Banter with Bigwigs: meet the Bigwigs

Banter with Bigwigs: meet the Bigwigs


Presented by Verge Insurance Group, this evening of networking brings young professionals together with high-caliber executives to offer a unique experience and insight into various professional industries. Meet this years executives!

Mishka Balsom is the President and CEO of the Greater Niagara Chamber of Commerce(GNCC), responsible for developing and implementing initiatives that are designed to strengthen the business climate in Niagara and support the economic prosperity of the region. Under her leadership, the GNCC launched a number of new programs, collaborative partnerships not only within the region but throughout Ontario and NY State.

Mishka has positioned the GNCC as one of the region’s most credible and visible voices of business. Determined and passionate, she is positively advancing change through collaboration, adaptability and sound decision-making. In an effort to support the growth of Niagara’s economy, Mishka is actively involved with a high number of community organizations within Niagara, other municipalities across Ontario and internationally, with organizations such as the Buffalo-Niagara Partnership and many more.

Prior to joining the GNCC, Mishka has successfully held senior management positions within the Canadian media industry as well as owned her own communication’s company.

David Day is the Vice President for Commercial Financial Services for RBC in the Niagara market, where he leads a dynamic team of 12 experienced and developing account managers. David prides himself on developing strong relationships with his team, clients and COI’s. By getting to know their needs thoroughly, he provides straight forward advice to help them achieve their goals and realize their full potential.

David has an (Honours) MBA from Lake Superior State University in Michigan, an (Honours) Business Administration from the University of Windsor, a BA in Sociology from the University of Waterloo as well a Diploma in General Management from the Canadian Institute of Canadian Bankers.

Chris is currently the Regional Vice-President, Personal & Small Business Banking for BMO in the Niagara Market. In this role, Chris is responsible for building customer loyalty and growing BMO’s business across the Niagara Region. Previously Chris was the Vice-President of Financial Planning in Winnipeg where he lead a team of 15 Financial Planners.

 Prior to his 8 years in the VP Financial Planning role, Chris spent two years as a Regional Sales Manager, working closely with the retail teams to build investment capabilities. Chris joined BMO in 2002 and spent four years as a Financial Planner in Western Manitoba. Chris has a Business Administration diploma from Red River College and continues to further his education taking Business & Management courses through Athabasca University. In addition to the CFP, Chris holds several other accreditations including the CSC, PFP, CIM and FCSI.

 Chris is really excited to join the Niagara United Way Campaign Cabinet Committee for the 2019/2020 campaign. An active volunteer he has previously served as Vice-Chair of the Advisory Board for the Heart & Stroke Foundation of Manitoba, Chair of the Finance Committee for the Manitoba Chamber of Commerce and on the Board of Governors for the Manitoba Junior Hockey League.  He is also a proud Winnipeg Jets fan! Above all, Chris brings with him a passion for employee engagement, One Bank, and creating an amazing experience for our customers.

Gervan Fearon, who began a five-year term as Brock University’s President and Vice-Chancellor on 1 Aug. 2017, is passionate about excellence in education, and also the role of post-secondary institutions in strengthening local communities. He has served on numerous community boards, and continues to do so.

Fearon recognizes that Brock itself was created by the citizens of the Niagara region, who in the 1950s and ’60s worked passionately to establish a local university where future generations could remain part of the community while obtaining a high-quality post-secondary education.

Brock’s Institutional Strategic Plan, crafted during the first two years of his presidency, states that one of the University’s four core priorities is to enhance the life and vitality of local communities.

Before joining Brock, Fearon served at Brandon University as President and Vice-Chancellor (2014-17) and also as Provost and Vice-President Academic (2013-14). Prior to his time at Brandon, Fearon served in senior academic positions at Ryerson University and York University. He was also a Visiting Scholar at the University of Washington.

Fearon received his Ph.D in Economics from the University of Western Ontario, after having received his Master’s and Bachelor’s degrees in Agricultural Economics at the University of Guelph. He also holds a Chartered Professional Accountant (CPA, CGA) designation.

Besides academic achievements, his career includes several years in the Ontario government in roles as a senior analyst at Treasury Board Division, Ontario Ministry of Finance, and an executive assistant to Deputy Minister at the Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs.

Jessica is the third generation owner/operator of Gales Gas Bars Ltd., one of the last truly independent petroleum companies in Canada, with operations throughout Niagara. Committed to fueling Niagara – through community support, providing a living wage for employees, quality products and top notch service.

Frances Hallworth is a life-long resident of Niagara and a graduate of Brock University in both Business Economics and Psychology. For the last 18 year Frances has been part of an amazing team at United Way that has raised over $50 million to strengthen our community.

 Frances’ passion is bringing people together around a common goal and United Way has provided many opportunities to do just that. From the Backpacks for Kids Initiative, Days of Caring, After School Matters to Brushed Aside, a dental program for people living below the poverty line. Frances is now the Executive Director of United Way Niagara which was the result of an amalgamation of the three United Ways in Niagara.

Frances volunteers at a local community breakfast program which offers a unique opportunity to understand the needs in our community, especially homelessness.

Pam is a Partner with Deloitte, leading the local Niagara office and specializing in Assurance and Advisory for owner managed enterprises. Her practice spans a variety of industries including manufacturing, retail, financial services, transportation and agriculture. Pam is a Chartered Public Accountant and holds a Master’s in Accounting and a Bachelor of Arts degree from the University of Waterloo.P am is a member of the Board of Directors of both the United Way Niagara and the Great Niagara Chamber of Commerce and also currently serves as the Treasurer for both organizations. She is also a graduate of Leadership Niagara. Originally from Niagara Falls, Pam now resides in St. Catharines with her husband Craig and their two sons.

Chief Bryan MacCulloch started with the Niagara Regional Police Service over 34 years ago as a Constable working his way up through the ranks to now serve as Chief of Police. Prior to his appointment, Chief MacCulloch served for over 4 years as the Deputy Chief of Operational Services, where he provided oversight and leadership to over 650 frontline Uniform Officers and Detectives assigned to District Operations and Emergency & Investigative Services.

Throughout his diverse policing career, Chief MacCulloch has held a variety of operational and senior management positions within the Niagara Regional Police Service, including: District Operations, Tactical Unit, Homicide Unit and Professional Standards. Chief MacCulloch is actively involved in the community and is a former long-time Board Member and past Chair of Victim Services Niagara, member of the Board of Directors for Big Brothers Big Sisters of St.Catharines, Thorold & District and a long-time minor hockey and soccer coach.

Chief MacCulloch is a recipient of the Governor General of Canada's Order of Merit of the Police Forces and the Peace Officer Exemplary Service Medal and Bar for dedicating 30 years of distinguished service to our Community and the policing profession.

Sally McGarr, Broker of Record of McGarr Realty Corp., first licensed in 1982, opened her own Brokerage in 1988. Now 2 offices in Niagara with a staff of over 40, McGarr Realty is a very successful high profile company. Sally has achieved local and international recognition for her empathy, knowledge and skills when working with her sales force and the public throughout Niagara and the world.

As a single mother of young children Sally was skillful at juggling a full life and has passed on all these skills to her sales force.

The world of real estate is many faceted and touches most people a number of times thoughtout their lives. Whether buying your first home or your last home…whether deciding what improvements will give better value to your home…whether to take out a long or short term mortgage…whether to invest in rental properties…whether to help out the children buying their first home…being a mediator in a marriage breakdown…having a shoulder to cry on when a home needs to be sold after the loss of a job or a loved one…advising when to buy up and when to buy down…attending court proceedings over a property dispute…advising on new home and condo developments…sharing in the excitement of sales centres for major subdivisions…and the experiences go on and on.

Have a chat with Sally to find out more about the wonderful, wacky and never boring career of real estate and how to establish loyalty and ongoing connections with people who will come into your life.

With more than 20 years of financial services experience, Wade Stayzer is Meridian’s Senior Vice President and Chief Member Experience Officer. In this role, he oversees Meridian’s Retail, and Commercial lines of business while developing the credit union’s distribution partnerships, organic Member growth and enhanced sales and service experience.

Since 2005, Wade has been instrumental in shaping Meridian’s retail delivery strategy while establishing a culture of employee engagement. Over his tenure at Meridian, Wade managed key lines of business including Small Business, Retail and Wealth. He has also led various strategic initiatives including the branch and banking system integration of Meridian’s legacy Niagara/Guelph Wellington and Desjardins Credit Union mergers.

A long-time supporter and champion of the Ontario credit union system, Wade has held a variety of roles and responsibilities at Niagara Credit Union – one of Meridian’s legacy credit unions.   In 2010, Wade was recognized as one of Niagara’s Top 40 under 40 for outstanding business achievement and community leadership. That same year, he was also recognized by the St. Catharines Chamber of Commerce as the Young Professional of the Year.

A tireless community advocate, Wade is currently a Governor at Niagara College, a member of the Rotary Club of St. Catharines, and a proud member of the 2021 Canada Games Host Society for the Niagara Region.  Wade received his MBA from McMaster University and currently resides in Niagara.

Domenic Trapasso Co-founded Locomotive Marketing Inc. in 2006. From it’s humble beginnings in a 1 bedroom apartment, Domenic’s leadership and vision has helped the company grow into a multi-million dollar organization in 2019, receiving Profit Magazine’s 37th fastest growing company in Canada. Domenic is also an avid real estate investor specializing in re-development. As an engaged husband and father of two young boys (Isaac & William), Domenic wants to make a positive impact in the community. He and his wife Patrizia are currently working on their passion project which is a Family Lifestyle organization aiming to help families achieve success in all areas of life such as: health & fitness, relationships, career, and contribution, all the while keeping life balance at the forefront.

As the co-founder of Locomotive Marketing Inc, Patrizia approaches her work and life with energy, passion, and positivity. Locomotive was Incorporated in 2006 and has grown to a multi million dollar organization. Patrizia pushes the boundaries and has a ‘whatever it takes’ mentality! This philosophy has led her to many accomplishments including, being ranked as one of the W100 Top Canadian Female Entrepreneurs and winning the overall female fitness masters in the Canadian Physique Association.

Patrizia learned very early on that the keys to success are rooted in offering massive value, creating a vision with an actionable plan, and surrounding herself with an amazing team. Goal setting, practicing gratitude, and performing daily positive rituals are also important keys to success.

Patrizia is a mother to two adventurous boys, Isaac and William. She takes that role seriously and her ultimate parental goal is to raise good humans that leave a positive impact on society. As a family, the Trapasso’s are starting a family project that encourage families to live a purposeful, fun, and engaged life.

Carolyne Watts has enjoyed a vast number of roles and responsibilities within General Motors throughout her 37-year career, including her current position as Plant Manager of the St. Catharines Propulsion Plant since 2011.  Carolyne began her career with General Motors in 1982 as a student at the Kettering Institute (formerly General Motors Institute). Upon completion of her studies, Carolyne was assigned to the Ste. Therese Assembly Plant in Quebec.

During the early years of her career she advanced through several manufacturing positions at Ste Therese and the St. Catharines Propulsion Plant before being assigned as a Manufacturing Advisor at NUMMI (New United Motor Manufacturing Inc.) in Fremont, California in 1997 (a joint venture between General Motors and Toyota).

Carolyne has managed six General Motors plants in her career at the following facilities: Ste. Therese (2002); GM St. Catharines (2002 and 2011); Powertrain Plant in Warren, Michigan (2005); Metal Casting Operations in Saginaw, Michigan (2008); and CAMI Automotive Inc. Assembly Plant (2009).  In 2010, Carolyne was recognized by Automotive News as one of the Top 100 Leading Women in Manufacturing. Carolyne was also recognized by the Greater Niagara Chamber of Commerce at the Women in Business Awards with a Business Leadership Award for her role as a strong female role model and community leader (2016).

In addition to her Bachelor's Degree in Industrial Administration from the Kettering Institute (1986), Carolyne also holds an MBA from Concordia University (1992). In June 2019, Carolyne received an Honorary Bachelor Degree in Applied Sciences from Niagara College. She is a native of Shawinigan, Quebec and is fluent in both of Canada’s official languages. Carolyne currently resides in St. Catharines, Ontario.

Tickets are FREE and come with:

  • An exclusive opportunity to sit down with high-caliber executives (network and receive essential career advice)
  • A professional LinkedIn headshot
  • Complimentary food with cash bar
  • A networking template with key questions
  • An opportunity to win prizes

WHERE: Brock University, Goodman Atrium

WHEN: Tuesday, October 22, 2019 - 6:30-9:00 PM