - President & CEO, Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers

Tim McMillan was appointed President and incoming CEO of the Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers (CAPP) on October 1, 2014. The Saskatchewan native is responsible for leading activities in education and communications as well as policy and regulatory advocacy on behalf of CAPP member companies, which represent over 80 per cent of Canada’s upstream oil and natural gas production.

Tim grew up on a family farm near Lloydminster, where the McMillan family first homesteaded more than a century ago. After earning an economics degree from the University of Victoria, he traveled and worked overseas as an Information Technology professional. He later returned to the family farm and founded and operated an oilfield services company. His solid understanding of the oil and natural gas industry from both a business and landowner perspective, coupled with his background in economics, propelled his desire to seek a seat within the Saskatchewan Legislature.

In 2007, Tim was elected as a Saskatchewan Party MLA in the riding of Lloydminster. From 2010 until his appointment as President and CEO of CAPP, Tim held several strategic cabinet portfolios in the Government of Saskatchewan, including minister of energy and resources and minister of rural health.

Tim lives in Calgary with his wife and their two daughters.



February 14, 2018


Professor Kathleen E. Mahoney has a JD from the University of British Columbia, an LLM degree from Cambridge University and a Diploma in International Comparative Human Rights from the Strasbourg International Human Rights Institute in France.

She is Professor of Law at the University of Calgary and Queen’s Counsel.  She was the Chief Negotiator for Canada’s Aboriginal peoples claim for cultural genocide against Canada, achieving the largest financial settlement in Canadian history for the mass human rights violations against the indigenous peoples of Canada. She was the primary architect of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada and led the negotiations for the historic apology from the Canadian Parliament and from Pope Benedict XVI at the Vatican.

She was co-counsel for Bosnia Herzegovina in their genocide action against Serbia in the International Court of Justice with the result that the definition of genocide in the Genocide Convention was altered to include mass rapes and forced pregnancy as genocide offences.

Among her many awards and distinctions, Professor Mahoney is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Canada, Queen’s Counsel, a Trudeau Fellow, and a Fulbright and Human Rights Fellow (Harvard). She received the Governor General’s medal for her contribution to equality in Canada. She has held Visiting Professorships or Fellowships at Harvard University, The University of Chicago, Adelaide University, University of Western Australia, Griffiths University, the National University of Australia and Ulster University.


January 17, 2018

JAMES McARA - President and CEO - The Calgary Food Bank

James McAra is known for his long-standing passion to make Calgary an amazing place for everyone. As a community leader, builder, and advocate, James and his team work to create a hunger free Calgary. Food does have a role in addressing poverty and the root causes. By actively collaborating with many other community agencies, James’ view is to build and sustain a healthy community.

As a well-known and respected member of Calgary's not-for-profit community, James’ volunteer roles have included a continuum of service, from local to national, including the Stewardship Group of Calgary Eats!; Co-Chair of the Food Dignity Constellation for Calgary’s Poverty Reduction Initiative; Board Member for Food Banks Alberta; and Network Council Representative and Strategic Direction Committee member for Food Banks Canada.

He currently serves on the Calgary Chamber of Voluntary Organizations’ Public Policy and Government Relations Committee; and is Co-Chair of the Task Force for Network Effectiveness at Food Banks Canada.

James joined the Calgary Food Bank in 2000 and became the CEO in 2007. Under his leadership, the Food Bank is recognized as one of the 100 Great Places to Work.



December 14, 2017

MARK TEWKSBURY - Canadian Olympic Champion

Mark Tewksbury first came to prominence as the star athlete who burst out of the water at the Barcelona Olympics; an Olympic Champion with gold, silver and bronze medals, numerous awards, and a cover appearance on TIME magazine.

Mark has been the Master of Ceremonies for the Dalai Lama's Canadian appearances, was invited by the Government of France to address human rights at the United Nations in New York City, and was the Chef de Mission for the 2012 Canadian Olympic Team competing in London.

Currently, Mark is a director of the Canadian Olympic Committee, and Chair of Special Olympics Canada.  When not traveling, Calgary is home for him, and the corporate headquarters of Great Traits, the company he co-founded with Debbie Muir that is dedicated to creating Corporate Champions - one trait at a time.


November 15, 2017

Dr. IFEOLUWA ABIOLA - Medical Marijuana

Ifeoluwa (Ife) Abiola began his postsecondary training at the University of Lethbridge where he majored in Biological Science and Behavioural Ecology. He published his works in journals related to Behavioural Ecology and Animal Behaviour through the University of Lethbridge Biology Department. Working out of the University of Lethbridge President Dr. Bill Cade's laboratory, Ife was a featured lecturer in the Dan Otte Symposium in 2009.

Dr. Abiloa then transitioned into medicine completing his basic science and his tropical medicine and infectious disease certification in Vieux Fort, St. Lucia at Spartan Health University School of Medicine and his clinical rotations in Chicago, Illinois. After focusing on Internal Medicine and Interventional Pain Management, Ife began working at Chicago's Norwegian American Hospital and the Access at Madison Clinic where Ife then worked in the Suboxone (Buprenorphine) program for patients suffering from opiate dependency in 2014.

In 2016, Dr. Abiola began working with 420 Investments Ltd. as medical director. 420 Clinic facilitates patients acquiring medical cannabis for medical purposes and Ife is excited for the future of the industry in regards to healthcare.


 OCTOBER 18, 2017

ANDREW MOSKER, President and CEO of the National Music Centre

Born in Toronto and raised in Montreal, Andrew's education includes a Bachelor's degree in history, Performance degree in piano and a Masters degree in musicology. Andrew has been pursuing a life and career in music for over 25 years both as a musician, programmer, promoter, arts-administrator, entrepreneur, music advocate, city builder and cultural tourist.

Calgary has been his home for over 18 years. During this time Andrew has lead the visioning, programming, fundraising and organizational development to create the National Music Centre, specifically since become President & CEO in 2006. With NMC's new $191 million dollar stunning architectural home at Studio Bell now open, the NMC can now begin to delivery its promise to celebrate Canada's broad musical story.

In addition to his work with NMC, Andrew is an active YPO (Young Presidents Organization) member of the Alberta Chapter, was part of Avenue Magazine's top 40 under 40 class of 2008 and serves on the JUNO award committee for Electronic Music. He has also been voted one of Calgary's most Compelling People to Watch in 2016 by the Calgary Herald. He is married to wife Ingrid, and has two sons.


 September 20, 2017

DR. NAWEED I. SYED, Professor, University of Calgary & the Cumming School of Medicine

Dr. Syed obtained his Master’s degree from the University of Karachi and PhD in neurobiology from the University of Leeds. In collaboration with his German Colleagues, Dr. Syed’s team was the first to develop a bionic hybrid which enabled direct dialogue between the brain cells and electronics. His discovery was highlighted in Time Magazine and the Discovery Channel.

Dr. Syed has published over 120 peer reviewed papers and has been the recipient of many international and national awards including the Alfred P. Sloan Fellowship and the CIHR Investigator Award. He is a fellow of the Royal College of Physicians of Edinburgh.

His speech will focus on novel brain-chip interfacing technologies that are poised to connect brain cells to semi-conductors in order to restore lost brain function and to develop new brain controlled prosthetic devices. This technology has implications for restoring lost brain function resulting either from trauma, stroke, injury, epilepsy, and neurodegenerative disorders. Future potential applications for machine learning and artificial intelligence will also be discussed.